Friday, July 15, 2016


HOUDINI HOUND brings on payback but provides much therapeutic HEALING – the PIPER chronicles

Wednesday night was a time of moderate payback for the additional (voluntary) exertion / exercise I’ve been taking since the adorable Piper came into my life. Generally though, the dog is proving almost miraculously therapeutic, enabling in me a calm which I’ve not experienced in more years than I care to remember, as well as taking longer walks than I’d been able to manage in the preceding 13 years.

The form the payback took was not at all conducive to sleep, not even of the far too prevalent non-refreshing variety. A simple flick of the bedsheet across the top of my toes, or even an individual digit, caused an unwitting flailing of lower limbs and a hard to suppress need to scream out a string of expletives. Big toes were overwhelmed with a throbbing ache, whilst the full complement of subservient digits tingled with what felt like a potent electrical charge.  During Thursday I experienced a not insignificant degree of confusion and reduced power of concentration.

To be perfectly honest, I’m quite relieved that the payback has remained relatively mild! Our little Piper seems quite sensitive towards my de-energized state of being, leaning in to me rather than demanding a deeper rough & tumble commitment.

I’m constantly amazed and charmed by Piper’s character and personality, especially the winning way in which he commands one’s attention and affection. The sudden burst of energy which emanates from an apparently dormant canine must cause terror in any feline character that dare trespass on his territory, his home patch. The vigorous way he wags his tail, when greeting his people, is a sight to behold – more like a full body shake. I’m pretty certain that a simple greeting, from Piper, expends far more energy than any (so called) long-life / heavy duty battery could ever produce!

His late night bounds into the garden will occasionally produce a basso profundo woof that belies the originators size! Sometimes it may be a feline intruder, which swiftly flees from his territory, at other times he’s somewhat bemused by the little sphere of spikes which appears as he approaches a strolling hedgehog. The boy seems to have an inbuilt hedgehog sensor and, as a result we’re discovering that our long term efforts at developing our garden a wildlife friendly environment is proving successful. On one occasion I observed a couple of juvenile hedgehogs, snuffling along, at one edge of the longer grass area whilst Piper found another source of interest at the opposite side of the same area. Quite remarkably he responded to my wilfully distracting call, made to lead him away from the juvenile ‘hogs path, as he came and trotted by my side, tail held aloft, back into the house.

After he’d found it possible to utilise a garden bench as a springboard, to surmount a quite high fence into our neighbours garden, an immediate re-siting of the planter laden bench was essential. The amazing thing is that he gave us a demonstration of how easily he’d managed this astounding feat shortly after returning home from the scene of his accomplishment.

The day following the great escape, Piper demonstrated, to yours truly, that with a clearer run-up to that section of fence he was already close to making another leap to freedom. Immediate DIY work was called for, as an old Mothercare fireguard was quickly dis-assembled and it’s component parts utilized to add additional height to that particular section of the fence. Our bundle of boundless energy has certainly brought much added colour and joy into our lives.

                             Piper tries out his new bed

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Those who pay the Piper are made to follow his tune

It really is amazing how quickly the world, at least in one’s personal sphere, can be turned upside down and inside out. Less than two weeks ago Piper came to visit us and, different facets of his character seem to appear almost daily. Compared to his physical stature, 15 kilograms of energy – his personality is absolutely enormous, lets imagine it in weight – 1500 kg as a minimum!

It seems quite strange, to me at least, that a creature always so eager to please can at times prove even more stubborn than the proverbial mule! Piper knows his own mind, and, he’ll always jump at the least opportunity to turn our will into a mirror of his own desire. He has eyes that could melt the hardest of hearts and a mischievousness that entertains substantially more than it irritates. By now you may have guessed that I love him.

Alongside the love, there is a modicum of anxiety at the way he frets when my OH goes out of the house and, I start to wonder how he’ll react when she goes away for a couple of days. At least his little whine at the door as she departs, sans Piper of course, now dissipates rather quickly as he manages to attract my full attention. The settling down period also involves his desire to run upstairs, bound up on the bed and placing paws on the headboard as he looks out of the window for any sign of his mistresses person. The next step often involves placing his paws on my knees whilst I tickle and stroke him under his chin and the top of his chest.  Of course, he’s always on the lookout for treats having the appetite of a Desperate Dan (with his cow pies) and, proffers a downhearted look of dismay if a food treat is not forthcoming.

At present, I have a cast-iron resolve not to yield to his (innocent) greed; but he still loves me, I think. His bouts of apparently boundless energy are balanced with more than an equivalent amount of relaxation and sleep; admittedly I have little record of what occurs when his master and mistress are upstairs asleep. He quickly started to recognize my nocturnal routine, as I put on the outside light whilst he bounds, or slowly meanders, following a multitude of scents, around the garden.

My beloved, Helen, invariably heads off to the land of nod a little while before me, but once I start to switch off TV or radio and the aquarium light, he settles himself on the sofa, having first made a little nest out its sundry throws, but is sometimes distracted as he grabs and growlingly shakes a soft toy. Even then, as I move towards the door of the sitting room he casts a doleful glance my way before I switch off the light and wish him “good night”.

As well as the sofa, which he often shares with ma belle during the day, he occasionally has a penchant for my armchair, and thereby hangs a tale / tail! On Monday my beloved went out for an early evening meal, with her friend Hilary, at a time shortly before Piper’s feed time. As my beloved went out Piper seemed quite sleepily settled on their shared sofa. At that point I went through to the kitchen to prepare his evening feed, knowing he would dash through as soon as the food sounded into the bowl.

As he entered the kitchen he appeared to have a shamed look on his face, tail curled beneath him. This seemed most unusual as he’s usually so eager to ‘wolf’ down his food. Now I have to explain that I have a table beside my armchair, on which I keep and use, my laptop; on this table my beloved had left some buttered bread and a package containing Shropshire Blue cheese. As I moved back to the armchair I began to understand Piper’s signs of guilt, when I saw the cheese, now partially unwrapped, on the seat cushion of the armchair, the dairy product itself displayed some give-away canine (no, not human canine teeth) toothmarks. In a matter of a minute, the drowsy canine had moved across the room from sofa to armchair and found the proximity of,  cheese bearing, computer table to his olfactory organ overwhelming!

The day that the boy arrived, chez nous, Beth brought him (amongst other delights) a synthetic chewing bone with a tasty filling. During the following days it has been buried in gravel adjacent to the house, in previously compressed ground near to the summerhouse  and, in ground behind the large shed, In that bone he’d met his match; long lasting chews or Bonio biscuits are devoured almost as swiftly as they’re presented to him, but that bone really took a gnawing between the intermittent relocations.

Today, when Helen went out to the local shops, Piper came through to join me in the front room, before jumping on the sofa in the sitting room. Next thing, I noticed him bouncing upstairs, quite obviously to his lookout point to check on his mistresses whereabouts! When I heard a burst of growling woofs, emanating from the bedroom, I went upstairs to check on what was going on.

Piper was on the bed with his nose, snuffling away, underneath my pillow. Having told the boy to calm down, I lifted the pillow only to find the soil laden bone, and a generous selection of paw spread soil paintings on the undersheet.

 No doubt about it, a complete change of bed-linen was called for and the “buried treasure” has found its way into a waste disposal bin. There’s maybe more I could tell you but I’m beginning to tire; so I bid my readers a fond adieu.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Times they are a changing as the Piper calls

A time of change; as all things turn, there is always a return made, an apparent centring to what has been a slow created essence of one’s being! Quite why I scribbled down that opening line, I’m a little uncertain but, I am aware that certain changes, so rapidly, assimilate to one’s sense of place that they swiftly seem as if they had always been!

We have swiftly adapted to the revamped home, following the many weeks during which the extension work, chez nous, took place. Somehow it seems as if the adaptations had been made to accommodate our family’s latest arrival. As yet we await confirmation that we will be able to adopt our foster boy ‘Piper’.

Piper is a beagle and (assumed) Labrador cross, he certainly has many of the traits that are typical of beagles, always following scents of potential prey wherever he goes, and he has an insatiable appetite for food. The beagle trait is unmistakeable in the head and his colouring is quite like a less saturated version of a red fox Labrador.

Having spent five years in a pound in Spain, where he was bullied and attacked by other dogs, he has a slightly nervous disposition but, has settled in wonderfully into our household. At first he seemed to have a wariness of homo sapiens males, much preferring the female of the species but I was surprised how quickly he accepted me. Piper is definitely a people dog, and has swifltly re-organised the days for ma belle et moi. He’s just so endearing!

Ma Belle generally takes him for morning walk before he has his first meal of the day, so she’s getting the most exercise she has had in quite sometime, sometimes I accompany them both, for at least some of the time, in the evening! Thursday evening I actually managed the longest walk that I’ve had since 2003, and only had minimal payback in terms of a minor degree of shatteredness. Admittedly the back support came into play last evening, as I’d sprained the muscles on the left hand side of my back, probably caused when competing for space in my favourite armchair!

In the morning it’s wonderful to be greeted by the bounding energy ball, that is Piper, as he races upstairs and pounces upon the duvet,  expressing his joy in being here to share my life. Usually a quite boisterous greeting but, this morning, as if acknowledging my back-aching jadedness, he just flopped beside me, forepaws placed gently over my arm.

We are fortunate in having a reasonably well secured, sizeable garden which he always enjoys exploring, in his preparedness to see off any trespassing felines. Just like us he enjoys a reasonably sustained chilled out flop, between bouts of exercise and/or feeding.

In the eight / nine days he has been with us I’ve not needed to resort to wrist, elbow, or shoulder supports, nor have I needed to increase my pain-killer intake. If being part of our family is as therapeutic for him as it is for me, we are both well and truly blessed. My step-daughter Beth who lives, with her four cats, across town is totally smitten with the boy and happily proffers her dog walking services for Piper.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

WEBSITE Disappears - VIRGIN MEDIA (surreptitiously) reduce package content!

Having been with Virgin Media since they took over NTL, I'm always being told what wonderful value we get from their packages! My response is that they talk considerable b*ll*cks! 

I've been so blinded by their exaggerations that I've only just discovered that I no longer have a website. 

If they told us about this in advance it must have been hidden in the small print amongst their usual promotional bullshit.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Shatteredness Conundrum


It's not so much the chicken and the egg as the pain or the tiredness.

Does weariness simply allow a latent pain to exaggerate it's presence or, is it the tired bodies vulnerability that allows a deep pain and discomfort to take hold? Today, a day of only minimal exertion, a sudden onset overwhelming sense of fatigue was swiftly subsumed into an entangling, nerve jangling, multiplicity of pains.

These acute pains, not the overly familiar dull aching wearying variety, swiftly took hold in ankles, knees, armpits and wrists.  The intense discomfort resulted in a sudden welling up, and gushing forth of tears; tears of frustration and, temporarily, despair.

I hate to take my pain medication other than when it's absolutely necessary although, I'm coming back to the notion that I should take the occasional pre-emptive dose as well. The problem then arises as to how I discern whether a lower or negligible level of pain is the result of this pre-emptive strike or, could it simply be a normal spasmodic reduction in pain level.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Garden Aspects

I always feel at peace with the world when I step out into our garden -
sometimes I even forget the copious nagging ailments 
that play such a (largely negative) part in my daily experience

there are more snapshots - Apple Blossom Time chez nous - on Mal's Murmurings

Friday, May 20, 2016

restorative nature

Sitting in the summerhouse, listening to a trill (I could say a thrill) of tweets, croaks, piped and fulsome whistling song of the birds; all seems right with the world. This, after a most reluctant transformation from bed-dweller, lacking in self-affirmation, to house and garden roamer, seems nothing short of a miracle. Yesterdays emotions took quite a heavy toll on my preparedness for the new day and, indeed, little short of an overwhelming terrified sense of aloneness.

Performance of the most simple task began to feel like an insurmountable obstacle, but just as a (claustrophobic) fear of utilizing the new shower room can most likely be resolved by changing the door to open outwards rather than inwards, there are no doubt obvious solutions to other fears which, in any case, are not problems when my reserves of physical & emotional stamina are at their normal restricted plateau.

Anyway, the abundance of birdsong proffers a temporary renewal, and I enjoy watching the avian visitors to our various feeding stations. Lots of starlings from fledgling to mature, a goodly number of blackbirds and house sparrows, the occasional goldfinch and, this morning (a first for many months) a bullfinch, are among today’s visitors At least the feathered community travel to me; the only effort required from yours truly is to open my ears and eyes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Guilt of a Spoonie Wimp

Convulsive weeping, the pattern of my day; a sense of failure, weakness or betrayal, none of it makes sense! After weeks of feeling further under par, a decision to increase my dose of amitriptylene (up to now used to deal with some nocturnal discomfort) towards an anti-depressant level just made me feel worse. Persistent headache, intensified abdominal bloating & discomfort, loss of appetite (difficulty swallowing even), postural hypotension alongside a more general dizziness, all seemed to coincide with the increased dosage.

Recent weeks had seen a marked increase in my stress levels, as work on the new extension kitchen, dining room, and walk-in shower, dominated my conscious awareness of every day-time, and the added confusion of life in total disarray in other parts of the house proved more burdensome than either of us had anticipated.

Sleep and pain patterns have become even more erratic than usual but then, always at the back of my mind was a proposed visit to Worthing to celebrate the Golden Wedding Anniversary of my brother & sister in law, Dave & Janet. Having plucked up courage to book an hotel room, sometime last week, for a four night stay, the imminence of the travel became more real but, I felt the special nature of the occasion would somehow enable me to carry it through.

Today was to have been the day of travel (more like travail) – a journey of approx 6 hours duration – but although the car was packed with our case and rucksack, necessary medications having been packed last evening, the event was not to be. At present even the five to ten minute journey into town can seem like an arduous expedition so, I should have realized that this event was not to be. First mistake was removing myself from the duvet lair, after an all too familiar restless night, over an hour earlier than is my norm.

Wham, the enormity of the proposed venture hit home with pile-driver force; I would love to have been there for the celebrations but, my own wimpish nature resisted the travail. That’s when the tears got into full flow, a deep rooted feeling that I was really betraying my brother & sister-in-law, I began to wish I didn’t love them, that would have made it far easier to turn down the invitation. The vicious circle followed – yes, I should make the journey, no matter the deleterious effects that may have – no, I’d be foolish to travel but, that’s letting my brother down.

Sadly, the journey is not taking place, the sense of guilt weighs heavily. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

out of the kitchen and missing the heat

Although each hour, of each day, may seem to drag at present, it still amazes me how swiftly each year seems to pass. Most of the time each day has seemed to pass far to quickly, no sooner is one getting into it’s swing than tiredness sets in; gosh, I’m sounding like a real Grinch today.

The (current) absence of not only a functioning kitchen, but even sans kitchen sink, or even a single gas or electric hob, just seems to leave a hollow at the core of my being. Who would have thought that once, not too many years ago, I subsisted on a diet of predominantly microwaveable (so-called) meals; even in recent days, the cooking bug having for some time since had a hold of me, preparation has felt at times a chore too far, only reluctantly pursued. No working kitchen and an echoing void of proposed kitchen diner exuding its presence into the lounge, leaves one feeling achingly hollow.

I am indeed fortunate to have a roof over my head, a partner to love and be loved by, yet still I find temporary inconvenience a source of veering close to a state of reactive depression. It would be easy, of course, to blame my dispiritedness on my permanent condition of aches, pains, disorientation and unrefreshing sleep, which admittedly doesn’t help, but then I feel overwhelmed by guilt at my self pity. In a land where the government is determined to punish the poor, the  vulnerable and disabled in response to a crisis caused by their banker friends, what right have I to feel at all sorry for myself?