Cats over fandom today…

I was going to post Richard Armitage pictures today but then we went to visit Mr Esther’s aunt and uncle to meet their new kittens and that whole plan went out the window. So, it’s cats over fandom here today!

It’s no secret that I adore cats. We had loads of pets growing up (especially dogs and guinea pigs) but we didn’t have cats. I always wanted cats, was famous for that wish and the nickname my parents gave me as a little girl was “Poestie” (“poes” is cat in Dutch). My mother still calls me “Poes” sometimes. When I went off to college there was no room for cats in my life and when I moved in with Mr Esther, he wasn’t about to have cats move in as well. He was a dog person but that soon changed.

We’d been living together for a year when we went to visit my parents who were living in Jerusalem again at the time, bordering the checkpoint to Bethlehem. When we came to visit them my mother had rescued two kittens that had been orphaned by a wild dog on the grounds of the institute they were living at. She hand-reared them and didn’t have the heart to release them again into a very uncertain wild future. When Mr Esther and I came to visit I fell in love! I mean, who wouldn’t with kittens such as these?

During the 3 weeks we stayed with my parents especially the kitten on the left (in my brother’s hand) was able to win Mr Esther over and when we travelled back to The Netherlands, we travelled back with two kittens. We called them our Palestinian refugees. One of the cats became ill at the age of 8 and died, the other cat was thankfully with us much longer.

When my baby son arrived, the cats didn’t trust the crying baby and virtually lived in the attic the first three months of his life. Yeah, they were scaredy cats and remained that always. They came to tolerate the children but weren’t that close to them. Babies and toddlers are scary beings but they adored Mr Esther and me. When one of the cats died, the other one seemed lonely for a while and hovered around me more than ever.

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We then went to the local shelter and asked for advice and they told us it would best to add a kitten for company. So, we got a beige-reddish kitten out of the shelter. Our old cat didn’t trust the kitten much at first…

… but in the end they learned to at first tolerate each other and in the black & white cat’s older age, they’d even lie against each other at times.

Where the black & white cat was somewhat stand-offish with our small kids, our beige cat instantly became fast friends with them, always searching them out. He has the dearest soul, loves everyone and allows everyone to love him.

When five years ago our old b&w cat died aged 17, my heart broke. We had loved her so dearly!

However, as our beige cat is such a social cat, we decided to adopt another kitten from a shelter a few months later. No one wanted the black cats there, so we took one home. This black cat, even though she turned out to be a mass murderer, instantly took hold of our hearts.

The two cats needed a few days to get used to each other but soon became friends, even though the beige cat really needed to get used to the playfulness of a kitten after only having lived with an older cat.

Nowadays the beige cat is the old cat, he’s 14. The cats still occasionally tumble over each other for a minute or two to play but mostly lead separate lives. They both love their cuddles from us. The beige cat takes to my son a lot of the time while the black one takes to my daughter but they both also love to spend time with Mr Esther or me when I sit on the couch and have a cup of tea, as pictured here last week…

The beige cat lies against me or Mr Esther on the couch almost every evening and likes to come on the bed when I put him there (the jump is now too high for him)…

Our beige cat used to greet us outside our house when he heard the car come home but now that we have a quiet hybrid Toyota, he doesn’t always come out anymore. He does often still come out to say goodbye when we leave, though.

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Anyway, this whole post came about because Mr Esther’s aunt and uncle have adopted two kittens from a charity in Greece. They were inspired to do so after we told them about visiting a cat shelter on Rhodos last year and when their cat died, the decision to adopt these kittens was made. This afternoon we went to visit these kittens who are now about 5 months old. Although they look completely different, it reminded me of us adopting our two black & white sisters from Jerusalem, which kickstarted sharing our house with cats. These two kittens were found in a dumpster on the Greek island of Crete and are so very affectionate and playful! I think they will have a very happy home here in The Netherlands.

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We’re in love yet again.

As I finish this post and link back to earlier posts on this blog, I’m realizing that this september is the 5 year anniversary of this blog! Coincidentally, I am also just seeing, this is my 600th post. Not as many posts as many bloggers out there (I, by far, don’t post daily), but 600 still seems like a lot to me. How fun that I was able to celebrate this with cats. 🙂

Cat therapy

My older sister, who lives about a 10 minute bike ride away from me, is in Japan on her holiday right now. She has a cat she rescued from a shelter a year ago who is adorable and who needs a little care while she’s away. So, at the end of every afternoon I go to her apartment, to feed the cat and do the litterbox. But oh no, I can’t just leave as soon as I’ve done that! Mr Cat loves his attention and needs a little more from the cat-sitting experience. The moment I come in, he is swirling around my legs until I sit down. He loves rolling around on my old Birkenstock slippers I was wearing last week…

… and he plants himself on my lap as soon as I sit down on the couch. He really wants to be petted….

Today, when I went there after work, this was the situation with Mr Cat lying on my lap for ages and rolling around on my legs:

Mr Cat was in a spot alone in the shelter at the time because he’s a bit of a scaredy cat, afraid of the outdoors, and didn’t much like other cats. I think he makes up for that by loving people all the more. Not just me, he’s not shy of my daughter or Mr Esther either. Seriously, every day I stay in my sister’s apartment for over an hour, to give him some attention and to allow him to stare out the balcony door, enjoying the slight breeze coming in:

cat10It’s quite a bite out of my day but I don’t seem to mind so much. It’s great cat therapy amidst the Brexit mess (I’m following the debates in parliament again this evening), the Amazon on fire, hurricanes, and a US president who thinks it could be reasonable to nuke hurricanes and who thinks he should be seen as the “King of Israel”.

Mr Cat may prefer people to cats; as I watch the news, I think that in many ways I prefer cats to people.

Me and my cat

I have a work iPhone, have had it for almost 2 months, but for some reason I could not make actual calls with it. After many visits to my work helpdesk I finally got my third SIM card last Friday and lo and behold, third time lucky, I now have a phone I can use for more than the internet; I can actually make calls now! So, I have now finally started using the thing (will only use it for work, to keep work and private life separate), getting apps installed and such. My daughter is a little jealous, she wants an iPhone, but we never got her one because, well, it’s not that cheap. I, on the other hand, could care less about having an iPhone. I have a Samsung Galaxy phone privately, way cheaper, and I love it. Anyway, my daughter confiscated my now properly functioning iPhone to check out the fun new smileys on it and choose backgrounds for me and stuff. She also played with the camera and took this picture just as one of our cats walked over to me to say hi and head-rub me…

Cat and me

I normally am not fond at all of how I look in pictures, but this picture I like – it’s an image to treasure. 🙂

Glück

I’m just in time for the latest ‘Mach Was’ (‘Do Something’) challenge. The theme of the challenge this time around is “Glück”,  which translates to “luck” or “happiness”.  What to do with Glück, I thought, and then I let myself be inspired by all the joy and love in Hugh Jackman’s show. So, for me, for this challenge, I interpret Glück as what makes me most joyful in life, what I love most. You’d think when you read this blog that what makes me happy is fangirling and, while that is very true, what makes me happiest of all is without a doubt my family.

To me happiness is meeting Mr Esther and becoming a couple

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Mr Esther & I, one week into our relationship

…. and marrying him on our 7.5 year anniversary

Happiness is becoming a mother after the birth of my son in the summer of 2001…

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… and our first holiday together to France when he was 2 months old…

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Happiness is my daughter being born at the end of 2003…

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… and the first picture of me as a mother of two when my daughter was one day young..

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… and of us as a family of 4 when she was two days old…

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Happiness is still loving my family and them being the most important thing in my life, even now that the kids are growing up…

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Happiness is also my family I grew up with: my parents and my siblings…

… and the many memories I share with them, like a family trip I once described for another Mach Was challenge.

Last but not least, happiness is our two cats, they too are very much a part of our family. Here they are in pictures taken last week with a flower crown and a flower necklace, made by my son’s lovely girlfirend from little wildflowers growing in our garden…

It may be sappy but yes, I am lucky to have this happiness in my life and it’s nice to be reminded of that with this challenge. 🙂

The power of love

Just before our summer holiday, my older sister moved to the same town I live in. She got herself a gorgeous apartment and decided a few weeks ago that the time had finally come for a new cat. She had cats before, but the last one died a few years ago and as she lived too far from work at the time, she didn’t want a new cat just yet. Now that she lives closer to her work, she felt the time was ripe and my mother, daughter and I accompanied her to a shelter a few weeks ago, where she adopted a 2,5 year old male cat.

The kittycat had been dumped there after the former owners decided they liked their new second kitty better than this cat. This cat had been stressed in his old house, couldn’t deal with having another cat around and wasn’t so very happy in the shelter either. He was very shy but at some point we were able to pet him, which he seemed to enjoy after all. My sister took him home where he first disappeared underneath a couch before carefully starting to explore after we had left them alone…

Within a few hours the cat was purring in my sister’s lap. I have visited a few times over the past 3,5 weeks and the shyness is all gone! Kittycat comes up to anyone entering the house, stranger or not, weaves his way around your legs and when you sit down, he gladly comes to pay a visit. I had my first cat-sitting duty last night and this morning because my sister was sleeping over at my mom’s to be closer to the synagogue for Yom Kippur. The cat has turned into a social animal! He sat on me for most of the 90 minutes I was there with him yesterday evening and sat on me again for most of the 20 minutes this morning (I don’t work Wednesdays, so had a little time).  Picture proof:

It’s so amazing what a little love and attention has done for this kittycat! I can’t believe someone would want to give him up, he is so sweet and playful and loves to purr! Luckily for my sister, they did give him up and he has now found a great home with her.

As for my second ‘power of love’ story – I hesitated to share it as it is quite personal but I don’t want to hide it either, as it is a reality in my family’s life. I’m sure we’re not the only ones living with such a reality. So, I decided to share, while still trying to avoid going into too much personal detail.

This story of love is for a girl I have seen grow up alongside my daughter. My daughter, I’ll call her Sec here, has a best friend, whom I shall call Tem. They met in class when they were little girls, Sec was 5 and Tem was 6. Both girls are not very girly, Sec did judo, Tem did karate, and they bonded over their tomboyish ways almost instantly. Tem has had some problems, though, that became more pronounced as she grew older. She has been diagnosed with ADHD (like both my kids, by the way) and some more other stuff. Tem’s ADHD and other issues have always been much more complex than Sec’s issues but this has never gotten in the way of their friendship. These girls share everything with each other and have always been able to support each other through thick and thin. The girls have gone on to different classes and different schools, but through it all and the challenges they have faced both separately and together, they have always remained very close.

A few months ago things came to a head when Tem (now 15) tried to commit suicide and Sec, acting on great instinct, manged to save her in the nick of time. Needless to say, it’s all been quite traumatic and difficult and despite the hurt and anger Sec has felt over what happened, she has steadfastly stood by her friend. We support Sec to the best of our ability to help her deal with all this, talks and hugs and tears have passed, and she has also been seeing a pyschologist on and off to help her cope. It breaks my heart that she is confronted with all this but, depite the lows she’s been through over this, I find that she is level-headed and strong for her friend when she needs to be. Through all of this she never wavered in her support for Tem.

Some weeks ago, after more fears for Tem’s own safety and the safety of family and other people around her (but no fears for Sec), she was committed to a closed institution which is about a 35 minute drive away from where we live. Needless to say, that has been rough, not only on Tem but on us and especially Sec as well. Again, through it all, Sec has been there for her friend with gifts and letters and we have been visiting Tem weekly (Tem is the smaller of the two in these pictures, wearing track suit bottoms).

We are the only non-family who visit Tem and when we come on Friday evenings, Tem’s face just lights up and she flies into Sec’s and my arms for a hug. Now, 5 or 6 weeks on, Tem seems to be adjusting, making friends and I hope will finally allow herself to be helped (she has always been very resistant to any help before). It is beautiful to see how strong the bond is between these two young girls. Tem still has a very long way to go, but I hope the support that we try to give and the power of love will also help a little with Tem’s healing so that one day she can function in the ‘normal’ world again.