Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snow Pigs

Uncle John asked me about the kune kunes the other day. I replied,

I hardly ever see them. Only at weekends.

Bert sorts them out in the morning and usually I'm home late after being at Matty's and they're all tucked up when I get home. It made me think. I need to see more of the critters because they make me happy.

On Thursday a man from Fermanagh phoned me up. He seemed to know all about my pigs. He knew how old they were, who I'd bought them from, and their breeding line. He said he'd promised his little boy a pig for Christmas and that he'd been 'let down' by Wendy Scudamore. He said his little boy had his heart set on a Christmas pig and he hated to disappoint him. He said he'd been researching kune kunes on the internet. He asked if my gilt had piri piri. I thought he knew an awful lot about kune kune pigs and it surprised me that he only wanted one when everyone who knows advise that pigs need company.

He asked me if I'd sell him my gilt. I said I wouldn't sell her for a thousand pounds and I guess he knew then that there would be no talking to me. Sell Lily? I'd as soon sell Bonnie.

These past few days it has been too cold and snowy to let the pigs out so we've been taking them for walks. We're lucky that we've got the back lane and the wood for, believe it or not, we wouldn't be allowed to take the pigs off the property without a government permit.

It's advised that during exceptionally cold weather pigs need extra calories. So they've been getting more tucker. So with walks in the wood and extra rations they are very happy snow pigs.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Was That All About?

I stayed at Matty's last night supposedly 'on call' but had a relatively undisturbed night. Undisturbed, that is, apart from dreams. I awoke abruptly at ten past four, went to check on Matty who was snoring softly. As I returned to bed I remembered the dream from which I had woken. We, the immediate family - Matty, my siblings and I had committed a murder and were making plans to flee the country. I wanted no part of it, was certain we'd be caught and wanted to distance myself from the rest of the family. Who did we murder? Some old guy. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it was an accident, maybe a mercy killing. I tell you - I was almost frightened to fall asleep again.

In my second dream I had discovered the knack of making babies without the necessity of sexual congress. I had a selection of the little blighters in swaddling wraps lined up on the office counter. They were pretty babies, created with purloined genetic material from my work colleagues. I was hoping to find them good homes but had some little frisson of guilt for having got carried away with the project with no thought for eventual outcomes.

So in my dreams I take away life and then I create it. And all done in worry and guilt. What is it they say? Freud would have a field day. I bet he wouldn't. I bet he'd yawn politely and say,

How very humdrum.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Odd Thing

It's an odd thing that you can go to a funeral which is supposed to be a sad and solemn occasion and come away from that feeling elevated and then, on the same day, your sick mother gets discharged from hospital and everybody, including her, is really glad she is home and you come away from that feeling worried and unsettled and very, very scared.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Congrats!

Congratulations to our Dede who graduated today with some class of a First. Well done sis. We were thinking about you.

Book List

Have you read more than 6 of these books? Supposedly, the BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicise the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.

I've come across and blogged about this list before but since then I've read, re-read and listened to a lot more books. Of this list I've read 53 and it was mostly reading the old-fashioned way with your eyes and turning pages and everything.

It was Ronni brought it back to my attention. Was it Ed who commented that it was a very girly list?

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (I will finish this some day soon)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (I read three of these, then I got BORED)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (too young when I first tried to read this)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk (Bert keeps telling me to read this)
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (As I am currently on Anna Karenina I can’t wait to return to this)
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (CURRENT AUDIO BOOK)

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (I’ll be getting back to this one)
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Continent Pup

pup goes visiting, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

And the good news is Judy Pup doesn't go poop and piss in the house any more. Well, not for a few days now anyway. We are very pleased with her.

The bad news (there's always bad news) is that the fool Clint ran over her sweet little paw with his nasty forklift. No real harm done. It was her back springing paw so she needs a little help on to the bed.

I don't know what Clint needs a forklift for anyway. Bert manages perfectly well without one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ups And Downs

The young ones at work will say to me. "Enjoy your weekend!" which is very sweet of them but I find myself thinking, how could that be?

On Friday evening I got home late, Bert was out and I got Pearlie her supper. I drank half a bottle of wine and got very bored with television, went to bed early and did not hear Bert get in.

On Saturday I visited Matty, picked up Jazzer and Ben, went to Asda, bought a ridiculous amount of comfort food and wine then got home and started packing it in. Swisser came round and talked all through the X-Factor which I believe she felt sure was doing me a service. I did not agree. OK. It's shite but it's my escapist shite. She said she'd been invited to speak on a television programme and I told her she'd need a facelift and then felt like a very nasty person indeed. I got a scary phone call about Matty and did not absorb it. Went to bed wondering what is the point of comfort eating if it leaves a body feeling very uncomfortable indeed. I did not sleep well.

Today I forgot to watch the Remembrance Sunday programme, visited Matty, who seemed much better, forgot to buy milk. went for a walk with Bonnie and Judy, lost Judy, cried a lot and prayed I'd find her, found her, thanked God, bought milk, prayed for Matty and watched Remembrance Sunday programme, cried again, then watched X-Factor results. Did not cry. Read paper during dreary boy bands which are sad and vile. Phoned Kerry Sister who said that Matty is still in good form.

Hoping she'll get home this week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Strange Days

Life goes all weird and strange when a beloved elder is seriously ill. I still go to work every day, but nowadays most of the office mail gets posted in the postbox outside Antrim Area Hospital. It's not easy reaching the box as I have to push past hordes of smoking patients in fluffy dressing gowns and teddy bear pyjamas. It's an odd sight to see a young, heavily pregnant woman attached to a drip stand, standing out the front of the hossie with a fag in her gob.

Yesterday Matty took a great rally after receiving the news that her cancer hadn't attached itself to her spine. Today she is tired and weary again. Before this, I used to get irritated when I heard people speak of 'fighting' or 'battling' cancer. I could not get my head around that at all. It's a disease, it runs a course. But now I have actually seen and experienced my mother fighting hard not to let the illness beat her down. And mostly she has been succeeding. I understand better now. Except, just now, she seems a little battle-weary. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Break Out

breakfast time, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Rusty and Lily were given a change of paddock as the one they were in needed a bit of recuperation time. At first Bert gave them the whole of a field to gambol in. It worked well for a couple of days. The grass was lush and the pigs were happy. Until the day the children came. There were lots of excited squealings in the polytunnel as the little ones foraged for the last of the alpine strawberries. And there were lots of enraged squealings from the field as Rusty and Lily realised they were missing something. Suddenly two pigs came charging through the polytunnel doors. They ate a whole row of Lollo Rosso lettuce before we got them out. There is no turning a determined pig. The only thing that works is offering them even more delicious food.

So Bert closed an area off with the the electric fencer. All went well. They had plenty of grass, a good dry area under the Scots Pines and we always brought them in if it rained. Then yesterday I went down with a little dish of fruit and vegetables. Rusty looked up and high-stepped it over the fencer. Lily, seeing him go, just charged through it disregarding any shock in her rush to get her share of the goodies.

We'll have to stop keeping the pignuts in the polytunnel. The guy we got the pigs from said he used to keep his feed in his polytunnel until one day a young gilt called Custard punched her way through the side of the tunnel and, as her owner said, "Of course the troops all followed." This foraging party would have included a much younger Lily and Rusty. It's very hard to keep a kune kune and her food apart.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Dogs Are People Too

One of the neighbours called yesterday morning as I was getting ready to go pick up Miss Martha.

She said there was some dead animal lying at the entrance to one of our fields off the road. She said she wasn't sure what it was maybe a dog, maybe a fox but probably too big to be a cat. But I said, Fred is a pretty big cat and we hadn't seen him since the previous evening. Bert went to check it out. I was anxious, went to the bottom of the lane to wait for him. He came walking away from the slap in question. He looked distressed. I was sure it was Fred. He shook his head but still looked upset. It was a small terrier he said, terribly mangled.

I said, don't annoy yourself. There is nothing you can do for it now. He said, I can do this. I can bury it.

I went to pick up Miss Martha. Slightly late, told Miss Martha's dad about the annoyance of the dog. He said, maybe it's owners would want to see it, identify it. I said, no. They wouldn't want to see it.

Bert buried the dog just inside the entrance to the field. He was a sandy haired terrier, no collar, an intact male. Later Bert said, it makes you think - if it had been a person, so badly damaged. What would that be like? And I said, yes people get hurt to death like that and other people see them and it's horrible.

We live on a B road. Between Pearlie and ourselves we've lost one cat and three dogs on that road. People drive on the road at unsafe speeds just because they can. If it were up to us the council wouldn't mend the potholes. You speedsters, you don't need to drive down our road at 60 mph or more. Think of the animals.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Mother Courage

Matty was admitted to hospital last Thursday evening. She had a pain in her back which turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. It was Vancouver Brother who was with her when it happened and he and she spent seven hours in A&E before she found a bed. He had to catch his flight out the next morning which was hard on him. But he had a good two weeks with Mum right up until that happened.

The treatment for the pulmonary embolism is tough and Matty isn’t as strong as she was. We are hoping that she will get home soon although the big worry is that her mobility will not be as good.

Matty constantly amazes me these days. Before this double whammy of an illness she used to moan about every little thing. That’s not to say that she didn’t have her troubles but I used to think she was doing pretty well for a woman in her eighties. But since this, the Big Bad Yin, she has been full of courage and spirit. Even yesterday, after a pretty bad day, she was fit to get out of bed in the evening and have a damn good laugh with her visitors. She claimed that the Honorary Granddaughter’s Halloween cupcakes were the reason she was in hospital. Then she cackled like only Matty can.