Monday, 25 January 2016

Looking back.....

I have been Spring cleaning in January, old photos found at the back of the wardrobe remind me of how long I have loved creatures with four paws and tails, seems its a life time choice.

A bit of nostalgia....

That was me, the cute one in the front touching the dogs nose, apparently that dog was a bit snappy so my mother - the headless one on the right - was wringing her hands with worry.  The three ladies are Great Aunts I believe, except the one in the middle she was a cousin removed or something like that.  Families are odd and sadly I don't have any contact with any of them any more, but that is the earliest one I have of me and some furry creatures.

Until I lived on my own I never had pets, the odd canary in a cage or goldfish in a bowl but not a dog or cat, I think I am making up for lost time some days.

That is me on the right, many years ago, the little boy in the photo is my son Ben who turned 22 last month (December).  We lived in Kent, a small village called Minster just outside of Canterbury but closer to Margate and Ramsgate.  Both the kids were born in Margate and the husband and I were married in Ramsgate a couple of years after this photo was taken.

The gorgeous German Shepherd dog was my Ricky, my first dog that was mine.  He was my best friend and lived with us until he was 15.  He died here in Hereford and now stays under the bed in a box with Suki my other dog who was his partner in crime and died a few years later.

 The girls.  The second batch of girls as Foxy Loxy and Badger came on consecutive nights and took my girls.  After that we decided to not have chickens as we do live rural here in Hereford and its not really fair when you know you have foxes, badgers, birds of prey, pheasants, hedgehogs and the occasional duck dropping in on its way to the river.

That old black and white boy in the next photo, that was my Claude when he was 22 just before he passed away.  It was his passing that left us with no cats for the first time in 20 years.  We didn't have long to wait before a now familiar face arrived to live here.  We have always had strays, the abandoned cats, abused ones and dumped ones.  They have all had their problems and quirks, but old Claude he was a cat in a million who didn't age gracefully but we loved him anyway.  He was the last of a long line of 9 quirky cats, Gordy is number 10 and Teeko is number 11.

The beautiful watchful eyes of my Izabel, our only puppy (they have all been re-homes) who will be 10 this coming August.  How the years have flown past!

The boys.  Defi, on the right says hello to Gordy who had just arrived the night before this photo was taken, they are still as close as ever 2.5 years on.

Defi loves nothing better than a good wallow in the mud!  I don't think I have ever come back from a dog walk with him staying clean and golden and I always joke that this dog could find a puddle in a desert!

Defi, Gordy and Iz.  Just one of my favourite photos.

The famous little cat himself, or should that be infamous?  Gordy.

..and our newest member of the pack, well the four pawed pack anyway, Teeko the old man Birman cat, he of the blue eyes and the 'look'.  He makes me laugh when he looks at Gordy with the bemused 'really you are a cat?' look.

Teeks, as we call him, or Tick Tock, doesn't do very much he will be 15 in April and I think he was born an old man cat as his ways are very sedentary and slow.  This cat needs to cat nap for 10 hours a day, at least, to be able to sleep though the night.  Like Gordy, Teeks is a house cat now that he lives with us (he is a natural house cat as when he lived next door he never left his garden and only went out there because he didn't have a litter box in the house). We have known him for the best part of 10 years as he was our neighbours cat and both my kids and I have taken care of him, visiting him and feeding him, sitting in the sunshine on his old deck in a beautiful garden with fish pond and Monet bridge over for many weeks at a time whilst they visited their other home in Spain.  Now they have moved permanently Teeko lives with us and when not snoozing on my daughters bed he likes to sit on the top of the fish tank in the living room and watch Gordy try and figure out how to get up there!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

There's a hole in my bucket....

 Winter has arrived here in my corner of the world, although I still think I am the only place in the western hemisphere that has yet to see even the smallest flake of snow but the long, unseasonably warm December has given way to a cold January.  This morning's walk was cold, misty, frosty and beautiful the field stretched out literally further than the eye could see and Defi and Iz both had grey whiskers on their chins as the frost in the air continued to chill everything it touched.  

Like true Golden Retrievers though they still managed to find a patch of mud so it wasn't the clean walk I had imagined first thing!

Down at the bank of the River Wye, Hereford.

My bamboo in the garden an impressive waving focal point is all still and frosty.

The buddleia is frozen in space and time...

I was walking around the garden picking up the dog poo as you do after a good walk and saw my bird feeder hidden amongst the bamboo to protect the birds from the weather and also to stop Defi from trying to get to any tasty treats left out for the birds and it reminded me of C S Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the scene in the book (and the film) when Lucy meets Mr Tumnus under the lamp.  My bird feeder isn't quite a lamp but it just reminded me of that part in the story.

With the cold snap we are now having I have been lighting the fire in the kitchen.  In the evening it throws out lots of lovely light with the smell of burning wood and hot coals that  just make me happy and feel warm.  I got given a truck load - I kid not I don't do anything by half! - of wood from our builder neighbour, back in October time, as he is renovating a large old pub and asked me if I wanted some logs for the fire, of course I said yes and so he got one of his chaps to drop off this load of wood, not so much logs as chunks that need to be chopped smaller and spit and hiss and fly out of the grate rather than the lovely old oak logs I was expecting.  We have an entire garage filled with this wood and so I have to burn it somehow, thank goodness for the cold snap because hubby and son were starting to moan about my filling up the garage!

At least Gordy appreciates my efforts and he is now camped out on the hearth from the moment he can get into the kitchen until I remove him for bed at the end of the day. If the fire isn't lit he sits there looking all morose and sad, when it is lit he lies there flaked out and hot needing to be removed periodically to cool down.  

With an open fire comes the job of cleaning it out, throwing ash and smoke into the air and covering every surface in the room.   Of course that job is mine, so on bended knees I shovel ash into the bucket, try not to breathe at the same time, take the ash outside to the compost heap at the bottom of the garden where the slightest breeze whips the pile in the bucket into a frenzy and covers me in grey matter.   This weekend gone I kept the fire in over night, the old trick of covering the coals with the ash from beneath the grate, I love coming down in the morning and having a warm kitchen in which to drink my first cup of tea.  I didn't think too much about the fire when I went out with the dogs that morning for our walk, it had stayed warm and I assumed had gone out as there was no activity, no spitting of wood, no sparks or light just lovely warmth that flooded the room.  When I got home I decided that before I got too warm and comfortable I would clean out the fire and get it ready for lighting later on in the afternoon.  Good plan, I thought.  Unfortunately I didn't think enough as I shovelled the ash into the plastic bucket that I use to bring the wood in from the garage.  Ash out to compost, quick stop at garage, fill up with wood, back in house.  Multi-tasking.  I am woman!  

So what does happen when you put hot ash into a plastic bucket?  why it melts of course, all over your carpet around the fire leaving little blobs of black sludge when you try and lift the bucket that 'did' contain the ash - did, because now its all streaming out the bottom of said bucket and creating a sandstorm effect before your very eyes, the same eyes that are smarting from the ash and watering causing your nose to twitch and you start sneezing violently making any undisturbed ash fly through the air....  Iz and Defi at this point are at the furthest point of the kitchen (which is a big room!) with Gordy behind them trying to get away from the cloud of dust, the looks on their faces possibly showing their true feelings for my genius-ness but not being able to see through the tears, sneezes and ash I can only guess at their expressions.

The next, immediate, problem is how to get the holey bucket with leaking ash out of the kitchen, through the utility room and out the back door, down the garden to the compost heap without creating more mess?  The answer is simple.  You don't, just you make the mess and trail ash through the house and up the garden path, sneezing as you go.  I did put a piece of newspaper under the bucket and try to keep it there whilst I moved but it was a fruitless fix to an absurdly stupid decision in the first place.

My son, as predicted, came in, rolled his eyes, left in the car and returned an hour later with a metal bucket.

Gordy has given up with fires and resorted to checking out if porridge is on the menu for breakfast....

Saturday, 16 January 2016

January's Spring Clean.

 Blowing the dust of my blog is just one of the areas I have been Spring cleaning in my life since we stepped into 2016. The kids are still refusing to leave home and now even talk about the high cost of rent and how they have an easier time at home with servants... that would be me then, chief washer upper, clothes picker upper, clothes washer, hoover pusher, but not shopper or cook as those skills still elude me.  One of my new ideas for this brand new year, is to learn to cook, last year (2015) I actually conquered the intricacies of cooking an omelette and to date I have cooked at least three, one of which my son actually said was good.  He was starving at the time, been at work for 12 hours and was chilled to the bone and just wanting food, but I will take my cooking compliments where I can get them.

Last week I got stuck into clearing the wardrobe, ten years of piling 'stuff' in a walk in triple doored cupboard of a wardrobe, in a modern house it would be called the small bedroom.  I love this space and have used it to store an air-con unit my husband insisted on getting back in 2008 (or so) which was probably only used that one summer and since been stored due to lack of summer heat.  On top of the air con unit is Aslan, a massive handmade (6ft with tail) lion that was made for me when I was a child and I refuse to throw away so Aslan has been carted from one side to the country to another and stuffed in a variety of wardrobes and under beds.
Charley at 17

Charley approx 1 year old.

With Aslan and other stuffed toys I can't part with including my kids first teddies from when they were small, is shoes, camping equipment, a plastic skeleton for Halloween, the carved wooden elephant chair with the rattan seat my husband inherited from his Grandmother when she died, thought to be worth something but its one of those 'pick one up from eBay for £50 on a good day pieces of furniture....  old canvas' from my painting days amongst the discarded dog hairs that are embarrassingly large balls of hairy dust and the big box of photos and things that I have kept from the early 1990's when my kids were born.  The first paintings, old school reports and lots of photos of my daughter (and son!) which show her off to be the ugly bug she was as a baby.  Charley, my daughter, was helping me sort through the wardrobe, she was instrumental in getting me to throw away most of my clothes that were outdated, threadbare, washed out and seriously tired.  She moaned at me a lot that day for not wearing the lovely collection of clothes she has brought for me over the last 12 months, her being the shopper of the family.  We laughed at her in the photos, covered in chocolate, sat in the washing basket, or my favourite of her in the garden trug looking miserable and fed up - she still hates being outdoors in the fresh air doing jobs around the garden and at 20 can honestly say she has never cut the grass!  That saying, ugly baby beautiful child, is right from an ugly bug she did turn out ok.

Some one cute and dribbly just laughed and laughed... and kept out of the way of any clearing out. 

 Gordy plays a huge part in my life as does Teeko, Izabel and Defi, both the latter having been in the wars this week, Iz has a black eye from a fight down at the river (which she didn't start) and Defi managed to catch his nail on one of his front paws the following day and has been limping, when you stand near the treat box,  when he thinks he might get some sympathy.

Teeko has been snoozing on top of the fish tank letting the heat warm his old bones.

So this blog is going to about them and me, what we get up too, the trials and tribulations of living with an older cat, a cat with special needs, one dog with separation anxiety and the other that loves to roll in ..... stuff!

Until next time from Dust, Dribble and Dog hairs, long may the hoover suck!