How old we become…

Isn’t it odd how old we become on the outside while inside we still feel like a twenty-year-old? That is my one observation having spent some days visiting with my dad.

His dementia has progressed at a frightening rate. So much so, that we had no choice but to bring him back to the nursing home where he feels happy. For me, it was a tough decision in one way, because I remember his reluctance to consider going in for respite eighteen months ago and his refusal to move mum to a local nursing home. However, I was happy knowing that, he is safer with many carers around him than just one of us with him twenty-four seven.

It is now two weeks since he moved house, and the weight has lifted from my shoulders, years and layers of stress are falling away and I have gained a little weight. Dad too is experiencing a lightening of years as he takes part in musical afternoons, dancing with anyone who is willing to risk getting their feet shuffled on, or squashed. His bright cheery “Hello,” gains him smiles and conversation. He is taking part in art classes, and on Wednesday of this week, he was a baker hoping to enjoy tea and queen cakes which he had helped to whip up and bake.

Just like Bob he is managing to hold on to his good humour and winning ways.

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Bob’s Diary: Dark times are coming, we are preparing.

Or at least I am preparing, take a look and see what you think.

 

bob high viz 1

If Superman has his suit then this is the ones for us Doggies,

high viz w

not Ellie’s pathetic attempt.

high viz 3

Who is going to notice a grotty tennis ball?

 

Maria’s stuff: A forgotten sketch

Tired after a late night / early morning I resorted to cleaning out a file and found this, a sketch of my husband and daughter. They were always close from the get go. If he was fixing a car or truck she was by his side handing over the necessary spanner, parts etc.

And some twenty years later though it has changed a little, as life dictates, they are still great buddies.sara and pat

 

Snow Dogs Part 1 & 2

The leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1

‘I could do with a change of scenery’ Luna decided.

For the last two hours they moved at a nice steady pace but she was tired. Too much racing in my life, was her verdict as she trudged along. April was a month she loved, snow plentiful but the sun was warming up, adding a glossy glamorous touch.

‘I could do with lunch’ the idea landed in her head hours before lunch was due and it wouldn’t budge, ‘it’s probably bloody chicken stew again.’ That certainty didn’t stall her longing for lunch, it made it harder for her to concentrate on the path ahead of her.

Snow swirled gently about her face. Luna never thought of stopping. Stopping was a sign of weakness and that would never do. Today’s team leader was two years older. His gruff manner hid a gentle heart. He was the most experienced of the team.

Like a soft veil snow speckled her face and body. Luna lowered her head, hunched her shoulders and plodded on. ‘Hopefully this will get worse, we may have to stop.’ She smiled. Then lunch would be early. A rest would be appreciated.

On they went. Snow was kicked up as they sped along searching for a place to shelter. At last they heard the cry, ‘Stop, here will do.’

It wasn’t too soon for Luna as with head bowed and tongue protruding she stood panting, waiting for the mushers to come and release her and the rest of the team from the sled.

Part 2

It was near the end of the second day of sled racing. Luna was upset she wasn’t lead dog again. But today’s lead dog was a sheep in disguise in her mind.

‘If that eejit slams on the brakes once more I’ll ram into him.’  Luna cast a wary glance back at their Australian Musher. Rob’s face was hidden but from the set of his broad shoulders she knew he was not pleased. Yesterday they were leading, today they were struggling to keep third place.

‘And it’s because you put butt face in front of me. I should be leading.’ Hunching her narrow frame she leaned into the wind pulling on with the rest of the pack as her mind mulled over the problem of how to get that useless lump to pick up his pace.

When they stopped for the night, they were right beside the leading race team. Luna couldn’t believe her luck. Her blue eyes sparkled in the firelight as she talked loudly to Ollie beside her. He opened one eye and closed it again wondering why she was talking rubbish about Bandit’s fear of a mascot.

‘Bandit is scared of everything,’ Ollie thought as he fell asleep.

Luna prayed the team of dogs listening to her were as stupid as they looked.

It was a cold crisp morning as they set off at four o’clock. The first place dog team left minutes before Rob’s team. The prize money was big but the prestige for the winning team would be huge. There was a cold glint in Luna’s eye as Bandit pranced by her whispering, ‘guess I must be doing something right to have stolen the lead dog from you!’

Lunar turned her head and with a brisk shake of her coat snow flew in his direction.

They set off at a gentle pace. It was apparent Rob was putting in more effort than Bandit. ‘If I had my way, you wouldn’t be on this team,’ he roared in frustration wondering what had led him away from golden beaches and luscious babes to this frosty wilderness. Bandit was the owner’s pride and joy. Everyone else believed the dog to be useless.

Luna’s eyes were fixed on the path before them. The snow was soft. The first place team tracks were right in the middle where it was softest. Bandit had some sense and was on the higher hard packed snow.  ‘Good, ‘ she thought, ‘they won’t be able to make much progress. We will gain some ground here.’

Rob was shouting encouragement and abuse at Bandit in an effort to get him to move faster.

Rounding the next bend they spotted the back of the first teams sled. With a howl of rage Bandit woke up. The other dogs had trouble keeping up with him. Snow was shooting from the side of the sled as Rob applied the brakes every now and then in an effort to keep the sled on the track. ‘Are you a lunatic or what? Why now?’

They were closing in on the winning team by the second. She and the others in the team could see the reason why. They would have been howling with laughter but they were too busy huffing and puffing as they attempted to keep up the pace.

 

It was a surprise to the lead team when Rob’s team came charging by them on the downhill run into the finishing line.  There was only two individuals who were fully aware of the reason for the chase, one was Luna and the other was Spats, the fat ginger cat who was the other teams mascot who for some peculiar reason had sat at the back of the sled instead of under the covers at the front.

Ollie congratulated Luna when he was able to breathe again. “You are one smart dog. I thought you said, Bandit was afraid of cats.”

“I did and lucky for us those dumb dogs believed every word I said.”

 

 

 

Maria’s Stuff: An Introvert Living in a world of Extroverts

My side of the tale.

Having now lived for 50 odd years on this planet I have acquired a disguise of being a sociable person.  Truth is I hate big parties, weddings and events.

Bliss was found at an early age in between the covers of books, old or new I didn’t care. I would home in on a book shelf and find a cosy quiet corner and lose the world and myself in a book. The reasons are not generally known by those I hang out with these days but truth is I seemed to have been born with a sign on my head saying kick me, or target for bullies.

Primary school was a nightmare, I would have been happy to sit in a corner and read or dream but everyone was expected to play with everyone. Teachers were relentless in their coaxing, cajoling and often scolding if you were seen to be not mixing.  When I was spotted writing with my left hand this was blown up into an insufferable event. Teachers tried to convince me to do the normal thing and write with my right hand. A conversation overheard by two teachers about my lack of writing skill still stays with me today, 49 years later.

I found freedom and happiness in unexpected places. The two I loved most were my grandfathers company and the library. Both were a fountain of knowledge about different worlds and experiences.  I learnt to let callous taunts and scathing remarks go in one ear and out the other. I sought refuge in my mind. I learnt that not everyone has to conform to the boxes set out for them.

The point of this post.

Is to ask parents not to push or prod their children into doing the socially acceptable thing. Some of us need time alone, time to explore, learn and most of all let the creative side flow.

If a child asks for sketch pads and crayons don’t feel obliged to run out and buy the newest version of paint for the computer. Let them be themselves.

In Ireland last week a couple were fighting the system regarding home schooling and educating children.  Their eleven year old daughter appeared with them on TV and I admired her for her well-chosen comment. She spoke quietly and well. I sat back and thought, I would vote for her.

I would love to know other introverts feelings on how society functions and how they fit  or didn’t fit into the world they were growing up in. More importantly how did it make you feel? And how did you cope?

Bob’s Diary: Rained off, not this dog!

It was raining.

“Behave,” she said. And when she looked in, I was

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but…

 

 

 

 

 

someone had left a nice soft rug on the floor

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and it was too much so game time started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ippWhat is it with Collies?

 

They always have to win.  Ah well, maybe next time.

 

A Muddled Tale

An interlude in which Always-Right-Knight has his say.

 

I love the witch. I cannot explain it.  For a witch she is sassy, sexy and all woman.

Despite my golden-haired, blue-eyed appearance, I do lack confidence with women in particular diva witches. And this poses a problem in my pursuit of the Scrumptious witch.

I have spent days writing the perfect Sonnet. Then I climbed to the top of Hill top peak to pick the bluest flower I could find. Finally I snagged some purple label freshly brewed beer, the one that sparkles and crackles.

Armed with my gifts I trudged about the town searching for her. I was tired, not thinking of anything but her when I happened upon her.  I am human and the sight of a near naked witch with a body worth dying for was too much for me. I jumped in and then zap I found myself in a dark place of dreams and nightmares.

When I awoke it was to discover the world had moved on, my diva was no more and I was in an alien place. Giant man-made dragons and machines roared across the sky and land. The place stank like no other. The houses were like palaces. Towers of glass and teeming hordes of people fill this place.

Strange to say, I love it. Better still they love me.

 

Maria’s – A Muddled Fairy Tale – Part 2.

Scrumptious Witch.  My side of the tale.

When those three moaning, tiresome knights, kept knocking on my door asking for favors I could not give, I became a little sick and tired of them.

After all when a  pretty, blonde and intelligent witch is trying to snag a Prince Charming having three dolts hanging around her hut is not exactly saying “come and get me” to every available prince, is it?

They were following me or so it seemed. Everywhere I looked there they were. Even when I nipped out late one evening to find come beetle juice there they were: one hopping on his armor the other moaning about being beaten and the third stemming the flow of blood from another self-inflicted injury during a jousting match.

I pretended to brush my hair while sitting not to far away and listened to them. It was apparent they were useless. They would always be moaning and groaning. Something drastic had to be done.  If I was to push them onto another witch I would need help or a really sneaky spell.

I decided if I solved their problems, I would be rid of them but that might make me famous. And then I would have every ruddy knight on the planet camped outside my door.

If the path to a hut containing treasure (me) is blocked by a mountain of knights it would not be enticing to a handsome Prince.

My solution was simple. It happened in a moment of  blinding revelation. I needed to stash them somewhere safe. And in return for their removal I would give them each a gift.

This last bit took some time. Gifts are not something to be bandied about, and this is what I came up with:

Lazy whose armor was always the grottiest would be transformed into an ultra clean cleaner, seeing dirt where no one else could.

Grouchy’s temper would vanish. His anti social side would morph into a person who loves to entertain.

Sleazy lack of interest in everything would turn around. He would become a person needing an answer.

So the spell was cast. I took my time and put them in a deep sleep, they would only be awakened when the world was in need of knights big and small once again.

Unfortunately for me while I was doing the spell that big-headed oaf, Always-Right-Knight stumbled upon me in full moon light dance and chant mode. He wished to join me so he too joined their party. But I was cautious.  I removed him a distance from the others and decided not to meddle with an already arrogant overbearing idiot.

In my defense we were in need of three good solid supports for the bridge and guess who found them?

Yes. Me.

Hopefully the future world will be an amazing place where knights will be true honest and happy.

Maria’s – A Muddled Fairy Tale

(Written with illustrations in mind)

One upon a very long time ago, there was a day when every knight in the kingdom of Dragons-breath met to discuss who was top knight in the kingdom.

For the last five years the top of the poll was a very noble shining knight by the name of  ‘Always-Right-Knight’. He irritated most of the other knights because he was always right. And because he won every tournament.

Of all the knights in the stadium the three who stood out were the most terrible.

Yes, I said terrible. They would have been members of Snow White’s group but they weren’t good enough. They were called, Grouchy, Sleazy and Lazy.

 

Grouchy was the most bad tempered knight on the planet. When he wasn’t shouting abuse at children and old ladies he was prodding small animals with his sharp sword.

Sleazy loved to sneeze and drool, everything near him was covered in green slime or snot.

Lazy had one bad point. He was allergic to doing anything.

 

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Our tale begins when Scrumptious, the top witch in the village, overheard our three non-heroes.

Grouchy was hopping up and down, on his armor, to get the dents out.The air around him frizzled with his curses.

“Not a fashionable thing for a knight to do. I hope.” Sleezy muttered as he walked past nursing his sore leg and arm having lost another jousting match.

“You can’t talk. You lost as well.” Grouchy said in a breathless manner. He decided to have a rest and sat on his amour.

Lazy meandered up to them. He was squeezing his arm to stop the blood flowing from another injury, “We need to do something we are losing our fans. At this rate we will be jobless.”

Sneezy sneered at him, “what else can we do? We have tried everything from boot shiner to loo cleaners and we were rubbish at every thing we tried. We are useless.”

Grouchy’s language became so foul the other two got up and left him alone.

Scrumptious who delighted in the nasty and wicked decided to help. “I will make them useful,” she promised with a toss of her blonde hair.

So that night while the three knights snored and snorted in their sleep she paid them a visit.

Next morning when the residents woke there was a new great bridge crossing the madly flowing river in Dragons-breath. The three knights had vanished never to be seen again. However it was noticed that the pillars holding up the bridge were an odd shape and it was often joked one of the pillars looked as though it was resting.

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The earth trundled along and the years sped by. Times changed horses and carts no longer trotted across the bridge. Instead it vibrates under the weight of  the huge lorries and roaring cars who race across it.

In the year of 2014, a dark storm hit the countryside. The bridge was zapped by a bolt of lightning. The bridge crumbled. The stone pillars fell revealing those who were cursed were free to be themselves once again.

The moaning started instantly. None of the knights were impressed by the fact they were very wet.

“Where is our armour?’ Roared Grouchy as he looked at Lazy running about in some very odd looking underwear made from mud and reeds.

That as it turns out was the least of their troubles.

Next morning, having stolen some washing from a clothes line behind a cottage they walked towards Dragons-breath town to find it was no longer there.

“What now?” Sleazy asked. Lazy didn’t answer he was snoring. With a toss of his head Sleazy declared, “I have a horrid bad thirst on me lets find a tavern.”

 

 

Maria’s Stuff: Reality Check – One year on and still missing her.

The 30th of May was an awkward weird day. I woke remembering but trying hard not to visualise my last few minutes with my mum.

After watching her cope with being paralyzed on her left side, and her ensuing struggle to live on a daily basis I have learnt to recognize, and admire the courage of the elderly and anyone who is ill.

On a stranger note I get angered by the daily flippant changes in our Irish healthcare system which are  devoid of commonsense, logic and business sense.

I do have many regrets involving her last year. The main one being my constant questions (in my own mind) about how we failed in our lack of care. We did everything we could at the time, don’t get me wrong but looking back I see the faults, the areas where I should have demanded more on her behalf.

The reality of a situation like that is though you may be doing the best you can for them, I felt, in this case,nothing I did was good enough. I am left wondering and questioning if I could have done better, more..

For now, I focus on remembering the times we laughed, moaned or groaned to each other .

I have also learnt that a life no matter how long or short it is, is often remembered by moments. These snapshots bring back memories of vivid happiness, fun, grief, nothing escapes but they are all moments to be treasured.

For the first time in my life I appreciate and understand her unspoken philosophy of being involved, doing something no matter how trivial or menial. The size of the gesture or involvement doesn’t matter. It is the act of living, being part of life. And all I can add is for such a small woman she managed to do a whole lot of living.