Our next-door neighbour’s cat had become a little senile. He was probably about fifteen years old, had the least friendly disposition, no name, various skin problems and had fathered most of the local cats.
One day, I discovered him asleep in our well room. This room contains lots of furniture, which one day we will use again, a very large Chinese marriage bed, packed into boxes and an old well.
We’d decided to call the old marmalade tabby cat, ‘Pasa’ which is what everyone said who encountered him. ‘Get lost’ is the nearest translation. I tried to make friends with him but he was having none of this and would hiss ferociously if I tried to touch him.
Pasa was asleep on top of some cardboard boxes and he wasn’t well. He was crapping in his sleep and that’s never a good thing for any animal. We bought some cheap cat biscuits and tried to feed him up a little. He wasn’t starving – my friend Feli had been feeding him for years, but he’d forgotten this and where he was supposed to live.
One day, son of Pasa appeared. He was practically a clone, right down to his facial markings, with the exception of his tail. This tail is the dead give-away of his inbreeding. It’s a bumpy stump and I reckon that the more twists a tail has, the more inbreeding has occurred.
Pasa had recovered a little by then, so we placed a nice fleece cat bed on the woodpile outside our kitchen and he’d sleep there.
One day, there were two little orange heads poking above the rim of the bed. Pasa and son of Pasa (temporarily nicknamed ‘scab’) became inseparable.
Pasa had forgotten his dislike of people and let us touch him. This was exactly what son of Pasa needed and he gradually lost his fear of humans. The day he let us pick him up was the final step.
We couldn’t shut the kitchen door, as he’d panic immediately and revert to ‘feral’ setting. Then one day, he stayed indoors with us all day and that was largely that.
I was watching him carefully and I came to the conclusion that he was a little girl cat, not a little boy cat, as there were no testicles. We examined him/her and there were no nipples, which is just weird, but perhaps not in the inbred cat world. Who knows? The internet doesn’t seem to hold any answers to that.
He/she/it answers to ‘Lisa’. Lisa comes running at the sound of his/her/its name and yet, to our astonishment, it looks as though Lisa is a little boy cat after all. Yes, testicles are appearing. Oh, the confusion.
I like it. A tomcat named Lisa is perfection. He doesn’t know, yet my husband is very, very confused. ‘You can’t call him Lisa!’. Yes, I can.
Rowdy chickens. We were letting last year’s chickens (always called ‘girls’) out to forage, but they were being led astray. Their husband, named ‘Kemchick’, which is an old family joke from Jakarta was encouraging them to have a good old forage down other footpaths. They were in the lane, rooting up newly planted pelargoniums and behaving like a gang of hoodies. We had to incarcerate them in their pen and oh, the moaning. Hens grumble and complain like no other bird. They sound like a Monty Python sketch. ‘Moan, moan, moan…’ Imagine Terry Jones in drag, in his role of Tracy, Brian’s mother from ‘The Life of Brian’. That’s hens.
Finally, a few words about tomatoes. We are growing as many as possible this year. There’s a local type, called ‘Corazon de Buey’ a type of ox heart, which is bright rosy pink, heart shaped and with few seeds and a great taste. The sight of a great crop is practically sexy. Just thinking of the marvellous salads, sauces and dishes that we can make from these heart-shaped cuties, is well, sexy.