Aby-a-Day – 16 Mars: Bear necessities (Swedish Saturday)

In Sweden, we have a thing called REKO-Ring. REKO means “Real Consumption” (Konsumtion in Swedish) and is a way to shop for locally produced food, without intermediaries. Consumers and producers merge and start a REKO ring where locally produced products are sold directly from producer to consumer. In Skövde, our local REKO-Ring has a Facebook page where the producers post what they have available, and then people who want to buy something comment on the post saying what they want to get. Then, on alternate Wednesdays, we meet in a parking lot at a hockey arena two stops on the bus line from our house.

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Well, just as I despairing of finding a really great birthday present for Björn, I happened to check the REKO-Ring Skövde Facebook page. And I found a post from Lilla Spännefalla, and they had all kinds of game for sale. Including bear meat from Jämtland in the north of Sweden.

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I ordered a “Bear Box” and got steaks, ground bear meat, and chunks.
I have only had bear a couple of times, and it is delicious. The first time was in 2000, when I found it for sale in an Asian grocery store in Boston. I then had it again when we canned bear meat for sale in the duty-free on the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. Then I got to eat it again when we went to a medieval restaurant in Taillinn. But the thing is…The name Björn is the same as the Swedish word for bear. So when I found bear meat available for sale just before Björn’s birthday, I knew I had the perfect gift.

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Bear meat is delicious. You have to make sure all the fat is removed, because it can add a slightly rancid flavour to the meat. The basic rule of thumb is, “Season like beef, cook like pork.” This is because like pigs, bears and raccoons are omnivores, and their meat can cause Trichinosis if it is not cooked well.

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So, sorry guys…you don’t get to try it raw.

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Despite not getting to try it raw, the bear meat attracted quite a crowd.

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Lorelai, of course, had to get on Björn’s shoulder to supervise.

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Izaak made sure Björn cooked it thoroughly.

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And he did.

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Served with plain potato wedges and mushrooms, it was a delicious birthday dinner…

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…which some people in the house were eager to sample.

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Zak was the first to taste bear meat whilst the plates were still on the coffee table.

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Everyone else got their tastes in the kitchen. Rory LOVED it.

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Jacoby tried to steal her piece, but she managed to keep it for herself. But don’t worry, Jake got a couple of pieces of the bear meat.

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Alfred took his piece so quickly…

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…I couldn’t even capture it with my camera. Fast Freddy!

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Angel took her sample gingerly…

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…and ran away from all the other cats to eat it in peace.

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It took her a little longer to finish it, because of her three teeth, so she wanted to eat it someplace safe.

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I guess we can add bear meat to the things Abyssinians (and Singapuras) will eat.

Aby-a-Day – 11 Januari: 12 years ago this week…(Friday Flashback)

12 years ago this week, on 7 January 2007, I posted about Gun-Hee’s first visit to Petco.

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He was quite impressed with the mice.

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The birds…not so much.

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Those were always more Tessie’s thing.

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And Jacoby’s, too.

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I’m just glad that nobody tried to buy him for $3.99, though!

Aby-a-Day – 6 Januari: Flying food from Flying Tiger (Cinema Sunday)

About a year and a half ago, Skövde got a Flying Tiger store. If you haven’t gotten one of these near you (there are something like 900 stores in the world and counting), you have missed a treat. Flying Tiger stores are filled with awesome things you never knew you needed. It doesn’t help that everything costs 10kr/$1/€1 – 40kr/$4/€4…

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So, of course, I had to buy one. I stashed it away and ended up putting it in Jacoby’s Christmas stocking. Today, I brought it out.

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It was a thing full of dry cat food. What’s not to like?

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Of course, it attracted an audience.

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Including Izaak, who doesn’t eat dry food and only eats raw.

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Jake cottoned onto the system pretty quickly. Instead of chasing the pellets being shot from the gun, he sent straight to the source.

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He basically went up to the crunchy gun, licked it, and tried to open it. That’s my boy.

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Lorelai especially loves to hunt and catch the dry pellets. We have played “chase the dry food” many times, but it’s way more fun to use the gun.

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At least we had a better response to it than this Sphynx blogger in Finland had with her cats.

Here’s a video of everyone chasing little bits of kibble all over our kitchen.

Aby-a-Day – 16 August: “Scars are simply modern battle wounds. Sometimes the enemy happens to be inside us.”

As you saw from yesterday’s post, Jacoby came home from his exploratory surgery with no problems.

When I came to collect him, the first thing that happened was that I was handed a folder with Jake’s aftercare instructions.

They were detailed, but completely manageable.

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However, as you saw yesterday, AniCura sent him home with a hard plastic “Cone of Shame*.” Nobody wants to wear that, least of all our Jake. So on our way back to the bus stop, we stopped off at a conveniently located pet shop, but they didn’t have any soft cones, so I ended up buying him a Trixie Surgery Suit. We dressed him at the shop, but, sadly, I didn’t take any photos when we tried the onesie on Jake.

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But, as you saw yesterday, Jake had zero issues with wearing his onesie. In fact, he probably had fewer issues with it than he would have had with the hard cone!

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This morning, I woke up to…this. Jake was in a cuddle puddle on our bed with Alfred and Izaak!

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I think Jake was as surprised about that as I was. I blame his (prescribed) post-op opioid painkillers.

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But it wasn’t just Freddy and Zak. Angel was on the bed, too!

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She didn’t join the boys’ cuddle puddle, but she clearly approved of it.

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Okay, Angel. Back off…

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Meanwhile, on my stomach…we had Lorelai. Which means all five cats were on our bed at the same time!

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It may be Jake’s medication, but I’m taking it as a solid win!

* Or “Cone of Courage,” as one friend called it.

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 – 15 June: Hi, I’m Mat (Fashion Friday)

I bought a new doormat last week. I found it at Rusta, a Swedish chain of clearance/dollar stores, the sort of place that gets discontinued merchandise from other stores and sells it on the cheap. You also have no guarantee of finding the same thing twice.

But is it an Abyssinian mom and kit, or just something that looks vaguely Aby-like.

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This is our front door. The black wooden cat sillhouettes are made in Sweden, and the stickers say “Warning for cat,” “Warning for cat hair,” and, on the newspaper shelf, “Welcome, I live here.” We also have a Royal Canin sticker advising firemen how many cats are in our apartment. So yeah, we’re known as the “cat family” the same way that the people on the third floor with the incessantly barking dogs are known as the “annoying dog family.”

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Lorelai was the first to check out the new doormat.

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She seemed particularly interested in the eyes.

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Okay, Rory, what do you think? Aby, or not?

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Alfred checked the mat out next, but didn’t give an opinion on whether or not the cats on it were Abys.

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Jake was the last to examine the new doormat.

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But he still didn’t give me any advice as to whether or not these are Abys. So what do you think? Abys, or not?

Aby-a-Day – 7 May: Kittens!

This is another guest post by my husband Björn, describing what it’s like to have a new kitten.

With kittens, you never know what to expect but the unexpected. As followers of this blog know, we have lost two cats this year. My old Pyret gave in after 18½ years in early March. It was sad, but I knew that day would come. When Koshka suggested that we should get a new cat, bringing our total back up to five, and that she knew of a breeder with kittens to sell, I wasn’t just positive to the idea, but interested in getting a show quality cat. That kitten was to become Logan’s show buddy, giving us two cats to show and more to do at the shows. The deposit was paid. Then Logan got sick, and lost the fight to FIP after just a couple of weeks. Suddenly, we only had three cats, where we had had five just six weeks before.

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When the two of us took the train to Stockholm to pick up our new kitten, Lorelai (“Rory” for short), we both felt that it wasn’t like last year when we got Logan and Alfred. Sure, we were happy to get a new cat, but losing Logan still cast its shadow. We weren’t prepared for the force of nature in the form of a small, blue Aby girl…

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We met her breeder, Eva, at a cat show. She was to deliver two kittens to new forever homes. The cats were kept in a motor home, and we and the other family all squeezed in to meet the cats and sign papers. Little Rory was there along with her mother and sister, Maya. The first thing that struck us what how small she was. Then we saw how fearless and active she was… We were smitten.

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Rory’s sister, Maya, is larger and lighter in colour than she is. Maya will have a little boy to be her best friend in her new home!

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A twelve week old girl kitten, she became ours, and we brought her in a carrier to the railway station. Rory didn’t appear to mind leaving her family behind, or the busy surroundings of Stockholm Central Station. Other travelers who saw her were charmed by the tiny but perfect cat. We got on the train for the two-hour ride back. Rory was let out, and she began to explore her surroundings.

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Back in Skövde, we introduced her to the other cats. Jacoby hissed a little, but then he’s been grumpy recently. Angel seemed nonplussed. Alfred, on the other hand (paw?), perked up visibly. He had missed Logan, but when he saw Rory, he began to follow her and play with her. But it was the humans who were most affected by the little Aby…

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Last year, when we got Logan and Freddy, they became best buddies. Logan was bossy and underfoot, while Freddy was a good-natured goofball with a penchant for inadverently pushing things to the floor. Rory proved to be more like a fearless Energizer bunny. She stole our hearts in no time.

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Koshka and I share Rory, and it’s gratifying that she seems to like both of us equally. She has the makings of a shoulder rider, and she’s very social.

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The day after she came to our house, we took her to our local pet store in order to get a harness and collar that was small enough to fit her and to introduce her to the staff. She hadn’t ridden in a stroller before, but that didn’t faze her. Neither did walking on a leash, when she had adjusted to wearing a harness. For being a newbie at it, she walked really well – no, she walked like a pro.

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When I first saw an Aby many years ago, I fell in love with the breed. When Koshka moved here, bringing Jake and Angel, I got to see first hand what a great breed Abys are. Still, I wasn’t really prepared for Rory. All the traits of the breed packed into that little body – who can resist?

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Koshka says that she hasn’t had a kitten quite like Rory. Jake and Gun-Hee were active, charming kittens, but Rory is an Aby squared. For my part, she has won my heart. The first night, she curled up next to me in the bed and slept, displaying 100% trust. She is the perfect kitten, and we couldn’t be happier. After a depressing period of losing the oldest and the youngest cats, we feel joyous again. It’s sad that Rory and Logan never met or got to go to shows together, but our little blue girl brightens our lives and home.