Hannah Drake

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 15

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In my last edition of The Expat Diaries, I talked about how quickly the last two months had gone by, but this time, it feels like it’s been quite a slow two months.

The biggest change in my life abroad since early January has been that we finally got our first foster kitten. When I lived in Colorado, I fostered over 60 kittens and 2 puppies from 2009. After I moved, I tried to find a charity that would allow me to do the same type of volunteer work, but I never found anything until last autumn when our friend mentioned he was going to start fostering with a cat charity in town. I applied and got approved at the end of November, but we didn’t want any kittens before the holidays and we’ve been waiting ever so impatiently since the new year to get the call that there was one available.

In mid-January, they asked if we could take two kittens who were a bit older than what we wanted, but we wanted to get our foot in the door so we said yes. Almost immediately, they said they no longer needed them placed. In February, we got another offer to take in one kitten who was even older still, at seven months. Again, we were eager to get any four legged friend, so we said yes. I was a bit worried about his temperament because they said he was brought to the charity because the family who also had his sister didn’t want him any more because of his personality. They said he was timid and skittish and wanted us to socialise him the best we could and help them with a recommendation for what type of home he should be placed in when he gets adopted.

We picked him up on the 16th of February and we could immediately see that he was in fact scared and shy. We decided to keep him in the living room, where he could have plenty of space, a big window, and where we spend most of our time. It would give him the opportunity to get used to our usual traffic through the living room but also spend time with us on his own terms. Within a few hours of him getting to our house, we could see what a cuddly sweetheart he is. He curled up between us on the couch as we watched Game of Thrones and by the end of the night, he was purring loudly. He made strides quickly to get more comfortable with us and the space, but if he has the opportunity to hide under the bed or behind the couch (which we tried to prevent, but sometimes he was quicker than us or knocked down the barriers we put up), he takes it. Even now. Basically we spend our time with him trying to convince him that being with us was a lot more enjoyable and less stressful than hiding. He did great when we had people over this last weekend and he seemed comfortable enough to be around them in our front room, even though we don’t normally hang out in there and aren’t normally that loud. He also likes eating people food, especially if it’s salty. But he also has an affinity for pumpkin apparently. Luke was not happy to find that he had eaten his pumpkin muffin off his bedside table the other night, especially because it was the last one. After that, he was going crazy trying to get into the bin for the wrapper off mine that I had thrown away earlier!

Over the last week, he has started sleeping on our bed throughout the entire night. It started with him curled up between our feet, but now he gets up after a little while to curl up between our bodies. Luke said he even caught him under the covers first thing in the morning on Sunday! A couple of times, I’ve woken up on my back in the middle of the night to find him asleep on my chest with his little head nearly on my pillow. It’s my actual kitten dream come true!

In a lot of ways, February 2019 was one of the hardest months I’ve spent abroad. Within a week, we lost my great-grandmother, my stepmom’s grandmother, and my dad celebrated his 70th birthday. GG was the first person to pass away in my family since I moved and it was strange not being there with the family or not being at the memorial. Then my dad had this milestone birthday that I wasn’t able to take part in, like I did for his 60th birthday. It certainly made me homesick and probably more than I care to admit. I’ve missed a family wedding and I know I’ll miss more this year, but this month was a clear realisation that things are different and I’m not able to be there for family stuff I used to be able to take part in, the good and the bad.

To not end on a total down note, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the weather, one of the Brits favourite topics! We had quite a warm final week in February. Like people out in the parks or in their back garden enjoying the sunshine kind of warm! In fact, if it had been light out later, we probably would have even had dinner in the back garden a few times last week! It’s since become a bit more stereotypical for England with gloomy skies and lots of rain, but I just have to show these two photos taken almost exactly a year apart on walks around the park near our house.