Friends

27 November 2014

GINGER'S NEUROSIS

ONCE UPON A TIME... THERE WERE TWO DOGS...

This is the second part of this series. Ginger is a Red Setter rescued from an animal rescue centre, along with Butch, a Staffordshire Terrior. Both dogs were glad to get away from the mean-hearted Gaffer who ran the rescue centre. 
It is Butch who tells these short tales about their lives on a farm.

GINGER'S NEUROSIS

If anything was to make me turn tail and run, it was the endless phone calls. Morning, noon, and night, and always at meal times. Ginger's and mine, that is. Blessed instrument was silent when Chicken Fingers and Missus were eating. Missus did her best to get to the phone before Ginger started his howling, though how she could run with all that bulk to carry was beyond me. Like a fattened turkey she was, the way she waddled up the hall at high speed. Too many chicken dinners. Mind, I could talk. I'd got a bit plump since moving in. So had Ginger. His stomach had dropped and it didn't look right. A setter should be lissom and lean. The way he orbited the house when the phone rang should have kept the fat off, which made me wonder how much grub he was taking on the sly. Gaffer at our old lodgings wouldn't like it if he knew. He didn't believe in doling out weighty portions.
           
Ginger's reaction to the ringing sounds was the only thing I disliked. Other times we got on like a barn on fire. Oops. Shouldn't tempt providence. If that happened, we'd have no place to sleep, 'cause for sure Missus wouldn't have us indoors at night. We were supposed to guard the farm then, while Chicken Fingers slept. I sneaked upstairs one day to take a look at where he and Missus bedded down. The bedstead was as high as heaven, but I managed to jump on. The feather pillow was so soft I could have stayed there all day, but Missus didn't think Chicken Fingers would like it if he knew I was napping in his domain. She ejected me pretty quick and told me never to go in there again, shouting a bit, you know, so as to put a bit of urgency in my dismissal. She was probably anxious lest Chicken Fingers walloped me with his belt. He'd actually never done that, so I didn't see why she should be scared.
           
Chicken Fingers was the kindest master I'd ever had. Even Ginger said that, and he'd had a couple of good ones in his time. My old lady wasn't so bad, when she wasn't going on about scouring ears with Lysol, but she wasn't a patch on Chicken Fingers. She couldn't walk me, for a start, her pins being as thin as a whippet's. Me and Ginger got all the exercise we needed on the farm: sniffing out mice, chasing rabbits, and running alongside the tractor. It was a shame when the ploughing finished. It was such an excellent activity for reducing the waistline, I wondered Missus didn't have a go. Still there was the dog show to look forward to. There'd be a lot of galloping to do there. Chicken Fingers said there would be an arena to run round, but Missus said if we didn't lose a few inches we wouldn't be eligible, whatever that meant. Perhaps she was worried we wouldn't get through the gate.
           
Ginger had to suffer daily grooming, but it was worth it. All the tangles on his belly disappeared and, for all his complaining, he looked quite attractive. His coat actually shone. I was sure Missus had tinted it. It wasn't such a splendid red when we came. My coat being short, I didn't need such attention. Me being ordinary black and tan didn't entitle me to much fuss. My coat gleamed, though, because Missus gave it a quick rub with a hound glove and a silk cloth, but she didn't spend time on it. I got quite jealous at times, but Chicken Fingers made me feel better. He fondled me while we watched Ginger being brushed. I was his favourite, see. After all, it was me he picked first at the kennels. Ginger was an afterthought; he was chosen for Missus.
           
It was during one of the shampooing sessions that Ginger toppled Missus. The phone had leaped into action and from the first peal he was hurtling round like a dog with rabies. I yapped at Missus to grab the phone before he had a heart attack. She tried, but the timing was wrong and Ginger had completed his first revolution by the time she took a step to the table. Inevitably, they collided. Missus went over like a rollicking whale, her skirts rucking round her waist, revealing a spectacle of pink bloomers.
           
Chicken Fingers clutched his huge gut and rocked from side to side. Terrified he was badly hurt, I raced to him, but stopped dead when I caught his first chuckle. His observation that she'd finally slaughtered his passion was lost in loud guffaws. It stopped Ginger's antics though. Anything to do with bloodshed got him really worried.
           
I had this image of greeting Gaffer at the kennels and him repeating his famous rule about best behaviour or no food. A joke, he said, when we snarled our disapproval, but we knew he wasn't joking by the scarcity of good grub. With this horror in mind, I decided to make amends.
           
Trotting up to Missus, I nudged under her arm so she could grab my neck and heave herself upright. I nearly choked in the process, but she made it. She bent to pat my head and I grinned at her for all I was worth, fervently licking her hand. Out the corner of my eye I saw Ginger sneaking towards us, but Chicken Fingers, who had regained his composure, stopped him in his tracks.
           
'Stay, boy. Stay where you're well off.'
           
Now that her skirts were settled, Missus was all set to obtain justice. Pointing at Ginger, she yelled at Chicken Fingers, 'First light tomorrow, that fiend's off. And don't think you can protect him, 'cause I won't allow it.'
           
Chicken Fingers drew himself up to his full six feet and, although his gut protruded like a balloon, he looked impressively forbidding. He summoned Ginger and me to his side and then he bellowed, 'You'll do no such thing, woman.' Ginger and me folded into a profound cringe and we struggled for shelter behind our master's fleshy legs. My picture of Gaffer grew larger. I could almost hear him asserting that he knew we wouldn't be long returning.
           
A strange thing happened then. The phone began to ring. Sensing the worst, expecting Ginger to take off, I pressed closer to master's lower limb. I felt movement. Indeed I heard it, but it wasn't Ginger's howling I heard. It was a sort of rustling, shuffling sound. I didn't want to look. I didn't want to see Ginger frisking like a spring lamb and constructing the fastest return to starvation.
           
Chicken Fingers' strident laugh prompted me to peer round his leg in time to see Ginger shambling silently towards Missus, wearing a great stupid grin, and Missus bearing down on him, hands outstretched ready either to embrace or to throttle him.
           
'Come here, silly boy,' she said, and proceeded to smother him with kisses. Can you credit that? And all the time, the phone rang and rang. No-one went to answer it, and there wasn't a peep out of Ginger. 'You're a good boy, Ginger' Missus said. 'I knew sooner or later you'd learn that the telephone wasn't going to harm us.'
           
You could've knocked me out with a blade of grass, 'cause I'd never reckoned on Ginger having the capacity to learn things, but then he glanced at me, sort of sideways, and I knew I'd been wrong about him all the time.

23 November 2014

WHEN MOTHER PAPERED THE PARLOUR!

Blogging friend, Denise, recently posted a picture of her young son which instantly reminded me of an episode concerning my own son. 

This story began when I walked out of a marriage and into single motherhood.

Life as a single mother was hard. Now, now, no tears please. Yes, it was hard both financially and physically but I got by. I had a secretarial job with Imperial Chemical Industries and my little son went to nursery … he started there when he was just under a year old. The nursery was in league with the council in trying (and winning) to keep my purse empty, along with the cost of food and clothing. Jon was a rapid grower and ate like a young horse, so the pennies were few and far between when all purchases were made.

We lived in a ground floor flat, half a house to be exact. The upper floor was occupied by an elderly couple who were complete saints. She couldn’t do enough for me and her husband couldn’t do enough for Jon. Whenever he could he would take Jon into the garden to play, giving me some breathing space. I really appreciated them both. They were always there whenever I needed help or advice and in those uncertain days I needed both. They had no children, you  see, so Jon and I were more like family.

The nursery was good, too. The nursing staff would take toddlers out at weekends to give mothers a break or arrange a short holiday on a farm. Farm visits lasted about four days which I thought was ample time to do some decorating. I had saved hard so that I could buy wallpaper and paint and if the lad was away for four days I could decorate the lounge at my leisure and without interference from a demanding child.

It was with great pride that I set to work. Singing at the top of my voice I stripped and papered to songs of the early 60s, The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Dean Martin, The Beach Boys, Procol Harem. It was great. The finished result was good too and I felt SO proud of my first ever decorating achievement. Jon was due home the next day so I was pleased the job had been completed on time.  

It was lovely to hear his excited accounts of all the animals he’d seen and played with. He was hungry, as always, so the minute we arrived home I went into the kitchen to prepare some food. It was while frying bacon that I realised he wasn’t in his usual place, watching and waiting for extra scraps before he had to sit at the table. And it was remarkably quiet. The sudden silence made me suspicious. Yes, it was quiet. Too flippin’ quiet.

Creeping into the lounge I saw him in action, running up and down the three-seater settee and stabbing his little umbrella into the new wallpaper. He thought it was great fun ... while I looked in horror at the holes and tears along the whole stretch of wall behind the settee. Not pinpricks, great chunks straight through the wallpaper and into the plaster. The room looked worse than it did before I started to decorate. 

All that money … wasted.

All that time spent decorating … for nothing.

Will you believe me when I say I felt like choking him?

I was in such a rage I knew I had to get help or I would have killed him. So I thrust him into the care of my neighbour and asked her to keep him until I calmed down. Once I was alone I cried until the rage disappeared. It took a long time before I was able to rationalise that a young lad had no idea that he had done wrong. How WAS he to know, for goodness sake?

I think of this often when I read about parents who beat their children and thank the good Lord I didn’t go too far. But I could have done had it not been for my neighbour. It must be hard for those parents who have no-one to turn to.

I remember those days when I hear about parents ill-treating their children. I don't condone it, heaven forbid, but I am aware that sometimes ... sometimes ... unintentional things happen that set fire to the brain.

I can't find a picture of Jon as a little lad but here he is as a big one. As you can see, he was very into physical training. Of course this was many years ago, at a guess almost thirty years.  

21 November 2014

Ayers Rock shots

Here are some more pictures taken by our daughter in the Ayers Rock region, I wish I could show more but unfortunately I was unable to save them for uploading on the blog. I wish I knew more about saving pictures... although I've never had a problem before.

The first four pictures show some of the wildlife in the area, plus a caged camel that looks as though it was ready to give camel rides. The rest speak for themselves.









18 November 2014

COMPUTERS and a bit about shopping ...



I cannot go shopping without a list and I don't think I'm the only one. It's not about age and forgetfulness it's about being organised. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

When I was first asked if I would like a computer (let me think when that was, Hmm 20 or so years ago) I complained that if I had one I wouldn't know what to do with it. 

'What on earth would I do with a computer?' I asked.
'Well, you could... er ... maybe ... write your shopping list on it.'

I wondered what was wrong with writing one with a pen or pencil, I mean I'd been doing it for years and it never bothered me or made me yearn for another way of doing it. 

Secretly though, the thought of having a computer at a (fairly) late age was kind of thrilling. Of course, I wasn't to know the anxieties I faced once I had one. Anxieties like accidentally removing programmes by a mere touch of a key. But you know me, ever thorough, I didn't just wipe odd programmes I wiped the whole thing. Computers weren't like they are now, these days they come ready formatted. Trust me to get one too early!!

It was the day before going on holiday that it happened. Big Son had warned me never to touch the key with the word FORMAT and I did avoid it, honestly. Until the day before we went away and I hurried to close down the computer and start packing, accidentally, in my rush, touching the FORMAT key. AND LOSING EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING, OMG! 

I felt sick the whole of the two weeks we were in Guernsey (Channel Isles) and I didn't/couldn't tell a soul what I'd done. How I got through that holiday I will never know but get through it I did and the time got nearer when I would have to deal with my problem. It's difficult to describe how I felt but wretched comes close.

As it turned out the problem wasn't half as bad as I expected. All I had to do was phone the Help Line and speak to a nice young man who talked me through the problem and got everything back where it should be. I never found out his name but if he was to read this and recognise the silly woman who removed everything from her computer he would know how much I appreciated his help. If you're looking in, Mister, please know that on that soul-saving day I loved you to bits. 

It's been a one way trip ever since. I'm now known as an expert on the computer which is a load of rubbish because I'm anything but. I just have an enquiring mind. One thing I always tell myself is this: whatever happens, there's always a way to put it right. If you get into a mess, work it out, and put it right. Easy!

Anyway, back to the shopping list. Yes, I did devise one ...  and this is it. It contains everything I will ever want to buy at the store and laid out in appropriate sections like freezer section, bakery, fish and meat, fruit and veg etc. Every week I go round the cupboards with my clipboard list and check what I need or don't need. As I run out of things I tick that item on the list. It's a permanent reminder and a useful thing to take to the shops. All I do is print off a few copies and clip them to the board. When one is complete with a week's shop I cut it in two halves, then fold it like a book. It takes up no room in my bag and all I have to do is shop. Easy!

So, yes, I might have thought it a crazy idea all those years ago but where would I be without my computer now? Where indeed!

15 November 2014

The Best Christmas Present


On Thursday 13 November I received the best Christmas present ever. It was early, of course, too early to wrap in decorative paper and red ribbon but that didn't alter the worth of it. Actually the gift was too precious to wrap, it was the sort that needed to be shouted about from hilltops and roofs, unwrapped and open to view. Would you like to know what my gift was? Okay, I'll reveal all.

As I said, the date was 13 November but it certainly wasn't an unlucky day. It was the day Joe had the ALL CLEAR from the medics. There was no sign of the cancer that had troubled him for a whole year. That is certainly something to celebrate?
There are still a few things to be sorted but when we're told that the cancer had disappeared anything else can be taken in a stride. 

He looks well, is eating well, has put on a little weight, and is able to go out more ... and is rather jubilant about his new status. And why not? 
Our blogging friends have been so supportive throughout Joe and I thought we should impart the good news -  most of all he wants to thank you all for your good wishes and sympathetic messages. 


14 November 2014

ADVENT



I saw these advent calendars in a gift shop and fell in love with them. I could just imagine a child wanting to open one of the above 'houses' to see what was inside, one a day until Christmas.  How wonderful. Long gone are the calendars that were mere strips of cardboard with cut out doors that were the norm when my son was a wee lad. Modern ones are definitely more stylish. 


 And look at all the little drawers to open, just right for eager and excited children. I almost wished I was a child again... smiles.


 Tiny houses drawers and hooks... oh my, these Advent houses are worth waiting for.

Roll on Christmas!

12 November 2014

VACATION WITH A DIFFERENCE!

Two sky shots taken from ...wait for it ... the Ayers Rock and Uluru region in Australia. According to Wikipedia Ayers Rock is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in Central Australia, south west of Alice Springs. 

Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the two major features of the Uluru-Kata National Park. Ulutu is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves, and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Not only was our Daughter recently recognised as an official Australian Citizen, she and her husband got to see this wonderful part of her new homeland. 



Here are few more shots of the area








Finally ... The Hat Tree!


09 November 2014

NOVEMBER


INSIGHT TO NOVEMBER

The Prose

November is perhaps the most moving month of the year, steeped in tradition and teeming with expectancy.  Why yearn for sunnier climes or a terracotta tan when November's seasonal pulchritude comes free of charge. Broad avenues, awash with colour and piled high with copper jewels: red-gold gems, cascading from majestic trees, making way for fresh creations of embryonic buds.

Natural beauty contrasts sharply with more morbid attractions. Searing bonfires concoct a vivid tableau. Orange flames triumphantly lick the feet of man-made guys, egged on by a jubilant audience gobbling sausages and baked potatoes. Historical, traditional, and macabre, as are the fireworks: pretty explosives noisily winging, gloriously beguiling.

Scarlet poppies adorning our attire signify remembrance for the soldiers who fought for liberation … the war dead, who gave us optimism. Yields of mistletoe and holly and sometimes early snow prompt thoughts of Christmas celebrations, of nativity, and gatherings of families and friends.
   
Thus, November is a month of diverse elements: breathtaking, poignant, and sad. But it is never dull and those who claim that it is should examine its true potential, and wrest a soup├žon of comfort from the depths of the sombre monotony that exists solely within their hearts.

This is November.    Enjoy.

November was the month, many years ago, when I was seriously burnt, and had the misfortune to be in hospital when victims of bonfire and firework ‘accidents’ were admitted. I felt obliged to write the following poem, at the same time incorporating other monstrous November scenes.

The Poem

Broad avenues awash with colour,
Red gold gems tumbling to the ground;
Evolution preparing fresh creation,
Embryonic buds already sound.

Beyond the mists stem glowing vistas.
Nature sighs in resignation,
No challenger for graphic scenes
Of morbid fascination.

Poppies, red and unembellished,
Symbols of commemoration
To men in bloody trenches; soldiers
Sacrificing lives to give us liberation.

Carousals of darting, searing fire,
Triumphant flames of orange hue,
Incited by beholders’ hearty cheers
To kiss the feet of guys, and maybe you.

Motley fireworks, spectacular and loud,
Spiralling in the darkening night,
Gripping young ones, riveting them to pain.
Inevitably their shocking plight.

Advance through crumbly autumn leaves
Amidst displays of deciduous attraction,
But heed the groans as flames descend
And human euphoria condones the action.

06 November 2014

Playing with Pictures

If I run out of things to do I can always go on the iPad and play around with a few pictures. Some are fun to do and others are interesting, but there are some that offer the 'same-ole-thing' depending on which photo editor I use. The trouble is when I find one that does something exceptional, there is only so much I can do with it. You will see what I mean when you've browsed the following pics. Some clever bloggers manage to find GREAT editing programmes yet when I try them I have very little success. 

I would like to find a programme that offers free stickers to endorse pictures with. I say 'free' because I don't want to pay the earth for a mere whim. 

The iPad is preferred because, for me, it's more for leisure time use. The computer gets used too much for business work so in the evening I like a little bit of a break and some playtime. 

Anyway, what do you think of the latest efforts:

Don't they just!
Shots taken from the dining table at Moor Hall's Country Kitchen. The carvery area speaks for itself but the top two pictures show a corner display that was quite attractive and an old fashioned fireplace complete with logs. One day I must ask if they ever light a fire in it.
A random shot of  our lounge titivated with a few odd stickers
My favourite 'floater' coffee
I kept the best until last. Now this IS amazing! A globe full of family pics... how great is that? Trouble is I can't send it to the folk on it. I did try, but apparently it couldn't be opened. I'm not clever enough to get round that one... smiles. 

04 November 2014

Oh what a day it was, it really was....

This post will tell you how easy it is for the brain to do a somersault and come down on the wrong side of logic. It really gives you a turn when THAT happens.

First let me set the scene.

Imagine a fairly narrow road with bungalows on each side, each one having a small front garden and a driveway for parking cars. Then imagine the inconvenience when jobs have to be done and big wagons need to fill the road. Okay, I realise that’s not too bad, but when gas companies decide to replace the ancient gas pipes that run the length of the road, beneath the pavements on which we walk, it is utter chaos. Each house had a huge deep hole outside their drive inside which workmen replaced old pipes with sparkling new yellow ones, at least that was what I was told. However, the piccy I took shows that the only yellow pipe was a short one that joined one pipe to another! Meanwhile residents struggled to get cars off drives and onto the road. It wasn’t so much the holes that hindered us but the big barricades erected to prevent accidents and the huge wagons – see pictures below.
and there's more




The driver of the fancy van gave me a smile

Oooh look, the hole has been filled. All we want now are the final touches courtesy of the Tarmac  layers so that life can get back to normal. 
But let me get back to the story.

We are a two-car family and our drive is wide enough to park cars side-by-side, that is, until the hole was dug and I had to get the car through a much smaller space. It was okay going out, but getting back in was a nightmare. I have scratches on the car to prove it. I am a confident driver but this almost threw me. The solution was for Joe to park as near to the house as possible which gave me more room to manoeuvre. 

On the day in question I went on a simple shopping spree, i.e. quick visits to the butcher, the chemist, and the grocery store. On my return, I made a failed attempt to get on the drive. Well, no, that’s not strictly true… I did manage to park in front of Joe’s car. He’ll have to move back, I thought, as I went into the house. No problem, Joe came straight out, moved his car, and guided me round the barricade. Phew, what a relief. It was when I was getting out of the car that Joe asked me where my handbag and shopping was.

That’s when the brain did its acrobatic jump and memory loss took its place. I searched the car for the bags. Not there. I panicked. The bags must be in the store, I thought, those bags being the shopping and the handbag which contained money, credit cards, WI keys, and other valuable items. It meant I needed to retrace steps, or wheels, to find my treasures, desperately hoping I had dropped them in a store and some kind person handed them in. I felt sick with worry, I could feel perspiration on my brow; my hands were shaking but I had to get out there and find my belongings. I thought the worst, of course, imagining that the bags had dropped onto the floor and a passing thief had made off with them.

I was just about to drive off when I heard a voice. It was Joe, calling from his position by the front door, holding my handbag in his hand. You can imagine the relief. It left me feeling quite faint. Only then did I remember that I had gone into the house to get Joe to move his car. And I didn’t remember taking all the bags with me.

Is there any hope, I ask myself, or is this to start of a downwards slide?