Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

2011 is almost over and I can't say I'm sorry. I don't know whether it was the Year of the Pig or not, but it certainly was a pig of a year for me. Too many deaths too close for comfort. Too many changes forced upon me by circumstances outside my control. A house that won't sell and no house on the horizon to buy. Bring on 2012. I really cringe when I say that because the years seem to be flying by and I'd be a fool to wish for time to speed up.

Time waits for no man  has never sounded truer. And so my New Year's resolution is  to  deliberately     s  l  o  w       d  o   w  n.  To make significant moments last longer by taking the time to linger over them rather than rushing on to the next thing. And to linger with people too. I know we live in a fast-paced world, but I want to set aside time for chatting with friends. Yes, chatting. A telephone call rather than a text. A note-card in the post now and then. A conversation on a park bench.

I'm also participating in the January 2012 A River of Stones challenge. I did the 2011 one and surprised myself. This event asks you to observe something closely, every day of January, and to write a few words about it in a blog post. The idea is that the written pieces should be short and cut through to the essence of the thing. Small, like river pebbles. I found it quite amazing how this daily task, which initially seemed daunting, became a very positive and soothing thing in my life. Click on the River of Stones badge at the side of this page in order to find out more.

Kristal enjoyed her first Christmas and managed NOT to demolish the Christmas tree. Like the good Guide Dog pup that she is, the extra food on view and within reach didn't tempt her. Guide Dog pups don't get to sample human food, so don't look for it.  She had her own gifts, mostly edible, and enjoyed tearing the paper  off them.

A brisk Boxing Day walk was the best part of it all for Kristal. She was fascinated to see so many children
with new scooters,  balloons, bits of tinsel in their  hair. Our local coffee shop was a-buzz with extended family gatherings and excited children clamouring for the attention of...  anyone who would listen. My quiet, calm pup did me proud. She looked a bit shell-shocked. Why doesn't someone get these kids under control?  I reckon the staff were thinking along the same lines.

As the New Year approaches, I wish  you all health and happiness and a lot of creative energy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Daisy Graduates

So pleased to hear today that Daisy has qualified as a Guide Dog and is now working in Maidstone, Kent, with a lady who has a child, a Corgi and a cat. So she's part of a family and is much appreciated and loved. That's just great. I'm sure she'll help her owner come to terms with her deteriorating eyesight with greater confidence, and she'll be a lot of fun to live with. Well done Daisy and lots of love to you.

Kristal, on the other hand, is going through the equivalent of her teens. Questioning commands...'do you really expect me to do that?' ... and throwing her weight around a bit.

This is her Winston Churchill impersonation. Actually, she's holding the rolled up instructions to a new household gadget. You can see by the look in her eye that she's not going to give them up easily. This is her 'what's in it for me?' expression.

However, she's maturing into a very good looking dog, now eight months old, and showing that she really 'has what it takes'.

Despite her strong will, when she's out on a training exercise she knows what's expected of her. She has a high energy level and will appreciate being kept on the go, therefore benefiting someone with a busy lifestyle. Her time-keeping is amazingly accurate. You can set your watch by her. She knows what happens when and lets you know about it. She also has a really good memory for routes she's walked previously and can sniff out Cafe Nero even when we're in an unfamiliar town.

In restaurants and cafes she's very well behaved and settles beneath the table for a snooze. She's quiet and unobtrusive, which is often more than can be said for some of the children we encounter. (However, this morning, she was so quiet and unobtrusive, snoozing beneath the table in a coffee shop, that I didn't notice she'd chewed right through her lead. There was I, standing up to leave, holding a lead with no dog on the end of it.)

In John Lewis she likes to preen in front of the big mirrors in the fashion department. In the Ladies Toilets, she's suitably coy and just sits quietly in a corner of the cubicle trying to avert her eyes while I struggle with multiple layers of winter clothing, a scarf that threatens to either choke me or dangle where it shouldn't, a shoulder bag looped around my neck, gloves that keep falling out of my pockets, a wonky hat that heads southward when I bend over, and several carrier bags of shopping. When I emerge, red faced and puffed, she is the one who is calm and collected.

I have high hopes for her.