Aby-a-Day – 2 Juli 2020: My birthday present finally arrived! (Thursday Things)

My birthday was a month ago, but my big gift from Björn arrived today: a Baby Yoda doll!

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Izaak (rather amusingly) was quite interested in the little green doll.

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The Baby Yoda doll also makes sounds.

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Lorelai did not like the sounds!

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I have a little Lego-compatible Baby Yoda in his Sphere, so…yeah.

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He (or she) has a cup of bone broth and a Sorgan frog.

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The detail on this doll is spectacular. Hard to believe it’s meant for children over three.

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Rory still doesn’t trust it, though.

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I love it, though. Thank you, Björn!

Aby-a-Day – 8 Juni 2020: Our visit to the vet (Medical Monday)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about our upcoming annual check-up at our veterinarian.

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As always, getting there is half the “fun.” It was particularly difficult because people in Sweden have no sense of distance, so I had to stand most of the ride to avoid getting to close to people.

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I think this was Dashiell’s first time in the stroller. He kept trying to pop through the top.

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The vet is far away, but it’s an easy trip by bus (easy, but long). We just have to change buses downtown.

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Luckily, this time we didn’t have any competition from stupid human strollers.

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Angel was first up. She’s completely healthy, but Dr. Brigitte wants us to have her good eye checked because she thought it looked a little cloudy, more cloudy than usual. I need to remember to make an appointment with the eye specialist for an examination.

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Alfred is also healthy, and I was surprised I didn’t get a lecture on how he needs to lose weight. He got some vaccinations and a prescription for Prednisone to treat his asthma. This is him on the counter…trying to get into the treat jars on the counter (Freddy? Protip: they aren’t in the sharps bin). Lorelai came after Freddy; since there was a social distancing rule (rare for Sweden), only one of us could be in the examination room, so I have no photos of her. She got a vaccine, and we discussed her future kittens.

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Izaak also needed some jabs, and one of them was a new Suprelorin chip.

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Unlike last time, Zak was not very cooperative. We actually had to purrito him.

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When it was all over, we had to wait a bit to check out…and met a curious dog who looked a lot like our neighbour, Bruno.

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When we got home, we were so exhausted and stressed that we all crashed in the bedroom (myself included). Taking five cats to the vet during a pandemic is stressful!

Aby-a-Day – Super cuddly Alfred (Mischeivous Monday)

Alfred is the most cuddly cat I have ever met.

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When he’s in a mood, he will not leave you alone.

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He has places and times where he is annoyingly clingy.

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One of these times is after we’ve eaten dinner and we’re watching TV.

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The other time is when I am reading in bed after waking up in the morning.

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It would be a lot nicer to cuddle with him if he wasn’t so drooly, though…

Aby-a-Day – 25 Mars 2020: Wordless Wednesday (Two sides of the same cat)

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Aby-a-Day – 7 Mars 2020: Happy Birthday, Kalle and Björn! (Swedish Saturday)

Since Kalle’s birthday is today, and Björn’s birthday is the 10th, we generally celebrate them both together. Björn always makes the cake…and this year, he made a Coronavirus cake.

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Kalle is is turning 17, so instead of candles, Björn put 17 gumdrop Coronaviruses on the cake instead. Because, you know…blowing out candles would spray germs all over the cake, right?

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Izaak says, “Really? A Coronavirus cake? Do you really think that’s appropriate?”

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Björn did a really good job on the viruses, though.

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Lorelai wanted some of the viruscake.

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“Look, mom! I am washing my hands and everything!”

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“What do you mean, NO?” Rory is channelling her inner Abernathy here.

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In no way related to the Coronavirus, but oddly apropos, my birthday gift to Björn was a Swiss Army gas mask from WWII. I ordered it in December (after getting him a Swiss Army pair of snow goggles for Christmas from the same seller), way before we knew about the pandemic.

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Björn was pleased with his gift.

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…and then he started posing with props.

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Emma was really happy to get to spend time with the cats.

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Happy birthday, Kalle and Björn!

Aby-a-Day – 22 Januari 2020: Wordless Wednesday (Dinner chez Hellqvist be like…)

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Aby-a-Day – 3 Januari 2020: Using the tools you have to get the results you want (Photoshop Friday)

The ferry boarding photos I posted yesterday were not, exactly, the photos I originally purchased on the boat. We did get a photo of Izaak and Lorelai, but it was the close-up above. I had wanted one of them together in a photo with one of the special frames (I really like those because they have the date and the ship we were on). The photographer told me she couldn’t get that photo to fit the frame, and she had only gotten one shot of just the cats.

I asked if I could have the digital photos with my purchase, and she emailed them to me. I assured her that I could fix it.

Then too, that nice photo of Björn and me boarding together with the cats? Yeah, that also wasn’t exactly the perfect shot. They got one of me…with a cheesy Minnie Mouse suitcase behind me. And they got a decent one of Björn, dragging our crippled suitcase onto the boat (this was the trip that it finally became an ex-suitcase and ceased to be).

So, as you saw yesterday, I fixed that, too.

Aby-a-Day – 23 August: After the vet visit

On the way home from the vet, when we changed buses, we took a detour through our downtown shopping mall Commerce. We stopped at Systembolaget (the state-run liquor store)…

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…and basically smuggled Dashiell in the store. As they say in The Paper,” “A clipboard and a confident wave will get you into any building in the world!” Which is, act like you belong there and you’re not doing anything questionable, bringing a cat into a shop is easy. Of course, I have a lot of practice with that and Jacoby.

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Dash seemed really interested in the wine…that’s my boy!

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After buying our wine, we stopped in at Björn’s work so his coworkers could meet Emma and Dash.

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Then we went to wait for our bus home. Emma wanted to carry Dash.

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She did an excellent job managing Dash in his carrier.

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On the walk from the bus stop to our apartment, we tried to walk Dash the way we walk home from the stop with the other cats. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about walking. But he does like trees.

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So Emma carried him instead.

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We ran into a mother and a small child who were interested in our kitten. Look at Emma introducing Dash to them!

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I was especially impressed at how Emma introduced Dash to the child.

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If therapy cats ever become a thing in Sweden, I think Emma would be a natural.

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I wish Emma lived closer to us…she and Dash make a great team.

Aby-a-Day – 19 Augusti: Dashiell’s first Swedish vet visit (Medical Monday)

Last Wednesday, we had to take Dashiell to see our veterinarian in Skultorp, not because there was anything wrong with him, but because we needed a health certificate to send to the insurance company to start his health insurance. We also needed to get him his EU passport.

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As he was on the ferry and the train, Dash was much happier in his carrier with the top open.

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Emma sat beside him and managed him on the bus ride.

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Dash rode the bus like a seasoned professional.

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It’s a long trip from our apartment to the vet, and we have to change buses in central Skövde. It’s not usually a long wait, and the weather was nice. Dash seemed happy enough.

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Look at this bus riding champion!

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When we arrived, we were put into the same examination room all the other cats were in when we went in for our annual checkup back in June.

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Like any good Abyssinian, the minute we let him loose in the room, he proceeded to explore it thoroughly.

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The first thing we did was put him on the scale and weigh him.

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2.85 kg (6.25 lbs). Exactly the same as Lorelai!

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Emma helped the vet with Dash’s exam.

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She’s definitely a natural when it comes to taking care of cats.

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This actually happened by accident, but we thought it was funny: I gave Emma one of the vet’s free magnets and it jumped from her hand onto his round tag!

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Waiting for the passport to be completed, Dash got sleepy and laid down on his show book. Well, he’d only been in Sweden two days after his long trip from the States, so I guess he deserves to be a little tired.

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After the visit was over, we got back on the bus and headed home.

Aby-a-Day – 12 Augusti: The train home to Skövde (Hipstamatic Monday)

When we got back to Sweden from the ferry from Helsinki, we met up with Björn’s ex to get Emma to spend a week with us and the cats.

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We got there a little ahead of them, so we had to chill out in Stockholm Centralen until they arrived.

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Emma loves cats. I am sad that she doesn’t get to live with any.

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If ever a girl deserved to live with a cat (or cats), it’s Emma.

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Emma was amazing with Dash. I think he’s going to miss her when she goes back home.

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Dash also looked out the window at the passing scenery, just like Jacoby and all the other cats who ride trains.

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Finally, the train arrived in Skövde. Emma wanted to carry Dash’s carrier.

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From the train station, a quick taxi ride home.

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Dash was quick to feel at home in our bedroom. And after the long, long, long journey…He was finally home.

Aby-a-Day – 8 Augusti: Two words you never want to hear at a cat show: “Cat out!” (Thursday Things)

Especially when it’s your cat.

Sunday at the show, after Izaak had been judged and we were waiting for the Nominations, Lorelai was called up for her Nomination at the same time. So Björn had Rory and I had Zak. Then I dropped my phone and it came out of its case. I needed two hands to put it back in, so I handed Zak over to Björn. Then Zak started to cough up a hairball.

I raced over to the Secretary’s table and grabbed a piece of scratch paper, and got Zak to puke on it. Björn was right next to us, so I asked him to grab Zak whilst I dealt with the barf. In the time between me letting him go and Björn grabbing him…

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…he decided this space under the folded-up bleachers (the show hall’s day job is a basketball arena). And he. Would not. Come. OUT. When he doesn’t want to be caught, he is a master. They announced that a cat was loose and to close all the doors, but I was like, “Yeah, no. The doors are the least of our worries!” He’s roaming around underneath the bleachers, and he’s up for Nomination like NOW

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Finally, a woman with Siamese working the Secretary’s table called to me. She saw Zak in the corner, near her stroller. They asked me if I had any food that would lure him out. I said, “No…he won’t eat anything but raw and chicken necks. Does anyone have a raw chicken neck?” Yeah, nobody did. I had grabbed Chirpy Mouse and Zak’s favourite wand toy (a fishing lure blue crab I picked up in Baltimore), so we tried those. Chirpy Mouse had no effect, but Blue Crab got his attention. I almost grabbed him…but then he backed away. He wandered around a little more, and then came back to that corner, and, with the help of Blue Crab, I was able to grab him. The judge he was up for Nomination with, Glenn Sjöbom, asked me if I was okay and patted me on the back, telling me not to worry and not feel like I needed to rush. When he actually got nominated, I held him up, and, during the applause, I said to him, “You. Do. NOT. Deserve. This!”

I repeated that when he was declared Best In Show.

I don’t have any photos of the actual events…I was too busy trying to catch the little asshole.

But here’s the punchline to the whole escapade: Just after it happened my friend Kinsey posted on Facebook that Zak’s brother, Paolo had escaped that morning and led her on a merry chase around the neighbourhood before she managed to catch him again. He wears a tracker on his collar that she can track on her mobile.

One of her friends commented that it could only happen to Kinsey, and I chimed in, “Nope, not just Kinsey. Today at the cat show, Izaak, Paolo and Keiko’s younger brother, escaped and went exploring under the bleachers!”. To which Kinsey explained, “Must be in their genes. Paolo did that at a cat show once and I was on my hands and knees under the benches trying to get him.”

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They ARE full brothers, perhaps not littermate brothers, but brothers nonetheless. Kinsey’s always posting about Paolo’s adventures…and by the smug, “sorry, not sorry” look on Zak’s face, I suspect I will be, too.

Aby-a-Day – 6 Augusti: “Railroad trains are such magnificent objects, we commonly mistake them for Destiny”

The thing about going to cat shows in Sweden is, you have to travel all over the country (and also to other countries). We sometimes rent a car, but usually the rail and bus system is good enough that we don’t have to. It’s tough sometimes because the luggage for cats and humans gets heavy, and if the elevators are broken it can be a struggle.

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But our new super stroller makes it a million times easier. We can put things on top of it, or inside with the cats, and it can be steered with one hand (that was a problem with the previous strollers).

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And we get to see a lot of interesting things. This is Södertälje Syd station, closest to the show and our hotel. The swoopy thing is just a shelter to wait for taxis or cars to pick people up.

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I just thought it was wicked cool. It could have been plain and boring, but instead they made it look interesting. I like that.

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Riding the train is nice. Sometimes it can be crowded, or there can be screaming children or annoying people having FaceTime conversations. Since we have to travel in the pet compartment, sometimes we share it with dogs.

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Usually the dogs are well-trained and polite, but on the trip to Södertälje, there was a Labradoodle who was not so nice. His human was seated across the aisle from us, and he was on the floor at my feet. Lorelai was chilling on Björn’s bag under the table, and Izaak was on my lap, closer to the dog. Zak’s okay with dogs, but he’s more used to small dogs. At one point the Labradoodle lunged at the cats with no warning! It even surprised the dog’s owner, it was that sudden. After that, Zak decided to sit on the table and shoot stinkeyes at the designer mutt. (I wanted to get a photo of it, but after the altercation I was afraid the woman would see me take the picture. But it looked almost exactly like this.)

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Even Rory, who likes dogs, decided that sitting on the seat next to Björn was a better idea after that.

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Sometimes Zak gets bored on the train and walks around. He likes to climb up the backs of the seats, too.

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This is from the trip home, which was blessedly canine-deficient. Rory was fascinated by the passing scenery.

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Zak also had to check it out. I love watching them crawl all over Björn…it just shows how comfortable they are riding the rails.

Aby-a-Day – 26 Juli: Remembering Jake’s man bun (Photoshop/Fashion Friday Flashback)

The other day, watching TV, a commercial for small loans came on, featuring “typical Swedes.” The man in the advert is meant to be Lars Johansson (the Swedish version of “Joe Average”), complete with manbun. I laughed and said, “Jeez…And of course he has a manbun! Manbuns are so 2016!”

Which reminded me of the time I Photoshopped a manbun on Jacoby. I’m still pretty proud of this one.

Aby-a-Day – 24 Juli: Wordless Wednesday (A walk in the summer sun)

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Aby-a-Day – 1 Juli: Another Bee Movie (Movie Monday)

When I made the video of Izaak and Lorelai playing with the bumblebee, Björn was making one, too.

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It’s kind of interesting, to see someone’s photos and videos taken at the same time you were taking photos and videos…it’s just from a slightly different perspective.

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It’s actually kind of fascinating. The exact same scene playing out, the same events…but, different.

Compare the two videos and you’ll see what I mean.

Aby-a-Day – 10 Juni: Another way to look at the show (Hipstamatic Monday)

I keep forgetting to do Hipstamatic photos when we’re at FIFe shows. I used to take them at cat shows regularly back in New England. But they’re fun…and it’s interesting to see what Hipstamatic does…like this one. You’ve seen our show curtains, they’re shades of green. But Hipstamatic turns them into shades of red!

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I also love the randomness of it. Sometimes it really improves the photo.

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I used to take photos with the cameras Hipstamatic is meant to emulate, back when I was a kid. You would take the photo…but never know what you were going to get. It’s a kind of fun we don’t have nowadays (although I wouldn’t want to go back to film EVER).

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Sometimes it makes a good photo even better…I really like the way the focus is shifted to Izaak and his BIV trophy in this one.

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Some of the films have frames that are a lot of fun. This one flips the original photo around the edges and sort of “shatters” them. It’s a neat effect.

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Hipstamatic can make a boring photo more interesting…

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…and it can save a photo you might have kept. When Hipstamatic saves a photo, it also saves the original, “normal” version of the shot. In this photo, Zak moved his head and his face was blurred. But in the Hipstamatic version…that motion blur is not an issue.

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Some of the different films play with colour, as I mentioned before. This one only keeps red and blue and discards everything else.

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This film makes your photo look like it was printed on an old newspaper, which can be a cool effect on the right shot.

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I also like this film a lot. It makes this cute photo of Zak even cuter, somehow.

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Once, ages ago back in the States, someone asked me, “So…What’s this Hipstamatic Monday all about?” This. This is what it’s all about.

Happy Gotcha Day, Alfred! (Thursday Things)

Two years ago today, we met Karin at Stockholm Centralen and collected Alfred on our way back from a cat show in Tallinn.

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But I haven’t ever posted how Freddy coped once he got to our apartment.

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And the short answer is…he was completely unfazed.

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No mum? No littermates?

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No problem!

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I think Freddy was the easiest kitten we’ve integrated into our family, but then none of our kittens have been that hard to introduce to the others.

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But Freddy is just so laid back and easy-going…He integrated himself. Of course, five days later, we got Logan, and he had a built-in best friend, but even without Logan, Freddy would have done just fine.

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And here’s our Freddy, almost two years later, on the same sofa with Izaak. He’s our genius philosopher, and I love him.

Aby-a-Day – 1 Juni: A birthday frame-up (Swedish Saturday)

Today is my birthday! Not a very eventful one (that’s next year), but a birthday nonetheless.

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Most of the “celebrating” will be done next week, as Björn has to work this weekend, but next weekend we’ll be at a cat show. But I did get a gift: Björn had my magpie print framed! It’s an unusual size, so he had to have it done custom.

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A bit of backstory, now, since apparently I never really posted about the magpie tattoo that was my introduction to my fabulous artist Linus. When I went in for the very first consultation, I was hopeful that the person I met with could really do magpies with Japanese maple leaves really well. Well, walking up to the house, the first thing I saw was a gorgeous red Japanese maple tree planted in the yard. Then, I went inside, and saw a trio of gorgeous prints, including the magpie at the top of this post. Then I met Linus, and when I mentioned that I loved the magpie print, he proudly told me that he had drawn it!

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Well, needless to say, I knew I had found my artist! Here is the finished tattoo…these are actually Yellow-Billed Magpies, which are only found in the Sacramento/San Joaquin valley of Northern California, where I grew up. Everywhere else, magpies have black beaks. This is similar to my Western Grey Fox tattoo, which is also a native California species.

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Whilst trying to capture my newly-framed print, of course somecat had to come investigate…

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Okay, I think the frame is Singapura approved!

Aby-a-Day – 26 Maj: Outside with Alfred (Cinema Sunday)

When I share the photos of Lorelai and Izaak running around outside, people ask why we don’t let Alfred run free, too.

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The reason for that is he was never trained to go outside offleash. We worked on leash training with him and Logan, not offleash training. It’s something I never thought to do again until I met Rory. My Siamese Harri was the last cat I trained to stay close offleash. It helped that he hated me to be out of his sight, so all I had to do was hide behind a tree, and he’d yowl and come running.

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Zak is the same way Harri was. Rory is a little more free-spirited; she knows when we want to go in, but she tries to stretch her time outside as long as she can. If I go back into the building, though, she always comes up to the doorstep trying to find me.

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But if Freddy gets out off leash, he runs off to explore on his own. This is partly because I never trained him to be off leash, and because, being the evil genius he is, when he was young he managed to open the kitchen window and the balcony sliders a couple of times without our knowing and roamed around alone for hours until we noticed him missing. Jacoby also did this; the first time he escaped, he was gone for over an hour!

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So, sorry, Freddy…you need to stay on your leash.

But really, he doesn’t seem to begrudge the kittens their offleash time. He’s perfectly happy to be outside at all, even if it’s on his leash.

Aby-a-Day – 24 Maj: “Scattered pictures…of the smiles we left behind” (Friday Flashback)

As I posted earlier this month, the Memories that Facebook shows you can be bittersweet. Lately, they’ve been showing me a lot of Jacoby memories. It started with this one, of Strollercat on the way to a cat show in Göteborg in 2017.

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I never actually posted these photos here, as this was during the blog’s hiatus.

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This is another photo that popped up, I think as one of Björn’s Memories. I called it “Conversations on a train.”

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Then there is this one I posted whilst we were at that cat show.

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I found this photo of Jake crashed out in the hotel room after the first day of the show was over whilst I was looking for the other ones from this week’s Memories. I had forgotten it…but it is SO Jake.

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This is the Memory that came up yesterday…

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…another one I forgot about that is such a classic Jake moment. I found Angel sunning herself in a little square of sunshine in the kitchen.

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The square was just the right size for one little cat loaf.

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And then…along came Jake.

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And he decided that he wanted the sun square. I wasn’t able to capture what happened next.

And this last one is the most bittersweet of all, from five years ago Wednesday. Jake loved riding on the front of his stroller on our way home from our therapy visits. I posted the photos here in the blog at the time, but I only posted the video to Facebook. Apologies for the vertical video…I forgot to turn the camera sideways.