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‘I speak over 2000 languages, including Dodo and Unicorn.’ Polynesia the Parrot. (Dr Dolittle)

I saw a program the other day in which children were asked who their favourite superheroes were.  Not surprisingly all the usual suspects were thereSuperman, Spiderman, Batman, Daredevil, The Hulk, Wonder Woman, The Flash . . .  Out of idle curiosity I then did an online search and found a survey in which adults were asked the same questionand the results were almost exactly the same.  (What? No Deadpool?)  

While I admit I love to watch the Marvel-movies these days, I can’t say I ever identified with any particular superhero when I was growing up.  I remember I used to watch the Superman TV series with my dad (along with really old re-runs of Flash Gordon (‘Flash, a-ah, saviour of the universe’) although I don’t think he can be counted as a superhero as he didn’t have any real superpowers) but my dad enjoyed these shows much more than I did.  When I was younger I always thought these shows were kind of silly, but the older I get the more I enjoy them.  Colours, lights, explosions, aliens, implausible plots, buff-bodies in lycra and body-armour . . .  I mean, what’s not to like?

And I started to wonderif I had to pick a superpower for myself, what would it be?   Mmmm, so many to choose from.  I am not keen on flying at the best of times, so that one is out.  Reading peoples’ minds? (I think I would prefer not to know.)  X-Ray vision? (eeerk—that’s just creepy.)   Invisibility? (meh.)

Then something happened this week which brought on another of those ‘WTF?’ moments (I seem to be having them a lot of lately) which decided it for me.  My superpower of choice would be the ability to talk to animals, a la Dr Dolittle (‘ . . . if we could talk to the animals, learn all their languages, maybe take an animal degree . . . I’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle, alligator, guinea pig, and flea . . . ) 

. . . but the very first animal language I’d want to be able to converse in would be ‘dog’ . . .

On Wednesday I came home as usual to a pack of silly, raucous, over-excited little dogs, who barked and bounced and jostled and hounded me (ha-see what I did there?) until I eventually changed into my daggy-duds and was ready for our afternoon walk.  (Well—not  Molly.  Molly decided a couple of weeks ago that she was never going to go walking with us ever again—but that’s a whole other story.)

So we left Molly sitting in the front window guarding the house and Mabel, Maude and I set off for the park.  All good.  We played on the grass, barked at the big scary dog around the corner (from a safe distance), met and chatted with some friends and then headed out along the river walk towards the beach.  By this time everyone else seemed to have gone home for their dinner so I let the girls off their leads so they could stop and sniff and explore (and wee) to their little hearts’ content.

(When I say ‘explore’ Maude usually roams far and wide—as long as it is within a six foot circumference of me, and Mabel rarely leaves my right heel . . . )

Anyway, there I was, happily walking along, looking at the water, watching the birds (wondering whether I should have brought my sketchbook with me) when I suddenly realised that Mabel was no longer at my side. Looking over my shoulder I found the girls sitting close together on the path about 100 yards behind me.  Just sitting . . . and watching me walk away.  I called them to me.  No response.  I called again.  Nothing. They just continued to sit quietly and watch me.  I scanned the area to see what might have stopped them. There was nothing.  Or at least nothing I could see.  No other people, no other dogs, no other . . . anything.

I called them to me again.  Nope.  They moved not a muscle.  Sigh.  As I started back towards them they stood, turned, and headed for home.  Well, okay then. Home it is.  They didn’t appear upset, or scared, or distressed, but something—some sound, smell, sight—or notion—had stopped them dead in their tracks, and left me clueless. They may both be a bit scatty at times but this was weird even for themand they have always come to me when called.

When we got home they greeted their long lost sister Molly, ate their dinner and settled in for the evening as if nothing untoward had happened.  And perhaps it hadn’t.  Perhaps there was nothing freaky going on and I was reading too much into it.   Maybe they had just had enough of walking and didn’t want to go any further (I guess there is a first time for everything).  Or perhaps (and I think this is the most likely option) they were trying out a new doggie-jedi-mind-trick on me (in which case—it worked.)

I’m resigned to that fact that I’ll never know what was going on in their wee heads that day (or any other day for that matter) but I can’t help but imagine how cool it would have been to have had the ability to look my girls in the eye and asked ‘What the . . . .?’  — and actually received an answer.

Now, that would be something to blog about . . .

Post Script:  
If my girls could have superpowers of their own, I wonder which ones they would choose?

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Geologists have a saying—rocks remember.’ Neil Armstrong.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I wonder if that’s true?  I hope so.

I’m hoping that if I stare at these rocks long enough they will remember (and remind me) what it is I’ve forgotten . . .

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.’ Oscar Wilde.

I have never kept (or even started) a diary.  Well, not a proper ‘Dear Diary—this-is-what-I-was-doing-this-is-what-I-was-feeling’ kind of diary . . .

(To clarify—I do keep a date-diary for important things (‘pay day’, ‘holidays start tomorrow’, ‘day trip to Forster with Pammy’) and appointments (‘M, M, & M due to get their nails done this week’) because my old brain just doesn’t remember these things for itself any more and there are only so many post-it notes that fit around the edge of my computer.)

. . . but I had also never really felt any deep-seated urge to write my daily thoughts and feelings down on paper either.  Truth be told, before I started this blog I never wrote much of anything—apart from a couple of short paragraphs in our college brochure each term (which I was coerced into by my boss I might add.)

However, now that I am writing more (and kinda-sorta-sometimes enjoying it) I can see that there might well be advantages to writing something . . . anything . . . every single day.  I can go for days and days without putting pen to paper because I ‘can’t think of anything interesting to write’.  I have the same issue when it comes to sketching (I can’t decide what to draw—so I don’t draw anything.  Sigh.) The fact that I know that the longer I leave it the more difficult it becomes to start up again appears to hold little sway.

But a diary?  No, I don’t really think a diary is for me. I would have nothing as sensational to write in it as Oscar Wilde, but even if I did (or maybe, especially if I did) I am not sure I would want to commit it to paper. It seems to me that private diaries seldom remain private.

Still, I definitely could benefit from the discipline of writing every day, and thinking about this reminded me of a book I read years ago ‘The Artist’s Way‘ and Julia Cameron’s ‘Morning Pages.  What are morning pages?  Morning Pages are one of the basic tools Julia advocates for unleashing creativity.

‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.  There is no wrong way to do Morning Pagesthey are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mindand they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page . . .
and then do three more pages tomorrow.’
(Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way)

I remember when I read this book all those years ago I thought these morning pages sounded a bit . . . ‘Really?  Sigh.  How that is going to work?  Maybe I’ll give them a go.  Some day . . . ‘  But I never did.  Maybe I wasn’t ready then.  Perhaps I am now.  Now I kind of like the idea of writing without thinking and not having to worry about spelling, or grammar, or making sense to anyone else.  I like the idea of doing them longhand (perhaps I can even doodle around the edges and that will cover me for the ‘draw something every day’ (unkept) promises I also made to myself) and I also especially like the fact that (unlike a diary) I can tear the pages up immediately afterwards if I want to, so no-one is ever going to read them (ever) but me.

At worst I will have wasted a little (more) time in the morning.  At best—well, who knows.  I might surprise myself.  Anyway, my creativity could do with a bit of unleashing so I’m going to give them ago.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

But until then, just so you know I am not a complete diary-phobe, I thought I’d finish with an excerpt from a diary I read just the other day . . .

“Morning: Slept.
Afternoon: Slept.
Evening: Ate grass.
Night: Ate grass. Decided grass is boring.
Scratched. Hard to reach the itchy bits.
Slept.”

Jackie French
Diary of a Wombat

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Without my dogs my wallet would be full, my house would be clean, but my heart would be empty.’ Anon.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . .

  • Three heartworm injections,
  • Three C3 injections,
  • Three ears-eyes-heart checks,
  • Three nail clippings,
  • Three pinched, poked, prodded, over-excited, over-wrought and now very tired little dogs . . .
  • One exhausted mum . . .

(and one very quick, very loose (and very rare) sketch of all my three girls together)

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Be bold; there are no terrible consequences in knitting.’ Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I can’t quite remember how old I was when I first learned to knit but I know knitting was something I indulged in, and enjoyed, for years and years.  I used to knit all the time.  I made sweaters and scarves and cushion covers and toys and blankets and . . . well, you name it, I probably had a go at it.  (Okay, I never made a hoodie for a dog, but I might have if I’d thought any of my boys or girls would have worn them . . .  )  And then, for reasons I can no longer remember, I stopped.  Just stopped.  Probably I got too busy, or too lazy, or took up other interests instead . . .

Until about a month ago I had not thought about knitting for the longest time but, when clearing out one of my cupboards at home, I came across a large whicker basket filled to the gunnels with all manner of knitting paraphernalia.  Great big fat plastic needles, long skinny metal needles—and every size needle in between. Knitting patterns, scissors, packets of pins, tape measures, crochet hooks, various reels of (tangled) threads, stitch holders, safety pins and a notebook and pen. And of course, yarn.  All sorts of odd balls of yarn.  Oh my—I had forgotten how much I loved the yarn . . .

But no.  Stop right there.  I must not get carried away.  If I am going to get back into knitting I am going to take it slowly.  I must use up the wools and yarns I already have first.  No rushing down to the nearest wool emporium to buy up skeins and skeins of gorgeous vibrant coloured . . . or mottled . . . or flecked . . . or chunky . . . or worsted . . . or angora . . .or alpaca . . . or silk . . .  Sigh.  So much yarn and so little time.  And space.

Because, in spite of what Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says, I can already forsee at least one terrible consequence.  My renewed ardour for all those gorgeous knitting patterns, wools, threads and yarns could easily begin to rival that of my (seemingly unrelenting) desire for new pens and pencils and paints and sketchbooks . . .

. . . and I really can’t afford to move to a bigger house just yet . . .


 
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Posted by on July 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I had a dream that I was awake and I woke up to find myself asleep.’ Stan Laurel.

I love to watch my dogs sleep.  They always look so comfortable and content.  Unlike me, they never seem to suffer from disturbed sleep. No tossing, no turning, no thrashing about.  (No thumping the pillows or rearranging the bedclothes.)  They just find a nice, sweet spot, turn around three times, and settle in.  I often wonder what they dream about.  “Chasing rabbits,” my dad would say.  Watching Maudie now and listening to her excited little ‘yip-yips’ as her nose twitches and her feet paw the air, it’s easy to imagine that’s exactly what she’s doing (although I don’t know that Maudie has ever seen a real bunny . . . )

Scientists have been performing sleep and dream studies for decades but still do not seem to be 100% agreed on why we dream.  The most popular theory is that dreams work together with sleep to help the brain sort through the information it has collected during our waking hours.  Dreaming helps us process what to remember and what to forget.

As it seems that humans and dogs have very similar sleep cycles (stages of wakefulness, rapid eye movement (REM) and slow wave deep sleep) perhaps dogs dream for exactly the same reason we do.  Rather than chasing rabbits, Maudie is probably reliving all the sights, sounds and smells she encountered during the day, deciding which ones she should discard and which ones are important enough to keep (there’s a new big scary dog moved in around the corner . . . the little kid down the street always has lollies in his pockets . . . I hid my favourite ball on the couch behind the cushion . . .)

I rarely remember my own dreams.  I know I do dream, and dream often, but I rarely remember the details.  This past week I has been a little different.  I have had some seriously weird dreams.  Really vivid, surreal, almost nightmarish dreams—some so freaky they remained with me when I woke.  I was trying to think why that would be—why these dreams seemed so different—and then I had a thought (it happens sometimes) . . . could my whacked-out dreams be an unexpected by-product of all the (industrial strength) flu medication I have recently been taking?

I had never really thought about that before but now I was curious, so I looked it up.  (I looked it up on the web, because who reads the teeny-tiny printed (‘Please read carefully’) foldouts that come in the medication boxes?  I tried that once.  Not only did I give myself serious eye strain, but the list of possible life-threatening side effects nearly scared me to death . . . )  Anyway, I found that there are in fact numerous drugs used in cough, cold, flu, allergy, motion sickness and (get this) insomnia medications, which have been linked to dream-altering states and vivid nightmares.

(How unfair would it be to be suffering from insomnia, only to take prescribed meds, finally fall asleep and then be hit by screaming nightmares. Talk about adding insult to injury!)

Weird dreams have also been noted as a side effect of anti-depressants, pain medications, blood-pressure meds and drugs to help people stop smoking.  So it seems that while we are happily ingesting any and all pharmaceuticals to cure whatever ails us, we are also unwittingly inviting in all manner of creeping night terrors to join us in our misery as well!

Happily, so far, my girls have been healthy enough that I haven’t had to ply any of them with much medication of any sort, but my own experience this week has made me realise that this is something I should probably bear in mind should they need any ‘medicating’ in the future.  If their sleep patterns are indeed akin to ours, it stands to reason that any drugs they receive might well affect their sleep patterns (and dreams) too.

I admit, this somewhat worrying to me.  Maudie is a happy little dog and would probably quickly shrug off any bad dream (just wave her ball under her nose and she’d be good to go) but Mabel and Molly are both somewhat highly strung at the best of times (that’s putting it politely) and the idea of them (and therefore me) having to cope with raging bouts of doggie-nightmares doesn’t quite bear thinking about . . .

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Where there’s tea there’s hope.’ Arthur Wing Pinero.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

As you might imagine, after being so ill last week I had a very, very quiet weekend.  I slept, took flu medication, sat gazing into space for long periods of time . . . and then slept some more.  And I drank tea. Pots and pots of tea . . .

These days I drink mostly green tea.  For years and years I drank ‘normal’ tea (that is black tea with milk) and wouldn’t have thought to drink anything else.  Both my parents being English, tea was a daily staple and a cure-all for everything.  (The British consume over 60 billion cups of tea per year.  That sounds a lot—around 900 cups a year for every man, woman and child in Great Britain—but when you break it down that’s only 2.465 cups each per day.  Pfffttt.  Easy peasy.  I can do that before leaving for work in the morning.)

I can’t remember now when I switched over to drinking green tea, although I probably made the switch because I became convinced green tea was going to be somehow better for me (anti-oxidants and all that jazz.  Or perhaps I just kept forgetting to buy milk to put in my regular tea . . . )  Whatever the reason, once I switched over I never went back to my ‘English Breakfast’which is a bit surprising because green tea is definitely an ‘acquired taste’ (my friend Pam says it is like drinking lawn clippings) and I remember I didn’t really like it all that much at first.

But perseverance is a wonderful thing and slowly I became accustomed to it and now am quite happy with my healthier choice.  (The same thing happened when I decided to switch from white wine to to red.  Red wine is also supposed to be a healthier option—and I was drinking far too much white.  My logic was sound.  I didn’t like red wine very much, therefore I was bound to drink less of it.  Right?  Well, that didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would, (there are some seriously nice reds out there) but, on the plus side, I am drinking a lot less white . . . )

Anyway, during one of those flu-medicated-gazing-into-space-tea-sipping moments last weekend I did stop to wonderhow much tea is too much? Seems I remembered (way way back in the fevered recesses of my mind) that I once read that drinking too much green tea can cause hallucinations?  Could that be right? Should I be worried?

Nah.  I decided I really didn’t have the energy to fret about it.  Any green-tea-inspired hallucination was going to have to duke it out with my industrial strength flu-medication . . .  and I would just sit back (cuppa in hand) and enjoy the show . . .

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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