Posted on March 9, 2013 in Conversations by Jay16 Comments »


Yesterday evening, reluctantly, we set off for a walk with the dogs in the cold. OH bundled himself up in his duffle coat, and (as often happens) wondered aloud whether he needed his gloves or not.

‘Do I need my gloves tonight?’ he asked.

‘Only you can tell,’ I replied. As usual.

It’s a bit of an ongoing game with us. You see, I am one of those hot souls who walk around in the winter with their coat flapping open, and he … is not. He feels the cold acutely. I am totally convinced he has Raynaud’s Syndrome but he flatly refuses to talk to the doctor about it. Maybe he thinks he doesn’t really have it unless he gets a Proper Diagnosis.

Anyway. He put his gloves on. As usual.

Off we trotted with the dogs happily trotting beside us – or in Sid’s case, kangaroo hopping. We got all of fifteen yards before OH stopped, and half turned towards me.

‘Is there … is .. Um. Have I got something on my shoulder?’ he asked, waving a gloved hand in the general direction.

I looked.

‘No, nothing’, I said, and if I privately thought it was unlikely that an arachnid with half a brain cell would be out after dark in the cold I kept that thought to myself.

‘On my shoulder!’ he said, flapping. ‘Something … ‘

I looked again, more closely. Both sides. ‘Nope!’, I replied.

‘Isn’t there something?’ he asked again, ‘I think there’s a Keeper!!’

I began to be slightly alarmed, on account of a) I could see absolutely nothing on either of his broad, wool clad shoulders, and b) the only Keeper I could think of which might be found in that location was the sort Londo Molari had, in Babylon 5. And trust me – you do not want a husband to get himself one of those!

I rubbed my hands over the whole width of his shoulders. Under the hood and everything. I lifted the hood. I rubbed again. Nothing. I said so.

Me: ‘Nothing!’

OH: (beginning to sound slightly agitated): ‘A button! There’s a button!!’

Me: (a tad concerned for his sanity and looking, fruitlessly, once more): ‘No! There’s nothing on your shoulders!’

OH (laughing): ‘You’re messing about, aren’t you?’

Me: ‘No!! There is no button!”

I thought.

Me: ‘Well, there is a button, but it’s on your hood. Right under here, by your neck.’

OH: ‘There is? What’s it doing there?’

I took a breath.

Me: ‘It’s for your tab!’

OH: ‘What tab?’

Me: ‘To keep your hood up.’

OH: ‘Nonononono! I meant for my gloves!’

Me: ‘?’

Then a lightbulb began to glow inside the murky caverns of what I like to call my brain.

Me: ‘Ooohhhhhhhh! You mean an epaulette! You’re asking if you have an epaulette!’

OH: ‘An epaulette! That’s what they’re called, isn’t it?

Me: ‘Yes!’

OH: ‘An epaulette.’

Me: ‘Yes.’

OH: ‘Do I have one?’

Me: ‘No.’

OH: ‘Where am I supposed to put my gloves, then?’

Me: ‘In your hood?’

OH: ‘But I never use my hood!’

Me: ‘Well, there you go then. Perfect!’

And do you know what was funny? This whole conversation was completely academic, because he had no intention of taking his gloves off in the first place! His fingers would have gone white.

But of course, he doesn’t have Raynaud’s.

Posted on March 7, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Oddities by Jay26 Comments »



Well, these prompt words for Illustration Friday just don’t get any easier, do they?  I mean, really.  How on earth do you depict an elusive quality like talent!

The obvious option would be to do a simple piece of art showing one particular talent.  One suggestion made to me was to draw someone licking his elbow, because that was clearly a talent.  Not wishing to pursue this kindly-meant offering, I sat and thought.  And thought.

And finally, the thing that lodged in my head among all the dross, was this:  talent is indeed such an elusive quality, and so hard to judge, that the late, great Fred Astaire was almost rejected by RKO studios after his screen test.  Rumour has it that on the report from that screen test, someone wrote those famous words: ‘Can’t sing, can’t act – can dance a little’.

In fact, the quote is ‘Can’t sing, can’t act, balding, can dance a little’, which is even worse.

However, Astaire himself apparently denied this, saying that the wording was actually ‘Can’t act, slightly bald, also dances’.  However this may be, the fact is that David O Selznick, who had commissioned the test was reported to have said that he was taking him on ‘despite this wretched test’ and his ‘enormous ears and bad chin line’ because of his ‘tremendous charm’.

And as it turned out, he’d really have been a fool not to take him on, wouldn’t he?  What a wonderful asset to the studio he was – yes, he had tremendous charm, and enormous ears talent and he put bums on seats, as they say.  He may not have been a truly great actor, but he was no worse than many in full employment by the studios at the time and boy, could that man dance!

For this piece of artwork, I found three photos of Astaire online.  After much playing around with them, I ditched my original idea, which was to do a series of three images in a row in ‘squeaker’ pen, because it just didn’t seem to be working.  Instead I drew a single ink outline, cartoon style, on Bristol Board, and coloured it with squeakers.  Sadly, my black Pantones had bitten the dust after being incarcerated for a couple of decades in the painting box, but the greys worked OK.  I couldn’t get a replacement black today so I used an ordinary Sharpie.


I also did the original series idea in simple ink outline, with the quote underneath, and I’m not sure which I prefer.  Let me know what you think!

By the way, the typeface I’ve used has a little tiny top hat over the ‘i’, and is called ‘Just Wait And See’.  Isn’t that perfect?


Posted on March 7, 2013 in Funny, The Home Front by Jay12 Comments »


Oh look – it’s Thursday again!  And that means it’s time for another ‘How to be Happy’ post, and I’ve found an amusing apple for you!

I can’t bring myself to eat this apple, because every time I look at it, it makes me smile.  It reminded me of an alien when I first saw it, but I can see other things too. For instance, today it reminds me of Grumpy Cat – I don’t know if you’ve seen Grumpy Cat, but it’s a series of pictures of a … well, a very grumpy looking cat, maybe a Birman or some other exotic breed, but she’s got a kind of squished face and it looks as if she’s seeing the world in decidedly murky tones. Definitely not rose tinted, anyway.  Often there’s a caption which makes it funnier.

This apple hardly needs a caption.  It’s funny, just because it is.

What do you see, when you look at it?

Join in ‘How to be HAPPY!’ if you’d like.  Steal the badge and post a picture of something that made you smile this week, then link back here.




Posted on March 5, 2013 in Hounds, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay10 Comments »


Well … two favourite things, really.

You see, today Sid went for a swim, which is favourite thing number one, and which also conveniently involves seeing one of his favourite people, Ross, of Newborough Dogs Canine Hydrotherapy. As usual, once inside the building, Sid tried to escape me and run up the ramp to throw himself in the pool, and as usual I foiled him, and we all laughed. He’s a real clown, sometimes.


Anyway, he had his usual swim, followed by his usual cuddle with Ross on the ‘landing pad’ while he got his land-legs back, and we took the opportunity to examine his back foot for a possible corn because I thought I could see something suspect the other night, and the consensus is that yes, he does have something. It might be a tiny injury from a sharp bit of gravel, or a thorn, but it might develop into a corn, so we must watch it very carefully.

And then, something very exciting happened. We popped Sid back into the car and I drove him the short distance to the gate at the other end of the property and parked in the little car park there and we got out again and went into the Portakabin, where another one of Sid’s favourite people was waiting for him – Karen Perry, from Karen Perry Animal Therapy.

You may remember my post ‘Sid’s Spa Day’ from last year? Well, Karen was back at Newborough for the day and we had eagerly booked another appointment for him to get a nice, long, deep massage. Aaaah … lovely!


Karen is a lovely lady and will never rush or force your dog. She stood back while I got Sid settled on the fleece dog mat, and then she settled down beside him and gently began feeling his muscles for signs of stress, spasm or injury. Needless to say, with poor Sid, she found a lot of knots and ‘hot spots’, but by the look on Sid’s face, it was sheer bliss to have them worked out with her gentle hands.

While she was working on ‘normal’ muscle, Sid had a really quite dreamy look his face, squinting his eyes shut with pleasure. It was quite interesting, because he would squint them shut, then relax and open them and squint them shut again in time with the rhythm of her fingers. When she found a sore spot to work on, his eyes would stay open, and he would gaze thoughtfully into the distance. Once or twice, she paused for a moment or two and he stretched his neck round to look at her as if to say ‘C’mon, keep going – that was nice!


She did, however, find one potential cause for concern: a very sore and knotty hamstring, which, she said, has just a little heat in it. This may be the cause of his recent problems, or even the result of them, if he hurt it by falling down on his backside because of his sore toe. It really is no fun getting older, is it, Sid?

Sid is now flat out on his favourite bed, peacefully sleeping the sleep of the pleasantly tired. I won’t take him out again today, I’ll let him rest so that the twin therapies he’s had today can do their work.


I’m very impressed by the benefits of both hydrotherapy and massage for Sid. You all know I recommend swimming for dogs with many different types of health problems, but if you can find a good canine massage therapist, you – and your dog – would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity, if they have any kind of ongoing stress in their muscular systems. For Sid it’s of such great benefit that I’m really sad that Karen isn’t closer to us here, but it’s quite a long way to Melton Mowbray. No doubt if he gets worse as he ages, I’ll find the time and the energy to take him over there, though.

Sid has a lot of favourite people, but Ross and Karen are special. He knows, not only that they love dogs and know how to relate to them, but that they make him feel better.