Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday afternoon . The enthusiastic curtain woman arrives , unannounced , to deliver two cushions for the benches in the hallway . " I was just passing " her opening line . What should take two minutes , max , turns into half an hour of trilling and arm waving . Wilf and yours truly go for a walk to escape this soft furnishing lunacy .
A beautiful Monday morning .Why is it nature is always at its best when you have to go travelling ? The lavender beds covered in scores of fluttering Purple Emperors and Cabbage Whites . Half a dozen exotically plumed hoopoes wandering , haeds down , across the lawn looking for insects . Beside us in the lime trees a chattering Piccadillly Circus of redshanks, orioles , and a blue and yellow bird with a name name I don't know but which looks gloriously foreign to Scottish eyes. Best of all three baby wrens. Tiny things . Exhausted after an early morning flying lesson, they perch on the side of the breakfast table. The sight of the croissant overriding their mothers noisome fear .Wilf holds close . Somehow , he knows I'm off . There's just enough time for a serious mano a mano on the lawn with an old family fellow who can't believe anyone would want to leave him .
Sunday, May 29, 2011
A shopping day. Wilf is lifted into the back of the car and we set off , windows down , in the direction of the little market town . While Wilf and ' yours truly ' go in search of a coffee , a bowl of water and a pain au chocolat , ' the font ' goes off in search of dinner plates . After twenty years of family breakages and other assorted mishaps we are left with a motley collection of day to day tableware . Not so much the survival of the fittest as the survival of the least fragile . Time , I'm firmly told , to jettison the feeding time at the zoo mix of Jerry's Home Store / Marks and Spencers / Villeroy and Boch that we use and invest in new crockery .
After an absolute eternity ' the font ' appears carrying some examples of what's been ordered . " What do you think of these ? " I'm asked . ' A bit blousy " I reply. From the the look I get it can be assumed that was the wrong answer . Ever the diplomat my plea is changed to a more ambiguous " they look very French " . Wilf has a btter understanding of shopping psychology . He emerges from under the table with a look on his face that says " Where there's plates there's sausages " . That ever hopeful PON outlook on life .
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday afternoon . A swarm of green lycra clad cyclists sweep through the village . The mayor and the old farmer are seen unlocking the church door and disappearing inside . It's three thirty . At five there is the umistakeable boink , boink , boink of the slightly cracked bell in the clock tower chiming happily away . Success in their aim to revitalise the ancient device . As they walk homewards past the gate I congratulate them . The mayor beams . The old farmer looks as if all that was needed was his knowledge of mechanical devices . Six o'clock. The infernal device marks the hour by chiming thirteen. Twice . Then it makes a comical Rowan and Martins Laugh - In style BOING ! noise . It stops . There it remains . Fixed for ever at one minute past six o'clock. Proponents of the silent , electrical replacement clock may yet have their day . Worryingly , the old farmers mechanical digger remains parked on the other side of the lane. It's not the unsightliness that bothers us but the uncertainty of what he might be planning to do with it .
The painter has phoned to say he'll be back on Monday morning to paint the shutters . Thus ends a period of six months where we were known as the house with twenty three green shutters and one , small, grey one .
Wilf remains happy . I had to write some speeches for a quick trip to Asia next week . A separate one for each side of the Himalayas . While I worked at a desk in the garden he lay across my feet . The furry warmth of an old family friend . How time flies . Next week it will be eight months since he was diagnosed and two months since he lost his sight . The uncomplaining old fellow knows that " Who looks outside dreams , who looks inside achieves " .
Friday, May 27, 2011
Return from the morning croissant run with Wilf to find Madame Bay in the kitchen chatting away to ' the font ' . Our saintly septaguenarian has come to tell us that she can't work today because she'll be helping her daughter Sandrine in the hair salon . " It's very busy at this time of year and I haven't a moment to spare " she says by way of explanation . Half an hour later, as Madame Bays ' wild child ' voiturette disappears into the distance , I wonder out loud why she couldn't have phoned to let us know her change of plans . ' The font ' looks at me and replies , somewhat delphically , " News and coffee go together " .
Water rationing clearly does not apply to participants in the beautiful village competition. The judges have been and our little corner of paradise is through to the quarter finals . As a result a veritable Niagara Falls of mains water irrigation is working merrily away on the village green . Even the phone box , which I've never seen anyone use in the eighteen months we've been here , has been turned into a miniature green house . Wilfs attitude to all this green fingered activity ? " Those who don't believe in magic will never find it " .
Don't know what's happening with Blogger comments. Had hoped it would be sorted today but it's got worse. We can read but can't respond . Maybe tomorrow ?
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Back from a 24 hour trip to Germany and Switzerland to find that water rationing has been imposed. Initially , we're supposed to cut down on our usage by 20% . Already, the local farmers are having to cull cattle because of the shortage of silage . This years wheat harvest looks to be nothing short of a disaster with yields forecast to fall by upto 40% . The melon growers , probably the major source of income around here , are finding that their 2011 crop is ready a full six weeks early . This mean that they have to compete with the cheaper , early season , imports from Spain and Morocco . We'll try to keep our newly planted lavender beds going but the lawn and some of the recently installed trees look like they're goners . Can it really be the driest year since 1947 ?
After his early morning croissant run, Wilf spends much of his morning asleep in the shade of the cherry trees in the orchard . Sometimes he savages his toy but most of the time he uses it as a pillow . Then the old fellow rouses himself for lunch before passing his afternoon dozing on the cool kitchen floor. As he might say , " It's not the horse that pulls the cart , but the oats " .
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Time for Wilfs routine , fortnightly , undercarriage wash . To put it delicately , the flow is strong but the aim is poor . By the end of every second week his paws and nether regions are beginning to develop a senior dog smell . While I run the bath he segues into his invisibility act . Cleverly , he hides himself under the library table . This is a position that requires me to get down on my hands and knees to coax him out . It also means that it's physically impossible to develop the leverage needed to pick him up . Finally , with the aid of a piece of roast chicken , he's extracted and carried into the bathroom . He gets another piece of roast chicken as a reward after the event . The worldly wisdom of an old dog . " It's better to burn out than fade away " .
Monday, May 23, 2011
Still no rain . We don't have water rationing ; yet . But it can't be long in coming . The downside of day after day of blue skies and gentle breezes . While I roll out the hose pipe to irrigate the lavender beds Wilf opts for half an hours post-breakfast relaxation . He saunters out of the house with a soft toy in his jaws and chooses a shady spot under the cherry trees . True to form he's soon on his back in the cool grass snoring gently . The sounds of France Profonde . The cheerful chirrup of the wrens in the roof eaves , the sun loving croak of the frogs on the pond and a small white , whistling , polar bear in the orchard . The perfect Monday morning .
Sunday, May 22, 2011
A day spent sleeping . He spends most of his day sleeping now . Not just dozing but deep , stretched out at the foot of the stairs , oblivious to everything , type sleep . There was a time when he'd leap up and rush barking into the courtyard when he heard a noise in the lane outside . Now , he can barely bother stirring himself to bark at his arch nemesis , the post lady . He's lost more weight this week but heaven only knows why . That voracious PON appetite remains intact . The kitchen , which always was a favoured place , has become the favoured place . He's happy . No pain or discomfort . The Prednisnone continuing to work miracles .Three short walks across the village green to the frog pond - morning , noon and night . A daily trip to the cafe followed by a sliver of croissant at the bakers . Sometimes a visiting pilgrims car tyres to christen . Other days a one sided meeting with Kelly . A gentle life . Lots of laughter and attention . A real family fellow . PON wisdom in knowing that : " What you seek is seeking you " .
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Wilf heard it first . A distant , grinding , clink-clank clink-clank sound echoing from the far end of the lane . By the time ' the font ' joined us at the garden gate to see what was happening the cause of this Friday evening brouhaha was apparent . The mayor and the old farmer were jointly coaxing a large , very ancient , bright yellow mechanical digger towards the village. As neither of them has a fully functioning right arm this was an unnecessarily complicated procedure that required the mayor to hang out of the cab and steer while the old farmer changed gear . Neither , one would have to admit, was a natural left hander . On their third attempt the battered mechanical device - a Poclain - made an abrupt right angled turn into the old farmers courtyard where it coughed and stalled . There it sits . A combination of beached whale and one of those dinsoaur skeletons you see in natural history museums . " There goes the neighbourhood " said ' the font ' demonstrating that wry Swedish humour that is famous round the world . We would have asked what the machine was going to be used for but both farmer and mayor disappeared , conspiratorially , into the adjoining garage before we had a chance to quiz them.
Wilf dealt with this noisy new arrival by wandering across the lane and promptly christening the behemoths tracks. He then came back into the garden and fell sound asleep on his back on the grass . A contented look on his face that said " What we see depends mainly on what we look for " .
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Living with a blind dog is just like living with a two year old . There is nothing in life that makes a toddler or a dog happier than joining in with whatever you're doing . So it is that Wilf is loaded in the back of the car for an early morning expedition to the barbers . From the outside it looks as if the place is full but I'm shown straight to the chair . That relative rarity - a paying customer . The family fellow follows me in and trots straight towards a threadbare blanket stretched out on the floor between the sickly aspidistra and the table covered in dog eared copies of ' L'Automobile ' . The barber shops dog spot .
The wizened old farmers who congregate here , setting the world to rights each and every morning bar Sundays , are dog folk . While the clippers hum away the berreted retirees ask what breed he is, why he went blind and whether he's good at finding truffles . Through it all Wilf lies contentendly on the cool lino floor , listening to the voices and knowing he's the centre of this gentle attention . After a while the talk turns to the Dutch couple who have a summer home in the village. They've turned up in a fancy new two door Alfa Romeo . Much shaking of heads. ' Hollandais ! ' says the barber , stretching the word out slowly as if this might somehow explain why anyone should choose not to buy a sensible Peugeot or Citroen . As I lift Wilf into the back of the car he has a look on his face that says ' Time that you enjoy wasting , was not wasted ' .
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
As far as Wilf is concerned there is one thing even more devilish than the vacuum cleaner . The power washer . Demonic noises and water in tandem . How evil is that ? While yours truly blasts the moss off the pool tiles with a cloud of super-pressurised spray , Wilf heads to the safety of the kitchen . Grosses crevettes au pavot et au miel for lunch today . He lies in his alloted place in front of the stove , silently following each movement , the occasional twitch of his fringe indicating ' perhaps a little more salt ? ' . PON gourmand .
The family fellow deigns to leave the kitchen to join me for a post- breakfast trip into town . A bright ' Bonjour Wilfee ' from the local beer and absinthe set as he slides under the table with a bowl of water . Then it's off to the garden centre for a matching , twelfth, geranium before detouring to the bakers. We're late this morning. The remaining offerings decidedly limited . A difficult choice between the raspberry and chocolate bombe and the profiterole cake. The bombe wins the day. Back home and Wilf scurries off to join ' the font ' in the kitchen . Zero chance of him working with me in the garden while lunch is being prepared . As he heads off to the kitchen he turns back with a look that seems to say : " Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinders in the room ".