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Saturday, 21 March 2020

remembering pixie

This post is a tribute to the beautiful, kind, loving, funny and big hearted Pixie who must have heard the owl call her name.

Her heart gave in this week. It was the cry of the wild.

Pixie was born on the day our first wolfhound Jai died. A few weeks after Jai’s death I rang the Wolfhound Society just out of interest mind, to see if there had been any puppies born anywhere. They told me a litter had been born in Scotland  on the day that Jai had died. What serendipity – the possibility that the soul of the beautiful Jai had returned as one of these puppies. I rang and spoke with the wonderful(though I didn’t know that at the time) Fran Barnbrook of Bribiba Wolfhounds who agreed (but only after I had told her we were used to wolfhounds and didn’t have proper jobs) that we could come up and look at the puppies.
We spent some time thinking of what we would call her and whilst on a walk I suddenly thought of the name Pixie.
Ironic I thought.
Stupid said the girls.

I rang Fran.
“How are the puppies?” I asked.
Och we have a wee one we’ve named Pixie.” She said.
I told her about our name.
“You’d better have her then,” she said.

                                                           she grew bigger.

I travelled up to Scotland and didn’t look at any of the other puppies as Fran handed me Pixie.
She was adorable, with a white fur heart on her chest and a white tip to the end of her long black tail like a magician’s wand. She waved that tail sprinkling star dust and magic every day of her too short life.
She lived by our side for nearly ten years, a great age for a wolfhound who normally average at around 7 years. Clearly coming from a good and healthy line of wolfhounds that Fran and Bill have bred.

 It was her big heart that gave out in the end and ironically, on the same morning that she died one of her sisters, Maisie, also died. But several of her litter still live on. Strange to think that the two pups could be born and die on the same days.

Since she's gone  our house seems so spacious without her. 
And cleaner and somewhat tidier.  But I miss those muddy pawprints across the kitchen floor, the tumbleweed of fluff under the chair leg. The smiling face and large wagging tail in the morning. Her excitement at the regulation dog chew which she guarded from Rocket, holding it between her large paws under the table. Her good advice on the scones.I miss the way she’d back out of a tight space between the sofa and the coffee table as if she were a small articulated lorry. I felt she should have had flashing lights attached to her rear end. I miss the way she’d perch just her bottom and tail on the sofa like a lady about to take afternoon tea. Which later she did.

 "I bet she eats a lot," people used to say to me. "Yes. She's eaten the sofa and turned my boots into slingback shoes." I replied.

Yesterday I left a half a pound of butter on the worktop and realised with sadness that no one was going to steal it. And who was I going to give my apple cores to? And the crusts from my toast and the bananas which had gone slightly brown that nobody but Pixie would eat.

 She’s buried in the horse’s field next to her dear old friend Beezle who is buried next to Jai.

 She leaves a huge hole in our hearts.

This is the last photo ever taken of her, five days before she died, by our friend Neila who had named her own dog Stanley Ruff. Her Stanley Ruff was the inspiration for The Missing of Stanley Ruff and Pixie will stay alive on its pages in the form of Mrs Melvyn Andrews who was based entirely on her.

RIP dear Pixie.


by Don Paterson

She might have had months left of her dog-years,
but to be who? She'd grown light as a nest
and spent the whole day under her long ears
listening to the bad radio in her breast.
On the steel bench, knowing what was taking shape
she tried and tried to stand, as if to sign
that she was still of use, and should escape
our selection. So I turned her face to mine,
and seeing only love there - which, for all
the wolf in her, she knew as well as we did-
she lay back down and let the needle enter.
And love was surely what her eyes conceded
as her stare grew hard, and one bright aerial
quit making its report back to the centre.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

it's not rocket's science

Rocket has recently been asking  if he could be a scientist 

 as well as him having his usual profession of being a prince - as he's heard so many people refer to his so called science. I personally think that when people say "It's not rocket science" they don't realise that actually rocket science is in fact incredibly easy.  In fact the whole thing is a misdemeanour.

Above is HRH Rocket in his normal princely role of dispensing bon mots to the lumpen proletariat or suggesting that people ate cake. After all rocket science is the testing of rocket propelled missiles which he's very good at testing.


Here is Rocket with his newest favourite toy Scrappy Nelson named after a terrier's blog that he follows. He has had endless fun with Scrappy Nelson - shaking him, throwing him in the air and racing round the house with him all in the service of Rocket's Science. All rockets, no matter the size must have a body, a nose cone, fins and a propellant system.


Unfortunately Scrappy Nelson no longer has any of those.

 Rocket now looking rather sheepish as Scrappy Nelson doesn't want to play any more.

 Here is one of the Mrs Walter's coming in to see if Pixie has left any food in her bowl.

I asked Pocket (who said that apart from the fact I'd got it wrong and it was Pocket Science ) if he had anything to say on the matter and he looked into the skies and said "I have seen things you people can't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I walked C-beam's gutter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All these moments will be lost in time like tears in rain."
Really? I said So when did you get into space? Sounds as if you've been watching Blade Runner. Are you a Replicant?
He gave me his superior look and disdained to discuss the matter further though I did hear him mutter Replicat as he washed his paws.

Nancy, who rarely features on this blog suggested that we had a show and tell table. I thought this a brilliant idea and set one up for everyone in the lobby. So far on it is a rabbit's foot, the chewed remote for the tv (I wonder who is going to tell about that) what looks like the liver or kidney of a small rodent, a set of someone's whiskers, my missing slipper (also chewed), a dug up tulip bulb,  the remains of my cheque book and a set of keys.

 Pixie who insists she has nothing to do with any of it tells me that her interesting fact is that now Rocket has had my cheque book I'd better watch out he doesn't start ordering things off the internet and hadn't I wondered why a box of dried pigs' ears had arrived on the doorstep. Apparently he'd even forged my signature though he couldn't help himself adding AKA  HRH Rocket .

First They Came

Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
 And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
 Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
 And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
 Then they came for me
 And there was no one left

To speak out for me.

Friday, 24 January 2020

claws, caws and sore paws

Pixie wanted to be first on the first blog post of the year

She has reminded me that last year we didn't think she'd be with us this year due to her stupendous age (10 in three months time along with her sister Charlie and possibly several more from her litter) and the complications with her lady bits (her words not mine - I wouldn't be so coy)
Anyway she's still full of vim though not so much vigour as her back legs are giving her a bit of jip which she assures me is ipso facto (look it up)

Rocket posing for his happy new year photo which so far hasn't been so happy for him. The other day he went for a walk (err hum - a lurcher rarely walks anywhere) with his new friend Kit and managed to cut his pad on the treacherous flints that abound our fields. There was a lot of blood and he didn't want either me or the vet to wash it. He whimpered and wailed and hid his head under my arm and this was before anyone had even touched it. Yet when it came to the injection and he was told "This is going to hurt" he didn't flinch one bit. He now feels sorry for himself, mainly because of the silly boot he has to wear and for not being allowed to go for a walk.

Here is Pocket during a lull in the Christmas lunch proceedings. I think he thought we might be eating turkey.

Rocket feeling not so  happy new year.

I must be diligent this spring with the duck eggs - I've lost count how many ducks we have now. Here's a batch having their first water experience in the bath,

The rooks are cawing down the track - they'll be moving twigs soon and the jackdaws will be blocking up the chimneys again. A few years back a magnificent tiny (is this an oxymoron?) plastic soldier circa 1960 fell down the bedroom chimney followed by a few twigs and a feather. I was glad to see the chimney was well guarded though obviously not any more. I wrote a poem about it - see below.

Pocket doesn't spend all of his life lying down though a good part of it. He's difficult to photograph when on the move as I tried the other day capturing him on our walk. The picture was blurred. He likes to accompany us in the gloaming when we go on our evening outing. He trots along behind, his tail bolt upright giving little meowing noises to remind us he his still there.
And wisdom is a butterfly and not a gloomy bird of prey. I heard him chant. When questioned if he'd been reading WB Yeats he trotted past us, looked into the sky and told me to watch out for the buzzard.

I didn't have to ask Pixie for her interesting fact this time.  Oxymoron is Greek for pointedly foolish
she tells me. I'm sure she added that she thought that was what I was but when questioned she denied it and said did I know that garden snails had 14,000 teeth?

a reminder that soon all this too will flower

       Free as a Bird  (new government laws for birds on leaving the EU)

 The plastic sergeant guards
the jackdaw’s nest against
insurgents, cuckoos and the rest
of its kind.
Yes – the fear of terrorism
has crippled the bird world.

No eggs to be left unattended

Or they will be aborted
Birds can only fly with twigs
ten millimetres or shorter.
Nests must conform
to uniform nest size
No flamboyant features,
only utilise
sticks, feathers and torn up
copies of the Daily Mail.

Be suspicious of migrants
Don’t let them near you
If they’re not terrorists
they’ll be giving you bird flu.

And if you can find a plastic soldier
something supermundane
it might save your chimney
from being hit by a plane.

from my Dust Collection