'If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.' Marjorie Garber

Friday, 3 December 2010

Introducing Rosie!

I just can't believe that more than a month has passed since I posted the photo of Mowgli in the washing machine!
Well, those of you who follow my Sister's blog will have read her exciting news about the adoption approval. I know Denise and Mr Bun will be superb parents and I am eagerly awaiting becoming an Aunty again to some special little souls. Now that all the children in our family are in their teens or early twenties, it will be lovely to hear the warming tones of children laughing and playing at family get-togethers. How different next Christmas will be! My youngest daughter is the current youngest grandchild at sixteen; when Denise asked her how she felt about not being the youngest anymore, she said: "Oh well, you had all better make the most of it, whilst you still can! Bring it on!"
Talking of adoption, I have recently been approved too, not to adopt a child, but for a bundle of canine fun and energy! Just under three weeks ago, we brought home Rosie.

A big thank you to the Four Paws charity for allowing me to adopt Rosie, (formerly Nica), and for the wonderful work they do fostering and rehoming hundreds of abandoned  and unwanted animals.
Rosie is a Labrador cross Husky and is keeping me on my toes! She is just five months old, has had very little training so far but is very affectionate and intelligent, and I think she will be the kind of dog that my darling Misha would have been proud to have known and would have loved to play with.
Some people may think that I've rushed into getting a dog again but it felt like the right time for me. At times, such as when Rosie mangled my glasses and pooped at the top of the stairs, I have thought: "What have I done?" But then I remember when Misha, at only a few months older, decided to play catch in the garden with my husband's handheld Palm database - amazingly the Palm survived! 
Quick! Hide me, that dog is coming!
Bless! Rosie, oh soo sweet when she is sleeping!

Ssh! Don't tell that darn dog where I am!
And then there are the times when Mowgli runs up to Rosie and smacks her on the nose. She rises to the bait and gives chase, and yes, I know, the dog is not supposed to chase the cat but sometimes it all happens so fast that I'm left reeling, not knowing which way to turn! Reminding me of  a few years ago, when we were having tea with a work friend of Hubby's. Polite conversation was flowing, cakes were being consumed when all of a sudden we heard an almighty rumpus coming from their back garden. Misha had decided to chase some chickens. They didn't tell us they kept free range chickens! We never did get any eggs.
Oh the joys of having a puppy! More news will follow shortly...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

And Now For Something Purrfectly Different!

I had planned to empty the overflowing wash basket this morning, but I had a bit of shock when I tried to use the washing machine. It seems our little Mowgli has a much better use for it!
Watch out! I know how to pounce!

Thank you for your kind words over the past few weeks. I hope that you are all happy, healthy and looking forward to Christmas!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


We live in a very public world in 2010. Twenty-four hour news coverage ensures we share in the highs and lows of humanity. The international high of last week has now been well documented. The Chilean Miners are etched into the consciousness of most of the western world.
But sometimes things happen. International lows. Out of the blue, terrible, tragic events unfold in front of our eyes that change the world and make us ask: "Why?"
Since my first Daughter was born eighteen years ago, through our television screens we have seen the mass graves of innocents massacred in Bosnia Herzegovina, Rwanda, and the Sudan. We asked: "Why?"
Media technology has developed at such a pace that we have watched in real time, civil unrest, famine and disease destroy thousands in African Countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia and Nigeria - the list seems almost endless. Constantly, we ask: "Why?"
When my Daughter was five years old,  the world grieved on mass following the death of Princess Diana, and watched on mass as the media circus went into mourning meltdown. Who can possibly forget the heartbreaking image of Diana's Brother, Earl Spencer, as he struggled to hold back the bitterness and tears when he delivered the Eulogy? He pointed a metaphorical finger at the papparazzi and together with him, we asked: "Why?"
The world has agonised over the aftermath of horrific natural events, news reel after news reel, all day, every day. When my Daughter was twelve, there was the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. We've viewed on our screens and on the internet the earthquake in Haiti, the floods in the USA, Pakistan and India. We asked and continue to ask: "Why?"

We watched the smouldering pyres of Foot and Mouth Disease disfigure the landscape of Britain, and rob so many of their livelihoods and lives. And we asked: "Why?"

We stood by and watched the rise and rise of political and religious extremism and suffered the unbearable consequences:
The Twin Towers. "Why?"
The London bombings, "Why?" The Bali bombings, "Why?" The thousands killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, "Why?"
Much speculation and spouting of facts goes on in public to answer "Why".
But all of these international events have personal private stories too. People directly affected and asking: "Why?" Do they ever get answers?
And on a personal level, just three months ago, when my beloved Misha died, I asked, no, more like pleaded: "Why?" I started this blog to try to help me understand why. Pouring out my emotions on the internet, opening my heart to the public domain to try to find answers or maybe just to feel and read collective sympathy. Spreading my grief? Why? I don't know why.

Those of you who have visited me here via my Sister's blog, http://www.abuncandance.blogspot.com, are aware that Denise, myself and the rest of the extended family, have had more than our fair share of tragedy and grief of late. Many times, as a family, over the past few years, we have asked a collective: "Why?"

Eighteen years ago, in June, in Brisbane, Australia, on the day my daughter was due, I took a boat trip to Tangalooma on Moreton Island with my Husband, my Mum and my Aunty Julia. I didn't go into labour, not even after a four wheel drive trip across sand dunes and jungle. Instead, I had a great day laughing and enjoying the sun with my dear companions. 

A week later, my first Daughter was born. My husband, my Mum and my Aunty Julia were there when I gave birth. It was, and still is, one of the happiest memories I have. If I could have shouted my joy through the internet then, I would have. And I would never have needed to ask: "Why?"
Last week, after battling since January with a brain tumour, the loveliest, most gentle and beautiful person you could ever wish to meet passed away peacefully, at home, my Aunty Julia. She was 56. I know the 'where', the 'when' and the 'how', but I don't think anyone can ever answer this one for me: "Why?"

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sue Tries Very Hard

I've fallen behind in blogland. I had intended to publish a post at least once a week, but I'm afraid life has been pulling me away from the trusty old iMac that I  usually work on and filling my time with all sorts of other seemingly more pressing things.

So I have been playing catch-up today. I've been reading some of the excellent posts of fellow bloggers and I've been stirred into action.
In particular, over at sixty one A, Kirsty's tale, from 29 September, about her old stool, made me decide to dust off the following post I started writing the day before Kirsty published hers and share it with you. So here goes:

For several years, I have fancied trying my hand at upholstery and on a particularly gloomy day at the end of August, I took the plunge and enrolled online for a local course.

The blurb for the course said to take along 'your own manageable piece of furniture'. So I decided to take a dressing table stool that had been left behind by a previous owner at our last home. It was small, easily portable and a good starting point for my new skill.
The stool had really tacky brown velour upholstery  with buttons, but very pretty legs and, I thought, the potential to become a thing of beauty - or at least more attractive than its original 1970s appearance.  

The course is very local, just a short walk, so I carried my stool to the class and proudly walked in on the first morning. My pride soon became embarrassment when I looked around to see that I was surrounded by ladies brandishing beautiful antique armchairs in varying degrees of undress.  I felt like I had arrived at my new school, knowing nobody and wearing the wrong uniform.

The tutor, a lovely lady called Renee, was very kind and chose not to comment on the pitiful sight of my lowly stool, as we went through the formality of introductions. "You'll need foam and a staple remover" was the only comment she passed. I could tell by her eyes that my stool was a disappointment to her and I already had the picture in my mind of my end of term report with that all encompassing comment: "Sue tries very hard."

I could have just discreetly left the room then, made my excuses and legged it . But well, I am nothing if not brazen, so I decided to do the decent thing and open the floodgates for the anti-70's velour stool brigade, and started ripping the poor thing apart, literally.

And in less than fifteen minutes, my stool was in pieces - several pieces. Did they use wood in the construction of furniture during the Seventies? Judging by the composite parts of my stool, I guess not.

Update: This is Brenda's chair, the stool was set aside and this piece of 1940's history is in the process of being transformed. I'll tell you more about it in a future post.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Moving On

Hello there. This is my first venture into blogging and hopefully not my last. If you're reading this then you've found me and I hope you will stay with me whilst I journey through blogland. I am open to suggestions as to how to improve the site, so feel free to criticise.
My sister is a frequent and successful blogger, (http://www.abuncandance.blogspot.com), who has for some time tried to persuade me to start, but somehow I never felt like I had anything worth saying. But a blog was always on my list of things to do.
And on the odd occasion when I thought about starting a blog because I needed to talk about something, I would find after a quick Google search that it had already been covered by someone far more literate than I could ever hope to be.
Then something strange happened to me today. I overslept. I woke up as usual, for a school day, to the sound of my alarm but then I fell asleep again. I was only asleep for twenty or thirty minutes but in my dream, I spent hours and hours.

I travelled to another country. I believed it was an island but I had no recollection of crossing water to get there. This land was a huge open field with a green hawthorn and hazel hedge around it.  In the distance, I could see several dogs. They were all black dogs. Suddenly, my family, my Husband and Daughters and my Mum and Dad, were beside me. I hadn't been aware of their presence until then. We all stood there on the edge of this country looking over the hedge at the dogs strolling and sniffing in the dew kissed grass.  And I could see Misha, my Dog. I called to her and she ran to me and I was so happy. I had found her. We cuddled and then she took it in turns to greet my family members. She came back to me and we cuddled more. I stroked her glistening black fur and she nuzzled into me for more love. Then I noticed that she had something tattoed inside her ear. Strangely it was a list of her dislikes and likes and the places she had visited, all in tiny black script.  "But it says that she has been to Hong Kong." I said. " I don't think it's Misha, after all, but she is so much like her and I can feel the bond."  I turned to my Dad and he just nodded. He didn't say anything but his eyes confirmed that this was another dog. I took that dog in my arms and decided it was time to move on. Misha was letting go.

Misha was a Labrador cross. We adopted her from the RSPCA Bristol Dogs Home seven years ago this month. She was just turning six months old then, full of life and mischief and we were all smitten. We were her third home. Her other homes had said she was difficult to train. Within three days, Misha was house-trained and responding to her name. She was to become my constant friend. 
At the end of June of this year she became gravely ill and was diagnosed a few days later with Immune Mediated Disease, or Canine Hemolytic Anemia. In less than three weeks, she had developed serious complications to the steroids used to control her disease. She was throwing off blood clots in her organs, finding it hard to breathe and a large section of her liver had died. She was referred to the Bristol University Small Animal Hospital at Langford, where the vets tried their hardest to help her. I visited her every day. Most days, my Mum and Dad would visit too; some days my daughters, my Husband  and my Sister came along. I just wanted to be able to take her home again.

Sometimes, when I visited she would seem a little better, more like her old self. I would leave with my hopes high. Other days she would seem depressed and empty and I would cry constantly whilst driving home. Most of the time she needed help with her breathing. On Saturday 24 July, the vet called me in the evening at my Parents' home to say that Misha's breathing had suddenly deteriorated. I had to go to her. My Husband and Daughters came too, driving through the night to be at her side. We sat with her, she rested her head in my lap and nearing to midnight, I asked the vet to put my poor Darling to sleep and stop her suffering. The next day, my Dad dug her grave at the bottom of our garden. He worked for ages in the summer sun to make it just right. It was the first anniversary of his Brother's death and my Dad said: "Rod will be walking her in heaven right now" We all cried. We all loved her. We were all blessed to have known her. Goodbye Misha, my best friend. I will always love you.