Cat on a Holly Tree Top

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The first we had any indication that there might be trouble was on the Thursday night. Tigger, our cat of some three years, once rescued off the main Carnew to Aughrim road, when not much bigger than computer mouse, but with an enormous capacity to survive a main road, and lungs like a fisherwoman, and a cry as piteous as the orphan that she then was, presented with her back leg paw as swollen as a hockey ball (the football analogy would have been excessive in this feline example).

 

It required attention although Tigger did not seem in pain. We kept her in the house just in case and much to her disgust, intending to bring her to the evening surgery at our local veterinary clinic.  She puked for good measure just before we left displaying her annoyance at such treatment. Our cat travelling box, while purchased as such, leaves a lot to be desired. It is a wire cage with no bottom, necessitating a towel or similar to cover the base. We tried the canary trick of draping the cage with a cover but she mewled horribly all the way to the neighbouring village, sticking out the three paws that could fit out through the holes and scratching my youngest whose job it was to keep her calm.

 

In the surgery, the vet examined her and suggested an infection and prescribed injections. These were administered without much panic; although we were glad there were only two. At this stage Tigger had figured out what was causing the sharp needle pain and I doubted we could have kept the vet safe for a third injection. He also provided an antibiotic solution to be given orally in the form of drops.

 

Home again, home again jiggedy jig, with the cat mewling even more and my daughter now using the towel under the cage as opposed to over it in a vain attempt to avoid injury.  Once home we administered a further oral dose of medicine as instructed which she promptly sicked up on the grass.

 

Our cat was less frequent in the house after that experience over the weekend. She normally comes and goes as she wishes, but the nasty injection and further nasty oral drops, meant she went more than she came. But by Sunday we were worried. She had not returned for food or medicine. A hunt ensued and we found her asleep beside the bales of hay on the ground in the stables, being too weak to jump on board as would have been normal.

 

At this point we decided house arrest was preferable to that we could keep her indoors. We set up a litter tray and closed all windows. The smell of sick cat is not good. Then, while she managed to poop on the litter, the smell was awful. Then she continued to vomit, with neither food, medicine or even water staying down. And she sicked all over. On Monday morning, she was a thin reflection of her formal self, she could barely walk, and instead of curling up, lay stiff as a poker, Egyptian-style, with her head trembling before it would sink to the ground in an exhausted and consumptive fashion.  I went for a walk and when I returned I could not find her, she had crept into a small space in a cupboard and looked for all the world as if she was going to die. I brought some fresh water to her which she lapped. Then she vomited again, this time a red mucusy mess. I called the vet. I was bringing our dying cat in immediately, outside hours and in a hurry. They said she would be put on a drip at once.

 

This journey was longer. We had to go to a different clinic which was open and once in the cage, reminiscent if Tigger had but watched Winston’s rat-filled cage in the film 1984, she set up an equally protesting wail for the entire 30minute journey. She went from death calm to banshee loud in seconds and maintained it for the entire journey. My youngest, again in the danger seat, wondered if people might think we were murdering a cat, not saving one.

 

Once in the vets she displayed an agility and restlessness that made liars of my near-death worry, but she was sick enough to warrant the drip and more injections. The vet suggested a sedative prior to any needles. My youngest and I exchanged looks. This was a good idea we said.

 

That night we were recalled to the surgery. Tigger seemed fine if still a little weak. We were to take her home and report back if she did not improve. While my eldest had driven to the surgery, she suggested I drive home as she wanted to hold Tigger on her lap in the cage and with only a dressing gown as a base. Tigger, now as familiar as she wanted to be with Orwell’s classic torture chamber, began her banshee wail just minutes from the car park. My eldest implored me to put the pedal to the medal, in a 97 Micra with no power steering. We were making ground, at the earth shattering speed of forty miles an hour, when her wail sounded different and next minute Tigger was urinating in the cage, easily avoiding the dressing gown and hitting instead my eldest’s jodhpurs and the car seat. Crazily driving the Micra at excessive speed on the country roads I could only fish out a used tissue from the side door. I was begged to go faster but even the gods could not help me there.

 

At home, Tigger was rushed inside and I was rushed back out to try and clean the car seat. We tried her with a little food and she ate. We tried her with a little water and she drank. She tried the litter with success, creating the headache inducing smell where windows and doors were closed against our would-be escapee. That night, we left her in the sitting area, but she woke us at 2am, then 3am and then again at 4am, scratching to come into the bedrooms. She habitually slept on my youngest’s bed but given her recent vomiting that had been banned. Finally, she, and we, slept.

 

The next day a recovery was mooted and the doors and windows opened, with the litter thankfully expelled outside. The bandage from the drip was removed, uncovering a bald-like leg. Tigger came and went, ate and went, and seemed pretty much herself again.  I guess that night she needed to prove a point. At quarter to six in the morning a wild mee-ow screech was heard by all three of us. I put my head under the pillows and tried to ignore it, but my two children decided otherwise. The two musketeers thumped past my door to the garden to find the source of the cry and the cause of the matter. With my head under the pillows I convinced myself that they had returned to bed, when minutes later I heard my youngest running back in again. The third, and rather reluctant, musketeer was needed. Groggily I reached for a jumper and my flipflops and went outside. I could hear noises in the middle of the ditch and climbing over the fence and under the trees and around the bushes – no mean feat in my ill-advised flipflops – I found the cat up a tree, that was in the middle of a vigorous holly bush, with my eldest half way up the tree, being supported by my youngest, trying to reach the cat. I was called upon to provide the support to allow my eldest to go higher. This time I crawled over the barbed wire and under the shrubs and finding shaky footing in my flip flops, attempted to take the weight of my eldest under her left boot. She, being of a more serious musketeer than myself, had worn more suitable footwear. At this point, I must point out, it is remarkably difficult to sustain the weight of a young woman, albeit a slim young woman, in one’s hands, while leaning at angle into the tree because the presence of a vigorous holly bush prohibited closer approach and while wearing flip flops on the banked uneven ditch.

 

Still, she did not fall, more due to the strength of her upper body than my real foundation in my hands. Tigger obligingly moved higher and out of reach and onto another tree. We regrouped and this time my youngest, being the tallest of all three, struggled to reach the cat. Tigger, perhaps sensing that resistance was futile, took some ginger steps down towards us. My youngest reached up and Tigger caterwauled like a feral cat and my youngest almost dropped her, to much scolding by my eldest. But luck was with us and the cat was still held and recovered despite her continued wailing. We reached steady ground but then my youngest said in fright. “It is not our cat,” and dropped her, like I have to say, a scalded cat. “She doesn’t have a bald leg.” The cat, who was indeed Tigger but whose bald leg had fluffed out overnight, was unconcerned. She sat in the middle of the drive and cleaned herself.

 

Being a bright morning we all trooped off to bed. The children attempted to sleep. The cat ate some more food and slept. The dog slept on the blanket. I booted up my laptop and tried to record this weekend. The next time the children say they want another cat:  I will produce this and read it. Lest I forget.

The end.

 

Post Script: Tigger is well.

Post Script 2:  I recounted this story to my mother, sharing the humour with her. Towards the end the telling my mother asked me in a very confused voice. ‘But how did Tucker get up a tree?’  Tucker? I had to laugh. In addition to Tigger the cat, we have Tucker the new foal and somehow my mother had thought I was talking about him and was getting more and more confused especially when I told her he had been found up a tree. How we laughed. The day Tucker climbs a tree is the day I ban all animals from our home.

Back to School – End of the Summer Madness

For once, and this is very unlike me, for once I am cheering for the end of the summer holidays and the welcome return to normal life now that we are all going back to school tomorrow, indeed some pupils have already returned. Typically I cherish a child-like horror of school being mentioned while still technically in August and the recent years’ slippery slide of returning to school before September has greatly saddened me for all sorts of nostalgic reasons and very few practical ones. It is like Christmas being flagged before Halloween is over; to my mind it is just not right.

 

But as the dying days of summer drew to a close I can only say that I have witnessed a wave of misogyny spreading across the globe, creating a scourge as nasty as any plague, and infecting people in despicable ways. In some ways, this misogyny was accidental and haphazard but it was no less disturbing for its seemingly unpredictable eruptions.

 

First off was #slangirl. While her actions were less than clever, it was the singling out of the young girl for such vitriol that was frightening. There was no #slaneboy or even #slanecouple. I was horrified to see adults rage in and throw stones at the young woman, slut shaming her without trial, compassion or humanity. Let those without sin throw the first stone or at least examine the log in their own eye. Many of those hurling unnecessary and cruel abuse at young woman probably, due to age and lack of technology, committed their own foolish mistakes far from the unflinching eye of the ubiquitous camera phone.

cheryl's bum

Second was Cheryl Cole’s sofa, or rather her bum with the rose-garden pattern on it. It reminded me of nothing more than my late Aunt Dorothy’s colourful but faded rose-festooned sofas and Cheryl’s panties were like my aunt’s famous lacy antimacassars poised on the arms and backs to prevent staining by use. You never promised me a rose garden, Cheryl, and while the lady is entitled to decorate her body in any way she sees fit, I was surprised by the criticism that went beyond constructive.

To my mind many tattoo ‘sleeves’ with naked ladies and entwined loving hearts are far less visually attractive than overblown roses, and while all tattoo art may bow down eventually before gravity, it is her choice, her body. I might not wish for my lady garden to have a rose garden behind, but then that too is my choice.

 

Finally was our little Miss wholesome Miley Cyrus. Words fail me. She twerked but only as white woman would. She stripped off her clothes for a nude ensemble that covered less than Cheryl’s ass tattoo, and then ground her own as yet adorned bum into that of Robin Thicke’s 16 year older body. I can only think she was badly advised.

 

But, my comment on these incidents while initially driven by a horrified dislike of slut shaming and misogyny, my secondary thoughts are on the people who posted the stories. That to me is even more interesting.

 

In #slanegirl we have yet to establish who loaded up the picture. I was at the concert and we also nearly witnessed similarly undesirable behaviour, in this case a young man attempting to urinate on the grass beside us. Again let me clear, I have nothing against urination or blow jobs, but not in my (sic) face please. So a member of our party told the young man about to sprinkle where he tinkled to shove off or words to that effect. He gave the young man a push in the direction of the male toilets. Incident over. That I think was the right reaction. Not to document and load it the pissing man up on social media – and given the crowd was so tightly packed it would have an unpleasant, to say the least, alternative outcome.

 

In Cheryl’s case it was her tattoo artist who loaded up the picture. It just makes me wonder if he had permission to do this. I don’t know for sure but I get the impression that Cheryl would not have tweeted her bum.

 

Finally with the young Miley. If her attempt was to attract attention then that was one hundred percent successful. But my guff would be less with her antics, to use an old fashioned work for new-fangled twerking, and more with the fact that CNN posted this as their top news story. There was quite a back lash from the serious news community and rightly so, as serious pundits decried the attempt to drive traffic over communicating news. There is no way a young girl pushing dancing boundaries at an awards ceremony should had rated the top news story over Syria, Eqypt, and all that other stuff going on out there on a daily basis including criminal chemical infanticide.

 

So, I am reminded overall of the Gold Rush in the West. The dreamers went out and panned for gold, or committed fellatio, or tattoed their bottoms and twerked, but the observers posted the pics or as in the good old days, they sold the picks and the shovels and the panning sieves. Just who is responsible and who wins. And now, who is ready to go back to school and normality?

 

Blast from the past…

Courting in the Ambassador by PlanetPictureKoda

I didn’t make the final TV documentary – See you at the Pictures – but they did clip this funny memory.

Click HERE for the snippet (hint, it’s all about elbows!)

Jill planet picture koda

 

Slim Shady at Slane

Slane Castle – Eminem

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There is a vast difference between attending an Eminem concert from the VIP halls and from the grassy knoll with the rest of the hoi polloi. For starters you tend to get there much earlier or you have no chance of a spot up at the barriers, which is still separated by yet another strip of grass and then the posh barriers which corralled the uber VIPs (Mary Coughlan, Twink and Gerald Kean according to some reports were giving it their all in those quarters – or perhaps they remained in the castle overlooking the stage where it was dry and not full of screaming fans – who knows).

 

We arrived with the biggest baddest rain storm you could imagine. Luckily we had been delayed and still parking as this happened. We stayed put eating our sandwiches. Champagne was not served in the plebeian jeeps sadly. We had to do with cans of diet coke, laughing as the windows fogged up and the rain torrented down. Following that shower, sales of ponchos was brisk with the local touts.

 

Apparently, entrance to the VIP area was met with a strict body search, possibly akin to airport security, and I’m sure that was most disconcerting. That same journalist should have joined the throngs that made their way through all manner of security check points, searches and even putting the contents of our pockets into those plastic see-through bags. Were we leaving the country? No, we were going to the concert. Were there drunk people? Yes a lot of them but in the main their anti-social activities were limited to the men urinating against walls and hedges and the women, well they just fell over a bit (aside from that picture of a young girl administering fellatio on her fella, fortunately not near us) There was no aggression or intimidating behaviour then or throughout the concert. The worse that almost befell our group was a drunk man deciding to try and urinate on the grass beside us. He was stopped by another in our party, an ex bouncer, and told to clear off. He did. Sadly we spotted him urinating further on down the hill. He was just lazy and ignorant, attributes I am sure he would display at his local pub just as easily as here.

 

Slane itself is a beautiful natural auditorium. Arriving early also gave us the spectacular slow-mo view of the grounds filling up like a gentle human tsunami. And while VIP-watching can be a fascinating sport, I doubt it holds a patch on people-watching at an Eminem concert. Fashion, yes the fashion was amazing. It went from Slim Shady orange onesies to onesies just for the fun of it, including dog themed, spotted and furry outfits. The men for the most part opted for shorts, boots and lots of bare skin. Or rather lots of tattoos with some bare shin showing. The women however took up the challenge and dressed in the tiniest of shorts (lots of bum cheeks on show) flowery tops, beaded blouses and all manner of fashion festival boots. All topped with the ubiquitous ponchos as we did not have the benefit of staying dry in the castle.

 

Drinking was consistent but not raucous. As a designated driver and staying sober, it was fun to watch the gathering inebriation. People are truly talented and clever and resourceful. The fuller they got, they less booze they spilt, the more they weaved between the crowds, despite resembling mini human leaning towers of Pisa, the less they stepped on anyone. It was like watching puppets at times held up by a thin invisible thread, leaning first this way, then that and never quite falling over.

 

The support bands were inconsistent. Yelawolf and PlanB were good but the other two whose names elude me now, were not great. That is not just my opinion, the crowd agreed.

 

Then, an hour fashionably late, Eminem came on stage. In fairness the entire concert was running an hour behind. By now it was dark and the crowd were buzzing. He started up, trademark hoody in place, and a roar rained across the amphitheatre. We were good to go. He did some new stuff, some new classics including I’m not Afraid and Love the Way you Lie and then his all-time classics The Real Slim Shady, Without Me and My name is.

 

During one of his short chats the Detriot rapper asked the crowd to make an Irish noise. True to form the strains of Ole Ole Ole rang out across the hill. Jack’s army took up the cry and it echoed around the chamber before Eminem pulled out the big guns and fired his next track over the audience. In the darkness, the crowd heaved backwards and forwards. Some songs had everyone moving with passion, others people stood silently, maybe raising the one arm salute and giving it attitude. His fans were all word perfect, not matter how fast he rapped there were people in tune and in time and in lyric with him. I doubt the VIP crew could match that.

 

Footnote: Apparently I am a very cool mom. I say this with certainty for two young men approached me and told me so, once during the Eminem’s session and a second time as I was leaving the venue, bunched up in the crowd. The poor chaps thought they were giving me a big compliment – which they were – but all I could think was How do they know I’m a Mom. Of course, the fact that I was twice the average age of the audience might have given it away. The measure of being cool is directly inversely proportionate to age divided by Eminem. 

Retreating … not drowning

wicklow retreat 3

There was about twenty of us ranged in a circle in the Wilderness Lodge in Glemalure, Co Wicklow, of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds. We were on a retreat, for some of us our first ever such experience, on an Internal Alchemy and Qi Gong workshop which was to last two days.

 

 

We were asked by our instructor, affectionately referred to as the Mayo Monk, for our reasons for attending. One by one we gave our answers and they hit a refrain of wanting to de-stress from our busy lives while connecting with our inner selves.

 

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We were glamping in the field beside the centre, in bell tents beautifully decorated and furnished – only luxury surroundings for our poor stressed bodies. And the food, well we were to be fed like kings for the weekend with home-made dishes and salads and bbqs and endless cups of green tea.

 

 

Ok, first let me explain the theory about Internal Alchemy. In this ancient Chinese discipline, it defines the five essential elements that make up the body; fire, water, wood, metal and earth. Each element is attached to a primary organ; fire to the heart, water to kidneys, wood to the liver, metal to lungs and earth to the spleen. Individually they work to sustain and balance the organs. The practice of qi gong and internal alchemy is to open up channels in the body and allow a free flow of energy to connect these elements. Illness or emotional distress is believed to be the result of these elements becoming weak or disconnected.

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We did a lot of exercises to connect with the earth and also with the other elements. We were taught to stand with our bodies rooted in the earth, making it virtually impossible to push us over. We were taught to breathe so that we used the whole of our lungs, creating ‘Buddha bellies’ as we filled our lungs to the maximum and pushed our diaphragms down. Actually, breathing was one of the most important parts of our training and exercises. Overlooked in its daily crucial importance, the longest recorded absence of breathe being 17 minutes in a living person, breathing is fundamental to connecting our elements and our bodies in flows of energy. We learnt how to make noises congruent with the expulsion of air according to the organs we were targeting; a mixture of shhh, choo, haaaa, ugggh noises being generated throughout the weekend.

 

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We mediated with smiles and light. Some of us fell asleep during these practices and the slight telltale snore might escape from the person to your right or your left. We practiced strange dances, repetitive movements like ballerinas on go-slow, using our arms and hands to carve emotions through the air, drawing energies from the sky or rooting our bodies to the earth.

 

We perfected our grounding stance, then aligned our spines while stretched across two chairs. An interloper might have imagined we were, well I’m actually not sure what they might think, but it would have looked strange as volunteers pushed up their hips, only to be straddled by a trainer and pushed back down again. The net effect of this tussle was the strengthening of lumber muscles and so when we assumed the grounded position again once back on two legs, it felt much stronger after this exercise. Yes, this paragraph is full of involuntary innuendoes and we did giggle a bit.

wicklow retreat 4Actually we giggled a lot. Some of the noises made us laugh out loud. Some of the practices produced stifled giggles that crescendoed into belly laughs. Sometimes we just laughed for no reason. Other times, we were silent but for our breathing.  Into those silences our Mayo Monk might play a single chime produced on his bowl and gong. It rang through our spines deep into our bodies and we followed the energy flows with our minds.

 

There were breaks and these were filled with talking, non-stop talking, like school children released by the bell. We grouped and regrouped and made new friends and found old ones. We formed huddles but by the next break, these dissolved into new huddles. We moved by osmosis throughout the group, blending and mixing without overlap or isolation.

wicklow retreat 6In the debrief, again we were asked if we had achieved what we had desired. To a person, we all said yes. We all also said what made our weekend was our fellow travellers. No two people were alike, yet we had all coalesced into a tight group by the end of the two days. Some were quiet, some noisy, some tee total, some managed to stay in the Glenmalure pub until 3am on the Saturday night, some were early risers, some were not (see previous group), some snored, some talked late into the night, some talked early in the morning, their voices running through the other tents like a wake-up call. And then there was the herd of young horses which stampeded their way up to the tents in a ground breaking fury at five am in the morning, only to stop short and trot away, their mischief done!

wicklow retreat 1

I had my retreat cheery popped in Glenmalure and I have to say it exceeded all expectations. To the organisers Karen, Paul and Lisa well done, to the glamping doyen Maria top marks and to our lovely Mayo Monk, Colin, thank you for an outstanding experience.

 

For more details visit:

 

Wicklow Holistic Retreats 

Leinster Nutrition 

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 Carol, Barry and family were not on the retreat but they popped in to say hello. It was that kind of a weekend!