Follow my posts by email

Monday, 11 March 2019

the missing of stanley ruff

 Rocket went missing the other day. Eventually we found him under the decking of the Pink Tower. No one knows how he got there and he didn't either as he was well and truly stuck. I had to crawl underneath feet first and scope out the gravel so that he could slide under the thick wooden strut that was holding it all up. I can't remember him thanking me.

Rocket going missing has nothing to do with the title of the story I have at last finished. Admittedly the story is based on a very naughty puppy called Stanley Ruff - (just like Rocket,) an imperious cat called Bentley (based on none other than Pocket (quarter Bengal) and a large dog called Mrs Melvyn Andrews - naturally inspired by Pixie. Write what you know about they say. So of course there is also a crow in the story.
Below is one of my writing companions from last year before she flew away.

In the story, Stanley Ruff - the extremely naughty puppy (no surprises there) is stolen and his companions go on a journey to find him. Apart from the adventures they have on the way it's about love, friendship and bravery.Well yes - there's also a mention of hedgehogs.

I can't wait for the weather to warm up so that the one I am over wintering can run off and be wild again. They move very fast, hedgehogs - and remind me of those old citroen motorcars that used to raise themselves off the ground by hydraulics before speeding off down the road.

 Here is Pocket aka Bentley. Bentley is entirely based on the superior Rocket. I asked him for his quote and said to him "I expect you have a quote lined up for this month's blog post?" His eyes narrowed and he said "Expectation is the root of all heartache." I quizzed him on that and told him I thought Shakespeare had said that.But he caught sight of a bumble bee and didn't answer.

 I told Pixie as she had appeared in the new story as Mrs Melvyn Andrews that she didn't have to give a fact this time if she didn't want to. She said that apart from the fact I'd finished my story she thought listening to Pocket that he had possibly swallowed a fortune cookie that had got stuck in his throat and did Shakespeare write fortune cookies ever?

Instead of a poem this month I am putting up the first chapter of The Missing of Stanley Ruff.

                               The Missing of Stanley Ruff

                                              chapter 1.

Bentley had started going to the pub at an early age.
He’d saunter down the street when he felt like it, often waiting by the door for it to open and would slide in like a regular. Sometimes he’d sit at the bar on a stool and stare at the jar of pickled eggs that gazed back at him like a dozen eyes. Sometimes he’d hoover up the pork scratchings that lay on the carpet but mostly he’d just patrol up and down as if he owned it. Mr and Mrs Half-a-Pint-of-Shandy  encouraged his visits by slipping him the odd sausage.
It’s not like he didn’t have his own home. He lived at the big house at the end of the street with the overgrown garden and the creaky gate. Of course he didn’t have an owner as such – after all he was a cat – and nobody ever owned a cat.
 When he felt like it he’d obligingly sit on the lap of the woman who lived in the house and allow her to feed him top quality cat food from little expensive pouches . Sometimes – and only sometimes – he’d let her stroke him and would purr to let her know that he was tolerating the touch of her hand.
He was – as you’ve guessed – the master of the house and bossed –again when he felt like it- the servants that shared the space with him.
Considering that one of them was the size of a bear you might wonder how he got away with it. But he had an array of sharp claws like a canteen of knives that he would flash around and a set of little pointed teeth that could puncture an inflatable boat. He also looked like a very small tiger.

The bear - who wasn’t really a bear but a large dog of noble breeding knew her place. Her place was second in the food chain after Bentley.
 Bred as a hunter of wolves she showed great restraint in obeying the imperious Bentley. After all there weren’t any wolves around – well certainly not in the garden – and Bentley had made it perfectly clear to her that if she chased him she might lose an eye. She spent a lot of her time watching television channels that Bentley would obligingly change for her by walking across the remote. Her favourites were nature programmes and more recently cookery shows.
So all in all it was a well run and ordered household until the day that Stanley Ruff arrived.
The bear – known as Mrs Melvyn Andrews- had been told of the imminent arrival of a new puppy and was excited.  Her old friend of many years had died a few months back and she had become morose and lonely.
“Get over it!” Bentley muttered from the top of the curtains he’d scaled to examine a spider’s web which had a fly trapped in it.
“ You need closure! Move on!”
And he’d shake his stripy head and give her a look of feline disappointment.
“Dogs!” he said. “ Cats are so much smarter than dogs. You’d never catch eight cats pulling a sledge through snow.”
And Mrs Melvyn Andrews would continue her quiet and no trouble whatsoever life in a house which was mainly neat and tidy in spite of the overgrown garden which was a haven for hedgehogs- and all seemed well.
“A new friend!” she’d think to herself. “This will be marvellous. We can cosy up together and play. I can hardly wait.”


Friday, 8 February 2019

rocket's tricks and a wild and precious life

The one-eyed Rocket is growing up and we are proud to show you all his new tricks.

                                      SIT                                                                                                                                                                          LIE DOWN



This post is a little late and should have been wishing everyone a happy new year. However complications with the computer (aaaargh) delayed all. I'm not very good with gadgets at the best of times - or even the worst of times -  and a friend has given me his smart phone - hah! Yesterday I found myself in Warsash in the middle of the day and a beautiful fox strolled up the lane. It ambled into a front garden and lay down on the grass. I inched my way towards it and sat down too. After a while I remembered I had this smart phone and perhaps could take a picture of it. Sadly I had trouble making it work. What made me laugh was the old lady (and I am talking old here) came out and told me she had exactly the same phone and why didn't she take the picture on her phone and e mail it to me! The fox moved.

We had an owl guest over Christmas. the same person who had given me the phone asked me to look after this lovely tawny owl as he'd found it in the road a bit stunned and couldn't look after it over the festive period. He wanted to let it go back where he'd found it when it recovered. I managed a photo on my camera which I can work as it's so simple. I thought it might be easier for me to send messages by owl as I can't work out text messages either on this new phone.

So Pocket (quarter Bengal and still coming when we call Rocket) said he'd give some writing advice this time round. I couldn't imagine how he could do this - as far as I know he doesn't read and I didn't think he was penning a novel, However he says  "write a little every day without hope and without despair." and I said are you sure these are your words? I think Karen Blixen said them. And he stared into space and said "whatever."

And Pixie's interesting fact this post is that it's the year of the pig.

It's also the year that one of my favourite poets Mary Oliver died.

I said Stay!

The summer's Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Saturday, 22 December 2018

silent night

 Just time to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a thank you for reading this blog in 2018.
This silent night is Pixie and Pocket and was photographed by daughter Phoebe.

 Not so silent is the one eyed Rocket - seen here checking out if Father Christmas is really coming and will he be getting anything that's wrapped up because he likes the paper best. He has already taken  a present out of its jiffy bag and unwrapped it himself, hiding it under his bed and it wasn't even for him. This morning he stole the Green and Black's off the bed of our guests staying in the Pink Tower and was seen running around the house with a red glass bauble in his mouth. This christmas may be a bit trying. He seems to think he is a bi-ped and now can reach everything by just standing on his hind legs- the butter, the cream pot, the bread ...and we haven't even got to a turkey yet.
 We have to keep him far away from the tree and the other red glass baubles.

So I asked Pixie if she could be bothered with an interesting fact as it was nearing Christmas and she tells me she's on holiday. However she did eventually oblige and her very interesting fact for this month is that Rudolph's red nose is more than likely the result of a parasitic infection of the respiratory system.

And Pocket - who couldn't even be bothered to get out of his box said  In time we hate that which we often fear. And I said Shakespeare said that. Anthony and Cleopatra Act 1 Scene 3. and he said exactly.And I said surely you don't hate Shakespeare? and he said Shakespeare? You don't expect me to read as well as do everything else do you? And I said what exactly is it that you do do? And he scowled at me and said he did a little light dusting. I said Really? Look at all those cobwebs above your box - you might have tidied them up and he said they're there to catch the flies so I'm doing you a favour.

I'd have to look back over all the posts in the blog to see what has happened this year - but it has gone quickly and we lost some friends.
 Remembering dear Beezle who this time last year sported a jaunty red ribbon in true Christmas spirit.

So with the help of Chloe (other daughter)'s beautiful art work of one of the many rooks rescued this year including Croaky and Colin from Gosport I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

miss - my dog ate my homework

The one eyed Rocket has been given the all clear by the vet. He managed to save the eye though it is unlikely he can see through it. 

 Unless we put a patch over it we can't tell if he can see through it but he can certainly see through the other one and is as mad and as wild as ever.

 He is a wriggly worm and doesn't keep still enough to look into that eye and he's only still when he's asleep when of course his eyes are shut. He's not one bit frightened of the perpetrator Pocket the cat.

This morning he got trapped inside a box (see below) and quite honestly nothing is safe from him as he's learnt how to jump.

 Pixie who is fed up with all this puppy talk asked if we could put some pictures up of her when she was a puppy. Pixie has obviously never been small but here she is a lot smaller than she is today.

This is when we first laid eyes on her in Scotland with her owner/breeder Fran

and this is when we brought her home at ten weeks. In all her eight and a half years she has never been ill and like some of her siblings is still going strong in spite of the average age for a wolfie being around 7 due to their magnificent size. She comes from a wonderful line that Fran and Bill have bred and long may she stay with us.

So her interesting fact this blog post is that pteronophobia is a fear of being killed by feathers.
I said good job I 'm not looking after any rooks at the moment. And clearly Pocket the cat doesn't have that fear what with all the birds he brings in which nine times out of ten we manage to liberate before their feathers kill him.

 And the naughty Pocket's bon mot which she says is hers but I know was said by Anais Nin is
It is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar." And I said "so you're insecure?" And he snarled at me and said he wasn't. And I said well why did you bite our guest then?
He ignored me.

 I'm still volunteering at the wildlife hospital where these owls were, (photo by them - the hospital not the owls). I am actually looking after two hedgehogs myself at home - brought to me by a neighbour - which I am over wintering. They eat like horses but at the moment under weight so would not survive a hibernation. They are in the stable - may be that's why they eat like horses.

The Beasts
By Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

I THINK I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

the blind assassin

Actually the blind assassin is a misnomer. The assassin was not blind but blinded his prey.

 Here is the beautiful Rocket puppy photographed by our friend Henrietta, relaxing after attending a hectic party. Rocket - not Henrietta. The party left a treasure trove of toys which he dutifully removed from the re-cycling box in the kitchen. He chases a beer can around the floor, eats a champagne cork,  noisily destroys nine paper napkins then - silence.  A soft whimpering reveals an empty cream pot well and truly stuck on the end of his nose. Ha! But all such frivolities have come to a temporary end. The next evening, cornered by the ever playful Rocket, Pocket the cat strikes out with his paw - all claws extended like a canteen of knives and blinds Rocket in the eye. The vet doubts he can save the eye and instead has sewn it up and we must wait another week to see if it is saved. It is unlikely the vet tells us again. We are heartbroken but after a week in his lampshade collar which is driving all of us mad, he continues to be the lovely mischievous puppy he always was. He is now a wabi -sabi dog. Wabi -sabi is the Japanese  world view centred on the acceptance of imperfection. An aesthetic that is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete,

I asked the blind assassin Pocket (above)for his bon mot and he said " All your sorrows have been wasted on you if you have not yet learned how to be wretched," I said that was very profound for a blind assassin and he admitted that Seneca had said that. He was merely repeating it. I said I hoped he was feeling wretched.

And Pixie's interesting fact is that it doesn't half hurt when Rocket bashes you with his lampshade collar that he has to wear to stop him scratching it.

 From behind, with the big lampshade thing round his neck, he looks like a little robot hoover as his head skims along the ground. As a consequence Pocket the cat is now scared of him. Ha! And next door's hens are all looking very worried.

Pixie's other interesting fact for this month's blog post is "and thus the heart will break, yet broken live on." I said is that really a fact? And are you allowed two interesting facts? You'll be writing the whole blog post next. And she said alright - it was Lord Byron said that and that perhaps he'd be better at writing the blog post.  And I agreed and said he'd more than likely begin it with "there is rapture in the lonely shore - I love not Man less, but Nature more.. rather than talk about blind assassins which anyway is the title of a marvellous book by Margaret Atwood.

So the nights are getting colder and there is rapture in the lonely shore and it will soon be the end of the dahlias but with a bit of careful mulching they'll be back again next year.

And the last of the roses .............

The horses - by Edwin Muir

Barely a twelvemonth after
The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
Late in the evening the strange horses came.
By then we had made our covenant with silence,
But in the first few days it was so still
We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
On the second day
The radios failed; we turned the knobs; no answer.
On the third day a warship passed us, heading north,
Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter
Nothing. The radios dumb;
And still they stand in corners of our kitchens,
And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms
All over the world. But now if they should speak,
If on a sudden they should speak again,
If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak,
We would not listen, we would not let it bring
That old bad world that swallowed its children quick
At one great gulp. We would not have it again.
Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep,
Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow,
And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness.
The tractors lie about our fields; at evening
They look like dank sea-monsters couched and waiting.
We leave them where they are and let them rust:
'They'll molder away and be like other loam.'
We make our oxen drag our rusty plows,
Long laid aside. We have gone back
Far past our fathers' land.
And then, that evening
Late in the summer the strange horses came.
We heard a distant tapping on the road,
A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
We saw the heads
Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.
We had sold our horses in our fathers' time
To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us
As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield.
Or illustrations in a book of knights.
We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited,
Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent
By an old command to find our whereabouts
And that long-lost archaic companionship.
In the first moment we had never a thought
That they were creatures to be owned and used.
Among them were some half a dozen colts
Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world,
Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden.
Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads
But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.