Wednesday 25 February 2015

Goodbye Cusca

We arrived in Amsterdam on Saturday 21st, to visit our daughter Karina and son-in-law who have been living  here for just over 1 year.

A few weeks ago, Karina had mentioned her Cat "Cusca" had been sick, not eating, but after a course of antibiotics she was a little better. 
When we arrived she had stopped eating again- so on Monday 23rd, my daughter took Cusca to the vet again and he said she had an infection as per the blood tests but he couldn't say exactly what was wrong, so he suggested a scan.

The scan was done on Tuesday 24th and the news wasn't good - she has the wet version of Feline Infectious Peritonitis, and the vet said, she could last a few days or months, but if she stopped eating altogether it would be better to euthanize her. 
The vets in Amsterdam will do a house call to euthanize the pets, so as to make it less stressful for the pets and owners, so my daughter bravely made the decision to have Cusca euthanized this Friday. Her belly is swollen with fluids and her lungs also have fluid, she has difficulty walking, no longer playful and she's hardly eating...

Cusca - or "snoop" in English, was the name given to this small kitten that followed my daughter home 16 years ago. She used to put her nose everywhere, super curious, hence the name "Cusca". She's very clever, feisty,  loves company and was always the tiniest of all the cats we had, with a pixie face and long ears.

Eight years ago when we moved from Portugal to Australia, Cusca stayed with our daughter in Lisbon. A few months later we got news that Cusca had fallen from an open window on the second floor. Apart from a few broken teeth she had a broken leg too. The vet plastered the leg,  but when she went to have the plaster removed a few weeks later the tissue had rotten away and she had to have that hind leg amputated.
She quickly learned to walk and even run on 3 legs. Last night we were reminiscing about Cusca, and my daughter was recounting how a few years ago when she and her partner were living in Nangis (France) and Cusca had unwanted cat visitors in her garden she would scare them off by running after them faster on her 3 legs than the others on 4 legs!

She's a well travelled cat, many people would be jealous - she first lived in the country village where we lived in the center of Portugal, then in Lisbon, then moved to France - where she first lived in Nangis, then Paris, then Marseille, and for the last year in Amsterdam.

Since we arrived, Cusca has taken to sleeping snuggled up to either my husband or I, with her head resting on our arms purring away contently. She might still remember us, although the last time she saw me was 2 and a half years ago and the last time she saw my husband was 8 years ago. 
But apparently when my daughter has other visitors Cusca never goes to sleep with them, so I presume she's showing how happy she is to see us again.
She is crazy about Karina, following her about the house lucky a puppy, and whenever we talked on skype, Cusca would be draped over Karina's neck and shoulders. Pity I don't have a photo of that...

We had planned to go to Braunschweig in Germany with Karina, today and tomorrow,  to show her where we once lived and where she was born, but in view of the circumstances we decided it would be better to spend these last few days with Cusca giving her some extra cuddles.

She will be missed, and Karina and I have already shed quite a few tears and she's not gone yet - 16 years in our lives, 8 of them with my daughter.

I'm taking it hard once again, as "Baby" was put to sleep just over 2 weeks ago, and "Mommy" just under a year ago, so a tough year for our furry family. 
I'm missing my babies back home too.

Friday 20 February 2015

Fig Jam with Port wine Recipe

Our wonderful fig tree is packed with figs this year. They ripened quite early too, probably due to the very hot weather.
Every other day I pick them and apart from taking some to work, giving to family and friends and eating a few, my bounty is far too big to be consumed at home.

So I have made Fig Jam, and for the first time I also made Fig Chutney and Preserved Figs.

They all taste wonderful, and now I can have a taste of a beautiful summer fruit well into winter.

Our fig tree, small but productive

Fig Jam Recipe


1,800kg figs, washed and quartered.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Lemon juice
1 cup Port Wine
2 Cinnamon sticks
You could add a little bag of fresh rosemary as well.


Put the figs in a pot with the sugar and let absorb for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
Add the lemon juice, Port wine, cinnamon sticks and rosemary, and let the mixture boil until the sugar is totally dissolved. Reduce the temperature and let simmer until the fruit is soft and the liquid is thick - about 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour into sterilized jars. When cool refrigerate.

I filled quite a lot of small jars that I'm taking to family overseas.
And yes, I'm off in less than 24 hours!! Can't wait for our well deserved break!
Hopefully I'll be able to blog a bit and give you a glimpse of what I'm up to in Amsterdam or Lisbon.
See you soon.

Monday 16 February 2015

The Giants are gone but not forgotten!

While on Friday I had a front row seat to the Little Giant Girl event in the city, today (Sunday) was completely different.
On Saturday there were 400,000 people, but today it was estimated that 600,000  to 800,000 watched the Marionettes. In total during the 3 days it's estimated that 1,4 million people watched the show. 
In a city of 1,5 million, it means almost everyone saw the show!

Snoring in each other's arms

Today I arrived at Langley Park at 9,15 AM and I already found a ring around the Giants that must have been 30 to 40 people deep! I was meant to meet up with my German blogger friend but it was impossible to get by, so I just stayed where I was.

Waking up to the sound of music

The Little Girl slept in the Giant's arms, both snoring loudly. After some Didgeridoo music, at 10,30AM the pair woke up to the cheers of the crowd.

The Little Girl was then hoisted up and performed a dance in the air while the Diver watched with a bemused smile.

Dancing away in the air
The Diver watches the girl dance in the air
Then he had his heavy diving helmet put on, and he too was hoisted up, and then both walked around the park. At that stage I wanted to move closer to the river's edge, which took me half an hour to negotiate, so that I could eventually see them depart down the river.

Putting the diving helmet on
Both  Giants walking around Langley Park

After some speeches by the WA Premier and some Anzac ceremonies, both Giants were hoisted onto a barge in the River Swan.
There were hundreds of people on boats, rubber-ducks, canoes, etc, and I think they probably had the best uninterrupted view of the Giants.

 After the marionettes were hoisted by cranes and put on the barge, another boat blew a lot of smoke around them, while the barge moved slowly through all the boats.
Being hoisted on to the barge
Smoke all around them

Slowly they made their way past the area where I stood and went towards the port city of Fremantle, with most of those boats following them for a well deserved farewell back to their home country of France.

On their way to Fremantle

This was and will be for sure one of the most memorable shows Perth will ever see, and I felt very privileged to have been able to see it. 
Well done to Royal de Luxe, they deserve 3 cheers!

The crowds in the area where I was
The huge chair where the Little Girl sat on Saturday

Friday 13 February 2015

The enchanting Little Girl Giant

What can I say? I was so thrilled that I was able to see the "Little Girl Giant"in Perth.
These French Marionettes - the little girl and the Diver - are in Perth to commemorate the centenary of Anzac, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival of 2015.

This afternoon after work, I met up with some friends in the city, and we walked to Murray Street where the procession would go past. I never imagined it would be so popular, but the streets were packed with young and old.
Finally the 6mt tall girl came, surrounded by her minders who pull her strings - everything moves - her eyes, her head, arms, legs...

Right in front of us they sat her down on giant pillows and then proceeded to put a soft helmet and goggles before putting her on a giant "trottinette" (scooter) while people cheered.

The procession continued and the crowd dispersed, some accompanying the girl, others going home and others going onto the next stop at Langley Park, next to the River Swan, where she was laid to sleep after delighting the crowd with a dance.

There was also a drumming session with people atop double-decker cars before she went to sleep, while a light snoring sound could be heard.

Tomorrow morning she will wake at 9,30am and will continue her journey around the city to find the 11mt tall "Diver". They will finally meet up Saturday evening, and on Sunday after walking around the perimeter of Langley Park, they will depart Perth on a barge on the Swan River.

The Giant had the day off today, but managed to surprise train commuters lying outside the Perth old train station.

Here she comes down Murray Street
Helmet and goggles on and she is ready to ride her scooter
Can you see the size of her feet?

On the scooter
In Langley Park,  I spotted the the Artistic  director Jean-Luc Courcoult (black T-shirt, glasses on his head)

Dancing in the air in Langley Park

The night dress is taken out of a box before being put on the Little Girl before she goes to sleep
Drumming away around Langley Park

Friday's route for the Little Girl

Meet up with a fellow blogger in Perth and new Murals

On Tuesday 10th, I went into the city to meet up with Iris, a lovely German lady, who blogs in English at Half or one Ten without Ham.
We met via Grace's Perth blog which we both follow. By coincidence once I noticed a comment from someone from Braunschweig, a city where we had lived 25 years ago, and it was then that I started following her blog.
It's the second time we meet, having first met Iris and Ingo when they visited Perth in November 2013 to get married. We actually celebrate our wedding anniversaries on the same day - Nov 30th!

I had a couple of hours before going to work in the afternoon shift, so we went for a walk to Northbridge (just north of the city centre) where I showed her a couple of the street art murals painted during the Form festival in April 2014 and later we enjoyed iced coffee and iced chocolate before I rushed off to work.

At the FORM office in Murray Street, this rusted van was on show
At the Central TAFE (technical college) in Northbridge these two murals stand out, the first one from Pixel Pancho, but I have no idea who painted the second one.

Across from the Northbridge railway line there are some smaller murals. On the right there is a Stormie Mills character.

Ingo and Iris by the "Pineapple" at the Perth Arena
We will meet up again on Sunday to watch the "Gentle Giants" who are putting on a show honouring the Anzacs on the centenary celebrations, from Friday to Sunday. 

Sunday 8 February 2015

Rest in Peace Baby cat

Sadly, our cat "Baby" lost her battle with Bile duct cancer early this morning at 4,25AM.
Baby in her last hours

Her problems started in September 2014 when she stopped eating. She slowly recovered and had a relapse in December. Again she seemed to recover with a lot of love and magic potions.
The internet is an amazing source of information - some good, some bad or dubious. But I tried all sorts of things - wheat grass powder in water, Maple syrup with Bicarbonate of Soda, Vitamin C, Carrot and beetroot juice, plus all the homeopathic drops - she seemed to actually be improving at one stage, eating well, livelier. Then she disappeared for over 2 days, and returned home dehydrated and wouldn't eat.
On Jan 10th she went into the Vet hospital for 2 days for hydration, plus I was convinced to allow them to do a scan and biopsy to confirm what her problem was.
A few days after she returned home, a lump started growing on her belly and her condition seemed to deteriorate. Some days she would eat, other days she wouldn't. These last 2 days she was eating like a wolf but could hardly stand up for long periods...

Last night I took her to my bedroom and lay her on a bench at the foot of the bed, but I could feel she wasn't resting. A couple of hours later I heard strange noises and switched on the light to see her having fits. I woke up my husband and we drove to Murdoch Vet Hospital where I asked she be put to sleep as soon as possible. While we filled in an admission form, Baby was taken inside and they put a catheter on her. Then they took us to the "Grieving room", a small dimmed lit room beautifully decorated with photos of cats and dogs with their names,  presumably sent in by their thankful owners.

We sat down and a Vet brought Baby in for me to hold and spend some time with, but I could see she was struggling and I asked him to give her the injection soonest. He did it and had to get a refill as she was still breathing. A minute later she was gone...
I held her for a few minutes and then handed her to the Vet for cremation.

I will miss her company on my desk, she loved lying near me usually putting her head on the keyboard as I typed away...loved getting into boxes and confined spaces, like all cats do!

My computer mate

She was quiet, except when she hear the sound of a tin being opened, then she would be in the kitchen in a flash miawing until she got fed. She was a bit of a loner, not mixing with the other cats, but she loved human company, loved having her fur brushed while she rolled from side to side...

I'm sorry I should have let you go earlier, but I thought I could beat this scourge!
Rest in Peace, we will miss you!
Fluffy and Twiggy were a bit tonight, smelling the place where you were last, looking for you...
Mommy, Baby (in front) with 5 of the 8 kittens they had

The Puppet Giants are coming to Perth

Last weekend we had heavy storms in Perth and although we were lucky we didn't lose power in our area, wet had a power outage for a few seconds, but our phone and internet connections were affected. 

Maybe a lightning strike nearby? So no phone at all and our internet is so, so, so slow that it's frustrating!
Our provider was contacted on Tuesday and we have been told they will repair it in 10 days time!
So now I'm forced to go on the net via my mobile phone and this post was prepared in word and pasted here after an eternity of waiting for blogger to open.

photo from the internet

As part of Perth's  International Arts Festival starting on 13th Feb and ending on 7th March, the "Gentle Giants" will have their first appearance in Australia, with the biggest public art event in the history of Perth's festival on the 13th, 14th and 15th of February.

One million people are expected to see the Giants, an event which will cost $5,4 million, close streets, affect bus routes, and will even involve the removal of median road strips and traffic lights.

A giant puppet, part of a street theatre production entitled "Sea Odyssey", in Anfield
Photo from the internet

The Perth spectacle with the Giants, will comprise of the 6mt tall "Little girl" and the 11mt tall Giant Sea-Diver - and they will tell the story of the Anzac  troops bound for  Gallipoli (in Turkey) and a little girl in a lighthouse who boosted their spirits.

At the end of the day the giants will end up in Langley Park, by the River Swan, with an Anzac commemorative spectacle involving service men and women, promoting the Anzac spirit.

On his way: The diver puppet emerges at the city waterfront and begins his journey to find the Little Girl Giant, based on a real-life girl who lost her father on the Titanic
photo from the internet

In each city they visit around the world, the story the Giants tell is different - for example to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall in 2009, the 6mt little giant girl met her 11mt male puppet, carrying replicas of letters confiscated by the Stasi, the East German secret police.
In 2012 in Liverpool, the centenary of the Titanic disaster was commemorated, with the Little Girl representing a school girl who wrote a letter to her father (a steward in the Titanic) days before it sank , and the Deep-Sea Diver puppet, representing her uncle who found his reply 100 years later.
The Liverpool show of 2014, was reportedly one of the most successful events, with an economic impact of $84 million to the local economy.

Street performers Royal de Luxe, are based in the French city of Nantes since 1989, and the puppets include the Little Giant Girl, a giant rhino, two giant giraffes, a giant Grandmother, a Deep-Sea Diver and a dog called Xolo.

Nantes was the birthplace of Jules Verne, whose stories captivated Royal de Luxe director, Jean-Luc Courcoult. He rarely gives interviews and will only take his "Giants" to places where the performances will be free to the public and where he can tell a story that will connect the Giants to the people.

Some interesting facts about the Giants:
The biggest Royal de Luxe audience was in Mexico in 2010 - 3,5million people.
At any one time there are 31 people controlling the biggest Giant, using ropes, pulleys and motors.
The 6mt tall girl weighs 800kg and is made of poplar and lime wood and steel.
There are 24 Lilliputians who help the Little Girl walk 2,5km an hour.
The Little Girl's hair and eyebrows is made up of 50 horse tails. The eyes are made from street lamps and the eyelashes are made with broom hair.
These giants puppets are manipulated by about 120 technicians and artists, plus 200 volunteers, all dressed in red while using pulleys and ropes to bring them to life through movement, breath and eyelid fluttering.

I look forward to going to see them at least once! 
Have you seen them in your city? Were you awed by the experience?