Friday, February 27, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife, a War Story, by Dianne Ackerman

I did enjoy this book and would call it a good read. My friend C. loaned it to me and I have been rather remiss in getting stuck in to reading it. I went through rather a dry spell on the reading front, I wanted to read a book, but just could not get settled down to do so. C. said you should like this, as I'm interested in history and books set around the period of the two world wars, which wreaked such havoc on people, changed empires and the course of where and how we live today.

The Zookeepers Wife is set in Warsaw, Poland. Jan and Antonina Zabinski were Polish christian zookeepers. Horrified at the Nazi atrocities, they were able to save over 300 people. Hiding them in their house and in the empty cages of the zoo.

What I found so upsetting was the empty cages of the zoo. We think of people dying in war but so many animals are killed too. Plus war with many people who perpetrate it, brings out the worst in people. Not only were many animals at the zoo killed during the initial bombings of Warsaw, but on new years day many drunken SS men came in and shot the animals in their cages for sport, a despicable act. Many animals escaped from there gashed cages and just wandered down the cobbled streets. camels and llamas, ostriches, foxes and wolves, seen from apartment windows just walking though the city.

The Nazi party also had a programme of eugenics for animals. The keepers of the Berlin Zoo, father Heck and his two sons Heinz and Lutz, known to Jan and Antonina in zookeeper circles. Had this idea of the resurrection of three pure blooded extinct species - the Neolithic horses known as forest tarpans, aurochsen (the wild progenitor of all European cattle breeds), and the European or "forest" bison. Lutz's thinking was: an animal inherits 50% of its' genes from each parent, and even an extinct animals genes remain in the living gene pool, so if he concentrated the genes by breeding together animals that most resembled an extinct one, in time he would arrive at their purebred ancestor. The war gave him the excuse to loot east European zoos and wilds for the best specimens. Their thinking on this matter went along with the ideologies of the Nazi party.

So here I thought the book would be about keeping the animals alive during the war, but unfortunately there were hardly a handful of animals left at the zoo to keep alive. Antonina kept a diary and there are many quotes right from her diary as to how she felt about things. What day to day life was like for them. All the personalities of the people they sheltered, along with the animals that were part of her household. Her husband's involvement in the resistance and getting Jewish people out of the Warsaw ghetto. So a view of Warsaw under occupation and a snapshot into wartime history.

I enjoyed reading this book and if it is the genera of book you enjoy, you will too.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Keeping a Journal/Diary

When I was a child we always called a journal a diary. Now the name seems to be journal or engagement calendar.

This is something I always enjoy picking out in the new year. I usually wait long enough for them to be on sale, but not too long that I have to catch up on a lot of entries. This is what I chose this year. As you see the theme is The Reading Woman.

A journal is very personal and allows you to express yourself, have a rant, write down your hopes, your disappointments, and plans for the future. I usually like a side margin to express myself in little pictures and doodles.

So this is what I'm writing in this year.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Tuppence and Torture

Torture, act of inflicting very severe pain.

I can hardly believe what happened to our cat, Tuppence/Tuppy. After three visits to the vet last week, we now know what happened to her, but have no understanding as to why someone would do it to her.

I noticed blood on the floor, then saw that Tuppy had nylon thread hanging out of her tail, about two inches from the tip. The only thing we could think of, was that somehow she got a fish hook in her tail and it had worked it's way in with thread attached; how else would nylon thread get in her tail?

So we took her to the vet. He anaesthetised her, slit her tail open and there inside was a lot of nylon string/thread going backwards and forwards for about five inches. The vet said he couldn't get it out and at that point did not know how far it went up inside the tail along the bone. He asked me if she'd ever had an operation on her tail, and I said no. He said the best thing was to cut her tail off. So what else could we do.

I left her overnight and the deed was done. The next day I picked her up and asked about how and why. Well how, is that someone did it to her and it had been done a while ago, by someone they suggested who had some knowledge of the procedure it would need to do that. Plus the fact that we never noticed it. Her fur must have covered it. Eventually, the thread had worked its' way out.

I have been racking my brain as to how could someone do this, where and when? I can only think it was a while ago, when we lost her for two days. After looking for two days in the neighbourhood we found her. Cowered up under a neighbours shed. We thought she'd had a big fight with a tom cat and become really upset. But now I'm wondering if someone tranquilized her and did this to her. We will never know exactly; and why. Why do people do such things?

She was a little upset with things for a day, but is back to her happy self. She doesn't truly understand that she has lost a lot of her lovely tail. But she is well. We will not be letting her out so much.

In Britain we always let our cats out, cats love to go out, and then come home. Over here, in the States, people tend to keep them in, all the time. Needless to say I will be keeping them in much more. And will let them out in the day, when we are around.

Also it was a very large expense for us. $525.00

How Tuppy's tail used to look.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Red Sky at Morn Shepherds Warn

Kitchen awash in pink hew, sunrise from the kitchen window.

I'm very often up early in the morning, morn, i.e. 4:30 am. Mr B. comes in a bit before that, and most mornings I am aware that he has come home from work. Quite often because our two lovely ladies, Tink and Tupp, hear Bo's vehicle come down the street, ever before I hear it. So they both jump off the bed with a thump; getting a little older they don't seem to be so light on their paws. Yes I have given up trying to keep them off the bed, so they have a little cover and keep me company, and of course they're as happy as can be.

After Bo went to bed this morning I stayed up. Don't you love that quiet time in the morning. It was still dark and the fire was going after being re-fueled. I made a cup of tea and a raisin muffin, and spent some time catching up on Blogs. I walked in the kitchen for, yes, a second cup of tea, well what's and English girl do? As I walked in the kitchen it was awash in a pink hew so I looked out of the kitchen window, a pink sunrise. So I guess we're going to have some not so good weather.


Friday, February 13, 2009


I started on my slip cover: which I've been meaning to get to for ever, Well things were rolling along nicely. I had done the seat part and the arms partiallly, then moved onto the back, at this point I realized that the fabric I had was totally wrong, too stiff. Rather than being slip cover fabric it was more an upholstery fabric. I just knew it was not going to work.

I had bought the fabric for a dollar a yard, at this great shop not to far from me. Looks nothing special, no ambiance, but a bargain can be found here. So I went back to see if they had anymore $1.00 a yard fabric. Needless to say after months in between, there was not such a selection, but I did manage to find a 15 yard bolt of a plum and beige tick kind of strip. Much, much softer, I think it will work, you can see it in the top photo. That's my strash of fabric on bolts. For want of a better place to put it. Two bolts of the yellow I found in the rubbish, nothing wrong with it.

The chair I found at the thrift shop for $5.00, it's a swivel rocker and very comfortable, but needed a good clean and eventually I will have it reupholstered. I did think of doing it, but don't know if I'm up to it. So therefore a slip cover for the mean time.

So now I'm back to square one and must start again. But it goes against the grain to waste material, so I decided to make the gray into a tote bag and a messenger bag, using this lovely vintage pink fabric as a lining and contrast. I love this fabric. I found about 20 yds of it at the thrift shop. So sixties, with a subtle large butterfly design in it.

So I got my lovely old lady out. I found her in a yard sale, didn't buy her there and then, but just had to have her and went back for her. She must be about 55 years old. Only one foot and no manual. Although a blogger in NZ sent a pdf file of a manual she had for an old Husqvarna. I think maybe a model five years younger than mine. But I was able to glean from there how to adjust the bobbin screw for the stitch. She purrs along.
So in any case I must tell you what my boy said.
"Mum did you just get that?"
"No." of course it had been sitting there for months, but not opened up.
"I really like it, the metal is such a neat colour. How old is it?"
"About 55 years old."
" I like that mum. I'm going to paint my bike that colour, the same colour as the wheel, a dark green."

Does anyone know what the switch on the bottom is for? The one between the scissors and the word King?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Walk

We like to take a walk in this area, because it is only five minutes from our house. The snow has melted, and the weather warmed up to 50f

This is on the edge of a cemetery. Bo and I were trying to work out why these had been discarded like this.

The railway line, still used by goods trains.

The ever naughty North American grey squirrel

Yes there is a red fox running across this field.

Sunlight under the bridge, where many fish for trout.

The American robin, larger than a British robin, and not so red.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Little Change Around

For some reason last Tuesday evening I had a fit of energy and rearranged my sitting room, just a bit.
From this.

To this.

The two armchairs are at the end of the room. I so must get stuck into making slip covers for them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It Snowed

It snowed yesterday and into the night. Here are a few of Bo's photos.
01 09 10