Sunday, March 23, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white Easter

Luckily for these chilly little souls the sun came out and the snow soon vanished.

Many miles away


I spoke too soon. Beattie was wandering again last night, out of one bed and into another, disturbing the boys who took umbrage and told her pack it in, which woke us up. This went on about every 15 minutes or so from midnight till after 4am.

Another plan is called for. This can't go on.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

All bound for morning-town

It's been an odd sort of a week with Beattie. A few weeks ago she decided that she wasn't going to sleep in the kitchen any more; to be fair, I think it's our own fault. Since Clover died we've been taking Beattie out and about with us much more; geocaching (which we haven't done for ages because of the cost of petrol), into the village to post a letter, coming camping with us. So because we've made her twilight years more interesting and fun-filled (you should see her bouncing arthritically when the boys are shut in the kitchen and I pick up her lead!) she's not so relaxed alone. Rather than have the kitchen door scratched to splinters we left it open so she had the choice of two dogbeds (hahaha!), the sofa and two armchairs in the warm sitting room. We weren't really happy about this because that's where the sofabed is that guests sleep on and the numbers of people who want to share their bed with someone else's elderly dog are limited. But we decided to cross that bridge when we came to it. Suffice that we were all sleeping happily.

Then last Saturday it all changed. The first change was when we'd all settled down for the night as usual but in the early hours Beattie woke us by barking furiously, over and over. This is something she's never done, not even when we were burgled. As a breed they're really very quiet, which is one of the things I like about them; I can't bear yappers. Anyway, Ned went down to check if anything was wrong (my hero!) while I watched out of the window for possible escaping misceants but there didn't seem to be anything untoward happening. Beattie was reassured and settled down again, and we all went back to bed.

On Sunday night (following a day when Ned had strained his back by not allowing me to help him carry a heavy box from the garage to the back of the car for mer to take to the tip, so that all week he's been using up all the out-of-date painkillers in the medicine cabinets), at about the same time, we were woken by Beetle giving a single "Woof!", then a pause to listen, then another "Woof!". This was a completely different sort of bark to the fusillade of the night before so I felt confident going to check her, Ned being unable to move, and found her standing in the hall, woofing at nothing. I settled her down again, covered her with her blanket in case she was cold, and went back to bed. This routine was repeated about every hour and a half throughout the night - I just had time to drift off to sleep again before the "Woof!" started up.

I was tired on Monday. Unfortunately I was even tireder on Tuesday because exactly the same thing had happened, and I began to suspect that she might have developed doggie dementia - one of the symptoms is night-time wandering and barking. There are various medications that can be treat it but they're not cheap and I'd rather avoid them if possible. Then I had a thought - she might just be lonely, because every time I went to settle her down again I'd sit on the sofa and she'd jump up beside me and cuddle up happily. The cure for loneliness is company - but I wasn't going to have her sleeping up with us because she takes up far too much room even when we're supple enough to curl around her. With Ned's bad back that wasn't possible. Another plan was called for. The next night, when she started up, I took her back into the kitchen, put her in her bed (this meant crawling under the table with her) covering her up snugly then letting the boys in from the utility room. It seemed to work - there wasn't another peep out of any of them.

And after one or two teething problems (like the boys not being able to agree who was going to sleep in which bed in the kitchen and making more noise about it than Beattie did in the first place) they now all share the kitchen in relative harmony. And we get to sleep through the night.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Don't it make my brown eyes blue

I was very intrigued by this photographic effect. Both pics are of the same tie, in the same position, in the same lighting. The only difference is that in one shot it's on the uncovered wood and in the other it's on a white sheet. Very odd.

Friday, March 14, 2008

When I'm sixty-four

Terry Pratchett who, as I'm sure you all know, is one of the world's most prolific and successful authors, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's a few months ago. This week he was in the news for donating half a million of our Great British Pounds for research into this evil condition. Despite being not quite 60 years old already his motor skills are waning - from being a proficient touch-typist he's now reduced to the sort of two-finger pecking that's my own claim to keyboard proficiency; I don't want to try to imagine the rage and frustration and fear that he and his family are going through.

He says that Alzheimer's disease lacks the heroic glamour of cancer and subsequently receives far less funding, and I think I've worked out why this is. Cancer, you see, can strike down anyone at any age. Babies and angelic innocent children develop the condition and everyone says how terribly unfair it is. Mothers develop the condition and people say how noble they are, battling against it, and fundraise to support their families, soon to be without a parent. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the actions wholeheartedly. But Alzheimer's strikes at the elderly - not cute innocent children or people in the prime of life, but individuals who're nearing the end of their lives - and I suggest that this is the sole reason that Alzheimer's is largely ignored. Let's face it, in today's youth-orientated world, old age and the attendant indignities just aren't 'sexy'. This living death happens to the people who Society has written off anyway.

So all power to Mr P! May he continue to simultaneously keep this tragedy in the glare of publicity whilst carrying on bringing enormous pleasure to the many millions of us for whom his alternative world is more real that the one we live in, for as long as is humanly possible.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Come away with me

Do you know, sometimes I get quite cross about situations which just seem to be wrong. Lots of you know that we live in a reasonably-sized village (population roughly 2500) with a junior and a High school and a few local shops; it's quite a busy place yet still small enough for people to notice what goes on. Well, there's a new (we have three already) old peoples home/sheltered accommodation complex nearing completion (built on the site of the fire station - we now have an extra 10 minutes or so to burn to death after calling 999 before help arrives, but that's another story), and it's known - and been reported to the police - that one of the men working on the site has been chatting to teenage girls, offering to take them shopping and inviting them to get into his van. Now, we may be rural folks who chew on straw and talk about traaactors, and aren't well up with the Ways Of The World, but to us that seems wrong, and it's been suggested to the authorities that a word in this bloke's shell-like might not go amiss.

They won't. No laws have been broken. "Until he does something wrong, we can't do anything." I think that's total rubbish, and I bet all the parents of young girls do too. Whose daughter is to be the sacrificial lamb?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A little bit of this with a little bit of that

Ooh look, here's the digit I've extracted so I can blog again and prove to you all that I'm still alive. *waves finger* Don't worry, I've washed it.

It's funny, I've been very busy but not doing anything that's really noteworthy. Just the usual routine of dog walking and work and housekeeping and sleeping and dog walking and work ... you get the picture. I broke the mould slightly last weekend by taking Beattie down to my mother's house to clear out her derelict caravan so it could be dismantled and removed. She's never liked it - it was a fixture in the garden when she and Dad bought the house nearly 25 years ago. The previous owner used work on building sites and took the caravan as a home rather than use hotels; when he retired he parked it at the end of the garden and there it stayed. When it was sound it made a good play house for my nieces and nephews, and even a reasonable overflow when there were too many guests for the house. It was used as a dumping-ground for garden toys - the croquet set, tennis racquets, deckchairs and, for some reason, empty jamjars. Lots of empty jamjars. My brother and I sorted through piles of junk, had a bonfire with anything woodwormy or generally unwanted and filled his car with jars for recycling, and heaved a sigh of relief. Then we lifted the seats and found that the storage space beneath was also filled with jamjars. He screamed. The other task was to make a start emptying Mother's lofts for when she eventually moves house, so I came back with a car laden with things that I'd been storing there from our last home which was tiny and didn't have a loft. The charity shops have done well, and I've nearly got shot of it all - just a bit of eBaying to do and I'll be ready to start on the second loft.

I took Beattie with me partly because she's not happy being left behind, and partly in the hope that she could her PAT dog stuff and keep Mother occupied while Bro and I disposed of junk cherished belongings and made repairs to bits of the house, and I'd optimistically taken a dogbed with lovely blankets for her (Beattie, not Mother) to sleep in, despite knowing that she'd probably prefer to sleep on Granny's sofa. In the end, however, she decided neither was as good as the foot of my bed. Luckily the bed was against the wall, otherwise, it being a single, she'd have fallen off - and it's a high Victorian cast-iron bed. She's not a big dog, but she takes up a heck of a lot of room! We only had one minor quarrel (at 1.30am) when she decided that my feet were too fidgety (selfishly I kept on trying to restore the circulation to them) so obviously lying on my head would be better. Whenever we take her for an overnight stay we take a dogbed, and the only time she's used it was in the car to and from Cornwall when we were otherwise laden to the gunwales and it saved her some space. But not to sleep in. Oh no no no. Dog beds are for dogs, not for Beatties, and she's a Beattie. The best Beattie in the world, as it happens. But I still take a dogbed. Hope always triumphs over experience.

And today Ned and I put on our Dalmatian Welfare hats to collect a dog from his current owners and transport it to its new owners. A lovely dog - only three years old and now with his third family since he left his breeder. Let's hope he's now found his forever home.