Book Review- Love Struck. By Maria Mathews.

Reviews are like gold hard to find, I would like to say thank you to Kurian and his book club members for this great post

Kurian

Love Struck

In the blog world we come across many writers and follow them. Sometimes you write something which gets the attention of your followers and occasionally some of them could be great writers. And then you mention your intention to write a book of your own, and see the offers of assistance and definitely good wishes from many. Imagine then the announcement of forming a Book Writer’s Club. You get some attention.

Perhaps all these or one of them or a combination of a few that prompted writer Maria Mathews to give me an offer to read her book. And she did a beautiful thing, she sent an autographed book all the way from Ireland for me in India to read.

I took some unusually long time to start reading it. But once started I felt a connection. This review is about what I felt when I read the book.

About…

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Ballycorona

Ballycorona  sits very nicely between the strip of water that lies to the west of Galway City wedged between the city and the Connemara Natural Park. This island is mostly forgotten by the world at large and for the most part the citizens of this small island are very happy about that. Their mayor, for want of a better title, especially so. It allows him the freedom to do what he wishes, and rule his kingdom his way.

On first meeting this auspicious gent, you would be forgiven for falling into his sugar coated promises and statements, as all about him appear to behave as one unit in their agreement with whatever he says and does.  As you will learn, unluckily for me I remembered, eventually that the sweeter the person appears to be the more cautious and fearful you should be.

“Your sense of direction is dreadful,”  Steve my husband of fifteen years told me. I nodded and agreed adding, “Perhaps it would have been better for you to take the lead on this outing.”

Silence greeted that statement. For a while the peaceful sound of our oars cutting through the  petite waves was the only sound we could hear then a voice, deep and authoritative cut through our dilemma. “You must be lost. We haven’t seen anyone out this far in a curragh for many years.”

Steve did not hesitate with his reply, “It’s a kayak, don’t you know the difference?” He swivelled about in search of the speaker.  But there was no one to see. More worrying still there was no boat.

“All I know is that you almost whacked me with that lump of a stick and interrupted our training night.”

Now we both raised our oars and let the boat drift as we looked into the water. Still nothing.

“Not down there you numpty up here.” He sounded exasperated.

We promptly raised our heads and looked above us. The guy on what we presumed was a para glider was easy to spot  not because  he  should have been attending a slimming world class but because his para glider looked as though it had been made by a quilter. As though reading our minds he said, “No reason to worry, this is perfectly safe, I have this covered I have been doing this for years and know what is what.”

As he spoke he did a superb summersault worthy of a Russian gymnast and dived like a cormorant straight into the water beside us. Unlike the cormorant he did not reappear with a fish in his mouth. In fact for two whole minutes he did not reappear at all. Steve who had leant overboard and grabbed some of the lines coming off the colourful fabric parachute was tugging frantically at it and yelling at me to do the same.

I obliged and slowly we reeled him in. Grabbing him by the shoulders and legs we hauled him across the boat and checked for a pulse.

“He is breathing, I don’t know how, but he is lets head for shore” Steve shouted.

I looked around and discovered we were a hundred meters from land of some type. We headed for it balancing the guy in the space between us. It was easy to keep him there as it was a tight fit.

When we reached the rocky beach I was relieved to discover there were six men standing waist high waiting for us. With a nod at both of us they leant across the kayak and yanked him off it.  We got out and followed them to see how he was doing. I was a little perturbed to hear their words of wisedom as we trudged after them.

“Spectacular dive.” The tallest man declared.

“His best yet” A burly grey haired man confirmed.

“How high was he this time?” A youngster asked.

“Oh all of twenty feet but he will add another hundred to it. You can bet your life on that when asked by the reporters for this weeks paper.”

“He usually comes around by now, my da will be all right won’t he?” The teenager, the youngest one in the group sounded anxious as he hovered about them.

“He will in a minute, give us some room Tommy, step back.”

With that the tallest two men in the group grabbed our failed hero; unzipped some of the dry suit, then as they held him by his boots dangled him upside down,

The whoosh of water was spectacular and the coughing of the guy in the suit was continuous. They simply looked at one another and dropped him to the ground where he dragged himself into an upward position and said, “Only for those two gobshites in the boat, I would have been fine.”

With a toss of their heads all agreed  “it is time for a pint,” they left us to it.

Positives in our lives.

It should be a rough day. In a way it is. Between Covid 19, being house bound and my Dad’s first anniversary, all in all there is a lot of downward pushing thoughts but… he was a positive man and would come back to haunt me if I was negative.

Here is my list of #positivevibes

  1. I have noticed the influx of birds into the garden, reminding me that Nature is fighting back and so will we.
  2. We (Matthews Family) are closer than ever.
  3. We remain healthy
  4. We are happy
  5. Our neighbours and friends and those in our community have taken the message to heart; stay at home to protect the vulnerable and those in your community.
  6. I am fitter, but sore all over, due to having two personal trainers (& crossfitters) living with us.
  7. I am sitting in a warm house surrounded by four dogs.
  8. Though we don’t get to see our granddaughter at this time, she gets to be with her mum and dad all day, everyday. And we can still talk to them via social media etc.
  9. Neighbors stopping, (a distance away) to talk and chat.#positivenews being exchanged.
  10. In the past week I have noticed families out walking or cycling, until now a rare event.

I really hope that everyone who reads this is looking to the positive small things about us as we all work our way through this. I wake every day knowing that with the passage of time we are getting closer to living a world without this threat.

I would love to hear all of the positive vibes you are feeling at the moment.

Illustration courtesy of Sara Ryan

Distractions

We, like many other households, have had our daily lives upturned. So, in order to distract myself, I turned to the garden which has not had much tlc in the last few years.

As you can see from these pictures it will take some time but hopefully over the coming months it will be transformed. Luckily Kelly, Niall and Pat wondered where I was and when they discovered what I was doing, they gave a helping hand.

Pat and Kelly took pity on me and joined in with the digging.
It looks a mess but we will get there.
These three were no help at all!

Dog training and walking lucky for me can be a solitary task, so we continue to work where there is no one around us.

I hope everyone else is finding ways to stay healthy in mind and body. I would love to hear how you are all coping.

Introducing the team

I cannot forget him, but, this is a post linked to a new blog that is more concerned about the working dogs I have the pleasure to work with. They teach me all the stuff that Bob believed to be unimportant, that is everything to do with working dogs. Bob’s work was relaxing.

Working With Search Dogs

This blog can not be anything without these friendly faces. So before I go into a long winded post as to how we met perhaps it would be best to simply show and state the little I know about them. I say little because they constantly learn and develop and in the process drag me along with them.

Ellie, seasoned search dog whose mission in life seems to be to accumulate as many tennis balls as she can.

Ellie the eldest is the most experienced and vocal. She and I have been on many adventures together.

Judy will always find the scent and sometimes if I am not looking the container is also located.

dav

Judy, is a labrador with a heart of gold, she lives to work and constantly wants to please those around her. She is as happy in the water as she is out of it.

And…

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Naughty or Nice?

Constance Claus or Mrs C as some call her was pleased, everything was running smoothly in the run-up to Christmas Eve. She had a long list. It was so long it rolled behind her, around the workshop, out the door and into the main square where Summer, her perfectly white cat was using it as a bed.

The elves were working at a frenzied pace due to a bet that Noel would beat the record for putting wheels on bikes in a single day. He was on hour number 8 of 12 and it was showing. His beard was a damp sponge as sweat flowed from his forehead. Constance stopped to watch him and was pleased to notice that the kindly younger elves had equipped Noel with a cold drink which sat on his hat , the long straw flowed from the bottle straight to Noel’s mouth.

Happy they were looking out for each other Constance looked back at her list,

“Check the Reindeer have passed their fitness test.” She smiled at the line underneath – and your husband as well.” She frowned. It was a long time since she saw him, breakfast to be exact.

Standing on the nearest empty chair, Constance gave a piercing whistle. Everyone except Noel stopped working to look at her. “Has anyone seen Santa?” When she was met with silence, Constance felt a moment of worry then she brushed it to one side.

The elves shuffled in a group to stand before her. “He never leaves the workshops, he is bound to be here, somewhere, we will go find him for you.”

“And I will go and check on lunch for you,” she smiled as she left to check the kitchen hoping he was sitting having a giant slice of gingerbread and some milk.

However, the kitchen was empty, ten minutes later the elves began to report in:

he is not in the bedroom, he is not in the reindeer house, he is not in summers house, he is not in the workshop on any of the floors or in any of the cupboards.

They fell silent. “Oh no, we have lost Santa, ” the elves were rushing about in circles, panicking. “Broken Candy canes! We have lost Santa,”

One tiny elve piped up, “perhaps he has gone away for a holiday.”

“Don’t be stupid Dilly, he never goes on holiday. He is the holiday.” The others answered.

Dilly responded by crying loudly.

“How will we find a lost Santa, we can’t tell anyone.” Constance stared at the ceiling then lowered her eyes at the sound of someone munching on a cookie.  “Bob can find him!” She said then wondered aloud, “Where and how did you get those sugar-coated cookies?”

Santa’s four-legged friend looked around the room,then he tried to hide behind the tiniest elf in the room.  It didn’t work, neither did his reindeer costume. reindeer 6

I am not a sniffer dog – I am a reindeer.

There was a loud official knock on the kitchen door. Everyone including the cookie munching Bob turned to see who was doing this when no one ever knocked on doors in Santa’s home.

Taking a deep breath Constance stepped forward and slowly opened the door.  It was George, the giant elf who everyone almost, nearly but not quite forgot about each year as his job was to protect the boundaries of Santa’s home.

“We have a situation, Mrs Claus.” His voice was deep and officious. He appeared to look happy, something which never happened and was deeply troubling every other elf in the room.

“A..a.. situation. How what and where? We never have a situation beyond the threat of running out of time to get the job done.’

“Well, perhaps you should follow me.”

“Why?” Constance was puzzled. This was a first for her just like hearing George speak in such a serious tone.

“I need help as it is a little bit delicate and he is moving too fast.”

“Who?” Constance was getting tired of this. “Just tell me straight.” She and the elves walked outside after George.

His answer was to point upwards.   Everyone stared high into the sky.  There he was, but he was not sitting in his sleigh practising his driving skills nor taking care of the fluffy white clouds or the birds who were flapping and diving out of his way.

No, he was sitting on Rudolph and they were racing about the sky, doing loops and summersaults, diving towards the ground sending snow flying from treetops along with hundreds of birds who had been enjoying a mid-day nap until they were rudely awoken by the racing, giggling Santa. Then in a sizzling flash they sliced and diced the clouds up into tiny marshmallows, Santa grabbing chunks and throwing them to the elves below who were enjoying the show, clapping and laughing.

“This is not funny,” Constance told everyone. Hands-on her hips she wondered just how much sugar Santa had consumed to get him in this state then forgot it as the elves asked,

“We need to get him down but how will we do it?”

“I could write him a speeding ticket or careless driving ticket or an over the sugar limit ticket.” George was bouncing on his toes with excitement. He never got to arrest anyone, imagine being the one who arrested Santa!

Constance’s words knocked the smile off his face. “I know the one person he will listen to and he will be down in an instant.”

George looked depressed. His claim to fame was being squashed.

Pulling her phone from her pocket she dialled a number. The elves were laying bets on who it was Constance was ringing. “Some real police. – No the FBI – No. His dentist he is terrified of him.”

Someone even better Constance said, as she approached Dasher. Leaping nimbly on to his back she took to the sky. Constance and Dasher did not race about like Santa, they flew to a large cloud and waited for him to come to them. Words were exchanged, the elves saw Constance lean towards her husband with her phone in her hand and five seconds later he was on the ground. Constance and Dasher joined Rudolph and Santa then turned to the astonished elves.

Constance slid from Dasher and stood to smooth out her skirt fully aware that every elf was dying to ask her who she rang. She took her time and tried not to smile as Santa marched off muttering and grumbling about wives not allowing husbands to have any fun at all.

Finally, when she was ready she said, “His mum!”

 

 

Does anyone know how to build an ark?

It is cold, it is very wet. So wet in fact I am contemplating building an ark. But Ellie, Judy and Cooper are not bothered all they want to do is run and play, or train.

As I pull another pair of leaking wellington boots off my soggy feet, I wonder how did I get into this? Then I look at her sparkling eyes and realise – it is all your fault. But, we do have fun even on the wettest coldest days.

An Extra Four Legs

It has been weeks since I have written anything. There are many reasons for this,  and the main one is that I lost my mojo as some would call it back when Dad and Bob passed away.

Time has stretched as days have been spent sorting through Dad’s many years of collecting books,  which he stored in a random fashion in his study or in an extra shed outside. The second reason is that we have, as you may know, given a lot of time to finding Ellie a companion.

Our visits to the pounds in the various counties resulted in nothing sparking an interest in her. We would gladly have taken quite a few of those dogs home but, she didn’t seem to show any sign of friendship to any of them.

Then one afternoon for some strange reason I called to our vets and spoke to them. This is where I learnt about Dugg /Doug (jury is out on how we spell it). He is three years old, a golden labrador who lived with a lot of other dogs but whose owner needed to find him a home. So we met him and Ellie didn’t shy from him or look annoyed when she met him.

We brought him home on trial. It was a trial. He appeared happy to be with us until each evening when the howling and barking began. It was like having a baby in the house. We were not sleeping and many a conversation ended with, “he is a sweet dog but his howling is driving me nuts.” In short, we gave him time, attention and he, in turn, tried our patience, but Ellie tolerated him and was no longer crying or looking sad. Sometimes she looked frustrated and tired, like us, but he didn’t have many issues beyond his night time love of howling.  He wasn’t overly fond of men but he is losing his distrust. Ellie and Doug are getting closer as you can see from the pictures. He is still a little too thin but as my kids say, “you will easily fix that mum!”

He loves babies, likes Brook and Belle two other four-legged occasional visitors and is a gentle sloppy idiot, who likes to eat fruit straight from the garden. It seems as though my pal Bob pushed me to the vets on that afternoon, so Doug is staying, what else could I do?

 

 

Rolling Days and the search has started

In some ways, it seems like Dad and Bob only left us yesterday, in spite of this when it returns the pain at their loss can be intense at odd moments. But I know, am aware this is part of the process we call living. The bit I find the most distressing in all of this is how Ellie has reacted. Around our house she sometimes seems lost, wandering to odd corners where Bob used to go to, the strawberry patch being one and then coming back to join me. Her sighs and sad looks have affected everyone. At dad’s house, she no longer races to his back door eager to be let in and given her welcoming pet from him.

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To offset her feeling of loss, I take her with me whenever I can or I invite other dogs to come and spend an hour or two in her company, but I cannot always be with her.

So, after almost 20 weeks with just Ellie, we cannot bear it any longer and have decided to find her a buddy. We can’t replace Bob but we can find an acceptable friend to fill some gaps.

We have discovered that adopting a dog is not easy. For one thing, our garden was inspected. We failed the first inspection. Though, we did explain to the gentleman that if Ellie chose a large dog the short section (4-foot long) of the wall which is only 5 foot six inches tall, (the rest being an impressive 6 foot high) would be raised to the 6-foot height needed. Our thinking on this is: the garden is secure, locked gates and if Ellie decides a Jack Russell is to be her new living companion then why raise the wall? But they were not happy with this answer.

Then you have The Form to fill in, some of the questions are so detailed and personal I expected to be asked how often I shower. However, we dutifully have filled in forms sent off photos of our garden.

In the past week, we have visited 3 rescue centres. They are all spotlessly clean. The dogs look well-fed but the problem is they are either not interested in us or they are female dogs and our main stipulation is that it is a male dog.

The question for you kind readers (all four or five of you) is, have you gone through a similar experience? Are we better off to merely concentrate on keeping Ellie healthy and happy or should we continue our quest?

I will keep everyone posted on Twitter and Instagram #FindEllieAFriend