Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


June 23, 2015

Yesterday was a sad day.

Father’s Day (and the Monday after it) are always a bittersweet time for me.

Twenty-eight years ago, my dad was once again in the hospital following yet another incident with his heart.  Since I was far away on a different continent, I sent a Father’s Day gift well in advance, and my mom baked a cake for him according to my instructions…  She spent that Sunday’s visiting hours with him in the hospital.  I always spoke with him on Father’s Day – they tried to phone me from the hospital, but lines were so busy that day and international reception was not good, and they couldn’t get through (phones in the 80s weren’t quite as sophisticated as they are now).  They decided to try again the next day as soon as my mom got there.

It wasn’t to be.

When my mom arrived at the hospital on Monday, it was to Code Blue.  Dad’s heart had stopped.  She phoned me, told me to get on a plane and come.  A couple of hours later she phoned again to tell me he was gone.

I never got to talk to him for Father’s Day that year.

I got there 48 hours later.  Three flights, one overnight stopover in Germany – at the time, it was the quickest connection.   It was my mother’s birthday.  For years after that, she refused to celebrate it.  It was a week before their wedding anniversary.

This year – 2015 – was only the 4th time since then that the actual dates correspond to the year he died.  For some reason that’s harder, no idea why.   I read all the tributes to fathers online on Sunday, but didn’t add one myself.  I thought about him all day yesterday.

Here’s to you, dad.

high school grad

high school grad



Aunt Mabel's


Dad n me



Carpenter at play



Royalty in the House

June 6, 2015

The family has grown.

The catbeast and the kid do not get along.  Kid doesn’t know exactly what she did or when, but the catbeast decided at one point that they were not compatible.  This has made the kid very sad, not to mention pissed off.  She is not the most patient of humans, and her many unsuccessful tries to make friends with the feline have made her vent in frustration.  Especially since it was kid who saved the catbeast when she was a 2-week-old kitten abandoned on the street by her mother.

Kid has repeatedly bugged me to add another cat to the household.  I told her all the expenses and care would be on her, as opposed to me having to take over (which has happened with multiple rabbits, hamsters, and other beasts).

So when (now ex-) boyfriend’s cat had kittens, the kid decided to adopt one.  There was only one female in the litter, and a week or so ago, when the babies were old enough to leave mom, kid went out and bought supplies and settled the kitten in her room.


After much discussion about names, the kid, to my horror, chose to name the kitten “Princess”.  Gak.  Cliche, much?  I tried to persuade her to perhaps name the wee beastie after a princess, real or fictional – like Jasmine, or Tiger Lily – but that didn’t take.  Then I tried other characters that kid loves, like Luna.  Almost worked, but no.  Princess it is.

I have consoled myself with calling the babe “Prynne”, sometimes expanded to “Hester Prynne”, although kid objects to the Hester part.  I have told her that Hester Prynne was among the first and most important female protagonists in American literature, a truly fascinating character and a strong and defiant woman in a time period when women were meant to be totally subservient.  Kid is not impressed, and has told me that “Prynne” is fine, “Hester” isn’t.

Yeah.  Whatever.

Catbeast is not amused.  At all. She is quite angry about her territory being invaded.  I’m spending a lot of time cuddling her.


So far the solution has been to have separate areas for the two.  Baby catbeast has the kid’s room (with food, bed, and litter box there), and senior catbeast has my room and office (with food, bed, and litter box for her).  The rest of the house is joint territory, with alternating occupancy.  Although they are currently avoiding each other apart from the occasional growl or hiss, I’m really hoping that they will eventually become friends, or at least tolerate each other in the same space.

The babe is quite active, and is proving herself a great hunter of flies and other insects.  She is also very curious and must explore everything.


I have not yet tried to knit with the kitten around.  That will almost certainly happen at a later date.

And it’s never a dull moment in the neighbourhood.

Do mice have waists?

April 28, 2015

Our little Mousey has had an operation.  The catbeast managed to rip a big hole at her waist (or whatever that general area is called in mice) while trying to get at the catnip inside.  I discovered the patient after finding said catbeast attempting to lick a clump of stuffing.  Which was quite a sight in and of itself.  She desperately wanted to taste it but the stuffing evidently was very unpleasant on her tongue.  Which did seem to confuse her and left her tongue hanging in limbo while she tried to figure out her next move.  Sorry I didn’t manage to grab a photo of that.

The operation went well, although the stitches were not sewn with beauty in mind.  And our catnippy little household rodent will carry a scar.

mousey post op

Catbeast was quite anxious throughout the surgery, sitting facing me and not taking her eyes off of Mousey for even one second.  She was quite happy to immediately take over supervising Mousey’s post-op recovery.

mousey post op with catbeast

Let us hope that Mousey will not suffer any further injuries.

Scratch it off the list…

April 25, 2015

One of our favourite restaurants has met a nasty fate.  It has been sold to new owners who don’t quite seem to know what they want to do with it.

We didn’t know it had changed hands.  We had decided that after I had been sick in bed for the entire Pesach holiday that we would treat ourselves to a family night out.  So we chose a place that has been the site of many a meal with friends, a few celebrations, even a catered party once.   It was always packed, so we debated ordering a table, but then decided that we would go early before the rush and hope for the best.

Our first clue that change had been afoot was when we arrived and saw that in the large spacious dining room there was exactly… one table occupied.  Also immediately apparent was the absence of the long thick wooden trestle tables and benches – instead were more utilitarian cafeteria tables and chairs and brighter lighting.  Kid was dismayed that the computer screens with menu, quizzes, and other interesting things were no longer on the wall at each table.  Well, change can also be good, we decided to sit down and check out the menu.

The range of dishes on the new menu was just as varied and elegant as the former incarnation of the restaurant.  We were encouraged.  So far we had only seen one waitress, she was very friendly.  There were sounds from back in the kitchen, and there was a boy about 15 hauling boxes.  OK.

When we ordered water for the table, they brought out a lovely glass bottle with ice water and glasses for everyone.  But when partner asked for a separate bottle of mineral water, the waitress brought her another smaller glass bottle with no label, already opened and about 2/3 full.  Huh?  Then things took a turn for the worse when partner and I ordered cocktails as well as entrees.  After discussing the options on the menu, and thinking that at $11 each the cocktails were a bit pricey, I ordered a mojito and partner went for a margarita.  The waitress wrote them down looking a little apprehensive.  Then I realized there was no one behind the bar.  The waitress disappeared into the kitchen, perhaps to consult with the fellow there, then came back out and snagged the kid who looked about 15 and pushed him behind the bar.  Uh oh.

While we waited for the food our cocktails were served.  Despite the different orders, we were given the exact same thing.  (Um….they both start with the letter M?)   After tasting them, we managed to pretty much figure out what they were:  a lot of tap water, ice, a small splash of some sort of unidentified alcohol (neither rum nor tequila), and some chopped up lemons and mint.  Uh, no.  No, no, no.  Partner firmly informed the waitress that this was certainly not a margarita.  I asked the waitress what brand of rum was in my drink and she looked like a deer caught in the headlights, and stammered “Just rum”.  They tried again for a margarita. This time it looked like a margarita, albeit without salt on the rim of the glass – maybe the kid had a picture of what it was supposed to look like.  But it was frothy, sweet, and had an overwhelming taste of…dish soap.  One sip and partner gagged and covered her mouth.  The waitress quickly came and swept both “cocktails” from the table, looking a little affronted that we hadn’t appreciated their efforts.  She told us that they would not be included on our bill.  Wise move.  (If you aren’t sure about serving drinks because there’s no one there at the time who knows how, say so!!!!)

Luckily, when the food came it was delicious!  More expensive (with less food) than most of the other restaurants in the area, but very tasty.  Granted, my three lamb chops with half a roasted potato cut into wedges and a tablespoon of vegetables was a wee bit skimpy for the overblown price, but it was arranged very artistically.  Kid and her boyfriend were very satisfied with their meals, and partner said her fish was full of bones but well seasoned and very good.

We were a bit confused by the assortment of pickled salads they brought to the table.  With hummus or skewers they would have been perfect, but they didn’t really go with the sea bream,  lamb chops or other entrees.

While we were there, the folks at the other table left, and one other table had customers when we left.

Final verdict?  We won’t be going back there.  Sad, because we loved that place.  They do have a good chef.  And I really hope that they either remove the drinks menu or hire an actual bartender.   If they’re around that long.


Running to stay in place

April 21, 2015

Time is again moving much too quickly.  Events, experiences, the days just crash and blur and pile up upon each other in an untidy mess.

The vertigo is back.  Not as bad as the episode that put me in the hospital for four days last summer, but enough to disrupt plans and activity.  Because all of the tests that were done in the hospital and since – like CT scans, MRI, Doppler, etc – have been just fine, my doctor sent me to an otoneurologist, a specialist in all kinds of vestibular disorders.  I was lucky enough to get an appointment with the top guy in this field in the country, a professor who has spearheaded the study and treatment of vertigo and other balance dysfunction and dizziness.  So…he was very nice, very serious, asked good (and thorough) questions, and actually listened to my answers.  A rare breed of fellow.

From all the data available, he is pretty sure that we’re talking about MAV – migraine associated vertigo, or vestibular migraines.  The migraine headaches are hitting more often than usual as well.  Still, he has scheduled me for an additional series of tests – VNG, or Videonystagmography.  (Don’t ask me to pronounce that…) That’s in another couple of weeks.  So we’ll see what comes of it.

I had a really nasty bout of cold/flu in the midst of all of it, too.  I was in bed for the whole week preceding Pesach.  It was, I think, only the second time in my life I didn’t make it to Seder, which made me feel very sorry for myself.  I’m not a very… um, pleasant person when I’m sick, and this was enough for me to consider putting up a storm warning sign on the front door.  Niece was worried, sent Partner home from the Seder with a big food package for me, which was really a life-saver.  And I think it was the first time since I’ve had my own place – which is (ahem) quite a while now – that my house and kitchen were not ready for Pesach.  All the Pesach dishes and stuff stayed in the cupboard – I cleared one table for Pesach foods, we used plastic plates and utensils, and got through the week.

The worst part of all?  I wasn’t even up for knitting or reading.   So you can imagine what sort of a grump I was.

So I’m glad that’s behind us, and I’ll tell you soon what I’m up to these days!  If they’ll just slow down, sheesh.

Gift knitting

November 29, 2014

Started an infinity scarf for kidlet.  She is very knitworthy, loving and appreciating what I knit for her.  She has been known to accost strangers who come to the flat with a display of all the wonderful things her mom has knit.  Very good for the ego, if a wee bit embarrassing at times.

She chose the yarn (Malabrigo lace – kid’s got good taste), and the pattern – Lace Ribbon Scarf, by Veronik Avery.  I used a provisional cast on onto a spare circular so I can kitchener the ends to make it an infinity scarf.  It will be interesting to figure out how to kitchener yarnovers, which are in every row.  I’ll let you know how that works out…

Pal Roberta helped me wind the yarn using her swift (it’s called the “Almighty Swift”, which amused us).


And I’ve started the pattern – almost through the chart the first time.


It should be a very light and airy scarf, and the malabrigo will be as luscious to wear as it is to work with.

Now if I can just pry my drop-by (castanho) cowl away from her I will be happy…  I would like to wear it occasionally myself.



We didn’t go

November 25, 2014

Ever plan for something, work everything else around the plans, then not do it?

We planned to go to see a film today.  Partner saw it with friends, really liked it, wants me to see it, and although it’s almost unheard of she is willing to see it again.

So we settled on today.  Why?  Because on Tuesdays she gets a discount.  The film is at the end of its run, so it’s only showing once a day.  We’ve waited a pretty long time already, because there were other things happening on Tuesdays.  And the rest of the day was set up around the movie plans.

I was at the cinema on Sunday, came out of a meeting nearby and had some time to kill while kid had a meeting of her own, so I went and saw a different film.  Not the one we planned to see together, that wouldn’t be fair.  In hindsight, it may have been a wiser choice.

And then today it started to storm.  And the dog freaked out with the thunder, cowering and shivering and hiding.  Refusing to do her business outside, pulling away and running back upstairs instead.  We thought that we could still go, if kid would stay and soothe the pup while we’re gone.  But the dog was suffering so.  We don’t remember her reacting this way last winter.  She mostly hides in the bathroom, no idea why, and only comes out with a lot of encouragement (and a treat).

scared Kessem

And then kid started not feeling well.  We started waffling – go or not go?

We didn’t go.

Stayed home, all snuggled up in blankets, with the wind and the rain battering the windows.   Soothing both dog and kid.

Maybe the film will still be shown a little longer.  Maybe we’ll work out a different time to go.

Oh well.

Bubble Wrap Returns!!!

November 22, 2014

Let’s start the week with a laugh!

It seems not only humans are addicted….just watch:


bubble wrap


We’re goin’ to the zoo-zoo-zoo, How about you-you-you

November 20, 2014

You can come too-too-too, We’re goin’ to the zoo-zoo-zoo…

Kidlet had an appointment mid-day, and I promised to pick her up.   In the meantime, I wandered over to the park and into the zoo.

It was pretty quiet, children were still in school, or just out and home for lunch or rest-time.

The carousel outside the zoo gates was still.


Once I came inside,  I encountered birds wandering or wading or tending to their feathers.




There was a whole flock of white and brown birds in one area, and with them one lone flashy type over by the fence…  I wonder if the others play with it, or if it must keep to itself…



At one point kidlet joined me, and we wandered together.

In the midday heat many of the animals were sleeping.  I tried not to bother them, but couldn’t resist snapping a few napping creatures.

Like this magnificent white tiger


The leopard was half awake / half asleep but gave me a drowsy look before flopping back down to snooze…


The karakal was curled up in a corner.


One lioness was eating…something kind of bloody, don’t know what.  The other was watching warily.


Even most of the snakes were taking naps.


The meerkats were wide awake, and fighting over food/bugs.  And planning strategy…


Except for this one, playing king of the hill


The bears were funny.  They had all been for a swim, and some were resting.  One sat and made funny faces at us as we talked to it.


Another was tired and needed something to prop itself up.


We didn’t go into the petting zoo section, although this little one tried to persuade us otherwise.


Whatever your feelings and opinions about zoos, and I’m not even going to go there right now, we can all admire and respect the wide variety of the animal kingdom…




Channeling Rin-Tin-Tin

November 15, 2014

First goat is finished, doing the in-between bit before starting the second.  Horn is now all properly twisted.



Kessem is casting a noble shadow!  Wonder what she’s thinking?