Thursday, March 31, 2011



The kitty is home. He looks a mess, he has a shaved back and leg, two separate sets of stitches on some ouchy-looking wounds, a feeding tube in his neck (makes getting meds and nourishment into him easier), a few bandages; he's filthy and he's already trying to pull the sutures out. But he knows where he is and he is happy about it.  So am I.

I have to keep him confined for 6 weeks to help his hip heal. I don't want to be defeatist about this, but I can hear the little voice in my head saying yep, good luck with that once he's starting to feel more like himself! Ah well, we will face that when we get to it.

Meanwhile, I went looking in the spare/junk room for something I could use as a cage, something that we could move around so that he has family near him all the time. And I found our old suitcase, so old it still has some TAA luggage labels on it. As soon as I lifted Basil inside you could tell he thought it was cool. Kitties like a box, they do. He sniffed out his litter tray, then curled up on the blankies and settled for a sleep. He hasn't stirred yet.

*Thank you to everyone who commented here or on facebook, who sent healing thoughts or tried to send money (we are managing but I can't tell you how lovely it was that people wanted to help us, I do know some lovely people) or nagged for updates or worried on our behalf.  All of that helped get us through a difficult week.  Truly roolly xxx.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blood-y hell


The family went to visit Basil on Sunday and as soon as he saw us, Basil started talking to us. I do speak a little Cat, so I'll tell you what I think he said: Family! Where have you beeeeeeeen? I'm all broken! I want to come hoooooooooome. Then he lay there soaking up the patting and loving and he purred for us. Oh my God, he purred. I nearly cried. It was so heartening. He's on a pain-relief patch and it is obviously doing the business.

The plan at that stage was to give him a blood transfusion on Sunday so that his red blood cell count was high enough to help get him through surgery, which was slated for Monday. Cat transfusions are tricky, there is no kitty blood bank and so you have to find a cat who is (a) the correct blood type and (b) virus free. We thought we'd be okay because Basil is the more common A-blood type, and the vets had a few donor cats, but the one that they knew was blood type A had recently donated, and the 2 they tried for us on Sunday were both the much rarer blood-type B. What are the chances?

Anyway, they rang to tell me this, and it was all starting to sound hopeless because the blood-typing costs me $200 a pop and the virus-checking ramped it up to $500 (!!!!) and we are already being stretched to the limit to cover the surgery and hospitalisation. They flagged the option of sending him home for a few days to recover his red blood cells on his own, which I thought was fine, only it delayed the surgery and meanwhile the poor kitty was flopping round for days with a broken back-half.

However.  Finally some better news. The specialist surgeon just rang me. He is very pleased with how much better Basil is looking and the fact that he is recovering his blood-cell count (it's gone up from 15% to 20% since Saturday). The upshot of which is that they've now said we don't need to transfuse, that they'll operate tomorrow (Tuesday) and he can also transfer Basil to his other practice where the overnight care will be much much cheaper. All going well, we should have a mended cat back home with us Wednesday.  Please keep sending more good luck vibes our way,  today I feel like they have started working!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Show Must Go On

I had this very bad lead-up to the Merri Creek Fete performance yesterday, because I was so strung out about the sick kitty and therefore not fully able to keep all my balls in the air, so to speak. A morning's phone call from the vet saying Basil would need a blood transfusion and that that would cost an extra $700 sent the stress levels sky-rocketing.  Then I realised I had arrived at the Tap Hall without any ipod to teach class with, that it had probably fallen out in the car -which was at soccer with Fixit and the boys - and that Fixit was phone-less.  A few deep breaths were required before I worked out how to contact Fixit;  the ipod was delivered and the morning's classes went off smoothly.  Then it was time for lunch and Nell and I set off to the fete to prepare the tap boards while Fixit and the boys ducked home to get the forgotten good camera and normal shoes for Cherub (ie ones that were not studded soccer boots or tap shoes for him to run around afterwards at the fete in). And then as we stood near the stage in what we thought was an organised state, another glitch: several students had not got their tap-shoes for the show.  A quick discussion took place - the stage was running 15 minutes late and Pea's Dad was willing to drive Nell to the Tap Hall to collect spare shoes!  Only that meant a sort of bated breath wait because Nell is the ipod keeper at shows and the stage crew of course asked me for the ipod pretty much the minute Nell left.  They made it back with minutes to spare, and the shoeless children and I had a quick rummage to match feet with taps, while Nell sorted the ipod.


I walked on stage with the Tiny Tappers, preparing to dance the Yellow Submarine, but the music was playing up and there were no vocals at all, which bewildered the Tinies and made it difficult to get our cues.  So there was a bit of battling through with the dance and grimacing wildly over my shoulder at the crew to please fix the problem; and then Nell, in desperation, did something  (she still doesn't know what) to the ipod, and balance (and vocals) were restored.  From that point on, the show went really well.  The Tiny Tappers were divine as always:


The combined middle groups (beginner and intermediate level) were an absolute smash with their routine, Concrete & Clay (the Martin Plaza version).  The audience were spontaneously cheering and whooping during the routine - I think because a section of choreography echoed exactly what everyone really wants to do when they hear that bit of the music and the kids looked so deliciously happy as they did it - and that was an absolute tonic for me and a big happy high for the kids.  It's good to be cheered, it really is.  Look at our faces, we're loving it.


The Gliding Groovers class were next with their Goodies routine, complete with comedy falls at the end. The rule of comedy falls is to go up before you go down. Look how high up my Cherub went. (And well done to Fixit for catching that precise moment, what a corker of a shot!)  I love how good this class is and how well they do this routine.  They requested that I did it with them yesterday, they don't really need me but it was fun to be part of it with them.


The Tapsters started with their acapella number.  I could feel a very impressed vibe coming off the crowd when they did it too, and received quite a few comments afterwards about how much people loved that  bit.  They finished with a Shim-sham, and received a great big hand.  They really are super, those Tapsters.


Fixit captured the audience after we'd taken our bow. It really was one of our best shows ever.


I am lucky to be surrounded by people who help make it work - the kids, their families, Nell Fixit and Jenny. Thank you xx

Friday, March 25, 2011

Seeing the Specialist

I was handed the whole box of tissues as I walked into the specialist's reception today, the prospect of maybe having to decide between paying an unmanageably large amount of money or telling them to put him to sleep having reduced me to rubble.  The part of my mind that was saying come on pull yourself together woman was also wondering what I'd be like if I was faced with a potentially terminal health situation involving an actual person, like say one of the kids.  Even worse you'd think and yet I fail to see how that could be possible when I looked at how pathetically pathetic I was being.  But I suppose the thing about sick people is you rarely have to face putting an end to suffering based on financial grounds because we have a public health system here.  I am kicking myself for never having got Pet Insurance.


Anyway, while the [brisk and positive] specialist took Basil away for an examination, I successfully distracted myself by means of a Learn A Tap Routine Video on my ipod and was able to talk to the specialist when he returned without embarrassing myself or him.  Tap dancing is always my best therapy.  And when the specialist came back, it didn't sound too grim.  Just complicated.  If the weird blood problem sorts itself out and he doesn't require a risky transfusion, if there's no spinal or chest damage which is being assessed via x-ray now, if his colon isn't punctured and infecting his system and if he makes it through the weekend, then he could have fairly straightforward pelvic repair surgery on Monday and he'd be okay.
*edited to add: all clear on spinal and chest x-rays which is good news.


Waiting, waiting then.


I tell myself 2 things.  One is the fact that cats can survive things that no other species, including humans, could.  They are tough and resilient.  The other thing is that Basil has guts.  He dragged himself back home through the rain and the cold with a paralysed back half, using only his front paws, all the way to our window and called us.  That is some spirit.  Fight on, gorgeous boy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Basil vs Car


We knew it was not a good sign when we arrived home from our school's Harmony Day Picnic at 7 o' clockish and there was no kitty tripping us up and demanding his dinner. And when he still wasn't home by bedtime, after I'd called and called, (he always comes when we call him, always) the alarm bells were well and truly ringing. I must have been sleeping with my ears straining for the sound of him, because at 1.30am I heard his meow outside our bedroom window, the sort of cranky meow he'd make if a cat he didn't like had come too close.

Fixit and I leapt up to see, and there he was underneath the window, but he was not jumping in and there was something wrong-looking about his back half.

So I gently brought him inside and put him on the sheepskin rug while we figured out what to do, where to take him. His legs and back half were wet, he had some blood on his jaw and he couldn't move his legs. He'd obviously dragged himself home over rain soaked terrain (including up a step to get himself under our window) and then called us. The bravery and determination of this breaks my heart.

By 2am with some hot tea in a leakproof cup, I was on the road to Essendon where there is a 24hour vet hospital. They checked him out and told me it looked like a broken pelvis but that at that point in time the main thing they had to treat him for was shock, his body temperature was dangerously low. He was given painkillers, iv fluids and put in a hot box. I drove home, thankful that I knew where he was and what had happened, but still unsure about whether he'd make it. I crawled into bed at around 3.30am.

By morning he had stabilised enough for me to go and get him and transfer him to the care of our local vet. He looked much better when I arrived and kept trying to move his useless back half around, displaying what the Vet referred to as Burmese rage when his body wouldn't co-operate. I took this a a good sign.


In the middle of writing this the vet rang. Here's what. He needs specialist surgery, and our vet can't actually do that. They're pretty sure his bladder is okay but if it's not I gather specialist surgery would be a waste of time and money. He needs to go back to the hospital because he requires 24 hour care and our vet doesn't offer that. I wish I hadn't moved him now. Shit. He's in a lot of pain. I don't really know what to do. Fixit is on his way home anyway.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dancing With Children

Today we had another great performance at the Collingwood Toy Library Fair.


All the kids were superb, and are, I think, starting to look like a very professional little troupe of tappers. Cherub's class are able to do their number without my help ...


... and Climber's class of 9 and 10 year olds are very impressive indeed, whether they be beating out an acapella number or a traditional Shim-sham.


But today I want to talk about one little tapper: H. He is the second child of a really really lovely family, and his adorable big sister has been dancing with me for ages. H is nearly 5, and has Aspergers. He has, I gather, been quite the handful. I do remember frequently both hearing him shriek and wail when his sister first came to dance with me, and seeing him carried outside by a parent whilst obviously in the throes of a great passionate razz. However, recently, and I believe at his own instigation, he started doing tap classes with me too, much to the delight of his family and his paediatrician. He has been coming along in leaps and bounds, and if we occasionally have problems with co-operation, they are, these days, short-lived and really, no more remarkable than other children in his age group. Actually, his mother quite often comes and thanks me for my patience with him, and I can say quite honestly that he doesn't really push my patience, that I think he's great, and doing a really good job, and coming along so well. He is certainly not the only child who has to stop the class so they can tell me something.

At today's performance, I sidled up to his Mum and said nobody else from his class group has turned up, do you think H would dance on his own with me or would it be too much for him? She was of the opinion that we should give it a go, particularly as he'd gone to the effort of dressing up for the day and was wearing his brand new, very own tap-shoes. So H and I opened the performance together, and although he became slightly distractable for a little moment during the song, (he just really needed to tell me that he had this song on their ipod) he danced the whole Yellow Submarine with me like a champion.


(Apologies for my demented son in the background.)


Proud doesn't even cover it.

Full photo set here.
Previous year performances at this event : 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

At Craft Camp, I...

... tried really hard to pack light. No seriously, this is Not Much Luggage for a 2 night stay. Really.
(Clothes, toiletries, bedlinen, towel, fabric, sewing machine, sewing toolbox, camera, handbag and food/drink. Phew.)


... made an apple pie for dessert. It also ended up being breakfast for some campers the next morning.


... had a bath. Ahhhh! No photos of that though.

... found that pre-cutting fabric at home really helps the packing light AND the productivity, which is a blessing in light of my own self-sabotaging efforts later on in the weekend. I'm always going to try to do this from now on, the pre-cutting I mean, not the self-sabotage.

... made 3 versions of the Blog-Famous School House Tunic, because I like it when other crafters tell me which things are good to make. Looking in pattern books in a fabric store makes me panic and I never buy any. Such is my sewing confidence now that I adapted the pattern to make 2 sleeveless versions, doing my own facings and everything.


... realised that complacency is my worst enemy when I sew. Just because I'd made the tunic twice already did not mean I could afford to stop being mega-careful with checking and re-checking my ins and outs and my right and my wrong sides. I had to attach the skirt to the bodice FOUR times [Four!!! Aaarrrggghhh!!!!!] owing to dumb carelessness in this department. Here you see the tunic after the 3rd time sewing skirt to bodice, by which stage you would think I would have learned my lesson, but no. Notice the skirt seams are on the outside and the pleats are facing the wrong way. A long howl of Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! reverberated round the sewing table at that point.


... had a lovely refreshing, relaxing and reviving time with Suse Teaches Crochet & Knits Pretty Blue Yarn (not to mention sews pretty purple paisley), Janet loves Liberty (and making bias tape but hates sewing), Lisa the quilter (don't let me do this before that, you can't tell me what to do), Kate the Younger (feted owner of the wool-winder and seriously over the grey yarn), Kate the Elder (photographed looking industrious this time, drapy dress designer) Sue Makes The Best Pants (and the best little felt dogs ever too) and Eleanor Can Crochet (could we get a round of applause and a photo opportunity?) More photos here.

DSC_6167 DSC_6166 DSC_6171 DSC_6150

Thank you once again Suse and Janet for organising it, and to all 7 of you lovely women for great conversation, laughs, food and company.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Life, Going On.

Grief is a strange thing, isn't it? I left the school assembly in tears this Monday because Mavis' son won the Caught Being Good Award and I so badly wanted to tell her. And last Saturday I found myself googling my step-father because I felt sad I'd never hear him barking my mother's name if I rang up their house. And my grief is I think small grief, nothing compared to how it must feel to lose your husband or a member of your immediate family. I almost feel guilty to be so affected. But there I am, getting along with everyday life, and suddenly I'm struck by someone's absence and the irrevocability of that absence, and the sadness kicks in.

Meanwhile, in our everyday life ...

Climber has started soccer. playing in a proper team this year - he has to train TWICE a week plus a Sunday game, which is going to test our one-car-family and me working-the-same-nights-he-trains status. Coping so far. Working out lift-sharing with Mavis' children's father actually.

Basil has been catching mice which would be good except he keeps bringing them in the house for the death-by-play routine, meaning Fixit or I have to scoop up the rodent in a plastic container. This makes Basil bewildered and cranky and Climber anxious; if Climber is bearing witness the mouse has to be released to the wild, however much it goes against the grain.

My brother has been going through some bad stuff, to do with his kids and his ex. But today, with the support of the courts and the police and my sister, he got the kids back and this is really good news.

My Monday night Gentle Beginners class has been, rather fittingly, christened Nanna Tap by my lovely friend Jenny. She is one of several non-Nannas in the class, but allegedly enjoying the [much] gentler pace. If only I wasn't worried about the potential for offence (particularly to the 2 bona-fide Nannas in the class) I would love to re-brand. I think it has a certain je ne sais quoi.


I think this photo of Jenny's youngest (aka the Mooch) should be my new poster for the Kids Tap Classes. I was taking shots of kids doing different moves (stamps, digs, knocks) for wall displays but this photo of her twirling is so lovely. The Mooch is the owner of the shoes in my previous tap fliers, so that would make her the official Miss Caroline Poster Girl. I also like this picture of Climber jumping out of the frame.


I'm off to Crarf Camp on the weekend. Yay! For a change, I'm actually doing some project preparation. I've cut out 3 dresses/tops for me and 5 pairs of boys pants. I'm planning to sew my butt off.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

It Ain't Necessarily So.


I think my step-father would have approved of his funeral.  It was funny, irreverent and unsentimental, like him.  The various speakers described his not inconsiderable public achievements and his love of a good argument, his enormous interest in humanity and his complete lack of any aesthetic appreciation whatsoever.  My step-sisters behaved themselves but apparently the fact that my Mum spent the last 6 months of his life completely house-bound and serving as a 24-hour nurse deserved neither a mention in the eulogy or any consideration / grace in the settling of the financial affairs as set out in the will.  Honestly.  Some people.

It was good to be there for Mum, who is coping with dignity and energy, although she is of course very sad.  It was also nice to see some members of my extended family and some old friends, and to meet some of Mum's new friends.  I made a couple of cakes for the wake, for which I received compliments from eminent Australians.  I will probably brag about this forevermore: Do try some of my Buttermilk Spice Cake, it comes highly recommended by a former Governor-General.