Confined to quarters

Felix on a hot day

At our first visit to the vet on 14 February, Felix was told to stay indoors until his vaccinations are complete. I had overlooked an important detail on his vaccination certificate: ‘Next vaccination due 23 January’. O0ps. It’s not the one-vaccination-a-year regime I remember, but the veterinary business in full swing. In the meantime, until his course of vaccinations is complete, Felix must stay in to prevent any infection which, I was warned, is worse than the canine parvovirus. I guess vets see the worst case scenarios.

How to entertain Felix in the house became an issue. Particularly since he’d had more than just a taste of freedom, he was climbing trees! And he is growing bigger.

Mum’s baking is interesting.

The daily news is riveting.

A shopping bag provides some fascination and a good sleeping spot.

There is always sleeping to be done.

And helping with the washing.

Exploring the cupboard and the flour bin was fun while I was baking this morning, until his reflection in the oven door and all those cats on the tea towel caught his attention.

There is, perhaps, an escape clause in the vet’s instructions, as he did suggest I could put Felix in a play pen on the back lawn. Catios are the way of the future, he reckoned.

Felix’s plaintive cries and attempts to climb the windows looking for a way out on Monday, when we were both outside, made me soften my resolve and I have been letting him out for short periods of supervised play.

This afternoon he had fun stalking Vera who was a good sport about it.

Meantime, the sparrows wait high up in the trees until it’s safe to come down to get Vera’s leftovers. They can see the point of a catio.


Illuminated manuscripts!

Colourful covers and the enticing titles make these books a delectable prospect.

The Unfolding is this month’s book group choice and our meeting is in just a few days. If I am to read it before then, I will have to put aside the wonderful Femina A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It. At least I will be able to anticipate getting back to it!

Then there is Claire Harman’s book about Katherine Mansfield to look forward to. It’s the centenary of Mansfield’s death this year. What she might have achieved had she lived longer than a mere 34 years is considered in an article entitled ‘Glowing with Life’ in the latest NZ Listener.

So, it’s time to open the first of the colourfully covered books and begin – and hope that anticipation was not the best part of it!

Felix the Fearless

Felix has progressed from merely dashing from deck to lawn. I discovered him peering down at me from a tree on Saturday. He mewed a bit, but I let him get down by himself which, of course, he managed perfectly well – with some entertaining acrobatics.

Today, I was surprised to find that the rustling very high up in the akeake tree was not Scruffy the blackbird, but fearless Felix heading higher than before. There are lots of little twigs in this tree and he was biting at them. I guess they impeded his progress.

I’m reminded of ‘Tiggers don’t climb trees’.

‘What do Jagulars do?’ asked Piglet, hoping that they wouldn’t.

‘They hide in the branches of trees, and drop on you as you go underneath,’ said Pooh. ‘Christopher Robin told me.’

A.A. Milne The House at Pooh Corner

A short walk

Instead of taking the car to pick up cat food at the vets, I decided to walk. It wasn’t far, it was a warm, pleasant afternoon, and I could cut through a park. It turned out to be delightful, beginning with this tribute on a neighbour’s gate:

I could hear children playing at the Montessori pre-school and at the park there were tiny children in hi-vis tunics playing football on tiny playing fields with tiny goals.

Opposite the primary school an interesting character house had a fresh coat of paint and looked cared for and lived in, with children’s bikes and scooters on the lawn.

The two walnut trees near the creek were huge and cool to walk under. I looked at the ground to see if there were walnuts, but they were not ready to drop yet.

There was a convenient pedestrian crossing on the busy road, and then I was at the vets – and home again within thirty minutes.

Even in a short walk there is delight in the details you would otherwise miss.

Back to work

It is my fourth year in retirement. This astounds me. I remember all too clearly what beginning another working year was like: a mix of excitement and dread! This cartoon in The Press got me thinking.

I thought of the strategies I’d devised to overcome the first-day-back frustrations and to get the year off to a good start. I knew I’d be part-paralysed with a kind of terror so, at the end of the previous year I prepared drafts of first term plans for each of my five English classes. With that done, I could decide how to place the desks in my classroom, what posters to have on the walls, begin my whiteboard configuration, make sure there were new and experimental aspects to keep me and my students inspired and motivated – or at least interested. I cultivated a demeanour of pleasantness and calm. Re-connecting with colleagues (and IT support staff) was important after the long summer break.

The cruelest thing is that summer is unfailingly hotter when school goes back. I feel sorry for the students swapping their t-shirts, shorts and jandals for school uniforms which include shoes and socks. The temperatures this week have been in the high 20s and into the 30s. Our classrooms were rarely air-conditioned. There’d be classes of 30 sweaty students and one sweaty teacher with all the windows and doors open.

Years ago I met a friend’s flatmate who had given up teaching after only a few months. He looked in amazement at people like me who had kept at it. “What about the SRDs?” he whispered hoarsely. This was what he called school-related dreams. I still have these occasionally. Dreams where you can’t find your classroom, or you’ve been tasked with some impossible project, or the students aren’t cooperating, or a colleague is critical of your efforts. A kind of PTSD perhaps! But I’m grateful for my (somewhat accidental) choice of career and I feel lucky for having had a difficult job which I ‘kept at’ for 40 years, and which frequently took me out of my comfort zone, challenged me and allowed me to be creative and to continue learning.

Now, I’m happy not to be starting a working year, but anticipating a year of reflection and of development in whatever direction my interests take me – work of a different sort.

And enjoying Felix, of course. Here he is after a hard day at his desk.

I have recently learnt that Felix is a silver tabby with mackerel markings. He shares with me a slight obsession with stationery.