Friday, July 21, 2017

Through the eyes of a dog.

6:15 am. The sun just rising. Humans see the world through routine dimmed eyes. Bob looks at the world afresh each morning. Sparrows, squirrels, the new road sign, the donkeys at the crossroads - all are a source of amazement. Not bad to be four and a half years old and live a life where wonder and marvel start before breakfast. Bob knows today is going to be the best day ever - by miles. I tell him man walked on the moon for the first time on this day in 1969. He seems unimpressed. His sisters too busy foraging for discarded owl kill to have an opinion.

Yesterdays sad news reminded me of this display of dignity :

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pictures speak louder than words.

There was a time when we thought a female PON would be calm, gentle and demure.

Then Sophie joined the family.

A reminder of what 'little' people are capable of. It opened here last night. I'd thought I'd hate it but it is nuanced and adult and all the more surprising for being so : 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Head for Lincoln.

Early morning decisions. Bob is faced with the challenge of sharing the back of the car with rucksacks and cases. Being highly adaptable he finds an almost flat corner and snuggles down. 

Today Bob goes to the station. He watches the arrival of the regional train from behind the safety of my legs. He takes the unloading of the car and the departure of our house guests in his stride. During this first wave of visitors we have once again marveled at the generational divide and discovered that 1) If you're going to Nebraska head for Lincoln. The night life there is years ahead of Fargo's 2)  If on a hot date you can get the best 'bound to impress with your sophistication' French Kiss Martini ( Vodka, pineapple juice and raspberry liqueur ) at La Taverne in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and 3) There is a sure fire way of catching catfish with your hands but don't try it with Gar fish.

In the greengrocer two novelties. Black garlic from Spain ( smells more potent than the locally grown variety ) and fresh turmeric. We buy some turmeric.

On the way home an accident on the motorway. I take my hat off to the emergency services but have severe doubts about parents that slow to a crawl and let young children see things that young children shouldn't see.

A walk through the sunflower fields before the sun rises and the mercury climbs. Two deer bolt out of the trees ten yards ahead of us and charge through the sunflowers. They're quite invisible but the crack-crack of the sunflower stems as they plough through them tells Bob he has company.

A warning about walking on glaciers and proof that life is stranger - much stranger - than fiction . As the bodies were 'perfectly preserved' you could assume that glaciers are gentle stewards :

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Angus walks to the end of the garden and is soon joined by a highly enthusiastic male PON.

The female PON is having a flat hair day.

Sophie stays in the kitchen to monitor the college boys having breakfast. She gets fussed over but would prefer a croissant rather than a tickle.  

Bob and Angus set off in the car and are at the picture framers at opening time. He has made a new frame and painted it dark green to match the colours of the lavender plant. The battered old print was bought when we were impoverished students in New Orleans forty years ago. Caught in a thunderstorm and with all 'reasonably priced' options full a fresh faced Angus summoned up courage and went to the reception desk at the swishest hotel in town and asked what their cheapest room was. He had $25 to his ( and 'The Fonts' ) name. The chutzpah of youth. The cheapest room was four times that but with rain cascading down outside the desk clerk saw my disappointment, took pity, gave us a suite and threw in breakfast. Things like that make America a special place. We had enough money left over to buy the print. An $8 purchase but now invaluable - a reminder of the kindness of strangers.

The framer is tasked with finding a more modern frame for a  portrait of 'The Fonts' great grandfather. Bob settles on the mat at the shop door and watches him work in silence.

The sun beats down. The PONs take long summer afternoon naps in the cool of the downstairs hallway.

What happens to a town when its Walmart closes ? An intriguing story :

Monday, July 17, 2017


Bob plants a start of the day kiss on his sisters cheek.

The look on her face hints that this may not be entirely welcome.

Off into the market town for a walk across the bridge.

A coffee in the shade of the arcades. A bowl of water and two cellophane wrapped biscuits for the PONs.

On the way back to the car Bob is keen to '' christen " two plaster dogs set up at a bric a brac ( or as the French would have it 'Fine Antiques' )  stall. He is hurried along.

Long term readers of the blog will remember that Bob was diagnosed as having had a small stroke in December. He lost the blinking action in one eyelid and the muscles on one side of his jaw. The symptoms got better and we've subsequently thought nothing of it believing that it was related to the stress of his sisters double leg breakage. Interestingly, some mild symptoms have belatedly returned in the aftermath of his sisters run-in with the bees. Bob, it has to be said, is devoted to his sister.  Can it be coincidence  ?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Men have become the tool of their tools.

As we pass the Salle de Fetes Bob lingers to examine the ground where the village ladies barbecued sausages on Bastille night. The grass infused with sausage dripping. This discovery requires considerable concentration so our rate of progress on this stage of the morning walk is slow to non-existent.

At the crossroads dog and master sit on the concrete storm drain and watch the sun rise on the far side of the ridge. Great checker board patches of sunflowers glowing gold in the light. Bob has his head scratched and is told, as he's told every morning, that this is ' Bob's Country '. Perhaps it's the tone of my voice or the attraction of hearing a familiar phrase but he leans into me in that way family dogs do.

The goldfinches are out early squabbling and preening in the sun. Every so often they'll take wing, circle for a moment, then return to their feasting. The flap of their wings exploding into life punctuates the morning calm with a loud w-h-o-o-s-h. The braver of them sit on top of the sunflowers trumpeting their good fortune at being part of such a perfect day. Goldfinches en masse are know as a charm. Some English words please with their innocence - an ascension of larks , a charm of goldfinches, a paddling of ducks. Language as a link to a different time.

A more tiring journey back up the hill. After last weeks rain the thick clay soil still soft underfoot. Bob runs ahead. His master follows on behind. Every fifty yards or so he'll stop and let me draw level before racing off again. Sometimes if he thinks I'm too slow he'll turn and cast a patient but admonitory glance backwards .

At The Rickety Old Farmhouse Sophie has been keeping a watchful eye on Texas godson. She lives in hope that there will be a dreadful accident with the plate of breakfast croissants.

Those little things too unimportant for a diary but too much part of life to go completely unrecorded.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The psychology of diplomacy.

The wrens that are nesting in the wisteria above the front door are a particular source of annoyance to Sophie. They flit and flutter around the courtyard and seem quite oblivious to the fact that she is in charge of the garden. Her first task this morning is to stop as she leaves the front door and glare at them. 

Bob is unaware of the Wrens existence.

It's been wet for the last week but this morning blue cloudless skies herald the start of a long dry spell.

Know your client psychology. Two Paris restaurants. Two American Presidents. Which one did Obama get taken to and which one was chosen for President Trump. A or B ?