Friday, June 29, 2012


I happened to mention to Bert that I was feeling tired. He said,

If you're tired all the time how do you know you are tired?
What do you mean?
Well. You're always going on about being tired. If that's the way you always are how would you know you are tired?
How often would you say I mention that I'm tired?
About once a day.
And roughly what time of the day would this be?
About this time.
So when I happen to mention, once a day, around 10pm, that I'm tired - that means I'm tired all the time? 
God's sake. You don't have to be so sensitive about it!

You know something? I think I'm in denial.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

All Gone Now

There was a documentary on tonight about the murder of Shirley Finlay in Ballymena in 2006. It was strange and chilling to see the events re-enacted. I missed the first part of it so searched the web to find out when I could catch-up with it. Whilst I was looking I found this image on Google.

It's a scan taken from a photograph I gave to Shirley's foster mother - it's not the best quality. It appeared in a few newspapers at the time and is currently on a memorial site that Shirley's foster family set up. Somewhere I must have the original negative but God knows where.

The dog on Shirley's lap is Rosie. Shirley and she were very fond of each other. The cat is Caps. They are all gone now. Cat and dog lived to be seventeen and ten respectively. Shirley, had she not been murdered, would now only be thirty years old.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Charlie Died


Charlie died. He was killed on the road near to the entrance of our lane. Last night, just before midnight I let all three of our dogs out to pee. Bonnie and Judy usually do their business, mooch around for a few minutes and come to the door to be let in. Charlie does some rounds of the garden and yard and will either come in willingly or he might need to be persuaded. I had gone to bed so Bert was the one doing the persuading. Charlie did not respond so Bert called me and I grumpily got up to try my cajoling magic on him. I shouted, I called, I hoped, I prayed. No Charlie. I took a torch to the bottom of the lane and shone it around. No sign. I decided to take the car out. I'd only turned it out of the lane when I saw him lying at the side of the road. I got out and picked him up. He was limp and light as a feather.

This morning when I carried him from the shed to his grave he felt much more of a burden. I suppose that is what people mean when they speak of a dead weight.

Judging by the amount of blood on the road Charlie did not die where I found him. Someone, most likely the driver of the vehicle that killed him, gathered him up and placed him where no other vehicle would drive over him. I'm grateful for that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pineapples for Pigs

Pineapples for pigs

Twice a week Rusty and Lily get a delivery of fruit and vegetables  from a local greengrocery. The food is slightly past its best but the pigs don't mind.  

Sitting politely and patiently

When they get something as delicious as a pineapple they are highly delighted. Apples, bananas, carrots, broccoli  or grapes can be eaten on the spot but a pineapple is a prize. It must be jealously guarded.

Hedge Hogs

As each pig receives its delectable treat they take it to a private scoffing booth, otherwise known as the hedge. Yum yum! Pig's bum!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Daddy died, seven years ago, a few weeks before Father's Day. I remember feeling furious when I saw all the Father's Day advertising. It has taken until now for that feeling to pass. Happy Father's Day to all the lovely dads out there. And to all of you fortunate enough to have a good father in your life, show him you love him every day of the year. He won't be around forever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Agony and the Itchiness

Pearlie is unhappy with newly prescribed analgesic patches. Said they were itchy. I said, "Do you prefer agony or itchiness?" She said "Agony."

She can be very particular about the amount of sugar she has in her tea. it has to be measured practically grain by grain. She watches me like a hawk as I trickle it in.

It's only a week or so that all her milk puddings had to be "Thin, thin, thin" but when Bert was away recently (he is the chief maker of milk puddings) she changed that to "Thick, thick, thick." I proudly presented her with a thin custard and she protested bitterly, "Too thin! How's that going to fill me?" "Oh - knock it into you," I said. "It's made with full cream milk. It will do you good." I went in half an hour later and she hadn't lipped it. Said it was too sweet. From then on her puddings were thick enough to stand a spoon in and she got to sweeten them herself. 

Fires are another problem area. She likes a wee blaze going all the year round. In winter it is easy enough. We just keep a good, roaring fire on all the time. In summer it is more difficult. If the fire is too intense she gets uncomfortable and she does hate open doors and windows. We have to try to maintain a   small fire which is difficult. To keep it going we'd need to be placing a small amount of fuel, preferably turf or a 'wee grain' of coal every 30 minutes. It's not uncommon for the fire to go out and then it has to be relit. 

I made a joke today when I brought her new analgesic patches. She has had a serious flare up of arthritis recently and has been in a lot of  pain, specially when she needs to be moved. My joke was pretty lame. I told her she'd need to be sure not to be taking any strong drink with her new medication and she smiled at the very idea. She doesn't smile very often - she's not a smiley person. I treasure those smiles.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A Slender Birch Tree. And Me.

I am wearing a tree. Despite its horizontal stripes it still has the happy effect of slimming my silhouette. Unfortunately it can be rather cumbersome and lends itself best to when I'm just standing around. It is for occasional wear only - perhaps a wedding or a summer garden party.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Beware of the Boar

Even though he is castrated Rusty has a set of tusks on him that are as sharp as knives.

Picture courtesy of El Capitan

Charlie the collie does not respect the pigs. He chases and harasses and slips in for a sneaky nip on a pig's ear, nose or bottom.  He does not listen to me and the only way to avoid it is to close him in when the pigs are being moved. Yesterday morning he got out and started his nippy behaviour. Rusty charged him, tossed him and walked over him. Charlie ran off - I didn't realise that he'd been injured.

A few hours later Ben noticed fresh blood on the kitchen floor. Charlie had just left his corner to challenge and bark at a couple of callers. The blood spots led back to his bed. I looked him over and discovered a deep gash on his hind leg. It was then that I knew that Rusty must have caught him with a tusk.

It was straight to the vet. She discovered a puncture wound as well as the gash. Poor dog got eleven stitches. You'd think it would have made him wary of the pigs. Not Charlie. He came out this evening when the kune kunes were being moved into their evening quarters and started to stalk them, cone and all. Thankfully he kept his distance. I am going to have to be very careful in future. The dog and the pig are now mortal enemies and the dog is insane.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Happy Birthday Kerry Sister

Rare photograph of the Kerry Sister holding a cat. These days her head explodes if she comes within a yard of one.

Happy birthday. Sis. Have a great day.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

People In Glass Houses

Bert, like myself, comes from a farming background but farming was never where his heart lay. From an early age he was drawn to horticulture. His father Johnny would have liked Bert to follow in his footsteps and encouraged him to take an interest in livestock. He gave Bert lambs and calves to rear and when market time came Bert pocketed the profits. He did not reinvest this money in livestock. Instead he bought a green house and grew salad vegetables in the winter time and tomatoes in the summer. In time he went to Greenmount College where he studied partying, drinking and horticulture. That greenhouse must have been a good one because it has stood in the same spot for more than 40 years. Now that Bert has 6400 square foot of poly tunnel to play with, the greenhouse is all for me to potter around in. Most years I've used it to grow bedding plants but this year I'm growing tomatoes.

We have our godson staying with us this weekend and we get him involved in our projects. This evening he helped me plant leeks and he also mowed the lawn. He loves the lawnmower. I have to admit I had a few concerns about safety and discussed these with Bert who assured me he could come to no harm. I decided to let Bert have his way in this. After all Ben will be thirteen in a couple of weeks. I watched Ben on the mower and I even took a little film of him. He showed a lot of confidence. Maybe too much confidence?

Still from my mini-movie. Does Charlie look a little wary?

Perhaps half-an-hour passed. Ben announced that he was going out to gather up the grass and said that he just loved mowing the lawn. A little while later I heard a crashing noise but did not take it under my notice as Bert is always making crashing noises. I was just getting myself into the mood for staking my tomato plants when I realised I'd been listening to clinking noises for quite a while. It sounded like someone throwing broken glass around. I went outside. And there was Bert, stoically removing broken glass from my very bent greenhouse. And there was Ben looking white and worried as he collected the glass in the wheelbarrow. He told me straight away what had happened. He'd meant to reverse but had gone forward and the front of the greenhouse had got bashed in.

Afterwards Bert told me that Ben was very afraid that I'd be mad. I'm glad to say that I wasn't. Instead I told him that he'd just learned that he'd have to be more careful when using machines and then I got on with staking my tomato plants.

I did tick him off later on for drinking coke whilst on the trampoline.

"Ben," says I. "I'm prepared to forgive you for bending my greenhouse but I draw the line at you spilling disgusting, sticky coke on the trampoline." And that was that.