Aby-a-Day – 31 July: You’re never done learning (Cartoon Tuesday)

I am endlessly amazed at how popular the Warriors series is in Germany and Holland. I mean, it’s way more popular than it is in the UK or the States. If you search Amazon.de, you can find all sorts of Warriors merchandise.

Look at all this! Sticky notes, badges, notebooks, gloves…I have the laptop stickers and I love them. You can’t get any of this on the other Amazons (.com and .uk.co), trust me. I looked.

Because I order my (English) Warriors books from Amazon.de, they send me emails when new Warriors items are released. Usually, they’re translations of the series books in German, but a few weeks ago they sent me an email about an interesting book entitled Warrior Cats – Katzenzeichnen: Von den Grundformen bis zur Clankatze (Warrior Cats – Cat Drawing: From Basic to Clan Cat).

Now, I have been drawing cats for over 50 years, and apparently I’m pretty good at it, since people like the drawings I do. But this book is amazing, even for someone like me. Because you can always learn more drawing techniques. Look at the instruction on drawing paws (well, hands, if you’re doing Abys).

The book goes into great detail about all aspects of cat life, and it even has blank pages for you to practice on. Unfortunately for me, it’s in German, and it’s a translation of the original publication…in Dutch. So there is no English edition of this book yet. Considering that the original books were English, it’s a bit interesting that the Germans and Dutch have taken to the cats so much that they’re coming up with all kinds of original items and books that aren’t available in English!

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Using some of the book’s recommendations, I did this sketch of Izaak. What do you think?

Aby-a-Day – 30 July: Mars Liv 1980’s bronze cat statues (Miniature Monday)

One day Björn and I were at one of our favourite second-hand stores, and we came across three very interesting bronze cat statues from the 1980’s. The detail was rather marvelous on them, and they were quite solid. Of course, I couldn’t leave them behind. All three are signed by Magnus G:son Liedholm, who, we discovered, is well-known Swedish metal artist.

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All of the cats have “MARS LIV” and a year on a separate bronze plate. The oldest is dated 1985 and is a rather plain standing cat.

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The next one, dated 1986, is a stretching cat.

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I love that the two front paws are not together.

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My favourite is the third statue, dated 1988, with a cat rolling playfully onto its back. I love the one paw in the air!

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No matter how hard we Googled, we could not find out what “Mars Liv” is or was. But we did discover that there is at least one other statue out there, a sitting cat with several kittens (?) inside. It also appears that they used the same cats for different years and also multiple cats for the same years; we found the standing cat also dated ’83 and ’84, the lying cat dated ’84, and the stretching cat dated ’85. I wish I could discover what they were made to commemorate, because they are just so wonderful.

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But you knew I couldn’t get through a post without a little help…

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Oh, hello, Lorelai.

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What would I ever do without you, Rory?

Aby-a-Day – 29 July: There’s cat proof…and then there’s Abyssinian proof (Swedish Sunday)

I have been regaling you with tales of our balcony/catio. It took a while to make sure it was cat-proof…wait, I mean, Aby-proof. Because protecting something from Abyssinians is a huge step up from protecting a thing from a regular cat. Trust me on this. You would think that a pot of plain pasta left on the stove is of no interest to cats, right? And you would be correct. It is of no interest to a cat. But leave that pot of plain pasta on the stove with Abys around? Yeah…have fun cleaning that pasta up off the floor. Oh, and enjoy your broken pot.

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So testing the cat-netting from the inside was only a starting point. The real test came a few days later.

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We were outside with Lorelai and Izaak. We’re trying to teach them to stick to us outside off leash, so we go out, they run around, but when we call them, they come right to us. It’s the sort of thing I couldn’t teach Jacoby, living in Boston.

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But when Jake heard our voices outside, he ran to join us.

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And he really tried to join us. But thankfully, the netting and chicken wire held.

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Then Angel came to help.

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So now we had two adult Abys actively trying to breach the netting.

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Oh, sure, they pretend to not get along. But they are totally in cahoots. Don’t let them fool you.

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Angel seemed content to simply be near us…Jake, not so much.

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He was still testing the netting, searching for a weak spot.

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And he was trying really hard to find that weakness.

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Angel and Jake tried each end of the cat-netting to see if they could escape.

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Seeing Zak just below only made Jake and Angel try to break through the screen even harder.

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And then, Alfred decided to join the party.

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“Hey, what’re you guys doing?”

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“Oh, breaking through the netting? Did you try gnawing on it?

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Here’s a side view of the big cats on the balcony. That netting is really doing its job!

Aby-a-Day – 28 July: A breath of fresh air (Swedish Saturday)

Ever since I moved here with Jacoby and Angel, we have wanted to put up cat netting and turn the balcony into a real, open-air catio.

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Thing is, the netting is a bit expensive. You probably can’t see the prices on the stickers, but the regular price is 548kr ($62). The box with the red tag is marked down because it’s missing screws…but even so, it’s still 488kr ($55). And it’s difficult to install, especially since our 50-year-old concrete walls are murder to drill into. So we let inertia rule, and made do with the glass windows just barely cracked open. It was a little warm out there when the sun was shining on it, but the cats didn’t mind.

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However, a couple of months ago I had the incredible good fortune to find a complete cat netting set at a second-hand store…for only 25kr (a little less than $3)! We find a lot of great things at the second-hand stores here…but this was one of our best scores.

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The netting sat around for a bit while we tried to figure out how we were going to put it up. As you may have heard, Northern Europe has been experiencing a wicked heatwave this summer, and with the balcony glassed in and closed up to keep the cats in, the temperature on the balcony was getting up to 40°C (104°F). We had real motivation to put up the netting and open the balcony up to whatever breeze we could get.

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Finally, even though it was hot, sweaty work, we finally sucked it up and hung the netting.

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And it was great!

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For about five seconds. Then Jacoby came to take a look and worked out how to escape through the side. Alfred was not far behind.

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So we closed the windows again and went back to the drawing board. Björn came up with a way of reinforcing the bottom section of the net with chicken wire. We fastened that to the lower screw eyes the net was attached to, secured it well at the bottom edge, and then wove wire through both the netting and the chicken wire along the top. Then we opened the windows again and held our breath. Would it stand up to Jake and Freddy?

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Jake tried his old trick to break through the way he did the last time, pushing hard with his head.

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But it held!

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Freddy had a go as well, but even with his method (leaning on it with all his weight till he fell out) the reinforced netting kept him inside.

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Finally, both of them stopped trying to escape and just enjoyed the fresh air.

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Izaak and Lorelai were quick to join them.

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They love it out there!

Aby-a-Day – 27 July: Evolution of a Catio (Fashion Friday)

When I first moved here in 2016, Björn’s balcony was a rather Spartan affair.

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There was only a wooden bench, a makeshift cat tree made from natural tree parts, a basket and…not much else.

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It was pretty barren. Once my things came from the States, we put my redwood burl table out there, and my floor-to-ceiling cat tree bumped Björn’s old cat tree out there as well. The balcony was open to the elements, so we couldn’t keep much else out there, but we put a tarp over the table, and it was fine out there. And so were the cats…until Jacoby taught himself to jump off the balcony. After that, we had to keep the balcony door closed until we could get it glassed in.

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Finally, May last year, we got the balcony glassed in. Jake was out there in a heartbeat.

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So was Pyret. The basket on the bench was her favourite spot…

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…which is one reason we kept her body there until we could get her cremated.

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For a while after it was glassed in, we used it as storage for the chairs until we could get it organised.

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Angel didn’t mind. She had sun and a cushy place to nap. She was good.

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Even now, you can usually find her in one of the chairs on the balcony.

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Either a chair, or the cubby in the cat tree.

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Alfred…well, he tries to fit in there sometimes, too.

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Logan also really loved the cubby.

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Logan loved the balcony.

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He spent a lot of time out there in the sun before he died.

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Jake and Freddy love being out there, too…but they’re usually trying to work out a way to escape.

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We got the basic layout of the balcony done last summer after the glass was installed, and we hung curtains and icicle and fairy lights, which actually give enough light to read by, but this year we have been focusing on really getting it set up to be a catio. I fell in love with this artificial pine tree at IKEA, and I found a reindeer hide for 125kr (around $14, about 1/10 what they should cost) which I love…but which sheds too much to live in the apartment. It looks great out on the balcony, though!

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One of the biggest things we did this year is lay down wooden tiles.

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Those tiles made a HUGE difference in the overall feel of the balcony. It feels warmer and more homey – more like a part of the house rather than “outside.” There was just one more thing we needed to do…and you’ll see what we did tomorrow!

Aby-a-Day – 26 July: My big little boy

Today is Izaak’s six-month birthday. He’s old enough to be an apprentice, now.

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Despite the fact that Zak is 12 days older than Lorelai, she is bigger than he is. I call him her “big little brother.”

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Of course, to Alfred, Zak is almost like having Logan back.

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Not exactly, but almost.

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What’s clear is, Freddy has an attachment to the Singapura face.

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Clearly.

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And Zak clearly likes Freddy back…but it’s not the endless, “brothers from another mother,” love.

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And part of that is the fault of Rory, since she and Zak are close in age, the way Freddy and Logan were close in age. Actually, Rory and Zak are closer: Freddy and Logan were 33 days apart, more than twice the difference between Zak and Rory.

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But of course the dynamic between Zak and Rory is different. For one thing, they can never be “brothers” from another mother, because Rory is a sister. But they aren’t even like siblings at all. These two are more like…friends.

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Definitely not sibling-like behaviour.

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Ehrm…Next slide, please?

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But the truth is, Zak is the bridge between Freddy’s generation and Rory’s. At least, I like to think of it like that.

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Stay classy, Zak.

Aby-a-Day – 25 July: Wordless Wednesday (Who needs dishwashers?)

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