Monday, May 11, 2015

Zigzagging through April

               . . .  and dribbling into May

Little Black Kitty was introduced to me by its Mother, along with its two or three siblings, about nine months ago. It's a tiny cat, which hasn't kept pace in growth with the one kitty I know is from the same litter. I couldn't tell whether it was he or she until Great Big Fluffy Sourpuss began his courtship of her, maybe three or four months ago. The Cat Rescue Ladies had done an excellent job of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) while I was away in France last fall. It was time to get them back.

I dawdle around, carefully watching Little Black Kitty's waistline for awhile, gradually getting her to allow me to pat her head when I feed her, maybe even touch her sides to see whether all that frolicking with Sourpuss yielded results. Time goes by with no apparent changes in her profile, but Sourpuss comes back, which finally gives me a nudge to get with it.

It's not long before I'm due to go to Asilomar for my Empty Spools quilt class at the end of March. Cat Rescue Lady sets several traps on my decks. Since there are several cats around, it's hard to target just one. We hover in the house, listening for the sound of a trap springing. Both of us watch LBK enter a trap. Victory is at hand! But she senses the movement of the trap release and the sound of the gate sliding down, and with her small, quick body she hits the descending gate hard before the lock rings slide down to hold it in place, and blasts out of the trap and away.

A few minutes later, another trap is sprung and escaped from, unwitnessed. We don't see who it is but suspect it's LBK.  Then a third trap springs, capturing -- ta da! -- Sourpuss.

Actually, Sourpuss is a beautiful cat. It's just that he never looks happy. Here he is, back from his surgery for a few days of recuperation inside before I can release him. He had a difficulty during surgery -- an undescended testicle. He was officially renamed for his surgery to Casanova. (Or possibly Romeo ... two males went on the trip to the out-of-town vet surgery center.)

*     *     *

I take the cage outside the day before I leave for Asilomar, open the gate, and watch him disappear around the corner of the garage.

We have a flicker of hope this day that we might get some rain in our drought-dry California community.

But nothing more than a shower, lighter than mist, lands on the parched landscape.

Are my Internet problems over? Service has been intermittent for a week as the cable company guys work to  balance the system. Keeping all this stuff in balance sounds incredibly complex ... and touchy. They have discovered that besides the problems in the system, I personally have a personal problem in my connections. Overall, it's mostly fine now. I'll get more personal attention when the bigger picture is dealt with. On the plus side, my Internet speed has been doubled. :-)

I have medical appointments and procedures tucked between quilting events: seeing doctors, setting up appointments for procedures, and arranging transportation for the same.  In one bucolic trip to the Little City Down the Hill, turkeys crossing the roadway in front of me decide the way of escape is by running down the road ahead of me.

*     *     *

Here are Jean-Luc and Henley, so content that Mommy is home from Asilomar. (Purrrrrrrrr.)

This kitty is one of Little Black Kitty's siblings. He had his trip to the Cat Rescue vet while I was in France. He's creeping across the back deck, intent on something he thinks he sees off the deck . . .

"There's something out there . . . gotta see it, gotta see it..."

"Never mind. False alarm."

He's been here long enough now that I think I ought to give him a name. I haven't even had a descriptive name, like Little Black Kitty or Big Fat Fluffy Kitty. I've become confused over the years about who's who among all the striped kitties with sox. I'm beginning to feel he's a Timmy, and, because his rear white sox go all the way up his legs like women's silk stockings of days of old, Timmy Longstockings. That way I should be able to remember which soxed cat he is.

And there he is, back eating with the other cats: Casanova. He's okay. For all I know, he's been eating here while I was at Asilomar.

There's Little Black Kitty, eating with Casanova and Timmy, while Little M looks on. Is there a little bulge to LBK's abdomen? I don't trust that I can catch her with a trap. She's been spooked by it. But can I fool her with neck skritches, then grab her by the ruff and stick her into a regular carrier?

For a couple of days I squat down while she eats and rub her neck and gently caress her sides. It's a Monday or a Tuesday; I've lost track of exactly when.  The Cat Rescue bus makes its trip on a Wednesday. I don't know whether it's this Wednesday, but if it isn't, I'll take her to the local vet. They're not excited about dealing with the wild ferals, but can do it. Next Wednesday, I'll be away at quilt camp. It's now or ... who knows when?

LBK climbs the screen every time I'm anywhere in view. Believe me, these cats track my presence through every window within their vision. (You can see her handiwork in the photos taken through the screen.) She thinks she needs to eat. I've put a cat carrier on end with its door open, just inside the screen door.  I'm nervous. I'd love to be wearing gloves, but those would spook her and I might lose my grip. I'm hoping for success, and not too much damage to my person.

When the moment is at hand, I tighten my grip on the scruff of her neck and lift her gently. I resist putting a hand under her hind legs because I know that's worth a handful of little daggers. She dangles calmly until I start to guide her rear quarters into the cat carrier. Then she erupts into flailing claws and struggles loose. She heads for the screen door but I've pulled it closed and she doesn't get through it. Over and over she lunges up to the top of the screen, then drops back down. I run for a large towel and try to grab and wrap. Eventually I manage to swaddle her and shove her into the carrier. I lock carrier and cat in my sewing room, where Jean-Luc and Henley won't be able to bother her.

I call the Cat Rescue Lady. We're in luck. There is a bus run this Wednesday. Cat Rescue Lady is sick, so I am to drop  Little Black Kitty off at the park early Wednesday evening for her interim ride with other kitties from Our Little Town to the Little City Down the Hill to transfer to the Cat Rescue bus.

Tuesday they say there may be rain. Or thundershowers.

Lightning flashes and flickers. Thunder crashes and rolls. Rain clatters. Only it's hail. It continues until streets and yards and decks and patio tables are covered with little balls of ice piled so thickly that look like snow. Little Black Kitty is toasty in my sewing room in the cat carrier. The other kitties are hiding out under the patio table or in the kitty tube, an insulated igloo for feral cat housing.

Wednesday comes and the weather clears. Little Black Kitty's carrier is covered to calm her down here at the park where I deliver her. After her surgery she'll be transferred into the trap for her return home for a few days of recuperation.

Five other local kitties are here for the same journey.

Thursday morning, Little M and Timmy are sitting vigil for LBK outside my bedroom window.

I get the arrival home time home wrong. I thought it was nine Thursday morning. It's nine Thursday evening.

She's subdued when she gets home but becomes more and more irritable as days go by. I'm supposed to keep her in for a week, so she'll be healed well enough that it wouldn't injure her if a male tries to mount her. I know I have to let her out a little early, because I'm going to quilt camp. Yes, more quilting.

Now it's time to get ready for quilt camp. I arrange the shimmer blocks I partially completed at Asilomar and fold up the flannel quilt wall to take it to camp.

My non-sewing junk is hauled to my sleeping room by the young interns at the camp. I leave it piled thusly until I'm ready to go to bed at 12 or 1-ish and I have to unroll my sleeping bag and get out a few toiletries.

Quilters at work over the next few days:

This may look like a regular size quilt but it's probably no more than 18" square. Maybe less. Look at how perfectly all the points just "kiss" each other. Exquisite work.

Toasty soft animal prints quilt. (No real animals were harmed in the making of this quilt.)

This sunflower and poppy panel blows me away. I've tried to find it on the Internet but wasn't able to, although I did find a strictly poppy one.

I'm in the processes of stitching my Shimmer quilt pieces together.

I remember this from an earlier when the quilter was struggling with block sizes and arrangement. It's come together here.

I posted a photo of this (Facebook?) and someone commented that it looks like I'm working on a puzzle and did the edge parts first.

I brought other projects along to work on after I finish sewing the Shimmer quilt top together. Silly me. On the eve before we're to go home I finally complete it. The tradition when you finish a quilt top is to unfurl it for the assemblage and announce "ta-daaa."  By the time I finish, everyone else has gone to bed, so as I do those last stitches I ponder whether I can video the ta-daa on my phone and make up my little speech. Here's my little film, er, phone video.

Now I will reveal a little secret. Just as I was about to start recording, Denise, who'd been up second-latest with me but has ostensibly gone to bed,  came back into the room just as I was propping my camera up. She got a live ta-daa but I made her hide out of view and not giggle while I went through with my original plan.

I'm shocked when I get home to find weathered newspapers in the driveway and the jars of dry cat food in the garage undisturbed from where I'd left them. The kitty sitter hasn't been here since I left. The outside kitties greet me cheerfully. They can find food in the neighborhood.But I can only hope my "boys," locked inside, are okay. They do greet me happily, but every kernel of kibble has been eaten and the water tower is empty. Fortunately my lady who cleans left water in my bathroom basin, as had I when I left. I provide my kitty sitter with a calendar of trips quite a ways in advance. Fortunately, I find a copy of the calendar I sent before I say something to her ... and ... my fault. Quilt camp isn't on her list.

My little Cuddle Bug is glad to have me back.

That isn't my only recent major boo-boo. April 15 -- and most of you should recognize the significance of that date -- occurs during quilt camp. I've been trying to find a way to describe here what happened, but it defies description.

Suffice it to say, for the first time in years I'd been able to file my income taxes toward the end of February, avoiding a conflict between April tax filing and this spring's travel for quilt events. I'd paid taxes and overdue taxes then. I was silently gloating as others were sweating it in April.

I don't get back into Quicken to schedule my usual end-of-month payments until April 24. At this point, I discover I have neglected to pay estimated taxes, quite a bit, both federal and state, due on April 15. And now, late penalties, too. It means reawakening all that Turbo Tax stuff I thought I'd safely forgotten.


"What is this?" Little M seems to ask as rain falls . . .


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