Tuesday, 30 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - T is for Teddy Bears

Thanks go to the Tremendous Team led by Terrific Denise Nesbitt. To see more Ts Traipse along here.


T is for Teddy Bears - one of the toys most favoured by children. Who can forget cradling a teddy bear and endowing it with life and character?



If you're a mother, aunt, big sister or grandmother you will surely have indulged the opportunity to choose a bear and rock it in your arms as you look for other little gifts for a new-born baby.


It's not just babies and small children who are given teddy bears, though. I have been delighted to receive many through the years but the dearest one is this one in the photograph below.




Sing along to Henry Hall and his orchestra as they give their rendition of the Teddy Bears' Picnic.



 If you go down in the woods today
     You're sure of a big surprise.
     If you go down in the woods today
     You'd better go in disguise.

     For every bear that ever there was
     Will gather there for certain, because
     Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic. 

Every teddy bear, who's been good

     Is sure of a treat today

     There's lots of marvellous things to eat

     And wonderful games to play 

    Beneath the trees, where nobody sees
     They'll hide and seek as long as they please

     That's the way the teddy bears have their picnic.

Chorus: 

     Picnic time for teddy bears

     The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today.

     Watch them, catch them unawares,
     And see them picnic on their holiday.
     See them gaily gad about.
     They love to play and shout.
     They never have any cares.
     At six o'clock their mummies and daddies
     Will take them home to bed
     'Cause they're tired litt
le teddy bears.

     If you go down in the woods today,
     You'd better not go alone.
     It's lovely down in the woods today,
     But safer to stay at home.
     For every bear that ever there was
     Will gather there for certain, because
     Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.   
     
  

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - S is for Strike

Thanks go to Denise Nesbitt and her Stalwart Squad who organise and host this weekly meme. Click here for more Ss.
Just resting?
One day last week a starling flew into our patio door. It’s unusual at this time of year – generally it’s young, inexperienced spring birds that misjudge the angle at which they need to fly to clear the house.

Bird strike feather imprint on patio glass. I've enhanced it to make the print clearer
Often the birds are just stunned and after twenty minutes, sometimes longer, they have regained their senses and fly off to join their cacophonous friends and relations. Sadly this bird died instantly. We didn’t clear it away immediately and the dogs took no notice of it at all. The next morning the little corpse had disappeared – a ready meal for a passing fox, no doubt.

This morning we had two bird strikes. The first was a woodpigeon that hit the glass and rebounded with no harm but hurt pride and a sense of foolishness. The second was a starling. It, too, bounced off the door and landed on the garden bench where it lay motionless. It’s common for birds to be dazed and take time to recover but this was not to be the case for this little creature. No more would it peck hungrily at the fat cakes or drink from the pond or squabble like a small child with the rest of its flock. No longer would the sun catch its glossy feathers or silhouette it against the sky as it flew swiftly away.
Wing feathers
This is an adult in spotted winter plumage. The feathers are edged in orange-buff 
The blue-based bill indicates that it is a male. Females' bills are pink-based.
Just look at his smart feathery knee breeches . . . 
. . . and his beautiful square tail
It's sad to think that this young fellow will not glory in his green and purple sheened black spring apparel.
Starlings are not exotic but for me they have a beauty and fascination all their own. They are entertaining, gregarious, busy birds and I delight in their antics and their noisy conversations. 

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Doggy memories

Watching the ‘Collie Walk’ video in my previous post brought to mind a couple of memories.

I first started work in a village where everyone knew everyone else. Most of the families had been living there for generations. The vicar, a charming ex-Naval padre, was closely associated with the school. He often talked to me, bringing me up to speed on the family circumstances of the pupils. His turn of phrase was frequently colourful, evidence of his service life.  He was proud of his son who had had much to do with designing hovercraft.

The headmistress, Joan, was a pleasant, amusing woman who had lived in the village for many years. She had been the inspiration for one of John Betjeman’s ‘young women’. Her husband lectured at the nearby college in Shrivenham where my soon-to-be husband was studying. They had a collie with a strong herding instinct and it was not unknown for the dog to herd the children along the road into school. This dog also attended church, remaining quiet throughout the service until the time came for the vicar’s sermon. The dog would then walk out of the church, no doubt watched ruefully by some of the congregation.

At that time, dogs at Shrivenham were commonly allowed to attend lectures with their masters (there were only male military students then) Our yellow Labrador, Whisky, lived with Barry and accompanied him everywhere. Consequently, she was a very well-educated dog in all aspects of life, appreciating beer and bar snacks, and swift and neat at helping herself to tempting morsels in people’s hands – or shopping baskets. She liked hedgerow fruits, too, sucking blackberries off the thorny brambles. During lectures, Whisky was quiet and unobtrusive most of the time but there were occasions when she sensed that the young officers around her, all fit and healthy and fidgeting to do something physical, were bored. She would then produce a loud drawn-out yawn and wander to the front of the room to sit next to the lecturer and look at him. This caused much mirth among the students and broke the tedium, at least momentarily.  

Whisky came to school with me on a few occasions when Barry was away and was a great favourite with the children. Though she was a large dog she nonetheless considered herself a lap dog and would clamber up so that when the children looked up from their work they would see her gravely observing them rather than me. She enjoyed joining in their games, too, and was instrumental in teaching at least one child to overcome a fear of dogs.

You can read more about Whisky here.
Every dog has an individual personality and a lifetime of living with dogs bequeaths a wealth of memories.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Collie walk

I saw this on a friend's Facebook page. The first two dogs remind me of cats . . .


What do five Border Collies get up to when they're not working sheep? Well, they make their own entertainment ...


Thursday, 18 November 2010

SkyWatch Friday - a foggy day

Barry wasn't intending to take a camera out in the fog on Tuesday.
I'm very pleased that he did.
The fog was thicker in some places than others and remained all day. 
Evening came early so we had a log fire to give a cheering glow.

Thank you to the SkyWatch team who host this weekly meme. Please click here to see more skies around the world.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Magpie Tales #41 - Late!

It was five minutes to midnight when I went to bed, not soon enough when I had an early start in the morning. Next day I left in a hurry, realising I was late – too late – for work.

Suddenly I was travelling in the wrong direction, lost, in unfamiliar territory, and people – familiar strangers - were talking to me, telling me what I should do. I was walking, running, driving, cycling, looking for signposts, biting my lip, trying not to cry, working out my excuses.

I should have phoned to say I would be late, but how could I appear when everyone else was about to go home? Maybe I could manage to show up and do half an hour’s work – that would be better than nothing. Show willing – it always sometimes helps. No point in staying late to catch up – all the students would go home at the usual time.

Perhaps my colleagues would not have noticed my absence – or perhaps they knew somehow that I was unable to get to work and had already hired a substitute. I should phone though, it was only common courtesy, but I could imagine them shaking their heads disbelievingly. ‘How could she do it again?’ they were saying. ‘Who does she think she is?’

I’d lose my job this time, definitely. And then I woke up.

Willow from Willow Manor hosts this prompting meme. Thank you, Willow. Please click here for other tales.

My World Tuesday on a Wednesday - November fog

Fog transformed our view of the world on Tuesday, lending mystery and enchantment.
All day damp tendrils clung to grasses and leaves, giving a soft focus to all. Scents of passing animals lingered in the still air, exciting the noses of our faithful friends. Sounds carried clearly through the mist – the sharp bark of a far-off dog, rustlings and creakings in the undergrowth. 
Thin shaves of ice rimmed the ponds, the water reflecting a pale sun valiantly trying to burn through.
Trees loomed like silent friendly giants, sheltering birds in their strong arms.
A patch of bright green showed off its sparkling diamonds, the taller grasses around protecting the treasure.
The sun made one last brave attempt to challenge the haze, casting its shafts between the branches of the dark trees, to no avail. It was too late. The day - a November day of quiet and solitude - had been slow to awaken and would soon return to slumber. 

Thank you to the team hosting this weekly meme.To see more people's worlds, please click here. 

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - R

ABC Wednesday is hosted by Denise Nesbitt and her team here.

Richard’s relation, Rosemary, regularly raged remorselessly. Rumoured rapturous relationships, rarely realised,  reactivated Rosemary’s rage. 

Rancour reappeared, resentment resulting repeatedly. Real respect recoiled, reaching regretfully rearward, remembering rapturous recollections. 

Romance? Rubbish! Romancers, rapscallions, rogues – really reprehensible!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Microfiction Monday #57

Lovely Susan from ‘Stony River’ organises and hosts this weekly meme. Thank you Susan J She provides a picture and the challenge is to create a story in 140 characters or less – including punctuation! Click here to read more marvels of microfiction – and perhaps join in. It’s fun!
Here is this week’s picture accompanied by my offering.

He tried to present a macho image but it was natural for him to rest his hand on his hip. Calling his companions Pet didn’t help, either.
(137 characters)

Macro Monday - Mellow Yellow Monday

MellowYellowMondayBadge




















Thank you to Lisa from 'Lisa's Chaos' and Drowsey Monkey from Mellow Yellow Monday who host these weekly memes.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Today's Flowers #119

Thank you to the Today's Flowers team who host this lovely weekly meme. 
My son-in-law gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers last weekend.
There were yellow spray chrysanthemums . . .
. . . white chrysanths . . .
. . . chrysanthemums of a delicate pale greenish-yellow . . .
. . . white carnatians . . .
. . . white lisianthus . . . (at least I think it's lisianthus)
 .. . . pink hypericum berries (I think!) . . . 
. . . all set off with stiff green fan foliage - thank you, Paul :-)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Camera Critters #136

Misty Dawn hosts this meme here. Thank you, Misty.
A small family of long-tailed tits frequently visits our garden feeders. Often we hear them before we see them as they call to each other with a high 'tseep'.
 They remind me of shuttlecocks as they flit rapidly about their business.
They have no objection to sharing the food with their larger cousins, the blue tits.

Weekend Reflections #60

Thanks go to James from Newtown Area Photo who hosts this weekly meme.


One of Barry's recent acquisitions to be added to the layout in the loft. The models are HO scale.

Shadow Shot Sunday #130

Thank you to Tracy from 'Hey Harriet' who organises and hosts this meme.
photo copyright M R Oakley
Mark is one of the charming vets who look after our animals' health. In his spare time he  builds 1/12 scale F1 models from scratch. They are mainly from the 70s with some from the 60s and some from the 90s and later. He builds them for his own interest, each one representing a year's work from start to finish. They are not working models and are intended for museum display - indeed, he has been invited to display at the world-famous National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in Hampshire, UK.
Each model is 12" - 14" long (30 -36 cms)
Mark's meticulous approach involves photographing the original machines with permission, drawing his own engineering plans, and ensuring that the model he subsequently produces is as faithful to the original as he can make it. To this end all bodywork is removable so that the engineering can be seen and the underside of each car is carefully replicated. 
You can read more about his models here

By posting this blog I hope to draw attention to some of Mark's requests. If anyone can help or knows someone who could be of assistance I know he would be most appreciative.
1: He is looking for someone able and willing to print a small number of single decal sheets with a large proportion of white, using an Oki printer. The decals are all smaller than approx 30mm to suit a 1/12 scale model racecar subject. The artwork would be supplied, or be drawn up by the same person with use of an Oki printer.
2: He would be able to supply only basic artwork and photos of the desired end product (decal) and would appreciate someone with a drawing program such as Coral Draw or similar, to produce the digital artwork prior to printing on an Oki printer, with draft copy on plain paper for my final assessment before committing to the Oki printed material on the appropriate (Oki style) water-slide medium. Fee to be discussed, hoping to keep this realistic.
3:  He is very keen to see an Hewland TL200 gearbox from a Grand Prix car or Sports Car, in the UK, preferably out of the car on the floor/bench to measure and photograph for a scale model.

4: On an unrelated subject, he is keen to acquire a (spare/no longer wanted) FAI Home security on/off hand held remote control, preferably from the UK.
I shall be posting this in various formats (ie: with different illustrations) throughout the next few weeks in the hope that someone will be able to help.

Deep down in our hearts

Jinksy from ‘napple notes’ wrote the following verse in response to a remark from a friend of hers whose ‘driveway was beginning to resemble a babbling brook’. 

Floater's Dance

There, on a path where water is rushing 
over shingled drive not intended for gushing 
streams, leaves huddle, form a raft.
Without map or compass this craft 
will continue to dance to skirling song 
of wind and rain. Who knows how long
the piper has called this same tune
in other lands, under different moons?

I thought it was delightful but challenged her to pen something to make muddy pawprints acceptable. Almost immediately she responded with the following. 

Blokes, kids, cats and dogs
with mud on their feet
that treks in from the garden
or even the street,
can leave other traces,
much harder to beat -
deep down in our hearts -
and that's no mean feat!

Cleverly and succinctly Jinksy has captured the essence of our relationship with those we love. Thank you, Penny J

If you have not yet indulged yourself in a visit to ‘napple notes’ I urge you to do so. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Dogs in Bolivia

Dogs in Bolivia are being used as live shooting practice targets by the Bolivian army. I cannot post the picture relating to this - it is too horrible. 
Where is our humanity?

Feeling odd

I’m not writing this as a plea for sympathy but as an objective attempt to understand what is going on. I feel decidedly odd today. (Unkind commentators might observe that this feeling merely reflects my natural condition.)

I had planned to visit the garden centre this morning and then titivate the ornamental hay racks at the front of the house. Presently they are filled with the dead remains of geraniums and a few brave, lingering nasturtiums. However, when I clambered carefully out of bed, trying to avoid disturbing Winston, who sleeps on my feet, and Jenna, always pressed to my back, I had the peculiar sensation of being slightly off-balance. (Again, this leaves me open to cruel remarks.)

Now, a few hours later, I know I cannot trust myself to drive anywhere, so my day will be spent indoors, doing as little as possible (Nothing new there, then!) and hoping the fog will clear. My head is full of cotton wool (My detractors always suspected there was no grey matter in it!) and is threatening to ache. I suppose this is what one of my work colleagues used to refer to as ‘half a headache’.

Barry sporadically suffers from a balance problem – positional vertigo caused by crystals in the inner ear - which causes giddiness and nausea. Medication (betahistine dihydrochloride) helps him and sometimes exercises – the Epley manoeuvre, (similar to the Brandt-Daroff Repositioning Exercise) – are effective, though occasionally they aggravate the vertigo.

The Epley manoeuvre
He had a recurrence of this ailment after we came home from London at the weekend. It has lasted for several days and strangely, just as he is recovering I have developed a similar complaint, though I am not as severely affected as he has been. 

We are wondering now if we have picked up a ‘bug’. It just goes to show, it’s dangerous to go out! You never know how generous people are going to be with their germs. As Adrian Monk would agree, ‘It’s a jungle out there!’

Malware

Attempting to access Squirrel Queen's website, 'The Road to Here' I was alerted to potential harm to my computer. I cannot email Squirrel Queen as the warning message appears immediately, not giving me a chance to find her email address. If anyone 'out there' knows her address please could you inform her of the malware. Apparently it's associated with the blog 'anne-mariewithadash'. Google informs that this site has been infected in the past - I wonder if the owner knows?
It's a horrible feeling, to think that someone takes pleasure in infecting innocent bloggers' sites - or maybe it's all quite accidental.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Cat quiz

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

ABC Wednesday - Q is for Quartermaster

According to Wikipedia:- 'Quartermaster' refers to two different military occupations. In land armies, it is a term referring to an individual soldier or a unit specialising in distributing supplies and provisions to troops. It is a non-commissioned rank in many navies. In the US Navy, quartermaster is a job role linked to navigation. Aboard merchant ships, the term quartermaster usually refers to the experienced seamen assigned to bridge watches. The quartermaster's main task is to steer the ship and apply the helm orders given by the Captain or watchkeeping officers.



The Quartermaster's Song


There are snakes, snakes, snakes 
Big as garden rakes,
At the store! At the store!
There are snakes, snakes, snakes,
Big as garden rakes, at the Quartermaster's store.
ChorusMy eyes are dim I can not see.
I have not got my specs with me.
I have HEY! Not HO! got my specs with me.
There are mice, mice, mice
Running though the rice,
At the store! At the store!
There are mice, mice, mice,
Running through the rice, at the Quartermaster's store.
Chorus
Continue with each of the following:3. lice - living on the mice.
4. rats - big as alley cats.
5. roaches - big as football coaches
6. watches - big as sasquaches
7. snakes - big as garden rakes
8. bears - but no one really cares
9. beavers - with little meat cleavers
10. foxes - stuffed in little boxes

The only version I know refers to ants wearing yellow pants . . .
Thank you to Denise Nesbitt and her Quality team who organise and  host this weekly meme. Click here to see more Qs.

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller – a day with the vets

Frodo had a further appointment with Phil-the-Vet last Wednesday. Although he’s not squeaking anymore and doesn’t appear to be in pain he must still have a daily dose of Meloxidyl every morning for a further fortnight to reduce any swelling.  Phil-the-Vet suggested that an x-ray might reveal more about the causes of Frodo’s problem so Barry immediately booked him in for the next day.

He was going to be sedated for the process, not anaesthetised, but the same instructions applied:-

1:  No food after 8 pm the evening before
2: No water in the morning

We have a two gallon container of water in the kitchen that’s available at all times for the animals and is refilled every day. (Yesterday, Winston was miaouing by the bucket and when we looked we saw it was empty.)

Frodo is a creature of habit. It is his custom to groan and moan for food twice a day and he will never go out to relieve himself in the morning until he has been fed. Directly after breakfast he drinks copious amounts of water, or would, if I didn’t prevent him – too much liquid in one intake after a meal can cause gastric dilatation and torsion. Following that he repairs to the garden and then comes back to the kitchen for his medication.

The requirement not to feed after eight o’clock was no problem. The animals are always fed their second meal well before that time but the morning presented Frodo with some puzzling behaviour on the part of the humans, particularly the female human who feeds him. Food was not forthcoming, which was very perturbing for him. Even more disquieting than that, I was walking round and round the garden with him to try and encourage him to pee. No joy! Then Barry called him out to the car, (now known as ‘the dog box’ as it’s rather like a horse box and serves a similar purpose) and he jumped in but was not joined by the rest of his friends and relations. His mystified face stared back at me as the dog box disappeared out of the drive.

It was a strange feeling to walk the dogs without my Velcro dog by my side but it was quite relaxing not to have to watch out for other dogs all the time. Frodo is as soft as butter with the dogs he knows – any of them can steal his bone or pinch his food and he makes not a sound, but if a strange dog or human approaches when we’re walking he is very vocal so it is easier and quieter to avoid such scenes by taking an alternative route. We find that most experienced dog walkers behave in the same way, for a variety of reasons.
In the late afternoon we had the results of Frodo’s x-ray. There were a couple of small bone growth spurs that were not affecting him so the conclusion was that he had probably trapped a nerve. We were relieved!

Frodo is a very obedient dog and submits quietly to many procedures but he has taken a dislike to the plunger that administers his Meloxidyl. I don’t know whether he doesn’t like the taste of the medicine or associates the syringe with needles, even though he’s never had a hypodermic used on him at home. Whatever the cause, he slinks away, looking very hangdog. We were away at the weekend and Gillian was looking after the animals. When it was time for his liquid medicine Frodo sloped off and she found him at the top of the stairs!

I have now resorted to giving him a small biscuit after his dose much as children sometimes are given something to take away the taste of ‘nasty medicine’. Naturally, the others must have a biscuit, too. I shall have to adjust their rations accordingly!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Microfiction Monday #56

Lovely Susan from ‘Stony River’ organises and hosts this weekly meme. Thank you Susan J She provides a picture and the challenge is to create a story in 140 characters or less – including punctuation! Click here to read more marvels of microfiction – and perhaps join in. It’s fun!
Here is this week’s picture accompanied by my offering. We drive on the left in UK!
She made brmm brmm noises, longing to be old enough to drive. She knew she’d be good. Even now she was keeping closely to the left.
(131 characters)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - P is for Patience

Denise Nesbitt and her Playful Pals host this Perfect weekly meme. Thank you all! To enjoy more Ps please click here.

P is for Patience, a virtue of which I have very little. The Patience to which I refer is the game of that name. I believe it is usually known as Solitaire in the States. It is said, probably quite correctly, that people either play cards or they play Patience. 

I am not keen on card games. I can never remember the rules, apart from ‘Cheat’ which has none. My mother used to play card games with me when I was little – Gin rummy and Beat Jack Out of Doors – and though I enjoyed playing them then I cannot remember the rules now. The thought of playing Bridge or Canasta fills me with horror – far too serious! My father played many card games in his years at sea and had a sharp brain and an excellent memory. He was an exception to the rule that one either plays cards or Patience and taught me to play Double Patience. That was always fun, if rather a long game. Most of the time I play solitary Patience.  

I ran a Patience club when I was teaching, which was well attended and enjoyable. We learnt many different forms of the game, including Baker’s Dozen, Rosamund’s Bower, Labryinth and Puss in the Corner. The sessions were too short to embark on learning any of the Double Patiences. I also taught my children and grandchildren to play Patience.

There are only two Patience games that I can always remember – Clock Patience and Klondike. The latter is one that is often found on computers – sometimes it comes out, more often it doesn’t. If I want to play another version I have to refer to one of my books. 
The King of Hearts on the cover of this well-used book is playing Clock Patience
Another of my well-thumbed paperbacks
I prefer to play with real cards, in any case, and am fascinated by Patience cards. They are smaller than a standard pack, so take up less room when playing – this is something to consider when the tableau (initial lay-out) may take up considerable space. 
The deck on the right came from a Christmas cracker - cheap quality but with colourful illustrations. The deck on the left is  larger, better quality, but still smaller than a standard Patience deck
I like Piatnik cards – they are very good quality and feel smooth and easy to handle. Piatnik is based in Vienna, Austria, and has a long history of manufacturing high-quality Playing cards
One of my favourite sets is a double deck in a zipped leather case. 
It has two small booklets with the rules for 15 games of Patience.
The cards have Monet illustrations on them.

Many and varied are the historical figures who have enjoyed playing Patience. Napoleon, exiled on St Helena, is believed to have passed many evenings playing it. There is a game named after him called, unsurprisingly, Napoleon at St Helena. Tolstoy could be said to be obsessed by Patience, sometimes using it to decide on a course of action. If the result was not pleasing, he would replay the game. He even included it in a scene from ‘War and Peace’. A fellow Russian, Dostoyevsky, had the character Grushenka play it in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. Magda Goebbels played Patience in the F├╝hrerbunker after she killed her six children. 

Playing Patience will not increase your measure of this virtue. In fact, it can lead to great frustration! Beware, though, if you feel inspired to play any version of this game – it can become addictive.