If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

This had been sitting on my shelf for a while, and I started reading it when I wanted a comfort read while my own cat Mara was unwell (though thankfully she has recovered).

When the 30 year old narrator finds out he has a terminal illness and only days to live, he receives a visit from the devil who offers to trade one extra day of life for everything the narrator is willing to live without. It seems like an easy trade but the story considers what life would be like without mobile phones, films and cats to name just a few things the devil makes disappear in order to extend the narrator’s life – though apparently even the devil draws the line at a world without chocolate. Every time the devil removes something from the world, the narrator is left considering the impact it had on his life and how much we take for granted everyday.

If Cats Disappeared From the World is a short, strange but poignant and thought-provoking story about love, grief, family, regrets, dying and cats. Unfortunately I found it hard to connect with the narrator, and I preferred The Travelling Cat Chronicles (reviewed here), which covers similar themes, though this is still worth reading. Take Care, and have a lovely week. X

4 Years 11 Months 9 Days…

Recovering at home, September 2020

Relieved and grateful to have reached the end of what has felt like the longest week for our little family. It started ordinarily enough taking my 7 month old daughter to a Baby Sensory class on Monday and visiting my parents on Tuesday, but in the very early hours of Wednesday morning, our cat Mara suddenly became unwell with vomiting and diarrhoea, by dawn she was off her food, lethargic and hiding under our bed.

We took her to the vet who ran a series of tests but couldn’t find anything wrong, apart from a very low white blood cell count, and I spent the rest of the day handfeeding her chicken but by the evening she was no better and refusing to eat again. We took her back to the vet on Thursday morning and they kept her in overnight to give her fluids and an antiemetic by IV, as well as antibiotics and an appetite stimulant, and her condition was stable enough for her to return home on Friday evening. We’re still not sure what caused her sudden illness – an infection, gastroentiritis or even a severe food intolerance are all possibilities – and she’s still not back to full health but I’m so relieved that she’s eating, cuddling, purring and even playing a little bit, which are all encouraging signs that she’s recovering.

Me and Mara, January 2016

I was planning to share a post next month to mark the fifth anniversary of the date we adopted Mara, but this week has reminded not to take anything or anyone for granted, so I’m sharing a little Mara update today four years, eleven months and nine days after we adopted her. I always knew adopting an adult rescue cat meant there was a chance she might not be with us very long (Mara is somewhere between 10 and 14 years old now) but I won’t ever regret choosing Mara because she’s been such an affectionate, playful and constant companion, and so gentle and patient with our baby daughter too.

Mara and our daughter, August 2020

For such a small animal, she’s an enormous presence in our home from whining for food (at all hours!), scampering around when she wants to play, chirruping as she greets us at the front door, purring and padding at the foot of our bed as she settles down for the night, sunbathing on the windowsills during the summer and stretching out in front of the fire in the winter.

I’m so thankful to the vets for their diagnosis and treatment options, as well as for pet insurance (which has paid for itself again and again), but most of all, I’m grateful for Mara, who has always been so much more than a pet, bringing so much love, affection and joy to our lives. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Capturing Castles at Mugdock Country Park

Situated 10 miles North of Glasgow and just a short drive for us, we’ve only visited Mugdock Country Park a handful of times, but I can see it becoming one of our regular jaunts because it’s such a fun place to wander and explore.

We’ve generally avoided parks and crowded places during the pandemic, and Mugdock Country Park seems to be popular with young families, dog walkers and cyclists, as well as people walking the West Highland Way, which cuts across the park, yet the only crowded area was the visitor centre where the toilets, cafe and children’s play park are all located, while the paths and walks around the grounds allowed plenty of space to keep a safe distance from others.

We followed the path from the Visitor Centre past the ruins of Craigend Castle through the woods, around Mugdock Loch before having a ramble about – and a little picnic – in the Mugdock Castle ruins before returning to the visitor centre and car park. It was a lovely family day out giving us a chance to stretch our legs and clear our heads while we explored.

With national and local restrictions around socialising in place and so much uncertainty hanging over the rest of the year, I’m so grateful that we’re still able to get out for little adventures around our beautiful country. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles

After The Fifth Season, I was in the mood for something a bit more light-hearted to read. I’ve been a fan of Sara Bareilles’ music since my then fiance-now husband suggested one of her songs for our first dance, and I was intrigued to learn she’d written a book.

Sounds Like Me isn’t a typical celebrity memoir full of love affairs and feuds, but it’s written with humility and humour, and provides insight into the experiences that shaped Sara as a musician and person from her parents’ divorce and being bullied about her weight at school, finding her love of music and theatre to her first love and inevitable heartbreak, a year studying in Italy, recording and touring, right up to writing the Broadway musical Waitress.

It’s a short book comprising of eight essays based around eight of her songs, though one aspect that did disappoint me was that most of the songs she picked as the basis of the chapters in this book were from her earlier recordings with no songs from Kaleidoscope Heart and only one from The Blessed Unrest, although she does include one from Waitress.

I started reading this thinking it would be a little stopgap between other reads, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. Sounds Like Me is a quick and entertaining read, filling in the background of one of my favourite musicians that made me want to listen to her songs with fresh insight, though it did leave me wanting to know more.

My reading often dips in the summer when longer, lighter evenings encourage me to spend more time outside being active, but back under partial lockdown for a couple of weeks and on the cusp of autumn, I’m looking forward to cosy evenings catching up on my TBR shelf. Take care, and have a lovely week. X