The Move – the cats

Emma and I had been worrying a bit about moving the cats. In the last month or so, there had been an influx of cats to the complex and the furries had taken to fighting. In particular, there was one critter, by the name of Oros (Em always gets the names of the neighbourhood cats) that had an unbecoming yowl that sounded reminiscent of a baby being dunked in and out of hot water. He drove us all crazy.

Em did some research and pronounced that the cats would be kept in a room in the new house for two weeks before being released into the house, and then, only then, into the garden.

I privately scoffed but made no comment. Could not for the life of me imagine keeping Ralphie incarcerated for a single day, let alone two weeks!

Whilst Ralph and Edge are not big fighters, they do like to supervise and on the odd occasion felt the need to join in. As a result, Ralph’s nose was looking decidedly dodgy and after having a dream (I think it was a dream but he could have been sitting on my chest in the middle of the night beaming thoughts into my brain) where he asked me to take him to the vet to have it looked at, we loaded him into the cat box and complied. The vet wrinkled her own pretty nose and said we’d try cortisone first, but if it did not get better – we’d have to consider a biopsy – it might be cancer. Apparently they treat cats quite effectively these days with radiation. Did you ever! He had a jab and I got some cream to dab on his nose. Was vastly relieved not to get tablets – last time he had to have pills Chris and I damn near lost our fingers.

I asked the vet about moving too. She agreed with Em’s googling, said we should move them last – once everything had been moved, and also offered up the solution of Feliway Classic. A plug-in synthetic pheromone copy which would supposedly make the cats all calm and happy in their room. (When cats feel comfortable in their environment, they rub their cheeks against corners of furniture or your leg, leaving a message, undetectable to us, known as the feline facial pheromone. This “happy marker” provides reassurance to cats.)

I gulped a bit at the price of this – R558. But cheaper than two calming collars which are basically the same thing – plus it would last for a month – which meant we could probably use it for Grey Cat (mom’s cat who would also be relocating to our “commune” early in September). She agreed to order one for us.

The cats were not one bit bothered by all the boxes that slowly accumulated and piled higher and higher in the passageways and rooms.

But then moving day arrived and Ralph skived off, flat-eared, into a cupboard. We put them both into their cat boxes and positioned them nicely in the sun on the balcony. Edge is not a fan of cat boxes. He was like those bug-eyed, wide-toed cartoon cats that required nine hands to stuff him into the box. He mewled pitifully. Ralph looked at him through the bars, a contemptuous sneer on his face. The two cats are not always such good buddies – I was a tad worried about them being stuck in a room together, pheromones or not.

A few minutes later Em shrieked for me to come quickly and check out Ralph’s nose. It had been healing so nicely and I was beyond chuffed that it looked like a biopsy would not be necessary. Ralph had smooshed his almost healed nose against the bars and it was a total bleeding mess. There was not a lot I could so at that stage – apart from put a blob of cortisone on it. All hell was breaking loose in the house and I was needed. Despite the fact his nose was a mess – he was totally chilled. Edge, on the other hand, was still mewling like a baby in his box.

Once we’d emptied out Luan’s room of all his things – we put the cats into that room – and let them out of their boxes. There were a good few hours before we’d be able to take them to the new house and they were becoming anxious looking at all their stuff being driven away (they had a bird’s eye view from the balcony).

Around five o’clock, after a busy day of shuttling to and fro, Em and I moved the cats to the new house. We had earmarked a room in the granny flat – seeing as mom would only be moving in later on. Em plugged in the happy-cat juice and settled them down with some food and their respective baskets.

The first night they slept in their own baskets. The second they swapped over. The third day we found them cuddled up in Ralph’s basket (a huge one he inherited from Fudges). They went from tolerating each other to being best buddies. After the first day we let them out of the room and gave them the run of the granny flat. One day Ralph was missing. Eventually he was located, snoozing in the kitchen sink.

We ended up keeping them in for four days. By then they were fed up and wanted out. Gemma was also badly wanting to make acquaintance with the strange furry critters. She’d been howling at the door for the past two days.

We closed all the windows and doors and let them out into the rest of the house. Ralph stalked (tail up) through each and every single room, sniffing everything. Except Luan’s – because the door was closed. When he’d finished his tour, he landed up outside the closed door, patiently waiting for me to let him in. He checked that out too and then settled on the ottoman by the window in our room. He gazed and gazed at the garden – wide-eyed.

The garden is full of trees and birds and is a veritable cat TV.

Edge was not so happy. He slunk around the place, tail down and scuttled at the sound of nothing. It took him a good few hours to get his mojo back and feel vaguely comfortable. Not that I think Ralph was exactly comfortable. I don’t think he closed his eyes for the next two days. He found himself a spot on the bar, out of reach, where he could monitor all the comings and goings. He was not an instant Gemma fan either. Don’t think he could understand that you even got dogs smaller than him.

Edge on the other hand, was not bothered with Gemma. Not long after being let out, I heard Gemma shrieking down the passage way – ears flying, and surmised the Edge had showed her who was boss. Not a very hard lesson though, because Gemma can often be found tailing Edge, sniffing his backside and every now and then it looks like she wants to hug him. Probably because he is big and fluffy and ever so soft!

After his initial sacredness, Edge got more adventurous and did a tour of the garden. He found himself a nice patch of red dust and has rolled in it twice a day ever since. It took Ralph a few days to do the same.

It will be two weeks tomorrow – all three furries are now on good terms with each other and happily co-exist. Ralph likes to tease Gemma by blocking her way in the passage and eating her food. He also installs himself in spots that she considers hers. Once he walked on her whilst she was burrowed under her duvet. Her anguished howl shifted him chop-chop. I have no clue if he did it on purpose or if he was considering stealing her baskie.

Edge sleeps with Em and Charl in the flatlet. Ralph hogs large portions of our bed – as he did before.

Just when I was on the verge of taking Ralph back to the vet for his nose – he kept smooshing it against stuff – it started healing up again. It’s still a bit of a mess, but looks at lot better than it did before. I’m keeping an eye on it though.

Thankfully – it seems as though our cats have settled down to their new house as well as the humans have.

The Move… the kitchen

Know I should be writing the cats’ blog first, but honestly – I have to rave a bit about the kitchen in the new house.

Yes! It is very blue, but this does not bother me in the slightest. For the last 8 years we’ve had a brown/black kitchen with no window to speak of. There was one that went out the back door – sort of in the scullery bit, but it led onto the covered over, walled-in back hokkie where the bin was kept. No light and certainly no view.

Not only was it dark, but the fluorescent light had a mind of its own and sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Over the years the oven seemed to get more and more temperamental – if you tried to cook anything at 200 deg C. it smelt like the kitchen cupboards were on fire. (They felt warm to the touch too.) It also took just about longer to get up to temperature than it did to cook the food. Lastly – if you used more than 2 plates at one time, the electricity tripped. I know we could have called in the fixer-dudes but somehow that always felt like more trouble than it was worth.

The first day after we moved, I tackled the kitchen. There are cupboards galore – loads of space. Nothing has to be stacked on top of each other. Em and I had a brief altercation over the “pantry”. She felt I should put food in there. I said it was not practical. I won. The biggest problem was trying to figure out what should go where.

Apart from all the cupboards… did I mention there is a pull-out dedicated spice rack, and a built-in pull-out veggie rack, there are couple of serious highlights in this kitchen.

The sink has a fancy tap. One of those swishy things that you can un-hinge, hit a little rubbery button and it turns into a sprayer type thingy. The previous owners had a dishwasher but our washing machine goes into that slot (seeing as Emma is using the laundry as a work room). Anyway – we don’t have a dishwasher so it’s a moot point. It makes it really easy to hose down huge baking trays in the sink. A doddle in fact! Except the rest of the family takes great pleasure in leaving that little button engaged so that my own unsuspecting self comes along, turns on the tap and nearly dies of fright when it hisses and sprays at me. I have instated a rule – use the hose thing with pleasure but turn it back into a tap when you are finished – or I’ll spray you with it!

Another highlight is the oven… A DEFY Gemini Gourmet Multifunction double oven. OMG! We made pizza the other night and… well… see for yourself. 20 minutes and it was cooked perfectly. Today I made biscuits – same story. (This is where the HUGE baking trays come in – I can fit two of my trays of biscuits on one shelf!) Okay – there is a little glitch – seems like if you use the oven at a high temperature – the power trips – but only in the house – not in the flatlet. We’ll be getting hold of an electrician – but in the meantime, we know how to circumvent it – switch the geyser off whilst cooking.

The stove top is one of those DEFY glass plate thingies – that heats up instantly. Turn the dial and poof! It’s instantly cherry red and ready to cook. (None of this taping it with your hand shite, waiting for it to heat up… maybe.It’s even got a special plate for me – one that regulates the heat and it’s almost impossible to burn anything.

Our kitchen is light and airy and has a fabulous window – a huge one – that looks out onto the front garden and you can see the road beyond – so washing up is not one bit boring.

I know these are things that people maybe take for granted – but after our shitty complex kitchen – it’s a real treat to have a fully functioning kitchen again.

This lovely kitchen totally makes up for the crappy bathroom!

The Move – Gemma the dog

As I said… we got a dog with our new house.

The second or third time that we visited the house, I made a comment that I hoped we could find a little dog that was as well behaved as Gemma.

Isabella, the daughter of the house and owner of Gemma, perked up her ears.

But Gemma needs a forever home!” she exclaimed. She was not able to take Gemma to New Zealand and was looking for a nice home for her.

I said I’d think about it. Fudges had been gone for a few months but I was not necessarily ready to have a new doglet quite yet.

However, we had a family conference and the verdict was that we would happily have Gemma along with the house.

Turns out we adopted a little doglet that is seriously full of quiddities and quibbles. When she was a puppy, her male “parental agent” was somewhat nasty and took it out on her often. She has a memory as long as her little brown body.

Chris gave her a neck rub and it would appear that he did something she does not like… so she shrieked at him. Very disconcerting because you are not sure what it is you’ve done. Or if you’ve hurt her or not?

I picked her up to put her on my lap (which she was asking for) and she shrieked at me. Still not sure which bit of her I offended.

Luan went out of the front door to go to varsity the other morning and stood totally bemused on the outside whilst Gemma howled and shrieked at him from the inside. He had visions that he’d accidentally shut a bit of her into the door (which he knew he hadn’t) but it turned out she just wanted to go outside too. The sliding door was open – but she wanted to go out of the front door.

Whilst she does not run out of the gate onto the road, she has a horrible habit of coming precariously close to the car wheels, and seeing as she has been run over before and has a gait like a drunken sailor sometimes; I am totally neurotic about scrunching her.

She is damn tiny – a little brown mouse.

A pile of rather odious bedding was left in our room – Gemma’s baskie. I was tempted to immediately wash it on the hottest setting possible, but was vetoed. Shame… they said. It’s the only thing that still smells familiar to her. After the second day Chris wrinkled his nose and remarked that I should feel free to wash it anytime I felt like it.

She puts herself to bed. Burrows under her duvet like a little groundhog, into the depths of her “baskie” and slumbers peacefully. But if she even has a whisper of a thought that she’s been locked into the house alone, she howls in her high pitched little voice.

Yesterday morning there was a yelping from our bedroom (Chris and I were sorting out the office). Ralph had meanly positioned himself in the middle of the passage – a few feet from the bedroom door – and Gemma was too scared to charge past him. Every time she ventured out, Ralphie would haughtily flick his head around and glare at her. I swear that cat was laughing his whiskers off on the inside. He also likes to stalk up to her food bowl at breakfast and snarf a few pellets down first – simply to tease her. I’m figuring they must fight their own battles.

She fancies Edge too. Sometimes looks a bit like she’s trying to hump him – but I think she just likes how he feels – all soft and cuddly. Edge is a tad more forgiving and does not mind having his butt sniffed whilst he waddles around the garden.

Gemma has the habit of doing a very hard-done-by act. She puts her head down and trudges sadly off into the garden/house/front yard, as though nobody in the world loves her.

Then just around the corner you’ll find her happily crunching on a pecan nut.

Sometimes she goes completely doolally. Does laps around the house and then leaps into the nearest flower bed panting frantically. Luckily she is so light she does no damage. She was engaging in this unladylike behaviour last week when Edge clearly thought she has overstepped the mark and chased after her. Gemma accelerated, fuelled by fear her yappy siren going full blast at the same time. Emma and I fell about laughing at their antics. Ralph looked very disapproving.

Airy fairy Gemma is obviously very different from my lovely solid, sturdy Fudges. She would stay with me – glued to my side. Gemma has no such alliance. She goes where ever the comfy spot is – and often that’s on the couch, snuggled into a Winnie the Pooh blanket, in Em and Charl’s flatlet.

She’s not a ball fan either. I rolled a tennis ball at her and she looked totally horrified and leapt out of the way. She likes a nice stick though.

She’s inordinately fond of tummy rubs and frequently hurls herself down at your feet, smiles and demands a belly scratch.

She’s also figured out that 4pm is dinner time and she comes and fetches me in my office, then does a little tap dance on the kitchen floor, eagerly waiting for her food to be dished.

All in all she’s a very cutie little woof and she’s adjusted to her new life with us very well, but sometimes I spot her lying in the sun in the driveway, watching the gate and I wonder what the little furry sausage is thinking, and whether she’s patiently waiting for her “real” family to come back home.

The Move

A couple of weeks ago we moved. Not far… about 5km. But it does not matter if you only move across the road – it is still traumatic. In fact they put it right up there with death and divorce. Moving is third on the trauma list.

Our move came about relatively suddenly. One night, after playing poker, my lovely man decided to check out some real estate websites. He spotted something interesting… 6 bedrooms… a granny flat, another separate little flatlet… space… a garden. He mentioned it to me the next day and I wanted to see it too. He showed me and we both wanted to see more… so arranged a viewing.

It’s one of those places that you instantly felt at home in. Not that the house was fabulous or anything – in fact it was a bit of a tip and we identified several things that would need work. We winced a bit at the colour scheme in the lounge, admired the outside “bar” area and then walked out into the garden.

I crunched something underfoot.

Looked at the estate agent… what are these?

Pecan nuts, she replied.

Seriously! A pecan nut tree? In our back yard! I want this house.

We trawled through the rest of the house. The granny flat was great – a bit dark maybe – but the space was awesome and the kitchen door opened out into the pretty yard and sunlight streamed through.

Emma thought she and Charl could happily live in the little flatlet too. We’d have to share a bathroom with Luan… not something I relished – but doable.

We left. But we asked the estate agent to alert us if there was anybody else who was seriously interested in the house. We went home to do the math and figure out if we could afford such a house. We wanted it, but decided not to get too excited.

We’d been living in a complex since 2009. It was supposed to be a temporary thing. Before that, we’d always lived in houses for 2 years or so. But for one reason or another we’d been stuck in the complex for a whole 8 years.

To cut a long story short – our finances worked out, we qualified for the financing and we bought the house. Mainly Chris did – but seeing as we are married in community of property – it is a “WE” thing. Sounds a bit like a mansion but really it is a rambley old lady.

Mom will also come and live in the Granny Flat (a scary prospect for her because she has lived in the Western Cape for the last gazillion years). We’ll go to Cape Town in early September and help pack up, and then drive Mom and her moggy up to Pretoria to join us in our “commune” as Chris refers to it.

On the 28th July we arranged to get the keys from the previous owner. We were very grateful to have a few extra days before the end of the month. We desperately wanted to cover the yellow the mauve walls with white before we moved in. Also, the complex owners were hassling us to move out early on the 31st because they had new tenants for our unit.

In return for some strong drink and a bit of petrol money, Luan had arranged that his lovely friends would help us move on the Saturday. One of the guys has a Nissan X-trail with a tow bar – so all we needed to do was rent a trailer. The whole move basically went without a hitch!

It was rather hysterical watching four B.Sc. students and a Physics HoD Professor maneuvering heavy furniture, appliances and giant pot plants in and out of narrow doorways.

They’d gather and ponder and postulate before attempting anything. Chris let them try things out first and only intervened when it looked like the piece they were trying to move was likely to be destroyed in the process.

A lot of joking went on. Em and I had a fat laugh when Luan, positioned precariously on the trailer was giving orders to his friends on where to put stuff.

“Say please!” they ordered. He groaned and then redirected his request in a more civil manner.

Chickens were bought and devoured by hungry helpers’ in-between bouts of moving. The bulk of the big stuff had to be relocated by 16h00 on the Saturday. Our X-trail owner had other plans and needed to be gone. This meant the trailer had to be returned by then too – because not one of our cars has a tow bar.

That night we braaied some wors outside around our tiny pool and marveled at our new space. We slept in our respective areas of the new house for the first time. Charl was away in Cape Town due to his dad being very ill (sadly he subsequently passed away), but Em opted to sleep alone in the outside flatlet anyway. Figured I was so tired I’d sleep like a log – but my sleeping patterns take more than a move to shift them.

We did misjudge slightly – one last trailer load on the Saturday would have meant that we would not have had to spend the entire Sunday shuttling loads of bitty paraphernalia back and forth in our three cars. The Tucson doubled as a bakkie and Luan’s little Corsa worked it’s tyres off too.

Luan always washes his clothes on a Sunday. This was the first time he had ever really experienced a moving process and it had not occurred to him that the washing machine might not be available for this weekly task. Luckily his father is every accommodating. It was not a one hundred per cent straight forward job to get it going and some handy-manning ensued.

I was at the complex – cleaning and scrubbing, so was not involved.

On one of the shuttle trips, Chris looked at me with a puzzled, somewhat perplexed, expression on his face.

Hmmm…. He said. I’m not sure that we put the outlet pipe in the right place.

Since they had put the washing on they had not been inside – they were simply dumping the stuff under the carport and dashing off for a refill.

I laughed and replied that we were obviously going to have a very clean kitchen floor then!

True enough – on the next round, when they ventured inside, the kitchen floor was, indeed, flooded. I’d told them where the towels were – so they could mop the mess up. Of course, all the boxes with kitchen stuff from the day before were piled on the floor, so it was a tad soggy and shambolic.

Luckily Em and I were working our fingers to the bone at the ex-house and missed the whole episode. (This did mean that I had to do six loads of washing the next day though! Fortunately our new house has fabulous washing lines and the sun was shining!)

This was the first time we had ever moved in such a higgledy pigledy fashion. Usually we get the movers in and it’s very orderly – everything has been packed into boxes and labelled with a room number – those boxes then go to said room. Easy to unpack – no problems. This time things got dumped all over the place. My office (another blog) became the dumping ground.

The first room that I tackled on Monday was the kitchen. I needed to get that in order so that we could function.

Wasn’t kidding when I said I’d worked my fingers to the bone either. My digits were criss-crossed with a myriad of little cuts that stung like crazy. I soon discovered that everything to do with moving (and life) involves fingers and it was rather frustrating to be so incapacitated. Plasters layered onto sore bits kept coming loose because my fingers were constantly in the water.

Could not even type…

Chris also nearly brained himself on this elaborate light arrangement that hangs smack dab in the middle of the dining room. We decided to pile stuff up around it – so that nobody else did the same thing.

We inherited a little sausage dog, Gemma (fondly referred to as “Germy” by Riaan – one of Luan’s friends) with the house too, and had to move the cats – but that’s another blog.