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Posts from the ‘USA’ Category

(i carry it in my heart)

I’m rather a fan of a cliché – I always feel that for something to become one it has to be embraced by many and that probably means it has some sense stitched into it’s lining. One such chestnut is that ‘home is where the heart is’. Most would not argue with this. But I would argue that home is IN the heart.

I’ve inferred before that I have moved often and it is true that the moving is not over yet. At the moment I am in the USA and I am far from my mother and from my daughters. Before coming here for this year, I was mostly separate from my husband. And from my mother and from my daughters. This year I have him, not them. When I am in Britain I have them, not him. My father is dead. So he is not any of my here’s at all.

But since they are all carried safely in my heart, I can be home wherever I am and I have learned the trick.

This shot was taken a stones throw from the place I’ve been nesting in Massachusetts – it’s a local path that The Bean and I walk often with or without HB2. It’s a place I sat with my youngest daughter just a few short weeks ago when she came to visit in the high humming heat of Summer’s end and now as Fall falls into place in this place in New England and I am favoured with an understanding of what all the fuss is about, the colours are emerging in the most brazen fashion and stalking my breath and stealing it away effortlessly whichever way I turn. My father loved trees and would have loved to be able to just wander around New England filling his heart with the wonder of Mother Nature’s audacious exhibition. So from his home in my heart, I watch this glorious Autumn unfold and I remind myself just how fortunate I am. To have this perfect vision on my doorstep and to have him in my heart.

I offer the picture in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge titled Local – here is the gallery of all the other captivating captures

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PS: If you look closely at the foot of the red-hot tree you will see a pile of sticks. Or not. It’s a beaver lodge – home to a colony of beavers that I have been delighted to spot from time to time busying about their industrious beaver life, whilst I live in their locale.

And for all those I carry in my heart, but particularly for my husband – here is the poem from which I plucked the title of this piece. It’s a little luxury for me to be local to the place where e e cummings was born for I have loved him for as long as I can remember …. ‘beautiful you are my world’

i carry your heart

e e cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

Meditation and water

I have twice delved into the murky or magical, depending on result, waters of internet dating.  So successful was I that, for several weeks I was ‘Times Encounters’ most popular woman.  I tell you this not to brag (though, let’s face facts it is entirely braggable) but because I remember clearly stating in my profile that I loved water.  The ocean, lakes, rivers and streams, I am happiest when near them or in clear sight at least.  Puddles possibly not so much though jumping in them has it’s own delight with the strong caveat of the correct footwear.  I would challenge anyone to enjoy a long walk home in squelchy shoes with soggy socks on a dank chill day.  Correct me if I’m wrong, I dare you.

In my last post I told those who cared to work it out from the clue I gave that I was bought up by the river Thames in Berkshire  and it is fair to say that most of my life has been lived by the Old Father.  So maybe that is the explanation.  Or maybe it is hardwired into my DNA.  I come from a long line of Naval servers.  My Grandfather, for example,  was a giddyingly senior Admiral – as a young Lieutenant aged younger than my second daughter is now,  he was aboard HMS Chester at the Battle of Jutland, the last face to face naval battle in history before the equipment got so clever that these days you don’t really  need to be in the same water to score a direct hit if you feel so inclined.    He remembered dinner immediately after the battle when the blood that had soaked the decks was barely washed away, the Stewards brought in tureens of tomato soup.  Even the Captain declined.

Whatever the reason, I find that being near water rests my spirit and enables clear thinking and so I was delighted recently to go to Gloucester MA, made famous by ‘The Perfect Storm’ and step onto a safe ship in glassy calm waters to go whale watching with HB2 and youngest daughter.  Whales are guaranteed because of the location, a marine natural reserve 12 miles offshore.  If you don’t see any they invite you back again until you do.   You are, however,  reminded that these are wild animals, not  a circus show and that what you  see depends on many factors, not least how diva-ish the whales may be feeling on the day.  It turned out that the Whales were in positively symbiotic spirits for reasons we shall never fathom because we don’t speak Whale.  They advertised virtually all their major surface behaviors – they breached, they blew spouts, they lay in a trance-like state on the surface, they flapped their fins and they dived showing off their immense barnacle bejewelled tails to glorious effect.   It was an astonishing show which might have been choreographed by Busby Berkeley himself.    The company we went out with educate as well as facilitate sitings so we learned much along the way about these wonderful and historically maligned creatures.  You can find out more by going to their blog right here and if you ever get the chance, grab it.  It is a truly unforgettable experience.

We have SO many photographs from the outing but this is my perfect picture, or more accurately Two Brains’ since, peglegged as I have been of late, I couldn’t balance self and camera securely enough as the boat bobbed and curtsied, to take a decent picture.  I submit it here as my entry in this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge titled H2O (which I misread initially and thought it was a tribute to The Brains).  Here are the rest of the wonderful entries for your delectation, should you feel inclined.

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PS:  Last night, we had dinner with two of HB2’s team .  They work in his lab two days a week.  They are rising 89 and 91 and the older of the two served in the US Navy.  He can’t swim.

My quote, as you might expect, is from ‘Moby Dick’.  In Chapter One our narrator, Ishmael remarks to us ‘Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded together’.  I have never faulted him that assertion.

Truly ‘t is a rare bird in the land

Those of you familiar with my nonsense will know that I refer to my spouse as The Husband with Two Brains or HB². But he has another moniker, one that arose when he wasn’t even in the same country as the protagonist, let alone the same room.

Some while ago, probably 6 months after I moved to France, I was taking coffee with Raymond (adopt French accent, for he is indeed a proud Frenchman). Raymond came into world of HB² quite by chance some 20 years ago. A knock on his office door, a frantic colleague needing help with someone he suspected to be a Frenchman who had appeared uninvited in the lab. Under gentle interrogation it transpired that Raymond had spent all his savings on a single air fare to New York in pursuit of an Astronomy Professor that he particularly admired. He being, at the time, a student and general helper at the Astronomy faculty in Nice. Picked up by the Police wandering aimlessly, he somehow persuaded them to put him on the Amtrak to Boston from where he found his way to Harvard and there the story brought him into my husband’s orbit. Struck by his tenacity, his extraordinary affinity with the night-sky, which is akin to the ancient astronomers who first mapped and tried to understand the world beyond our globe, and touched by his desire to learn, my husband took him in and found him work in his lab. Eighteen months later he returned to France to complete a degree having finally accepted that to be taken seriously in the world of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Cosmology and all the attendent highbrow orbits he fancied dabbling in, he must have a degree. Since that time, Raymond remains devoted to Two Brains and I would suggest with some reason.

Back to the café where I had enjoyed a coffee and a chat with the same Raymond and asked his advice. I was concerned about my husband at the time for reasons I now fail to remember – living lives separated by 3,000 miles nurtures anxiety, or at least that has been my experience. As we stood to say our au revoirs, Raymond clasped me by the shoulders and, as he faire les emphatic bises (the air-kiss-kiss we do in France but with supplementary vigour to impart fortitude), declared that my husband is really un cochon rouge – a red pig. I queried this with a smile intended to make me the fool and a gentle ‘quoi?’ and he repeated ‘il est un petit cochon rouge’ – so in fact not just any red pig , but a small red pig. My husband stands almost 6′ and though of light and lean frame is not one to ever be described as little, particularly in France where most men are of, let’s say more concise hauteur. Including Raymond. To be doubly belt and braces sure that I understood him Raymond then announced in English ‘he is a red pig, a small red pig’.

Later that evening on the phone to The Brains I asked him, having Googled colloquial, slang and vernacular French all afternoon in vain. I enquired in a roundabout Winnie the Pooh sort of casual way what calling someone un cochon rouge or indeed un petit cochon rouge might mean. The answer came back ‘red pig or little red pig’. So not helpful at all. Accordingly spurred by what had now become an obsessive need to understand, I made a full confession, including sharing my troubled mind over he who owns both brains and was subjected to a stunned and complete silence. The identical stunned silence it turned out that Raymond employed a few weeks later when asked what he had meant by calling The Brains a red pig. He claimed he had said ‘un petit cochon rose’ and meant that my husband is more sensitive than he lets on. Less macho, less girder-built. I can firmly report that he did NOT. No sir. Not. At. All. I heard him entirely distinctly and he called my husband a little RED pig. Of course it has stuck. It begged to and would have been dreadfully rude to ignore it.

Therefore, when staying in Boothbay Harbor, Maine as recommended by my blogging friend ‘The Weird Guy with a Dog’ whom I wholeheartedly urge you to check out, and confronted with this wingèd porcine outside a pretty store selling eccentric ironwork, I was minded to abduct it but made do with a photograph for now. I perfectly intend to own it when we have a house to put it on – after all who can resist such a wondrous hog, seemingly dancing in the air, gleeful cheeks a-puffing, perky ears a-flapping and that tail uplifted with such blithe abandon. Nothing at all like my husband but portraying perfectly the joie de vivre I suspect we all aspire to and with the added advantage of telling you which way the wind blows. It is a rapturous porker, a piggy I will dream of until I return to make it my very own. I was inclined to share this story by the Weekly Photo Challenge prompt this week ‘Rare’ – if it piques your interest, you can see a sensational selection of entries here.

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PS: The quote is Martin Luther, Priest, Scolar, questioner and reformer ‘A faithful and good servant is a real godsend; but truly ‘t is a rare bird in the land’. Raymond has been a good and faithful servant to The Brains these more than twenty years and as you will discover when I write more of him is surely one of the rarest of birds you will encounter in a lifetime. Actually Luther was uncommonly fond of his rare birds giving the accolade to wise princes and even more to upright ones. That would probably apply today though to politicians rather than princes, I would suggest.

Good God (or The Devil) is in the detail

My home is in France.  I will reside in the USA until mid-October. My heart breaks for this place.  Of course my heart breaks for France.  It’s my status quo.  That my heart is breaking is hardly surprising.  Here, numerous lives wasted by guns.  In France, just about to lift it’s highest possible security alert after the abominable attacks last year, 84 literally mown down and numerous others injured many left in a life-threatening condition which you can seamlessly translate to ‘if they live they will have a steep slope to climb if they are ever to live a full life again’ in Nice on 14 July.  A bloodbath on 14 July in France, by the way, is akin to a massacre on 4 July in the USA..

And then there are those others.  The copious blood spilled in numerous locations which cannot have escaped your attention, lives exterminated, bagsfull maimed in other places.  None of it is justifiable to a reasonable person let alone a pacifist.  None of it is right to a rationalist let alone an  idealist.  All of it bids to erode my inate and possibly foolish optimism.  But I will not let awful un-lawful acts rule my life.  I will strive to find a way through.

How so?  How on earth? First I must comment that what happened in Nice is in all likelihood not a terrorist attack.  You can play with the semantics, of course and you can tell me that most nutters root back to religion, politics or any combination therein that feeds their sick souls but I don’t count that.  An organisation has taken the most half-hearted responsibility for the 19-tonne truck deliberately barrelling down le Promenade des Anglais just when it was bound to be full of revellers gathered for le Fête Nationale.  They were clearly going  to.  Fear bolsters up their macho resolve, so to claim responsibility is almost inevitable.  Some sort of tenous connection makes us all feel even more scared.  When I was growing up in England it was the IRA – any mention had us quivering in our boots, soiling our knickers and feeling very very insecure.  The world moves on.  Though I must say that I fear that the IRA never really went away.  And the recent British Brexit vote that narrowly resolved to leave the EU (or UE if you are French) will add fuel to that nicely  weakening fire.   So claims are made and responsibility often falsely attributed and we all quake and shake and wonder if we can really really go out of our front door safely and if our babies and their babies and their babies not even thought of are ever EVER going to be safe.

I put two notions to you.

The first is this.  We have become an increasingly tiny planet.  By this I do not mean that the world has physically shrunk from a big fat fully inflated and energetic basketball to a teeny weeny, possibly depressed  ping-pong ball but rather that we know what goes on in every crevice and we feel a part of it where once we did not.  Media and especially social media shout and scream at us even when we sleep – buzzing and bleeping and flashing that something is happening.  I remember Gerry Anderson’s ‘Thunderbirds’ – I remember those puppets being woken by the bleep-bleep of a catastrophe.  And they went out and resolved it.  Solved it.  Made it all right again.  Kept us safe.  Now we all bleep and buzz and ring and weep.  It is not healthy.  We cannot absorb it all.  Leeloo in the 1990s sci-fi film, ‘The Fifth Element’ starring Bruce Willis, of all people, could not absorb it without breaking down with the sheer emotion of it, and she was manufactured to be the savior of humankind – it’s too  bluddy much for one person, one creation, to take in:

The second notion is born of my idealistic nature.  I think that if we can, and do spread love and decency and kindness and tolerance eventually (not in my short life-time), eventually the world will see sense.  I will leave the notion of spilling blood to others.  But I will give you this thought.  This weekend I had a situation that should have ruined my relationship with my husband.  This weekend I was told I was hated by his son, by one of his son’s closest friends.  This weekend I could easily have told my husband I wanted to terminate our relationship because of his closest kin, his spawn. But I didn’t.  I squawked and I cried and I shouted and I threatened but I stayed.  Out of love, I stayed.  I am imperfect.  If I can reach into my vat of love, we all can.  I say this because I am absolutely unperfect.  Blemished and scarred and not at all pure.  So it stands to reason in this tiny brain of mine that we CAN all tolerate if we firstly want to and secondly  put a little thought into the process.  Here’s the thing, we can all be decent just because we want to be decent.  It is absolutely in all our hands and minds and hearts to want to change and to stop being selfishly driven by our own needs and to accept that we are all particular and that none of us is  a better particular, a more worthy particular than any other.

The picture is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge ‘Detail’ – my title is a bastardisation of the known (‘The devil is in the detail’) and the less known but proper (‘le bon dieu est dans le détails – ‘The Good of God is in the details‘).  With my mish-mush belief system I can take from both and manipulate you as all good terrorists do.  What I will bring to you is the detail of harmony, peace and tolerance – not things that just magically happen but things that require work.  My picture illustrates this through the idea of a diversity of lichens co-existing on a rock.

If this is my rock then let it be known that every religion,whatever colour,  LGBT, men, women, straight and yet to be determined, able bodied, disabled, are welcome,  Don’t rock me and I won’t rock you.  Fact.

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PS:  I find it interesting that ‘The Devil is in the detail’, most notably attributed to 20th Century German Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is the accepted venacular over the original le bon dieu est dans les détails which is attributed to Gustav Flaubert (author of my beloved Madame Bovary) who died twenty years before the turn of that century.   God-Devil.  Good-Bad … personally I think we are better placed attempting to be good ourselves rather than bathing in books and falling back on them when their language will surely fail us so long after they were supposedly penned.

… with great love

The world feels particularly alarmed at the moment.  The U.S are afeared at what their election will bring given that one candidate is a proven loose cannon  and the other a proven liar.  Last week a woman who I knew for a short while as a colleague was savagely and barbarically shot, kicked and stabbed to death whilst going about her work as a Member of the British Parliament, serving constituents who had elected her for her talent and energy and goodness and days before that a twisted maniac massacred 49 innocents just being themselves in a Gay nightclub in Orlando.  Today my country of birth opted by a slender margin to exit the European Union and exercise it’s right to navigate the world in splendid isolation.   All of these things are quite shocking to digest.  I need not and will not comment – my opinions are of no interest to those taking the time to read my words but I do have something that I hope might strike a different and more harmonious chord.

I am currently in France having been whisked here by a circuitous route to delay my guessing the destination by HB² (my husband) so that we could spend our wedding anniversary in the place we were married three years ago.  Today I am sitting at my table in the place I call home.  My world is rosy.  I am fortunate.  This week along with the delightful, other things have happened in my personal life that could certainly anger me, engender hatred and lead me to feel that the best thing is to curl up in my cave and live my life as a strange old hermit (complete with splendid false beard).  But being the cussed optimist that I work at being, I know that I am better placed and better off endeavouring to find value in the way things are trying to effect other lives as decently as I can.  Last week, the extremely lovely  @Turtleway whose beauteous blog you will find here graced me by beginning to read every post I have ever written.  This is either brave or foolhardy but in any case  remarkably flattering.  She asked me in response to a post I wrote about Oradour sur Glâne in France, which was the object of a genocide in the dying days of WWII how we can avoid hating when we come across atrocities.  Which we do almost daily with modern news transfer being as rapid as it is and Social Media rampantly passing on the attrocious and the marvellous in an entirely unfiltered manner.  I thought for some days before I replied and then I said this:

‘The first thing I must say is that I understand hatred. But it was my youngest daughter, then aged about 10 years old who asked me to stop using the word ‘hate’ because, she said,  we should never actually hate anyone or anything.  By definition it is a cankerous emotion. She is now 21 and her views have inevitably become a little less pure but she remains true to the essence of what she said. For my part, I feel that hating and being angry are well and good but that they don’t resolve anything, they do not bring back the dead, they do not comfort the bereaved and they do not heal the wounded. In fact they probably feed the perpetrators. And I refuse to grace wicked, evil people with anything that might make them feel anything other than the odious bile that they have become. So I try instead to count my own good fortune and to understand what I can do to help. I am a highly emotional person by nature and tend to ricochet between highs and lows without warning. My own balance is maintained by seeking out the good in every situation and by attempting to not fuel the fire with a whirlwind of anger but rather to damp it with the dew of decency. Different people use different mechanisms. I must stress that I am not perfect. I feel anger and rage and bitterness and fury and sometimes I let those feelings begin to tarnish my insides. But I try to remain mindful and conscious and to take a beat and if necessary many many beats whilst I get to a mechanism that can quash the negatives and allow the positive energy to release so that I can be of some use. This is not forgiveness, this is not excusing this is simply trying not to become dissolved by fury and outrage but rather to evolve by maintaining a stance of dignity and warmth of spirit.

The world we live in is full of hatred.  Today Social Media is positively crackling with rancor and bitterness or exultation and self-congratulation depending on which side you take at the result of the self-proclaimed ‘Brexit’ vote.  It turns into yet another reason for people to sling mud.  I choose not to.  I urge others to join me.  I hope one day you will.  And to paraphrase John Lennon, the greatest of pacifists, the most gifted of men, diabolically slain so many years ago by a twisted soul, maybe, just maybe one day the world will live as one.’

Here are two little beetles simply working together, spreading their beetle love and working as partners to further beetlekind.  This ties in nicely to the photo challenge this week of which  here you can find lots and lots of far more admirable examples  And yes, using a picture of beetles when referencing a Beatle is entirely deliberate.

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PS:  The quote comes from Mother Teresa of Calcutta – ‘None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.’

More stern and splendid than mere kindness

I’ve mentioned before the wise advice of a friend to ‘find the purpose in the way things are’.  The last three months have necessitated reaching out to those words and hugging them close and often.

Let me elucidate.  When I moved to France.  To Cantal.  To the pays perdu that I persist in calling home, I cleaved to it.  I knew I was home.  Clock forward two years, two months and a few days and  I was thrust into a New World.  The New World.  A doddle for a cosmopolitan gal like me.

Or not.  The fact is that I struggled to settle and root even a  little here.  The fact is that my heart and my eyes and ears and all my senses were gazing, reaching and yearning for  France.  The fact is that I went through the motions every day.  I strove to get myself into a groove on my long playing record that would make a melody that I could sing along to.  Hallelujah and pass the tambourine, I got there.  I AM here.  And I now honestly  feel that I can love the one I’m with (or more accurately, in).  I have retrieved my inner explorer and pressed re-set.   I am finding so much to be enraptured by.  And why on earth wouldn’t I?  What an opportunity I have.  To live on another continent, find the beauty and the warts and the eccentricities and get under the skin of a place that is such a collosal collision of cultures that a few meagre months or years can never do it justice.  And, I finally get to live with my Two Brained husband –  one love.  My love.

And as it happens (such a coincidence) One Love is the prompt for the Weekly Photo Challenge beautifully represented here by people far smarter and more creative than I.

The picture?  Walking up Mount Eisenhower in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  It was a tough walk up because, apart from being relentlessly uphill and steepish, at the time I had neither crampons nor poles to walk with and above the line it was frozen to the sleekest shiniest glass  whenever the canopy of trees gave a skimpy opening for the glacial breath of winter to polish the ground with her frigid glaze.  And all of a sudden this …. my Narnia moment.  Paradise frozen – water (my enduring love) stopped in it’s tracks until Spring decides to wave her wand, scatter her fairy dust and let it flow once more.

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PS:  The quote is C.S Lewis from The Problem of Pain … known for the Narnia Chronicles it is worth getting to know Lewis, the Christian writer whether or not you believe in his God.  He said ‘love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness’ and though I am a true devotee of kindness I support his assertion unreservedly.

I’ve got nobody to hug – I’m such an ugly bug

I’m not an ugly bug. I am a really really ridiculously GOOD-looking dog.  A dog with a serious message to share.   I am The Bean.

I may look like a handbag dweller (I am Metrically less than 4 kilos which makes me Imperially 8 and a half pounds) but I am feisty and fit.

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In order to keep my sleek appearance  I take a lot of exercise.  I walk many miles a week with my humans – mostly my mummy (because he is busy doing something called ‘bringing home the bacon’ although in truth I have not seen any evidence of this bacon, to which I am very partial) but bestly with both of them.  We walk and hike on trails here in the USA just like we do in Europe.

The winter here in New England has been unusually mild.  I am grateful for this fact.  I like snow but I am told that sometimes it falls in metres rather than inches and being quite economic in the leg I would soon be unable to walk at all.  We had some of the deep stuff but mostly it was the sort of snow I am used to and I had plenty of fun diggering and snuffling on my walks.

But now it is really quite Springy here and this is the point of me hijacking my mummy’s blog.  I got a tick.  I didn’t feel it.  It just sat on my back which is black.  Then it started to grow – at first my mother thought I had some sort of blemish.  She can be exceptionally stupid.    Obviously a dog as beauteous as I has NO blemishes.  These little blighters sit on leaves and blades of grass and wait for a likely victim (they call it a host but surely a host invites people to the party and I did not invite any ticks to mine).  They can crawl but they cannot leap or fly.

By the time my retarded people realised what it was, several days had passed and it was Sunday with no vets except emergency ones  open.  So they did what all humans do and they Googled.  I don’t really know what Googling is but it seems to be regarded as a fast track to wisdom.  Personally,  I prefer to use my nose.  I’m a dog – it’s what we do.   My daddy was satisfied to discover that his method is the right one.   You take tweezers and make sure you pull it hard and straight without pinching the skin.  But mummy was insistently maverick.  She had found an article written by someone who suggested something unbelievable.  My daddy was mistrustful.  But he agreed to try it.  Probably in the interests of shutting her up.   When he was deciding on a career many aeons ago, he considered being a surgeon.  He did a very passable impersonation of having trained thus as he got ready for the operation.  Sterilised tweezers were laid on the table for the inevitable moment when she was proved wrong and he was proven right and he had to operate with pincers as he had first suggested.  He donned blue surgical gloves and I was taken upon mummy’s knee (which I like very much) and stroked tenderly whilst she held my head in a vice like grip lest my teeth got the better of me and decided to nip.  Which I have to own up, they occasionally do.  Under stress, you understand.  Like the time when someone tried to sit on me when I was a puppy – I was under a cushion and they forgot to check – I was extremely small and the posterior bearing down on me was extremely large.  I had no choice.  Anyway, he  started to rotate the critter quite rapidly with his pointy finger.  His face had incredulity virtually tatooed on it and he was clearly just going through the motions to keep her quiet, so imagine his amazement when after about a minute the tick leapt off me.  Maybe it was dizzy with all the whirling although I don’t think ticks have ears so that can’t be right.  Or maybe it just didn’t like the sensation of being whirled but whatever it was, it jumped leaving no bits of itself in me although it had made a crater in my skin to sup my sanguine fluid out.  Which is extremely rude for an uninvited guest.

And to prove the point that we weren’t fantasizing, two days later I got another one (purely in the interests of research you will understand) and the people did the same trick again and after about a minute it simply flung itself off me.

Daddy put the  tick  into a pot full of something called Gin and covered it with clingfilm.  Mummy says Gin is  also called mothers ruin – well it ruined this mother.  After several days it was very definitely a dead tick.  I don’t know if it was helplessly drunk before it’s demise – I am not that well acquainted with tick habits and I don’t intend to enlighten myself further.

The day after the first tick was removed my daddy rang my mummy and said he was going to the hospital.  He had removed a tick from himself after a run and left it wrapped in paper in a freezer bag in the kitchen.  His work people told him not to take any chances.  He asked mummy to take a picture and send it to him so the hospital could identify it.  I don’t really understand how they do these things – I just know how to pose for pictures and I know it makes them smile so I have become something of an expert at it because it usually generates pats and treats.

Daddy’s tick was a Deer Tick.  My tick was a North American Dog Tick.  I think this is a bad name because clearly no North American dog actually wants to be associated with these vile beasties.  They steal our blood.   Deer ticks carry Lyme Disease.  This is a very bad disease and it can kill people.  It can also affect dogs.   My daddy is fine because the hospital gave him antibiotics but he did have the start of a bullseye blemish where it had started to bite him.  This is a sign that the tick is infectious.

 

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Deer Tick

My people now spray themselves with DEET and their clothes too.  They went to the hunting store to get some.  The hunting store is full of stuffed animals.  I did not go with them.  I do not want to be stuffed.  They also annointed me with anti-tick drops which last a month.  I despise these.  I have them inflicted on me in France where my Vet refuses to believe that they hurt me very badly.  Because I can’t talk human (though I bark very eloquently if you speak dog) I can’t explain what the problem is and they say that my skin doesn’t have any signs of anything bad.  But I really really NO like.  I try extremely hard to rub the stuff off.  Therefore, they used trickery by getting me in the car (which I love), taking me to the running trail (which I love) and with my guard down they squoze it on me and then took me for a long, reasonably fast, run.  Each time I tried to roll they distracted me and by the time I got back I was so tired I had forgotten it.  Until next month.  Sometimes being a dog is very very hard.  This is why I have to have a cupboard full of snacks.  Because my life is tough.  It’s a dogs life ….

PS:  The title is from one of my mummy’s favourite childhood songs – Burl Ives ‘The Ugly Bug Ball’.  Interestingly even the bugs seem not to have invited ticks to the party ….

 

Won’t you join the dance?

Out walking on Saturday after a fresh tumble of damp sticky snow, we came across this ravishing creature.  It has the look  of a crustacean feeling its way across the sand and brought to mind instantly the creations of Dutch artist Theo Jansen  who creates fantastical kinetic sculptures which echo the most outlandish elements of beast, bird and bug.   Life imitating art as the photo challenge requests this week …

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PS:  As for me, I was in Wonderland with  Alice, listening intently and trying not to put a foot in the soup as the Mock Turtle tells the story of the beauteous Lobster Quadrille.  But try as I did, I couldn’t find a partner for this shrimp – perhaps I should join the dance – after all, it is what gave me the title.

 

For the trees have no tongues

Emotography …. I have Claudette at  ‘To Search and to Find’ (strapline ‘happiness in every day’ which I love) to thank for Emotography.  Its so alluringly simple …. post a picture, link to her site so she can include it in her gallery of the week and give, in as many or as few words as your mood dictates, the emotion that prompted the picture or that you felt when you saw the result.

For me today it is HOPE.  When I came upon this scene at Vaughn Hill, Bolton here in Massachusetts it shouted of The Lorax, my favourite of Dr Seuss’s extraordinary catalogue of books read to me as a small child despite being non-American because we had best friends from Boston – he, Hoops,  an English professor she, Betty,  once legendarily said to me, when I was denuding her greengage tree of fruit ‘see how Hoops just bleeeends with the waaaallpaper’ causing me, a gauche English girl to nearly drop plum straight out of the tree so irreverently funny was the image of this studious professor simply a disembodied head, his shirt of palest apricot blending with the silken walls of their drawing room.  The Lorax is a classic.  And of course I read it in turn to my own children.  It co-exists as a children’s classic with  ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, it stands with ‘The Wind in The Willows’ and so many others here un-named as the finest books to read to children and for children to read.  But the message – the message is clear to us all.  Children and adults alike.  These dry lifeless trees standing defiantly in the water, for all the world like the Truffala’s in The Lorax remind me and should remind us all that we must protect what we have.  Be it from feisty little worms (to which these trees have succumbed) or to the greed of industrialists making their own version of Thneeds.   I have hope that we will.  Because we can.  If we will.

I am The Lorax.  I speak for the trees ….

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For the trees have no tongues

Apart from talking for the trees I taking the liberty of suggesting the following that they might enjoy the value of taking part with Claudette in her Emotography weekly event:

http://myfoododyssey.com/

https://poshbirdyblog.wordpress.com/

http://francesays.com/

https://thechangingpalette.com/

Joie de vivre

Here is The Bean in a bag.  A Bean bag if you will.  She looks so full of life, so vibrant.  Which she is.  A positive ball of energy madly running around nose to the ground sucking up whatever scents are assaulting her snout with a joie de vivre that leaves us breathless much of the time.  This particular day was excessively hot so we popped her in a handbag to save her overheated, fatigued legs.  We are careful of this Bean.

Last September we made the trip from home in the Cantal to Paris (about five and a half hours by car).  I had an appointment with the US Embassy and in deference to my tense disposition at the thought of the impending Green Card interview, my husband booked us into our favourite Hotel des Dames du Pantheon.  We have stayed before and The Bean is treated like royalty and always referred to by name by the excellent and delightful fully multi-lingual staff.  As ever we were given a room with a ‘vue impenetrable’ of the Pantheon in all it’s beauteous glory.  I had an appointment with an Embassy endorsed physician (there are two of them in Paris) for my medical.  I was nervous.  I’m not very good at medical for me.  During my morning away being examined by this charming Irishman, having chest X-rays and blood tests and vaccinations for things I have never heard of and am sure I certainly don’t want to be acquainted with, The Bean reclined regally in our room.  She had taken the air of the Cinquieme Arrondissement before breakfast, enjoyed a little smackerel of brekkie stashed in a napkin and smuggled back to the room for her delectation and was entirely happy to be fully relaxed and generally recumbant.  In the afternoon we walked.  She doesn’t get to run much off the lead in Paris but people are largely very dog-friendly and she is always happy to take a petit café an apero or better still, a meal with us because folk have a habit of slipping her a pat and a morcel of something nice.

The following day we made our way by car (which had hitherto been parked in the underground carpark nearest the hotel) to the Place de la Concorde.  We were a little late out of the starting gate and had to be at the Embassy promptly at One to get through security.  These were our emphatic and clear instructions and we did not want to put a foot wrong.  We had about 49 minutes to park the car,sneak a quick lunch, return to the car to deposit dog and get in line for the main event.  Lunch would need to be somewhere around Fauberg St Honoré which runs along the back of the Embassy and about 5 minutes walk from the car.  We hot-footed it, taking lengthy and rapid strides towards our goal of a likely lunchery.  The street is fairly narrow and we were stuck behind a posse of rather bulky people walking excessively slowly.  So I put my  foot on the imaginary throttle and powered past, The Bean (the Athletic Bean as she perceives herself) gambolled along behind me.  It must be noted that I was at this point in my life uptight to boil-over point.  We had been waiting for two years for this moment, jumping through a seemingly endless series of hoops and I had absolutely no idea what questions I was going to be asked.  It is rather akin to being asked to interview for a job but with no job description to guide the prep.  As I passed the entourage a woman’s voice rang and twang in my ears ‘oh that poor little thing being dragged and choked near to death’.  I snapped.  The world slowed down as I span round like Wonderwoman and eyes flashing squared up to the offender.  ‘She is neither dragged nor choked so I suggest you SHUT UP!’ I spat – my clipped, polished and perfectly enunciated English worthy of Maggie Smith at her most pithy.   The woman was clearly appalled at this deranged firebrand addressing her.  I imagine she had assumed I was French.  Assume as my youngest daughter reminds us makes an ASS out of U and Me.  For my own part I have only just recovered my equilibrium, so livid was I at the unjustness of the flung accusation.  It was only as I glided on my way, sure in the knowledge that I had put that wench squarely in her place, that it occurred to me. She being American and in the street that runs down one side of the Embassy building that she might, might easily be the same person who would interview me for the fabled Green Card that very afternoon …. mercifully this was not to be an occasion to add to my overstuffed portfolio of ‘oh bugger’ moments.  If she is on the Embassy staff she at least wasn’t confronted by me twice that day.  But not for the first time, I wished I was that person who has the ability to just waft by situations.  Lunch did not slip down easily as the lump in my throat expanded.  The Bean, yet again was the winner …. she rather likes saumon fumé au fromage frais de chêvre though I believe she was less than enamoured of the salade.

Bean Bag!

Bean Bag!

PS:  I post this in response to the Daily Press Weekly Photo Challenge entitled Vibrant.  For me vibrancy is about a state of being not simply about vivid colour (though that is a reasonable interpretation of the word and many have quite brilliantly here) and The Cruelly Treated Bean is vibrancy incarnate.