Sunday, July 31, 2011
The start of the weekend garlic festival in the little market town . Wilf joins me, bright and early, on the croissant run . Although it's barely seven the square outside the cafe is already bustling . In the market hall a huge vat of garlic is boiling away in readiness for lunch , the stalls are doing a brisk trade selling garlic strands to Dutch tourists and a pipe band is somewhat incongruously practising for the noontime ' Garlic Queen ' parade . The highlight of the day, this year as every year , will be an attempt to break the world record for garlic peeling .The record stands at 26.5 kilos in 30 minutes .
On the way back we're followed down the drive by a white van with a large cartoon chipmunk brandishing a power saw painted on its side . It's the tree surgeon that I phoned after the April storms. He looks at the oak branch dangling menacingly above the barn and says out loud ' that's not good. You want to get that fixed '. I bite my tongue while thinking of a wide variety of responses that a less diplomatic individual might come out with . He clambers up the tree with all the agility of a monkey , examines the offending branch , and then shimmies effortlessly down again . ' I wouldn't park the cars there if another storm comes along ' . With that he's off down the drive promising to come back in November to remove the offending branch . Progress, of sorts .
Another white van arrives shortly thereafter . It's Audes friend from the womens cooperative with her cement mixer , crew cut and dungarees . She glowers , stubs out her cigarette and gruffly informs me that she's come to regrout the terrace walls. . Today , she's wearing a tee shirt that says ' You've just got lucky ' printed in large capital letters across the front . For the second time that morning I employ my diplomatic skills and remain silent .
Wilf sensibly ignores all this activity and settles down for his post-breakfast , pre-lunch, doze. Ever the optimist , experience tells him that it's better to ' count the garden by the flowers , never by the leaves that fall ' .
Saturday, July 30, 2011
The old farmer from the other side of the lane appears at the front door to tell us that he's off to Brittany for a family wedding . He's wearing black track suit bottoms , yellow running shoes, a string vest and a tartan cap ; the latter worn at a rather jaunty angle . I congratulate him on his wedding outfit but he looks back at me blankly in much the same way as one might look at someone with Tourettes Syndrome . English and French humour remain a universe apart . ' Would you keep an eye on the house for the next week ? ' he asks before adding , ' don't worry . I've installed an alarm ' . 'Self installed ' - the two most truly terrifying words in any language . For a brief moment I conjure with the idea of asking him why anyone in their right mind would want to break into his house but think better of it .
Out for our early morning walk . An overcast , cloudy , start to the day but sun is promised . Wilf makes it to the war memorial just as the old farmers motor home heads off down the road . The becapped figure inside beeps the horn , crashes the gears and waves . " See you soon " he shouts from the window and with that he's off , a faded length of chintz curtain hanging forlornly out of the back and flapping in the wind as he goes . Holiday time in France Profonde .
Friday, July 29, 2011
Another day , another skill set . Thanks for all your advice . Yesterday we knew nothing about giving nose drops to a blind dog . This morning , we are experienced pros . Suffice it to say that blind dogs are quite protective about having their remaining senses interfered with and can be 'lively' patients . For those who ever have to do it our advice is to use those tried and tested staples of dog ownership - stealth , speed and bribery . It's also easier if there are two of you. One to dangle a piece of ripe camembert in front of the patient so that his head is up at a 45 degree angle , the other to quickly and quietly squeeze a pipette into the nostril . With practice it can be done in 3 seconds - max .
It was the senior vet who gave us the news about the cancer spreading into the nasal passages . ' The font ' asked if the family fellow was in any pain but was told categorically no . He's "just drifting down the river ". The vet spent a full hour giving Wilf tests and didn't charge . Peoples kindness , vets and dog bloggers alike , still a source of throat catching amazement . Wilf carries on oblivious . His days spent happily herding his flock , eating , and dozing in the sun . PON common sense : " How can something bother you if you won't let it ? "
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Has anyone ever had to give their dog nose drops ? Wilf has developed polyps in his nose . The cancer is on the prowl again .These have closed down his right nostril. The most important thing - he's not in any pain and the vet is hopeful that a course of eye and nose drops six times a day will alleviate the symptoms . Applying eye drops is easy but has anyone got any tips on how to apply nose drops ? Not as simple as it sounds ! There's nothing on Google or in Dr.Fogle . The vets is now closed for the day . Someone on the dogosphere will know .
On the way back from our morning croissant run I stop the car and walk , Wilf by my side , through the sunflower fields . Millions and millions of yellow faces rolling in seemingly endless waves all the way to the Spanish border . This early in the morning they're still droopily asleep , heads held low , waiting for the sun to rise . Thousands , possibly tens of thousands of starlings and redshanks swarming noisily through the serried rows in search of seeds . Rush hour in Tarn -et - Garonne .
Nine thirty at night and Wilf is snoring noisily away on the warm tarmac outside the front gate . Kelly the hover dog lies beside him , delighted to have canine company , her tail happily pounding away . Wilf , tired out after a day with his family , is completely oblivious to her presence . As the sun sets the old widow comes to fetch Kelly home . We chat a while , then as she is about to go she turns and says : ' One may go a long way after one is tired ' . A sweet old French proverb . Was it meant for herself or for him ?
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
It's finally stopped raining . Into town to discover that a sausage stall has appeared in the market square next door to the newsagents shop . Within seconds of being lifted down from the back of the car Wilf is off , nose held high in the tantalizing air . A small white polar bear on a mission . The family fellow sits , immovable , entranced , in front of this catalogue of earthly delights .
As we join the beer and absinthe set for a morning coffee and croissant at the cafe he carries a small spicey beef batonnet in his mouth . A study in fluffy , four legged , busily chewing , happiness . The best fifty cents I've ever spent . Sometimes rules are just meant to be broken .
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
A heatwave in the US , grey skies and rain here in France . Wilf wisely times his pit stops to coincide with the occasional dry spell . " In youth we learn , in age we understand " .
Monday, July 25, 2011
To the market with Wilf . The cheerful bread stall owner ( who continues to think Angus is Australian ) slips our canine companion the end of a baguette . Wilf , delighted by this not wholly unexpected turn of events , settles down under the tressle table, his heading poking out, a sliver of bread proudly positioned between his paws . Happiness .
Onto the cafe for coffee and a croissant . Yours truly , who has been lecturing the family about Wilfs diabetes , is caught on camera , slipping a sliver of dough towards a small ever hopeful polar bear . The polar bear then looks expectantly around . '' When hope is hungry , everything feeds it "
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Party time for Wilf . Usually he's tucked up in bed by ten thirty but last night he stayed up until gone one ' chilling ' with his boys . This morning he's regretting the excesses of the night before . On his first walk of the day he managed to saunter straight past Kelly without even noticing her . A long , restorative , post breakfast nap is on the cards . In readiness he's taken up position in the middle of the upper hallway and the likelihood is he'll stay there until he joins us for lunch . Tired contentment . The perfect day lies ahead for an old PON and his owner .
Saturday, July 23, 2011
The morning news headlines a shock . A madmans work . All those Scandinavian capital cities - Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen - have such a peaceful charm in the summer . Can innocence return ?
Nothing like a patient saunter around the village green with a blind old sheepdog to restore balance and give unspoken thanks for the inestimable value of a life free from fear . For our Norwegian friends and god children this morning a Polish phrase which I hope is true : - ' When you get to your wits end , you will find, God lives there ' .
Friday, July 22, 2011
Hot and humid . The sort of day to stay indoors or sleep under the shade of a chesnut tree . At lunchtime a short , ferocious , mountain storm that has the rain exploding out of the gutters . Faced with the unruly elements Wilf moves from his spot on the front doorstep to a quieter spot inside . His executive decision for the day . The sort of PON wisdom that knows that ' Everything will be okay in the end . If it's not okay , it's not the end '.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Madame Bay is here bright and early . M 'Ongoose receives an alarmingly passionate birthday kiss from the saintly septaguenarian . No such thing as a demur , anglo-saxon style , peck on the cheek where Madame Bay is concerned .Today she is sporting a purple and orange head scarf , what appear to be shiny blue track suit bottoms , glittery gold open toed sandals and a long orange and green linen striped jacket secured at the front by red buttons the size of milk bottle tops . She brings with her a large brown cardboard box full of gaudily packaged French cleaning products . These all appear to have jaunty , near identical , names like Jif, Mif, Splif or Bif .
Madame Bay is soon cheerily at work in the family bedrooms with this toxic mix of gallic chemicals . She's whistling while working so all must be well with her flock of daughters and grand daughters . Wilf , who hasn't yet understood why Madame Bay is getting this particular run of rooms ready , embarks on a slow walk to the fire hydrant before retreating to the relative peace and calm of my office for a leisurely three hour nap . His life now measured by a fixed routine of food, pit stops and sleep . Amazing how the old fellow maintains an attitude that says " the difficulties of life are intended to make us better , not bitter ".