Saturday, April 25, 2009

The cat came back

The good news is that Bob is back home! My little chap is a fighter and responded well to steroids and I was able to collect him and bring him home late yesterday afternoon. I have to continue with the steroids this week and take him back at the end of next week for another blood test. Fingers crossed that he continues to respond well to the therapy.

I have been warned by the vet that even though Bob is doing so much better, that this is most likely lymphoma and seems to be the beginning of the end. Depending on the progress of the disease, and depending on Bob, he could last a few weeks, maybe shorter, maybe longer. It's hard to tell without invasive tests that I won't put him through. So the plan is to let Bob be my guide. I will respond to his needs and as long as he has quality of life then I will do everything in my power to make sure he is spoilt rotten and comfortable.

We have been together a long time and I know Bob will let me know when it's time. At the moment he is so pleased to be home. He has barely left my side and when I passed by his bed earlier today he was purring in his sleep. I am overjoyed to have him home and so glad that I didn't choose the option that is so final (which I was under pressure to do from a number of sources).

The hardest part of all of this has been having to put up with perhaps well intentioned people imposing their feelings and values on me about how I should feel. I felt like hitting a couple of people, one in particular who told me it must be easier on me as Bob was so old (Not at all, are we less upset when a loved aged relative dies or when a young person dies or is our grief linked to our love of the individual rather than chronological age?). A couple have given me the 'mad cat lady' look (I do know that my cat is not a child, but my compassion and love for something is not limited to things with two legs only) and a couple of people have even questioned my decision to try the steroids. I pose this question to them, how about if someone gave up on you if you became very ill, just because you were old? It made me angry that I was feeling completely devastated by the news and yet it felt like I had to justify my upset. So here it is: I love my cat. We have been together a long time, we have been through a lot. Bob is one in a billion and I am making the most of whatever time we have left together.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not just a cat

My cat Bob, the namesake of this blog, has been my constant companion for around 17 - 18 years. I can't remember exactly how long we have been together without looking at his adoption certificate as it seems like he's always been here. Ever since I bought him home and he decided he would like to stay with me we have been pretty much inseparable (excepting work for me and some naps for him).

My relationship with Bob outlasted my marriage, and in fact Bob was there letting me cry into his fur when it all went horribly wrong. He was there too recently when I had my thyroid surgery and applied the simple therapy he was so good at dispensing, a cuddle. He was also there when I went through hell and anaemia with fibroids three years ago. When I was studying for my MBA he would usually sit with me, and help by wandering across my desk, sitting on my notes and nudging me. I liked it best when he would sit on the windowsill by my right shoulder, making little kitty snoring noises. He was there too when I left the theatre and changed careers, whenI bought my first house and everything else over the years. Bob is not 'just a cat', not to me.

Bob had to go to the vets today. He's been looking very under the weather and I was worried. They kept him in to treat dehydration and do some tests. Turns out Bob most likely has cancer and it is most likely lymphoma. All the signs support the diagnosis. I have been asked to consider my options including... I can't even write it at the moment. I am waiting to see how he does overnight on the rehydration therapy. Steroids are an option but basically will only buy some time. I have been told to not expect much.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Never judge a book by it's cover

I don't usually post about things on television or in the media but a friend recently drew the following clip to my attention. It's from a reality talent show here in the UK and has been big news around the world. I thought I would post it here because, a) it's something extraordinary and b) you might be one of a handful of people around the world that hasn't seen it yet. Please click on the You Tube video link to view it before reading further:

Isn't that something? I worked on Les Mis (or The Glums as it is sometimes called in The Biz) and she easily equaled anyone I saw perform the song. I especially like how she made the audience swallow their sniggers and then to be fair, I love how they gave her a standing ovation for her performance. What a wonderful example of never judging someone by their appearance!

Of course, Susan has been in the limelight ever since. So far over 110 million people have viewed her singing on You Tube and even today the press ran a 'story' where someone had manipulated an image of her to show what a makeover and a bit of cosmetic surgery could do. I don't know what you think but they seem to have made her look like Cherie Blair.

Susan herself has been resistant to a makeover but I must admit I am torn in my opinion (not that it counts as it's her choice!). On the one hand I feel that she should not give in to pressure and change her appearance to fit the accepted view of what people should look like. If she is happy as she is then good for her and tell everyone else where they can stick their mascara brush. However, on the other hand we live in the world we live in. If her dream is to be Elaine Paige (huge star of music and stage) then she perhaps needs to change a little. Showbusiness is a competitive world and sometimes talent alone is not enough. It's a shame but then we live in the world of the size zero model, augmented breasts, polished celebs, Botox, teeth whitening, liposuction, the six pack, the perfect tan, skin creams that fill in your wrinkles or make them disappear altogether, fashion maagzines, make up for the flawless finish and all the other procedures, tonics, lotions and potions that make us all a little less unique and a little more 'perfect'. Hmmm.

More Barcelona pics coming soon :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gorgeous Grand Gaudi

Sagrada Familia, The Facade of the Nativity ~ Barcelona, April 2009

I have so many photos to share that I took during my recent visit to Barcelona. I haven't even started to edit them yet due to an extensive Spring cleaning project but thought I would share a few with you now.

A visit to Barcelona would not be complete without a visit to one of the most easily recognisable buildings in Europe, the Sagrada Familia. We arrived there early in the morning to find an already sizable queue snaking it's way around the outside of the church, so we decided to walk around outside and return later to go inside. Either side of the Sagrada Familia are two park areas where people sat and took in the sun and the surroundings while some of the locals played Boule under the pink blossom. The first photo was taken from one of these parks. We wandered around, taking in the souvenir stalls and taking photos before heading off elsewhere to return later that day.

When we returned in the evening we were pleased to find that the queue had all but disappeared and so we went inside. I was immediately stuck by two things: the sheer size of the space inside and the amount of scaffolding that filled it! Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 and is probably Gaudi's best known work. Guadi is synonymous with Barcelona and his architecture is unique, being largely inspired by the organic forms found in nature and influenced by Gothic architecture.

Gaudi devoted much of his life to the design and construction of the church until his death in 1926 and only lived to see four of the twelve bell towers on the facade built. Currently, eight of the towers, dedicated to the Apostles, have been built and at 100 metres high they are quite imposing to behold. In addition to these are four belfries awaiting construction which are the Facade of the Glory, a 170 meter central dome dedicated to Christ, the tower of the Virgin Mary (125m) and the tower of the four Evangelists.

Once inside, despite the scaffolding, it was easy to see that the impressive vaults of the main nave were finished, with impressive tall columns which reminded me a little of octopus suckers.

As it was early evening, the sun cast wonderful patterns inside, echoing the shapes of the windows, and it also shone through two stunning stained glass windows, which my photo has not done justice to. It was quite cool and dark inside however, as we queued for the tiny elevator which would take us to the very top of the towers.

The view from the top was nothing short of magnificent! The day was sunny and clear and all of Barcelona lay spread out below me, with the sea on one side and hills on the other. The photo below shows the Agbar Tower which is the third tallest building in Barcelona, standing at 142 meters and stands at the intersection of three major thoroughfares, one of which is the Avenue Diagonal on which our hotel stood.

The photo below shows the Avenue Gaudi stretching off into the distance, flanked by typical buildings in the city.

The photo below looks down on the Placa de Gaudi which is where the beautiful blossom trees were in our morning visit. You can just make them out on the right of the photo.

From the top we could clearly see much of the construction work that was being done as we looked across the nave to the other towers on the opposite facade.

We opted to walk back down the spiral stairs and every now and then there were unglazed openings through which we could peek and see wonderful details like the mosaic effect of the tiles that covered the finials and other architectural details, and are typical of Gaudi. It was a long walk back down increasingly narrow and dark stairs that were open on one side. It felt very claustrophobic and I was alarmed to find my hands sweating and my mouth dry and my breathing turned more to a shallow panting. Claustrophobia runs in my family but I have never experienced it before! I managed to keep my panic under control but have never been so glad to reach the bottom and come back out into the sunshine.

Afterwards, we spent far too much in the souvenir shop and then headed back to the hotel with aching feet before heading out to find somewhere to eat. If you visit Barcelona, then make sure you visit this iconic piece of architecture, even if you choose not to go inside the walk around the outside is a very pleasant way to spend and hour or so and will reward with with a magnificent view of Gaudi's masterpiece.

I will be posting more of my Barcelona photos soon, including pics of La Padrera, Barcelona Zoo, Port Vell and Las Ramblas.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Back again!

What can I say? I loved loved LOVED Barcelona! It was a wonderful city awash with history, wonderful architecture, sights and things to do, colourful and vibrant. I was only there for a short time but I saw and did so much! I visited La Pedrera, the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Zoo, Monjuic castle, Las Ramblas, Port Vell and walked for miles and miles until my feet and legs ached at the end of every day. I also met up with my blog friend, Mar of Maremagnum.

We arranged to meet on my first evening in Barcelona as Mar was heading off on a trip of her own, skiing in France. I had arrived in a rather damp and grey Barcelona and I was tired by the time I got to the hotel. The trip across the city via train and Metro was not as simple as I thought it would be but it was a useful lesson in how the system worked and served me well for the rest of my visit. Once I had freshened up, M and I set off to find La Pedrera, one of the famous Gaudi buildings, which is where we had arranged to meet up with Mar.

It was raining when we got there and La Padrera was surrounded by French school children. I was worried I would miss her in the throng so we stood by the door of the souvenir shop , while Mar waited inside because of the rain. Anyway, she spotted us and it was like meeting an old friend. We went for coffee in a wonderful place nearby that was full of scenes made from chocolate including, quite bizarrely, Sesame Street characters and one based on Japanese architecture, complete with a Samurai warrior that appeared to be executing an Easter chick! Still, it all smelt delicious when we went in and sat drinking coffee while we waited for Mr Mar to finish work. Alas, Mr Mar could not join us but we got a great view of La Pedrera from the office building and it was lovely to meet him. So we went for Tapas with Mar while she waited for Mr Mar to finish, at a wonderful and bustling little Tapas bar where we sampled some tasty Catalan food.

We talked so much and about so many things, from blogging (of course) to our lives, geography (the differences and similarities between things in Spain and the UK) and many other things. The visit was over far too quickly before we had to go our separate ways. It was wonderful meeting Mar. She comes over exactly as she does on her blog. Vivacious, friendly and warm. I liked her very much and I hope we get to meet again one day.

I took over 500 photos while I was in Barcelona and will be posting more about my trip soon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The storm before the calm

I am going to be away on a break for the next few days so I won't be visiting until I return. Right now I am in a frenzy of packing and taking animals to various pet hotels (catterys and lizardary's) and the various other 101 things that need to be done before I can go away and relax.

I am off to Barcelona for a few days and even though the forecast says rain I intend to enjoy myself as much as possible. I have been doing some research and it is a city packed with things to do and see, but of course there is the wonderful
Gaudi architecture, Las Ramblas, there is a Castle with a military museum, galleries, a zoo and shops. No matter what the weather I don't think I'm going to be bored!

And the added bonus is that I get to meet a fellow blogger too! I have been reading her blog since I first started blogging nearly 3 years ago (is it really that long ago?!) and I can't wait to meet Mar!

Anyway, be good, feel free to poke around while you're here and visit folks in my side bar. Just don't move the furniture, okay? ;)

See you soon!