Thursday, 29 September 2011

Shadow

I have acquired a shadow - actually I have always had a shadow; especially on sunny days - but this evening, I have a four-legged shadow, who moves every time I move, lies at the bottom of the stairs when I go up to check on Littlest and her sister, and is now collapsed at my feet (as close to my feet as he can get without actually lying on them). Panting!

When last unwell, he drooled rivulettes of drool all over the floor. Today the floor is dry, but the panting is quite pronounced. Is this just a hazard of having a big, constantly ravenous dog, who eats everything he comes across that is remotely edible? Today, he sampled a maggot-infested rabbit, until I noticed and it spoke to him - Beep! Beep! - and he left it alone. His good behaviour was rewarded with a bone, but he obviously decided that that wasn't sufficient, as there are now fewer apples left on the tree than there were this morning - the size of the next family crumble is shrinking by the day!

So over-appled or rabbit-poisoned, he lies on the floor. Or has he, perhaps, come out in sympathy with friends' equally large (equally stupid?) and equally ravenous dog who ate an entire chocolate fudge cake earlier today and according to their vet requires a night-long vigil by his basket? Four-legged friend would probably welcome the company, if I sat up with him (and the mice) in the utility room all night. Actually, hopefully no mice as current tally is two caught.

Best update with health of various four-legged friends tomorrow ... meanwhile, thinking of friend and her chocolate-filled dog.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Oh My Doggy Deity

A dog's vocabulary is just a bit too narrow. I mean, there aren't too many ways you can say Woof! Woof! - there's the I need food now WOOF!; the get off my property, fierce, heckles-up WOOF!WOOF!; the you haven't forgotten me again Wooooof?; the pleeese take me for a walk, I'll be good Wuff, woof,woof!; and the low growly leave me alone I want to sleep Grrrru-woof!Basically all woof then.

What I would really like is a woof that expresses surprise - I know jumping almost out of my skin, leaping off my mat and dancing around a bit, kind of shows my surprise, but it's not very cool. In dog years I'm a teenager and Long-legged boy and his friends have this great thing they say at the beginning of most sentences. And it even has two meanings: "O.M.G." If they say it quickly, with their eyes wide, it's a bit like me leaping off my bed, but if they roll their eyes and say it slowly, "Ooowe- emmmm-geeee", it means they're soooo bored, or fed up, or both, and a grown up is probably saying something really annoying at the same time.

O.M.G. wouldn't really work for dogs, though. What about 'Oh my dogginess'? - no, that plus my swinging hips would be a bit too camp. Or, 'Oh my doggy deity', or O.M.D.D.? That might work. I don't know if us dogs have a deity - would we need proof that one exists? Or can we just happily go along like out two legged friends assuming that maybe he does, so maybe we'd better believe in him, or not, and maybe we can say O.M.G. or O.M.D.D. anyway because it sounds so cool.

I, of course can't actually say O.M.D.D. ... but I can think it. And the next time I woof, if I woof seven syllables then O.M.D.D. it is!

Littlest's life lessons

Seven year olds ask the best questions.

Littlest had an appointment in the scoliosis clinic this morning and in the car on the way there, she asked, "Why is my back crooked? What happens if it gets more crooked? (pitch beginning to rise ...) Will I need an operation? (pitch even higher ...) Will I need to be put to sleep? (pitch so high now that she sounds like a cat that has just stepped on a hot coal ...) Will it mean needles?"

Seven year olds also race toward a conclusion, unnervingly always managing to find the one they like the least, so with her almost hysterical in the back of the car, I had to retreat rapidly from the thought of needles, and try to explain the different degrees of crookedness, with the reassurance that hers is such a minimal crookedness that probably none of her friends have noticed and it is unlikely to involve any operations ... or needles. Certainly not any time soon.

Then in clinic, while she coloured at the drawing table, a little girl with an extreme crookedness sat down next to her and  I could see Littlest thinking that's exactly what mum meant when she said my back wasn't very crooked. She squeezed her rabbit comforter and got on with colouring.

On the way home, Littlest confessed that she had found it hard not to look at the crooked little girl. "It's rude to stare," she said. "But when I was ... staring at her, I was thinking how lucky I am really."

The best questions, and sometimes the best lessons too.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Help! I think I'm going mad.

My food has been talking to me. Yes! It really has! Is this a sign of madness? Should I be worried?

As a matter of fact, I have to confess, I am a bit concerned. After all, food hasn't spoken to me before. And it's not something I've heard other dogs talking about. Although, if you were another dog and hearing voices, it's probably not something you'd freely talk about, would you, just in case we all thought you were a few dog biscuits short of a full meal?

Think I had better explain.

Mum and I disagree on the definition of food - sometimes, okay, we are in agreement, like when she gives me breakfast or supper, or bread, or carrots, or if I'm really lucky, bones, and none of them talk to me. But when it comes to rabbit droppings, partial rotting corpses of some long dead beast, and my favourite: the custard like dollops of cow poo scattered across the field, she says it's disgusting and I say they are delicacies, to be savoured. I think most dogs would agree with me. Anyway, these are the foods that have started to speak. Interestingly, they all have the same voice and they all say the same thing, "Beep! Beep!". This usually follows mum yelling "Leave it!" at me. And I do; I can't eat food that talks!

You'd think mum would be concerned and worry if I am ill or something, because of how I am avoiding all the 'disgusting' foods, but instead she looks really pleased with herself, as if she has an important secret; one that only she knows. I'm losing weight too - surely that should worry her. But no, for some reason, it doesn't.

As if saying 'beep! beep!' isn't enough, something even worse happened yesterday. I had been trapped inside my run, when a small buzzard caught and plucked and disected a pigeon about 3 feet from my snout.When mum came to take me for a walk and scared the buzard off, I went to have a perfectly innocent sniff around the meat! deceased bird.

"Leave it!" commanded mum and the pigeon said, "Beep! Beep!".  Not so dead then. "Leave it!" said Mum again ... and the pigeon squirted me in the eye. Definitely alive and what an impressive spitting aim! But it's strange how pigeon spit tastes so much of bitter lemon.

P.S. I left the pigeon alone ... and Mum did an impression of the Cheshire Cat, again.

So what do you think, should I be worried about losing my mind? Am I going mad, or am I right to be suspicious that it might have something to do with Mum ...

Bl**dy mice

A summer of home extension, incineration, and rebuilding, followed by redecoration and recarpeting meant that our sitting room curtains were folded across the sofas for several weeks - part of an island in the middle of the room around which the sea that is our life could continue and an island which a pair of mice thought would provide a safe haven away from the builders, electricians, plumbers and unwanted attentions of Four-legged-friend. Until this morning ...

When mice set up home, they nest. And nesting means finding lots of soft, fluffy stuff. And if the surroundings aren't soft and fluffy enough, the mice have teeth that can shred and chew and tear until the resulting bed is ideal for snuggling into.

For a pair of mice it's home sweet-curtain-home. Until a human giant comes along, throws the roof off the nest (upper curtain) and scares the sh*t out of you - lots of little black specs of sh*t in a path across the (lower) curtain, over the sofa arm and in a tell tale line to the nearest hole in the floor. Sadly for the mice, the nest is destroyed.

And sadly for the human giant, the curtain is too





Saturday, 24 September 2011

Walking the dog in this dimension or a myriad of others

Walking the dog and particle physics - mmm! Unusual subject to muse upon on a clear sunny Saturday morning (virtual) stroll. Virtual because I am actually sitting at my netbook with Four-legged-friend sprawled at my feet, coffee on the hob, toast ... burning! You get the picture.

Anyway, and in advance of what follows, I apologise to any particle physicists for my ignorance of their subject and tardiness at keeping up with the headlines in particle-physics-world. Until now, that is! As if the news that particles have been discovered that appear to travel faster than the speed of light -I thinks that means they get to their destination before they left their point of departure - is not enough to addle the average brain, a physicist, on what I had always assumed was a reputable TV programme, Newsnight, last night offered as explanation that the neutrinos in question may have travelled through a worm hole from another dimension. 

Now, I know it was late and I was tired, but I am positive that was what he said. The worlds of Philip Pullman and Inception are upon us. Maybe, I'm walking the dog in a parallel universe. Maybe, the other me is fitter, healthier, less procrastinating. Maybe, I exist in thousands of other  dimensions. Mind boggling!

To make it worse, he went on to suggest that in order to explain certain aspects of physics, scientists had hypothesized about the existence of extra dimensions for some years now! Isn't that news worthy of the non-physicist press? Is no-one else interested in this?And he casually added, if the neutrinos were from another dimension, it was simply an interesting anomaly -not devastatingly amazing! - because they don't carry any information, so can't tell us anything.

Wow! Need to rest my brain now. Fresh air, apples, brambles, crumble making and six-year-old friend's first ever birthday party (hospitalised for all previous ones) - these kind of put this world back into perspective. At least for now ... whatever the concept of now is.

Losing your cool; the need for time travel

Exactly how much can you lose in one morning and still get yourself plus children to school without completely losing your cool?

Shoes? - where you left them, scattered across the hall floor; tights? - no idea, scribble name on new pair, and resolve to excavate down to the bottom of the wash-basket, later; school bag? - somewhere, under the kitchen table? (grit teeth, cool definitely beginning to trickle away) - no, in your bedroom? - no, what's that in your bed?; cello? - in the car already, miraculous!; water bottle? - don't know, and losing ability to care. Ah okay, we'd better find it then, if you'll get a minus point for not having it - try the fridge. Yes! (warming up again); piano music? - have you tried the piano?; coat, tennis racket, car keys? Find the keys - in the car with the cello - tennis racket half way up the stairs and coat no where to be found. Child sulks and cries most of the way to school, then finds the coat beneath a pile of bags in the foot-well of the car. Cool seeping out, but not lost.

Bags, coats, instruments, rackets, little sticky hands and lead stumble toward the school gate, mother as pack-horse, shepherd ... and guardian of the steaming pile of poo that dog has just deposited on the pavement. Mother drops everything and frantically starts to dig in her pockets - poo bags? Forgotten. Cool? Well and truly lost. If only she could wind back time ...

Actually, only the earlier part of that story was me (and is me most mornings, but more stressed on the days I also have to get to work - cool very precariously held onto on those days); the frantic mother on the pavement dropping everything was observed yesterday. And I resolved never, ever to add Four-legged-friend to our morning routine.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Insect or spider? A bad day for Einstein.

Six legs, not eight (see Of Mayflies and earwigs, previous blog) - I know, I know! Mayflies, or daddy-long-legs, are insects, therefore six-legged; I should have known better. Maybe, I could claim I was testing to see if anyone was paying attention ... sadly, no-one was.

But they do look a bit spiderish. And if you whack them with the fly swat, they drop so many legs all over the floor that the insect-leg-number-rule must be a myth - and rules, after all, aren't written in stone; if particles travelling round a magnetic donut deep within the Alps, can move faster than the speed of light, then how can we be certain about anything?

And, if physics is wrong, was the daddy-long-legs dead before I hit it as I direct result of the blow I was about to inflict upon it? And in the future could I step back in time and let the daddy-long-legs escape through an open window before hitting it?

Finally, if your brain hasn't imploded  trying to imagine the impact of very, very speedy particles (I wonder what the Italian scientists, who identified them, will call them - what about Houdini particles, ones that escaped from the normal binding constraints of current Physics?) - could moving faster than the speed of light finally fulfil that previously elusive dream of fitting more hours into the day?  If so, the four-legged-friends of the future would be guaranteed a daily walk!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Of mayflies and earwigs

So, what is the collective noun for a mass of mayflies - or daddy-long-legs, if you prefer? Or as Littlest quite reasonably speculated, is there even one?

Personally, I like clatter - a clatter of mayflies - as, I bet if you had a microphone and could amplify the sound of eight impossibly gangly legs on the ceiling, the sound produced would indeed be a clattering one. Littlest disagreed. She thought a cloud, or a shoal might be better - the way they drift up and down between floor and ceiling reminded her of jelly-fish. We wondered about troupe as they do appear to be engaged in a (masochistic) dance around the light bulb. But could a butterfly's kiss of mayflies be the best, referring to the light touch of fine thread, as spindly leg brushes your skin?

And as for earwigs, I favour explosion since this both describes what happens when you expose where they are hiding and observe them magically multiply and squirm off in all directions and also the seemingly exponential growth in their population this year; I'm hoping it's seasonal and that they'll all be gone soon. Littlest thought a vomit of earwigs too disgusting in the image it conjured up and couldn't get her tongue or head sufficiently round the word revolting to make a noun out of it; revoltingableness was her best effort!

The gooseberry thief turns meat eater

And a very proficient meat eater I am too. This is me - Four-Legged-Friend - talking about my favouritist thing in the whole world: fooooooood. Mmmmm - makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

The meat I refer to is skittish. It clickity clacks across the floor, bumps into the walls and kind of floats up to the ceiling. It seems to have a particular fondness for lights. But I think this fondness is misplaced and a bit too extreme for something so small, because when the meat gets too hot it panics and drops back down to nose level. That's when I strike. Yum!

The meat alone is a little bit crunchy; like eating a small stick stuffed with gooey jelly. And it doesn't exactly fill you up. But the good thing is it seldom is alone. Mum opened the back door earlier and a whole load of them came in - a flock, a herd, a clatter? I didn't hear the doorbell, so quite why she opened the door, I don't know; perhaps she wanted to give me a treat. Except, I don't think she likes them very much; when they stumble too near to her head she ducks and goes, "Oooooh!" Sometimes, they make her shiver. Not me - I just wait, casual stance, giving nothing away, until they flutter temptingly close to my muzzle and then snap, munch, swallow, it's over in seconds and, already, I'm waiting for the next one.

Mum helps sometimes, too, although in comparison, there's no real sporting skill to what she does. She just uses the fly swat and flicks it at them. Pathetic really! I, of course, oblige and eat the daddy-long-legs she kills for me; I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Adventures of Freddie - part 1 (probably)

Littlest has a new task. One that will hopefully distract her from missing, too much, her biggest sister, who departed for university, yesterday - lots of those I-wish-I-didn't-have-to-say-goodbye-and-where-have-the-past-19-years-gone? hugs, and Mummy and Littlest tears after she had gone.

The biggest sister took one of Littlest's fleeces with her, to have in her bed and left Littlest with a cherished teddy called Freddie. Littlest has promised to look after him until biggest sister gets back (in December; that's a lot of looking after!)

So yesterday, we took Freddie on 'an adventure'. To an apple festival. At Audley End.

Littlest quickly marched us through the all-things-appley marquee; briefly glanced at the Suffolk Punch beast of a handsome horse; lingered longingly in the gift shop - twice!- hurried through the Victorian kitchen re-enactment; spent an age trying out all the swings, slides, ropes and climbing frames in the play park, and marvelled at the falconry ... briefly!

And Freddie joined in:

Buckaroo!


Climbing


Falconry


Peregrine falcons swooping down with more G-force than a fighter jet are a bit scary for bears, so it was a bit safer hanging around at Littlest's knee height


Littlest 'found' Freddie a friend in the gift shop


And, today decided that one friend wasn't enough, so baked him a gingerbread one - with a broken arm (not sure if Littlest, or Four-Legged-Friend, who was trying ever so hard to help, got the arm)


Note: the icing sling! Parental influence??

Shrivelling up inside

Just in case anyone is confused by the heading, the following has nothing whatsoever to do with the ageing process and all the horrible symptoms of senile decay - although, being easily distracted, forgetfulness and rudeness ... oh dear! I guess the inevitable catches up with us all.

No, instead this is something that I suspect we have all felt, that moment when you realise you have inadvertently insulted someone, failed to notice immediately and so failed to apologise, largely on the basis that it's too late now, the damage is done and to draw attention to it by saying sorry would only make it worse. And as a result, you wither, just a little, inside.

I did it to a dear friend, today! We were at school - yes, I know it's a Sunday, but it was also Harvest festival and attendance was fairly compulsory (*) - and during the coffee (you see, my memory even fails me ... it was wine, a largish glass of white; certainly too large for a Sunday morning - perhaps squiffiness is to blame for what happened next?) we were chatting about our sons and exams (i.e. the perennial subject of parents facing Upper Sixth and university applications, at this time of year, and offspring who have little idea of where they want to go, what they want to do and even littler idea of the big world out there just waiting to swallow them up). Specifically, we were discussing music theory exams and I commented that I thought Grade 8 was quite a tough qualification to achieve. Dear friend commented that she thought it wasn't to bad; she took it after all.

Now let me pause here - what was dear friend actually saying? Was she stating an honest fact - the exam indeed is not too hard? Was she trying, as nice friend's do, to reassure me that son would be fine? Or was she innocently (she is nice) putting herself down and equally innocently seeking a compliment? Whatever her motivation, I , in retrospect, got it wrong. Or at least, I think I got it wrong, as I didn't notice just how rude I had possibly been until later. I replied, "Oh! Oh, okay" and went on to talk some drivel about how I only managed to get Grade 1. And here is the origin of any misunderstanding: the quite wrong, unstated text to what I said could be 'Oh, okay, if you got it, then it can't be too hard!' And just in case that is what she thought, I later withered inside. What I should have said is "Wow! I'm impressed!" or some similar patting-on-the-back expression. But naturally and honestly avoiding any hint of amazement in my voice, as that would have made things worse! (Not amazed; definitely impressed!)

So, if dear friend reads this and was insulted, then I am truly sorry. That is not what I meant at all.

Sadly (and perhaps this should be a salutatory lesson to all us middle-agers), these slip ups have happened before (hopefully this is not an increasing trend!) - the friend who said she couldn't find anything to wear and feared she looked really frumpy and to whom I said "Yes ..." instead of  "Nooo, you look great!", and worse, the work colleague who recently put herself down saying she probably wouldn't be able to help but to ask her my  question anyway and to whom I replied, "No ..." (rude subtext: 'No you probably won't be able to help') !!!What was I thinking? Just noticed the common theme here, though ' ...'. These rudenesses creep up on you unawares when you are distracted - this morning it was looking out for Littlest running around with her school friends while chatting, the friend with the frumpy clothes caught me in a doorway when I was in a hurry, and the comment at work came in the middle of a particularly stressful morning.

Walking the dog is a good time to reflect on things and watching Four-Legged-Friend's rear-end swing from side to side, as he minces up the footpath, I reckon I have two options - either to keep my mouth shut at all times, never utter anything when my mind is not fully on the conversation, and avoid at all costs the ' ...' , or apologise every time it happens - I'm not normally so rude.

Lets hope, for the sake of my friends (if I have any left by the time I am old), that rudeness isn't genetically inherited; my Gran could, at times, be a pretty direct, fierce talking lady.

* I realise that compulsory is compulsory and you can't be a little bit compulsory or even fairly compulsory but I'm also fairly confident (!) that the headteacher was not going to hang anyone for treason if they failed to attend Harvest, but just that she really, really wanted everyone to be there. So fairly compulsory it is. Or rather, was.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

You have got to be kidding

Message from Four-Legged-Friend to Mum:

'You spend the summer too busy with cooking your house (still don't understand why, the mess it made and the disruption and work afterwards will hopefully put you off ever doing it again. A metal cage and a damp outdoor run seem much more sensible to me.); too busy taking me to kennels and going off on holidays; too busy entertaining friends (although, and I've said it before, if I was entertaining friends, I definitely wouldn't put the beautiful raw meat on a pile of hot coals, stand in the smoke produced until my eyes water, and then dare to say "barbecue's ready" - meat's well and truly burnt, more like!); too busy going to work and then making endless cups of dangerous hot stuff for assorted builders and decorators; and generally too busy doing too many other things to take me for many decent walks. Then yesterday - right in the middle of a mega busy day for you: work, interview, shopping, packing, washing mountains of clothes, and cooking - you brought me a marrow bone ... and then - THEN!? - you expected me to want to come for a walk!'



Little tip for you the next time, Mum - walk, then bone ...

Hope there will be a next time. Bone was rather yummy.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The fruit bites back

Sometimes, what you have just eaten has an unpleasant knack of getting its own back - the cucumber that makes you burp for several hours, after you ate it in your salad; the spicy take away that gives you indigestion (or worse); and the heavily laced trifle, that tips the balance of your alcohol consumption and means you can't drive home for several hours. And for our four-legged-friend - alias the fruit thief - the apples have bitten back.

Heavens knows how vast a quantity he had guzzled earlier in the day; he has abandoned covert strikes on the trees when he thinks no one is watching, and instead, strolls up lazily, plucks an apple, and turns to look at us, before collapsing his swollen (fruit stuffed) belly onto the ground and almost resignedly crunching his way through it, as though it is his solemn duty to do so. His greed, however, caught up with him in the evening, by which time he had been turned into a drooling, possibly drunk, shadow of his former self. It was as though someone had turned on a tap inside his mouth. He lay pitifully, in a spreading pool of sticky drool. A kind and helpful friend (another mum of dogs) offered advice and with lots of rehydration and definitely no more apples, four-legged-friend was happier by the morning.

Needless to say his subsequent visits outside have been carefully monitored and the plan is to pick all the remaining apples tomorrow.

But I guess he will then turn his attention to the hedgerow and the brambles ... or maybe he'll get a nasty surprise if he tries a sloe.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Littlest goes all Yodic on us

Littlest, very, very tired, gave up eating her "pasto" (pasta-plus-pesto) this evening and said, "I think you heard me a bit too much that I said."

What!?

Took me a bit of time to unscramble that I had given her too much.

Monday, 12 September 2011

New Week Resolutions

Can you have these; resolutions at the beginning of the week? Guess I can, so here goes:

This week, I will start to eat more healthily (less chocolate - oh dear! It had better be a good week - no hassles; no sleepless nights; no impatient nearest and dearest; no clothing crises; no more anxious little people worried about who their best friend is today. If not, then chocolate will be required in generous, comfort-giving quantities, and I will (very probably) be unable to resist).

I will also take more exercise - four-legged-friend will be pleased. We need to rediscover the local footpaths, dig out the walking boots and try out the new collar-attached beeping and squirting device to prevent over-exuberant meetings with other walkers and their dogs.

I will be better organised. There is something particularly hateful about getting somewhere - usually school - and finding that something desperately needed - swimming bag, cello, water bottle - is at home, twenty-five minutes away, and even if you wanted to, you can't go back to get it because work beckons. So child is left either in tears, or grumpily thinking that they have a pretty useless mum. And mum feels really, monumentally  useless.

I will write more, or actually edit and submit again. Feeling strong enough for another rejection and an agent isn't going to miraculously appear (splitting infinitives, not a great idea, but think I might leave this one as it emphasizes the miraculously and a miracle would be nice) at our front door, having come to find me, so time for another go.

Why make resolutions? Well, mainly because I don't want to be a BUPA statistic: unhealthy, middle-aged Briton. Also, because my kids need a healthy, happier me and four-legged-friend is getting lazy.

And why write them down? Might just make me stick to them ... never have before, so it's worth a try.

As for procrastinating and staying up too late - nah!Can't change and don't want to change; after all, I'm good at those.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Please tell me this doesn't come in dog size

I'm puzzled. I overheard Mum say it was a shame dogs aren't more like cats. What did she mean? I thought she liked dogs. Do cats do anything better than dogs? Perhaps it has something to do with this -



Although, I'm not sure that cats like peanut butter as much as I do. I'm definitely a more voracious peanut butter eater than any mangy old cat.

And isn't it a bit too small to trap a cat, anyway, or was she planning on trapping something else? 

Now that I think about it, there's a mouse that raids the kitchen cupboards most evenings after my human family have gone to bed. I reckon he'd be the perfect size for this trap ...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Another cuddle

Discovered a new, previously unclassified, cuddle (see cuddle classification blog, on 27th August) :

The drape-my-arms-around-you-and-belch-loudly cuddle, alternatively known as the I-need-a-stable-upright-prop cuddle, or the if-I-don't-cuddle-you-I'll-fall-over cuddle, as often demonstrated by adolescent men who have been out celebrating a birthday, exam results or sporting victory. Usually followed by a horizontal, total shut down of all bodily functions, apart from loud snoring and explosive releasing of wind. And denied vehemently the next day.

That takes the tally of different cuddles, in the classification of cuddles, to eleven. But there are probably more ...

Whoopee cushion dog

Is this the biggest whoopee cushion in the world?


Makes more of a lady-like phut instead of a full blown raspberry when I sit on it ... but I don't care: it's really comfortable and I'm one happy dog, even if I suspect it's a ploy to stop me sitting on the new sofas.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Yawn - I'm a teenager, Mum! Let me sleep.

Why won't Mum just let me sleep?


And why is she holding that black flashy thing so close to my nose? What if I sneeze on it, or lick it the next time - bet she wouldn't like that, but it might make her leave me alone? Can't she see that I'm tired?

What does she expect? - she sent me to kennels again; four nights wasn't long enough to catch up on all the gossip, so, of course, I had to stay up really late chatting with all the other dogs, and then spend most of the days barking at the nice girls who serve the food and take us for walks. Unfortunately, I wasn't taken to the salon this time, didn't get to wrestle with the brush or eat the bubbles, so didn't smell so good when I got home, which was probably just as well as my big friend Boswell came to play. It was a very kind thought of my human family to invite him, and his human family who had to come with him, too. I'm not sure what Bos would have thought if I had been all cologned and shiny. 

We had a great time, me showing Bos my garden, nipping him to make him play (he can be quite elderly in his attitude to play sometimes), and rolling on my back beneath him to make him stop when he got too strong for me. Later, we sat outside the kitchen window and kept up a constant whining serenade, while the assorted humans inside burnt their food and ate it and drank something out of long bottles, that I suspect makes them laugh a lot.We both thought they were a bit ungrateful when they yelled at us instead of rewarding us with some food for our beautiful singing.

As if all that isn't enough to make me tired, my room has been hijacked - the walls have changed colour, the ceiling is whiter, all the pictures have gone, the shoes are in a huge pile in the middle of the floor and my cage is in a different place. And it smells funny, making me sneeze. Something has been giving me nightmares - Mum says I'm all twitchy and whining when I'm asleep - maybe it's the smell.

And I can't sleep anyway, because there is a choir of noisy owls that keeps us all awake at around midnight each night, and as if that isn't bad enough, a fox has been trespassing into my garden and his grunting wakes me and then Mum at 4.30am - which she says something quite rude about. But that isn't very fair cos it's not my fault ... so no more photos: please let me sleep, Mum.