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Now, I hope you’re not getting sick of the ABC Wednesday posts. I’ve never been one for formula posts, but firstly I’m quite enjoying this one, and secondly, I’m just plain sick.  To be accurate, I have a stinky virus thing I picked up on one of my therapy visits with The Princess.  As they say, no good deed goes unpunished!

So today we’re up to the letter ‘K‘, and fortunately, there are plenty of things in my house beginning with ‘K‘, so I haven’t had to stir myself very much.  And some of my favourite things are represented by this letter.

And, to be fair, one of my less favourite things.  Up there, you’ll see the first picture which is a little plaque I keep on the shelf between my kitchen and the lounge.  It illustrates perfectly how I feel about kitchens.  We don’t have chairs in ours, or a dining table, or I might feel differently. No, ours is a working kitchen.  You go there to wash clothes or dishes, prepare food, or – perish the thought – actually cook!!  I used to cook a lot, of course, for my growing family, but I’m well and truly disenchanted, which may have something to do with the fact that I can’t eat any of the fun stuff anymore, or I balloon.

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Now, I’m sure some of you will remember that I like knives.  Alright, I love knives.   This one is my latest acquisition, a sweet little Sabatier, less than six inches long and sharp as a razor.  There’s no problem with the perspective in that picture, the blade really is that short, less than two inches, I’d say.  Beautiful!  But, as you see by the dings and scratches it’s already managed to pick up, it’s a knife that I use quite frequently.

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Staying in the kitchen, my next favourite thing is fruit.  In this case, kiwi fruit. This one has its own special, one-free-with-every-pack, kiwi fruit spoon.  It’s an odd looking thing, isn’t it?  I haven’t actually tried it yet, because I tend to just cut them in half with a knife, then eat the flesh with … a … spoon …

Oh.

Um … yeah.  That’s what the ‘spoon’ is for, right?  Maybe I’ll try that sometime!

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In the dining room, we have a large, custom built piece of pine furniture with shelves for books, and drawers for videos and DVDs.  Naturally, the drawers are at the bottom, and when we first got The Princess, her bed was in here.  Did I ever tell you that she was a chewer?  No?  Well, there’s the evidence.  She chewed about six of the lower drawer knobs till we realised what she was doing and moved her bed away.  She’s such a lazy hound, you see, that she will only gnaw on things she can reach without getting up.

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And there is a drawer where we keep our keys.  This is one of my keys – it has a recycled circuit board tag, which I rather like, and – oh look!  Guess who it is in that film cell inside the other tag?  Yep, it’s Johnny Depp, in his role as the deliciously sombre and opium-addled Inspector Fred Abberline in the movie ‘From Hell’.  It’s not really a horror movie, but it is a slasher, because it’s a fictionalised account of the Jack the Ripper murders which took place in Victorian London, and which were never solved.

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Another favourite thing of mine is jewellery, and this is a piece of homemade thong jewellery. Yes, I know that ‘J’ was last week, but look closely, and you’ll see that this necklace is made to be adjustable by means of two knots.  Clever, huh?  I thought so!  And look closely again, and you’ll see a tiny knife.

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You all know that one of my most favourite things is my dogs, don’t you?  Well, dogs have to eat, and this is a bag of their usual kibble.  It’s not the most expensive, but it’s not the cheapest either, and it seems to suit them, so this is what I mostly buy.

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Last, but not least, here’s a movie from my Johnny Depp collection.  What’s that?  Yes, I know.  The movie title doesn’t begin with a ‘K‘, does it?  Nor does Johnny Depp.  No, I know.  But what you may not know is that Johnny plays Jack Kerouac in this movie!  There.  Quite legitimate.

Told you I was enjoying this one!  How about you?

Posted on September 30, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay14 Comments »

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So, I’m watching the news this lunchtime and I hear the following -

‘It’s thought that the fire was sparked by an industrial vacuum cleaner which had been left on for two days …’

I snort with laughter, and think ‘stupid fuckers!‘  Because, really, who but an airhead would do such a thing?  And then I lift my eyes to the screen and see the burned out wreck of the beautiful, gorgeous, previously-in-near-perfect-condition Cutty Sark!

The news item was about the inquiry into the fire which gutted the little ship last year, and apparently they are putting the blame on the renovation workers for leaving the vacuum running, and the security staff for not raising the alarm sooner.  Those bastards apparently faked a log entry and failed to perform a required fire check, putting their feet up instead.  They were instantly sacked, of course, but it doesn’t turn back the clock, does it?

I mean, this is the Cutty Sark, people!!  One of the last tea clippers to be built, and until last year, the best preserved.  A beautiful, elegant little 19th century sailing ship.  Here you can see what she looked like before the fire, and here is a painting of her under sail.  How is it possible that people could have been so careless with her?

When I was a child, living in London, my father took me to see the Cutty Sark at Greenwich.  I remember being awestruck and enchanted.  Later, when I visited her as a young adult, I remember thinking how small and fragile she looked, considering how long she would have stayed at sea, and how many men must have lived on board.  Thankfully, a lot of the timber decking and all of the museum artifacts had been removed for the restoration and were saved from the flames, so I’ll be able to visit again some time in the future when she is once more restored to her former glory.

But she will never again be the perfectly preserved, authentic, and genuine merchant sailing ship that she once was. And that’s very, very sad.

So, tell me.  Why is it that people have so little pride in doing their jobs properly these days?   Where did the attitudes of ‘as little as you can get away with’ and ‘it doesn’t matter’ and ‘no-one will know’ and ‘it’s not my responsibility’ come from?

And – please! – how can we get rid of them again?

Posted on September 28, 2008 in Hounds by Jay29 Comments »

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Unless you are a newcomer to this blog, you will know that I’m a big fan of retired racing greyhounds.  They are one of the gentlest breeds around, although some can be a little snippy with other breeds when they’re first adopted, until you educate them.  You see, they are born into racing, and up to the time they retire, it’s the only world they know.  Many of them have never even seen a different breed of dog.

Here in England, greyhounds are normally kept in racing kennels belonging to a trainer.  There are exceptions – there’s nothing to stop you racing your own dog from home, but in fact, relatively few people do, so the dogs are born into a environment where they are surrounded by other greyhounds, all day, every day. They don’t leave the kennel very often except to go racing,  and if they’re sold it’s usually to another racing owner, so their life continues much as before.

The lady who trained The Princess told me that greyhound pups are kept in family groups until they’re old enough to start work.  They’re weaned late, and then they live for a few months with their litter mates, where they learn dog etiquette by playing and rough-housing and testing the boundaries.  Incidentally, this is where many of those little scars come from that you see on racing greyhounds – their skin is so thin that a sharp puppy tooth or nail can easily make a hole.

Once they start training, they are separated to be kennelled in pairs, and their life continues in the noisy all-greyhound kennel with their noses constantly full of greyhound smells.

Imagine what a shock it is to be adopted!

Suddenly you’re not one of the gang anymore and you don’t have a job to do.

You no longer live in a huge dog ‘pack’, so there’s no comforting sound from your companions shuffling around in their deep shredded-paper beds, or barking when it’s feeding time, or romping in the paddock with their friends. Instead, there is silence.  There are unfamiliar and disturbing smells and there are horrible, hideous, frightening noises.  Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, television …  Sometimes there are tiny humans that scream and rush about and grab them.  Surely it’s no wonder if they sometimes come across as neurotic and difficult!

In fact, with sympathetic handling, they adapt extremely well, even to being an only dog, though I personally like to keep them in pairs.  And they very soon come to love their sofas and the new, lazy lifestyle, because – surprisingly – they are fundamentally lazy dogs.

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But it’s a wonderful thing for the dogs that the Retired Greyhound Trust now holds a yearly ‘Greyhound Gathering’ where you can take your adopted dog to have a fun day out with hundreds of other greyhounds, and there are hundreds of other owners to chat to.  And that’s where we went yesterday.

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The Princess, who usually does not choose to consort with other dogs, had a wonderful time sniffing greyhounds and being sniffed. This picture is interesting because both The Princess and Poppy are normally a bit slow to accept a strange dog’s company, yet there they are, happily sharing a water bowl within minutes of meeting, and even resting together on Poppy’s bed.

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The fact that many other breeds come along with their greyhound friends is also a bonus.  Retirees can see their fellow greyhounds treating terriers, spaniels, mutts and poodles like buddies and that’s a big help in socialising a recently adopted dog.

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And of course, there’s the shopping!  Stalls full of greyhound coats and boots and collars and tags, stalls full of dog biscuits and treats and supplements and off-prescription remedies.  Stalls full of beds and drinking bowls … and fudge and ice cream and hot-dogs and hamburgers.

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And clean water bowls everywhere for the dogs, some up on stands because greyhounds are tall dogs and the oldies can’t always quite reach their feet – and a few of us will know that problem!

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It was a lovely day, as you can see by the pictures.

And yes, both The Princess and The Pirate had a hot-dog all to themselves.  Of course they did!

Without onions, naturally.

 

As a footnote, if you go here, you will find an excellent article written by Kathleen Gilley who runs a show called The Dancing Greyhounds in America.  She knows greyhounds very well indeed and has some great advice about training and behaviour.  Non-Americans may not understand all the references, but pretty much all her knowledge is applicable to any greyhound, anywhere in the world.

Posted on September 26, 2008 in Hounds by Jay27 Comments »

Just catching up on my blog rounds and I noticed that Maria’s Space has a Friday photo challenge, with the subject ‘spontaneous’.  It reminded me of this photo of my two dogs, The Princess and The Pirate, having a spontaneous roo-fest!

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This happened shortly after we got The Pirate and he was playing with that squeaky hamburger toy.  Each time it squeaked, he grumbled at it, until he was barking, then rooing.  Then, of course, The Princess joined in, with a definite air of ‘I have no idea why I’m doing this, but … ‘

Now, I have to confess something.

The two dogs were on separate beds at the time.  Next to each other, for sure, but on separate beds.  I Photoshopped them together, to make a better picture.

Tee hee.