Monday, 31 December 2007

Fun Monday #2

I have to say that today is not starting out as a particularly Fun Monday. I had to rush to the emergency vet with Lurcher No.2 at 11.30pm last night for what I thought was an occurrence of colic. Not life threatening but he was in obvious pain and distress. The vet gave him a jab which seemed to ease things and he slept through as whatever they gave him also had a very mild sedative effect.

He's still not right this morning though and has some diarrhoea as well so I rang my normal vet and they asked to see him. Himself has just taken him down and, as he is still in some discomfort, the vet has decided to keep him in and x-ray just to rule out any blockage. So I am sitting here biting my nails until I hear more from the vet.

*Update: Lurcher No.2 is home and there is no blockage, just a possible gastric upset and lots of nasty gas in his stomach and colon. It all just has to work its way out of his system now and then he'll be a lot more comfortable.

However, I did start to put together my Fun Monday post yesterday evening so, although I'm not feeling particularly jovial, I can at least share these with you, even if there are not as many as I'd hoped to share.

This week's Fun Monday is hosted by Peter over at Holties House. As it's nearly the New Year, Peter wants us to end 2007 with a smile on our faces and wants to know our favourite jokes or cartoons.

I have heard some absolute howlers over the years but, unfortunately, my joke-retaining ability is way off the minus end of the scale and I can never remember them so here are a few that I do remember (or have written down) that absolutely make me chortle!

Silliest Joke. I've first heard this joke as a child and it still makes me giggle!

Why do elephants have big ears? Because Noddy won't pay the ransom.

Funniest Quotes. These are cheating slightly as they are not jokes but a friend sent me a list of quotes from examination papers and I always go and read it when I need to have a good belly laugh! This is just a few of the funniest:

What's a Hindu?
It lays eggs

Name the four seasons
Salt, mustard, pepper, vinegar

"Monotony means being married to the same person for all your life."

"What changes happen to your body as you age?
When you get old, so do your bowels and you get inter-continental"

"The body consists of three parts - the brainium, the borax and the abominable cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abominable cavity contains the bowels, of which there are five - a, e, i, o and u."

"What are steroids?
Things for keeping the carpet on the stairs"

"What is a common treatment for a badly bleeding nose?

"For Fainting: Rub the person's chest or, if a lady, rub her arm above the hand instead. Or put the head between the knees of the nearest medical doctor."


BENIGN...What you will be after you be eight
CAESAREAN SECTION...A district in Rome
COMA...A punctuation mark - a bit like a full stop
SEMI-COLON...Partial removal of the intestines
VACUUM...Large empty space where the pope lives
ENEMA...Someone who is not your friend
MAGNET...Something you find crawling on a dead cat
FIBULA...A small lie
MORBID...When there is a bigger offer
GERMINATION...The process of becoming a German
NODE...When you have known somebody for a long time
SEIZURE...A Roman Emperor
FERTILISATION...The fusing of the male with the female garments
TERMINAL ILLNESS...When you are ill at the airport
TIBIA...A country in North Africa

Have a Happy New Year everyone and head over to Holties House to see all the other Fun Monday Participants' posts!

Friday, 28 December 2007

That went well then

Despite my protestations that a surly teenager would not dictate my day, I actually had no need to protest. Everyone arrived about 2pm which was fne because my plans for a walk before lunch were scuppered by the fact that it was hissing down with rain.

This was the first time I have ever hosted Christmas lunch and it all went amazingly calmly. It all came together and dinner was served as near as dammit to 3pm...the only thing that didn't quite go according to plan was that my parnsips wouldn't crisp. A minor thing that really didn't bother me that much!

We opened presents, played games, ate some more and crashed out at about 11pm.

And not a single episode of a surly teenager. Laughs and smiles all day! With the highlight of the day undoubtedly being Lurcher no. 1 not being satisfied with opening her own presents so much that when our backs were turned she dived into the present pile and started opening everyone else's presents too!

Hope yours all went well too!

Monday, 24 December 2007

It's started!

I have just been having a conversation with my Mother-in-Law about tomorrow. She is picking up her eldest son and his daughter to bring them over to us for the festivities (sister-in-law is a nurse and working so she will come along later). When they arrive apparently depends on what time the daughter, a teenager, decides to get up. They've been saying this for weeks and I've taken it as a bit of a joke and assumed they would be here in good time to start the festive ball rolling at about midday or just after, and then sit down for lunch at 3pm. Apparently not. They'll get here whenever daughter decides to get up. I just hit the roof and made it quite plain that tomorrow is not about one person, her father will get her up and they will arrive in good time for drinks and a walk before dinner and not five minutes before I put dinner on the table.

My Christmas Day is NOT going to be dictated by a teenager.

Moving on to someting much more cheerful....... if there had been any doubt in my mind about whether or not Bridie was Tigerlily, it would have been swept away with the greeting that Jemima and Henry received when they got here! Tigerlily went mental when she saw them, with that greeting that's reserved for someone a dog loves very much. Her tail wouldn't stop wagging and she couldn't contain herself with excitement and once we got inside, she didn't leave their sides, coming back for more and more cuddles! It was a very tearful moment I can tell you!

I think their expressions say it all don't they!? ;D

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

A very happy ending!

It's strange how an innoccuous remark can lead to such an unexpected conclusion.

On Friday night, I mentioned to Lisa (who runs Greyhound Gap, the rescue I volunteer for) about how strange it was that no-one was looking for Bridie considering that someone had put in a lot of work with her as she was so well-trained and such a well-behaved dog. She showed no signs of having been mis-treated and she had obviously lived in a house before as she knew exactly what a sofa was for!

When a stray dog comes into Gap's care, Lisa always checks on the DogLost website in case they have been listed there. Doglost is a fantastic site that does so much to help re-unite missing pets with their owners. Although she had checked when Bridie first came into our care and there was no dog listed matching her description, Lisa decided to have another check. Much to our surprise, up popped a dog that matched Bridie to a tee. I spent all last night comparing all the markings on the dog in the photo to Bridie and there was no doubt in my mind, this was the same dog. She'd been registered on DogLost a week after she came to us and has been missing for two months.

So this morning I had the delightful job of ringing up the owners to let them know that I might possibly have their missing dog lying on my sofa.

There was shock, tears and a little upset that we wanted to check them out before we allowed Bridie to go home. But, as I explained to them, we needed to be sure that she was going back to a caring home and not to somewhere where she might be mistreated.

The Gap volunteers pulled out all the stops once again and one lovely lady dropped everything to drive 50 miles to visit Bridie's family. All is well and they are driving over to me tomorrow to pick up Bridie, or Tigerlily as we now know she is named, and take her home, just in time for Christmas.

I don't think any of us could have asked for a better Christmas present!

Be happy Tigerlily, we shall miss your puppy cuddles!

Friday, 21 December 2007

REM Sleep Paralysis

Have you ever experienced REM sleep paralysis?

Well, actually, you all have as it's a natural part of your sleep pattern so I suppose a better question is have you ever been aware of experiencing it? This particular sleep paralysis occurs when you are in the REM stage of sleep: the brain literally awakens internally during REM sleep. In a person with normal sleep behavior the REM sleep stage is one of near paralysis for the entire body other than the muscles of the eye and the middle ear. In this stage of sleep, you experience your most vivid dreams. The dreams that you are most likely to remember. And if you wake up, or, at least, think you wake up, you can't move.

It's happened to me several times now and each time is as scary as the last.

I remember the first time very vividly. It was a Sunday morning and Himself was going out early. I decided to have a lie-in and fell back to sleep. Next thing I am aware of is what I thought was Himself coming back in the room and lying on top of me, almost crushing me. But the bizarre thing was the feeling of complete and utter evil. Then the dawning realisation that I was awake, but I couldn't move. I remember screaming and then I woke up. Properly woke up. And I was on my own. Himself wasn't there at all. The feeling of dread I was left with was awful because you really do think you are awake and that your dream is real.

It happened once when Himself was lying in bed next to me awake and reading. He was apparently chortling to himself at the noises I was making in my sleep. To him it was gurgling and muttering. To me, paralysed and terrified in my REM dream because someone was trying to kill me, I was screaming at him to wake me up. When I did eventually wake up, I left him in doubt that if I were to ever start muttering in my sleep again, he was to wake me up and not leave me there whilst chuckling to himself.

But the strangest of these dreams happened to me last night. Again I thought I had woken up but this time I started to feel like I was having some sort of fit. My neck and shoulders were twitching like crazy......twitching isn't quite the right word but it's the closest I can find to describe the feeling. On top of that, I could feel and hear something rapidly gnawing at the side of my neck. I imagined it was some sort of gremlin but I couldn't move and I couldn't stop it and the only thought that was going through my head was that I was going to die. Yet one side of my brain was obviously awake and being rational and it kept telling me that I knew this was one of "those" dreams and that I had to wake myself up. Fortunately, the fingers of my left hand were resting on my right arm and through sheer determination I made my fingers pinch my skin to wake myself up.

Damn scary.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

A Rescue Dog's Christmas Poem

If you wonder why I, and countless other people, keep on fostering despite the mixed feelings of joy and heartbreak when a you have to say goodbye to a foster, this is why.

Thank you Lisa for posting this and reminding us why we do what we can.

A Rescue Dog's Christmas Poem

Tis the night before Christmas and all through the town,
every shelter is full - we are lost, but not found,
Our numbers are hung on our kennels so bare,
we hope every minute that someone will care,
They'll come to adopt us and give us the call,
"Come here, Max and Sparkie - come fetch your new ball!!

But now we sit here and think of the days...
we were treated so fondly - we had cute, baby ways,
Once we were little, then we grew and we grew
now we're no longer young and we're no longer new.
So out the back door we were thrown like the trash,
they reacted so quickly - why were they so rash?
We "jump on the children:, "don't come when they call",
we "bark when they leave us", climb over the wall.

We should have been neutered, we should have been spayed,
now we suffer the consequence of the errors THEY made.
If only they'd trained us, if only we knew...
we'd have done what they asked us and worshiped them, too.
We were left in the backyard, or worse -let to roam-
now we're tired and lonely and out of a home.
They dropped us off here and they kissed us good-bye...
"Maybe someone else will give you a try."

So now here we are, all confused and alone...
in a shelter with others who long for a home.
The kind workers come through with a meal and a pat,
with so many to care for, they can't stay to chat,
They move to the next kennel, giving each of us cheer...
we know that they wonder how long we'll be here.
We lay down to sleep and sweet dreams fill our heads...
of a home filled with love and our own cozy beds.
Then we wake to see sad eyes, brimming with tears -
our friends filled with emptiness, worry, and fear.

If you can't adopt us and there's no room at the Inn -
could you help with the bills and fill our food bin?
We count on your kindness each day of the year -
can you give more than hope to everyone here?
Please make a donation to pay for the heat...
and help get us something special to eat.
The shelter that cares for us wants us to live,
and more of us will, if more people will give.

--Author Unknown

A Lurcher Tale. And a wreath.

There are days when any silly little thing can set my blood pressure going off the scale. There are days when I am perfectly happy and content and one silly person can send me from chilled to boiling in the space of 30 seconds. Today was one of those days.

I was walking home from work with Bridie, looking forward to an afternoon of pottering around at home. It was a lovely walk, the sun was shining and all the trees and grass where still covered in this morning's hoar frost.

In the distance I could see a chap walking a young Leonberger off lead. He was talking on his mobile phone and not paying a huge amount of attention to his dog. The dog came bounding over to us and started to torment Bridie, who is by now bouncing like a gazelle on the end of her lead and getting us all tied up in knots. I just stood still and calmly yelled at him to please get his dog under control as my dog was on a lead for a reason. He wanders over, still talking on his phone, and said "Oh he's just come to say hello".

That was it. The red haze descended and he got told the story that everyone else gets told when they say that to me. Whether they want to hear it or not.

Lurcher No. 2 has always been a flight dog. If he found himself in any situation where he was not comfortable, he ran. Not far, just far enough to get himself away from his perceived danger. Then two years ago he caught his foot on an exposed tree root and fractured and dislocated a toe. He was on lead walk for six weeks and do you think the local dog walkers kept their off-lead dogs away? Did they like hell.

When a flight dog can't run away he very quickly learns that the best form of defence is attack. The first year after his accident he was a nightmare. If any dog he didn't like the look of came near him he just launched himself at them, bearing his teeth and snarling. He never aimed to bite, just to warn but, nevertheless, it was still scary. So he had to be muzzled and we did a lot of work to get him back to how he was before. We never did get all the way and although he doesn't have to be muzzled all the time now, he still does have odd moments of regression.

So "just coming to say hello" can have a more profound effect than some stupid dog-owners realise and it's high time some of them realised that, around here, if a dog is on a lead, it's on a led for a damn good reason. Fortunately Bridie is a level-headed dog that didn't really give two hoots, she jsut wanted to play, but that's not the point is it?

There, I've had my say. So moving swiftly on. "Wreath" did someone say? Here you go then. It's not the most ornate in the world is it? And it's still missing a pine cone but I figured that that's how fate decreed my wreath should look. And who am I to mess with what fate decrees?

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Despite my earlier misgivings, I made my Christmas wreath last night.

And you know what? I'm really rather pleased with it!

I would have taken a photograph for you but unfortunately one of the pine cones fell off when Himself hung it on the door. OK, so it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny but then anyone who wants to stand at my front door and closely scrutinise a Christmas wreath deserves all they get really. It more than stand up to a passing glance and that's all that matters!

Monday, 17 December 2007

My first Fun Monday!

This week's Fun Monday is being hosted by kitten and here's what she wants from us -

I think it would be neat to hear about the story behind your home and the road you live on. It doesn't have to be historical, maybe just something that stands out to you. It would be nice to have pictures to go with your little story. I also would like to know who has the oldest house. Whoever has the oldest house will get a little Christmas treat from little ole me.

I was fortunate that a change in my role at work last year coincided with the availability of a staff cottage. This meant that just over a year ago I picked up the keys to my tied cottage. The place was a shambles quite frankly as, although someone had been living in it, the previous tenant refused to have anything done to it whilst he lived in it and so nothing had been done for over 30 years and it needed complete modernisation. Fortunately Himself is very well-qualified in the DIY business as it's what he does for a living so he did most of the work himself. We had to replace rotten floor joists, get central heating and new plumbing installed and generally bring the place back up to standard that was comfortable. it was great beig able to choose a new kitchen and bathroom...and have someone else pick up the bill!

We're not entirely clear about it's history. We know there has been a building on the site since at least 1871, when my current employers took charge of the land. We can also presume that the cottage had a thatched roof as it is called Thatched Cottage.

In the early 1890s, the cottage was leased to the Ladies of the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club for use as a clubhouse. The photograph below shows them standing in what is now part of my back garden. I'm not sure if you can make it out but behind the ladies to the right of the picture is a section of darker colored brick...that is now my lounge window and our garden fence runs from just to the right of that porch.

You can just see the side of the porch in this picture here

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Ladies used the property as a Clubhouse until 1932. Once they vacated, the property was split into two cottages for use by the staff working on the Commons. In the mid-70s, the internal layout of the two cottages changed again when the master bedroom of my cottage was incorporated into the adjoining cottage as the member of staff living there had two children and needed the extra room.

The Cottage is tiny but it is, in my opinion, in the best location on the Common. It's remote and quiet and, despite living within 7 miles of Central London, we could be in the middle of nowhere. We love it here and it really feels like home. The only down side is that, being a tied cottage, I can't stay here once I retire. But that's a way down the road yet!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Christmas Spirit?

This blog was inspired by Patience's post here.

For years I have longed for Christmas to be special.

My childhood Christmases were not that special. Oh everyone tried, but divorced parents do not a happy Christmas make. They vied for who would have me for the day and I ended up being shunted from pillar to post over the holidays. My father always had to outdo everyone by buying me the most expensive presents, including a pony. Which was lovely and I was not ungrateful because I'd longed for a pony but even as an 11 year old, I could see the psychological game he was playing.

My mother, bless her heart, tried her best for someone bringing up a child as a single parent, but what 13 year old animal loving teenager wants a coney fur jacket for Christmas? She still tries her best but even when I was in my thirties she thought I was still the kind of person who'd just love a woolly jumper with cute little bears on it, or a fleece with cartoon ponies.

Somehow I also ended up living with someone who thinks Christmas is a load of baloney as well. He only enjoys getting together with his family, which is great and we do have fun with them, but because we were never at home for Christmas Day, he would never let me have a tree or any decorations. He is the worst person ever to buy presents for and he can't even pretend to be pleased with the gifts I buy. They're always a "waste of money" or "it's nice of you but I won't ever use it". Oh well, I suppose it's the season of good will and all that so I just look away and bite back the tears again.

But this year I decided it would be different. This year I am on duty on Christmas Day so we have to be at home. So this year I have a tree. It's only small but I had grand ideas of decorating it all with natural decorations. Pine cones and holly berries. Old-fashioned popcorn on cotton. Have you ever tried threading popcorn onto cotton? Don't. It's meassy, the popcorn is all the wrong shape and you eat twice as much as you manage to thread onto the cotton. So that idea went out of the window. And have you ever tried fixing wire to pinecones to hang them on the tree? If anyone ever suggest doing that, my advice would be to run. Very quickly. And don't look back.

Make my own wreath? I know I'm not artistic so why am I even trying? That's tomorrow night's job and I just know I'm going to be disappointed with myself again.

And the really big clanger we've dropped? Lights on the tree outside our gate. Himsef wanted blue lights. So blue lights I bought. They are bright. Very bright. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that they are very, very crass. And I suspect we are going to be a laughing stock with the neighbours because of them. I've already taken them down once because Himself had all but thrown them at the tree and left them where they landed. And now I have to face telling him they are going to have to come down again.

It's selfish I know, to moan about such things, and to wish for it to be special for me when lots of people won't have even a smidge of a happy Christmas, but it's my blog and I'll whinge if I want to.

I shall feel better tomorrow no doubt. And at least it's not raining.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

It's Saturday morning....

...and I really should be doing things, not sitting here catching up with blogland.

I really should be out walking the dogs but Lurcher No. 1 is roaching in bed with Himself. Lurcher No.2 is curled up on a dog bed next to the radiator and Bridie is lying on another bed quietly chewing a toy. It really seems a shame to disturb them.

I really should be making my Christmas decorations and going out to buy a tree but the thought of the massed hordes out there doing exactly the same thing this morning is making me curl up with dread. I need to put my wreath base into soak and go collect some holly so I can make it. Can I face the resulting punctured hands? Not yet.

I really, really should be cleaning the house and washing all the dog beds and sofa throws. But my electricity bill arrived this week and was three times what it normally is because Himself just chucks everything in the tumble dryer rather than hanging it out to dry. The thought of being surrounded by wet washing is not appealing but I can't face another electricity bill of that size.

I really should go shopping for food. The fridge is empty and the cupboards all but bare. The supermarket on a weekend before Christmas? Perhaps later.

So I shall sit here and contemplate my navel instead. There'll be plenty of time to panic later.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Sorry, wrong colour.

Bridie, my current foster, is perfect! We estimate she's roughly a year old, certainly no older, she's spotless in the house, good with other dogs, generally good on the lead, polite, learns quickly and would make someone a perfect companion.

The rescue had a home in mind for her and I had a good chat with her potential new family last night. This morning they have decided that she is not the dog for them. Why? She's the wrong colour. Words fail me.

I must also aplogise to all those whose blogs I usually frequent and comment's been a little manic and I will catch up with you all soon I promise.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

All Cried Out

Leaving Ruby in her new home yesterday has reduced me to a physical and emotional wreck. I've cried more in the last 24 hours than I have in years. The slightest thing can set me off......a sympathetic look from a friend, or a completely innocuous line in a Kate Campbell song. I suppose it does at least prove that I do have a heart in there somewhere, contrary to what I thought a few weeks ago, and I do care. So I spent last night cuddling the Lurchers and weeping into their furry necks, seeking solace in my love for them.

Everyone tells you that they've gone on to a loving home and it was the best home possible and now there's room for another waif and stray that needs a warm and comfortable sofa and some TLC. Well, yes. My head knows that. My heart and my tear glands haven't quite caught up.

But now I have to pull myself together because I have no time to indulge my sorrow. My new foster girl has arrived and she needs me in one piece, not in bits. She is Bridie, a young brindle lurcher girl, who despite being abandoned and left to die in the pound, has oodles of love and cuddles to give.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday!

Ruby, our foster Greyhound, is off to her new home tomorrow. She's been with us for three months now and in true Greyhound style, has wormed her way into our hearts. I didn't realise quite how much until I knew she was going.

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. Be happy sweetheart!

This is a little montage I put together of her time with us. Crank up the volume and reach for the tissues.....

This one is.....

....just for Stu and Plume. Alhough you can all enjoy it too if you'd like!

Carol of the Goat Bells

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


Graham, Prince & Tilly Too! have tagged me to give five random facts about myself, so here we go....

Rules: Link to the tagger and post these rules on your blog. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I am time-obsessive. I always have to know what the time is, even if I wake up in the middle of the night I have to check the clock. If I'm in danger of being late, I break out into a cold sweat and start to panic. About 10 years ago I stopped wearing a watch in an effort to break the habit - it helped a little, but not much!

I hold a valid Heavy Goods Vehicle licence and can drive anything up to, but not including, an articulated lorry (I think that's a semi to my American readers!)

I am a Reiki Master

I have a phobia of ladders. No problem with heights, just don't like getting to them via a ladder.

I'm allergic to aspirin. It gives me a migraine!

OK I'll tag Flowerpot, Laurie at Three Dog Blog, Em at Mirrorshards, Dogga and Andre at Existential Delight

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Last night we met a man.....

...and this is what we learned about him:

He was a Bedouin from Morocco.
He grew up in Casablanca.
He'd spent some years in France and Switzerland.
He came to London for a holiday to distract himself from the death of his grandmother.
He stayed.
He met his wife in Switzerland through a holiday romance.
They met again by chance when he came to London.
They married two weeks later.
They have two daughters.
They have two grandsons.
Both are blonde and blue-eyed which raised some eyebrows on their recent trip through Europe with him (think Madelaine McCann and you'll understand why)
One of daughter's has a father in law who's a crook and spent some time at Her Majesty's pleasure.
He has been a chef.
He once earned £100,000 a year.
How much his VW Transprter cost him. How long he'd had it and all its advantages.
He's a Muslim but thinks this business of the teacher and the bear named Mohammed is something of an over-reaction.
He worked for the Saudi Royal family.

We didn't meet him at the party. He was our cab driver for the 10 minute journey home. What is it with cab drivers that they can share their life history with you in such a short space of time!!?

If you happen to pass by this blog Mr Cab Driver, make sure you're our driver next time because I really want to hear the rest of your story, it was fascinating!