Carmine is patiently awaiting its Christmas reawakening.
Those cats in the know about the rich leftover pickings to be had at the Big House have been working their way back into our hearts for the past few weeks, and are now to be found in their own private billets all over the house - on top of Mathilda, in an electrically-heated infirmary nest in the pantry next to the washing machine (absent, understandably, during the spin cycle), among the faux-fur throws on my bed and burrowed in among some real sheepskins in the sitting room.
None of them, it seems, is interested in doing anything about the little nest of mice busy engineering another population explosion in the woodshed. And Mama is looking everywhere for swathes of crimson felt with which to patch B's Christmas sack, which between last year and this has developed a very large mouse-made hole.
The new Mathilda (still unnamed) is being commissioned slowly and steadily day-by-day, with half-loads more designed to hasten the drying process than to actually heat the rooms it was designed to heat. But heat it does, even now, and once you've gotten over the surprise of walking into a bedroom with an air temperature more than a degree above that immediately outside the window, you find yourself getting used to the luxury of it quite quickly.
And with only one more week of kindergarten to go before more than three weeks of Christmas, New Year, Epiphany and Patronal Festival holiday, Mama can see a much needed break from the four-times-a-day route march.
But before we can all settle into a festive season full of extravagance, decadence and the Queen on YouTube, there's plenty of ups and downs still to do - birthday parties, Christmas shopping, concerts, Christmas shopping, AJ's festa di natale, Christmas shopping and just a tad more Christmas shopping - making Mama for one wish that Christmas presents really were delivered by an overweight chappie in a garish suit, ably abetted by six tame ungulates and a magic flying sleigh.
Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.