Saturday, 12 May 2007

Bixy has a problem

It's a fairly common one - I suffer from it as well - he's overweight. He went to the vet for a routine check-up and jabs last week and his weight came out at 10 kilos - he is a very large cat anyway but that's about 2-3 kilos more than he should be and it isn't funny. The worst is he risks diabetes which is serious enough in humans but even more so in cats apparently because it's more difficult to manage. He also has other problems - there are bits of him he can't reach well enough to groom effectively (don't ask!) and some of his fur is beginning to mat - though he's a short-hair his fur is very thick - though I am gradually (at some risk to life and limb - he's very firm about what he doesn't like) getting the matted fur out a bit at a time.

He's about nine years old now. He arrived from the vets as a six-month old fully-grown kitten/young adult with a broken leg. The police had found him and taken him in for euthanasia, but he was such a nice cat they decided to repair the leg instead, and pinned it. I'd lost two cats due to old age in the previous year and was left with a comparatively young tabby who was used to having other cats around and craved feline company, so the vet contacted me to see if I'd be interested and he moved in with us later that week.

From the start he was extremely characterful, not to mention musical, with a vocal range of about four octaves. It was hard work trying to stop him doing the things he wasn't supposed to do like jumping onto and off things. After a period of the usual animosity you get when a new cat is introduced to the household he and Hoagy became firm friends. Once his leg healed he became well-known and liked in the neighbourhood though he proved to have a talent for getting locked into places (on one occasion 36 hours in a neighbour's cellar - and the first thing he wanted to do once he'd eaten was go back out again).

He's also been amazing with younger cats, mothering both Django and Pepper who arrived as kittens, really impressive in the gentle way he played with them - Pepper still regards Bixy as his mum and they're usually to be found curled up together somewhere. Hoagy eventually died of cancer and spent his last evening with Bixy having his head licked...

Bixy's love of adventure subsided as he got older. This was a relief at the time but his weight-gain is an unfortunate side-effect of this, together with his liking for good food and his willingness to clear up the other cats' left-overs. It's difficult getting him to diet while there are three other cats in the house, but I'm trying to do it by feeding them all small portions (no left-overs for him to scoff) whilst sneaking the other cats extra snacks between meals (though I'm having to be inventive about this as Bixy keeps finding their secret stash and demolishing it). On the other hand he is getting a lot more exercise hunting everywhere for food!

Any ideas and tips gladly appreciated!

Monday, 7 May 2007

more angelina!

Before I start on my latest angelina project, let me say thank you for all the e-mails and blog comments wishing me a happy 60th. I intend to take all your advice about enjoying life and making the most of things very seriously and have already had a week of celebrations (unusually for an introvert like me) and a couple of days recovering and getting back to normal. Just to quote one thing I was told (I think the quotation originally came from Garfield) "Life is short - eat dessert first!" - this appealed both literally and metaphorically!

On to the more serious business of the day: latest experiments in stitching. Using angelina was set as a challenge by the Self Expressions Studio group I'm a member of (a group of us who all took Myrna Giesbrecht's class at Quilt University). The earlier pieces have already appeared on this blog. However, after the deadline a parcel containing more angelina - which I was beginning to give up hope of getting - arrived, and I couldn't not play with it could I?

I began by making a large sheet of angelina that I could cut then fuse. I began by cutting off a piece of bondaweb (wonder under in the US) and laid strands of angelina in different colours across it, blending as I went to try to get an effect like a variegated watercolour wash. I put parchment paper over the top (I had already put some under the bondaweb) and ironed just enough to begin to bond the angelina, then turned it over to iron the underside enough to melt the bondaweb film (doing it this way presented less risk of overheating the angelina), then peeled it off the backing and laid it down on more parchment paper (ordinary baking parchment from the supermarket).

I planned to make up designs just using squares and oblongs, so out with the rotary cutter ruler and mat, and I had a number of squares and oblongs in different sizes, which I arranged on a p0stcard sized "sandwich" of backing fabric, wadding and base fabric then ironed down. Then it was merely a matter of finishing off with some stitching (Madeira Metallic 40 - a thread I love to sew with, which generally behaves itself well). This is the result:
I love the way the colours change with the light.
For the second one I began by taking a single larger square which I exploded (i.e. cut into pieces) then added some small squares at either side, fused the pieces, and finished off by quilting with the same thread as before.

I still have some angelina left over, and really fancy the idea of trying it in 3D (the cats, who have a knack of always choosing the right present bought me a heat-gun for my birthday) and of making some angelina beads. I've already been asked to do a workshop for my local quilting group on using angelina so I also need to design a few small projects that are flexible enough for those who prefer to design their own to do so. I'm looking forward to it - should be fun!

Whilst I love making postcards - together with journal-sized pieces an ideal way to experiment - I think I'm going to have to attempt something larger soon!