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Posted on January 31, 2011 in Johnny Depp, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay10 Comments »

RAndCAndMe

Yes, that’s me … but it’s also Ann from the blog of that name! So you might say that in this photo you get two crazy, retired people for the price of one! I’m the one in the greyhound tee shirt, by the way. And Ann is the other one.

Yes, despite living pretty close to each other for the three years I’ve been blogging, we finally met up last Thursday! I did mean to get this post up to tell you all about it that same evening, but I had a couple of surprise phone calls, one of which resulted in an unexpected (but very welcome) weekend guest so it kind of got put off.

Blog-friend meet ups are always fun. You get to meet someone in person that you feel you already know, so it’s a little like meeting an old school friend. You don’t really know quite what to expect after all this time (will you even recognise them?) but you know you like them already, so what have you got to lose? And Ann proved to be such a lovely, warm-hearted lady, full of fun and so interesting to talk to that I’m sure we’ve forged a new ‘real-life’ friendship. I hope so, anyway!

RAndCAndMe2

Ann very sadly lost her dear husband about a year ago after a long illness, and was so grateful for the dedicated care of the Marie Curie nurses who enabled him to stay in his own home among his family rather than be admitted to hospital that now she feels able, she is undertaking a mammoth journey (with far, far too little luggage) to raise funds for them.

Do pop over to her blog and take a look. If you feel you can contribute, great! Three cheers! But if not, read, be inspired, and leave her an encouraging comment, which will be almost as good!

Oh, and for all those who land on this page because it’s tagged with ‘Johnny Depp’ and you wonder why, take a closer look at the poster behind me in the second picture. It’s an advert for the new Keith Richards biography, and not only are Keef and Johnny buddies, but if you buy the audio version you can listen to Johnny Depp reading it.

Just don’t play it while you’re driving, that’s my advice. You’re likely to end up in the ditch.

Posted on January 31, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay9 Comments »

Vinci-6002

Well, will you look at that? Where the heck did this week go?? One minute it was Monday, and then .. here I am and it’s Sunday again. All I can say is that a couple of unexpected events happened this week, and the time somehow slipped away. Anyway. Here were are indeed, and it’s time to rifle through those unused snaps again to find something interesting for you all.

Up there is a photo looking down over some rooftops. Any idea where that might be? It’s somewhere very famous … or at least, someone very famous was born there .. and it’s in Italy.

Still no idea? It’s the little town of Vinci, of Leonardo da Vinci fame! And this is the view from the top of the bell tower at the museo Leonardo da Vinci, where they have many utterly fascinating reproductions of his working models, from war machines to devices for lifting water, boats, pulleys, cranes, and .. did you know he invented several different types of machine gun?

They also have some great examples of his backwards writing and codes. He seemed terrified that someone would steal his ideas, did Leonardo.

This is another famous place.

Pisa-450

Looking down over roofs again, this time a city, not a small town. If you look carefully, you might notice something slightly squiffy about it, and that’s a big clue as to where it is!

No?

Does it help if I tell you that both OH and I thought we were going to die, both on the way up and on the way down? Does it help if I tell you I’d be very, very surprised to hear that you’ve never seen a picture of this building? Although – to be fair – usually people have seen it from the outside, standing on the ground, and I feel quite privileged to have been able to make the climb, even if I did feel that it might be the last thing I did.

This is the view from one of the arches at the top of the leaning tower of Pisa. And the reason it is so abominably difficult to climb (for people as unfit as we are) is that there are no landings. The stairs go up and up, and up … and up .. and up. On the way there are a few little embrasures you can wedge yourself into, while younger and fitter people stream on past you, but no real resting places. And those stairs are steep and narrow. Want to see them?

Pisa2-450

Oh yeah. I forgot. There are no handrails, either.

I’m glad I did the climb, but I don’t want to do it again, thankyouverymuch!

Last but not least -

Montepulciano

Another very famous town, and one which is a lot smaller than you might think.

In Tuscany, they seem to specialise in delectable little hill towns with mediaeval walls and tall buildings crammed together in vertiginous streets – this is no exception. Perched up on top of an easily defended hill in the middle of some of the best wine country in Italy, those of you who love Italian reds will know the name, because this is Montepulciano.

We left the town one evening at dusk just as the lights were coming on in yards and houses.

Unforgettable.

If you want to see more Sunday Selections, pop on over to Frog Ponds Rock! You’ll be glad you did!

Posted on January 24, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Oddities by Jay12 Comments »

Sunday Selection is a new meme about rifling through those folders crammed full of pictures which seemed like a good idea at the time but never quite fit into a post, and oh, do I have a ton of those!

And here’s one such picture, which I think is rather fun.

2Smrtcrs

Two stubby little Smart cars parked outside a house in a back street of Oakham, Rutland, looking as if they’re positioned for a quick getaway. Beautifully shiny, aren’t they? Possibly the ‘babies’ of a smart young professional couple, sans kids. I think we call those ‘DINKY’s*, which seems to fit rather well, doesn’t it?

Here on The Depp Effect, I’ve been having a little break from memes, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. You see, I found myself caught up in ABC Wednesday and Macro Monday for week after week after week and my blog turned into nothing but a meme vehicle. I didn’t like that. ABC Wednesday and Macro Monday are fine memes (which is why I stuck at them so long) but it was time for them to end.

But. Well, I saw this meme on Heaven is in Belgium just now, and I thought I’d join in. It seems to fit the bill …

” … I take a lot of photos and most of them are just sitting around in folders on my desktop not doing anything. I thought that a dedicated post once a week would be a good way to share some of these photos that otherwise wouldn’t be seen by anyone other than me.”

Yep, that’s me!

Let’s see now … Here’s a wonderfully weather-faded old truck we came across in Utah, just left at the side of the road.

OTU-800cjs

Seems to me that this old beaten-up utility truck really captures the spirit of this part of the USA. I think it’s a combination of the sense of space – no need to cut down on vehicle size in a state like Utah! – and the sun-bleached paintwork. Whenever I look at it, I’m transported (forgive the pun) right back to those hot, still days touring the national parks after visiting some great friends in LA.

And lastly an intriguing juxtaposition: a free yellow car and a full-to-bursting rubbish skip.

Yllwcrbn

Hmm. What’s the story there, I wonder?

Well, if the truck speaks of Utah, then this odd little combination screams ‘England’. Early in the morning, the sun is low and the atmosphere is damp. The car, the bin and that scrap of bunting on the right are the only colourful things here … and well, yes, there’s something very odd about it. Yep, that’s summer in dear old Blighty!

You’ll notice that all these photos were taken in 2008. I must have been having a ‘vehicle’ year.

 

So there you go. If you’ve got nothing better to do, you could pop on over to Frog Ponds Rock and check out the other entries. Or take part yourself!

*DINKY = ‘Dual Income, No Kids Yet’.

Posted on January 22, 2011 in Hounds, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay18 Comments »

PATST-600

Last night I took young Sid to meet a local Scout troop. I’d been asked to give a talk about our work as a Pets As Therapy team visiting a retirement home and a ward at the hospital, to help the Scouts understand community service which would go towards one of their badges. I’d never done a public talk before, so I consulted with the charity first to get some guidelines, and after a couple of false starts (heavy snow and ice, for one), the date was set.

The first thing that happened when I got Sid out of the car was that the small Jack Russell Terrier* belonging to one of the Scout leaders saw him and exploded into that peculiarly breathless mixture of growls, whines and yappy barks that often seem to come from diminutive canines. Poor Sid whipped round, eyes popping, and tried to focus on the bouncing and scrabbling little ball of fur which was doing its level best to lunge at him. Then, of course, he wanted to run up and teach it a lesson, but I told him it wouldn’t look so good for a PAT dog to get involved in a pavement brawl, so he contented himself with an extremely stiff posture and a sotto voce growl. He did OK, actually, because he allowed himself to be dressed in his yellow vest and led into the building with hardly a backward glance.

Once we were inside, we discovered two things.

One: the hall was full of small but fast-moving and extremely loud bodies. The noise was incredible. I’d forgotten what a bunch of kids that age could sound like in an echoing hall!

Did Sid mind? Was he nervous? Well, it was hard to tell because ..

Two: the floor was of the hard and shiny description. Poor Sid started to walk into the room, tensed up and began trying to balance on his toenails, which is never a good idea, as I keep telling him. I had to physically lift him under the ribcage, and swivel him on his single hind leg to get us out of there again.

We went back to the car where I had three very important little objects – a set of Pawz dog boots. These little rubber balloony things are a life-saver for Sid because they provide a huge amount of traction on the slippiest floor. They’re actually made for keeping paw dressings dry, but the Pawz people now promote them for elderly and infirm dogs who can’t do shiny floors, and they really do work. They’re colour coded, and Sid’s size is purple. I stretched them onto his feet and this time he walked into the room with absolutely no problem at all.

The Scout leader was terribly organized and had a small side room ready for us with two rows of chairs set out amphitheatre style with standing room at the back, and a single chair (for me) facing them. The young men and women (I only noticed one girl, there may have been more) filed in, and sat down, and I was introduced and suddenly all eyes were on me. And of course, Sid.

I had a bunch of printouts made which I handed out first, entitled ‘How NOT to greet a dog**’. So many children (and adults) are bitten because they don’t understand simple dog behaviour rules that I thought it was a good place to begin – and the PAT people like us to include something about this too.

And then I picked up my notes and began. It wasn’t a long talk. I’d timed it roughly at 15-20 minutes, because I didn’t want to bore them. I asked questions at appropriate points and got willing answers, bless them, and you know what? Every time I looked up, and around at my audience, every single pair of eyes was fixed on me. Every. Single. One. I’ve worked in schools and never seen that kind of attention. It was heartwarming, so it was.

Naturally, I used Sid to illustrate points from time to time, and told little tales about our work. It went something like this:

Me: ‘… and one day, when we were at the hospital, Sid … ‘

Sid (whipping round to look at me): ‘What?’

Me: ‘ .. of course, Sid, here … ‘

Sid (whipping round to look at me): ‘What??’

Me: ‘ … now, because he’s only got three legs, Sid … ‘

Sid: (whipping round to look at me): ‘What???’

Once I noticed, it got really quite funny, and I had to stifle a giggle or two. Poor Sid. He kept hearing his name called and responded beautifully, only to find it was false alarm after false alarm. He did get acknowledgement though, in the form of a quick fondle.

So where was the JRT through all of this? To give him credit, he settled down and behaved impeccably throughout the talk. He was lying down at the back, gazing at Sid through the assorted legs of chairs and people.

At the end, after the obligatory Q & A session, the Scouts were allowed to come and pet Sid and feed him treats. Since I’d stressed in the talk that PAT dogs must be fine with being touched all over, including ears, feet and tail, some felt it necessary to test this out, but Sid didn’t mind. His head end was encircled with kissable noses and hands offering dried chicken, so what did he care if other hands were checking out the length of his tail?

We did allow Sid and Billy the JRT to meet properly once everything had calmed down. They both got treats and Sid was fine once Billy had stopped his noise and scrabbling. The only tricky point was when Sid was laying down and Billy came scurrying over right in his face … I felt a vibration travel up the lead and put a little distance between them, but on the whole, they were both pretty well behaved. Sid does know when he’s on duty and I think that helped.

So, I’m now a novice speaker and ready to take on other speaking assignments if necessary, and Sid – I’m proud of you!

 

* Did I mention that Sid has a thing about JRTs? You see, poor Sid is a ‘bounce’ – a dog who was found a good home, but got sent back. It wasn’t his fault. There was a JRT living next door who delighted in teasing Sid through the fence, and one day it escaped and came and attacked Sid on his own property. Sid responded with a nip, and despite the fact that no blood was drawn, the owner of the JRT was so angry that Sid’s owner feared for him and decided that the best thing was for Sid to leave. Since then, he has been extremely suspicious of JRTs – and who can blame him?

** This link will take you to the blog of the author of this great little leaflet. You may download and print it for your own use, free of charge, but she does ask for a small donation. I think I gave $5 USD.