Thursday, 20 March 2014

To the Rescue

Just popping in to show off our two bundles of joy. GP dog II, (the fluffy one), is growing more confident by the day; she's a real comic, with a character all her own. So different from the timid little creature that came to us in December. That said - the two foster famililes she'd been with previously had worked wonders; without their hard work we'd not have been able to get nearly as far as we have  with her. We've gone down two routes with our dogs: the pedigree  route with GP dog I. We were very fortunate there - he came from a reputable, loving, dedicated breeder, who  unlike some, loved her dogs like children, had their best interests -  not commercial gain - at heart and wouldn't for a moment have let her precious charges go to anything but a good home. 

Come GP dog II, we went down the rescue path and began to learn about some of the horror stories behind the murky world of back street breeders, puppy farms and internet dealing. Fluffy dog we hope, may be one of the least damaged ones, relatively speaking. Relatively, because although we know little about her past in detail, we do know from the rescue that for the first four or five years of her life she was used for breeding. If you can imagine being taken from your mother, held down, forcibly impregnated, kept in disgusting conditions with little food, water,  medical attention, no kindly human contact and made to churn out litter after litter of puppies. Rinse and repeat for the first half of your life, only to be 'disposed of' once you're no longer in fit state to be of any more economic use. And we'd best not go into details about what exactly 'disposal' entails.  

Enter the organisations who rescue the 'lucky' ones. Fluffy dog was quite unusual, I think, in that she was discovered to be pregnant whilst she was in rescue, so was able to have her final litter in a proper, loving home environment. (Not ours, I might add - think our cat might have packed up and left home if he'd been faced with four little fluffballs!)  So far so good, she's not as yet suffered any major health niggles, as so many rescue pooches do, sadly. And, though not perfect (what dog ever is?), she seems to be remarkably free of behavioural problems. Sadly, that's not always the case. 

'Our' rescue drew our attention to another little rescue dog - Susie-Belle. She even has her own blog: Susiefoodie where you can read her story and learn more about some of the work being done to try to stamp out the puppy farm trade. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

First Day of Spring - Summer Dreaming

Ah me...just been taken back 40 years or more: Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, courtsey of 'Carsick' FM. Memories of a school production of Shakespeare's play when I was in my early teens: flowing robes (white sheets) ;  rags in my hair every night to achieve that Grecian ringlet effect (not so much fun having to walk past the nearby boys' school with Violet Elizabeth style curls!)No speaking part for me thank goodness: I was one of several Grecian ladies whose sole purpose was to glide  on at intervals and drape themselves in  tasteful manner over a flight of steps (more sheets fixed over wooden boxes). There was a mild frisson of excitement  at one point when the girl who played Puck trod on a drawing pin mid-speech yet continued - dripping blood - with one foot stuck backstage whilst we tried to unstick  her. Laughs  as always at Peter Quince,  Bottom and his cronies, Titania, Oberon and the lovers,  relief at the happy ending. Above all - that magical sense of anticipation - of long Summer days, of promise and happy times ahead; that sense of common purpose when a project comes together after so much blood, sweat and tears. I've a hazy memory on one day of us  rushing  outside - still in our costumes - straight after the curtain call to line up outside the school to cheer on a visiting dignitary: (Princess Anne? Duchess of Kent?). I can't recall who exactly, it's all part of a dreamy haze now.

Such a long time ago - but however grey the day,  it only takes the opening bars of the overture for me to know that   Summer is  on the way.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Can Spring be far behind?

I do hope so. Here's the end product of our Sunday afternoon creative blast: Mr GP busy colouring in his Warhammer maps, myself messing around with colours. No prizes for guessing what the flowers in the pic are made from; let's just say you can repurpose all sorts of weird and wonderful things and that inspiration - even -  especially if it's a long time coming, can strike in the most peculiar way. For budding art journalists amongst you I only discovered the Journal 52 project a couple of days ago and signed up today. More 'Project 45,' now, still better late than never; I've decided to just dip in and do what I can manage. Today's is from Week 5: Abstract Art Inspiration, which I began and put aside earlier in the week. Amazing what you can do with a splodge of paint and an old credit card. Even more when you learn to put it aside and wait. Good practice in banishing the old 'Inner Parrot', too; this isn't the first time I've left something unfinished, wondered if it's really worth keeping and then found that when I've least expected it, inspiration strikes.  Thanks is due to Mr GP for this.  It's blimin' annoying having crayons with points that break every 5 minutes, I know, but those pencil shavings  were just the ticket.

So, on we go. I'm looking forward to trying  this next week's topic: Found poetry.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Growing Old Gracefully

Thank you Quinn McDonald for Ageing Out on the mismatch between  manners and  modern communications.  It put a big smile on the face of this Grumpy Old (ish) Woman. If I can add a few experiences of my own to the list:

 Shop assistants, officials etc begin to call you  - if you're lucky "Madam."  Note "If you're lucky...."nowadays "Dear," is sneaking its way in  , or worse - "Ducks."

In those surveys where you're asked to tick a box indicating your age - I've moved into the last but one category.  Enough said.

From a railway official recently and in all seriousness: " Madam, have you considered buying a Senior Railcard?" (!) And this isn't the first time either.

I don't know  whether to feel gratified or offended!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Catching up - Time to Talk

Another unexpected free morning  has given me the chance to catch  up on my poor neglected blogroll. I never did revive my Blog of The Week feature, did I? Shame because 'Time to Talk,' by Musings of a Clergy Child takes top place by a mile.  I've blogged before  about the old Black Dog and his many siblings and am even now trying to work through the shadow he's cast over myself and my family for more years than I'd care to remember. (The abundance of exclamations marks in my posts is sometimes a cover). So -  do read Time to Talk, if you've not seen it already.  As a relative 'oldie', N's words give me hope; that the openness of my children's generation will pave the way for kinder attitudes towards , better understanding  and banishing of shame about mental illness.

Can I tell you a secret? There’s something about me that you probably don’t know. You probably wouldn’t guess, if you looked at me. If you spoke to me, you probably wouldn’t notice. If you asked, I probably wouldn’t tell you. I don’t want you to think I’m weak, you see. I don’t want you to treat me differently from how you treat your other friends. I don’t want to burden you, or for you to pity me. 
But I’m telling you anyway. I’m telling you because it’s time to step up and step out. It’s time to start conversations. To start friendships built on something more than pretending we’re all okay all the time. It’s time to stop being British and start being real.
          To read the whole post go here.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Little Kindnesses - 10 things that have brightened my week

1. My rain hat - it has a style all its own; think Ermintrude from the 'Magic Roundabout.'
2. The passing motorist on the way home from church who found my hat, stopped and handed it back to me.
3. The station staff who stowed my hat safely away on top of a ticket machine until I arrived back from London on Monday evening.  Spot a hint of  a theme here...?
4. My spiritual director who 'suggested' that during Lent  I make sure to  do one fun activity a week for myself (totally unrelated to things   churchy,  spiritual...or rain and rainhats for that matter.) At last - a Lenten practice I can keep!
5. FGW and station staff - who've lifted peak/off peak fare restrictions during the current flooding,  been generally as helpful as possible, thus making what could have been a miserable, wet and cold experience a lot less stressful than I'd expected.  On the train home on Wednesday we miserable, soaking commuters were  even offered free hot drinks. Though given the state of mind I was then in, I could have done with a stiff gin! You'll be glad to know that I exercised tremendous restraint and refused the complimentary shortbread fingers and choccy biscuits.
6. M & S cafe in Oxford who do a very nice egg, bacon and cherry tomato breakfast bloomer at a reasonable price. (Totally non-hat related.)
7. Unexpected space on Tuesday. Not for a reason I'd have wanted but at least it gave Mr GP and myself a chance to go over to the pub. (No hats were involved).
8. The elderly friend who when interviewed by the local press refused to give them the sob story they were obviously after (her block of flats is surrounded by floodwater), telling them she was managing quite well thank you very much. They didn't quote her. Have (a rather dashing pair) of blue wellies - can travel.
9. Supervision group...just because... The assistant in BHS cafe this afternoon who agreed with me that baked beans and chips count towards part of one's Five a Day. Sometimes only chips will do.
10. Hallelujah! GP Dog 2 - who at 7.05 a.m. Thursday 13 February peed in the 'proper place,' for the first time! You have to have toilet trained a dog (or a child) to appreciate just how thrilled I was!
10 1/2 - Last but not least - Mr GP who's held the (doggy) fort at home during a week when I've been more out than in.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dave Walker - Cartoonist Extraordinaire

Something to lighten  a grey, wet January : Dave Walker's cartoons via the Church Times have brightened up my Friday afternoons for years now and his various cartoon blogs for even longer. Gentle, self-deprecating humour with a bite I call it. He has a knack of capturing those little details of life and behaviour, especially life in that marvellously unwieldy and idiosyncratic institution we call the Church and making us look at them (and us)  again...hopefully with wiser eyes - or maybe not....

If for reasons unknown you've been living on another planet for the last ten years (or simply don't read the Church Times!), meet the man behind the pen here in Being a Cartoonist a video by Michal Dzierza. Enjoy.