Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there

It's up to a positively balmy -5C today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Three wheels on my wagon

About three weeks ago Piggy started favouring his back left leg when we were out - not limping exactly, but being slightly careful with it, so after checking for thorns in his pads, and all that sort of thing (nothing) we reduced his exercise a bit. This didn't seem to help, and after another couple of days there was a definite limp, so I gave him the standby painkillers for a few days as well as more rest. After 5 days of no improvement at all - in fact he started to go on three legs completely - we went to the vet, and he was gently manipulated to try to find out where it hurt. There was slight stiffness, but when something hurts you tend to tense and 'guard' it, so that was only to be expected. As the usual painkillers weren't affecting it we started him on something else, and dramatically cut his exercise - on-lead toilet breaks only.

A week later he was no better - in fact he'd started crying when he first got up, and wouldn't put any weight on the leg at all. We had to make sure that when he needed a wee that the chosen recipient was on his left side so that he could put his weight on his right leg and not try to cock that one and so collapse in a heap. So yet another type of painkiller was added to his cocktail of drugs, and we decided to sedate him and x-ray to check for severe arthritis or a bone tumour, and also manipulate a relaxed dog to check for damaged tendons.

Nothing wrong with these hips. In fact for an 11 year old dog they're very Mary Poppins (practically perfect).

Then we took a lateral x-ray to look at the knee-joint. That also showed absolutely no sign of any damage (but did show that he was very hungry - his gut was completely empty!).

However there is some spondylosis at the lumbo-sacral joint (where the spine enters the pelvis; if you look carefully you can see a semi-circle of bone beneath the vertebrae. It's possible that this is overgrowth is pinching a nerve, but spondylosis is (apparently) very common in older animals and usually causes no problems at all, and is only discovered on x-rays for something entirely different, like a fractured leg. So that could be completely coincidental.

Manipulation showed the tendons to be intact as well. So although it's good news that there's nothing obviously seriously wrong, we're really no further forward. He's still going on three legs, although when he's been walking slowly for a few minutes he's starting to use the leg again which helps stop muscle wastage, and he can use the leg to scratch himself without trouble. And he'll wriggle about on his back and stretch his legs quite happily with no sign of discomfort. It's just the weight-bearing that's the problem.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Baby, you can drive my car

Things are done differently in the country. When Boy's pick-up needed some work done he was lent a courtesy vehicle, as you'd hope. I don't think it would have been the same in town ...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Took some time to celebrate

We went on holiday to the Lake District. I was determined that October was too late in the year to go camping, so we threw caution to the winds and rented a holiday flat in Hawkshead for a few days. It was ideal; not too much luggage to take, and all mod cons. What was especially good, however, was the dog-friendliness of the whole area. It's an unusual pub that doesn't allow them in, even when people are having meals. It made a refreshing change not to be treated like a leper simply for bringing our family with us.

The weather was variable: okay for most of the time which was good for walking and climbing

(Piglet was a brilliant pathfinder through the bracken!),

sometimes not so great

One day it couldn't make up its mind

and one day it was utterly perfect.

(I finally remembered how to work the timer on the camera.)

We found a very big tree!

Some of the walks involved caching (we found 8), but others didn't - we also had pubs to cross out of our Country Pubs book. Luckily some expeditions could be combined ventures.

After we left the Lake District we crossed over the top from one coast to the other, calling in at the Tan Hill Inn (which was both in our pub book and has a cache, where we placed a new Travel Bug - I hope he doesn't languish there for too long) on the way eastwards. My, that's a remote spot and an 'exciting' road to it - but great beer and a wonderful welcome. Highly recommended.

And we went to the seaside as well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Put your head down to the ground and listen to your mind

Lemongrass, week 8 update, and it's still flourishing.

And lookit! I planted a piece of root ginger a few weeks ago, and it lives!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I see rainbows in the evening

Lemongrass update: after 6 weeks it needed potting on again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

That one is only poor Only if they choose to be

I've been researching the source of the 'Persian costume' as we've always called it. The watercolour was described as "A Gabr woman"; googling tells me that Gabr has come to mean Zoroastrian having gone through various degrees of rudeness about non-Muslims, and Wiki has this photograph of a 20th Century Zoroastrian family:

Another site has this picture of a costume:

And here's mine:

Despite googling I can find absolutely no mention of the Persia edition of the 'Peeps at Many Lands' series of books; it apparently never existed; and I yet I know it did!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Any dream will do

Back around the time of the First World War a branch of my family lived out in Persia, as it was known then. My great-aunt was a talented watercolourist and produced many very pleasing pictures of various scenes, and when the family returned to England in the early 1920s she wrote a book about the country and used her own pictures to illustrate it.

The picture on the cover is particularly colourful, and as a small girl I was thrilled to learn that the actual costume was still in the family's possession. I longed to dress up in it and copy the pose in the picture, but circumstances meant there was never a good opportunity to get it down from the loft. Until we were emptying my mother's old home, whereupon I seized the trunk it was in and bore it, and the original watercolour picture, away to Genie Towers for safe keeping. Today I decided the circumstances were right for dressing up!

I shouldn't have too much difficulty getting into these!

The fiddliest bit was trying to get the headgear right, wondering which of the squillions of pieces of silk in the trunk were the right ones, and trying to drape and knot them correctly It would have helped to have someone who knew how these things worked, but Ned made a very good model's dresser, and eventually we decided we were ready for a shoot.

All in all I'm very pleased with the result, and I had such fun fulfilling this childhood ambition!

Yes you did, ya told 'em once before

This week's update on the progress of the lemongrass:

Still growing!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don't you tell it to the breeze

As well as trying to grow unusual plants I like Thai food, so my latest gardening experiment is to grow lemongrass. The idea was given to me when watching Gardeners' World (compulsory Friday night viewing for Oldies!) - it hadn't occurred to me before that it could be done. You can get packets of lemongrass seeds in garden centres, but googling showed me a far more interesting way of propogating it; simply buy some from the greengrocery section of the supermarket - yes, the pallid, naked sticklike things that have been trimmed to within an inch of their lives - and stand them in a jar of water on the windowsill. I tried it, and couldn't believe how fast the roots started to appear from what looked like a hopeless stump.

After one week in water

After two weeks in water; time to pot on

Transferred to pots

After one week in the pot; doing okay!

After two weeks in the pot the roots are still developing

Four weeks from when I bought them - starting to sprout out.

They're growing at a tremendous rate - about a centimetre a day at the moment! Soon they'll need potting on into bigger premises and hopefully by next year they'll be quite nice ornamental clumps for the patio.

In spring I'll be having a bash at ginger as well ...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oh, and by the way, are you laughing now?

Piglet's always been a strange dog; he views Life very seriously. He's never seen the point of toys (unlike Harry who adored toys) unless it was to take Harry's favourite toy to annoy him, or playing games for pleasure. The concept of 'fun' has passed him by, and he totally missed out on the sense of humour gene (which Harry had in spades and was one of the many traits that made him so endearing). Piglet's always been more self-sufficient and anxious; I can see many characteristics in him that, in a human, would suggest a degree of autism. However in the months that he's been an only dog he's started to choose to be around us and seek our attention much more, which is nice.

Because he's never bothered about playing with our other dogs he's also never wanted to interact with dogs that we meet when we're out. He likes to ignore them if he can - he'd rather they didn't come too close unless he's met them amicably several times; if a strange dog pulls towards him he'll lunge and snap to drive it away. There were a couple of tricky moments at Cropredy when he felt pressured by dogs coming close (in a very crowded pub, for example), especially if they reminded him of dogs he knows he doesn't like (collies - they stare - and very hairy dogs mainly). However at Cropredy he also displayed a behaviour we've never witnessed before. As we were walking along past dogs of various shapes and sizes which were glanced at and ignored we saw another dalmatian; the first he's seen since Beattie left us. Piglet's ears pricked up, his tail started wagging and he pulled me towards it, squeaking with excitement. When we got close he knew it wasn't Harry or Beattie, but he was still keen to be sociable. His reaction brought tears of sympathy for his obvious loneliness; perhaps we ought to get another one sooner rather than later.

It was his and Harry's 11th birthday yesterday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Watching flowers in the rain

Some people like gladioli, some people like dahlias. I like lilies, and they've been quite successful this year. I bought a few cheap bulbs from a DIY shop, not expecting great results, so was pleasantly surprised by the size and quality of the flowers that were produced - and they're sweetly scented to boot. This white one bloomed a few weeks ago and we could enjoy the scent when we sat outdoors.

This pink one is flowering at the moment, so I've brought it indoors where it's scenting the sitting room, and not being rained on.

There's another one (of a totally different variety that has much smaller, unscented flowers) that's been living outdoors for donkey's years, and is still managing to bloom each year despite the onslaught of the horrid lily beetles (which at least have the courtesy of being bright red so you can pick them off and squish them), which has the curious habit of producing little bulbils on the stem, which produce leaves and roots while still attached to the parent plant.

These bulbils can be picked off carefully

and potted on to eventually reach flowering size. Not wanting to count chickens but with luck I'll have a lily-beetle banquet in a few years.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

She'll put a spell on you

"When shall we three meet again?" "Well, I can manage next Thursday." I think I'm being invaded by witches. Yesterday when I was locking up to go to work I found this little character on the back step trying to get in

Then in the evening when I was telling Ned about it a black cat strolled nonchalantly down the hallway and appeared in the kitchen, and was hastened out of the back door (rather faster than I imagine it had entered!) before Piglet woke up; the mess that would have caused doesn't bear thinking about! Goodness knows how long it had been in the house, but it was one familiar too far. They say black cats are lucky - that one certainly was, to have visited our house and left unscathed.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

At a bar called O'Malley's

In the past I've often tried growing a pineapple plant from the tufty leaves at the top of a bought fruit, but never succeeded. However our latest attempt seems to have been successful!

As you can see it's already slipping baby plants, which we might try snapping off and growing on when they get large enough.

I know that they used to be grown in the 'big houses' but I assumed that you'd need a hothouse if they were to fruit. But then we came across this site where a chap from Surrey has catalogued his endeavours, which has given us hope that it might, just might, eventually bear fruit.

We're not holding our breath though!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?"

This year, as well as growing them in the ground, I've been experimenting with growing potatoes in containers. The reasons are numerous: you can grow more without having to dig, the compost is clean so the risk of blight is minimised, and because the containers are moveable they can be grown in otherwise idle corners. This year my containers have been of the cheap-and-cheerful variety; I bought some growbags, cut off one end and emptied the compost into a spare bag. I then turned the growbag inside out so that the black side was outside in order to let the compost warm up quicker (and it looks tidier). I rolled the open end of the bag down, punched a few drainage holes in the bag and added a small layer of stones for additional drainage. A six-inch layer of compost was replaced and a couple of sprouting potatoes placed on top and covered with compost.

As the potato plants grew they were earthed up and the top of the bag unrolled a bit to give more depth. They're very thirsty plants with all that top growth to maintain as well as growing tubers underground, but they don't like boggy conditions, hence the drainage at the bottom. Anyway one day after they'd flowered (and I needed some potatoes for supper) I thought the time had come to empty one bag and see how they were doing.

There was a lot of top growth

and a fair amount of success was evident.

Okay, so the local greengrocer isn't going to lose any sleep over the threat to his business, but they were fresh, organic and delicious.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Please release me, let me go

I'm very annoyed. In fact I'm more than annoyed, I'm very very cross and fed up. Yesterday I was silly and clicked on the Friend Finder application on Farcebook. I know, I know, you should never click on anything on the right hand side, but I believed its lies about which of my friends had used it, and now all my real friends are going to get the spam emails like Ned's had in the past about how X, Y and Z are suggesting he joins Farcebook himself. Seeing that some of the invites have been from me, and I haven't sent them, I know it's all spam.

But worse than that I now can't fully sign out of Windows Live after using my email account. All the Hotmail accounts on this computer, even ones that Farcebook haven't heard of, give the same message after signing out - that it's failed to log out of the following site: h ttps://ssl.facebook. com/accept_token. php (I've put in a few spaces to try to stop it making a link). When I paste that into google I find it's been happening for years, with various suggestions of what to do to fix it. The ones that aren't too complicated for me to understand are clearing cookies (done, no effect) and contacting Windows live help (done, no answer).

Does anyone else have any ideas? I'm really not happy.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'll bet you think this song is about you

It must be ... ooh, two or three years ago I bought an apricot whip (that's a baby tree, by the way) that was guaranteed to fruit in the second year after purchase. Duly, in its first season it grew but didn't flower. Last year it flowered, but we had late frosts and no fruit resulted. This year it had plenty of blossom

but despite my best efforts with the pollinating brush and throwing bees at it only one fruit developed. This was nurtured; the tree, still in a pot, fed and watered copiously to encourage it to ripe fruition. This baby fruit was cherished and admired, and woe betide anyone who did anything to hinder its development. It swelled satisfyingly and the heat of the past few weeks blushed its cheeks to a delicate pink.

Then yesterday it fell from the tree in its ripe perfection. It was carried indoors in triumph and reventially halved and shared. The verdict? I have never sampled any fruit so sublime. Juicy and sweet and warm, like no other apricot can ever have tasted. Perfection. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

She could clean the house for hours or rearrange the flowers

At last someone's pointed me in the direction of the version I really love ...

Your sweet face seems to haunt my dreams

My 'lilium regale' has excelled itself this year; so many beautiful flowers and a fabulous scent.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hear the dogs howling out of key

And they think this is 'home', do they?

Acksherly it could be worse

What's 'caching'?

I don't know what a durdle is, and there's no sign of a door anywhere.

A castle full of maidens? Where?

I could be asleep, you know.

Where did that fat bloke go?

So that's a holiday, is it? I wonder if I'll get my 5.30 am walk tomorrow.