Thursday, 30 June 2011

Two in Tandem #8 Green

Jinksy's 'Two in Tandem' can be found here
 
Image copyright Jinksy

Celadon, chartreuse and jade,
Viridian, khaki and mint,
Olivine, willow and lime,
Avocado, turquoise and pine,
Emerald, clover and teal,
Asparagus, myrtle and moss,
Bottle green, olive and shamrock -
There’s never been a simple green;
Such tones and shades are nature’s paean,
Colours that soothe whenever seen,
In forest, field or verdant dene. 

Maffick Monday #2 What if fear didn’t exist?

Alicia is hosting Maffick Monday. Her prompt this week is ‘What if fear didn’t
exist?’ Thank you, Alicia J

If fear didn’t exist,
Would courage become redundant,
Would idiocy be more abundant,
If fear didn’t exist?

If terror died away,
Would nightmares turn into sweet dreams,
Loud laughter eliminate screams,
If terror died away?

If panic went missing,
Would nobody worry or fret,
Or trouble to climb out of debt,
If panic went missing?

If alarms didn’t sound,
Would we know if danger were nigh,
Would we see we must fly or die,
If alarms didn’t sound?

If fear didn’t exist,
Homo sapiens would be devastated,
All humankind’s life terminated,
If fear didn’t exist. 

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

ABC Wednesday X is for Xhosa

The Xhosa or Frontier Wars took place intermittently between 1779 and 1879 and were fought between the Xhosa people, who farmed crops and cattle in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and the Cape Colonists. There were nine wars in all, centring on the requirement of an increasing number of immigrant Europeans to find good farming land.

The Cape was annexed by the British in 1806. Settlers complained about Xhosa raids and British expeditions were sent to impose law and order. Eventually, the British dominated the area, which led to conflicts with the Boers and other settlers as well as the Xhosa people.

The Fourth War, from 1811 – 1812, was the first to involve professional British soldiers. By this time the Boers and the British occupied the East and the Xhosa were in the West. Between the two locations lay an area of neutral territory called the Zuurfeld, but the Xhosa had moved to control this land in 1811, causing trouble with the colonists. Colonel John Graham was tasked to eject the Xhosa from this area.

The site of Colonel Graham’s headquarters formed the foundation of the town now known as Grahamstown (Grahamstad in Afrikaans)

In 1857 a Xhosa prophet told his people of a prophecy that said that if all the cattle were slaughtered, as a sacrifice, the British would be deposed. This action brought about widespread starvation and ended the ability of the Xhosa to resist for twenty years.
At the end of the nine wars the remaining Xhosa lands were absorbed into the Cape Colony. 

There are currently around eight million Xhosa in South Africa and Xhosa is the second most common native language after Zulu, though many Xhosa also speak Zulu, English or Afrikaans. The language uses ‘click’ consonants as shown in the YouTube clip below.
Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Desmond Tutu are three famous Xhosa.

Click here to see more Xs.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Magpie Tales #71 Pipefish

Thanks go to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme J To read more Magpies please click here
 Endeavor, Lino Tagliapietra, Columbus Museum of Art

Pipefish

Pipefish swim in seas or aquaria, 
Sea-horses too, delight our eyes; 
In fishy realms they’re father and carer,  
Gentle nursemaids in bright disguise.

Be aware they have a much darker side -
If they mate a female who’s ugly
They won’t feed the babes and when they have died
They’ll seek out a beauty quite smugly. 

And so evolution continues apace –
The fittest survive, that’s the law;
Not only the strong, the comeliest face
Is chosen, is honoured, therefore.


(For more information on Pipefish abortion, please see here.)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Summer salad

Our supper this evening included this summer salad.
Baby spinach, basil, celery leaves, mint, nasturtium flowers and leaves, oregano, pansy flowers, rocket, salad leaves, thyme, watercress . . .

. . . then I added cherry tomatoes which rather spoilt the look of it!
It tasted good,though.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Succinctly Yours Week 14

Grandma's Goulash at Succinctly Yours Succinctly Yourshosts this microfiction meme. 

Each week she posts a photographic prompt for inspiration and the challenge is to write a story using no more than 140 characters or words.

Below is this week's photo followed by my offering.

It was a tribute to the police that the traffic was able to keep moving on that wet and windy day and that there were no accidents.

(131 characters and very lame!)

Running repairs

The picture of innocence
 Gus is 21 months old now and a very responsive boy. He likes to please but sometimes forgets himself. That is what happened yesterday.

He had followed Barry upstairs and was waiting for him as he changed his shoes. He became a little bored and so amused himself with one of Barry’s Hideous Sandals. The first I heard of it was, ‘Oh, no, what have you done? Gus, did you do this? Oh, Gus . . .’

Shortly after that Gus came downstairs to sit by me and when Barry appeared, Gus’ ears did a Mexican Wave – up, down, up, down – and grins were much in evidence. He had adapted the Hideous Sandal so that part of the strap had been loosened to provide an interesting focus for Winston as Barry walked.

Now, it’s not entirely Gus’ fault. Each night he gives Barry a pedicure and the sandals carry some of him on them so it was but a short step from nibbling feet to chewing leather, at least in the mind of a young Labrador.

There followed a hunt for the Araldite – ‘I know I bought some, I keep buying the stuff and I can never find it.’ Several minutes later the glue had been located and was put to use to repair the Hideous Sandal and my large soft-grip pegs were employed to hold the strap in place while the glue set. 
So the Hideous Sandals have been saved to walk another day, though probably just around the house and garden. 
Be thankful for small mercies - they will not go out in public again!

Camera Critters, Pet Pride Winston spies a stranger

 The pretty cat that often visits our garden appeared on the conservatory window sill the other morning. S/he is very friendly and would like to come into the house. I'm not sure Winston would welcome that!

'Look, Winston.'
'What?'
 'Hey! Who are you? This is my house.'  
'I’m going. I don't want to argue.'
'Where’s he gone?'
'Oh, he's back again. Hello.'
'I’m not a fighter but it’s a good thing this window’s between us.'
I'm linking to Camera Critters and Pets Forever.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Poetry Jam

My line comes from George Gershwin’s ‘I got rhythm’. Thanks to Brian Miller for the prompt.

Who could ask for anything more?

Oliver Twist was hungry and poor;
A bowl of gruel to keep him fed,
Water to drink and a crust of bread -
Who could ask for anything more?

He had bad times, behind locked doors,
Days in the workhouse were hard,
Normal life to him was barred -
Should he wish for anything more?

Living  a life beyond the law,
With Fagin teaching him thieving,
Could he ever start believing
That he could search for anything more?

Human failing’s at the core
Of Charles Dickens’ well-known tale;
Oliver’s fate, once thought so frail,
Became a joy to him once more.

I have copied and pasted this from Aksharaa's blog, 'Pawprints in the Sands of Time' So, if you are a special ‘Rescue Doggy’ or know of one, please send in your story to Joan at http://boccibeefs.blogspot.com/p/your-rescue-stories.html 

Aksharaa and her husband, both busy surgeons, took an Indian street dog into their hearts and home to live with them and their two yellow Labradors and he, named Shadow, has repaid them handsomely with love, affection and loyalty. The lives that some dogs have to live is beyond belief. 

Without folks like Aksharaa and her husband and Joan and many, many more, so many of these loyal beings would be condemned to a life of hardship - or a sudden and undeserved death. (and the same goes for many other mammals that some humans treat as inconsequential!)





Maffick Monday #1 A terrible dancer

Alicia is hosting Maffick Monday. Her prompt is ‘Write about a terrible dancer.’ Thanks, Alicia – hope you enjoyed your camping J

(I’m rather late with my submission.)

You don’t realise the true size of someone until you see them in a leotard, thought Sylvia.  Fully clothed, her daughter Miranda looked quite elegant and rather pretty.  She was tall and broad shouldered and had the milky skin that so often goes with tawny hair.

She had taken ballet classes since she was five and participated each year in the shows her dancing teacher organised.  She was now seventeen and nearly six feet tall and the summer show would be her last appearance. In the autumn she was going to university and her dancing days would be behind her.

Sylvia had encouraged her daughter to continue dancing, realising early on that Miranda was going to develop into a big girl and would need the discipline of dance or sport to coordinate her limbs. Miranda had never been interested in athletics or games, didn’t care for swimming and was content to continue ballet lessons.

First onto the stage tripped the little girls and one small boy. They looked so sweet as they galloped about to the music. One of the children was very lissom and floated across the stage like thistledown. Miranda had never been like that, Sylvia thought, a little sadly. The more advanced classes followed, consisting mostly of girls with one or two boys. The differences in physique were more noticeable in the older students. Some were slim and fine-boned and in perfect proportion while others were undergoing the trials of sudden growth spurts when limbs didn’t quite match heads or trunks. Miranda had often seemed rather ungainly in her early teens but now looked much more balanced.

At last it was the turn of Miranda’s class to perform. They wore pointe shoes which clonked across the wooden boards. Each dancer in turn performed a short solo and then they danced an ensemble piece.  Miranda stood head and shoulders above the rest of the chorus. She had not been placed in the centre where her mother had expected her to be but off to one side, almost out of view.  Sylvia wondered why but as they danced she began to understand the reason. Miranda was always half a beat behind the others. Through the years Sylvia had noticed that her daughter’s timing was slightly askew when she played the piano or her guitar but she had never recognised until now just how poor Miranda’s sense of timing was. As she reflected on this she realised it had got worse as the years rolled by.

That evening, over dinner, Miranda confided in her mother that she was glad she would never have to dance on stage again. ‘You know, Mum, everybody thinks I’m a terrible dancer, but I’m glad I stuck at it. My timing’s dreadful but dancing has taught me how to hold my head up high and always do my best.’ Sylvia smiled and squeezed her daughter’s hand. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Two in Tandem #7

Jinksy's 'Two in Tandem' can be found here.
Image copyright Jinksy

(This image reminded me of decorating - rather a banal memory to accompany such a pretty graphic!)

Decorating

Little tester pots of paint,
Very cute and rather quaint -
Dabs of paint adorn my wall. 
In the kitchen, in the hall.  
Can’t decide which one to choose -
Everyone has different views.  

Mine looks good, yours is brighter,
Let’s try this one – it’s much lighter.
Decorating’s quite a chore,
Choosing colours? Such a bore!
Hang it all, this tiresome caper,
Let’s go out and buy wallpaper.

Book Blurb Friday #17 Arachnology

This meme is hosted by Lisa Ricard Claro at ‘Writing in the Buff’ J

 Each week she posts a photo that could be the cover of a book. The aim is to:
‘Write a book jacket blurb (150 words or less) so enticing that potential readers would feel compelled to buy the book.’ 

Here is this week’s book cover. My blurb follows.

Image copyright Sandra Davies

Arachnology

What is happening to the spiders of the world? You may not like them, you may have severe arachnophobia, but the world cannot function without them. World renowned arachnologist Dr Steven Pyder has observed that arachnids are behaving in unusual ways, the most obvious to the public at large being the inability to spin a perfect web.

Have the spiders adapted to changes in the insect population or are the insects reacting to the spiders’ behaviour? Steve Pyder’s investigations take him deep into tropical forests, to deserts in Australia, to country gardens in the Home Counties and to the Great Plains of Nebraska.

What he discovers is intriguing, threatening and ultimately life-altering. The world is changing and there’s nothing mankind can do.

Read this book and shiver!

(128 words including the title)

Virtual Ducks


Barry frequently has very vivid dreams. The dream he had last night involved virtual ducks which could interface with anything. He couldn’t understand why the sky wasn’t filled with them but then realised they were a special one-off bunch. They were good and he was pleased with them because they were compatible with all media standards, all types of video recording. This meant that he could record them much more easily than real ducks.

Although he knew that the concept made absolutely no sense whatsoever he was very happy and had a most enjoyable dream.

Meanwhile, I was dreaming of a tree that had been planted in a container that looked like a canvas shopping bag. There was a padlock attached to it but a strong wind was threatening to blow it into the pond. I went out to make it secure but had to negotiate the water sprinkler. As I was pondering how to do this – I was in my nightdress – my son suddenly appeared, dressed in oilskins, and walked over a wooden plank to make it safe. Barry was also there, working out the best way to save the tree, but obviously his mind was more on virtual ducks than padlocked trees!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thursday Tales #65 Ravensmoor Farm

The challenge at Thursday Tales is to respond to an illustration with a story no less than 55 words and no more than 777. To read other stories, please click here.

'Guide' by Pierrick Martinez

Jonah Arkwright had loved the moors all his life. He had farmed sheep on the uplands since he was a youth, taking over the smallholding from his father when the old man became too feeble to struggle on. Through the seasons he cared for his flock, setting out each morning with a faithful sheepdog at his heels and two more running ahead.

Unlike other farmers he never worried about ravens attacking his flock. He knew they only resorted to that through hunger and so, like his father before him, he put out food daily for the birds. A pair of ravens, probably about sixty years old, appeared each day at the feeding station and Jonah took that as a sign that all was well. On the rare occasions that the birds absented themselves he knew there was a reason and always it was because of a problem with the sheep. Once he had found a pregnant ewe tumbled into a ditch and unable to extricate herself. The ravens were standing sentry over her. The next day Jonah made sure they had extra rations – the fat from the ham and some fruit as well as the bread they so enjoyed. Another time the ravens had alerted him to a lamb abandoned by its mother. Jonah respected the ravens and they repaid him well.

Now he too had grown old and his son was taking on more of the work. The flock had multiplied and Alfred was a caring shepherd, having learnt from his father how to manage the tough moorland sheep. Jonah still went out with his remaining elderly dog every day, leaning on his crook as he negotiated the steep pathways.

The weather on the moors was often capricious; a fine sunny morning would give way to a sudden thick mist coming down from the tops. Jonah was out one day when the fog descended but Alfred was not unduly concerned when his father did not return for his midday meal. As the afternoon wore on he was surprised to see the ravens. They had fed handsomely that morning and did not usually return until the next day but now they were flying round and calling agitatedly. Eliza, Alfred’s wife, said, ‘They’re telling us something. Look how they fly towards us and then away, as if they want us to follow them.’

She fetched her shawl and a lantern and Alfred whistled the rest of the dogs to him and together they set off up the hill. The wind was screaming in their ears and although the fog had fled, the daylight was waning. One false step on the rough ground could lead to a broken ankle or worse. The ravens circled them, calling all the time, then flying a short distance away and back. Eventually they landed on a tussock of rough grass, bobbing their heads and cawing softly, gently. As they reached the spot Alfred and Eliza saw Jonah lying on the ground, his crook by his side, his old dog stretched out beside him. They were both dead.

The little church was packed on the day of Jonah’s funeral. He had been well-liked by his neighbours. The sun shone brightly and a warm breeze blew through the trees as the cortege approached the grave, the freshly turned earth smelling rich and wholesome. 

After the coffin had been committed to the ground and the burial service was over the mourners turned to leave and each one of them noticed the two ravens on the roof of the church. As they watched, the great birds bowed and then took off to soar gracefully through the blue sky back to the moors.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Wobbly Winston

Winston stretches 

Winston is the most loving, affectionate and cuddlesome cat you could ever wish to meet. He miaous and purrs and chirrups and chats with everyone. I don’t think there is a nasty bone in his body. He is nonchalant and easy-going, almost blasĂ© in his approach to life and loves all the attention lavished on him. There is just one thing he doesn’t really appreciate and that is having his claws clipped.
Because he is an indoor cat his claws don’t wear down very quickly and he clicks across our bare floors like a tap-dancer auditioning for the chorus of a musical. He uses his scratching post and our legs and furniture to free the sheaths but the points of his claws remain as little daggers that catch in clothing and other fabrics, incapacitating him briefly and preventing him from conducting his day in the way he has dictated. So, every now and then, I clip his claws.

With our Burmese cats I could lay them upside down on my lap and take my time over their pedicures. They enjoyed the care and consideration. Maybe it’s something to do with the breed. My father even used to file his little cat’s claws; she had been a breeding queen before my parents adopted her and took a long time to adapt to living in a home but she always welcomed a pedicure.

Winston, our Ocicat, curls up on my lap and relaxes and purrs his noisy, breathy rumbles, looking up at me from time to time with his beautiful amber eyes to make sure I’m admiring him as rigorously as he requires. When I judge that he is suitably tranquil – that is, almost comatose – I attempt to cut his nails. I have always been able to caress his paws, insinuating my fingers between his pads, and he really enjoys that but as soon as he sees the clippers in my hand he becomes uncooperative, tucking his paws away beneath him, nudging the metal with his velvet nose, still droning like a well-oiled engine.

I nip off the tip of one claw and tell Winston what a beautiful boy he is. He stares at me – ‘I know that,’ he says and folds his paw away again. I extricate it and clip another point and inform him how much more comfortable he will be now. He directs another disbelieving tawny look at me and withdraws his foot. The purring continues.

I am anxious to tackle the ‘thumb’ claw, which is curving in towards his leg – I don’t want that to grow very much longer. I manage to disentangle the paw once more and successfully trim his thumb nail. He folds his front leg firmly underneath and looks at me again, a challenging expression in his eyes. I give up on that limb and move to a hind leg. The claws here are shorter and blunter because Winston often nibbles at them. Like a baby he chews his toes but not his ‘fingers’.

Eventually I manage to shorten all the claws on his left side but there is no opportunity to embark upon the right for Winston has decided to vacate my lap. Off he trots, tail held straight and high, clacking on his right paws, silent on his left, wallowing like a sailor home from the sea. 

If you should happen to see a drunken cat seesawing towards you, tapping out Morse code with his right claws, you will recognise him instantly as Winston. Perhaps you might have better luck with the nail clippers;-) 

ABC Wednesday W is for Waterloo and Wellington and Wet Weather

The Battle of Waterloo, on 18th June, 1815, was the authoritative finale to 26 years of fighting between France and the rest of Europe. It marked the end of France’s ascendancy and the beginning of Germany’s. The victors were the British, Germans, Belgians, Dutch and Prussians.  Napoleon’s reign as Emperor of France was ended and he was sent into exile on St Helena where he died in 1821. Louis XVIII was restored to the French throne.
Portrait of the Duke of Wellington by John Jackson 1830-31
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Three nights before the Battle of Waterloo began the Duchess of Richmond gave a ball in Brussels. Many officers of the English and Prussian armies were invited to attend, including Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, commander-in-chief of the allied army. As the evening progressed and the guests were enjoying the Duchess’ hospitality, word came to Wellington that Napoleon was advancing on Brussels at the head of the French army.

In order not to alarm the assembled company Wellington kept the information secret but quietly sent the officers to their regiments one by one, finally leaving the ball himself for the battlefield.

However, in the section of Lord Byron’s poem ‘Childe Harold’ that addresses events at the ball, the guests hear a booming sound in the distance but continue to dance until they eventually realise they are hearing cannon fire. This part of the poem actually refers to the night before the Battle of Quatre Bras, the prelude to the Battle of Waterloo, on 16th June.

The Eve of Waterloo

  There was a sound of revelry by night,
      And Belgium's capital had gathered then
    Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
      The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men.
    A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
      Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
    Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
      And all went merry as a marriage-bell:
      But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!

    Did ye not hear it? No; 'twas but the wind,
      Or the car rattling o'er the stony street.
    On with the dance! let joy be unconfined!
      No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
    To chase the glowing hours with flying feet!
      But hark!--that heavy sound breaks in once more,
    As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
      And nearer, clearer, deadlier, than before!
      Arm! arm! it is--it is the cannon's opening roar!

    Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
      And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress
    And cheeks all pale, which, but an hour ago,
      Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness;
    And there were sudden partings, such as press
      The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
    Which ne'er might be repeated: who could guess
      If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
      Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise?

    And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
      The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
    Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
      And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
    And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
      And near, the beat of the alarming drum
    Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
      While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
      Or whispering with white lips, "The foe! They come! They come!"

    And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
      Dewy with Nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
    Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
      Over the unreturning brave--alas!
    Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
      Which, now beneath them, but above shall grow
    In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
      Of living valour, rolling on the foe,
      And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.

    Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
      Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay;
    The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
      The morn the marshalling in arms,--the day,
    Battle's magnificently stern array!
      The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which, when rent,
    The earth is covered thick with other clay,
      Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
      Rider, and horse--friend, foe--in one red burial blent!
 

As the battle was reaching its culmination, the Duke of Wellington was riding with the Earl of Uxbridge when a cannon ball struck the earl. Wellington said, ‘By God, you’ve lost your leg’ to which the earl replied, ‘By God, so I have.’ The rest of the leg was amputated in a nearby house whose owner buried it in the garden. It remained a point of interest for many years.

Wellington had many nicknames. Possibly the best known is ‘The Iron Duke’. Officers under his command called him ‘The Beau’ because he dressed in fine clothes. Regular soldiers called him ‘Nosey’ or ‘Old Hookey’ because of his prominent nose. Others called him ‘Arty’ or ‘Our Atty’. He wore custom-made boots which gave their name to Wellington boots though I think today’s wellies are probably a far cry from his footwear.

Although he was fastidious about his own clothes he was not concerned about his officers’ mode of dress except in one particular – umbrellas. In 1814 he had noticed many officers carrying umbrellas to shelter from the rain. Wellington made it clear that he did not approve of their use in battle, saying, ‘in the field it is not only ridiculous but unmilitary.’ Standing orders for the Battle of Waterloo stated unequivocally, ‘Umbrellas will not be opened in the presence of the enemy.’

The Duke of Wellington’s horse, Copenhagen, is buried at Stratfield Saye, the seat 
of the Dukes of Wellington in Hampshire.

To enjoy more Ws click here.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Magpie Tales #70 Portrait

Thanks go to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme J To read more Magpies please click here.
Image copyright Tess Kincaid

Cool intelligent grey eyes stared at the camera. Charlotte appeared confident but there was a slight tremulousness about her mouth that betrayed her true feelings. The studio portrait had been commissioned by her father. It was to be sent to her fiancĂ© who had left England for India some months previously to manage his family’s tea plantation. Charlotte was to join him soon.

Though she and Edward were engaged, they barely knew each other. They had been introduced by their families who had declared them a perfect couple and delightedly arranged the marriage. Edward had accepted the decision with poor grace but acknowledged that his prospects lay with the family business. Charlotte had demurred but was ignored. As the only daughter of a rich family she was expected to marry well – and that meant marrying money. ‘Keep it in the family’ was the unspoken rule.

She contemplated her fate with dismay. India held no allure for her, Edward even less. There was no spark of attraction between them; they had no interests in common. If he didn’t make her skin crawl, neither did he make her tingle.

When the telegram arrived informing of Edward’s untimely demise – he had fallen prey to cholera – Charlotte felt an enormous sense of relief that she disguised with an air of solemnity and which the families interpreted as grief. The portrait was returned with Edward’s possessions and thenceforth Charlotte was treated with deference. Her subsequent marriage was to a man of her own choosing. Her wedding portrait showed a smiling, poised young woman, all hint of timorousness vanished. 

Monday, 20 June 2011

Dogs and Toys

Dominie (Theakston Terrisa) 25.04.1994 - 13.11.2009
Today I read something rather disturbing on Facebook. A dog that had eaten a child’s teddy bear became very ill. When the veterinary surgeon operated she found a gelatinous mess inside and the dog had no living intestine left – the tissue was black and dead. Of course, the dog could not survive.

Children’s toys are stuffed with flame retardant and mite controlling materials which are highly toxic and designed to become gelatinous. The advice was to not allow dogs access to children’s soft toys.

When I checked this story on Snopes the results were inconclusive. I haven’t read any further reports of such tragic incidents.

Regardless of this, it is never a good idea to allow dogs unsupervised play with any toys, whether they are designed for children or pets. Dogs will chew things to destruction and seem particularly fascinated by the squeakers in toys. Even rawhide chews can be problematic. I remember having to extricate a rolled chew from the late, great Dominie as she struggled and failed to swallow it. The hide had unrolled as she chewed but she had not bitten it into short lengths. It was fortunate that I was there  - I don’t know what would have happened otherwise.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Succinctly Yours Week 13

Grandma's Goulash at Succinctly Yours hosts this microfiction meme.

Each week she posts a photographic prompt for inspiration and the challenge is to write a story using no more than 140 characters or words. 

Below is this week's photo followed by my offering.

It was wrong to fabricate evidence but Sherlock’s reputation was at stake. No-one would know what he had done - he had the magnifying glass.

(140 characters)

Poetry Jam Summer Days

Summer Days

What we like to do is sit in the shade
On a warm summer evening,
Listening as birds make their last serenade
And the sun slips down the horizon,
While the colours flame and flush and fade
Through purple, apricot, crimson.   

What we actually do is huddle indoors
As relentless rain’s cascading,
Bedraggling the birds, battering flowers,
While a gale force wind’s prevailing.
The temperature drops, the savage squall roars,
We shiver in premature gloaming.

English summer is often delightful,
But don’t rely on the weather,
Lovely days can become really frightful,
‘Be prepared’ is the slogan for ever;
Some summers it seems June is spiteful –
Other times she is kindly, however.

'The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today' - except here 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Book Blurb Friday #16 Mint Chocolate Magic


 Each week she posts a photo that could be the cover of a book. The aim is to:
‘Write a book jacket blurb (150 words or less) so enticing that potential readers would feel compelled to buy the book.’ 

Here is this week’s book cover. My blurb follows.
Photo copyright Sioux Roslawski

Mint Chocolate Magic

Meggie Campbell is eight years old and she loves dark mint chocolate but her mother tells her she should never eat more than two squares a day. She says that Meggie will regret it if she does. One day temptation proves too much and what follows is something Meggie will 
never forget.

This modern fable is a scary cautionary tale that will also make children laugh. Will Meggie ever eat dark mint chocolate again? Would you? Read and find out.

(83 words including title)