Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A watersong for a lullaby

When the time came to walk the dogs around the village before sleep the rain had stopped. The wind had gone and all the water had washed away even the cold. No stars, just a sky of dark cloud. All around in the stillness streams babbled a chatter of watersong. Across the fields the sound of the sea's roar was muffled by distance. The waves were dancing up a storm tonight. And over above St Davids an orange cloud like a dragon hung in the night sky.
Then it began. Just a whisper at first, a gentle falling, tapping, the scent of fresh rain, a slow rhythm. It grew and the steady beat gained weight until it drummed down again from the sky, but now we were home again and the glow of light and the warmth of the fire were a welcome and refuge. There will be no hunting tonight.


There are times when light seems to shine down on the world from the very clouds and there are other times when it seems that all the light in the world has been sucked up into the darkest, heaviest blackness. At 5pm it began to go very dark. At first the rain came gently like a bat of a paw, but then it was if a great black cat had covered the sky. The rain came down in spears and then in buckets until all the paths outside ran with water. Streams burst up out of the ground and waterfalls tumbled over stone walls from fields. So dark, so loud, roads blocked by walls of water.
Then it stopped. All around the sound of new rivers playing in the dark.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Birds and cat curls and a film

The day was cold, the bird feeders busy with birds all day. Rain turned to sleet and hail and the north wind blew, so we curled in the warm of the house.
Yesterday She should have gone to London to a party, but we have begun to teach her how to be a good cat mother, so She stayed home. And in London there was a party at Waterstones in Piccadilly, to launch "We Are All Born Free", and you can see the film that goes with the book here. But She did not go, because we are better than a party and in London you cannot see the stars.

Emerald morning

Early morning walking with long shadows and for the first time in weeks we walk together, Pixie and me and Her, up the green lane to the hill top high.

In the lane much has changed, though emerald green still clings in places, winter's hand has touched the blackthorn trees.

On top of the hill it is cold. The wind bites and Bella shelters Pixie from the chill. Light falls across the land in bright islands. Bones of small creatures are scattered here and there, bleached white by wind and weather, once a feast for crows and ravens. And the greatest raven still circles overhead and calls across the sky.

Too too soon we head for the warmth of home and She carries Pixie, perched like a hawk on Her hand. We leave the hill again to the great black birds.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Outside, inside.

Outside it is dark. A paw has thrown up few stars to glitter the night sky and they caste little light. The moon is the thinest sliver not yet riding the velvet dark sky. You cannot see even a whisker in front of your face. The wind is rising and bushes blow, bending into dark monsters, cold, biting.
Inside cats curl in every corner, on every cushion. The fire glows with red and gold light. The wind rattles at windows and doors, night monsters wanting to come join us, to curl in the warm and settle to this most peaceful of nights. We keep the doors and windows closed and listen to their wind-singing.

Later we walk the bounds of the village with Her and the dogs, before they curl into bed. There are no street lights here. Nothing to light the way but the moon and stars and if it is possible it has become darker still in the depth of night. The wind turns and twists the few dry leaves left clinging to the winter bones of the trees. The sky sparkles stars, and the clouds are lit bright white against the black, dark sky. Where the light comes from we do not know. Maybe from the clouds themselves. The wind nips at our bright fur and we are glad to be back in the haven of the house, where we curl again before the fire, to dream the night away and wait for day to dawn again. Winter comes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fingernail moon in a dark dark sky

At five am a fingernail moon and stars prick holes in the dark night sky. The wind is falling away again. Inside the warm house the cats drip and draped ginger warmth over soft cushions. The dogs curl and dream in their baskets, waiting for morning. Kiffer, who loves the night, is out hunting the hedgebanks.
Pixie breathes easier, face clean and eyes bright.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pixie, the smallest cat

Worried because Pixiecat was still not eating She phoned the vet today and Kath was lovely enough to fit in an extra evening appointment. Pleased with Pixiecats progress Kath gave special food for Pixie. It seems her mouth is filled with sores and her tongue is covered with ulcers, so she has to be fed with a syringe. But Pixie is over the worst with the flu and If only She was a better nurse and would stop painting and just sit and read to Pixie and feed her when she needs food then all will be well.
Meanwhile Bella, brave kind Bella, is looking after Pixie, making sure she is clean and knows that she is loved.

And Bella is teaching Rosie how to care for cats.

Meanwhile Martha, the old one, lies stretched over the fire in the warmest place and dreams of Lion, a far away cat of great age.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Night lights

All colour is drained from the world and the land is dark. We walk the bounds of the village where we live on this arm of rock that stretches out into the sea. Across the cloud filled sky the lighthouse sweeps its path of light from Strumble Head to home. Three pulses and a pause, three pulses and a pause. Strange heart-beat of light. Pixie walks too and then is lifted and held in Her hand like a hawk in the night. From the west another arm of light cuts across the sky.
If we were sailors at sea the light would warn of dangerous coasts, rocks and peril. Even here the steady rhythm gives comfort in the darkness.

Pixiecat whispers secrets to Bella

Oh, the cuteness of me!

Pixie, the smallest cat, who has been very poorly, was up and about today and very much in need of some puppy loving.

She followed me around the house to warm and sunny places and I helped her to clean her poor little face with my very very long and pink puppy tongue.

She ate some soup, drank some water and had just a very little milk. The sun is shining and maybe Pixie will come for a walk again soon.

Puppy eyes

Reading and walking

With Pixie still sick we dogs went for a walk up the hill in the late evening sunshine. Blue sky, clouds, birds and wild ponies.
Pixie ate a little chicken soup from a syringe and maybe snuffles less, maybe not.
Meanwhile we have been teaching Rosie how to read the wind.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pixie and Radio 4

Pixie is outside in the sunshine and fresh air, sitting in a thorn bush watching birds. Soon she will come in and sit by the fire and then this evening will talk to the vet again. She is no worse, perhaps a little better, still not eating. All of the other cats are either sitting in the garden with Pixie or curled up tight in the warmth of Hannah's room.
Meanwhile She has been on Radio 4 and has just had the strange and surreal experience of listening to Herself while She painted. She has always listened to Radio 4 throughout Her working life, and when asked by Laura Parfitt to present and work on a program with her She jumped at the chance, leaving us home alone yet again with only a neighbour to call in and feed us, (all the time thinking that Laura must have the wrong person, but not wanting to disillusion her). She is a cruel woman.
If you want to see the picture She said reminded Her of us, click here. Monkey!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home from the vets

Just back from the vets and home is so warm. Pixie had injections and cuddles and fluid and may need to go in to cat hospital. The vet, who is a good friend, said to call her tonight on any progress or not, but for now she is better off at home. So, we wait. She does not like being in a cage, which we suppose is good sign.


Still dark and stormy outside but inside warmed by the fire. Pixie, who slept curled on Her bed last night until Her restlessness led the tiny cat away and back to above the fire, seems a little better but will be straight off to the vet once they are open this morning.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cat flu update

Outside there is a storm beginning. It is not cold in the lea of the wind, but where the wind blows the cold breath of the winter cat can be felt. All of the leaves that clung to the tree have been ripped away by the storm cat's claws. Maurice and Elmo and Max are fine, a few sneezes and snuffles, but otherwise fine, but Pixie......
she is in a sorry state and has been placed in the position of favour above the fire where it is dry and warm. So full of cold and flu she struggles to breath and her coat is matted and she looks a very sorry cat indeed. Our brave Pixie, so small and so good. Tomorrow she will go to the vets. Tonight she must stay warm and dry and keep safe from the clutches of the wild wind cat, for little Pixie is the kindest and smallest of our cats and we need her to stay with us.

Tired girl, tired puppy

Happy girl, happy puppy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

To celebrate the return of Hannah from Spain....

Rosie decorated the floor with bright pink feathers!

Maurice was suitably impressed!

Tired from playing in pink feathers, Rosie rested, but not until she had happily adorned Hannah's shoe.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Dogs' Big Beach Adventure

Because we cats are still full of sneezes we are not walking at the moment and so the dogs went to the beach. The tide was out, far far out as the moon is full and pulls at the water. They ran on the sand in the sun and the sea, through pools and into the caves. At the very end of the beach where few people go as the sea seldom pulls back so far they ran into the deep, dark cave where the sea dragon lives, and out again so quickly, chase by a hissing and a spitting, they swam back through the pool and onto the sand. A seal pup had sheltered inside the cave at high water, was snoozing and waiting for the tide to come in. She was beautiful, grey speckled like stones on the beach, great eyes and whiskers, relaxed once she had chased the dogs from her refuge. So She took some photos, and you can see more on Her website, at the bottom of the page, here.
Beautiful seal. They left her in peace and played more on the sand, came home all tired ad kissed by the autumn sunshine.

The House of Sneezing Cats

So far in the house of sneezers Max is better, out and about, sitting in warm patches in the garden. Maurice is better but still sneezing now and again for sympathy, Martha and Kiffer are still fine, cross whiskers, but Elmo and me and so full of the sneezes that we cannot breathe properly. Not as bad as Max was, but covering the house with cat snot at every available opportunity (me with great delicacy, but Elmo with style only an Elmo can summon).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Cat

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the launch of We Are All Born Free, published in partnership with Amnesty International, in which there is a picture of Max, we announce the Universal Declaration of Cat Rights. Please feel free to add more rights by commenting on, or copying this post and linking back.

1. We cats are all born free and equal, with our own cat thoughts and ideas.
2.We all have the right to life, to be free and to be safe.
3. We have the right to sleep where ever we wish, no matter how muddy or wet we are, or whether the laundry is clean or dirty.
4. We have the right to control humans through the power of thought and the power of purr. If they do not come up to scratch then we have the right to move to a new home.
5. We have the right to scratch where ever we want, and whatever we want, be it ears or furniture, and we have the right to run up the curtains.
6.We have the right to poo where we please, in the litter tray, in our garden, next doors prize flower bed, under the litter tray or even in the tumble drier.
7.We have the right to be stroked when ever we want, but not to be piked up unless we desire to be picked up.
6. We have the right to meet at midnight and howl a song in praise of the beautiful moon.
9. Everything belongs to us. We can go where ever we wish. The world is ours.
10. We have the right to rest and relax.
11. We all have the right to life, to live free, to be safe.
12. All cats have the right to be protected by law, human law and cat law.

( Maurice adds a codicil: I have the right to be fed Parma ham at least once a week if not once a day.)

We are cats, creatures of infinite wisdom. 'We Are All Born Free' is a book that aims to teach children all around the world their rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that they will respect the rights of others, so that they will demand their due from their governments. It is published in 30 different languages so far, and is very beautiful. You can see a slide show of the book here.
Every home should have one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One misty moisty morning.

Early morning scritch scratch sneezes at the bedroom door as we claw Her out of the bedroom. We are hungry. The day is moist. A gentle breeze strokes the autumn garden. Honeysuckle in full flower tumbles from the bones of an old pear tree. A rose, freshly pruned, holds a few tight buds of late flowers. If they blossom they will be sunburst of gold with the richest scent, but winter's hand may take them first.
Max sits outside in the dawn light with fine beads of damp dew blanketing his fur and She is cross with him until She realises he is better. He looks up and smiles, enigmatic as only a cat can be.
Maurice still sneezing and now Pixie adds her small sneeze to the chorus. She seems ok, but time will tell.
The house is upside down as Hannah is going to Spain on a school trip and Rosie is helping with the packing. Oh dear.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heavy head

My head is so heavy that I have to rest it on Her shoulder.

Sunday night

White moon in a silver sky. Few stars. Quiet, so quiet that even a hushwing owl would be heard on a night like this.
Max still sleeping.
Maurice still sneezing.
The bone branches of the winter ash tree etched in silver light.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A quiet day of peaceful thought

It is raining a steady veil of sweet light drops and the world looks pearly gray. Birds are singing in the garden and but for the rain the air is still.
She had been preparing Max's obituary as he was so poorly on Thursday night . Back to the vets all snivels and sneezes and his temperature was higher. And at the vets so sad as a friend of Hers brought in their black cat, still and quiet, picked up from the road. You could feel the cat of death waiting in the air to welcome her home. Poor cat. But Max seemed to rally and was given more medicine and though quiet for the rest of the day and refusing all offers of food, this morning he came downstairs from his lair in Hannah's cupboard and ate, just a little, and drank, just enough, before heading outside, then back to his warm and comfortable cave in amongst Hannah's clothes.
Maurice still sneezes but seems ok.
But the cat of death did not leave the vets empty pawed and Gill and her family all miss their brave, dark as midnight beauty, who is now at rest.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cat flu and sunshine and a military band

Max has cat flu. He was sneezing and hadn't eaten for a couple of days, staying cwtched away in a cupboard. A visit to the vet confirmed suspicion. He had a temperature of 103.
"It's not the killer it used to be'" said the vet, trying to be reassuring, "but it spreads like wildfire".
As we walked out of the vets the streets were lined with soldiers in uniform and a military band was passing by. Now, we know that Max is famous because of all his appearances in children's books, but this was a bit over the top. And then we heard it was to welcome home the local regiment from a tour of duty overseas. So young they all are. So young.
Now Max is sitting in the garden in the sunshine. It is warm. We have our whiskers crossed that he will be ok. And Maurice is sitting in the sunshine too, by the rose bushes, and sneezing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This is a secret listen close and I will tell. The night was dark and stormy and the wind howled and moaned and rattled the windows and pushed its paws beneath the doors and down the chimney fawr. Mr Griffith was alone but for his memories and one orange cat who had gone to visit during a break in the clouds. And now we sat together and he told me about the cats he had shared his life with. He thought I was the ghost of Ewan the Ginger, but even so he put out a dish of food, meat and biscuits, and turned the fire up a bar.
So he told me of Smokey the grey cat, beautiful as a Russian blue, sleek smooth, a hunter. And of Daffyd the Black who wandered the hills from farm to farm, a Cassanova of cats who left behind many a broken hearted queen cat and a litter of kittens that would stretch from here to St Davids.
I sat on his lap and he stroked my fur, which warmed his cold hands, and I did not mind that he called me Ewan as he told of Ebryll, named from the Welsh for April, the month when he came to live with Mr Griffiths, only a few days after Daffyd died, another cat with a reputation for romance and wide ranging territory. Then Nadolig, Named after Christmas, who would visit with Ebryll, his father, until the time when Ebryll was run over by a car near the bear at Treath Mawr. So old he could barely walk and yet when spring came he would go singing his cat love songs.
Outside the wind still howled and beneath its note I thought I could just make out the tender love songs of the pied ghost cat. Glyn was tired. He turned off the fire and went upstairs to his small bed beneath the eaves of his cold white cottage and step for step I followed. Then as he laid down his head and pulled up the blankets I curled beside him to purr a song of thanks to a man who all his life has cared for cats.
And all the next day I stayed with him. When I returned home I was greeted with great hugs and more food, so obviously She appreciated the fact that while She has been so wrapped up in Her work for so long that She has not even had time to call round and see how Glyn was keeping as winter draws close someone had time for him. And it is good to be home.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Here be dragons

She finished Her Dragon book, which was a great relief to all of us. Seemed She was taking on the fire-breathing characteristics of Her subject matter the closer She got to the last brush stroke. We expected Her to sit down and curl up by the warm fire, but no, She looked around the house in horror. It seems the dragons had been getting out of Her head and making an terrible mess in the house.
On Saturday evening She fed us as we curled and swayed around Her legs, but there were only 5. No sign of Elmo. When the weather turned dark and nasty and still he had not come home She began to worry. Just a little. Maurice and Kiffer and Martha and I collected on the sofa of ginger, Max curled on a cushion, tight as a ball, in the hall. Outside the storm cat raged throwing spears of rain at the house and the wind was sharp cold. Even in the darkest time of night he did not come back and She prowled around the house in the early hours counting cats.
At breakfast still no sign and as the weather began to clear She went outside, calling, calling, but no Elmo.
By early evening imagination of horrors began to grow and to chase away the fear She walked with dogs on the beach where the wind's paw through snakes of sand low across the ground. As She walked back into the house there was an orange cat with thick stripes and a smiling face.
"I'm hungry." said Elmo.
And She scooped him up in a circle of arms and cuddled him close. "Where have you been?" She asked.
But Elmo just smiled a secret smile.
"I missed you too," he said " a little."
The house still looks as if dragons live in it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Still the night.

The wind cat has taken his family home and on their way they scooped up all the clouds and with their tails flicked the sky clear and lovely, painting the stars back into the heavens. It is still now and across the fields an autumn fox calls. So quite, and the night smells of hay and damp earth, seasalt spray and the tracks of small and fearful creatures. A tawny owls sits hunched on a wire, watching for the flick of movement, the light of an eye, that betrays the eager mouse. It is cold. You can hear a leaf fall. Somewhere now the wind cat is resting and gathering his strength on his cloud bed. For now we enjoy the perfect peace of a still night.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Summer, autumn, winter

Inside the house all is calm, quiet. We gather on the sofa of gingercats. For the first time this year She has made a fire, cleaning out the coal and dust from last year and taking newspaper and kindling and coal and striking a ginger flame to the paper. The flames leap and play and now the whole house is cosy warm and filled with peace.
Outside the windcat has brought his whole pride to run and rattle the doors and the windows. Their soft fur blocks out the stars and the sliver of new moon. They climb over the roof, push claws under the slates, follow the smoke into the sky and make mischief. Their claws are sharp and cold. It seems as if they have stolen summer, chased away the autumn, carrying with it the bright fallen leaves, and taken us straight into winter.

While the sun shines

Tonight the wind cat is singing. The sky has been full of birds all day. Clouds are blown far away and stars now replace the birds.

She received a parcel today with cards from The Snow Leopard Trust. They look good. You can buy them from here.
Now we are sleeping, all in a row on the sofa of ginger cats. Glad She is back, but waiting for the fire-lighting of winter. The world here slips towards cold. Leaves fall from the trees. Snipe and curlew already begin to gather and the swallows are gone taking the summer with them.