After a week off the heights and heat of the repair, the world started rather awkwardly.
In one sense we subconsciously started to adapt to the re-gained freedom, albeit with challenges such as the heatwave and volcanic ash poisoning aside from the inconvenience of having to live in a place closer to a ruin than a proper house. It’s still better than having to grow fin and embrace the floods as we turned into catfish (instead of just cat).
A sort of fuel that make us kick our own rear and drag ourselves out of the semi comfort zone is the potential to a fuller, better life, obviously without the natural disaster, and a proper house instead of a ruin. Aside of that, we are sitting on top of sum of money that comes from our supporters around the world. Money that they earnestly earn and give, a gesture that make every single coin glow with hope, and prayers, and pure power that we would really want to be responsible for.
The new team, when they come, half an hour earlier than their supposed schedule, is a three generation family that consists of a grandfather, a father and his brother, and a grandson. I found out about this as the supervisor came a little later and ask if the cats are generally OK with the new time. On the interview I mentioned that I have cats equal to the whole human village and if any of them show adverse reaction, I will call the contract off. He seems to take the threat seriously (he should, I am serious). I just laughed because at the time those people arrived, the cats were already inside the cage and sleeping with their stomach full and a dose of Pet Natural Vermont Calming Cat, donated by our supporters.
First thing first; I pointed out that the pipe broken by the previous team seems to be leaking, as shown by the growing wet patch on the new wall. The new team look at it, undid the wall, and when the first brick was off, was sprayed with a bucket of water that had accumulated over a week. They laugh it off as “a kid’s work”, wipe themselves dry and re-done the pipe.
Within a half day the father finished the whole wall. Without chicken song, boiling temper, heart break, and stamp approval from one of our superintendent.
OK, where’s that superintendent again?
In the afternoon when they all go home, this is the end result of the entire left side wall:
Over the next days, I noticed that the new teams have meeting a lot. Everyday before they commenced work, they gather around and plan what is to be done; grandpa in charge. Then when someone or some part has some issues, they approach each other again and discuss what is to be done. The way they do this make all four of them can work on separate part efficiently and effectively in less time.
The cattery is turned into their workshop, especially the grandpa, who is a carpenter.
After they are done with the left side wall, the pillars of the pathway is immediately installed, anticipating the rainy season due in few days.
Then they jumped into digging the hole across the pathway. Look small? This hole is 2 meters deep and 1 meters wide. In here will be the rainwater tank.
Then they install the roof over the pathway, so when it’s rain, they can still work.
Then the right wall …
Moving the lemon tree…
And here comes the rain …
mud all the way
Last month over on Facebook, my Australian mummy Trish was complaining about a window in the cattery that shows the roof of backside neighbour and asked if it is going to be “fixed”.
Actually it was I who asked that window to be made. From afar, that roof is not a great view, but when you look over the window, it’s a different story. Since that window has wire mesh on it, the picture is not clear; so I climb the water tower and took the picture of what’s actually behind the house, and why I like it so much.
To the left
To the right
It’s a traditional Chinese style graveyard. Chinese thinks that the afterlife is parallel dimension, so they build their grave as the “house at the other side” for their ancestors. It makes the grave less ghoulish and actually beautiful, especially at sunrise or sunset. I used to go there by going down through the small ravine at the back of the house, through vegetable field and small river, cutting my way through the whole valley, to feed stray cats and dogs that use those pagodas as their shelter.
I do not always watch the worker on site. Sometimes I have to order materials or take phone calls inside the house, or pay for material delivery. At other time someone send me a message over Facebook or email so I am busy with my cell phone, but there is always someone representing The Whiskers’ Syndicate going round the repair site to see if something goes wrong.
Her name is Florence Nightingale. She was a street cat that called our porch home last year. I gladly opened my door, and she repay us by nursing all the kittens that ever come to our domain, treating them like her own child.
At one point a few months ago, I didn’t find any baby bottles to bring home. I don’t know why, but I didn’t see any, at least not one without the mother. At that point I heard that the material store just five minutes walk across the street has new baby.
One day, Florence was gone, and I cannot find her. I saw her once or twice going into that material store, but when I chase her, she’s gone.
When the repair start, I bought from that store, and it was when I start seeing her again. She stays in the store, and the people there give her food, but she is so very thin, it’s really hard for her to walk more than ten steps without stopping for air.
I feel sorry for her, so when at one time she followed me out, I asked if she wants to “go home” because we missed her. She rubs herself onto my leg, so I pick her up, and bring her home.
I gave her special food because at that point, she can no longer stand straight, much less walk. She moved several step and sit, and then sleeps all day. I give her vitamin, milk, digestible protein, whatever cat nutrition I have and can afford to buy at that time.
Slowly, she is better. She does not seem to gain weight significantly, but she can walk around the house without falling because she is out of breath. A few days later she started her “tour of duty”. Every one or two hours, she would go out to the backyard, walk round it, and sit at some spot where, when I come by, always find something wrong. The workmen called her “Misses Supervisor”. If there is nothing, then she would lay down and relax beside my leg.
When Stubby or Jane Marple gone out to the rest room (they do their business in the bathroom) and one of the baby cry, Florence is always the first responder.
And then at one point when I bring this Little Prince home
Again, Florence nursed him like he is her own child. If he slips out between the cage bars (he’s tiny) and walked out to the backyard unnoticed, Florence will follow him and as soon as I am back inside the house, will automatically notice that there’s something wrong and thus get the naughty prince back inside.
Florence is still with us today, appointing herself the governess of the six kittens that’s now start to run and jump. She is the only cat approved by the mothers, while other cats usually earns loud yell and some claws.
At the outside, we have another superintended patrolling the perimeter to make sure no one pick some brick when we’re all busy at the back.
Hanshin is one of our longest residence. He followed me to my boarding house as a kitten in early 2009, and he grow up as Whiskers’ Syndicate develops.
The efficiency and effectiveness with which the workmen handle their work made the entire process runs fast and smoothly. It brings amusement for the cats as they never ran out of places to play.
The Orient Express
Though I scold him many times, Bon Ami (white and yellow) can’t stop his addiction: scratching on the cement sack.
and the one behind the camera is paparazzi 😀
Three weeks, and all the messy muddy backyard is turned into something completely different.
But to be honest, it’s not what I want.
My idea was – at the start – a small pathway along the left side of the wall, maybe just 1 metre (3 feet) wide pergola, and drainage, so the cats and I don’t have to run under the rain when they eat.
Something like this:
Instead, what I get is around 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide pathway that is raised 20 centimetres (around 7.8 inches) high, which make the drainage above the ground level, because the workmen didn’t want to waste any material (e.g. cutting the roofing sheet). I did ask why the drainage seems to be floating above the ground instead of under it, but the workmen keep saying that they are not done with it yet, so I just stay quiet.
So, since we don’t want to demolish everything and start all over (over my dead body!) we have to dig the entire outdoor area (where the water tower and lemon tree are) to accommodate the drainage.
I ended up with three (large) truck load of muddy soil on my front yard, and the entire Sunday supervising another contractor get all the dirt away back to the mountain. It rained that night before and all those mud left marks on the wall, making my front yard looks disgusting.
It’s a lie to say that I am not disappointed. I had dreamed of a nice garden where the cats can go about frolicking the greenery and fresh air, and I even already picked some plants that I am going to grow at the back.
Now I have a 100 square metres (328 square foot) town hall; and it’s so empty, our voice echoes in there.
But hey, that means the cats have more space to hang out. That means the cats doesn’t have to crumple inside the cattery and instead can choose to lounge outside in the evening.
That also means the mobsters can run and play even when it rains.
Forget about the town hall. We want a small garden, and God give us Olympic Stadium.
““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD ~ Isaiah 55:8“
And then, one day, the dad approach me and asked, “Don’t you want to paint the walls? It doesn’t seems to be in the contract, but those grey walls will look ugly”
I just look at him, wondering how I should answer it (that the building actually ended up much larger than I thought and that it isn’t suppose to need paint), he continues, “We had to make you spend extra money with all those dirt, so if you want to buy the paint tomorrow, we’ll paint the building for you, for free”
Those men can’t see it, but my psyche was rolling all over with grinning from ear to ear. Ho… Ho… Ho… Merry Christmas!!!
So the next Sunday, when they have their day off, I went around town looking for eco-friendly and cat-safe paint.
On their last day of work, came another surprise.
I thought they only come to pick up their stuff, clean up things a little bit, take their payment, and be gone.
I found out that the day before their supervisor told them about what I do and that I live alone. So since I give them a lot of stuffs that I no longer use, including some excess materials that they actually ask (wire mesh, cables, boards etc), they come down for one final bonus:
and the front yard! Look at all the mud, and that blob on the wall. Yuck.
The end result:
The window to my room, where all those mobs peek inside just to tease me when I work.
The Syndicate’s life saving washing machine is as bright as sun!
Everybody’s favourite daisy brick
The cattery from the outside
and from the inside. That’s Tao, one of the hammock kitties, coming forward.
Looks pretty empty, don’t you think?
Animalrescuemarketing.com is rallying to help us buy new beds, blankets, toys and cat trees that were damaged or lost in the flood.
If you would like to participate, click the link below:
If you have a facebook account, even if you cannot give, you can help the fundraiser grow by pressing “like” on the top of the page. The more people press “like” the more the page is exposed to the public, the bigger our chance to get sponsor/donor. Won’t you help us?
A few months ago during our fundraising, our friend Kay Meow campaigned on our behalf and made this picture:
Today, I give you the answer. The new home of Whiskers’ Syndicate, that all of you have helped us build.
Thank you. Thank you without end for making our dream come true. We are alive today because of you.