Let me start by apologising if this post looks a bit untidy. New Blogger has its own ideas of how it should run, and it isn't very helpful about telling me how to achieve a neat effect. It can only get better. Onward!
Things got kind of sad here earlier in the year. You will remember that Maeldun the Wanderer Kitten came to join us, but then left us far too soon. Shortly after that, the dowager duchess Natasha de St Petersburg II also handed in her room key.
Dear old Muffy the Yarnslayer did not long outlive her half sister. She got tireder, weaker, and finally in early May (old May Day now that I come to think of it, which is of course eleven days later than the current May 1) we couldn't pretend any more that she wasn't suffering, and took a very hard decision.
Didn't want to talk about it then, don't want to talk about it now. Please.
But the row of little headstones in the orchard was getting a bit much. And of course all these losses had a dreadful effect on poor Sophy, who had lost her wandering companion, Maeldun, and then both her comforting aunts in a very short space of time.
Now, I hear you exclaim, was the time for that New Black Kitten to play her part, surely? To come forward with messages of comfort, and paw cuddles, to reassure Sophy there was still a friend around?
The heck she did. Black Brat (and that wasn't the word I first typed, believe me) turned into a monster. I think she'd always been one in waiting, but nervousness on first arrival here had hidden her true character. She cuffed Sophy, she hissed, she spat, she even drew blood on a couple of occasions. And of course, the bigger she got, the more trouble she could cause.
If I had known when I picked up that kitten that she had been tossed by an Alsatian when very tiny, I wouldn't have taken her. But I only found out afterwards, when enquiring delicately into the possibility of early traumas. That experience, combined with being born a barn cat to a very wild mother, and I knew it wasn't going to work.
Oh I kept on trying, hoping that somehow she would soften, but she just got worse as she became more confident. The heartbreaking bit was seeing Sophy bringing toys and little offerings to the cat's basket, with pleading, imploring eyes, and receiving only a loaded claw paw across the face in response.
So eventually I persuaded a friend who had given Black Brat's brother a home, to try taking her too. She was doubtful but the cat had no such reservations. She and her brother welcomed each other with open paws and proceeded to celebrate in a junket of mayhem and chaos that doesn't show any signs of abating several weeks later.
No, of course I didn't like doing it. What cat lover would? But Sophy's heartbreak deserved more attention than a little wildcat's shenanigans. A solution had to be found.
And it was found. But we had to wait for it. It wasn't old enough to leave Mum yet. So Sophy had to be patient. If you can discern that Access All Areas badge on her chair, by the way, it is there because she always insists on every single door in the house being open. Doesn't matter if she doesn't need to use it right now, she must have it open and available. Shut just one door, anywhere, wait five minutes, and you will hear disgruntled staccato yaps that continue unceasing until you give in and remedy the mistake. Access. All. Areas. Did you HEAR me? Access. All. Areas!
Coming down by Drimoleague, I just happened to glance sideways down a tiny boreen, and saw this wonderful old bridge, which once carried the much-loved West Cork Railway.
The bridge still stands, built to last, although the train is long gone. I do really believe though that if you wait there late at night, you will hear the whistle of the train and hear the steady chug of the engine as it heads towards the bridge, carrying its passengers and freight safely to their destination. Maybe you could get on, but you wouldn't know what century you were in when you alighted at the next station, which could cause problems.
On the way home, we stopped to photograph a lovely battered old gate with the grass growing long around it. Don't you just love these gates, in the middle of nowhere, which quite evidently haven't been opened in years?
And then there were these marguerites beautifully backlit by the late evening sun. So many lovely things to discover, even at the roadside.
But the happy ending, you shriek! Sophy's Solution! What happened next? Well,at last, at long last, the solution arrived.
Tiny Mishka (Little Bear) was a bit confused at first, having only just left Mum, and not being at all sure about this strange new world.
Did it work? Did it work? Well, of course at first there was a little worry, a tiny hiss or two. But Mishka had been carefully chosen from a household where not only had she been handled and cuddled from birth, but had also been sniffed and licked by two large dogs who liked cats. So the end result wasn't long in coming.
Sophy is lonely no more. Mishka leaps up quite happily and cuddles down to sleep in the comforting circle of her surrogate mother's warm furry body. And they are both looking forward to a day very soon when Nanny will take her charge out on a first exploratory journey around the garden. Happy times ahead.