Friday, January 31, 2014

Feline Friday: more cat yarns

Pickles lounging

On my to-do list today is getting this guy, and Ice Cream in the humane traps tonight so I can get them fixed tomorrow morning. I've left the traps out for the past week and a half, not set, and all the cats are used to popping in and out of them for extra snacks. If, for some reason I can't catch Pickles and Ice Cream tonight, I'll do the other 2 females, Sofia and Dot.

Here's a glamor shot of Brother, who always looks nice:
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When the temperatures dropped into the 20's this week, I had a temporary full garage. In addition to the 6 cats that normally sleep there, I found 3 new interlopers!

This guy, who looks shady:
This guy

He must be related to Brother - from a distance they look alike, but their eyes are like night and day in terms of expression.

And, most heartbreakingly, this guy:
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He's an unfixed tom, and he sprayed the garage so thoroughly that it reeks now, ugh. He has a scabby head wound, and a limp. At this point, I just feel overwhelmed. I'm already struggling to get the rest of the stray cats fixed, and more cats keep appearing like tribbles.

If he wasn't so aggressive with the other cats I would have no hesitation about caring for him. But I've decided to take him to a vet on my next day off and just pay from my savings. The most heartbreaking thing about this cat is the expression on his face - like he is used to humans chasing him away and his tattered face just seems to be saying "please."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stitching Saturday: more re-learning

lessons in progress

Well, I have to be mysterious for a few more days as I finish up some stitching lessons (there's one more hint, I suppose). It's been a wonderful experience, and I love stitching up these little hoops to track my progress.

My "fabric" is a blue men's dress shirt I picked up at the thrift store for 1 dollar. It looked new and is very large, so it's yielded plenty of space to stitch on. :)

More details on what I'm stitching for... soon on Feeling Stitchy! :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Feline Friday: Cat fixing update

pumpkin

So I'm happy to say I fixed the first 2 cats last weekend! I decided on Pumpkin (above) and Freckles (below) as they are the tamest of the cats, which is not saying much. Pumpkin is still quite skittish around me, while Freckles is loving to me, and other cats, but scared of other humans.

Freckles

Best Friends Animal Society works with local animal shelters and low-cost spay/neuter organizations in San Antonio, to fix feral cats for free. And as anyone living in San Antonio can tell you, stray cats are everywhere here. They also lend out traps for free, to bring them in. Using the traps is essential, because even if they are a little tame with you, there's no telling how they'll react to other people. The traps keep the cats and the caregivers safe.

I thought trapping the cats would be hard, given how shy they are around me. But after 3 months of feeding them outside, they associate me with food. All I had to do was put a bit of dry food inside the trap (I didn't even have to set the trap) and while they were busy chowing down, I pushed the door closed. Easy peasy!

Trapping was the easiest part, by far. Next, I had to cover the traps with a towel to calm them down, and put them inside the house overnight. This is to make sure they don't eat anything before surgery. They really didn't like being in the traps at first. I heard a lot of sad meowing and cage rattling, all night long, and for an animal lover, it can be tough to hear.

Bright and early the next morning, I got them to the Boerne Animal Defense League. The staff there were so nice, and had many, many animals to process, but were absolutely patient and helpful. I picked them up at 4 PM. The cats were groggy and not too happy in general. The staff asked me to keep them in the traps for 3 nights.

3 nights! The first night, they were fine - they meowed a little, but quieted down. I gave them food and water but only Freckles wanted to eat. The next morning, again, only Freckles ate. Pumpkin just meowed and clawed at the cage. The second night, they both ate and were alert and were fairly calm.

The next morning, I saw a tiny bit of blood near the cage and realized Pumpkin had injured her claw trying to pry at the cage bars. She was frantic, even after eating. So I let the two of them recover in our garage, putting out a litterbox and a warm place for them to sleep. That third night they were so happy and calm together.

The next day I let them out to be with the other cats, and their reaction was completely different from what I would expect. They were not afraid of me, if anything, they were more affectionate, and they were less inclined to roam around. They've spent the past few days sleeping and running around happily. Success! Only 4 more to go! :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Never too late to re-learn

working the threaded stitch

I finally put the birds down and started up on a bit of stitching practice. Why? Well, let's just say I'm taking secret lessons from someone awesome, someone who has almost re-taught me how to stitch!

closeup, working the threaded stitch

I've attempted the threaded stitch before, but never successfully until now, and the teacher should really take all the credit...

Working the whipped stitch

I'd never, ever worked a whipped stitch, but it's a new favorite of mine, for sure.

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Stay tuned to Feeling Stitchy next week if you'd like to know who my teacher was!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Feline Friday: Pickles' 10 minutes of fame

Pickles

One morning I photographed the cats after feeding them - they of course move quickly, so it's rare to get a perfect shot. When I saw how lovely this one was, I was taken aback. The new camera lens captured every stray hair, the reflection on his eyes, even a little schmutz under the eye on the right. It's official, this camera is awesome.

This was also my first photo on Explore in about a billion years. And it's rare that my non-crafting photos make it to Explore. So, Pickles is momentarily famous. :)

I found a local grant that will fix feral cats for free - I hope! I can't touch or handle 3 of the cats at all - I was hoping to have tamed them in the past 3 months, but only sweet Freckles has gotten used to petting:

Freckles

Their ears will be nipped, just like Brother cat's was. I'm on the fence about this, but I know it's a good thing - anyone they encounter in their wanderings will know they are fixed, and have had a rabies shot.

Pumpkin

Here's a shot of Pumpkin caught unawares, eating. I am able to pet her once or twice, but she has an annoying habit of clawing my hand when she wants food or is startled. I'm starting to accept that even with a lot of patience and coaxing, the younger cats may never be tamed.

Dot

A better shot of Dot, who looks healthier, but she's cranky with the other cats. She's very nice to humans, though, so she could be an adoptable cat.

Ice Cream

Another shot of Ice Cream, looking at me like she always does - like she's not having any of it. :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Feline Friday

He's the sweetest cat in the world.

Here's a new feature in honor of my backyard being literally overrun by stray cats. I started off feeding 1 - just 1 - and where's the harm in that? Then, she brought this guy over, the sweetest cat in the world.

He brought 4 kittens with him. That's right, he did. This is the first instance I've ever seen of a male cat leading around kittens like a mother. He didn't seem old enough to be their father, so I call him Brother cat. He is infinitely patient with them, and his eyes - those eyes! I like cats and all, but their eyes are usually a bit predatory and let's face it, a bit mean. He has the sweetest cat eyes I've ever seen.

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This is Freckles. She is a total sweetheart, even if she is a bit needy. She loves other cats, and will purr and snuggle with them all (even if they don't feel like snuggling). She's got orange and brown because she's part calico, and pretty amber eyes. And her meow is adorable.

ice

This is Ice Cream. She is fiercely private. It's taken me 2 months to get her to be comfortable around me, and she won't let me get closer than a foot away. She doesn't quite understand meowing - when I appear with food she approaches happily, tail raised, and hisses. Ok, so she's got issues. And beautiful blue eyes. I wonder if she has trouble seeing, and that's why...

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This is Pickles. He doesn't trust me, either, and is most skittish of the bunch. He will literally scale a wall if I move too fast near him. He is pretty good-looking however, with his greenish eyes and dark fur.

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This is Pumpkin. Yes I know, Pumpkin has eye junk but she won't let me close enough to get it off her face. She almost likes me - I can pet her a few times, but she's easily startled and scratches.

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I suspect this lady is the mother of all of them - she looks a bit older and not in the best health. I'm hoping some steady meals and a trip to the vet to get fixed will help. I'm thinking of calling her Dot, for the scar on her nose.

This is all very well for pictures but... it's too many cats! I'm working on finding a home for Freckles, as she's the tamest. And I look forward to a few long weeks of visits to get them all fixed!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday: the new camera

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So I took the new camera out for a spin, and I was thoroughly impressed. It's set to Auto, I know very little about the Manual mode, and I think I'll just learn things little by little. This fish was small by the way, it could fit in the palm of my hand.

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I'm far from being great at handling it, but I love the richness of the images on this new camera.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Birds, birds, and more birds

Six new years birds

So, I'm officially obsessed now - I spent the majority of my holiday stitching oodles of birds from the Snow Bird pattern by Larissa Holland.

When I ran out of time to stitch for Christmas, I began stitching "2014" on the backs of these, and got a jump on my holiday stitching for next year! Why I've never thought of that before, I have no idea, but now I'm all ready for homemade gift giving next Christmas. :)

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I adore all of the color combinations I came up with - it's so easy to put these together - but they are time-consuming. I estimate each bird to take about 5-6 hours of stitching, so I "watched" a lot of tv - all the available seasons on Vicar of Dibley on netflix, Dr. Who, and a string of odd Christmas movies including Rare Exports (which I recommend).

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And, if the quality of photos seems to have radically improved since I started making them, there is a reason - after almost a decade of using point-and-shoots, I finally got myself a "real" camera - a Canon Rebel T3i. There's just no way to compare the quality - it's out of this world when viewed side by side with my point-and-shoot, and most certainly when viewed next to my cell phone camera.

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