Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In Memorium: Finn (updated July 22nd, 2007)

Finn

The world's greatest companion and sweetest soul.
August 6, 2004 - July 18, 2007

Finn had a big heart, but it couldn't continue beating for him ...
it just gave out.

He died in the afternoon - July 18th, 2007 of congenital heart problems. * (see update at bottom of this post)
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No one expected this to happen, not even his veterinarian. He was such a young cat, not even 3 years old. By all appearances and habits he was just fine, perfectly normal, but apparently he was born with a heart problem that, perhaps, we didn't detect soon enough. We are all in shock.
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I'm afraid that I'm not sure if I can continue blogging as Finn was, for me, so much a part of this blog (and a lot of my art). I am very sad right now. I will keep the blog up as a memorium to Finn.
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Sacha, Finn & I have enjoyed our readers company and we thank you all for the visits to this blog and the lovely comments that some of you have left and the laughs we all had, but this is too difficult to even look at right now ... perhaps in the future, but I don't know.
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In just almost 3 short years I became so attached to a beautiful, funny, sweet companion who I will miss more than I can possibly tell you. Some may thnk that's silly of me, but those of you who are animal lovers and have beloved pets (especially artists with constant studio companions) will understand.
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Regards and good-bye for now,
Judith Nijholt-Strong
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---------------------------------------------------
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A last farewell to Finn from his human "dad" -
Een laatste afscheid van Finn - van Finn’s mensen "papa"
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In english:
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Unlike Judy, I had little experience owning cats. In fact, I was not especially fond of cats. Before Judy came along, I did have a cat that I kind of inherited, but it never felt like having a real relationship to the animal.

At one point, after my cat had passed-on for some time at the blessed age of 16 years old, Judy and I decided it was time to be on the lookout for a new cat.

Through an acquaintance, Judy found Finn and Sacha ready for adoption. When she told me she wanted the both of them (after all Finn and Sacha were siblings from the same nest) , I was reluctant to go along with the idea. Of course, Judy persuaded me.

Initially it was a disaster - at least in my opinion. The fist couple of months, Finn and Sacha did quite a bit of damage. But as time went on, the cats got used to their new living situation and I at the same time, got used to, and found pleasure in, taking care of two naughty cats.

Finn turned out to be the more loving one of the two. Where Sacha was (and still is) quite independent and being always on the hunt- Finn would stick around more. He would simply follow you begging for attention to the point you had to shut doors for it would be impossible to do the bookkeeping with him stepping through papers, jumping on the computer monitor and changing figures stepping on the keyboard.

Finn gave us a lot of joy, always being on our laps, ‘making biscuits’ and giving kisses until the very last day of his life. I had never realized that you can really get attached to a cat to this extent.

Especially Judy thought there might be something wrong with him. Nevertheless, Finn died unexpectedly, only an hour or so after we came home from the veterinarian. We never realized that the situation he was in was so life threatening, or else we certainly would constantly have watched him.

I am convinced that, though too short, Finn had a good life; he was loved and always treated like a prince.

Though it hurts right now, in time the good memories we have of him will take over the feelings of loss we are currently experiencing. The loss of a cat you really feel attached to is painful enough and absolutely not silly, however it does make you realize how devastating the loss of a child or partner must be.

Finn was Finn; in time most probably there will be a new cat, but Finn will never be forgotten.

Luckily, Sacha is still around!
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Regards,
Auke Nijholt
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In nederlands:
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In tegenstelling tot Judy, had ik weinig ervaring als kattenbezitter. Eigenlijk was ik niet eens zo dol op katten. Toen Judy bij me kwam wonen had ik een kat die ik geërfd had maar van een emotionele binding met het beestje was eigenlijk geen sprake. Ik zorgde voor haar en dat was het wel zo’n beetje.

Op een gegeven moment, enige tijd nadat mijn kat het tijdelijke voor het eeuwige verwisseld had in de gezegende leeftijd van 16, besloten Judy en ik dat het tijd werd voor een nieuwe kat.

Toevallig bood een kennis van Judy Finn en Sacha aan voor adoptie. Toen Judy te kennen gaf ze allebei te willen (ten slotte waren Finn en Sacha broer en zus uit hetzelfde nest) was ik in eerste instantie terughoudend. Maar natuurlijk haalde Judy me over.

In het begin was het een ramp, tenminste volgens mij. De eerste maanden richtten Finn en Sacha flink was schade aan. Maar gaandeweg raakten de katten gewend aan hun nieuwe leefomgeving en tegelijkertijd begon ik echt plezier te krijgen in het verzorgen van die twee wildebrassen.

Finn ontwikkelde zich tot de meest aanhankelijke van de twee. Waar Sacha zich bezig hield met jagen en zich veel onafhankelijker opstelde, was Finn altijd in de buurt. Hij kon achter je aanlopen als een schoothondje smekend om aandacht. Soms moest je Finn wel buitensluiten om bijvoorbeeld de administratie te doen. Anders liep hij constant over je papieren heen, sprong op de computer monitor of wijzigde hij bedragen door over het toetsenbord te lopen.

Finn gaf ons enorm veel plezier, altijd op schoot, ‘making biscuits’ (ik weet niet of hier een Nederlandse uitdrukking voor bestaat: terwijl de kat op schoot zit tilt hij beurtelings de voorpootjes op en slaat daar fijn de klauwtjes bij uit, niet zo lekker als je alleen een t-shirt aan hebt) en kusjes geven tot het einde toe. Ik had geen idee dat je zo aan een kat gehecht kon raken.

Speciaal Judy dacht dat er mogelijk iets aan de hand was met hem. Niettemin, Finn stierf totaal onverwacht, niet langer dan een uurtje of zo nadat we met hem naar de dierenarts waren geweest. We hadden werkelijk geen idee dat zijn situatie zo levensbedreigend was anders hadden we hem wel constant in de gaten gehouden.

Ik ben ervan overtuigd dat Finn, hoewel te kort, een goed leven bij ons heeft gehad. We gaven hem veel liefde en hij werd behandeld als een prins.

Het doet nu pijn, maar uiteindelijk zullen de goede herinneringen het winnen van het gevoel van verlies dat we nu ervaren. Het verlies van een kat waar je aan gehecht bent is pijnlijk genoeg en dat is absoluut niet gek, je realiseert je wel hoe verwoestend het moet zijn om je kind of partner te verliezen.

Finn was Finn, uiteindelijk zal er wel weer een nieuwe kat komen, maar we zullen Finn niet vergeten.

Gelukkig hebben we Sacha nog!
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Groeten,
Auke Nijholt
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-----------------------------------------------------
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* Update (please read if you are a cat owner):
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The congenital heart condition that took our Finn, is called Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart muscle) - HCM type.
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This hereditary heart condition is also common among humans and is often the cause of sudden death from heart attacks in what, from all outward appearances, seem to be healthy atheletes.
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Maine Coon cats are particularly prone to this heart affliction, but it can occur in any type of cat. Finn wasn't a Maine Coon cat though, just an extremely lovable, black, European shorthair.
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It is advised to get echocardiograms of any cats in a litter where this condition has caused the death of a cat/kitten - or any of the parent cats. It's a 50/50 sort of problem - some may have it, some may not.
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Unless the cat is displaying any odd symptoms in their breathing, walking or eating habits, this condition is often missed in the normal veterinarian yearly check-up exam (Finn was diagnosed too late to be saved - although we did try). However, it can be detected through an echocardiogram or ultra-sound exams. (Note: The advice to seek out an echocardiogram also applies to humans in families where this heart conditon has caused the death of any family member.) The condition can/may be passed to the offspring via either the father or the mother (in both humans or cats). It is a treatable condition, although there is no cure - ultimately it will take the life of your cat, but you can prolong their lives through various medications (as with any heart patient) if the disease is caught in its early stages. Some cats can live fairly long happy lives if the condition is caught early enough and through proper care and medications.
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There are many sites, in various languages, on the internet with much more information about Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (known as HCM) - just Google for it.
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I found this Norwegian site to be very helpful in understanding this disease (unfortunately, I found it too late). Cats and Heart Disease (in english)
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And another good site written by Jody A. Chinitz; Marcia J. Munro; and Mark D. Kittleson, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM (Cardiology) :
Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (includes a downloadable pdf file HCM info sheet)
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I sincerely hope that the above information will be useful to other cat owners.
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Judy
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Friday, July 13, 2007

They've returned from France and we have a new souvenir!

First up, we'd like to show you what our "mom" did on her summer vacation, June - July 2007.
Moleskine work ... of course!
Using: Sigma Micron pens & ink, Winsor & Newton pan watercolors, Yarka pan watercolors, van Gogh & Caran d'Ache watercolor pencils, Derwent Graphtints, Prismacolor water-soluable graphite pencils ... and a lot of inspiration (that's what France is for!).

Mons-Boubert (mostly the house & things around it) and a trip to the Somme bay village of Le Crotoy - département Somme, Picardie. (click on image block to enlarge)
© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Normandie - département Calvados - Omaha Beach and Bayeux
They took a trip down to Normandie to visit the American War Memorial & Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer. Then over to city of Bayeux (they stayed over one night) - home to the Bayeux Tapestry ( a very long embroidery that chronicals the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and was created in the 11th century). Yes, they did see the tapestry and it's one of the 50 great art treasures, in "mom's opinion", of the world - most impressive according to "mom"! And yes, they did bring back a bottle of Calvados! hee hee!

Omaha Beach - you'll notice those Kermits got to go on this trip... totally unfair, in our opinions (click on image blocks to enlarge)
© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Bayeux (click to enlarge...we hope)

© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Mom"sketching in Bayeux and yes, the beer was good too!

Further afield in Picardie - Doullens and St. Riquier
A day trip over to villages of Doullens & St. Riquier - both in the département Somme, Picardie. The weather was very un-predictable that day - one moment hard rain, the next bright blue skies.

© 2007, Judith Nijholt Strong

Nord Pas de Calais - Berck & Berck Plage
(A day at a very cold beach! click to enlarge)

© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Really further afield to Gerberoy - département de l'Osie, Picardie. What a gorgeous village! The Impressionsit painter Henri Le Sidaner lived here and was the the impetous for all the beautiful flowers (especially the roses) that the villagers are still very proud of growing. Well worth the visit... so "mom" and "dad" say.
© 2007, Judith Nijholt Strong

Back at the house in Mons-Boubert.
This is the view of the out-buildings from the side, back garden of the house they stayed in. The former "manor house" is in the background on the right hand side of this image.
"The Last Time" copyright 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong
Little did "mom" know that when she was painting the image above, that it would be the final time she ever did so. The house and property are up for sale this coming fall. Our "mom & dad" will never be able to rent this place for summer again. Sad, because it was truly "magical", but this painting/sketch/drawing will always bring back delightful memories of wonderful summers spent there.

A pic of "mom"doing the sketch/drawing/watercolor above... she sat for a good long time in that cold grass, until the skies threatened more rain. It was a beautiful and peaceful afternoon, and she will indeed miss this place very much.

LOOK!!
Now for the most important part of this blog post ... this is what "mom & dad" brought us back as a souvenir.
Our very own mechanical, French, mouse!!!
We're thrilled! We're off now to play with our mouse ...


Tot ziens!
Finn & Sacha


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