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.

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year (and watch out for the Jólakötturinn!)

Hey there…remember us? Sorry it’s been a while…after we brought Dashiell home from Finland, I came down with, of all things, walking pneumonia! Björn and Kalle were sick with coughing, too…but of course, mine had to turn into pneumonia.

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After that, we had a couple of little veterinary issues with some of the cats. Nothing major…Dash had an ear infection, Lorelai had a runny eye, and Alfred had an odd coughing spell. All of them are fine…but it was a lot to deal with all at once. I also had some other health issues in that space of time – nothing major, but between me and the cats, it was mentally and physically exhausting. Oh, and I also got a new iPhone 11 Pro, and getting the hang of the fancy camera took some practice (it’s awesome, by the way, better even than my DSLR).

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Then, of course, we had some cat shows, including one in Turku, Finland. We had entered Dash, but the entry cut-off was in October, and I wasn’t sure his ear would be completely recovered in time. Also, the show didn’t really count for him, and I didn’t want to risk the round-trip ferry ride to cause a relapse. So it was just Izaak and Rory. But they both earned their International Championship titles, and Zak was Nominated on the first day, so it was an excellent show. The very next weekend, we had the mini-show at our DjurMagazinet on Saturday with Zak, Rory and Zak, and then another of the photo shoots on Sunday with everyone. That was a five-ring circus!

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One thing that came of spending all day at a pet shop was that Zak picked out his very own new favourite mousie – a Christmas one that jingles!

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This is the best shot I could get of him fetching it. Sorry. I’m actually sick again right now with a staph infection, on antibiotics that make me nauseous…GREAT fun at Christmas! Oh, well…at least I won’t gain much holiday weight. The cute thing is that Zak’s been bringing his mousie to me over and over to distract me from the nausea.

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Because of all that, Christmas really kind of snuck up on us. We put up our Swedish window candles, and our wreath on the front door, but it wasn’t until Monday night that we put up the stockings.

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Not having Jacoby here had a bigger impact on my holiday cheer than I ever expected. He was always such a big part of my Christmases…even the one I spent away from him, in Sweden. I just couldn’t summon the energy to put up the tree and all our decorations. Yes, we have Angel, and Freddy, and Zak, and Rory and wonderful, wonderful Dash (who is friends with everyone)…but Christmas without Jake seems…strange. I’m sure it will be better next year.

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Which is not to say our Christmas is sad – not at all! After we put all the presents in the stockings, Freddy noticed that some of them had treats in them, and tried to get them down! Click on the unfortunate black square above to see the video in a new tab…sorry for the vertical orientation, but it was a sort of vertical situation. Also be warned that there is some rather bad language in the background; Channel Six was showing Die Hard for Jul, and they don’t censor movies on TV here.

I’ll be back next week, and, hopefully, The Daily Abyssinian with actually be daily again!

Aby-a-Day – 23 Juli: Louis Wain (Cartoon Tuesday)

In London, we spent a good bit of time looking for treasures in second-hand shops. I was on the hunt for anything regarding the early Abyssinians, and I figured England might be the place to find it. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any Victorian-era cat breeding books, but I did find a print by the pre-eminent cat artist Louis Wain. There were a couple of different ones, actually, but I thought the limerick was charming:

A girl, who was dreadfully flustered,
Helped Ma-in-law to a spoonful of mustard!
Her Ma-in-Law stared,
Asked how she dared!
But she told her she thought it was custard.

The print was marked as being from 1910.

When I got it home and framed it, however, I discovered it wasn’t just a print…it was a page from a book! And the other side was also very cute…but there’s a mark on it that I Photoshopped out when I scanned it, so I kept the limerick side out. Louis Wain is known for more than just his drawing…he also had some sort of mental issues (possibly dementia or schizophrenia; mental illness wasn’t as sophisticated 100 years ago), and, even though he was put in an asylum, he kept drawing cats that became more and more psychedelic as his illness progressed. In the filigree decoration on the back of page seems to presage his future drawings.

He was an incredibly prolific cat artist, and his work was published in books and as postcards. I found this very Aby-looking fellow online as a part of series of postcards celebrating “taking the waters” at Harrogate, one of the first ever “spas” where people went every summer for sulphur treatments. The treatments involved both drinking and soaking in the water, and Wain did four series of six cards each as souvenir/advertising. After finding the Abyssinian “sulphurer,” I became fascinated by these little glimpses into history…probably because, as a kid my dad tricked me into drinking sulphur water from the Lithia water fountain in Ashland, Oregon. I know what it tastes like!

In researching Louis Wain’s work (I was unable to find my images online anywhere, believe it or not, so I don’t know what book my page came from), I also came across this happy little guy. I know know much about him…but doesn’t he look like Izaak!? It actually kind of reminds me of that sketch of Zak I did back in March.

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 – 30 Maj: Stroller Rage (Thursday Things)

Yesterday, I had an appointment to take everycat to the vet for a check-up and jabs. Björn didn’t have the day off, so I had to manage on my own. Naturally, I took them all in our new stroller. Our appointment was in the middle of the afternoon (not that Skövde really has a “rush hour,” unless you count when all the kids get out of school), so the bus wasn’t crowded at all.

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We have to take two buses to get to our vet, and the first leg of our journey was uneventful.

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The buses we have in Västra Gotalands have a dedicated space for strollers, with room for two (theoretically, as we will see).

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This isn’t the first time we’ve taken all four in this stroller (we had a trip to DjurMagazinet in April), and it was vastly easier than trying to do it with Jacoby’s old stroller! Still, I did feel a bit like that man in Tokyo who takes his nine Persians out in a stroller.

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As you can see, everyone fit very comfortably in the stroller. We also got lucky with the weather. It was sunny and warm. Today it’s grey and rainy.

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On the second bus (also empty), we started out comfortably.

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And then…it happened. Another stroller wanted to get on the bus.

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Of course, I instantly shifted over as much as I could, but she wasn’t very good at manoeuvering her stroller (it was one of those awkward raised car seat/stroller combo things).

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In fact, she was having so much trouble getting on the bus, the driver got up to see what was taking so long. And he glared at me like it was my fault and told me to let her on, like I was deliberately blocking her. As you can see, I was jammed in as much as I could possibly be.

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And then, on the way home, it happened AGAIN! This time, it was one of those awful double stroller, with one kid who looked about five…isn’t that a little old to be needing a stroller? Again, I shifted over and jammed in, but this woman was a LOT better at managing her stroller, and her older boy (the one not in the stroller, behind me) seemed to really love the cats.

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I understand that people with little kids need strollers, because I need a stroller to schlep multiple cats around. I couldn’t even imagine what it would have been like trying to manage three (we have one that’s a double) cat carriers on my own! And believe me, I am no stranger to controversy about cat strollers. My resentment and annoyance is not anything against parents or children. It’s the attitude I get from people (like the driver, and sometimes the other stroller owner) that somehow their strollers are somehow more important than mine. I have as much of a right to bring my stroller full of cats on the bus as they do with their stroller full of baby or child(ren), especially if I am running an errand that requires multiple cats to be with me. And I always shift as much as I possibly can. Yet, in these situations, the person with the non-humans in the stroller is always the “bad guy” taking the space away from “the person who NEEEEEEEDS it”. (Sidenote, it’s even more fun when we’re on a bus back from a cat show with other cats in strollers and a baby stroller comes on. The entitlement on the baby people and the shade thrown doubles.) Basically, it’s a case of “All strollers are equal, but some strollers are more equal than others,” which really isn’t fair at all.

To that end, I posted a couple of these photos to Facebook as events unfolded, and made a flippant comment that 4 > 1, and then added “Cats Before Brats.” A friend said, “That should be a bumper sticker!” So…

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…I made one. It’s available on Zazzle, and at the moment, you can get 15% off with code ZSWEETTREATS.

Aby-a-Day – 20 Maj: It’s not as easy to make a 29 second video of a cat running down a hill as it looks…(Movie Monday)

So I am pretty proud of my Little House on the Prairie spoof with Izaak running down the hill that I posted yesterday. Mainly because it looks so perfect…but it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

Someone on Facebook asked me why I put Zak in Slo-Mo. Well…the reason is…he runs too fast when he gets going. This is the first part of what I ended up using…a whopping five seconds.

Here’s the ending bit. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. So yeah, you can see why it was slowed down.

But it really took a lot more work than it looked. We had Lorelai and Alfred out there, too…my original thought was to have Rory and Zak running together down the hill. That just didn’t work out. Here are all the takes we did…with the original sound.

Aby a Day – 19 May: Little Cat on the Prairie (Singapura Cinema Sunday)

Since I moved to Sweden, I have absolutely fallen in love with Family Guy. Something about the razor-sharp New England sense of humour and the pitch perfect spoofs of pop culture…what’s not to love?

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Recently, we happened to see Seth MacFarlane’s spoof of the iconic closing credits of the classic 1970’s television show Little House on the Prairie. Then a couple of days ago, whilst outside with Lorelai and Izaak…I got inspired.

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It’s been rainy and grey the past few days, but today it was sunny and not windy and just…perfect for what I had in mind. It took us a while to get it just right…but at the end of the day, I am pretty proud of myself.