Carbuncles can swim

Bruiser has a carbuncle, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped his swimming gymnastics. As fish go, he is pretty agile; despite the bulbous lump near his tail that is about a fifth of his body weight. Still, he was never delicate (hence the name!), and at 20cm in length still manages to dominate the tank. Indeed he seems to proudly flash his gross pink lump at visitors; not one for the squeamish!

Over it

Frankly I have been ‘over’ the fish for some time, and when the carbuncle appeared, was  hopeful that it would take bruiser off to fishy heaven. But that was over a year ago, and since I mentioned (to the universe at large) that I wasnt going to replace any fish and would get rid of the tank, not one fish has died! Bruiser is 4 years old and showing every sign  getting a lot older.

Operation

The nurse in me wants to do a quick lancing with a sharp knife and a nice clean cut-off; but have never been convinced by the argument that fish don’t feel anything…..so, thus far have chickened out.I could of course numb the area for Bruiser before the mini-operation, but so far the best  idea for a fish anaesthetic that I have come up with is ice……freeze it off in a kind of crio procedure, or just numbing it and lopping it off with knife. But I would have to hold his head under the water, so he could do the weird fishy breathing thing, and have his rear out the water and hold an ice-cube to the lump…..but he is a slippery little sucker’ and on the one (brief) experiment; he wouldn’t oblige by staying still and I didn’t have enough hands. Besides, if I used too much ice he could have turned into a very strange fish finger.

Carbuncle 1, Wimp 0

So the carbuncle stays, and if it gets any bigger will need its own postcode. There is of course the option of a full-scale assault (sorry re. pun….they just pop out unannounced like a non-swearing form of Tourette’s; I have Pun-ettes!)…and flush him off to the great oceans to swim free. I know, I know, there are many reasons why he wouldn’t get from loo to sea uninjured; but my conscience prefers to think of it that way. Besides, he is too big to flush and may block the loo; and I wouldn’t like to explain that one to the plumber!

*Mindful I don’t have the stomach for fish dispatching, so will take “learn to fly fish” off the ‘to do’ list for retirement.

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Catitude and Chore Meditation

Meditation and yoga got the housework done; no, I haven’t invented a new variety of either, it’s just that its TRUE…..meditation and yoga help you see things differently.

Of course Precious ‘s (cat) own brand of ‘Catitude’ helped spur things along as she wont be ignored; indeed if you try, she gives you a look that would curdle milk. But I am getting ahead of myself. For this mornings meditation I though I would try the added hurdle of meditating with my eyes open; its more challenging (seemingly) because you have to concentrate on avoiding what you see as well as what you hear / feel etc.

Meditate

Great thought I, will gaze absent-minded  out the window and drift into the rhythm of the breath….breath in and be grateful, breath out with easy and feel the surroundings….breath in…wonder what to have for dinner?…..ohh breath out with thanks….. breath in deeply…..am I getting a cold? and look at the weeds out there! exhale….bring mind gently back to breath and quiet the commentary in head…. breath in …..Look at the dirt on the windows! how can you relax?….breath out in irritation……. Ten more minutes of a banal mental newsreel and I was thankful when Precious appeared at the window demanding to be let in. Honestly, if you ignore her she gives you the paw!

Switch to Yoga

By this stage I was a little tense so attempted a quick half hour of Yoga, I mean the mat was out so why not? and it may just achieve what the meditation didn’t. Precious abandoned me as I wasn’t going to sit still and be her pillow for her average nineteen hour nap, Fickle she is!. Yoga Tree pose’ into… I am a Crane’, breath….was that a twinge?…breath out and move gently to next.. feeling empowered in warrior pose’, head up…is that a cobweb in the top corner?….. down on mat for Cobra pose’…Damn, Precious is back  and rubbing herself on my head as I am now closer to where she wants to be as the sun is coming in the window now. Pause to put cat back out and then straight into a challenging Eagle pose’, now, for those of you not familiar with Yoga, this stance involves wrapping one leg around the other while standing and at the same time entangling your arms with each other and then pretending squatting , as if to sit on a chair that isn’t there, and then (allegedly) holding the stance. I say allegedly as my imaginary chair vanished and I arrived at the relaxed baby pose’ flat on back. And this is when I found a bit of Christmas.

Chores

From my floor vantage point, there, under the couch was some glistening strands of foil from the Christmas tinsel !,what can I say, I don’t lift the couch on a regular basis, and lets just pretend that static must have made it stick to the underside of webbing and so must have missed it during previous vacuums. Nice as it was to find a bit of Christmas as we approach Easter (a bit of a reverse to having Easter eggs in the shops at Christmas!), it spurred me into action and if you now looked through my nice sparkling windows you would see only boring  tidiness, no tinsel in sight. So you see, Meditation and Yoga got the work done.

Celebrate and Relax

Whether you are looking at celebrating the impending holiday from the perspective of religion, chocolate or a love of bunnies, I hope you have a fun and satisfying time. I am not going to be doing an Easter egg hunt for fear I might find a well hidden abandoned egg next Christmas! Instead, we will paint hard-boiled eggs and roll them down the nearest hill until they are smashed and inedible; which is a ritual from my childhood. The dogs will no doubt help in the clean up of any leftovers as they will eat just about anything, even it has rolled through a cow pat. I don’t know the exact origins of our egg rolling habit in Scotland (where I am from) but as a child I always imagined it must have something to do with the biblical ‘rolling away the stone’; only the youthful me imagined the large oval ‘stone’ being rolled away as a big oval Chocolate Easter egg and hence the need and desire to chase it down steep slopes. But then have always had an over active imagination and chocolate took precedence over any religion  in the tender, chubby years. Happy Easter x. * Mindful that practice makes perfect, but thankful that I am not.

 

Goldfish in disguise

The goldfish have faded and I don’t think it has anything to do with daylight saving. I have a sneaky suspicion that it has something to do with  how I feel about ph. You see it has never made sense  to me that a low ph is acid and high is alkaline; for some reason my brain thinks it should be the other way around and so balancing the  fish tank is a regular juggle between what my head thinks and the reality of the litmus.

Chemistry teacher to blame

The history of this ph black spot  can be traced back to a Chemistry teacher I once had; so ultimately HE is responsible for the fish turning white……. they could be a teeny bit bleached. If only he had embraced my creativity, when  during a lesson on acid and alkalinity, a bored me asked ‘which tube of powder do you add to make it the pretty  aqua marine colour?’ Like many time poor teachers he seemed to equate artistic with not smart, so following his suggestion that I should move to the art class I took up Physics instead and became head of class that year; not least because I got to do experiments that were far more fun, if a little dangerous!….but I digress…..the fish…..>

A whiter shade of shale (groan, I know)

Six of the nine little darlings are now goldfish in name only; with only Bruiser, Eric and No Name holding onto a wee bit of colour; although Eric is supposed to be black and is now a peely-wally grey around the gills. The liberal chucking in of bicarb or  acid  I will admit can be a little erratic if it’s a busy day, but before you call the RSPCF it should be said that its only the once (I think) that I have grabbed the cream of tartar from the baking cupboard instead of bicarbonate of soda, and frankly they didn’t seem to react to that by swimming any differently. I have no idea what it does to a fishes insides (cream-of-tartar), but know that it keeps meringues nice and soft in the middle; so maybe it has just made the shoal tender. However, I do know that said cream of tartar is an acid, so I probably added to an already acid bath for the poor wee things. As  most of the fish have been with us for more than three years, am thinking they are mostly tough little dudes.

No Name’ goes for gold

‘No Name’, so-called because of his sparkling personality, has now taken on a whole new level of interest, as am curious why he is still holding his colour where others have succumbed. His gold bits now have him looking rather distinguished, sort of like he is wearing a small gold waistcoat. He seems to be enjoying standing out from the (now pale) crowd and has expanded his horizons away from sucking algae off the same plastic plant day after day to digging in the gravel!  {tunnelling for freedom perhaps?}  In fact, he has become so interesting that he has graduated to a name & will now be known as Digby.

Not sardines on toast

In truth, I have never had much luck with fish, and seem to attract the suicidal variety. One tip I will give you though is to never keep your goldfish on the kitchen bench; mainly because the wee devils can jump! When my kids were little ,one of our fish jumped from its perfectly comfy bowl on the kitchen bench straight into the toaster; unfortunately I didn’t witness the leap as was busy getting the kids ready for school and it wasn’t till I had added bread and turned toaster on that we discovered his demise! Not a smell I will ever forget. It took all my best mummy fibbing skills to distract the children from the smell (and the crime scene) long enough to get them safely to school and find an identical one as a replacement before they returned, (a new toaster was also purchased as couldn’t use that murder weapon again).  Not sure the charade worked, but the kids played along me thinks, just to make me feel better.

* Mindful of the tranquillity watching the fish can bring. and conscious that they seem to survive despite my best efforts. Should keep my white powders for cooking, where the equation is just Cooking=Chemistry /Alchemy+ flavour.

 

 

Obedience Olympics

It’s all in the quality of the  bones, not the ones that frame our bodies but the flavoured canine variety used as inducements; or as Ms Hi Vis likes to call it ‘positive reinforcement’.

Saturday saw the culmination of the fist phase of puppy training with a Gala event, organised by Commandant Hi Vis (the instructor, and wearer of luminous clothing); which, she assured us would be great fun…..or more accurately ‘You WILL enjoy it’………she is a master of the emphasised word is Ms Hi Vis, certainly gets your attention and you have to overcome the urge to SIT each time she barks in your general direction.

So with trepidation in my heart and a glint in Aggi’s eye we joined the other twenty or so ‘contestants’ from the puppy and advanced pup group in a fenced small paddock, which was festooned with colourful strange obstacles. I should say at this point that the little dogs seemed to all have entered into the spirit of the occasion and were literally straining at respective leashes to get going. It was just the humans in the field, who were showing signs of uncertainty as we climbed over each others frantic  fur balls and dodged tangles of excited affection.

LET THE GAMES COMMENCE..

I was just admiring the outlandish  ribbon and glitter handiwork on a nearby hoola hoop when I heard… “and Aggi will go first and show you how its done”…….how what’s done?….I wasn’t listening, what? what? But no time to consult with the tittering humans as to the Puppy Olympic rules, Ms Hi Vis had said COME, and off we trotted like a pre programmed Borg.

Faced with coloured poles, spaced in rows with hoola hoops  in between, intermittent small jumps and a large blue poly tunnel at the far end, Ms Hi Vis gave me an encouraging wink and told me just to go fast and ‘use the obedience signals’. Well I must have been off puppy school the day those formal signals were taught.  Aggi and I have morphed into our own version, that passes for “this is what I want you to do…pretty please with bells on top”. Not so much obedience as encouraging pleading; and if she is bored or in mischievous mood? I say black and she does white,I make the signal for DROP DOWN and she does a wee leap in the air; go left means shoot off to the right at speed, SHAKE  paw means lay on back and get belly scratched; you get the gist.

THE TUNNEL

The workout commenced at a slow trot, weaving through the poles by signalling Left so she would go right, dodging and jumping over Aggi as she attempted to jump through the hoola hoops (something she was quite good at, after I told her to lay down before the ring!), abandoning all hope of a ‘sit & stay’ on appointed plinth we reached the last part which was the tunnel. Ms Hi Vis came to help, as Aggi had never seen a blue corrugated plastic tube of this size before, let alone ran through one. Hi Vis held her as I went to the other end and encouraged with treats and praise.

Three times she ran around the outside and nabbed the treat from my hand (as if to say ‘don’t be daft, I can just come THIS way)…so on the final try I chucked some dry liver treats into the middle of tunnel and crawled part way in  from other side and she understood what was required………diving at me with such force I had to do a hasty reverse crawl, with a back-tuck roll. now you don’t see many of them at the Olympics!

Sadly, the dignity defying moment, when three-quarters of me was in the tunnel and the least flattering bit sticking out, was when Himself’ decided to appear on the sidelines with Henry as a spectator. I am sure Aggi found the laughter as distracting as I did, and no doubt this is why I slipped on a small poop on the home straight slid past final jump.

Following us was another  4 month old Lab called Bobby, who frankly was no competition as he has a ball fixation; his own, not the tennis variety and so stopped at every obstacle to have a good lick at himself. He was followed by a German Shepherd pup that missed every pole and did a clean jump on top of poly tunnel in spectacular fashion, shame that wasn’t one of the events really as he would have romped home. And so the afternoon progressed, with every pup excelling at its own (unspoken or scripted) event……from ‘lick to glitter off the hoola hoops’ through ‘chew the top off the jumps’ to make it easier for the next pup to ‘chase your tail in a circle till you through-up all the treats’.

FINALE

Just when we thought it was all over, Ms Hi Vis revealed the “hide & Seek” challenge. A tarpaulin had been strung from trees in the far corner of the field to make a ‘Hide”, behind which was an infants plastic chair for us to sit on. Object of the exercise was to hide from pup and for them to find you by sound and smell. Commandant Hi Vis took this very seriously, held the pup for us and even covered their eyes as we jogged off to hide behind tarp in our lowly position. Did she come find me?, did she heck-as-like! Was left hanging’ again…….only after she had mine swept the back half of the field for treats others may have dropped did she give my incessant yelling’s any attention. In the end, it took a slight bending of the rules by me jumping up and down behind the tarp to see over and the chucking of  treats to get me found.

Note to self: if you are lost in the woods and want a Labrador to find you, make sure you have pockets brimming with dried liver.

WINNERS ARE CHOMPERS

Aggi’s grand prize (for entertainment and enticing her owner into the tunnel) was a red biscuit bone , which she enjoyed for the three seconds it took to inhale, but we had a fun day and the memories will last a lot longer. Slightly mollified by the fact I was not the only owner that would have been left in the woods to find my own way home, the humans celebrated together with tepid tea and  stale buns ,  which had been  artfully arranged on the wobbly trellis table by our own Olympic volunteers [ the cheerful partners of the participants] . Cheerful because they had somehow avoided taking part. *Was mindful in each ridiculous moment and was reminded of the importance of taking part in new things. Also remembered that there are reasons I don’t do sport. (or tunnel crawling) Went home to a soak in the bath and a good lay down {both of us, although separately!}.

 

 

Puppy school paranoia

This afternoon was a last-ditch, backyard bribery fest with dried liver for young Aggi (black lab, now 16 weeks old), in preparation for tomorrows euphemistically called “obedience classes”. There is no point in deluding ourselves into calling it a dog obedience session, as it is clearly all about “training” the people.

Aggi and I have spent two weekend sessions under the watchful eye of a dominating woman with a bad perm, High Vis Vest and huge heart (where the canine beings are concerned);…….the people ?…she could patently take or leave, as long as they know how to avoid harming any little 4 legged friends.

So today was all about me avoiding a repeat of the past 2 saturday afternoon public humiliation sessions at the paws of my wee loved one. You see, she knows how to do the basic commands , all be it with an accompanied bribe/inducement; at least her recall in the back garden practices makes me very proud and am convinced she is a puppy genious……..then off we trot to the group session.

She will perform the perfunctory bits (as if saving face with the other puppies at the start) and then when it comes to our turn in the centre for a SIT /STAY/COME…….(after I have walked away) part, she does the puppy equivalent of “being left hanging” during a high five!!!……in a silence rivaling an old cowboy movie/sun-up standoff she just sits and looks at me when called………..Ms high Vis insists I get more animated and encouraging, and Aggi’s reaction?…..a slight cock of the head to the side (to increase the cuteness and emphasise the point of no comprende’) and leaves me hanging out to dry, yelling encouragement and trying baby noises and flailing my arms about like a windmill in front of strangers…..silently she sits, like a wee indignant rock……………enter the tumble weeds.* today I was mindful and learned to appreciate the abilities of others, even when they keep them hidden.

Watch this space for the outcomes of tomorrows obedience ordeal……..> wish me luck

chicken violation……

I have a confession to make……yesterday I had my fingers up a chicken that was still alive!…the day started fairly normally, apart from Wilma (Hen 2) looking a wee bit under

Betty & Wilma chickens

Betty & Wilma chickens

the weather. No usual perky flapping of wings, more a feeble scratch at the ground and hung head; I wasnt overly worried until she seemed to be ehmm…..straining to no avail and her back-end was pasty and less than pristine.A quick search of some learned fowl sites on Dr Google told me I should “check the vent for blockage, and clear any obstacles found”…..well the only obstacles I could think of (other than a blocked egg) was the objection I had to sticking my fingers up the back-end of poor Wilma.

The helpful site also suggested that a bath in warm water may help her relax, and that the addition of Epsom salts would further soothe her to relaxation  point . Well , fond of Wilma as I am, i wasnt about to be sharing my bath with her, so an al fresco basin for her and some rubber gloves for me would have to suffice.

I have to say she didn’t seem to mind the warm water and she appeared more calm than me, or maybe that was a  ‘frozen” look on her face; so I boldly went where no woman had gone before (with Wilma) and adopted a gynecological approach to the chicken exploration, clearing whatever I found that didn’t seem to belong there. Himself” watched on, giving me moral support from a safe distance, with a mixture of disgust and admiration on his face……not sure there is enough disinfectant in the world to get that image out of his head [Note to self: don’t offer to make him pastry by hand any time soon].

Wilma is on the mend, and getting special treatment and scraps, after all, we are now on more intimate terms and I will treasure (and enjoy)  her eggs, knowing the effort she goes to produce the miracle that turns grain and food scraps into a protein packed orb. * I learned, and was mindful that you only get back what you put in!