Aby-a-Day – 4 Juli 2020: A holiday I don’t much feel like celebrating

My dad’s birthday is the 4th of July, so I have always thought of today as that first, and then the holiday celebrating the independence of the United States. My dad is 91 today, which is amazing. I haven’t seen him since 2007. I was planning a trip back to visit him…but then Trump was elected. So, lately…I don’t see very much to celebrate, quite honestly.

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Boston has cancelled their world-renowned Boston Pops Concert and Fireworks Spectacular, which is amazing to me. It’s broadcast coast to coast, and it’s such a July 4th tradition. Maybe now people will take this pandemic seriously.

Aby-a-Day – 12 Juni 2020: Chris lost his head (Friday Flashback)

Bear with me, here…I am sad and not just a little bit angry. Sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s Christopher Columbus Park was beheaded. It will now be going into storage for an undefined period of time.

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I have posted about this statue back when I lived in Boston. Politics aside, I have always admired the workmanship on this statue. It never felt like a “white man’s burden” statue to me (unlike so many other racist statues). Made or marble imported from Carrara, an ancient quarry in Tuscany, and erected by the Knights of Columbus, an organization dominated by Italian Americans, the statue (which is in Boston’s North End, the Italian neighbourhood), always seemed to be more about being of Italian descent than about Colonialism.

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We didn’t go to Christopher Columbus Park very often, as there were closer parks along the Harborwalk, but I always liked going there with Jacoby.

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It’s Boston’s oldest waterfront park. I wish we had gone there more often.

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But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the unconditional trust I had with Jake. I could put him anywhere and he’d pose for a photo.

Happy birthday, Kylie!

Today is Kylie’s 15th birthday! She and Tessie are both healthy and happy back in Boston.

Aby-a-Day – 15 Mars 2020: A little time capsule (Cinema Sunday)

I am not sure where it came from, exactly, but a while ago I discovered a short little video my ex took with his iPhone. It’s just Angel being cute, kneading a blanket on the sofa in our old (tiny) apartment, with a cameo by Jacoby.

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It seems to have been taken around the same time as the other photos in this post, sometime between January and March 2011.

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Jake would have still been recovering from his escalator incident when these were taken; he and Angel were getting along fairly companionably, too.

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Here they are on Valentine’s Day 2011. Two weeks later, Jake would be going to his first cat show…where I met my friend Meg, as it happens.

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In any case, here’s the little blast from the past I found on a random jump drive. Click on the image to view it in another tab.

Aby-a-Day – 13 Mars 2020: Coronavirus 1, St. Patrick 0 (Fashion Friday Flashback)

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has been cancelled out of concern for COVID-19. This is the first time in 26 years the parade has been cancelled. The city of Boston is also postponing the Boston Marathon next month and even the Red Sox spring training and regular season will be delayed.

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I went to my first parade when I moved to Boston in 2000, and stood in front of what at the time was a vacant building. Little did I know that I would eventually live in that very building!

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Naturally, St. Patrick’s Day and the parade was a big part of Jacoby’s life. Our apartment overlooked one of the staging areas, and Jake loved to watch the activity below. His first St. Patrick’s Day, I got him a T-shirt from a shop in Faneuil Hall. What could be more Boston than that?

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Later on, Jake added a shamrock tie and a Celtics jersey to his holiday wardrobe.

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I had actually forgotten about this shamrock sun-hat. I think he only wore it that one time, just for photos.

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He also had his shamrock patterned walking harness. When we lived on the 5th floor, we didn’t face West Broadway, so Jake and I would go downstairs to see the parade in person.

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Angel, on the other hand, was content to watch the parade on television.

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When we moved to the new apartment on the 4th floor, we could just watch the parade from our windows. I think Jake kind of missed going outside to experience it; Angel, meanwhile, was perfectly content watching the parade from our windows.

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It’s a little surreal to think of the parade just not happening. I mean, they even held it the year we had the record snowfall! Okay, it wasn’t as bad as in my cartoon, but it did snow on the day of the parade!

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The last year we lived in Boston, we just watched it from the windows again. Now, though, I kind of wish we’d gone downstairs.

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I’m pretty sure Angel wishes we’d gone downstairs, too.

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In a way, it feels a little bit right, not having the parade the first year Jake isn’t alive for it.

Aby-a-Day – 6 Mars 2020: The Big Boston Blizzard of 2015 (Friday Fashion Friday Flashback)

Five years ago this week, Jacoby and Angel experienced what would be Boston’s record snowfall for the first time.

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I couldn’t take them in the courtyard as usual because reasons. So I took them just in front of the building.

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Of course, they were fully decked out in their coats.

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It was…a less than optimal photo location. but we did our best. I am still proud to have lived in Boston the year of the record snowfall.

Aby-a-Day – 16 Juli: In memory of Jacoby Stealin’ Home (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I got my memorial tattoo of Jacoby.

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Whilst in London, I realised that the Red Sox logo needed to be a part of his tattoo, because the Red Sox were such a part of who Jake was. I mean, his name and identity was based upon an event in Red Sox history.

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This is the photo that the tattoo was based upon…The time we went out in the courtyard and played in the snow five years ago. It’s one of the most iconic photos I ever took of Jake.

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Linus started with the Red Sox logo and then worked on Jake’s parka.

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Then Jake himself was filled in.

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The parka’s fur ruff was the last to be done.

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Here it is, almost finshed, where you can see how it looks on my calf.

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And this is Jake, finished.

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Linus made a little video of the tattoo. Click on the image above to view it in Flickr.

Aby-a-Day: June’s over? Julying! (Fashion Friday Flashback)

Four years ago, I posted about how Canadian-born Jacoby tended to get a little confused about what to wear the first few days of July.

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To prove this point, I dressed him up in an Uncle Sam hat along with a maple leaf bandanna and Team Canada sweater.

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He was such a legend at posing with outfits on.

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And his eyes…so expressive!

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And then…someone came and photobombed our little modelling session. Jake knew it immediately.

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“Tessie’s right behind me, ruining my photo, isn’t she..?”

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“Tessie, do you mind? I’m kinda doing a thing here.”

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“Right. Let’s get back to the posing.” I’m just sorry I never found a Sweden jersey for him to pose in.

Aby-a-Day – 4 Juni: “Forget about style; worry about results” (Cartoon Tuesday)

Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals was yesterday, and the series is split 2-2, with Boston and St. Louis winning a game each home and away. Last week, I posted a drawing of Jacoby as the iconic “flying Bobby Orr”. This week, it’s finished!

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But apart from sharing the final drawing, I thought I would also share the layers that create it. This is the “Uniform” layer, which I coloured using the incredibly useful NHL Uniform Database to make certain I got the colours and stripes right.

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This is Jake’s colouring. It’s actually three different layers merged together to get the depth of colour in his fur. The whiskers and eyeshine are on a separate layer.

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This is the finished Jake and his shadow. Then, for the background, I ran the original photo of Bobby Orr through the “cutout” filter.

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I am particularly proud of the way his head turned out. Aby markings are deceptively complex to render realistically.

Hopefully this will give Boston a little luck in the next two or three games…GO BRUINS!

Aby-a-Day – 31 Maj: A date that will live in infamy (Friday Flashback)

This time of year is always special to me because my birthday is tomorrow, but for the past three years, the 31st of May is special, too; it’s the day the movers came to pack up all my belongings to be sent to Sweden…

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…And it’s the day I was granted my temporary Swedish residency permit. I got the email first thing in the morning, but I had to wait for the Swedish Embassy to open their phones at 11 am before I could find out what the decision actually was.

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The movers arrived fairly early with their boxes, bubble wrap and tape and got right to work.

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As you can see, Angel was unfazed by all the activity.

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Tessie watched for a while, and then retired to the bedroom, where it was quieter.

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Jacoby was his usual, bulletproof self.

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He even went out in the hallway to help the movers do their job!

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They did a very thorough job. This is my bicycle, all wrapped up.

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The movers didn’t seem to mind Jake helping at all. They were just amused.

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Jake took his supervisory position very seriously, as you can see.

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He made sure the movers marked all the boxes correctly…

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…noted down properly on the list…

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…and he made sure they didn’t leave anything behind. Jake was such a good helper!

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Unfortunately, Jake couldn’t help us when were were finished at the apartment and moved over to the storage unit. Too bad, too; he would have enjoyed helping to pack up the floor-to-ceiling cat tree!

Aby-a-Day – 28 May: Reliving history (Cartoon Tuesday)

The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals started yesterday, and they are quite exciting. The Boston Bruins are in them, of course, and if they win they will be the THIRD Boston team to win a championship in a year…and they’re already up one game. They face the St. Louis Blues, who haven’t been in the finals for 49 years. And even more interesting, in 1970, the team the Blues faced was…the Bruins!

Ray Lussier took a now-iconic photograph of Bobby Orr celebrating scoring the winning goal against the Blues in 1970. This image is such a part of Boston’s culture that there is a statue commemorating that moment in front of the Garden, and it has been reproduced on T-shirts for 49 years.

My ex found me an unofficial playoff shirt (the kind that can only be found in Boston) with the Bruins Bear recreating Orr’s flight (modeled by Tessie), and it kind of inspired me.

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Using a photo of the moment, I did a sketch of Jacoby as Bobby Orr.

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I did a first ink, but I didn’t like the pen I used; it was too thick and clunky. So, using that ink as a reference, I made a second inking.

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That inking turned out so much better! I’ll colour it in and finish it for next week…the day after Game 4.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Maj: Tacoby Friday (Friday Fashion Flashback)

In the States, Taco Tuesday is a thing. But here in Sweden, it’s Taco Friday.

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Because of Jacoby’s namesake, tacos always remind me of Jake.

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When he was a kitten, I had to get him some catnip taco toys.

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He loved those things! I wish I knew whatever happened to them. These photos were taken just a couple weeks after he joined our family.

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He even had a little taco charm that he used to wear on his collar with his tag. You can see it in this photo.

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A few years later, I found Jake a taco costume.

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Which he wore with his usual aplomb. Look at him! It might as well be a silk tuxedo the way he’s modelling it!

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Jake was always so chill when it came to wearing his outfits. People always used to ask me how I got him to wear his costumes. I would always kind of shrug and say, “I just ask him to, and he does it, because we’re partners.”

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Damn. Now I really miss Jake…and I am dying for some tacos!

Aby-a-Day – 21 Februari: A box from Meg…and a little backstory (Thursday Things)

Friendship is a funny thing. You meet people every day. Some are strangers, and strangers they remain. Others become friends.

When I was a cat-crazy kid, I couldn’t imagine being actual friends with a cat breeder, let alone a cat show judge. Yet here I am, 38 years after this magazine was published, with threinds who are both breeders and judges. In April 1981 I was two months shy of my sweet 16th, and I loved cats. Cats and the Beatles. No wonder that in August 1981, when I found a seal-point and white kitten, I named him Sgt. Pepper…

Usually, when you look at an old magazine, you don’t read the classifieds at the back. But this old issue with an Aby on the cover…I wanted to see something.

And, lo and behold. Meg is listed as an Abyssinian breeder in Massachusetts. I never knew I’d end up in Massachusetts, let alone be friends with a breeder who had ads in a magazine when I was 15 going on 16…

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But it’s true. I am actually friends with a woman who has been breeding Abyssinians almost (but not quite) as long as I’ve been alive. And to think that she and I are very good friends! But it happened so naturally…Meg knew Sherry, and Jacoby was related to Lew and Taz…and…we clicked. That’s how it is when you make a friend.

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So a couple of weeks ago, Meg sent me my belated Christmas present. To be fair, though, I didn’t send mine out until January.

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She sent me a lot of cool things for me: Socks, a candle holder, and some CFA things…but she also sent things for the cats. One of which was this catnip shrimp. Alfred was the first to investigate the shrimp, but…

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…Jake quickly took over. Jake loves firmly stuffed catnip toys.

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So yeah, this shrimp was almost tailor-made for Jake. Sorry, Freddy.

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Another toy she sent was a wonderful stick toy that we can use at cat shows. Izaak was all over it

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Whilst Zakkie loves his mousies, he also really likes stick toys.

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Not as much as Lorelai does, apparently. Because oh, look, here she is, moving faster than a camera can capture.

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Rory and Zak enjoyed that stick toy so much, I think it’s going to be a permanent fixture at our future cat shows!

Aby-a-Day – 24 Januari: Jacoby explores Göteborg’s future

Time to explain yesterday’s post. Last year we were at a cat show in Göteborg that was held in a venue behind Central Station. Walking over to it, we discovered a 3D map of the projected growth of the city in the next 15-20 years, including the renovation of the transportation hub and surrounding area. Called Västlänken (the West Link), the project is basically Göteborg’s version of Boston’s Big Dig.

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The map shows the existing city, the changes made by Västlänken, and then an imaginative projection of what Future Göteborg might look like.

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I call it a map, but it’s is actually more like an ironwork sculpture. It’s really cool to look at…and interestingly cat proportioned.

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It kind of reminded me of the chase scenes in Zootopia/Zootropolis when Judy and Nick chase the weasel.

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Jacoby seemed to really enjoy exploring it.

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Included on the map is the Hisingsbron Bridge, currently under construction and planned for completion in 2022. It will replace the existing Göta älv Bridge, which is falling into disrepair…again, very similar to Boston!

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Jake’s been over the Zakim Bridge in Boston…I wonder if he recognised the similarity?

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Erm…Jake? You do realise you’re standing in the harbour, right?

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I really like the little model of the Barken Viking. It’s actually a hotel now!

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I love how the model even has little trees along the waterfront.

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And here we have Jake bridging the bridge!

Aby-a-Day – 20 Januari: Catching up with Tessie and Kylie

When I moved from Boston to Skövde, only Jacoby and Angel came with me. Kylie was always my ex’s cat, and Tessie, who was, in part, a 40th birthday present from my mom, helped raise Kylie and taught her how to cat. As much as I love Tessie, leaving her with Kylie was the best decision.

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Clearly, you can see that was the right decision. They are bestest best friends.

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Tessie is now 15 (and almost a half) years old.

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To look at her, you would never guess she was that old!

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I mean, here she is five years ago…she must have a little kitty portrait in her attic!

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She still loves boxes.

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And warm laundry.

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I can’t believe she’s 15.

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Kylie turned 13 last April.

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She, like Tessie, does not look as old as she is, and is quite healthy.

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She is still the only cat of ours who was born in Boston (well, Quincy). Tessie was born in Oregon, Angel in California, and Jacoby in New Brunswick. Only Kylie is a native New Englander.

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(Not gonna lie…I do miss that view…)

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Kylie is still as pretty as ever, too.

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Right from the start, Kylie and Tessie were besties.

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Thirteen years later, nothing has changed.

Aby-a-Day – 2 November: A Red Sox Therapy Visit (Fashion Friday Flashback)

On Sunday, the Boston Red Sox won their fourth World Series in fourteen years, which is incredibly awesome. Even more awesome, I was able to watch them every step of the way, because just this year, Swedish television started showing MLB games. I mean, I have been here for over two years, but when I saw they were (finally) showing baseball, I was so happy.

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It also reminded me of when they won five years ago. About a week before they won, at the beginning of the series against the Cardinals, Jacoby and I went on a therapy visit to the Fuller Center in full Red Sox regalia.

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We rocked it – I even found some real baseball pants to go with my jersey.

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Jake was so good about wearing his Red Sox hat.

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He actually wore it for most of the visit. He’s such a good boy.

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I actually miss going on therapy visits, with Jake or with anyone else (Lorelai and Izaak, I think, would also be great therapy cats), but there doesn’t seem to be anything like that in Sweden. Too bad, too…because Skaraborg’s Sjukhuset is really close to where we live and super easy to get to by bus

Aby-a-Day- 28 October: Here we go again…(Series-us Sunday)

And we’re here again. Up 3-1 after two epic games in Los Angeles. Tonight could be the night, but if not, we go back to Fenway where we will win at home. Just as we did five years ago, we all put on our Red Sox gear to cheer the Sox on. I posed everyone with BallGuy™, my Red Sox mascot I got in 2004, and who went to the “Who’s your daddy game at Yankee Stadium.

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When I got the kitty Red Sox things out and dressed Jacoby, he was all, “Oh, this again? Right, okay.”

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“Just put me where you want me, and tell me where to look. I got this.”

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He is so awesome. I won’t ever have a cat quite like him.

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Jersey, socks, hat…no prob.

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Alfred…not so much.

You may remember that Alfred doesn’t like wearing clothes, even if they keep him warm.

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You think the jacket is bad? Freddy absolutely hated the hat.

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The fact that I got him to pose at all is a miracle.

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Lorelai, on the other hand, was fine with wearing a shirt.

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The hat, however…

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…not so much.

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I think she looks intent on getting an errant foul ball, though.

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The Red Sox fleece jacket was the best I could manage with Angel.

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Still, she posed well with BallGuy.

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Then we have Izaak.

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He didn’t mind the T-shirt, but he hated the hat.

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I managed to get a few shots before he got rid of it.

GO RED SOX! BEAT LA!

Aby-a-Day – GO SOX! (Photoshop Friday Flashback)

You may recall my post a couple of weeks ago, remembering the last time the Red Sox were in the the World Series in 2013. Well, the good news is, the Red Sox are in the World Series against the LA Dodgers, and they are up 2-0!

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I had this one awesome shot of Jake looking at the TV when they were showing the Prudential Building with “GO SOX” spelled out in the lighted windows. The shot was great…the photo, not so much. The flash went off, and the photo…sucks.

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So, I thought I would try to fix it using Photoshop. First I tried to fix the flashlight eyes; they are hard to fix when they are really shining, but I did my best using a soft black brush, the band-aid tool, and the rubber stamp. Then, I needed to fix the Pru. I went through photos I had taken when I was down by Fenway earlier that evening. The Pru was lit up with red and blue lights…so I am pretty sure they were using an old shot of the building. So I went through my older photos and found one I took during the 2003 playoffs – that’s the one at the top of this post.

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I tweaked the perspective on the building and adjusted the opacity and blended it in…and voilà! I’m not completely happy with Jake’s eyes, but I did manage to turn a crap photo into a much better and passable picture.

Aby-a-Day – 12 October: “Unbelievable – No more going to Yankee Stadium and having to listen to ‘1918.’” (Fashion Friday Flashback)

Five years ago this month, the Boston Red Sox won their third World Series in 10 years, and of course our Jacoby wore his jersey to cheer the team on.

Well, this year the Red Sox have had an amazing season and just beat the Yankees in the first playoff round and face the Houston Astros at Fenway on Saturday night. I’m lucky in that just this year they actually started broadcasting MLB games on Swedish television! They’re shown live, which is…challenging, given that they start at 1 or 2 in the morning, but I usually DVR them and watch them the next day.

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Of course, it being October and the Sox being in the ALCS reminded me of the last Boston World Series game we watched.

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I found a bunch of photos of Jake watching that game that, apparently, I never posted here. Of course, Jake was excited to watch the game.

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Nothing like Boston during a playoff game – especially one at Fenway!

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The Dropkick Murphys sang the National Anthem. That was awesome.

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This was Game 6, and Boston was leading St. Louis 3-2.

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Checking out the Cardinals’ line-up.

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Make sure you have your bat, Jake!

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Let’s just hope that the Red Sox can get past the Astros. GO RED SOX!

Aby-a-Day – 10 September: There ain’t no party like a South Boston party, ‘cos a Southie party don’t stop! (Medical Monday)

Last week, we went to the South Boston Animal Hospital’s grand opening party at their new 9 West Broadway location…the building I used to live in.

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After Jacoby and I toured the medical facilities, we went to check out the new exam rooms. At the old location, there were only two rooms…I don’t remember how many are at the new place, but it’s at least double that.

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One room was set up as a photo room, with decorations and props, and guests were invited to use them and take photos. As you can see, there was a luau theme. So we started with the lei, and shot a few poses…

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…before adding the grass skirt.

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Jake wasn’t sure about that bit.

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Okay, Jake, we’ll take it off and move on.

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In the new location, there were exam rooms specifically for cats! No dogs allowed.

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In one exam room, there was a rocking cardboard scratcher.

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I didn’t think Jake would go for it at all, but he surprised me. He ROCKED that thing!

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Then he noticed the mechanical mouse-in-the-cheese toy.

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The yellow plastic mouse would pop out of the white plastic cheese wedge at random.

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Apparently not randomly enough for our Jake.

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“When the bloody hell is this sodding thing going to pop out?”

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And then, finally…

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“Well, that wasn’t worth all the excitement, now was it?” No, Jake…and welcome to about half the TV shows I watch.

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Next we encountered a good, old-fashioned scratching post.

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Finally, a toy I can relate to! Thought Jake.

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“Oh, scratching post…you understand me.”

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In another exam room, there was a catch-the-string machine.

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Despite having a similar toy at home that has, the entire length of its career, been completely and utterly ignored.

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Oh, but downstairs, it’s the Best. Toy. Ever.

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And you know when we went back upstairs the toy we have? Totally ignored.

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But no playtesting session of the exam rooms would be complete without a bit of a schmooze with the vet.

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Jake and Dr. Natalie really did have a connection.

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I know I miss her…I wonder if Jake does, too?

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At the snacks table, there was, of course, ham…and Jake did get a bit.

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He handled it extremely awkwardly, but he got some ham.

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Finally, I just have to share this lovely painting of a white cat and a martini. It reminded me of Kylie.