Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Oh glory

There are small consolations from time to time. This morning glory is a joy to behold in the mornings - I pass it on my way to the washing line. FD is out of hospital (we won't talk about the state in which they discharged him) and now feeling a little more cheerful - amazing the difference eating can make. The dog is feeling better too, which means disruptive and demanding and generally infuriating, blast him.

The late evening sunshine on the church tower is pleasing too, but I'm not going to take its picture. And coming back from shopping I saw an egret sitting in the topmost branches of a dead tree, surrounded by 4 rooks, 3 magpies and a buzzard. It looked entirely untroubled by such company, and finally the rooks went off to mob the buzzard, which was obviously much more fun.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A small hiatus

Not much time for blogging around here this past week. As I have mentioned, I am in Devon because both the Aged Parents had suffered injuries - unfortunately, FD's enforced bed rest turned into pneumonia and I found myself inexpertly nursing someone who was becoming seriously ill; though that didn't last too long, thank goodness. The doctor arrived and mercifully said FD needed to be in hospital, the dog - who had been looking increasingly uncomfortable all day - fell over, and the vet was sent for. Vet's nurse arrived, loaded dog into car and drove off, ambulance arrived, loaded FD in and drove off, my mother and I looked at each other...

FD is somewhat better, thank goodness, but now we are on hospital visiting. Or rather, my mother is, while I look after the dog, who is subdued after a severe attack of gastritis, but recovering his bounce. I haven't done any work for days and am beginning to panic slightly. I'm also wondering when I will get home again (I am missing my own dogs dreadfully, of course) and thanking the various gods of small domestic disasters that OH is having a good patch, and that I'm not needed at home. I'm trying to leave this rambling old house in a better state than I found it, so I'm falling into bed at night utterly exhausted, but when I have time I shall be looking for fellow bloggers caring for elderly parents, I think, in search of a bit of moral support and someone to share the anxieties with. Any recommendations, anyone?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Of mice and ....

Wood mouse

The other day my mother and I were mystified when she took some boxes out of the kitchen cupboard: three open plastic boxes each contain bird seed, peanuts and dried dogfood, but that morning the peanuts and dogfood were all muddled up. Now, in the general run of things that would mean that while feeding the birds, FD had dropped one or both boxes, swept up and dumped the whole lot back into approximately the right place. That would explain the fluff too, stuffing from the dog mat that sits next to the cupboard door. The puzzle, of course, was that FD is tucked up in bed with an injured back, and definitely shouldn't have been feeding birds. Had him come downstairs while we were asleep? He can walk with a stick, but it seemed unlikely. However, the whole question seemed best left alone, and I sorted the dogfood out from the peanuts and the boxes went back into the cupboard.

This morning, however, the same thing had happened again, and we realised that a mouse - not behind a skirting board - has taken up residence in the cupboard (not very surprising in the circumstances, it must seem like paradise!) and is systematically sorting out preferred foodstuffs for a long hard winter ahead. I'm afraid the mouse's days are numbered, once FD is on his feet again - peanuts are for birds, not mice and squirrels. In the meantime, my mother likes mice and will igonore it provided it focuses its activities on that cupboard and not elsewhere. I'm somewhere in the middle - I generally use live traps at home, and take invading mice on long journeys when I catch them (though I think I have mentioned before that I reckon they usually beat me home) since I prefer them outside.

A couple of weeks ago a met a mouse in the downstairs loo one evening. It was an enchanting creature, no common housemouse, but a wood mouse, with huge expressive ears and liquid brown eyes. It stared at me thoughtfully for a while, before ambling off through a small gap in the door frame. I haven't mentioned it to Father Dear.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The halt and the lame

Walking the dog this afternoon, I was thinking about families, and responsibilities, and so on: I have now spent more time this summer in Devon than at home, since my stepfather added a crushed vertebra to my mother's badly sprained ankle, rendering them both incapacitated at once. The dog, though comparatively elderly now himself, is unfortunately an out-and-out lunatic, who has both Aged Parents so firmly under his paw that he dictates every household routine. He views me with the jaundiced eye of sibling rivalry, and I suppose, if I'm honest, I view him much as I would do a spoilt toddler, though I try to be patient.

At one stage in the walk I was composing this post in my head (by way of explanation for my lack of blogging activity) and, as I said, brooding on families in general. I could, I thought, introduce my parents, FD (Father Dear) and MM (Madam Moth); we all, I would have to explain, tend to refer to each other by silly names, though I have been circumspect about using them, ever since OH took exception to my referring to him as The Playboy of the Western World. Honest, it was meant to be a mildly ironic allusion to a man not greatly given to garrulity and extravagance, but I think he took it to mean that he wasn't very exciting. Anyway, back to the other half of the family. FD was coined by my late stepbrother, himself always referred to as The Seventh Earl, named as he was after Titus Groan (yes, we knew the Earl of Groan was the Seventy-seventh of that ilk, but we couldn't quite compete, dynastically).

I was just congratulating myself on being the only one who didn't own a silly name, when I remembered that my mother's infrequent letters to me during my childhood began, first: Dear Baby Bird, and later, Dearest Bird Bath, after I had protested that the first was soppy. Madam Moth, of course, which appeared during my early obsession with Hamlet, was short for Madam Mother, but the overtones of Puccini pleased me, and I still begin letters that way. MM, on the other hand, still doesn't write many letters, which is just as well as no-one but me can ever read her writing.

Anyway, the sprained ankle is recovering slowly but satisfactorily, though the back injury is newly done and there are some weeks of recuperation to go. I have said I will stay for a couple more weeks, since in theory I can work from pretty much anywhere. In practice, of course, by the time I have delivered breakfast on a tray to one, it's pretty much time to offer morning coffee to the other, then there is lunch to prepare (they like a proper lunch, something to look forward to), then there is That Dog to walk, followed by afternoon tea….if I get up early I can have a couple of hours uninterrupted then that's about it for the day. Fortunately, I've been able to commandeer a son to do some of my work for me…

I can hear a mouse behind the skirting board. They are all moving in for the winter. I expect they will want breakfast on trays, too.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Day Job by Mark Wallington

Well, I said in my last post that I had wanted easy reading, and this book certainly met that requirement. The Day Job is the story of a year in the author's life before he and his partner managed to sell a script idea to Not the Nine O' Clock News. Since then he's written quite a few things I've never seen, though I note that he adapted one of my favourite travel memoirs for the BBC (Terry Darlington's Narrow Dog to Carcassonne - review coming up sometime soon, since I am about to start re-reading it). Unfortunately, I can't see any sign of the film having been finished - rats.

Anyway, back to The Day Job. Unable to sell his scripts, Mark Wallington decided that the best way to earn a modest living while keeping enough time available for writing would be to take up gardening. He didn't seem to know a great deal about it, but was fortunate in his first client, who needed help because her arthritis had become too sever for her to manage her large garden alone. Under her guidance, Wallington seems to have managed to wing it, doing mostly maintenance work during the summer, gaining clients by word of mouth and being lucky enough to find Mr Gold, owner of an extensive string of properties let to non-gardening tenants. Mild excitement is provided by his rivalry with Powergardeners and by the author's lack of any real knowledge about gardening - will he be unmasked as an imposter?

I was kept reading by the fact that there is nothing to object to - Wallington and his friends are an amiable bunch, and his adventures mildly amusing. The writing is chatty and eveything moves along at a fairly rollicking pace, summer reading if ever I saw it.

Mark Wallington has written a better known book, 500 Mile Walkies, about a journey along the Pennine Way with a dog. It has, I see, 2 sequels, so perhaps he has found his niche as a writer (and explains his interest in the Narrow Dog book). I think I might give the first one a try...