Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas

Not a festive pic - Herbie has another histiocytoma, under his chin this time. He also has a new blanket, an early Christmas present. Underneath his bottom at the moment is the foil that I'd baked some chicken in. Holly would like it, even though he's licked it clean, but as he's lying on it, there's no chance she'll get it tonight.

Herbie is quite arthritic now, and as he suffers gastric problems with most anti-inflammatories, all I can do is give him painkillers and Cortaflex. At some point I expect his back end will go, and that'll be it, but for now he's still my rickety old boy. Who won't share his foil with anyone.

Roll on Christmas. Lots and lots of foil.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Almost Hallowe'en

The clocks have just gone back, and I've got a whole extra hour to do all the things I've been putting off. I took the dogs to Wigtown a couple of weeks ago, the Scottish book town. It was quiet, out of season, and I have to wonder how long they can hold out against t'internet. I hope we don't lose the joy of bookbrowsing entirely - there's nothing like finding the book you never knew you needed, or even that such a book existed, just in the course of wandering through a shop.

Galloway, where Wigtown is, is very green and full of cows. We stayed near Whauphill, where there was a big shiny red tractor factory, or dealership or something - we always knew we were nearly home when we saw a long row of tractors. There's not much in that part of the world, but there are good beaches close at hand.

Herbie is very creaky, but he comes to life again when he sees a cat.

Saturday, October 01, 2011


.. it's a scorcher, 27 degrees centigrade. This is the weirdest weather ever. Or else a divine punishment for buying three months worth of toilet paper just in case the snows come early this year. I might starve, but I will not run out of toilet paper in a hurry.

The dogs begged for a walk at lunchtime, so I took them to the arboretum. After a hundred yards, they both turned to me with a "Remind me why we came here?" expression, so we went home again, pausing only to sniff a very shaggy Scottish terrier who had obviously grown a thick winter coat that wasn't needed just yet. I find the expression on floor-level black dogs hard to read, but this one was clearly saying he hadn't bargained on this heat.

My sister's cat was hit by a car last week, and now has a broken pelvis, broken cheekbone, and one eye stitched shut in an attempt to save his sight in that eye. He's at the same age as the last one, Solly, was when he was hit and killed - that adolescent/adult border age, when they haven't quite understood about cars, or think they can outrun them. He's now on cage rest for six weeks. He looks a mess at the moment. Unlike my sister, who has hair again, and eyebrows.

At work, they have decided to reorganise, again. Parts of the outfit are still working through the last round. It's keeping us all on our toes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Autumn Again

... and Herbie is his usual lively self. We're seeing out the tail end of Hurricane Katia. It's not often we get hurricanes here, but this one has taken down a few power lines. I have a wind-up radio, and a wind-up LED light, and today my hands are sore from all the handle-turning. Tomorrow I'm going out to buy a tiny battery-powered radio.

Anyway, the power's back on, my neighbours have shared their tales of dire suffering ("we had to eat corned beef and pickle sandwiches") and the man at the end of the road, who clears up trees, has had a bonanza, and a lot more firewood. It's been good to have a reminder of what the weather can do before it gets bad. Holly, however, is unimpressed. She's currently performing her impression of a very small hedgehog.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another wet summer

... I don't know why I'm surprised, it is England, after all.

Herbie is more arthritic when it's raining, so he's spent much of the time in his favourite horizontal pose. I've been painting things, moving furniture round and re-organising the house ready for winter. I've just bought a pair of Yaktrax as well - the theory is, they stop you slipping on icy roads. Last winter Holly was tugging to hurry me on, while I took little tiny steps, tottering like an eighty-year old in stilettos, holding on the hedge for balance.

My sister's finished chemo, and her hair is growing back. She looks as fuzzy as a baby chick. Probably not the image she's going for, but she's also still here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Still Here

A summer cold, so confined to quarters. There's a lot of it about. Herbie's becoming quite stiff, even with all the Cortaflex, but he's still here. So's my sister.

It sounds a bit gloomy, but I am starting to think about winter. The hawthorn berries are turning red, and already the rowan trees beside the church are heavy with scarlet clusters. It's a month early for all that. I've just ordered two loads of logs, and a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter". It's not just a nostalgia read, it's an essential part of my winter preparations. This year I'm picking out a winter library. We don't normally have extreme winters here, so when folks from further north say, "Well, gosh, don't you guys have snow tyres/ snow shoes/ window quilts/ snow blowers" or whatever, the answer is, no. But this year I'm going to read up and prepare. So far, I have a year's supply of Earl Grey teabags in a kitchen cupboard. I may have a little more work to do.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


I'm not focusing on anything much this week. My sister's not been well, so I'm a bit preoccupied. Herbie's had something wrong too, a digestive upset, and although he's over it, he's still fragile. Instead I've been reading the Tiny House Blog and thinking maybe I could give up everything except the dogs and live in a small shed somewhere. If it wasn't for the planning laws, I could sell this place and buy a little patch of woodland, and live in a hut in the woods. Somewhere with lots of rabbits for the dogs. Or even a pheasant.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bad Blogger Award

I've been really slack about writing, the last couple of months. It's the restructure at the office: I come home and don't want to go anywhere near a computer in case more work leaps out of it.

I've also been busy reading Sandra Steingraber's "Living Downstream", about the environmental causes of cancer. It's a great read, if not a little depressing, but it makes it quite clear how many potential carcinogens are out there, and the rise in lymphoma cases both in humans and dogs may well be directly related to the rise in environmental toxins. The author developed bladder cancer at a young age, as did some of the older members of her family - but she's adopted. It meant she could discount genetics or an accumulation of poor lifestyle choices, and looked to the environment. Sometimes you read a book that completely changes the way you think about things, and for me this is one of them.

Herbie is still here, but beginning to look a little frail. I'm having to work to keep the weight on him. It's a problem with elderly sighthounds, they turn scrawny. Holly, on the other hand, needs work to keep her waistline trim. She's always had barrel-shaped ribs that look wide on a small greyhound. I suppose once she's Herbie's age I can stop worrying.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hommage a Kandinsky

... or anyone else who used a lot of blue. I painted the front door. Herbie decided to kick the paint can against the wall, and then walk in the paint, then run through the house to his bed. As Queen Victoria so famously said, "We are not amused". We now have a new doormat until I can hire something that will sand off Dulux Weathershield 10-year guarantee outdoor gloss.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We Are Eleven

His Royal Herbiness has just celebrated his eleventh birthday. Unlike hobbits, he won't live to see his eleventy-first birthday, but I'm pretty happy with eleven. The Cortaflex HA (with hyaluronic acid) seems to have given him a bit more flexibility, and he's no longer pushing his hips into my hands, saying "Rub my rear", so I'm assuming it's doing something.

Happy Birthday, old white-faced dog.

Monday, April 04, 2011

April At Last

... and Herbie's still here. I've been offline for a couple of weeks, trouble with my broadband and my PC, but I've patched up something and can finally get my net addiction fed again. It's only when you can't view anything online that the twitching sets in... Holly is looking sleek and glossy on her new diet. I finally realised she is somewhat allergic to chicken, and since I cut chicken out of her diet completely, her fur has become incredibly silky. I can't believe it took me so long to realise. It's been a dry spring, but even so, Herbie is creaking a bit, so he's on a double dose of Cortaflex to see if that helps at all. He's an old boy now. Which is what I always wanted to see.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where do the weeks go?

I can hardly believe how long it is since I last posted. Herbie has recovered from yet another injury, but has lost his nerve when it comes to tackling stairs. He will jump in and out of the car, but steps are a problem. I need to take some more pictures of him. He's become even whiter-faced this winter.

Holly is going all out for Peskiest Greyhound in the West. She has a low boredom threshold, and wants to be entertained all the time. Still, we're all here, and the snowdrops are too - which shows what a late spring it is, snowdrops in mid-March.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I have a job

Fortunately I survived the cull, but some of my friends didn't. No real celebrations possible. It was a tough weekend, because Herbie ruptured a lymph node in his groin overnight. I have no idea how it happened, but it was an emergency trip to the vets on Saturday afternoon. He wouldn't eat, and I couldn't get antibiotics into him, so another trip first thing Monday, for an antiobiotic injection. The vet drained a load of fluid out of him, but he's still got a tangerine-sized mass. It's shrinking slowly, but it's not a good thing to happen.

He's still an invalid, and being waited on hand and foot. Nationwide chicken sales have rocketed, in order to tempt His Herbiness to eat. He wouldn't touch anything for a couple of days, but he's eating again. It's just the walking, and the stairs, but I hope he'll be able to manage them soon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Herbie Says

...thanks for all the kind thoughts on behalf of my sister. He's sending all his magic green-eyed healing power too.

Yesterday I had to interview for what used to be my job, or something a little similar. It wasn't good. I wittered. Obviously, if they need someone who witters on, I'm top of the list. Otherwise... I'm going to take the "Be here now" advice, and think about this next week.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

First day

... of chemo for my sister. She's having a lot of different types all at once, since her lymphoma is moving fast, but in the end they decided to hold one type over until tomorrow - methotrexate. It's one Herbie didn't have, but all the other names have come flooding back, bad memories I'd pushed to the back of the vault.

She's being very brave, telling me how the "wig and scarf consultant" will come and see her tomorrow while she's having her chemo. She had her hair cut really short last week, in preparation for the inevitable hair loss. I picked her up from the hospital this evening, and will again tomorrow.

There isn't really anything particularly good to say, especially as I decided not to pass on to her the one trying-to-be-cheerful thought the vet told me when Herbie had chemo: at least you won't need to worry about worms for a bit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Temperature's Rising

It's been above freezing all week! Wet, mind, but no slipping, no ice, no extra time to de-ice the car. Can't tell you how much better my mood is, despite a week or so of difficult happenings.

First off - my sister's been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. First Herbie, now... Ever feel the universe is trying to tell you something, to batter it into your thick skull with a brick, but you're still not getting it? Maybe there is no message, maybe weird coincidence, events do sometimes cluster, but... I don't know. She's going back for further tests.

Next, a colleague at work is in hospital with viral meningitis. She's off the danger list now, but was pretty ill. We received a memo assuring us that her office would be disinfected, but, umm, horse - stable door- bolted? The symptoms seem to be very similar to being at work, tired, stiff neck, in need of a lie down. It's brought out the latent hypochondria in all of us.

And finally, next week we get letters to tell us we're "At Risk" of redundancy, prior to interviews for our jobs. At least I still have the dogs.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well, we made it. 2011 is a new start. The roads are free of snow, and the dogs have been to some of their favourite walks again. Today feels a bit "last day of the school holidays", because in fact it is. I only went into work one day between Christmas and New Year, the rest of the time I've been at home, curled up in front of the fire mostly.

Holly is much calmer when I'm home all the time, and much more capable of going off upstairs by herself. Herbie's always been independent, and has always taken himself off to his (or my) bed if I don't look as though I'm doing anything interesting. Holly, aged six and a quarter, is finally learning this too.

The papers at the weekend were full of predictions about how horrible this year is going to be, and how the "phoney war" in economic terms is over, and we're now facing real austerity. Given that my current employer revised its redundancy numbers upwards just before Christmas, I think this is probably the case. Already the leaving drinks are happening, and there's no way we can shed one third of staff, in a relatively small city, without a huge impact all round. I'm so glad I did a reiki course, I keep murmuring, "Just for today, do not worry, do not anger." My motto for the year.