Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Trip to the fire hydrant completed, Wilf took the executive decision that this was a day to be spent in the kitchen. He communicated this to us by lying in the middle of the floor, by the ancient cooker, and ignoring all requests to move. A day for making La blanquette de lotte au safran de Juliette and crumble mangue, ananas et gingembre. He showed particular, lip smacking , interest in the quiche poireau-stilton. If the rolling tongue is anything to go by Stilton ranks way up there with coconut ice cream as Gods greatest gift to canine kind.
Three weeks on and he's still learning to cope with total blindness. Sometimes, after lunch, when he wakes from a deep, rabbit chasing, sleep and finds himself still in pitch darkness, he'll cry out. A trying to hide his fear ' where are you, come and get me' type of bawl - half bark, half howl. Sometimes his antics are amusing - a gentle game of dodgems with the furniture or a stubborn unwillingness to accept that a door isn't where he thinks it is. No wonder he's known as wilful Wilf. At other times it's sadder. A large white paw gently waving in mid-air, testing for obstacles in front of him. Coming for treats held in your hand - and missing. An uncharacteristic, startled, shying away from sudden, unfamiliar, noises. Through it all we maintain a constant banter of encouragement, praise, and reassurance. In the dark the greatest comfort is the friendly, familiar sound that says you're not alone. There's someone beside you . That's a simple, universal, wish shared by all sentient beings - human or otherwise.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The clocks went forward an hour last night. Wilf thought about sleeping in but after feigned indifference opted to follow me on an early morning saunter down to the stream . The ramsons are in full bloom, carpeting the lane white and filling the air with their thick garlic scent. I laugh at the sight of five young fox cubs, fresh from their earth, zestfully exploring the world outside for the first time. They're oblivious to our presence, tumbling over each other in mock fight . Their watchful mother peering from the shadow of the hawthorns , catches our scent, barks at us and they disappear back to safety. Delight in life. The joy of springtime. Wilf nestles into me as if to say " I knew they were there ". ' Of course you did ' , I reply, tickling him behind the ears. The sweet uplifting optimism of an old, blind dog.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Wilf spent much of his day sunbathing on the terrace. Perfect basking weather. Clear skies but just a hint of a breeze. A good day for getting on your back and airing those parts that need to be aired. The old fellow even manages a quick trip in the car down to the stream for a paddle and a drink. The journey back, all of a hundred metres, too long and confusing for him . ' The font ' despatched to bring the car down to the water side . While waiting for his chauffeur service he lies patiently in the cool grass, listening to the chatter of the water and the rustling of the willows. He's happy. ' Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience '
Friday, March 25, 2011
To the garden centre for some lemon trees for the terrace and some box for the planters by the front door. While I chose and paid for the plants Wilf went off to investigate the olive and peach trees. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice him quickly sprinkling the roots with Eau de Wilf. His attitude to gardening : " If dandelions were hard to grow, they'd be most welcome on any lawn ".
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The decorator who was hired to paint the shutters has been fired. " But why Monsieur ? I was going to start on Monday ". The fact he was supposed to start, and finish, last September didn't seem to register with him. A huffy " You'll hear from my lawyer ". An equally huffy ' I look forward to it ! '. The new painter starts next month.
Time to stock up with wine ahead of the Easter holidays. Off with the family fellow to the hyper-market . Purchases loaded into the back of the car, Wilf joins me at the cafe for a bowl of water and the curly ends from my croissant. He exudes his best ' Do you know they're serving magret de canard for lunch ? ' look. Afterwards a slow, tyre christening, walk back across the car park. Pure boy dog contentment.
On the way home a quick detour down by the stream. These days he prefers to go to places he knows. The simple joy of warm grass and a satisfying paddle in the stream. Overnight, new growths on his head. Not pretty but probably not worth bothering about. His 10th birthday on the 30th almost within reach. Just another day in France Profonde with an old friend.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Yesterday , the family fellow joined me for a leisurely amble through the neighbouring famers apple orchards down to the stream. Walks with an old blind dog are gentle affairs. He'd stroll ten or so yards through the long grass then settle down, sniffing the air , happily listening to the sounds around him. After three or four minutes he'd set off again for another nose down, ten yard, saunter. For me a well invested mano a mano hour . For him a great , independent, canine adventure. " The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone ".
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Madame Bay is supposed to come ' to do ' for us on a Tuesday morning. Of course she never does. Thursdays or Saturdays seem to be her favoured , unannounced, work days. So, it was with some surprise that we returned home to find all the windows open, the duvets airing and the house throbbing to the sound of that Abba classic ' Dancing Queen ' playing at full pelt on Radio Nostalgie.
Our saintly septaguenarian is now wearing her summer outfits. Out with practicality and in with acres of chiffon and what Edinburgh ladies would describe as ' cheery ' colours. Todays haute coiture creation is a green and white striped dress / housecoat with what appears to be a red dressing gown cord as a belt. The tout ensemble crowned with her lime green turban and matching chiffon scarf. The sight of this rainbow of delight dancing along the hall, pulling the hoover cable , while lustily singing ' Danzing Kween, Seventeen, Aberdeen ' is reassurance that all is well with the world.
Wilfs attitude to all this activity ? " If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day ".
Monday, March 21, 2011
A bad night for Wilf. Lots of pit stops and heavy drinking. The insulin and diabetes simply not working together. With sleep impossible we're up early and in town at first light. Parking spaces to be had and the cafe quite empty. At the bar three, serious, pre-seven am imbibers. Wilf settles down under the table , nose protruding, while I collect a coffee and a bowl of water. From reading the local paper you'd believe that France alone is acting in Libya. No mention of the coalition until a solitary paragraph on page three.
The supermarket has had one of its startling nocturnal makeovers. Its turned into an Easter grotto. Aisles of Easter bunnies and tulips. Rows and rows of grinning chocolate rabbits exuding a cheerful wholesomeness. Spring is well and truly here.
A quick detour down to the stream for Wilfs quick pre-breakfast paddle and drink. When we get home the nice young vet is there talking to 'the font'. She's been worried about his blood loss and wanted to drop off a new product that coats lesions in the stomach and intestines. ' It's like gut mud ' she says unexpectedly, in English, as way of explanation . A reminder of just how kind and thoughtful people can be.
If things don't improve by mid-week Wilf may go in for a blood test . Then we'll know about his kidneys. Every dog knows that ' three things cannot be long hidden : the sun, the moon, and the truth ' .
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Wilf trotted out behind us with a chew in his mouth wondering , as dogs do, what in heavens name we were up to . Between the moonlight and the unseasonal glow from the old farmers Christmas star the garden looked surprisingly festive.
' The font ' drove into town to find out about yesterdays blood loss. Thankfully, it was one of the two marvellous doctors on duty and not the prim Parisienne. The vet patiently explained that its either the stomach or the kidneys. Neither development unexpected after five months. If it continues , or if we think he's in any pain, we should bring him in. Meantime a new course of Cortisone tablets.
Wilf remains completely oblivious to our concerns. His appetites robust, the thought of Kelly puts a jaunty spring in his step and he's become pretty adept at playing touch rugby by using just scent and hearing. Whatever happens dogs have an attitude that seems to say " You may live longer than I do, but I will live more ".
Saturday, March 19, 2011
On our way home a walk by the stream. He passed a lot of half dried blood earlier this morning . 'The font' alarmed the tumours spread to the stomach. A paddle in the stream some insulation against the uncertainties of life. The everyday annoyances of age and sickness fail to dent his happiness. Who knew innocence could be so engaging ? Every day for him is a good day.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Wearing a suit and having blue eyes clearly the perfect terrorist profile. I ask the young man at Heathrow why I've been chosen for ' enhanced screening '. He looks at me suspiciously before answering ' just random mate '.
The Welsh under-20's rugby team stream onto the flight to Toulouse. Within ten seconds of the seat belt sign being turned off two likely lads are at the front galley talking to the stewardesses. " Hello love. Any lagers around ? We're parched back here ". They are firmly told to wait and despatched, crestfallen and thirsty, back to their seats. The irrepresible optimism of the young male of the species is a wonder to behold.
The British Airways flight lands just as two 737's from Algeria are disembarking . The resulting queue at immigration , interminable. By the time I make it into the arrivals hall Wilf and 'the font' have moved off to the airport bistro for a fruit smoothie and a bowl of water. Wilf is torn between delight at seeing me and the lip smacking smell emanating from the bowl of bouillabaisse at the next table. He deals with this quandry by flipping onto his back. This way he can have his chin tickled while continuing to savour the enticing odours. That secret canine attitude " There are many things in life that will catch your eye but only a few will catch your heart ". He is finally torn away for a leisurely, tyre christening , walk across the car park. A content boy.