Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday morning.

Monday morning. Bob finds the one legged Panda in the laurel hedge. Joy of joys !!

There's time for a celebratory game.

Half a dozen throws of the toy soon turns into a dozen and would reach twenty ....

 ... were it not for the fact that Bobs sister arrives and decides she wants to reacquaint herself with the rediscovered toy. It is THE object of her affections.

There is an ear shattering 'diva' moment.

Finally, Sophie and her Panda are reunited.

Bob takes the liberation of the toy and the end of his game with brotherly good grace.

A day reunited with a one legged Panda is shaping up to be the best day ever. 

May your Monday morning be as blessed as the PONs.

Here are a thousand pipers playing. A rare occurence :

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Through the night the owls that nest in the plane trees have been chatting to one another. Their conversation starts with the pair nesting by the village green and is then passed, baton like, for a mile or so along the lane to the pair at the crossroads. No wonder an owl gathering is known as a parliament. Thankfully, the PONs, being farm dogs are quite untroubled by garrulous owls. Sometimes two or three owls come and sit on the window ledges at The Rickety Old Farmhouse and enjoy a leisurely midnight chat. On nights like that the human occupants of The Rickety Old Farmhouse decide that an apartment on Time Square might be quieter. 

We head off  for the papers. I point out to Bob that he has yogurt on his beard. He seems unconcerned.

On our return a sudden summer storm blows down from the mountains. The aerodynamic gyrations of the PONs fur a sure indication of which direction the wind is blowing. Bobs right ear flaps in the gale.

The overnight rain has caused the weeds on the drive to shoot up. This afternoon, if its dry, I'll burn them out.

More arrivals at the chateau. A huge Mercedes and two merely large Mercedes. The family fellow stands on his stump seat and monitors the comings and goings. 

Sophie's lustrous nose continues to amaze.

'The lightning strikes on every side'. You don't need to be a Presbyterian or religious to know that the Easley choir in South Carolina posted a song for our times when they uploaded this unknown and rather jauntily beautiful piece of modern American music:


A thank you to a reader in Chicago who sent another version of the song. All Scottish hymns either relate to wolves devouring sheep or boats in gales. This falls into the latter category. This choir rehearsal a reminder that there is a very special place in heaven reserved for those high school teachers who do the impossible and coax music from a 'teenage' choir :

Saturday, May 20, 2017

PON words : limitless. exhaustless, unbounded, unending.

The heat rising. The PONs are harnessed up and ready for their walk at 6:30. They head off across the garden to bark at the collared doves and make sure there have been no c-a-t incursions.

We return from our walk to discover there's a scandal in the village. It seems the plumber visited the German billionaires chateau, unannounced, to repair a security light. A thirty something woman was swimming 'topless' in the pool. The woman seemed unperturbed by the plumbers arrival. The morose lads were,momentarily, less morose. Madame Bay ( who has heard the story from the good for nothing son-in-law Hugo, the husband of her hairdresser daughter Sandrine ) helps herself to a mug of coffee and a Madeleine and recounts the story to 'The Font' .  Madame Bay is of the opinion that  '' That sort of things probably alright where they come from ( ie Germany ) but it's not done around here '. She then adds primly '' I suppose it's the modern way '.

So starts an unexpectedly sultry Saturday morning in deepest, deepest France profonde.

After Madame Bay goes Sophie is taken for a stroll round the village. This turns into a leisurely 'sniff every flower, bark at every bird' affair.

Bob looks amazed when I tell him Callista Gingrich is to be the new U.S ambassador to the Holy See. 

The winds have flattened the rose border.

One of those days when nothing happens and you wonder what to write about. But then the PONs are a reminder that there's no such thing as an ordinary or uneventful day. The phrase ' just another day ' not part of the PON lexicon. There are only great days full of mysteries to be explored and excitement to be unearthed. The PON world is full of words like limitless, exhaustless, unbounded, unending.

These are the largest garden fountains in the world - the jets reach 175 feet - and they reopen after a $90 million renovation later this month.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Multilayered clouds.

Just as the sun is setting a pilgrim and two donkeys come wandering through the village. Bob stands on his stump seat and watches. Sophie stands on her titanium rear legs and howls. The two donkeys ( or let's hope it's the two donkeys ) trail a pungent odour behind them. It lingers in the air. Bob and Sophie are of the opinion it's the Chanel #5 of odours. Their owners are less sure. The pilgrim continues through the village and sets up a tent in the middle of the traffic island at the 'T' junction where the main road snakes down into the valley. A strange place to choose to spend the night when there are fields and woods all around.

This morning its pouring with rain. Multi layered clouds cast a peculiarly Scottish greyness over our little corner of paradise. After their morning walk the angelic duo  are looking a little the worse for wear.  They are also ready for a day of indoors fun. No need to worry about irrigating the garden today.

Despite the rain there's much activity at the chateau. A small fleet of black, highly polished Mercedes vans arrive. The German billionaires will soon be here. The local tradesmen will be very happy.

The Dutch have such good taste in political scandals : 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The face of mischief.

Out for our morning walk. The young garagiste rushes by in his 'boy racer' Ford. The school secretary follows soon after. Then it's the woman with the two six year old boys. She's holding the steering wheel with one hand while trying to brush two hyper-active tousled heads with the other. While Sophie searches for badger poo Bob and his master discuss Mr.Trumps claims that he has been treated more unfairly than any politician in history. Angus tells Bob about the Roman Emperor Valerian who was captured in battle,  made a slave, used as a foot-stool, forced to swallow molten gold and then for good measure skinned and stuffed. Bob ponders this tale in silence then looks at me as if to say ' Blimey ! That's unfair ' . 

After our morning walk the PONs carefully drag all their toys out of the house and scatter them across the garden.

In the greengrocers two women are rummaging through a pile of cherries. They find ones that are to their liking and pop them in their mouths. The women carefully spit the stones into the palm of their hands and drop them back among the fresh cherries. Angus finds the women's behaviour intensely unhygienic but being a foreigner says nothing. We pass on the cherries.

A quick trip to the bakers. The baker is in one of his uncommunicative moods. No choux pastry crumbs for the PONs.

Back at home the PONs get given some carrot sticks. Bob grabs his and rushes outside. He sees the back of the car is open and leaps in. A place to eat a carrot stick without being bothered by a permanently hungry sister. The face of mischief. The camera on the i-Phone barely quick enough to catch the male PONs look of delight .

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

The well in the garden has run dry. It usually runs out of water at the end of June or early July but for the last three weeks the local farmers have had their huge field sprinkler systems running 24/7. The water table has now fallen way below the level of our well shaft. A severe summer drought now looks like a fair bet.

Angus struggles with the dead irrigation system. He switches the supply valve from well water to town water. The PONs look on encouragingly. The mayor arrives to borrow the step ladders. Last week he'd put out the flags on the war memorial for VE Day. He was supposed to take them down after three days but sometimes, in a village of 67 souls, things just get forgotten. '' Better late than never " he says cheerily.  For the task he's wearing his dungarees and red tartan pork pie hat.

Bob makes strange facial expressions. I'd worried that his tooth might be hurting him. The vet has looked at the damaged incisor again. The good news is that the nerve has been left covered and unharmed despite him losing a third of his tooth. He is a lucky boy. The strange facial expressions are just that - strange facial expressions.

Finally, after the daily start the day disagreement over who should sit on the right side of the car and who should sit on the left the PONs lapse into silence and we head off. Today is cheese shopping day.

A Banon and a Candourin for 'The Font'. Some Abbaye Citeaux and Cure Nantais for Angus. Overly ripe and very runny Brie de Melun for the PONs. The pretty girl behind the counter laughs as they lick her fingers. Bob gives her his ' I love you. I really love you ' look. Sophie is rendered silent by the glorious taste of the pungent Brie.

A quick detour to the florists for a pepper plant. The florists is dark and mysterious inside. There are buckets of water everywhere. The PONs drink from them. Loudly. Their beards  leave a trail of water droplets on the pavement as they go.

So starts our Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hang on to your youthful enthusiasms -- you’ll be able to use them better when you’re older.

Bob wanders into the bedroom at 5:50 am. He's ( supposedly ) not allowed in the bedroom. He sticks a cold wet nose in my ear and then satisfied I'm awake, quickly exits. This silent routine plays to something deep in the canine psyche. 1) He's doing something he shouldn't ( always fun ) and 2) he's rounding up his flock to get the day started. When I come out of the bedroom door he feigns complete surprise. Complete surprise in this sense means turning on his back and having a leisurely pre-breakfast tickle while his tail thwacks noisily and rapidly on the tiled floor. No doubting that somewhere along the line Bob had an extra dose of 'happy' added to his DNA.

This morning is the day to go and see the accountant in Toulouse to fill in the tax forms. The accountant agrees to be in 'early'. Bob can't understand why he's not coming with me. Angus is there by seven thirty. There's lots of space in the underground car park and lots of space in the cafe on the square. The only other clients student couples sharing croissants and whispering intimately. That age where penury and passion coexist quite happily. 

The streets empty. The restaurant umbrellas tightly furled.

In France most shops and offices don't open until ten so at this hour there's little traffic. In fact there's no traffic. In the road by the cathedral a solitary dog owner can be seen walking his companion.

Another cup of coffee at a cafe on a side street. All the locals seem to know each other. There is much kissing of cheeks. The waiter brings me copies of Le Monde and Le Figaro to read. The topic of conversation at the neighbouring tables how hot it'll be today. '' It's going to get above thirty " says a woman next to me to no one in particular. She then returns to filling out her crossword puzzle.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse Sophie and Bob take 'The Font' on a lengthy tour of the village.