Sunday, 15 November 2009

Crashing changes

It's weird how things seem to conspire. I reckon that's how it's been for us recently. My computer crashed big time and that was 7+ weeks of uni work lost and a very dejected student .....and thankfully a wonderfully understanding supervisor. It has been weird being derailed and trying to get back on track. Slowly I'm getting there or so I hope.

There are a pile of books to work my way through too and the academic ones take some digesting! I have wondered if having a course that is both academic and creative is divisive for me. I can't work easily with my head in two different modes – that’s just me. Take one step at a time in one direction and don't try different cardinal points at the same time.

Worryingly my poetic head seems to have gone quiet for now and so I'm trying to make some things in my head and my notebook come to fruition but alas nothing with any degree of decency for this semester's portfolio so far. That's strange as there have been a couple of acceptances for things I was bullied into submitting for. I'm terrible at submitting work! I think it comes from the childhood fear of rejection ....and there was plenty of that from my father - but he was another story.

Mother and daughter playing up at the farm

So, as for Wigeon - well how she's changing! I see subtle differences in her every few days. She loves the mad times playing with her mum each day when we're at the farm. The quiet meals I used to have with my mum are a thing of the past as the mad canine mother and daughter are playing like crazy animals utterly possessed by fun and speed.

Having seen the dreadful state that Teasel was in when she was in the rescue centre it’s good to look back at how much she’s changed; hopefully making her such a happy hound. I wonder how she would have settled in if one of her pups hadn’t come to live near by? I’m sure she’d have been happy with her two rescue friends at the farm.

More photos of Wigeon soon! This photo shows how long the young upstart is and how she lolls about when she's tired out ......guess what happened next....... the same vein as the post she quietly slid onto the floor.  Yep, she was to be found crashed out on the carpet!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Da bus driver has crashed the bus

Last week I said this is the latest challenge from TFE. Alas it was the last challenge and I only managed to find the bus trips near the end of their life. Apparently TFE put Einstein in charge of the bus and he and Shirley Brassy had a bit of a dust up (don't ask!) and .....well, he's crashed. So TFE says no more challenges which is a huge shame ......but a big thank you to him for the chance to try these writes.
It's intresting how one's style can change with a prompt that is so different to the normal ones that come up in your head. I'm very much writing to a theme just now for my university work and so the challenges have been very out of my own particular sphere for uni and for the way I live my life in the outback of the Border hills.

As for Wigeon, well I looked at her at the beginning of the week and thought how tall she looked. Yesterday I looked at her and thought how long she looked. Puppies, foals, lambs, calves, kids (of the human variety) .....most young things seem to grow in many different ways. I can imagine some part of their brains saying to them, 'OK then, it's the legs this week,' and then 'better put some effort into the length.' I'd love to know if there's a specific growth pattern to youngsters of whatever species. Anybody know anything about this?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The next bus has just arrived

This is the latest challenge from TFE and I'm getting on the bus now in case I miss it this week - you know it could be an early bus in these wild hills and there are so many stops for the bus to make on it's way back to Eej stuffed full of poets.

It's quite a challenge. Follow the link on the TFE blog and listen to Kzysztof Penderecki - Threnody for the Victims.
I'd never heard of it, didn't know what to expect so sat down (skipped the booze and sarnies on offer) and ready with my notebook on the table and pen in hand, I listened and wrote and wrote and wrote until it all stopped - ten minutes and four seconds later.
This is what I came up with - just as it was in my notebook .......but it's tidier on a computer! It's exactly what I saw in my head when I heard the music with no tidying at all. Try it!

Ten minutes, four seconds to go

Help! Their dogs are loose.
Where are the yapping, snapping hounds.
She’s screaming, that child,
can you hear her,
feel her heart wavering,
trembling in the sun?

The nightmare,
it’s them, they’re creeping up
and now their boots are running
on bare boards
clattering ever closer.
Help! Help!

Be peaceful.
Nobody will get hurt
– except we know it’s lies.
The undertones, you can hear them
with the noise of their sirens.
Don’t be fooled into stillness,
you want to sleep, but you scream;
the children scream – high pitched,
ear-piercing screams.
Help us, please help us.
The kids have gone.

The wind rustles on the leaves
but I know they’re still there,
surrounded perhaps;
break this, wave it goodbye.

The footsteps are ominous.
I know that sound, we’ve heard it before
when they tried to will us into submission.
They’re like angry wasps stinging.

Feel them buzz
and sting,
Feel the pain.
These can’t be swotted.
Their stings are like a crab
caught in a rock pool
biting a child’s small hand -
just fishing, just learning.

And many swarms are there.
See them? Listen to them.
You can hear their anger,
hear the people screaming
hoping this won’t be the end
as the sun sets
over the hills obscured
on the other side of town.

Next day:
Please remember that this is how it came out when I listened to the music. Reading it again I'd now like to tidy it up, but not significantly. You know, the odd words here and there and changes to lines and punctuation. The exercise was a great reminder to me as to the raw emotion that music/sound can conjour and that's a valuable resource for a writer. Once again, many thanks to Dominic R for supplying the prompt.

Monday, 12 October 2009

I'm hopping on a bus

There are no buses around here as we live in the isolation of the back of beyond beyond .... but now I've found a bus with a difference! I've been reading the posts from TFE's Monday slot for some time and been sorely tempted but lacked the time. Titus has been an avid writer of the challenges and being a fellow canine we like Titus words.
Finally I've done something about hopping on board ....kinda last minute writing on the day so lots of things I'll likely change in the cold light of tomorrow ......but I'm going to post it anyway. Sorry this is a bit bleak but it was the photo in the challenge that did it.
Thanks for the kick-start TFE .....and the free ticket!

Faded memories

There’d been a day when he’d stood tall,
uniform spotless, five medals pinned on his chest.
His buttons and buckles buffed, boots bulled
and shining as bright as the glint in his eye
that last time he’d seen his red-haired fiancĂ©e.

He was ‘lucky;’ they said. He survived
with just the loss of an arm and a leg.
He was deafened by the blast
and numbed by the silence
of family and friends during rehab
until the Army discarded him.

Then there were no campaign medals
with bright coloured ribbons to be won
in the fight to survive the conflicts in his head.
Having tried to regain a place in the world
he surrendered – a dispirited drunk in a squat.

After they found him,
they carried him out
like the ghost in society he’d become;
no family, no flag, no fuss,
no military honours
when they took his body away.
Faded ribbons and dulled medals
buried in the squalor as spoils.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

National Poetry Day

Happy National Poetry Day!

Well done to those in D&G, ably led by Hugh McMillan and backed by DGAA, who waved the poetry flag in Dumfries all day.

To mark National Poetry Day, our Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written a new poem to go with the theme for this year of heroes and heroines.
I found this link on the BBC website for a new poem by Carol Ann Duffy, our Poet Laureate.
You can her her read this poem at the above link.

Give him strength, crouched on one knee in the dark
with the Earth on his back,
balancing the seven seas,
the oceans, five, kneeling
in ruthless, empty, endless space
for grace
of whale, dolphin, sea-lion, shark, seal, fish, every kind
which swarms the waters. Hero.

Hard, too,
heavy to hold, the mountains;
burn of his neck and arms taking the strain-
Andes, Himalayas, Kilimanjaro-
give him strength, he heaves them high
to harvest rain from skies for streams
and rivers, he holds the rivers,
holds the Amazon, Ganges, Nile, hero, hero.

Hired by no-one, heard in a myth only, lonely,
he carries a planet's weight,
islands and continents,
the billions there, his ears the last to hear
their language, music, gunfire, prayer;
give him strength, strong girth, for elephants,
tigers, snow leopards, polar bears, bees, bats,
the last ounce of a humming-bird.

in infinite, bleak black,
he bears where Earth is, nowhere,
head bowed, a genuflection to the shouldered dead,
the unborn's hero, he is love's lift;
sometimes the moon rolled to his feet, a gift.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

2 x 11 = ?!

It's been a while since we last updated. For all of us life has been going like a fair! There's been lots to do at home and in training and bringing Wigeon on to try and make a decent and well behaved hound out of her .....but I've also gone back to 'school' and so I'm studying hard again. Thankfully this is on a part-time basis again as I just don't have the steam for full-time. There's also been a performance I was involved in at Wigtown Book Festival. That's made it appearances at both Wigtown Book Festivals this year - crumbs! Then there was the slight distraction of recently getting a year older and even though counting the years no longer matters - the excuse for scoffing good food does!

Why did I call this post 2 x 11? Well today, as in the photo above, I realised that Wigeon is 11 weeks old and my older hound is 11 years old. The two of them were sharing a bed this morning and looking rather sweet so I snapped this photo. The old girl is so good with this young upstart and I did catch sight of her playing with Wigeon in the garden yesterday. Old girl has a lovely nature and the patience of a saint - which is needed with a very lively Wigeon.

Wigeon is coming on incredibly well. She's got some lovely qualities but I've found some not so nice ones too. Her needle gnashers are not so nice when inserted into me and she did have a go at piercing one of my ears yesterday which I didn't appreciate. I was playing with her on the floor and she took a grab at my hair, but she got my ear too. Ears can't half bleed and yet it was only a wee hole! It seems Wigeon also has a bit of a temper about her when she's 'wronged' or feels that way. So we'll be coming to an 'arrangement' about that and it will be on my terms and not hers. This only happens if she's not getting her own way when she's been roughed up by her fluffy mum Teasel, now living up at the farm, but it's something I'll keep an eye on and check her on. I think there must be an element of 'terrorist' (terrier) in her somewhere? Who knows with a rescue?

On a very positive note, Wigeon had her second inoculation and in 13 days she had put on 1 kilo! I was amazed that she'd gone from 2.9 to 3.9 kgs so quickly. I suppose from only having two meals a day when I got her from the rescue centre to her present 4 meals a day she was likely to grow like a mushroom. It's hard for me to see how much she's growing with seeing her all the time but looking back at the camera full of photos I can see such a difference from when she came. The legs are certainly getting longer and she's very good at doing hand-brake turns round the garden when she goes mad!

Wigeon was sitting on command at 9 1/2 weeks old and then was sitting and waiting for her food a few days after that. When I say, 'OK get it,' she's like an Olympic sprinter out of the starting blocks and heading straight for her bowl - obviously going for the gold medal every time. Her lead work is coming on, but she does think it's fun to grab the lead and have a play instead of concentrating and being serious. An old film canister with her puppy food in is good to rattle when I call her and she comes and sits in front of me looking expectant until she's given a piece of her food. My brother saw her do this yesterday and was really impressed. He's a whizz with training sheepdogs for farm work. I reckon he thinks hounds are disobedient and hard going with training but Wigeon seems to be a really fast learner. I hope this isn't all too good to be true and to keep up, but with Wigeon so far, I don't think so. I reckon she's got some healthy grey matter between her large ears as well as that streak of determination!

Yesterday I looked up Wigeon in terms of Chinese calendar years - she's an ox; an 'earth ox.' That makes the last three dogs a dragon, perhaps appropriately she was called Puffin but only because I'd studied the morphology of the puffin and I name all my dogs after birds. Then along came a 'tiger' born under the sign of Leo so two cats in one for her but with an owl name. Confused? It's always the bird names I go for in naming dogs ......although there is one bird name that I'll never use for a future dog!

So it's all chaos and madness here with the puppy, my lovely old hound and me back to studying hard.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The new arrival

Saying thanks and goodbye to John.

Monday saw the Wigeon coming into my care from the rescue centre. She had a wonderful start to her life from mum, Teasel, and John the rescue centre manager and his team! As I said I've not had a pup to bring on for 11 years so this is probably going to be a bit of a culture shock to my routine for a while. 11 years older I might be but I'm not sure about being 11 years wiser. I put in a typo of '11 years wider' then! How true that bit is.

Travelling home was fine. 60+ miles and not sick once. A re-assuring cuddle from new Granny Liz and all was well. There was a dog cage in the back in case Wigeon was horribly car sick, but not a bit of it. This 8 week old took everything in her stride and wasn't even put off by big lorries on the motorway. She arrived at her new home in Scotland and now a whole new chapter in Wigeon's life begins.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Preparing for Wigeon

This has been an interesting week to say the least. Wigeon is arriving on Monday so there's been a lot to do to try and be truly ready for her. The hiding of any attackable wires, in fact anything that might be possible puppy chewing material. Then there's getting ready for the likelihood of times coping with a widdling Wigeon until she becomes properly house trained. These are just for starters. I got her a new bowl and a collar today - just a temporary baby collar as she'll be in a proper hound collar when she's big enough. Judging by the amount she's grown in those last two weeks, it won't be that long. I've dug out some puppy toys too that my old girl has grown out of playing with .....mostly!

I realised that it's 11 years since I brought a puppy up and that seems so long ago. I've sometimes thought of my life in the dogs who have shared life with me and seen how ones life passes with these special friends. It's going to be interesting to find out what my 11 year old thinks of her new housemate. Thankfully the lively old girl has a wonderful nature and so I hope that she will have the sense to lay down the ground rules with Wigeon and then come to love having a canine companion again in the house instead of being stuck with boring me and her canine and human friends up on the farm.

Oh, and I also bought the all important bag of puppy food today. One of the most critical things to get right from the start for the young Wigeon to get her as strong as possible. I don't want her to end up in the serious state her mum has done.

Her mum, Teasel, had a trip to the vet yesterday as there has been a lot of worry about her condition ....or lack of it. The vet asked loads of questions; all of which couldn't be answered as we know nothing about her other than when she came into the rescue centre and when she had the 11 pups, rearing 9 of them. Today, after Teasel's first lot of injections and the medicines the vet gave her she did look brighter, if only we could get some weight on those bones of hers. She's in good hands with my mum so that's hopeful to bring any dog round to full health. It's the canine equivalent of intensive care with loads of TLC thrown in too.

I'll have to recheck the garden for any 'potential escape routes' on Sunday but I'm scuppered for now as I had a steroid injection into my right knee today so I've (in theory and hopefully in practice) to rest the leg for a couple of days to get the greatest benefit from the injection. That's important as I need to be as mobile as possible to cope with an active youngster when she comes. She might run rings round me as it is! One thing ......I wondered if Wigeon will grin like my old dog does? I do hope so as it's such an endearing trait. Do you think she'll pick it up as 'learned behaviour?'

The other very important thing I have to do now is to get ready for a poetry reading I'm doing on Sunday in Callander as part of the Poetry Scotland weekend (I think that's what it's called!) I'll just try to be at the right place at the right time, catch up with fellow eco-poets from the region who I'm reading with and hopefully we'll all read well and perhaps we might even have a dry day for a change?!

Monday, 31 August 2009

Help! Where's Mum gone?

Those women came back again today. It was good to see some more friendly faces. I don’t think they could get over how much we’ve grown. Well we all have – we’re bigger, hairier, madder and badder than we were two weeks ago! We came to the kennel door in a tide. A tide of 9 eager pups is hard to hold back, but they managed it and none of us managed to get out. I’m glad we didn’t as there were jeans to grab and shoelaces to tug on and that younger woman to climb all over. We had great fun.

I hadn’t realised that Mum had gone out as we were all busy playing and clambering over the younger woman. Mum’s not come back –it’s strange without her and there’s no topping up from Mum now. I’ve lost the red nail varnish on my back, probably from all that mucking about with the other pups. Yesterday I had a line of hair clipped across my neck so that I’ll be recognisable. I had my photo taken again too. Wow, am I famous? …..but where is our mum? Do you think I’ll see her again? From the way one of those women was speaking I think it might be yes – whoopee!

Monday, 24 August 2009

My Mum and the rest of us!

I thought you might like to see a photo of my Mum. She's still thin despite loads of feeding and she came in to the rescue centre thin and unwanted, just a couple of weeks before we were born.
Mum is great and this is one of us when she came to feed us again. You can't see me, I'm at the back, but do look closely at the blonde pup by her front legs - have you ever seen a banana back like that before ......and the back legs? Talk about begging or is this being just plain greedy?

Monday, 17 August 2009

I'm here!

I've got a friend or have I found a friend? Two women came to see my Mum again today, Their brows were furrowed and they took her out. 'Just a rickle of bones,' I heard one of them say. They're right. My poor Mum is in a right mess and I don't know how that was allowed to happen but she is slowly getting better. I'm sure we're not helping Mum as she's been good to us and fed us well, but now we're on solids too we hope that will be good news for her. After they came back in with Mum they asked to look at me and my siblings. Nine of us survived from the eleven born. We're a mixture of colours but I'm, well I don't know what I'm going to be but I'm not blonde like my mum and some of my litter mates.

Anyway in they came, towering over me. The rest of the pack were flat out but I thought the younger person looked interesting so I waddled over to her. She grinned and spoke to me. I wagged my tail, I mucked about, bounced around, looked sweet, bit her finger a few times and then she took me outside and had a reet good look at me. Now I've got three marks on my back - red nail varnish. Yep nail varnish, except it's on my back? They said we have to know who you are. Eeek! I'm a marked lassie already.

Apparently she'll be back when I'm eight weeks old and then I have to move from here another country! How exciting! I hope they're ready for me. I liked the look of them and I reckon life could be pretty good in my new life. I mean we can't all stay here forever as there are far too many of us and other dogs need to come in here to be looked after and found new homes. I heard the younger woman say, 'I think this is the one that's chosen me. It's gonna have to be her.'