A collection of random wafflings as they pop into my mind

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Warning: May contain spiders

In the early hours of this morning a very very large spider decided to stroll across the carpet in my room. He spotted me and stopped right in the middle of the carpet staring at me, defying me to do something about it.

The best & most humane way to deal with them I find is to trap them in an upturned glass or similar and evict them from the house. The problem with this is that there's never a glass handy and so you have to leave the spider unattended whilst you go and find one. This is of course where you make the error. You return with a suitable glass and the spider has scarpered. If it's only a little spider it's not too bad. If it's a great big juicy hairy one, you know that this means you're not going to get a wink of sleep until you track the blighter down.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not frightened of spiders. If they stay sat in a corner spinning a web and catching all those irritating flies I'm quite happy for them to have house room. However, the moment they take it on themselves to start wandering, that's it they're out of here.

So there I was at 1am faced with a spider showdown. My options, move off the sofa to get a glass and risk coming back to find he'd disappeared, or to use whatever was in reach to stop him in his tracks. I considered dropping the dictionary on his head, the downsides being that I might miss, or that I'd have juicy squished spider ick stuck to a nice book and probably a nasty stain on the cream carpet to forever scream at me that I'm a spider murderer. Fortunately there was also a plastic sandwich type box that contained craft embellishments. This box had the advantages of being within easy reach, being see-through so I could check the spider status within it and finally and most importantly being quite large therefore maximizing the spider catching opportunity. So, I emptied the box, leaned over the sofa and... caught the fiendish blighter! Mwwwaaaaaaaahhhhhaa (that was evil laughter by the way) He was now under my control!

You thought there'd be some point to this post didn't you, but no there isn't (the next morning he was shown the door and peace returned to the land).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Is power an aphrodisiac?

Well the papers revealed today that yet another politician has been having an affair. It does make you wonder what all these women see in them, let's face it John Prescott is not what has been traditionally viewed as handsome. Maybe it's his charisma?!

You have to feel sorry for the partner/boyfriend/significant other of the woman involved, Guardian Unlimited quotes his interview with The Mirror: "I feel sick. I can't believe the woman I wanted to marry has slept with John Prescott." You rather get the feeling it's not so much the actual affair that has upset him, more so the choice of politician.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bring me sunshine

Venus & Cupid (Love, the Most Beautiful Of Natural Disasters)
By Shane A Johnstone
Dedicated to Those Who Have Been Lost Working On The Sea

As today was such a beautiful spring day we decided to drive down to Morecambe for a stroll along the seafront. This gave me the opportunity to have a closer look at a sculpture which has always intrigued me as I've driven past it. It doesn't show up terribly well on my snap above, but the sculpture is covered in mosaic which form patterns and images on the two figures.

I love the subtitle of the piece, "Love, the most beautiful of natural disasters." It sums up how the first wave of love crashes into you, destroying the comfortable environment you've inhabited, and forcing you reassess what is important to you, what you need to carry with you and what you need to abandon in order to survive the experience, and ultimately no matter what the outcome is, it will change who you are.

Fluffy Bunny

Smudge as you can hopefully see from the pic is feeling much better following her trips to the vets. She's been enjoying the sunny weather and raiding the garden for anything interesting to nibble (including the rose bushes - how on earth she manages to stand on her hind legs and rest her front paws on the rose stems so she can reach the maximum amount of rose without getting thorns in her paws is beyond me).

Having had a couple of days earlier in the week of not being quite with it, she's back on form and as nosey as ever. She's been a bit more attention seeking though, which has resulted in her not just having "nosey-strokes" (Yes, I know it's sad to have a term to describe how she likes being stroked from her nose up to her forehead) but in being picked up and cuddled. Oh the hardship of having to cuddle a cute fluffy bunny! Just remind me not to wear a black t-shirt next time.


Is diet cherry coke addictive? Having spent the last few months being incredibly picky about what I like the taste of and for the vast majority of it turning my nose up at cola, suddenly the new diet cherry coke is yummy.

It tastes like it should be alcoholic - that kind of sweetness of normal coke followed by a hit of another flavour coming through at the end. Definitely at it's best served chilled - and drunk out of a can tastes different to in a glass. Odd. So addictive or not, that is the question. Have I got a guilty habit - being pushed on me by ASDAs buy one get one free deals? Just don't look in the recycling box, that's all I'm saying...

Friday, April 21, 2006


Well, had my abdominal ultrasound yesterday. Amazingly (from what I remember about the last time I had one) this time the gel was actually warmer than my skin temperature, which sadly makes me worry about why that was the case... I mean how do they keep it warm?? My somewhat vivid imagination was coming up with all sorts of fantastical solutions to that query whilst I was being scanned. I won't share them with you for fear of embarrassing myself.

The ultrasound appeared to be normal - I was a bit tender in places and she noticed that I flinched when she was checking my right kidney, but it all seemed fine and she couldn't find any evidence of gallstones which seemed to be the main thing they were trying to rule out.

Back to the gel thing - she tried to wipe the worst of the gel off me after the ultrasound, but confessed that the paper towels just tend to smear the gel and suggested that when I got back to the changing cubicle that I used the gown I was wearing to mop it off with as it soaks up the gel better. Having been covered in gel from my hips to my ribs and halfway round my back, I have to say that I felt like I'd been embraced by a giant slug, which only added to my concerns about why the gel was so warm. Sorry, but I did warn you about the vivid imagination thing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Red's My Colour!

Well, it was either that as a title or Easter Bunny Part III!

Smudge went to the vets this morning to have her teeth done, the vet thought she'd improved enough over the weekend to tolerate the anesthetic, so having explained the potential risks and benefits to me gave me the consent form to sign. It seemed very odd having to sign a consent form (effectively on Smudge's behalf), then with a final stroke I left Smudge in their hands and awaited a call from the vet later that day to let me know how it had gone and when I could collect her. It felt odd not having Smudge running round the garden today, even if she's in the summer house or out of sight, you still know she's about and are watching to make sure she's okay.

The vet phoned me just after lunch to say that Smudge was sat up in the cage but was a bit woozy. She had been unable to remove the tooth that she thought was causing Smudge's eye to water (look away now if you're squeamish!), she'd been able to get a probe down about a centimetre on one side of it, but the root on the other side was still very firmly attached and the tooth itself was quite worn down so there was nothing to get a decent grip on to pull it out. Smudge may well have problems with that tooth in the future and it may continue to cause her some pain, but as long as she seems happy in herself and is able to eat I shouldn't worry about it. She'd filed down three of Smudge's other teeth that had sharp spurs on them and hopefully that should make her more comfortable. Most importantly I could go and get her at 3.30!

Having paid the bill (thank goodness for plastic) the veterinary nurse took me through Smudge's discharge notes. The most important thing is to get her to eat within 24 hours (she'd turned her nose up at the hay, suparabbit pellets and cabbage they'd offered her) and to keep her warm until the anesthetic is out of her system. When they bought Smudge out to me she'd "acquired" a red towel in her carry cage. Apparently she'd become quite attached to it (the nurse said to her, "Is red your colour then Smudge?" - hence the title of this post!) so she was allowed to keep it. She doesn't need any follow up appointments unless she's not eating or if I'm worried about her at all.

Having fought our way home through the traffic, I tucked Smudge up in her run in the summer house with her red towel, and some broccoli and spring greens and left the fan heater on low to keep her warm.

I checked on her about an hour ago (and had a cuddle). She's still woozy and a little unsteady on her feet, but has eaten most of a leaf of spring greens so fingers crossed by the time Mum & Dad get home tomorrow night she'll be boinging about again.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Bunny Part 2

Well Smudge seemed brighter this morning. She came bounding up to me and tucked into the broccoli I offered her. She still hadn't touched her pellets though so I rang the vets and got her an appointment this morning. After thoroughly examining her (Smudge wasn't impressed at having her temperature taken) the vet concluded that one of her back teeth is overgrown and has started to become infected. It's very common problem in pet rabbits so for Smudge to get to almost seven years old before needing anything done has been a bonus. The vet said she'd seen rabbits less than a year old with teeth worse than Smudges. She gave her an injection of antibiotics and another anti-inflammatory one and she's booked back in for a review on Tuesday morning. If she's perked up enough by then they're going to keep her in that day and operate to remove or trim the tooth.

In the meantime it's important to keep Smudge eating so on the way home we called in at Asda to buy some more broccoli and spinach as she still seems to eat those. The vet also suggested that I try soaking her pellets in water to make a paste and see if she'll take that from the bowl or I can syringe it into her mouth. If all else fails I should phone them and they'll prescribe some "convalescent soup" for her.

As you can imagine Smudge was glad to get home, she's had some spinach and apple and is sat in the sun. I've mixed some of her pellets with water (smells like henna hair powder!) and tried the syringe technique. Once you can persuade her to open her mouth she actually seems to quite like the paste and was licking up the bits I'd split on her after we finished, so fingers crossed, come Tuesday she'll be well enough to have the problem sorted.

However of course, I'm feeling like a total failure as a pet owner. I should have taken her to the Vets on Thursday night, I should have phoned them as an emergency when they were closed yesterday, I should have realised she was eating the fluffy end of the broccoli rather than the stalk bit that she usually goes for first....

Oh in other news. I won the euromillions last night. Well £8.30 anyway, which (if you deduct the cost of the ticket) just about paid half of todays vet bill.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Easter Bunny

Well, I almost thought I wasn't going to have one.

I went to put Smudge to bed last night as it had been cold and drizzly all day and although it was slightly earlier than normal I thought she'd bound in as usual when called, as she seemed to have spent all day sat under a bush. Nope. She wasn't going to move from under that bush. She was sat hunched up with her eyes closed ignoring me. I prodded her - nothing. I stuck broccoli under her nose - nothing. Eventually I clambered under the bush, picked her up and put her in the summer house. Once in, she jumped into her box, huddled down and shut her eyes. Now this isn't normal behaviour for Smudge, the first thing she does when put in for the night is to check what food is available and make sure that if her food bowl's not filled, that you fill it. Instead, nothing.

I left the summer house doors open and went to get her favourite treat - a Cadburys chocolate button. When I returned she hadn't moved. Normally just the smell of chocolate is enough to excite her, but still no reaction. I practically shoved the chocolate button into her mouth - it fell out. Now, even when Smudge is having a major sulk she'll still eat chocolate if it's put in her mouth. As you can imagine by this point I was getting worried. She let me stroke her but still had her eyes shut and was ignoring me. I decided to leave her and check on her in half an hour.

Well, I probably checked her 20 times in the next four hours - she hadn't moved other than to change her position slightly. There was no indication that she'd eaten or drunk anything and the chocolate button was still sat on the floor in front of her. I decided that I'd be worried about her all night (by this point I was lurching between whether I should make an emergency call to the vets and where I was going to bury her in my mind) so I took the small indoor cage into the house and set it up on the kitchen floor so that she would be easy to check on. I brought her into the house with no resistance from her - she didn't bother to check out her new surroundings, just huddled down on the floor again. I'd noticed when I carried her in that her bottom was a bit dirty again so decided that I'd give her a hip bath (I was thinking this might be a kill or cure strategy!) She let me do this, and give her a gentle blow dry. When she was back in her cage in the kitchen I syringed some water mixed with a drop of rescue remedy into her mouth and left her to recover whilst I went on the computer and had another chat on msn about how stressed I was about her with Martyn. I left the heating on overnight and checked on her several times, the last time being about 2am, when having shoved both her food bowl and water bowl under her nose she took a drink.

Woke up at about 7.30 and went to check her, not sure what state she'd be in. She was sat in the cage looking at me. I offered her her food bowl and she ate a single pellet of food. I gave her a piece of spring greens and she had a bite! I decided that as she seemed a bit better I'd put her back in her run in the summer house where she had familiar smells. Then shattered I went back to bed.

When I woke up again about 10 I went to check on her and she was sat on top of the carry cage in her run. The chocolate button had disappeared from the floor. On seeing me she hopped down from the cage and came and said hello. I noticed she'd used her litter tray (which she hadn't done indoors over night). She still seemed a bit slow and hadn't touched her pellets but she did have a nibble of the broccoli I offered her.

As it was warming up outside I left the summer house door open and within half an hour she'd ventured out and had hopped up onto the raised patio and was sat in the sun. As the day's gone on she's continued to perk up, wandering round the garden having a bit of a forage for things to nibble, eaten some spring greens and done a little sunbathing.

So, I don't know what was wrong with her, whether she was having a major sulk, had a virus or whether she'd got confused about the role of the easter bunny and the resurrection, but I think I might phone the vets tomorrow and book her in for a check up!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mossy Lawn

Walking up the lane today I was once more struck by the beauty of the moss growing on the dry stone walls, the number of different habits, textures and colours there are in a plant that many gardeners seem to spend years trying to eradicate from their gardens and especially their lawns.

Moss can tolerate periods of drought quite well, doesn't need mowing and is springy and soft to walk on. Having a quick google on the web I stumbled across this quote "The 19th century garden writer, James Shirley Hibberd, advised that moss was essential for inclusion in the lawn so as not to bruise the elbows when rolling on the grass!"

I'm hankering after a moss garden though - I remember seeing a gardening programme on Channel 4 years ago which featured a Japanese moss garden - it was an incredibly tranquil space. I looked an the internet to find out more about moss gardening (hence finding the above quote) and discovered that the way to propagate moss is to scrape it into a blender (only one site recommended using an old blender!) and blitzing it up with water and cheap beer or buttermilk and pouring it over the site where you want it to grow or painting it on with a brush. How on earth do people find out these things?

Okay how many people got the Discworld reference? (Mossy Lawn is a doctor in Ankh-Morpork!)