New bed

After years of sterling service for five human children, the cot mattress has passed to child number six. It’s just about long enough, but it wasn’t designed for galgo legs. Mind you, we bought the biggest dog basket in existence, and that wasn’t either.

Meanwhile, back in our/the cats’ bedroom…

Update on the eye and the sighthound

Four trips to the hospital, another two programmed for my eye, but it seems to be responding to the treatment. We’ll know what the damage is by the end of October when the inflammation ought to have completely subsided.
Now I can concentrate on Finbar. He’s going downhill very fast now. He did everything too fast. I looked at the Oracle, and she told me what she sees. Not consolation or false hopes. Quel che sarà, sarà.

Even friends we love slip into the shadows,
little by little, one unsteady step after the next.
No imperious cry can stop them
when the ears no longer prick at the sound of their name.
No tongue has the words
to hold back the inevitable end.

We watch the blue above,
how it spreads its clouds
untroubled by the tears below,

and all the honey sweet scents are rank;
the day is red with impotent anger.

The spring will not come again.
There is no sweet in the bitter of this sleep,
only the sadness of never.

Another birthday

Photo taken at Christmas

Today is Finbar’s official birthday. A guesstimate by the vet when he was brought to the shelter, since nobody knows when he was born. For lunch he had his usual ‘soup’ of rice, lentils, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes with a portion of minced beef. Today, his soup had an added chicken stock cube, and as a birthday treat his meal was garnished with a boiled egg and a slice of Cantal cheese. You’re not fourteen every day.

Time flows in concentric circles or parallel tracks running at different speeds, the stars we see, the stars we don’t, light issuing from present darkness. For dogs, time races in the fast lane.

gloomy day
of false summer—leaves hang
waiting for the rain

The cat of very little brain…

…very little ears and a sweetly strange personality. Sometimes Ninnie comes down from the attic where she plays with lizards

Ninnie about to roll

and sits on my desk or telephone

Nin on desk

until she falls onto my lap

Ninnie no ears

or rolls onto the floor

Ninnie attention grabber

or just tries to grab my attention.

Ninnie reading

She prefers to read sideways

Ninnie killing a few typos

but I draw the line when she tries to remove typos with her claws.

Egret 1: Heron 0

We often see bird fights here, sparrowhawks going after buzzards, crows going after buzzards, thrushes going after buzzards, kestrels seeing off sparrowhawks. But I’ve just been watching a fight between a grey heron and a great egret.
Photo ©Christian Mehlführer


The egret was on the pond and was just swallowing a very large frog when there was a squawk and a heron dive-bombed it. The flurry of huge wings, white and grey as they had a go at one another was tremendous.

For the next fifteen minutes or so they stalked around the pond eyeing one another up. The heron rushed the egret a couple of times, but the egret, slightly bigger, stood its ground. It’s the heron’s pond and I don’t expect it had ever seen a bird bigger than itself before. I went indoors for my phone, but the pictures are blurry. Had to magnify by ten to get anything as the pond is about 100 metres from the house.

egret and heron

And, guess what? It was pouring with rain…

Chuck out the old, drag in the new

It’s the last day of the year, and since it’s pouring with rain outside, not fit to put a dog out, I have decided it’s time to take stock of the year gone by. Really, I want to remember some of the good things because there have been quite a few not so good things.

I clocked up about a trillion novel rejections BUT I self-published two small collections of poems.

The boiler gave up the ghost BUT, miracle of miracles, we got a plumber to put in a new one within four days (they had one out the back).

We found that the prehistoric stone sink in the kitchen situated at roughly mid-thigh height on a normal person can’t be removed. It’s set in a sort of sarcophagus of solid stone and cement and ripping it out would probably bring the wall down. BUT husband has built a proper sink on top of it which looks pretty smart.

We couldn’t have everybody here for Christmas BUT we did get a new oven so I’ll be able to cook properly when we do have a family gathering.

The Covid made contact of any kind well nigh impossible BUT it meant that husband didn’t have any more one-hour train journeys into Bordeaux to teach but could zoom his lessons from home.

The house is freezing cold in winter BUT while everybody else is dying during the inevitable summer heat waves, we don’t feel it more than pleasantly warm.

Trixie destroyed a kilim by vomiting bird seed all over it BUT it seems to have cured her of stealing the birds’ food.

Finbar has gone stone deaf and can’t hear when we yell at him to stop doing something BUT nor does he hear the things that go bump in the night so he doesn’t come into our room at three in the morning needing a cuddle.

Best news of all, although we’ve seen hardly anything of family this year, next year there will be even more of them to see. Our eldest is expecting her first baby in the spring!

All in all, as we say over here, le bilan est globalement positive!

In my backyard

Yesterday I saw another of these beauties, a Black-Winged Kite, or Élanion Blac. They are supposed to be quite rare although the population is expanding, but I’ve seen three of them round here in the last week. The photo is ©Wolbrum avner



The Green Whip Snake was sunning itself on the stream bank and just watched me as I almost trod on it. I had time to go home, get my phone and come back and it hadn’t moved. When I tried to get a very close close up, it slid off to its hole in the bank. It was easily as long as I am tall. They’re not poisonous but they’re biters if they get annoyed.


I managed to snap its back end before it disappeared, rather more than a metre of it.

whipsnake goine