Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fortify Teeth Day!

Happy Birthday Vancouver Brother. He's barely a day older looking than in the picture but, he tells me, his reading choices have moved on.

Fortify Teeth Day - anagram

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Martha Martha

Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 86 years old.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Big Girl

The Jersey Giant hen that survived the fox attack last Sunday is, by far, the largest of all our chickens. That poor thing has had such a tough week. The attack left her sore and traumatised. It was only last night that she managed to get back on the roost. And all week she has mooched around on her own and hasn't come forward when treats such as chickweed and shot lettuces were on the go. Today has been the first day that she has taken her place with the rest of the girls and rushed to the fore when the specials were offered.  Apart from the bantam cock, Plum, none of our current chickens have names. I think the big girl deserves a name.

Any ideas?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Foxy Bites Off More Than He Can Chew

Foxy invaded the hen run this evening. Bert heard the commotion and got a glimpse of him running off. At first we thought he'd made off with one of the Jersey Giants but then I found her hiding in a hedge, She had a great bare patch at the side of her neck and she was terribly traumatised, Fox had got in under the fence in a spot that had been eroded underneath by the recent incessant rain. He pounced on the big chicken and pulled her under the fence. But because she is heavy and because Bert interrupted him he must have lost his grip and ran off without his chicken supper.

Bert headed out to the fields with the gun but had no joy. Foxy lives to hunt another day. He should have picked a smaller hen. Those Jersey Giants can catch and kill mice and frogs. They wouldn't be much of a match for a full-grown fox so I suspect our vulpine visitor must be one of this year's cubbing.

Tomorrow I must make sure that there are no vulnerable spots around the run. Foxy will be back. That is for sure.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Night Off

Young Ben thinks Pearlie is perfectly charming and she thinks the same about him. I think my mother-in-law is a witch and not in a good way either.

One of my friends called this afternoon and she had her grandchild with her. I suggested she called in to see Pearlie not realising that Pearlie already had a caller. Hector is a local farmer (and rare visitor) who has known Bert's family for years. So first of all Pearlie pretends not to recognise my friend although she has known her for a very long time. OK – it has been over a year since she's been round but they moved house and life does get in the way. Then Pearlie announced to everyone that she was hungry and she had not been given anything to eat all day. This was not true and I told her so. I also told her that only an hour before I had risen from weeding vegetables and said to Bert I was going in to get Pearlie her afternoon meal. He told me he'd taken care of it, she'd said she wanted nothing but a cup of tea but he'd brought her a bowl of strawberries. Pearlie scoffed, “One strawberry! That's not very much!” So there were the visitors thinking that all Pearlie had been given to eat that day was one small strawberry. I checked this with Bert later. She had been offered a bowl of strawberries chopped into small pieces.

It's not the first time the mother-in-law has done this. It's a common occurrence when she has callers that she'll tell them we don't feed her. She told her social worker the other week that she'd had no breakfast and that the carer had given her stale bread for her lunch because that's probably all there was. That was the same day I informed the social worker it was time to draw a line under that part of Pearlie's care plan as that particular carer had served bread set aside for the chickens. That same blade couldn't carry a cup of tea from the scullery to Pearlie's room without spilling it everywhere. These women get paid more than waitresses and some of them cannot serve tea and bread and butter without fucking it up.

I had a word with Pearlie. Told her that I was not happy that she'd make these untrue announcements when people were in. She was unrepentant. I haven't seen her since. A night off seems like a good idea.

Bert said to her,

I hear Nelly told you she'll not be seeing you until tomorrow?

She replied,

Apparently. Reach me my cardigan.

Ben and Bert sorted out her supper after I reminded them. Ben gave her a hug and said to Bert,

Hug your Mum.

Ben told me about this. And I was really happy she'd had cuddles from the two boys. Even though she is a witch.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It Tickled Me

I received this in greeting card form many moons ago. This, I believe, entitles me to rob it off the internet.

If you do not find it amusing then, I'm afraid, we do not share the same sense of humour. And you don't like dogs. And you hate sheep. And parties.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Two Things: Death and Remembrance

 I went to a funeral today. It was the second in just over three weeks. Both funerals were for middle-aged men who had been ill for a long time. Today's was for my cousin's husband. He was a man I did not know very well but in this part of the world funerals are attended as much for the living as the dead. My cousin was near my age and we played together a lot when we were children. Looking at his young family sitting with their mother I realised how lucky I was to have had the love of both my parents until I was in my fifties.

My friend Swisser's parents were both gone before I lost mine and she told me that after her father died she became obsessed with her mortality and the fear leaving her children behind. She said, that in time, these feelings became more manageable. I am so affected by dying right now. The death of my dogs has devastated me in ways that I know are disproportionate. I am terribly saddened by the sight of dead badgers, foxes and rabbits on the roadside.

The picture above shows a heart-shaped meadow in the midst of an oak wood planted by a Gloucestershire farmer, Winston Howes, in remembrance of his wife who died when she was 55. This was, according to The Telegraph, a family secret until it was photographed by a passing balloonist. It is now all over the internet. I couldn't rest until I'd found it on Google Maps. It kept my mind off the drowned spiders, dead rabbits and funerals past and present.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

One Thing: A Dream

I dreamed a strange one in those half-awake hours in the light of early morning. I was a soldier coming and going from a war. We were a small unit, me, a boy and another girl. I loved the boy. We'd spend a few days away, then home again, real home, not the barracks. I was carrying less and less personal belongings to war. I did not need them. In this dream we were never under attack. We just went on patrol. The area we patrolled was like Paddy's field, a place I played in as a child. The difference was there was a sheer face of earth, maybe 20 foot, to scale before we could the field and at the top end of the field there was another long drop to the road.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Poor Lennox

After a long and sustained campaign the unfortunate dog Lennox, allegedly a pit bull type, was humanely put to sleep this morning.

In defence of the decision an 'expert' declared that the dog was “...one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across." My feeling is that a dog, previously a loved pet, that is kept in confinement for two years might well display unpredictable behaviour. That poor dog was bound to be traumatised and terribly unhappy with his lot. Although I am not certain that Belfast City Council handled this situation as well as they might have, there is  no doubt that they acted entirely within the letter of the law.

Although I know that many dog lovers will strongly disagree with me, I believe that the campaign to save Lennox actually damaged Lennox's chance of getting back to a normal dog's life. Just because so many thousands of people inundated Belfast City Council with emails and petitions does not mean that the Council can be forced to act outside the law. The law might not be fair to dogs of that type but it remains the law. The harassment of council employees was a disgrace and further worsened Lennox's very slim chance of reprieve. There is nothing simpler than dashing off an email or signing a petition. Just because hundreds, thousands or millions of people do so does not make a cause just or rightful.

There are huge amounts of people who work to help animals of every kind and I truly admire what they do but there are also fanatical animal lovers who go too far. They forget that human beings are animals too and deserve to be protected from dangerous dogs. I'm not saying that Lennox was a dangerous dog, I'm sure he was not, but there are people who keep and breed aggressive dogs, there are dogs bred to fight each other to the death and dogs bred to bait other animals. There are vicious dogs that attack humans, even sometimes killing or maiming children. So there must be laws to protect people and other animals. Lennox fell foul of those laws but that is not Belfast City Council's fault. It is more the fault of those people who want to breed and train dangerous and aggressive dogs.

Should one of my own beloved dogs be deemed dangerous and ordered to be destroyed I would not fight it. I would not start an internet campaign – I would be broken-hearted but I would accept it and I would want it done quickly before the dog's spirit was broken by a long confinement in a sterile environment.

Campaign by all means but campaign for the right thing. Get the law changed so that good-natured dogs that look like dangerous dogs are not put at risk and fight to make legislation stronger so that dog-fighting and all baiting 'sports' are eliminated for ever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Last Year

strawberry patch, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

This time last year there were strawberries.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Love and Life

Last weekend I went to Leitrim and Sligo with London Sister and I forgot my camera. I remembered to bring the charger but that wasn't much use without the camera.

Had I brought my camera I would have taken photographs of the fossils at Easkey. Had I brought my camera I would have taken some pictures of the megalithic burial site at Carrowmore.

Had I brought my camera I would have taken a picture of a grave at Drumcliffe Church. It would not have been the grave of W.B. Yeats for that grave needs no more photographs. I would have taken a picture of a beautiful grave, the grave of a young man who died a few years back, a young man who was only in his mid-twenties. He must have been greatly loved because his last resting place was filled with flowers, his stone was hand carved, the poetry, if it was not as high-flown as that on Yeats' grave was just as heartfelt. I would never have put the photograph on the internet because it would have been an intrusion and an impertinence. The photograph would have been for me and for remembrance.

Had I brought my camera I would have taken a picture of London Sister and Leitrim Sister. That does not matter. I do not need a picture to remind me that I spent some time with two people I love very much. Two people, among the many people, who live, and that I love. We are always close to death but closer still to love and life.