Monday, May 29, 2006

So follow me, follow

We took the Boy down to Sussex to visit his granny at the weekend, because it’s been ages since he saw her last. We’ve been trying to work out exactly when it was – definitely August 1999, but surely he’s been down there since? I’ll have to look through the old calendars. Anyway, it seemed sensible to visit while we could, even though it was a Bank Holiday weekend with all the associated traffic joys, which meant it was 11pm by the time we got there, having abandoned the M25 and gone cross country (freelance, ignoring Henrietta the Navigator, who got into a right strop).

While we were down there we introduced the Boy to the joys of caching, and although he doesn’t seem mad keen I think he quite enjoyed the experience - especially the bit where Harry and I went different ways, and at different speeds, around a stump. It’s lucky there’s a drought or I might have vanished entirely, but my hand (without the GPS) reached solid ground at about elbow-depth. It was more than a tad damp underfoot; in fact we wouldn’t have been surprised to see alligators slipping into the ‘puddles’.
Drought conditions

That particular cache was the Boy’s first find, which was good; the next was a Did Not Find, which rather spoilt it for him. It was disappointing for us too, as we had a Travel Bug that desperately wants to be in the area for collection by his Merkin owners next week. In the end we had to leave it at A Pile of Blogs and hope someone either moves it on in time or its owners can get there themselves.

Talking of the Blog Standard series …. Come on you lot, when are the rest going to be placed? Surely it’s not stopping at five? If so, what does a person who’s found them all* do with the numbers?

*hint hint smug grin*

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pop goes the weasel

A couple of weeks ago I noticed, when walking the dogs, a freshly-dead badger on the verge by the road. At this stage it was almost completely unoffensive, but as the days went on - this was during the recent warm weather - it began to change. As the process of decomposition advanced it not only began to stink (a smell that can never be mistaken for anything else) but also the gases trapped within made it start to balloon. It was fascinating – from lying on its side it ended up on its back with its legs in the air, looking just like a stuffed toy. But it was at this stage I began to get nervous walking past it; I didn’t want to be in the vicinity if it went pop. Luckily (?) the weather cooled again and the grasses and hedge-parsley have grown up around it, and it’s now invisible (although the smell lingers). Soon the verges will be mown by a tractor flail to ease visibility for motorists … it could be very messy …

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Went to mow a meadow

To tell the truth it wasn't one man, it was one woman, but it was certainly a meadow! In fact after all the rain we've had recently the lawn in the back garden was visibly growing as you watched before it became a veritable jungle, possibly harbouring several water buffalo and a tiger.

It's now back down to a manageable level although even the rotary mower made heavy weather of it because it was so wet, and spewed out great gobbets of mulchy grass which Harry made a beeline for to scoff as much as he could before I noticed and yelled at him. Sometimes I wonder about that dog's parentage - the way he grazes anyone would think he was half sheep.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

These foolish things

It's very disappointing when a person whom you always believed was reasonably intelligent as well as being in possession of a modicum of common sense does something so jaw-droppingly stupid that you want to take them by the shoulders and shake them till their teeth rattle, then round it off with a good slapping.

Oh yes, and Happy Birthday, Boy. None of us will forget this one in a hurry.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Put yourself in my place

I had a young woman come into the vet’s today, asking for advice. I can do advice, so that wasn’t a problem. She said her dog had snapped at her toddler three times and she wanted to know whether she ought to muzzle her dog, rehome him or have him put down. Luckily I know to ask questions; is there a pattern to when it happens; for instance is the dog guarding his food, has the dog been ill, or hurt himself? The first two times the mother said she didn’t see what had happened, but the last time the dog was lying down and the toddler sat on him and bounced, and the dog snapped at him.

I was very proud of myself - it’s very difficult to be diplomatic when you want to scream “You effing stupid woman!”. I explained that small children are too immature to realise that other people and animals have feelings, and need to be taught that pets aren’t toys. Children can unwittingly be very cruel sometimes. I sympathised at how difficult life is with a toddler, and how you need eyes in the back of your head to stop them getting into scrapes, and told her that the general advice is to never leave dogs or cats unsupervised with small children; if she can’t be with them then they need to be separated – baby gates are good for this. She looked rather gobsmacked and said they’d got gates but had ‘lost the fixings’ … perhaps she ought to buy some more? An excellent idea! I agreed. She seemed a tad surprised at the intimation that it was caused by the child’s bad behaviour and that it was up to her to control him better (not that I put it in as many words, of course, but she certainly didn’t get the response she seemed to be after!). I have no idea whether she’ll do it, though. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll begin to realise that an pet doesn’t deserve to be bullied, and will defend itself if the owner doesn’t take the responsibility. Dogs in pain or frightened are likely to snap, even the sweetest-natured one, and even rational people get short-tempered if they have a headache or tummy-ache. Why do so many people think their pet has no feelings? Maybe she should rehome the dog – to someone who’ll respect it. What’s certain is that she shouldn’t muzzle it yet still allow the child to bully it.

PS. The cat who was to be castrated didn’t turn up for his little appointment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cause we believe in you

There’s been a quite heated discussion on another site about the subject of what constitutes bullying, and what should be done in certain situations. I was brought up with the mantra “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, so to me, verbal teasing doesn’t constitute bullying. Just say “yeah whatever” and the meany-pants soon gets bored and goes to find someone who’s willing to become a victim.

However there was mention of a particular situation which I find very worrying. A 12 year old girl was teased about having ginger hair, and got very upset, and her mother allowed her to have her hair dyed brown. Apart from the fact that this fosters the belief that ginger hair is freakish and something to be ashamed of, this girl doesn’t actually have ginger hair; it’s already naturally brown! As I see it, not only has this mother allowed her daughter to feel victimised, she’s also encouraging her to feel that problems can be solved by altering her physical appearance - and look how successful that’s been for Michael Jackson. Instead she should be shoring up her daughter’s self-esteem on the bedrock of truth and not settle on the shifting sands of a lie. I know that children's egos are very fragile but to allow her daughter to over-react to another child's poor joke is in itself a form of abuse.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The look of love

The Boy popped home the other evening to ‘borrow’ something and I seized the opportunity to take a photo of him with his shorn head to add to my collection. I think it starts at Day 2 or 3 of his life; my legs didn’t work till then and it’s all a bit hazy – those painkillers were very effective! Anyway, there was the usual problem of getting me to the right height so that I’m not a) staring up his nose (he’s a lot taller than me – when he hugs me my face is squished at armpit level) or b) having to stand on a chair and feel wibbly. So he crouched at the knees and we both got a fit of the giggles. The resulting photo (which he doesn’t want enNettified) isn’t flattering! In my opinion he definitely looks better with hair at least six inches long – a couple of years’ time perhaps. Whatever – to me he always looks gorgeous; I’m his mum, after all.

He’s moving home again at the end of the month! His pal Oliver whose house he’s sharing is changing his job, and it’s a tied cottage, so I get him back. :D

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Accidents will happen

As we were driving home through the village we saw stopped traffic and a bit of a crowd opposite the Post Office. The people parted slightly and there was a small dog lying in the road. I got out of the car to see if anyone had called the vet – people were trying to resuscitate the little thing – then I saw the fallen zimmer, and I knew whose dog it was (it’s not a big village!). A lady I often speak to when she’s waiting for the bus to take her to visit her Downs syndrome son who’s in a coma in hospital with no hope of recovery has now lost her little dog as well, because someone was driving too fast through the village. I don't know whether the fact that he's Polish is significant, but my friend wishes he'd stayed there. Ned and I drove her home and I carried her little dead dog in and laid her in her basket. A person's life can change in a split second.

Friday, May 12, 2006

And we could curse in fluent kangaroo

It was my first totally solo shift today, and nothing seemed to explode, not even my head, although right at the start it was a close-run thing. I got there in good time to open up and fire up the computers before the vet arrived, but the reception computer arsed about and took three goes before it was happy to play ball. By which time the first client had arrived, and the vet, and someone phoned to make an appointment (“can I call you back in 5 minutes please?”) and I only just managed to get all the screens up before the client came out to pay. After that it settled down to a steady trickle, giving me enough time to make sure everything was completed without being rushed. Which was nice. I only had to phone for advice a couple of times (“A lady’s cat’s had kittens – when should she start weaning them? Not before 6 weeks? Blimey!”) and I found the right wormer for them and even a helpful syringe. It was typical that someone came in to dither about what they wanted 5 minutes before I was due to close; luckily I’d already mopped the floor and phoned through the re-order so I wasn’t too late out. I think the only thing I’ve forgotten is to complete my timesheet.

On Tuesday morning I get to assist with a cat castration. That’s done under a local anaesthetic – I assume I’ll be at the end with teeth and claws; could be interesting!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cherry pink and apple-blossom white

Actually, I’m sure that lyric is badly written because, around here anyway, the cherry-blossom’s white and the apple-blossom’s pink. Perhaps I should have used “We’ll gather lilacs in the spring again” instead. Whichever, there’s an awful lot of blossom of all types out everywhere now. The winter was long and cold and spring sort of burst into being all of a sudden, rather than the usual gradual build-up. This means that rather than a gradual succession of blooming, with the pears in flower a good fortnight before the apples, everything’s out at the same time. It’s absolutely beautiful, and the scent’s marvellous as you walk around the fields. There’s such a lot of blossom too – the blackthorn (past its best now) made the hedgerows look as though they were covered in snow. The horse chestnut candles are nearly all lit and the lilacs (we’re on limey soil so no rhododendrons anywhere) are magnificent. The bluebells are out in the woods, and the hyacinth smell as you walk through them is just fabulous. It was certainly worth the wait.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

You know you've really been so blind

Shamelessly lifted from another site:

Motorist, on his way home from work in Westminster came to a dead halt in traffic and thought to himself, "Wow, this traffic seems worse than usual."

After a short while, he noticed a Police Officer walking towards him, between the lines of stopped cars. He rolled down his window and asked, "Officer, what's the hold up?"

The Constable replied: "Tony Blair is depressed, so he stopped his motorcar and is threatening to douse himself with petrol and set himself on fire. He says no one believes his stories; about why we went to war in Iraq , or that there is no pensions crisis, or the economy is not worsening, or about constant adding of stealth taxes, or that his education reforms are going to do any good, or that the health service is safe in his hands, or that immigration is under control, or that he's not George Bush's lapdog, or that his Party's proposed tax cuts won't help anyone except his wealthy friends, or that his chairmanship of the European Community hasn't just led to more power being surrendered to the French ........ So we're taking up a collection for him."

Thoughtfully, the man asks, "How much have you got so far?"

The Officer replies, "About forty gallons, but a lot of people are still siphoning........"

Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning

After yesterday’s shift I was starting to feel a teensy bit more confident that I’d be able to manage this job, but today’s threw all my confidence out of the window, back to the stage where I can’t decide which is preferable; the job or daily root canal treatment. We did a couple of sales, and my ‘trainer’ was doing fine, teaching me how to find product codes on the computer (the first three letters are usually good, apart from brushes which are HXT or something), and the first appointment was for another of the staff, so she’d be no trouble. And she arrived in good time, and I confirmed her as an Attendee all by myself. Then it all started going downhill. The vet arrived late, then he had to take a phonecall so was even later, then shortly after he started Head Office rang, asking us to make an appointment for bloke to bring in his dead dog for Vet to confirm how it died for insurance. (“I can’t do that here – why bring it here?”). Said bloke arrived early, Vet went out to the van to scan the dog’s chip for ID and confirmation that yes, it was a stiff; not surprising seeing that it had jumped out of the window of his moving van and been run over by the trailer, poor thing. While Vet was out, the phone rang again for him, about the insurance, so I went out to call Vet in. By this time the tiny waiting-room was heaving with dogs, cats and rabbits. Once he was doing appointments again the Vet took aaaaaaaaages and got further and further behind. And the computer seemed to get more and more complicated, and I was getting more and more bewildered. We could finally shut up three-quarters of an hour late. I’m whacked, and my head’s spinning. Apparently today wasn’t unusual. Now I'm trying to write up my notes into a sensible order to make it easier to follow next time.

When I finally got home Harry presented me with a rat he’d caught on the lawn. Lovely. I hope he wasn’t bitten in the process.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

If a picture paints a thousand words

The Boy is now 9½ ounces lighter.

And no, I didn't ask him if he wanted something for the weekend.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I was all right for a while

I think the stress of everything's all getting too much for me. Today I keep bursting into floods of tears for no apparent reason. Most embarrassing. I hope it doesn't happen at work tomorrow. Oh dear - that's another thing to worry about.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I may win on the roundabout, then I lose on the swings

An odd weekend. Caching-wise we pondered whether to assault the Oxford parks in order to get the Travel Bug we need to find another cache, but there are 18 parks (each with a cache containing a number needed to locate the bonus cache, which is where the TB’s been put), some in decidedly dodgy areas so it would take at least 2 days even if parking was straightforward. So instead we did a few closer to home and notched up our 200th find, and a very satisfying one at that! So that was good. Today I woke up to find my back had gone ping so I’m glad we weren’t getting close to the end of the Oxford series, or we’d have been obliged to go back and it would have hurt lots.

What’s not so good is that when I was sat cuddling Clover the other day I felt a distinct mass in her tummy which shouldn’t be there. The prognosis isn’t great.