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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Life Without My Dog

He’s gone. My beautiful, big, black best friend has gone. This is going to be a very short post because my heart is in so many pieces and I have cried so much I can hardly see.

Eric was always unpredictable – there was something wrongly wired in his head. Also, he had a problem with his eyesight that must have been frightening for him. I managed him with help from my sister, St F and a brilliant trainer called Brendan but as time went on he became more and more unstable. Finally, after he bit me, we consulted Brendan and the charity he came from and agreed that if he couldn’t cope in the home I’d given him, he couldn’t cope anywhere. In effect, he was too dangerous to re-home so …

In the few hours I had left with him, I fed him peanut butter and cheese and blew bubbles for him to chase and I kissed his nose many times. I told him over and over that I loved him. But you know when St F came to take him to the vets (she refused point blank to let me go along) and I walked him out to the car, it wasn’t enough. I just wanted to hold him forever.

 

His bed is still in my kitchen. His giant muddy paw-prints decorate the floor and the plastic bottle that I filled with treats for him to chew is safely stored in a cupboard. I miss him, I miss him, I miss him.

I don’t regret knowing him. I don’t regret a single second of being with him. I love him and I wish it could have been different but at least he had fun. He had love. He had security. And I had him.

I will have another dog, another rescue dog, because however heartbreaking it may be, there is always need for softies like me but, just for now, I’m going to sleep holding the collar I made for Eric with his I.D disc on it.

I love you, Eric

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Two Dry Days In A Row

Yes people, we have had two days without rain! A weekend of aridity after Friday’s wickedly mischievous wind pushed tiles off St F’s roof and sent them hurtling to a soft landing in the ankle-deep mud where her garden used to be. Neighbour’s fences relocated to parts unknown and satellite dishes that once looked to the sky for input were left dangling and swaying on broken stems. The woods are unsafe to enter as possibly fifty trees have tipped into unstable poses, some leaning against their friends, some prone in the leaf litter. The rain-blasted fields could absorb no more water and shrugged the run-off down to the river which rose up and swallowed the road – again. Electricity came and went but still, St F and I managed to turn out a special Valentine’s meal for Medusa and Semtex and their significant others who had come to stay. They had to stay. The village was cut off from the outside world.

But. But. Saturday dawned bright and dry with blue sky. It was still a little windy but I could go outside and remain upright so that was a bonus. St F and I celebrated by taking the dogs out for a run.

Eric has a girlfriend, a black spaniel called Madge. And he loves her. As they’re both rescue dogs, they’ve both had ‘the snip’ so it’s fairly certain that their’s is a simple and pure relationship. Eric is a very Alpha male so his interaction with other males is all about dominance but with bitches he’s better behaved – sort of. He’s got a strong prey drive. All he wants to do is chase things. Deer, pheasants, bicycles, joggers – and Madge. This is a good thing because Madge lives in a flat in a nearby town where she doesn’t get to run free (because she’s a sod to catch) so, when she comes to stay with us, she has a lot of pent-up energy. And she runs faster than Eric who will tire long before she does. And she’s a feisty little creature who will give Eric what for if he annoys her too much. Perfect.

There is one drawback to this happy image of two furry, black smudges haring around on a hilltop and that’s Eric neglecting to watch where he’s going. So intent is he on catching up with the smaller, speedier Madge, he fails to notice the vulnerable humans in his path i.e St F and me. Twice now he has bundled into me and then trampled my body into the ground. I don’t know if I should blame Eric or Madge or maybe the unseen shade of Alfie the original Doberman cannonball. (Int Life Brilliant?) Is he laughing in the shadows of the hedgerow and whispering to Madge, ‘Go closer to the people. Lead Eric towards his family. At full speed. Snigger, snigger?’ Is it his revenge for the flashing reindeer antlers that Medusa forced him to wear one Christmas?

Meantime, Ernie the collie, oblivious to ghostly dogs and high-speed canine romance stares at St F from a short distance away.

‘Throw the ball,’ his expression says. ‘Throw the ball. Please throw the ball.’

Flat out exhausted

Flat out exhausted

Back home after chewing up the kindling, and ensuring that I have to grub around the carpet for splinters of wood to light the fire, the lovers retire for the evening. Note that Eric is no gentleman. He gets the bed. Madge gets the floor. However, he’s so whacked from his outdoor exertions that he won’t stir – not even if I walked through the room banging cymbals together – and he won’t know when I call little Madge up on the sofa. Ha ha ha, serves him right.

That was the first dry day.

Sunday was warmer, sunnier and almost windless. I went alone to the hill with spaniel and Doby. The grass in the field had sprung back to vertical after the hammering wind and rain had flattened it. Deep, shimmering blue arched over the landscape and reflected itself in the sea encircling the headland. The dogs chased up rise and down dip and I found a boulder to sit on where I could watch a buzzard circling below the quiet clouds. After a while, Eric tired of the chase, leaving Madge to pursue an annoyed and vocal pheasant who had a safe head start, he came to stand by me.

Quiet communion. Woman and hound sharing a small moment of peace. Then it was my turn to chase Madge around the field. Seems she didn’t want to go back on her lead.

Has Madge gone home? Oh. I could have caught her, you know. If I'd reallt wanted t...zzzzz

Has Madge gone home? Oh. I could have caught her, you know. If I’d really wanted t…zzzzz

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Nicki Daniels, Calamity Rae, Le Clown and Me.

I came across the blog A Clown on Fire by chance. It seemed a vibrant, popular place so I hung around a bit. I wasn’t massively into Le Clown’s posts, as such, but the comments section was usually worth a read so I ‘followed’ him. One day, to my surprise, he awarded me a badge for making his favourite comment of the day and I was chuffed to bits but … I don’t know, it all seemed a bit too ‘clubby’ for me. I’m not into stroking egos – not even my own – so I was never more than a casual visitor to A Clown on Fire. Don’t get me wrong, it all seemed above-board and pleasant enough (if a little too … crude at times) and I was very jealous of his ultra-slick site with its huge following and I wanted to understand some of his magic. I even liked his Facebook page.

Then, a woman called Nicki Daniels guest-blogged on his site. I read and liked her post so much that I went to her blog The Nicki Daniels Interview and followed it. Le Clown was full of praise for her and I agreed wholeheartedly. We were in accord until the great bearded hipster scandal. The Open Letter to Bearded Hipsters went viral. Le Clown left an amused comment. I left an amused comment but not all of Nicki’s readers were so complimentary and dragged her over the coals for all sorts of perceived crimes against humanity. Suddenly Le Clown was not so keen. He opened a discussion on his Facebook page where he and his followers basically pilloried Nicki.  OK, maybe some could find offence in the hipster post but I didn’t and I remembered that all over Nicki’s page the word humour is writ large. (Or humor, actually) The whole thing was totally tongue in cheek so why did Le Clown feel the need to join in this trial by internet? I asked him on his Facebook page. ‘Should we be throwing stones at a fellow blogger on a public forum like this? Or are you trying to disassociate yourself?’ Le Clown denied that he was trying to disassociate himself from Nicki and gave me a justification for what he was doing (I don’t remember exactly and I can’t now refer back, as you will discover). I said, ‘fair enough’ or something and left it. Not good enough. Le Clown commented again to tell me that Nicki knew what he was doing on Facebook, it was with her permission and he would never let anyone say anything harmful. I didn’t want to get into a row with the guy so I left it. I remained loyal to Nicki though. I still follow her now. I still admire and enjoy her posts but I don’t get to read them all that regularly because (as I have said in an earlier post on Shedward) my laptop is dying and I’m too poor to replace it. Thus I don’t go online as often as I’d like. And boy, did I miss something!

Aware that I’d neither seen nor heard anything from Le Clown for a while, I looked for him on WordPress. No joy, couldn’t find him. I went to Facebook. At the back of my mind I had a nagging discomfort about the way he’d done an about-face on Nicki and I wanted to see how his discussion of her hipster post had turned out. No joy. I couldn’t find him. Had he blocked me? I Googled A Clown on Fire and found, not him but a post on WordPress outing Le Clown as a narcissistic sexual predator! The blogger, Calamity Rae was another could-be protegé of Le Clown who’d been invited to write for his other blog Black Box Warnings which dealt with issues of mental health. Apparently Calamity Rae wrote about the awful abuse she suffered as a child and how she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result, after which Le Clown began to make lewd comments to her via email.

Rae pulled no punches in outing Le Clown. She included screen shots of the emails, she confirmed that Le Clown had, as I’d feared, stitched Nicki Daniels up and dropped her like a hot brick and she also included confirmation from other sources that Le Clown had done this to many other women. In the comments section of Rae’s post, plenty of people, male and female confessed that they too had been inappropriately propositioned or bullied. Some even gave up blogging because they were afraid of him. Apparently.

I say apparently not because I disbelieve any of these stories (and those that have since been posted by other Clown victims) but because I haven’t seen Le Clown’s explanation or refutation and I’m just aiming for fairness. Le Clown has disappeared. His blogs and his Facebook page are gone. He has rolled up his tent and headed out of blogtown leaving a lorry-load of unanswered questions fluttering around in the wake of his hasty exit.

So why am I writing this post? Well … I too have an unhappy history like Calamity Rae and many others who have fallen foul of Le Clown. I don’t write about it as they have but, like them, I am aware of my vulnerability to people who groom and manipulate and bully. Would he have worked me out? I had vague misgivings already so I probably would have escaped but say I didn’t. Say I confided in him or wrote about my horrors on his Black Box Warnings and he then made sexual advances to me. What would I have done? Probably I’d have disconnected from him instantly. It’s very unlikely that I’d have amassed proof and outed him the way Calamity Rae did and I’m disturbed by that.

Rae, (I know this isn’t your real name) I am writing this for three reasons. First and foremost, you went on record as saying that you preferred public rather than private, secret support so here I am supporting you as publicly as I can. Also, I want you to know that I am in awe of how you have done this. You have my respect.

Nicki, my second reason for this post is you. I don’t fancy some sweaty bloke with last night’s chilli in his beard but if you want to admit to the world that you do then I’m really glad to read it. I didn’t agree with the punishment you got and I said so but only in a small way. This is me saying it in a bigger way.

My last reason for this is personal. I know a Le Clown. I have known him a long time. One day he’ll die and then I’ll drive a stake through the coffin. Just to make sure. But you know, he’ll never really die because he lives inside me and stories like this stir it all up.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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What a Lot of Weather We’re Having

Railway lines tremble unsupported above the English Channel. Beach huts surf a residential road towards a town centre. Boulders tossed by furious seas smash through the windows of a seaside hotel. And Eric stands at the kitchen door gazing out at the quagmire that once was our garden.

Will It EVER Stop RainingThe forlorn droop of his ears betrays his frustration. ‘Will it EVER stop raining?’

Hundreds of years ago this village was a port, then the landed gentry of the time decided to let the river silt up until it was no longer navigable but you’d never know that now. Drive past on the main road and you’d believe you were looking across an estuary. Above and to the left of Eric in the picture, you might spot my tide clock – a fun Christmas present of a couple of years ago that’s become an essential bit of kit. Can we get out of the village and go to the shop? Better check when high water is.

Getting out of the village is one thing, getting back in is more of a worry. Will the river have broken its banks before I return? Will I have to wait until the torrent ebbs away? Will Eric piddle on the kitchen floor in desperation because I’m not there to let him out? Thank goodness I live on a hill. I don’t have to fear flood water seeping into my house, unlike those who live in the village centre – and the beleaguered owners of the ancient, working watermill. I’m more concerned about waking up with a wind-thrown tree across my bed or discovering that a landslip has carried me away to a new location.

I’m lucky though. I have electricity and the gales mean that there’s plenty of fallen branches to burn on my wood stove. Should it ever be safe to go near the woods again, I will collect some. I have to keep my fire going, Eric feels the cold. Especially as when I force him out the door for a walk, he gets drenched, poor lad.

Meanwhile, in my bathroom there’s a flightless magpie called Murgatroyd who’s waiting impatiently for me to build her an outdoor aviary. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha …

 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Family Life, Nature

 

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