'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

Monday, 19 December 2011

'Tis the Season to be Jolly

Six days until Christmas...YES, you heard me right, SIX DAYS! And before you know it, we will be toasting the new year and looking forward to 2012. Phew, exhausting...!

And where has November gone? She passed by here in a whirlwind, let me tell you. No sooner had I got used to the idea, than it was all done and dusted and advent calenders were being ripped open for the Christmas countdown. So with only five windows left to open, I wanted to  wish all my followers and readers a very Merry Christmas and if I don't have a chance to speak to you again before the end of the year, a Happy, Healthy and peaceful New year.

Actually, I started writing this post three weeks ago, but somehow, I never seemed to finish it. Just recently, I have  been spending less and less time on the computer. I don't know if it's just me but I find editing photographs to put on here is so time consuming. However, I do enjoy writing posts but I think I have been in some kind of a trance for the latter part of the year.  Events have come and gone, milestones passed and I haven't felt the urge to blog about them.  I can feel myself changing; not physically, although inevitably I am, but mentally and spiritually. I think my pace of life is slowing down. Now, I enjoy going for a long walk with my Hubby and our Dog, Rosie, more than anything. I like this slower pace. I feel chilled out, to borrow a phrase from my youngest Darling Daughter. But I haven't been idle, oh no! I have been busy, busy, busy and I will tell you all about it in the next few weeks. So I haven't stopped until now to think: "Wow, do I feel festive? You bet I do!"

So what do I want for Christmas? I know it's a cliche and I may regret this later, but I really want snow this Christmas. 'I want the whole package' to quote Julia Roberts: the family all together and enjoying a traditional feast, yes please; Nat or Bing crooning in the background, I don't mind; beautifully wrapped presents, that would be nice; a crackling log fire, essential; fairy lights, ooh yes; tinsel, naturally; a fresh fir tree, without a doubt and a crisp, clean carpet of pure white snow on Christmas morning. Bliss!

Merry Christmas, 
with all my love 
Sue xxx

Monday, 14 November 2011

Happy Anniversary

One Year Ago Today
I can hardly believe it, but it is a year since we adopted Rosie and brought her home. The day we collected her seems just a short while ago but on the other hand, it feels as though Rosie has been a part of our family forever.

In her sixteen months of life she has seen many changes; some for the best and some sadly not. She was the 'product' of a money-making breeding exercise at one of those infamous Welsh puppy farms, a Labrador Husky cross. Puppy Rosie, or Nica as she was known then, was bought by a young couple with a baby living in a flat. Surprise, surprise, they couldn't cope and she was given up for adoption to the Four Paws Charity based in South Wales. Thankfully, her original owners did the right thing by giving her to the charity and not simply abandoning her. Hundreds of dogs are abandoned in the UK and Ireland every year. Our dear departed dog, Misha, was abandoned as a puppy. When will some people realise that they cannot treat these lovely animals as little more than trash? It makes me so angry.

But the amazing thing about Rosie is that she never loses her enthusiasm for everything. I guess that is true of all dogs, thats why we love them so much. She learns new things every day and is so smart. My husband thought she was trying to open the car door herself the other day. And when we said our 'goodbyes' to Mowgli, Rosie sat by his grave looking at the spot where he was as if to say her 'goodbye' too.
"Goodnight, Rosie." "Goodnight, Mowgli."

Remembering Her Dearest Friend

I wouldn't say that life with Rosie has been without its ups and downs, but it certainly has been homelier, healthier and most definitely, happier. Thank you, Rosie, for being my friend. 
"Nice view from here, Rosie." "Yes, Sue, very nice!"

Monday, 24 October 2011

A True Story

It is almost a month since my last published post. Many things have happened and I will update you in later posts. Today, though, I want to tell you a story of a brave soul. This is dedicated to a very special little man.

"Keep him!" she gasped. "He came naked, by night, alone and very hungry; yet he was not afraid! Look, he has pushed one of my babes to one side already. And that lame butcher would have killed him and would have run off to the Waingunga while the villagers here hunted through all our lairs in revenge! Keep him? Assuredly I will keep him. Lie still, little frog. O thou Mowgli --for Mowgli the Frog I will call thee--the time will come when thou wilt hunt Shere Khan as he has hunted thee." 

Mowgli was a beautiful black kitten, but he was a Bengal cat and human breeders do not want black in this breed. They call black bengals 'melanistic' and it is a gene breeders are trying to eradicate. But the odd black kitten pops up again and again naturally in the breed, just like the occasional labrador dog is born with white marks. Mowgli's mum, a beautiful blue bengal, called Lily loved him regardless of his colour and her human mum loved him too, but she couldn't keep him, so rather than drown him at birth, which some wicked breeders do, the human mum offered him to  someone who would see past his colour - that is when I entered Mowgli's life story.

Mowgli joined our family when he was nine weeks old. A ball of glossy black fluff, but when the light caught him at the right angle you could see just the hint of spots and stripes in Mowgli's fur, the shadows of his birthright. 

He was just what we needed. Our Dog, Misha, had recently passed away and we felt a gaping hole in our family unit. He was mischievous and young. He made us laugh and sometimes cry - he smashed my itouch onto the tiled floor breaking the screen in the split second that I turned away to get his food. He could be impatient and angry, but he was definitely brave and loving. He would kiss you when you spoke to him and sometimes bite your chin but he never really hurt you. He loved to hide in boxes and pounce when you least expected. He was full of life and we all adored him.

'A black shadow dropped down into the circle. It was Bagheera the Black Panther, inky black all over, but with the panther markings showing up in certain lights like the pattern of watered silk. Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down.'

We had the pleasure of watching Mowgli grow into a wonderful cat. He was handsome, intelligent, witty, athletic and fast. He was a magnificient tree climber and would scale heights mere humans wouldn't dream of attempting. He loved  to chase butterflies and birds. He loved his home, his dog sister Rosie and his bed and especially sleeping on daughter first born's bed. He loved everyone he met: Raphael, my daughter's lizard; my Mum and Dad and the rest of my family; my husband's parents; the veterinary nurse; the vet; yes, everyone. He became affectionateley know as 'The Mowgles'.

He wasn't a very big cat. In fact, he was really quite small but what he lacked in stature, he made up for abundantly in personality. Such a vocal cat, he would hold a conversation with you over whether to go outside or not or the fact  that he couldn't open your bedroom door at five in the morning. He had a perfect melodic mew. It sounded sometimes like he was saying 'hello', 'good morning', 'where's my tea?' Such a charming young man, always polite and immaculately groomed; that was our Mowgli, the Mowgles.
Mowgli, sixteen months old, bold, beautiful and every inch of his sleek black body was fit and healthy, was a very brave boy. 

Yes, Mowgli was brave: braver than the cat two houses down; braver than the three foxes who steal into his garden each night; braver than his dog sister, Rosie, whose bottom he loved to bite; braver than his human dad who doesn't like spiders; braver than his human sisters who don't like spiders or scarey rides; braver than his human mum who doesn't like scarey rides or wasps and much, much braver than the person who drove the car that hit and killed him Saturday evening outside our home and didn't stop, just kept on driving...God Bless you, Mowgli, the Mowgles, now brave in a better place than this and biting dog sister Misha's bottom.

Then something began to hurt Mowgli inside him, as he had never been hurt in his life before, and he caught his breath and sobbed, and the tears ran down his face.
"What is it? What is it?" he said. "I do not wish to leave the jungle, and I do not know what this is. Am I dying, Bagheera?"
"No, Little Brother. That is only tears such as men use," said Bagheera. "Now I know thou art a man, and a man's cub no longer. The jungle is shut indeed to thee henceforward. Let them fall, Mowgli. They are only tears." So Mowgli sat and cried as though his heart would break; and he had never cried in all his life before.
"Now," he said, "I will go to men. But first I must say farewell to my mother." And he went to the cave where she lived with Father Wolf, and he cried on her coat, while the four cubs howled miserably.
"Ye will not forget me?" said Mowgli.
"Never while we can follow a trail," said the cubs. "Come to the foot of the hill when thou art a man, and we will talk to thee; and we will come into the croplands to play with thee by night."
"Come soon!" said Father Wolf. "Oh, wise little frog, come again soon; for we be old, thy mother and I."
"Come soon," said Mother Wolf, "little naked son of mine. For, listen, child of man, I loved thee more than ever I loved my cubs."
Mowgli, A Bengal, 24/06/10 - 22/10/11

(Thank you to my daughter for the use of some of her beautiful photos; the extracts, of course, are from Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book'.)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Daughter's Doodles

It is nearly a week since Daughter First-Born started at university and as you know, I recently gave her blogs a plug. Well she needs lots of reassurance at the moment, and I know you lovely people out in Blogland are very good at that! So please drop by and look at her beautiful flower photography. I know I'm biased but I do think she is rather good at it!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Introducing a New Blog!

Just a really quick post today to introduce my daughter's blogs!
She is off to Uni in less than a week to do a very sciencey degree but she is also very creative and loves photography, especially photographing flowers and animals, and she has decided to launch not one but two blogs. So do drop by her posts and take a look. I'm really rather proud of her!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Brenda's Second Chair

If you read this post, then you will remember that I was given two chairs for reupholstering. They once belonged to a lady called Brenda. The first chair, a 1940s utility chair was very successful, so I decided to rejuvenate the second smaller chair too.

I'm not sure of the age of this chair but I would guess it is probably a 1950s nursing or bedroom chair. It arrived with this fab retro stretch nylon loose cover on, which I rather like actually!

But underneath the roses, its true colours were not quite so fetching...

And even though Mowgli took to the chair in its original state, I decided a funky makeover was in order. After three months of intensive beauty treatment, it looks like this:

Much prettier, I think. In fact, far too nice for downstairs where pussy Mowgli and doggy Rosie can get their paws, (and claws) on it, so it now resides in my bedroom.

Poor one-eyed Ted sits guard, (Rosie ate his other eye), in case a certain black cat thinks its a scratching post.

I'm really pleased with the result. The fabric is a wonderful wavy ribbed velvet called 'Racine' by Designers Guild, which was an absolute steal on eBay! Beautiful to work with but not so easy to photograph because of the sheen. I think the last photo shows the design well but the colour is much richer.

I am now working on a matching pair of 1980s french style armchairs. They are quite a challenge. I'll tell you all about it soon.

Thank you too for all the lovely comments on my last post. It is lovely to hear from you and comforting to know that so many of you share my thoughts about our children moving on to pastures new. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...'

I'm feeling in a reflective mood today, rediscovering my love of poetry and dwelling in the past...

So Summer has finally bid us farewell until next year. I feel as though she didn't really visit this year at all. She just dipped her slender bronzed toes into our climate every now and then, teased us with some fleeting rays of warmth and then ran away. Wasn't it dreary? Some of you out there in Blogland have had quite respectable Summers in other parts of the UK, but on the whole, my Summer has been wet and cold...

It's not that I don't like Autumn, far from it. I love the colours of golden leaves and the scrunch scrunch of fallen cobnuts under my feet. Wandering in the garden, gathering the orchard fruits in huge basketfuls, and this year, for the first time since I was at school, making jam from my own damsons. 

Yes, Autumn is a glorious season as nature prepares to snuggle up and build reserves for the coming Winter. But I don't just see Autumn as the end of Summer or the end of green trees and butterfly filled meadows. I see it is as the beginning of a new year in many ways.

Youngest daughter has gone back to school for her final year, full of expectation for the future and I am reluctantly counting the days until Eldest Daughter leaves for London and her new life at University. How I wish I could take the past nineteen years and bottle them, preserve them like my damsons. I would  keep the rosy scent of innocence and beauty as I snuggled my nose into my daughters's soft tresses to say 'goodnight' and mix it with the tears of joy and pride which rolled down my cheeks with every accomplished milestone and achievement over the years.  And when I was feeling down or lonely, I would open the bottle and breathe deeply, and I would be back in those days again...
Yes, that would be my ultimate dream. However, perhaps the future will have a sweeter scent. I'll hold my breath and see...

'It is small advantage for eyes to see
If the heart is blind.
The great world brims over with his glory,
yet he may only dwell
where a person chooses to give him entrance.'

Burnt Norton


Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
                                   But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
                                   Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

Excerpt from The Four Quartets, T S Eliot

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Don't Rain on my Parade...

There is a Welsh theme to my blog today. 'Why?' I hear you ponder, well read on and all will be revealed...

Today I am feeling sorry for myself...After a jolly jaunt to Cardiff yesterday with my parents, sister and niece, I found myself feeling rather sickly yesterday evening. Sore eyes and throat, blocked ears, achy limbs...woe was me! So I went to bed and left Hubby to cook tea. I still feel a bit poorly but the steady torrential rain outside is making me feel, well, rather depressed. Is it a UK bank holiday weekend?!

Well luckily I have no plans to go any further than the end of my garden over the next couple of days so let it rain! And I apologise now to all of you who do have plans this weekend and hope it doesn't rain on your parade, or on the Notting Hill Carnival. 

If you're not planning to get away for the last few days of summer (ha ha!) then spare a thought for the poor residents of Port Talbot, Neath and Baglan in South Wales who are currently battling with flash flooding. Say a prayer too for those tens of thousands of people in the US who are awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irene. Perhaps, a little downpour here is not so bad after all.

Now back to Wales. Last weekend was a special occasion for my Hubby's extended family as we all headed to New Quay, West Wales, to attend his Aunt and Uncle's Golden Wedding Celebration. People gathered from all over the UK and further afield for the party on Saturday and despite the cold and windy weather, we had a great time. The rain held off all afternoon and evening, but the heavens opened just after we had snuggled into our tent for the night. Did I say tent? Yes, we failed to book any accommodation and so at the last minute asked if we could pitch a tent next to the festivities. Of course, the advantage was we didn't have to drive anywhere when the party finished; the disadvantage was that one daughter, who shall remain nameless but she knows who she is, was not at all pleased with the prospect of impromptu camping and huffed and puffed and did sit-ups throughout the night!

I had never been to this particular part of Wales before but Hubby was keen to make a full weekend of it so we visited Aberaeron, just up the coast, on Saturday lunchtime. We ate fish and chips and marvelled that we had made the whole journey without arguing over directions or map reading once! Aberaeron is very pretty and well worth a visit if you are near. I found a lovely shop too called Box of Delights, on Bridge Street, which sells lots of pretty gifts and shabby chic bits.

After waking to glorious sunshine on Sunday, we headed down the coast to Pembrokeshire, and to Parrog, Newport, in particular. 

Parrog was a favourite holiday haunt of dear Hubby when he was a child. He learnt to canoe there and was very keen to go back. What a beautiful, idyllic place. It is only tiny but obviously a real hub for recreational sailing and canoeing. And as we strolled along, who did we spot just on the other side of the small beach - well, Hubby's brother also feeling nostalgic for the place! 

I would say you must visit but I would quite like to keep Parrog to myself actually, because it is definitely a case of small is beautiful.