Sunday, 12 June 2011

As time passes by ......

It's ages since we blogged. Time has so often been sucked into other priorities; living, studying, other pressing writing tasks, trying to keep ahead of the garden, staying as healthy as possible, that I've overlooked the blog. And of course there's the all important dog walking. In my unhealthier moments (of which there have been too many of late) this becomes DIY exercise for Wigeon. Open the garden gate and tell her she can go and, boy, can she go! Being lucky enough to live on a hill farm (Wigeon soon had to learn that sheep are 'out of bounds.')  there are acres of space just by the cottage where she can run full tilt and free her long muscular legs.
Wigeon at full tilt
I'm so envious of her, the speed, the sheer joy she gets from running. I always longed to be able to run easily, to run far and if I wanted to, to run fast. Quick 100 metre sprints at school were my best; long distance runs never my strong point. That was reserved for 'throwing things,' discus, shot or javelin being the athletic disciplines I excelled in. Maybe years of chucking bales of hay and straw around on the farm or years of catching and turning sheep at home gave me the extra advantage?

There's a grassy bank (obviously its all banks on a hill farm!) just north of the cottage, now punctuated with the summer dots tormentil and interspersed with colourful wild pansies, where Wigeon habitually goes into sheer cracker dog mode, running flat out making it into her 'wall of death' run. It often ends with her belting straight at me, do I keep my nerve and stand still or take a step out of her way? So far better to stand still and pray she gets it right as she comes off the bank, overshoots and has time to turn round and come back to me with her sides heaving and her tongue flapping.

Having been run over and felled, quite literally, by a high speed Puffin, my wonderful whippet of years gone by, I understand the maths and physics behind velocity hitting stationery objects. Some years ago my mother was run down by two of her lurchers one snowy morning as they played carefree, overtaken by the joy of running in fresh snow to notice where Mum was standing. She heard a crack as they impacted against her legs. My brother found her hanging onto a field gate, desperate to catch him on his morning sheep rounds and take her home, or as it turned out, to hospital - with a broken leg.

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.