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Flax attempts

♥Sep. 26th, 2016 // 06:05 pm
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This year, a big field near us was planted with flax. It looked very pretty when it was flowering, and then it was time for harvest.

They cut a bit of it it (and presumably stripped the seeds off at the same time), and then stopped for a few days. Then they cut a bit more. Then they finally decided that they'd got it right and cut the whole field.

A few days after that, they made square bales with some of the straw. The bales looked kinda crappy. A few more days, and they tried making round bales, half of which just immediately collapsed.

A few more days, and they went 'sod it', burnt the collapsed bales and harrowed the rest of the straw across the field to rot.

I really hope that it was the first time they'd grown flax....

ION, Jo is still doing really well, and pretty much officially better now. She even had a little run around with her boyfriend in the woods today, and she's been to the beach a couple of times as well. I had our first riding lesson in *ages* on Bugs, and he did very well (although by the end of it he was distinctly unimpressed with how much he was having to do). Ang's leg has started to get bad for the winter but, as ever, he's having good days and bad ones. We're going away for a few days (note to self: must decide where we're going and book hotels; ferry and sitter are both booked), so hopefully he'll continue to be fine while the sitter's looking after him.

We've gone straight from 'too hot to do anything in the garden' to 'succession of visitors', with added torrential rain for a couple of days: the garden is distinctly jungle-like, and I really must get out there and do some weeding....
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Hello moon!

♥Sep. 14th, 2016 // 08:12 pm
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We're back in that time of the year when I get to know what the moon is doing: the boys are going inside early enough that they need an extra haynet later in the evening, so Jo and I go out in the field at night.

Tonight it was a don't-need-the-torch evening: the getting-on-for-full moon was just rising over the side of the valley as I went up the hill.

I do like this time of year, current daytime temperatures apart.

(This morning, Mike had to walk Jo first thing because it's been such a hot day (although, at 27, six degrees cooler than yesterday). He reported that it was very odd to be driving through the usual autumn valley mist, a thin band about three feet off the ground, with his head above the clouds!)

As I'd expected after the damp and blight-inducing June, the tomatoes are very much not going to supply our year's passata needs. There's currently more tomatillo passata on the shelves than there is tomato, although that's partly because we've been using the latter more. As Mike often remarks, it is odd that no one grows tomatillos commercially in Kent, as they do do remarkably well. Not much market for them over here, I guess, although Mrs Formerly-Up-The-Hill was delighed when I gave her some last year and said she'd not had them since she moved over here from the US.

Firefox wants to correct 'tomatillo' to 'maillot', "a pair of tights worn for dancing or gymnastics". Then again, it wants to correct Firefox to Firebox, so what does it know?
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Serious question

♥Sep. 12th, 2016 // 09:47 pm
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What is the point of trying a 95-year-old doctor who spent several weeks treating the guards at Auschwitz?

I appreciate that carrying out an illegal order is illegal, but what does this trial possibly achieve? My understanding (World Service) is that there used to be a policy of only bringing charges against actual decision makers but that in recent years anyone possibly complicit in Nazi atrocities has been brought to trial: is it just that they're running out of cases, or is there an actual reason?

(I thought the same thing a previous case, of a guard who was sentenced, at the age of 93, to prison largely on the basis of interviews he had given to media organisations to counter Holocaust deniers, but this one seems -- as it involves a medic who is mentally ill -- to be even more unreasonable. I am happy to be explained to, but not to be shouted at.)
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Something is eating me....

♥Sep. 12th, 2016 // 08:12 pm
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I'm not sure what it is, but I'm waking up every morning with more bites. I would say it's mozzies, but we're a bit late in the season for them to suddenly appear and there's not much open water around here. I've been bug-spraying the bedroom each evening, and tonight I've gone to the extreme of closing the window before doing so. Fingers crossed....

Today, the vet called. She wanted to see how GB's eye was doing (fine) and let me know the result of his blood test (not fine). We've upped his medication, but I'm a little worried about it as he's now at the highest dose he's previously been on.

Later, the saddler came to check that the boys didn't need anything changing. They didn't, and she was pleased with how both of them looked when I rode them. "He's put weight on," she said of Bugs. Yep, that's why I've brought two girths over! "Ah, are we having to sometimes use fatty girth?" Yep! (Although he *has* just had a new saddle pad, so maybe it's fluffier than the old one...? No, ok, just fat!) I told her of recent vet annoyances, and she recounted a story about the same chap: an ex-racehorse who'd had spinal surgery years ago. When she went to fit a saddle for him, she tried everything in her stock and got angry face about all but one of them (this when they were just popped on his back, not ever a girth never mind a rider), so they went with that one and he was fine in it. He had a lameness, and when the vet came out he said it was because the saddle didn't fit and it was (drum roll) causing the horse to have the back problem that he always diagnoses. Not, you know, an issue because of the old surgery. So not having him back if Bugs shows problems again.

Later, I was sitting listening to PM when I noticed movement on the front patio and saw Esk wandering around. We've never before seen a duck on the front patio (they're not terribly good with steps), but a bit later Agnes joined her and they poked around in the pots going "ooh, this is tasty", interspersed with looking through the window at me and quacking loudly. It was nearly bedtime, but it did seem like odd behaviour and I wondered where Houdini Magrat was, so I went and poked my head out of the front door. No sign of her, but I could hear her quacking. Out on the road again? No, and I couldn't hear her any more. Went back inside, and heard the quacks again: in the back garden. No idea how she got there, and I'm pretty sure that we're going to have to go hunting for another hole under the fence fairly soon.... (The back garden is off limits, both because it's not duck-proof in the way that the front (allegedly) is (so they could get out to the field and / or road) but also because we don't want them trying to get in the fish pond in case they get tangled in the (heron-proof) cover.)

Archers spoiler: here )

I half decided not to go to and half forgot about B-Movie. Did anyone make it? How was it?
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Conversion fun

♥Sep. 12th, 2016 // 08:17 am
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1177691.html]

I'm re-reading the Riverworld books, and occasionally giggling.

It looks like they were (being American) written in Imperial measurements, and then someone came along and said "shouldn't all these people speaking Esperanto in the Future be using metric?", so he went back and did some laborious conversions....

The bamboo was 31m, or over 100 feet, high.
One man stood about 5.08cm, or 2 inches, shorter than another.

And, of course, the grails themselves: “a grey metal cylinder, 45.72 centimeters across, 76.20 centimeters high, weighing empty about 0.55 kilogram.”
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Not sloe good

♥Sep. 11th, 2016 // 08:20 pm
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This afternoon, after yesterday's failure on the common, we went up to our most reliable blackthorn spot.

We did get about 700g of sloes, but I see from my diary that we got 3kg there on the same day last year.

Looks like we're going to be rationing the sloe gin next year, even if no one beats us to the patch that Mike spotted when he was walking with his mother a couple of weeks ago.
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Foraging fail

♥Sep. 10th, 2016 // 04:04 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1177292.html]

This afternoon, we took Jo over to the common, planning on a couple of bags of blackberries, ditto of sloes and a couple of carrier bags of apples.

Of the two good patches of sloes, one had been cleared away and we didn't manage to find the other (even though we were pretty sure of where it was: possibly also been cleared). Someone else had recently been through blackberrying, so there wasn't much ripe fruit.

We did get two big bags of apples, but it wasn't as easy as it usually it: evidently, it's not been a good year for them.

When we got home, we checked the blackthorn in our hedge and, after much searching, found two sloes, one of them manky. We already knew from looking in other spots that it wasn't a great year for them, but I'm now a little worried about the sloe gin supply! We're going to visit another good spot (which we checked on a few weeks ago) tomorrow, before anyone else gets in there.

There are blackberries on the lane near us, where very few other people go to pick them, so I'd better get up there with a bag and get some into the freezer!
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♥Sep. 7th, 2016 // 07:52 pm
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I've just caught part of a programme on the World Service in which Peter White (a radio presenter who is blind) visits Kenya and, during his trip, gets to meet a giraffe.

"I know from stories that they're very tall, but what are they like? Are they furry?"

After a bit of shaking of food, Daisy comes over to say hello, and he gets very excited about her tongue, and her fur, and the shape of her head. It was absolutely lovely, thoroughly Pick Of The Week worthy, and well worth a listen.
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First, perplex your vet.

♥Sep. 5th, 2016 // 06:44 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1176184.html]

This afternoon, the vet was mostly perplexed.

She was perplexed because she wasn't visiting Bugs, on account of how he's not showing any signs of lameness (maybe, she said, his sore bones have already fused together unusually quickly?).

She was perplexed because (while we were here anyway, I had her take a blood sample from GB) a horse with such high (when unmedicated) levels of the-thing-they-test-for as he does has no symptoms, other than being very keen on his winter coat and a little slow to heal.

She was perplexed because, when she had a look at GB's eye, she was completely convinced that there would be a thorn or similar inside the lump, but actually she just found a lot of goo. (He should be fine, with antibacterial eyedrops and keeping his hat on while the hole closes up. As an added bonus, while she was checking to see he hadn't scratched the cornea she checked his cataracts, which are still barely there.)

And, finally, she was perplexed because she noticed the scabs on GB's face, and I said "he has them on his feet as well, but they're only there for about six weeks of the year". When she looked at his feet, she said "this looks just like mites, only that's not on the face and it's all year around". My theory is that there's some sort of small seasonal biting thing in the grass, and she agreed that it was as good as any.

Still, at least there wasn't anything particularly worrying that was perplexing her!
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Swallow news

♥Sep. 5th, 2016 // 10:52 am
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We were very pleased when we realised that swallows were nesting in one of our spare stables*. We were rather worried when we went to get ready for the hay delivery** and found, as well as a small pile of poo under the nest, half a dozen dead chicks, but the parents were still around, still going in and out of the stable, so we figured they'd had a disaster and started another clutch.

* When I saw some flying around, going in the barn and the duck's house, I opened the door of the stable the previous owner said they sometimes use and the swallows made themselves at home in there.

** We keep some of it in that stable so it's not such a squeeze in the barn. I've put a sheet of plastic on top of the hay that's under their nest!

It was indeed another clutch, and we've been seeing the whole family flying around the yard recently, as well as occasional heads poking out of the nest. This morning, the no-longer-babies were lined up on a rafter waiting for the drizzle to stop so that they could get some flying practice in:

I dare say they'll be off south soon!

GB has had what looks like a sty on his eye for the last week or so. I've been keeping an eye on it but not being terribly worried, but yesterday it had got bigger and gone an icky shade of yellow. The vet's coming this afternoon, hopefully it won't be a problem.... (He has a fairly poor immune system these days, as a result of age and his pituitary condition, so I'm always a bit nervous about infections, and it being near his eye is even more worrying.)
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So, pole dancing!

♥Sep. 2nd, 2016 // 01:59 pm
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Bruising aside (my shins have gone an interesting colour, too), the pole dancing class was quite interesting. About a dozen people, four of us there to try it out and the rest who'd been going for about a year. Lots of tattoos and piercings, one bloke who was terribly intense about it all and spent the whole session hogging a pole and much of it hogging one of the two instructors. (It was nominally two people per pole, but in reality there were two people with a pole each, the beginners with two between them, and everyone else in a very cooperative gaggle between the other two.)

We started with a fairly high-intensity warm up, and finished with stretches. In between, there were poles. It was quite interesting watching the more experienced people doing their moves (and occasionally failing spectacularly at them; one of the poles had a circular crash mat around it, which seemed sensible), but we got rather more time to do that than I would have liked: the instructor would show us a move a couple of times, watch us doing it for about thirty seconds, and then wander off to help other people for ten minutes while we practised it a bit more and then went "Ok, we can do that now, um".

I think that even without the bruising (and I noticed that the instructor was also covered in bruises, so I don't think it was just that we were crap!) it wouldn't be for me: not very structured and a mix of it being a solo thing but requiring cooperation (in sharing poles and in, eg, sticking your arms under someone's bum to support their weight while they try a new move) that I don't think I'd really get on with. Still, it was fun to try! I had thought about trying their aerial hoop class, on the grounds it might be less bruisy, but I think that the same would apply there.

Today, I'm a little sore in the shoulders but happily was able to get my boots on without too much agony.

Jo's been for her swimming lesson this afternoon. It was a different person in the tank with her, and she was a bit nervous about that, but it went well. On the way home, we had a short walk and met a very sweet spaniel. The owners asked if they should hold his collar, and I said it was fine as long as he didn't charge at her. What he actually did was walk up to her and then, when she ignored him, drop his ball in front of her to see if it would make her like him!
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♥Sep. 1st, 2016 // 08:58 pm
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This evening, I went to a try-out pole dancing class. It was really quite fun, if a bit noisy and disorganised.

I won't be going back, though: by the end of the class, my feet were already starting to turn purple, and I have a nasty feeling that I won't be able to get my boots on tomorrow morning....
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Here, have some pictures

♥Aug. 27th, 2016 // 06:31 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1174854.html]

We've got at least half a dozen chrysalises in our porch (the caterpillars seem to have climbed up the hop and in through the window*), and today one of them had split open and a comma butterfly was sitting nearby, drying out its wings. Comma caterpillars apparently like hop leaves, and this explains why we've rescued so many commas from the porch recently! (The front door is open during the day anyway, so they're not really in any danger.)

(The chrysalis is the thing that looks like a dead leaf hanging from the windowsill.)

* The hop *also* climbed in through the window, and we left it because it wasn't doing any harm. Then the flowers came out, and dropped incredibly sticky pollen on the coat rack. Oops.

One of the things that Mike gave me for my birthday was a kit for a many-pocketed bag. I made it up this afternoon, and now have something a lot more usable for taking my sewing bits to Quilt Club (and, in theory, keeping my desk a bit tidier: we shall see!)

Today I also made some courgette relish and passata. Sadly, that's the first passata I've made this year: the tomatoes did not like the wet June. I doubt I'll manage to make enough to see us through the year, which I very nearly managed to do last year.
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Things from the last ten days

♥Aug. 26th, 2016 // 07:37 am
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It's too hot. We had a thunderstorm last night, but not much actual rain: Jo was alternately terrified at being downstairs alone and then delighted when Mike went to fetch her up to our room. The trees are dropping leaves, it's been so dry.

Mike is on his third migraine day in a row, which is not so good.

As part of Project Get Bugsy Fit, I've been not having a chance to / being to hot to / putting off cantering him when he's being ridden, but I did so this morning and he was pretty much perfect, which is a relief: I was worried we were going to be back to titting about.

Jodie's been discharged by the orthopaedic vet, who was very pleased with her x-rays. She's still having swimming lessons, and she can start to go off the lead at the end of her walk in a couple more weeks. Yesterday at the vet, another dog owner said how pretty she was and then asked if she was a crossbreed. I was confused, and the other dog owner explained that she looked like one because the hair was a different length on her back and one of her legs. Pretty sure that that's not how genetics works....

We had a barbecue, and the weather was much better than it might have been, and people came and seemed to have fun. On Sunday, we have more family invasion: Mike's mother and aunt-from-America are coming to stay.

I've spent far too much time curled up on the sofa with a book, and must instead get on with gardening, making passata, and making Christmas cards and presents. Just as soon as it's less hot....

Almost inevitably, I'm feeling under-challenged by my new Pilates class. I'm going to a pole dancing try-out session next week, and am seriously considering trying out Physique 57, which seems to be BarreCore on steroids and has a lot of online classes, with a week of free access. (There is a barre class that uses my current Pilates studio space, and I think a couple of people in the class have been: I might ask them how hard it is / where the instructor trained.)
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Some people! Grr!

♥Aug. 15th, 2016 // 01:33 pm
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I've just taken Jo out for her (far too short, far too sedate) walk.

Just as we got up to the top of the hill and went into Mrs Farmer's field, a man came up behind us with three spaniels. As it happens, I know the dogs: two of them are boisterous and friendly, and the third is just plan nasty and has gone for Jo several times before, so I did the extended version of the 'my dog is poorly' routine (she's just had major surgery, she's not allowed to run, she's very timid and will run if other dogs come too close to her) and said I'd do a slow wide loop through the field so that he could go down the path and get ahead of us.

Instead, he stopped dead and waited until we were about a hundred yards ahead before letting the two nice dogs off the lead, at which point they inevitably charged straight at us, while he occasionally called them back, after which they came charging straight towards us again.

I sped up, and we got out of the field and into the woods: still a bit of a way to go before the path split in two, slightly worrying, but I was half way there before I heard him come through the gate. The next time I looked back? All three of the dogs were off the lead and charging towards us. Fortunately I reached the point where the path splits then, and they stayed around it to see which way they were going.

I suppose I should just be glad that he had the sense to go the other way at the junction, but I'm bloody furious.
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♥Aug. 12th, 2016 // 01:56 pm
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None of our local Lidl shops have had Rivercote Crispbread in stock for the last few months, which is a shame as we like it quite a lot. (The plain ones in the orange box, not the rye ones.)

If anyone we're going to see next weekend is in Lidl and sees that they have it in stock, could they get us a few boxes?

(I am aware of the risk of ending up with 20 boxes. It is completely fine if that happens: when I buy it myself, I usually get eight or ten at once!)
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♥Aug. 9th, 2016 // 01:15 pm
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GB stomped on my foot the other day, when I didn't have my boots on. At first, I just had a scraped patch of skin, but now I have Interesting Bruising as well:

(Fortunately, it's not all that sore, except when I'm putting my boots on or off.)

I was slightly disappointed when the Giant Thistle Of Doom that I had in the garden last year didn't self-seed anywhere. One seedling has finally appeared, but it's not really in an optimal place and I doubt I'll be able to move it:

(I have bought some more of the seeds, though. Must get them started, in fact.)

The Costco gladioli continue to all be pink. Oops. I now have two vases of the min the house, as I've been picking the ones that fall over.

I've read as far as the letter C, now, and yesterday read Clarke's A Fall Of Moondust, which I'd not come across before. As is so often the case with old SF, it's the oddest things that make you go 'yeah, right, as if': all the space ships are insured with Lloyds Of London. Bless!

Jo has her second swimming lesson this afternoon. I'll have to see if I can get a picture!
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Swimming lessons

♥Aug. 4th, 2016 // 08:27 pm
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Jodie had her first swimming lesson yesterday. Much to my relief, it involved her walking into a tank at floor level before the hydrotherapy nurse closed glass doors at either end and then slowly filled it with water: I'd gone dressed on the assumption that I'd have to persuade her to go down a ramp into a pool, probably by going in first! She was a bit bemused by it all, but took to it pretty well, and the nurse was pleased both with how she did and with the progress she's made since her op. (We also popped into the main reception area, to weigh her, and everyone was very pleased to see her and impressed with how neat the scar is. Everyone at the vet likes Jodie!)

I've finished making the rest of the quilt blocks that I started in my last class. I'm vaguely thinking a snake-like table runner....

Oddly, we had no eggs today. On the other hand, yesterday Mike reported that Esk was behaving oddly and, when I went clambering around behind the barn, I found her next to a little scrape in the ground with two of her eggs in it, neither of them just-laid. I've a vague memory that she went through a phase like this this time last year, as well, and the others copied her a bit. Guess I'd better check the front garden as well.
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♥Jul. 31st, 2016 // 10:25 am
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That, with the addition of a veg-box aubergine, a jar of passata, and some pasta looks a lot like dinner. (Sadly, our aubergines aren't yet doing more than flowering and I'm still at the 'look! a ripe tomato!' stage rather than the 'better make another batch of passata' one. There are no plans at all to make pasta any more from scratch than Mike already does!)

We had our first visit from the new farrier today (the old one having retired for the sake of his back). He is approximately twelve but seems to be competent. Bugs didn't have a hissy fit, and GB didn't bite him (although the last of those says more about GB's mood than the farrier!).

Speaking of, GB has (sigh) started growing his winter coat, so here's a picture of him in his three-weeks-of-the-year summer best:

Bit more white every year....

Jo's also growing her coat back, and now looks a lot less silly than she did.

She's doing really well, and has her first swimming lesson on Wednesday. However, I could almost suspect that she's been reading ahead on her aftercare notes, because she's not supposed to do the spinning around in circles on the spot exercise for at least another couple of weeks. She thinks she's better, poor thing. We are up to twenty minute walks, though, which she enjoys except when a squirrel crosses her path and she's unaccountably not allowed to go and chase it.
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That's why they were cheap

♥Jul. 30th, 2016 // 08:12 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1171392.html]

The glads from the enormous bag I bought at Costco have started flowering, which is good.

Less good is the fact that all of the ones out so far (only three, admittedly) are salmon pink. Hrm.

OTOH, the hollyhocks are also coming out, and looking very pretty. Other than the ones along the drive, which GB has developed a taste for. Note to self: next year, don't put anything tall along the drive....
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♥Jul. 30th, 2016 // 10:33 am
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1170999.html]

I was wrong about the horse flies finishing for the year, they were just having a little rest. I'm on about four bites a day for the last few days. They seem particularly keen on my right elbow.
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Bits, also pieces

♥Jul. 27th, 2016 // 11:27 am
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Yesterday evening, we went to see an outdoor production of She Stoops To Conquer. I think we were about the only people who hadn't got there an hour early to have a picnic, but they still managed to find us a spot to put our rug. Fun performance, if rather silly! It got bloody chilly towards the end, though.

Before that, I headed off to the hospital for a smear test, which has been bewilderingly hard to arrange: I got my letter about a month ago, but learnt when I called my GP that their nurse only has appointments (I exaggerate not) at 9am, 9:20am, 3pm and 3:20pm on Mondays, or 9am or 9:20am on Fridays. Mondays and Fridays being the days Mike is most often on London, and first thing being awkward with the boys, the second time I called to rearrange it (Mike having had to go to work on the first attempt) I asked if there was anywhere else I could go instead. The receptionist pointed me at the hospital sexual health clinic, so I called them and made an appointment. The actual appointment took three times longer than it should: the nurse spent the first third explaining that they didn't actually do smear tests there, because they didn't get paid for it, but she'd do it anyway but had to refamiliarise herself with the forms and the third third telling me in great detail what would happen next (understandable, as I suspect she spends most of her time dealing with nervous teenagers). I did learn (after I said 'I remember it hurting more than that') that they use a nifty little silicone brush these days, rather than a wooden scraper. I remain boggled that the sexual health clinic isn't supposed to do smear tests, and am becoming even more inclined to change GP to one with a non-ludicrous appointment system: even if the other one I can go to has a crappy system, it can't be worse than what I currently have to put up with. I also learnt that having had the HPV vaccination doesn't get you out of having smears, which is a shame and (IMO) something that's not been emphasised enough.

The cows are out in the valley, as of yesterday, which rather buggers up Jo's rehabilitation walks. When Mike's not at work, we'll be driving her up to the woods but with another week before she's allowed to do hills it's a problem if I haven't got the car. Mutter.
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Other things

♥Jul. 25th, 2016 // 05:17 pm
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My parents came to visit, but they've gone away again now. While they were here, we had the hay delivery, so that's all sorted for the winter now. They left on the day of quilt club, so the nautical quilt didn't get shown and told.

There was a wren in the kitchen the other day. Somewhat surprising, but I managed to catch it in a shawl and it flew away when I took it outside. Also a cricket sitting smack in the middle of our duvet.

Magrat The Duck was lame one day. Worryingly, the traditional treatment of Frantic Chase Around The Garden Then Being Cornered And Picked Up didn't provide the usual 100% cure, but she was fine the following day. ("I heard a tremendous amount of quacking this morning," said my mother, "and when I looked the white duck was standing on top of one of the brown ones in the pond, giving her a tremendous ducking!" No, mother, you have the wrong consonant there....) She's also been doing her Houdini tricks again. Several days of setting up the stop-motion camera in various places failed to catch her in the act, but then (when we'd narrowed it down to one corner of the garden) Mike spotted the hole under the fence that she's been using. It's now blocked with a log, which should be enough provided that the hole isn't part of an active badger run.

The hollyhocks and gladioli are just starting to flower, and looking very pretty (other than the one that the horses can reach, which looks rather sad). TWWOTV asked what the hollyhocks were, and explained that until the flowers started to come out she'd been worried that they were giant hogweed. Because, obviously, we wouldn't notice eight foot dangerous high weeds in our front garden.

Jodie is doing really well, and looks much less silly now that the hair is growing back: it's still short, but at least she's the right colour now! She's walking for about ten minutes, three times a day, and will probably be coming off the painkillers and starting hydrotherapy in the coming week (I don't know for sure, because the vet hasn't returned my call from Saturday, grr). As far as she's concerned, she's completely better, which means that she wants to go chasing bunnies and thinks nothing of spinning 360 degrees while simultaneously jumping up in the air when we get back from leaving her alone for ten minutes. We may have to start crating her when we go to take the boys up the hill (although the surgeon said that she could start doing that towards the end of this week, thankfully).

The boys are fat and lazy, and have done very little work in the last week or so: it's been too hot and too full of flies. The horseflies, at least, seem to be stopping for the year. I've only had two bites in the last four days!
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Quilt Club

♥Jul. 25th, 2016 // 04:28 pm
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Yesterday, I went to quilt class and (mostly: I did a bit of finishing this afternoon) made these:

It was an interesting class but (unfortunately for me) the first half of it was her teaching people the technique -- foundation paper piecing -- that I use all the time for doing things like animals and birds, so not very informative for me. (Except in the "wow, I'd never have imagined you could make the process seem so tediously rote" sense: the method she was using worked for this specific project but wouldn't help if any of the attendees then tried to apply it to a different design.) The second half was much more useful, though, and at least completely ignoring her instructions in the morning meant I had plenty of time to get stuff done.

It was also incredibly Buy My Stuff: you absolutely must have a special ruler, only £6, to use when you trim the excess fabric (er, or just eyeball it. Or use a normal ruler); you absolutely must have this particular brand of spray starch, only £5, to use when you're ironing your seams (y'know, the ones I did this afternoon worked just fine without it...); you absolutely must have this special glue, only £5, to use when you're sewing the bits together (ok, I did buy that one, although I am trying to figure out how to do without it!); you absolutely must have an open-toed sewing machine foot, only £20 (she really banged on about that one to me: she used my machine a couple of times to demo things, and there was much sighing and 'I think you'd find it much easier' and 'gosh, I can't see a thing I'm doing!'. Maybe I just have much better eyes than she does); you absolutely must have this type of needle, only £6 for five, the other kind are terrible (she'd said this the day before; I have a part-used box of 100 of the 'terrible' kind, I'll *consider* switching when I finish it); and on and on. It was a £20 class, and I would guess that half the women there spent twice that amount on buying stuff from her. I know she has to make a living, and I dare say that *she* finds it useful to use those things, but don't try and insist that they're vital when they clearly aren't!

The day before at quilt club, the same woman gave a talk about needles and threads, which was absolutely fascinating and taught me vast numbers of things that would be very tedious to recount here, but did finally explain to me why my new sewing machine (which has a horizontal thread reel holder, as most do these days) came with a little removable plastic stick to make a temporary vertical one (like they ones I learnt to sew on had), and when I should use it.

The quilt club newsletter mentioned, in passing, that a quarter of the members are now people who've joined in their own right, rather than as part of a smaller local club. It wasn't explicitly stated that this is a cause for concern, but it is on two levels: the local clubs aren't getting the few younger members who come in, and (perhaps more significantly) it makes the tea-and-tidying rota unfair: the local clubs take it in turns, so there are a quarter of the (generally more able to do so) members who never help out. When I Take Over Quilt Club, Which I Am Not Going To Do, I will fix these problems relatively simply: 1) put them on the rota (this will require some wrangling to make sure enough people will be there but is doable: they've been talking about it for a while, just not actually done it) and 2) actually tell them about the local clubs (they are occasionally mentioned in the newsletter, but only in the sense of "Twee Name Club last month donated ten quilts to a hospice"; there is a list of them on the website, but it is literally a series of twee names followed by a landline number you can call for each of them: no indication of where they are located other than dialling code (some of the twee names are geographically based, many are not), no indication of when they meet and what they do, no email address...). I'd vaguely like to join one, but not enough to phone random people and ask them where they live!

I shall stop ranting now.
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Jodie update

♥Jul. 16th, 2016 // 04:15 pm
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We've just got back from the vet, where Jo had a check up and her dressing removed. The vet's very pleased with the progress: she's walking well, and there's no swelling. When the nurse took the dressing off, we were amazed by how neat the incision looks already.

The only, very small, concern is that she's got a red splodge right where she had a little cancer removed a couple of years ago. The vet thinks it's probably just that the skin there is thinner so it's reacted badly to being clipped, but we'll keep an eye on it.
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The pooch returns

♥Jul. 14th, 2016 // 11:56 am
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She looks very silly, with one leg shaved:

She's obviously sore, but was very pleased to see us. The nurse noted that she'd not had a wee this morning, even though she'd had a chance, and indeed that was the first thing she did when she got back in the garden.

She's now restlessly lying down in different parts of the living room, presumably trying to get comfortable. She's failing miserably in this, because she keeps lying down on the bad leg....

(Oh, god, Mike's playing Pokemon Go!)
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♥Jul. 13th, 2016 // 03:40 pm
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Jo's had her surgery. when I spoke to him earlier, the the vet said that it had gone pretty well: there wasn't as much damage to the joint as there might have been, so her recovery should be good. They did crack her bone slightly when they were doing the work, but that's pretty normal for this kind of surgery.

I've just spoken to the nurse, and Jo's now awake and looking around. She's not tried to get up yet, but she's sitting up and they're going to see if she'd like some dinner in an hour or two when she's a bit more awake.
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At least he managed to get back down the stairs again afterwards

♥Jul. 13th, 2016 // 11:58 am
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This morning, when Mike fed the boys he just left their doors open so that they could occupy themselves until I got back.

As we drove off to take Jo to the vet, he said "And I did remember to close the gate so that they couldn't get into the field." "Did you close the garden gate?" I asked. Umm. Well, the ducks weren't out, and after all it wasn't all that likely that Bugs would walk down a gloomy, narrow corridor and up a few steps just to see what was in the garden, right?

Jo is safely at the vet, they seemed very nice and asked lots of detailed questions (Will she be happy to go to the loo on a lead, or should she be let off it? Does she prefer to go on grass, or will any surface do?). She's probably in surgery now, I should here something mid afternoon. We talked through our particular layout and routine with the vet, and he's happy for Jo to come to the stables tomorrow, as long as she's on a lead / tied up, which is a huge relief, but he says three weeks before she can go up the hill to the field.

After dropping Mike at the station, I came back to at least one very muddy pony (it's hard to tell with GB) safely in the stableyard, and some extremely irate ducks in their house, and then I mucked out, and then, in a fit of keen-ness, I went up the hill and poo-picked the field up there so that it'll be Sunday before we have to leave Jo alone while we do it again: given the trouble I had getting the wheelbarrow through the mud by the gate so that I could put the poo into bags for Mrs Up The Hill's new compost heap, it's a good thing that we decided to leave the boys down here today. It was just starting to dry out, but now not so much.

(We were hopeful that our hay would be cut this weekend, but it now seems less likely. On Monday, the five-day forecast was dry all week. On Tuesday morning, it was for rain every day. On Tuesday evening, it was for rain on Tuesday but then dry. Now, it's back to dry, after this morning's rain clears up. I'm not sure that they know what's going to happen!)

And then, finally finished with all the jobs, I came back to the house and noticed this on the lawn:

Sigh. It can wait until tomorrow.
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Plan B

♥Jul. 11th, 2016 // 04:07 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1168580.html]

I phoned Mrs Next Door's recommendation for a dog surgeon this morning, and they said "Hmm, Wednesday?", so I called our vet, told the receptionist this, and asked if they'd heard from their surgeon. "Take that appointment!" she said, so I called them back and did.

Jo's going in for a consult and then (unless they find a problem) the surgery on Wednesday morning, and we're picking her up on Thursday: it's their policy that they keep dogs in after a big operation, which is worry-causing for me but probably for the best as she'll have a nurse with her all night.

Conveniently, this gave me a good reason to phone Bugsy's vet and cancel Friday's big day out. I did so, and left a message asking him to call me. Unsurprisingly, he hasn't yet. I'll chase him in a couple of days.
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Things unrelated to lame animals

♥Jul. 10th, 2016 // 06:07 pm
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A good one: this morning, I had a lovely ride on GB. He was going brilliantly, and it left me feeling very pleased with how we got on.

A less good one: my upper back / shoulders have been a bit sore for a few days, which I'd vaguely put down to being stressed about lame animals until I thought about it a bit more. I was sore in what I think was the same way about eighteen months ago, which is what lead to the hypermobility diagnosis, and which I eventually decided was being caused by something wrong (for me) in the way my then Pilates instructor taught. (And, indeed, this was a part of the reason I moved to a different one not long after.)

That instructor (as well as working where I used to go to her classes) works for the place I've just started at and, quite conceivably, had a lot of her training from my new instructor*, which makes me wonder if there's some bit of positioning that the new instructor likes but my body doesn't. I'll have a chat with her on Tuesday, I think.

* Who I am liking, although I am frantically Waiting Until The End Of The Six-Week Class Cycle before I say "I thought this was an advanced class?"

This afternoon, I made a stripy top out of knitted fabric. I'm not madly keen on the fabric, but it was cheap (nominally seconds, though I can't see any flaws in it). The sewing went pretty smoothly, once I gave up on trying to backstitch my start and end points (which just resulted in the sewing machine eating the corner of the fabric; I was using a fancy stretch stitch anyway, so it was kind of backstitching itself), and apparently I am a high street size 16. Better go and buy a new wardrobe!

Lame animal update: we're going to be Firm With Vets, so tomorrow I'm going to call Jo's vet and ask if they have a date for the op and tell them that if they don't get me one by the next day then I'm going to go elsewhere (Mrs Next Door recommended a specialist ortho vets, who will probably be able to fit her in much quicker), and then I'm going to call Bug's vet and cancel this grand day out malarky at least until after Jo's op, and tell him I want him to come and give him the same injection as he's already had in the other leg to see if that cures it.
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Bits and bobs

♥Jul. 8th, 2016 // 08:41 pm
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Duck seems fine.

Bugs had a visit from the 2nd vet, who wants to see him at the surgery. Which will be fun. And expensive. I've been texting around people that the receptionist said might be able to do transport for two horses for the day, because of course GB can't be left on his own....

No word from Jo's vet about a new surgery date, so they're probably still playing phone tag.

In the last week or so, I've had five emails (that is, half of what hits my gmail account's spam folder after going through initial screening on Mike's provider) that purport to be from someone I know, though not from their email address, and that address me in an appropriate way for that person. I suspect that if I emailed the people involved, we could figure out which service has leaked their address books (there are, for example, some yearoftheteledu addresses in the cc's, and an address belonging to someone who used to swap to a new free email address every year or so when he started getting too much crap in his inbox), but I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

We had been planning to go to the Kent County Show but thought we'd have to go tomorrow because of the vet. As it was, he was gone by 2pm, so we thought we'd go for it: it's much quieter on Friday than on Saturday. There were a few things missing: not many heavy horses, and about half the cages in the poultry tent (which is also where the rabbits are) were empty. The horses were apparently all busy haymaking, and based on the fact that all the people working the poultry tent were girls in their early teens I suspect that most of the competitors hadn't been allowed to skip a day of school to attend. On the plus side, the flower arrangements were all lovely and fresh and looking at their best, and the cakes hadn't started to sag in the heat. Plus, fewer people. We had a nice time, wandered the shop, watched bits of a handful of horse classes and saw the pig racing:

(Number five won the Grand National, which means that Teresa May will be the next Prime Minister. Previous predictions included Farrage to be PM after the last election and a Remain vote, so I wouldn't rely too much on their piggy predictive powers.)

We bought very little that wasn't edible, and I several times uttered the words "Oh, I neededn't have bought that on Amazon the other day". In reality, though, the one I bought on Amazon was probably cheaper. This probably has something to do with why the shows are all struggling a bit: once upon a time, they were a serious shopping opportunity.

We also looked at some new garden furniture, but didn't see anything that made us want to rush to buy. We were intrigued by the fact that two different places had almost identical stock. One, in a nice marquee, was more expensive than the other, which boasted of huge show discounts, all display stock must go, delivery this evening after we close. The latter had no proper signage or fliers, which made it look dodgy as hell, but also offered a 12-month payment plan, which was odd. But, I suppose, may well have involved a big bloke coming 'round to check you hadn't forgotten to make your payments....
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Lame animal count: 3

♥Jul. 7th, 2016 // 08:06 pm
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Esk was looking quite lame when we went out to put her to bed, so I traumatised her back into health caught her and checked that there was nothing obviously wrong, after which I put her down and she ran away looking perfectly normal. This is not the first time one of the ducks has done this!

Bugs is now consistently lame again, so I've got the second-opinion vet coming back for him tomorrow.

And Jo Jo is still hobbling around like a hobbly thing. Annoyingly, I had a call from her vets today, saying that the surgeon has said he *can't* do her op next Friday, because he won't have time for three surgeries. It sounds like they've been playing voice mail tag with him: they now going to try to actually speak to him and find out when he can do it. Depending on what the answer is (and, indeed, how long it takes for it to come), we might have to look at getting it done somewhere else.
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Oh, you shouldn't have....

♥Jul. 6th, 2016 // 08:19 pm
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Today's Tesco delivery came with a very pleased delivery woman who handed me a special box containing a "thank you for being such a great customer" (we probably are: we get a delivery maybe 45 weeks of the year).

"What's in it?" I asked.

"Open it and see!" she gushed. So I did.

I took out the box of strawberries, and put it on the table next to the small pile of freshly-picked ones that were drying on a piece of kitchen roll. Then I took out the teeny tiny single serving bottle of elderflower cordial, and put it on the table next to the half dozen full-sized bottles of same that she's just unpacked. As I took out a pack of Warburton's finest, I refrained from telling her how good Mike's crumpets are. Still, the pot of cream will come in handy, I'm sure....

ION, Jodie is doing remarkably well on the bunny catching league for an invalid, even if the one she got this evening had mixa. Just think of all the baby crows she's providing for!

Bugsy had his back checked this morning (unexpectedly: she appeared (to much barking from Jo) outside the school while I was lunging Bugs this morning. "I wasn't expecting you until 3 o'clock," I said, confused. "Actually, I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow!" -- there had been an undelivered iMessage mix-up), and she's "as confident as she can possibly be" that it's not his back, which is just what I expected. Now -- as he's finally got back to being nicely lame after I foolishly listened when the vet told me to give him the week off -- I just need to get hold of the second opinion vet and get him back here. I'll give it one more not-returned phone call and then just book a visit anyway.

Yesterday, I was birthday present hunting on a blog I follow: I read it for the patchwork stuff, but she's also a dressmaker, and for all that I usually skim those posts I knew there were some pattern and book recommendations. And then I had a Thought, thusly: "I can never find tops that I like. Maybe I should...." It is the case that the tops I fail to find are made from knit fabrics, which are infamously A Bugger To Sew, especially without an overlocker (which I Can Not Justify At All, although I loved it when I got to play with them at school), but maybe I should have a little try.... I've ordered what claims to be a simple pattern, and some end-of-bolt-cheap fabric, so I'll give it a go. In an attempt to remind myself what a dressmaking pattern looks like (school wasn't the last time I used one, but it wasn't long after), I (mostly: ran out of time to make bias binding before it was time to start dinner) made a very simple sleeveless top out of some left-over quilt fabric this afternoon, so I think I'll give it a go and see what happens.

(I am suffering from too many projects on the go, at the moment: I'm making a silk wall hanging, which is now mostly done except some hand sewing, and I've got a blanket woven but in need of (hand) sewing together, and I've got a bolt of linen that I need to cut up for a quilt, and then do fiddly folding things with before I do the machine sewing, and I've just made something for my sister's birthday.... on the other hand, I'm kind-of stacking up hand sewing things in the expectation of wanting to stay in the living room with Jo rather than leave her to go to the study and my sewing machine. On the other other hand, I'm thinking of moving a table in here, for that and for meals, so that she's not left on her own.)
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Pooch update

♥Jul. 5th, 2016 // 03:49 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1166613.html]

We've just been back to see the vet, and the conclusion is that (although Jo seems to be walking on it about as well as she was a couple of weeks ago) the leg's got worse: more swelling and thickness around the ligament than last time she was checked.

We're going to see the surgeon next Friday, and have her ready to go for the surgery that day if he thinks it's needed.

It's not going to be fun.
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"I literally don't know anyone who voted Leave"

♥Jul. 2nd, 2016 // 09:07 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1166432.html]

1) You think?

2) I was at a fannish party this afternoon. My list of fannish Leave voters has gone up, only by two or three but then I didn't speak to everyone there, and don't know many of the people well enough to say.
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Today's haul

♥Jun. 30th, 2016 // 04:36 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1166227.html]

Ok, not that impressive yet, but we're working on it!

(The wild strawberries have been very unimpressive this year. They're nearly over and I've hardly picked any. I assume it's because the weather's been so crappy.)
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Death to, er, mullein moth caterpillars, apparently

♥Jun. 28th, 2016 // 02:59 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1165823.html]

I was taking Jo for one of her potters around the garden when I noticed that my unidentified plants with tall white spikes of flowers had acquired a collection of handsome white, yellow and black caterpillars. Which I wouldn't mind so much except that as well as noshing on the leaves they've lopped off many of the flower spikes.

A little googling revealed that they'd eventually turn into mullein moths, which aren't rare, so I went back out and picked them off, causing them to spit green ick all over my hands. The ducks seemed to like them, though.

And, on the plus side, I've now learnt that my unidentified plants are probably Verbascum chaixii 'Album', the white nettle-leaved mullein, or something similar. I have no memory of buying them (and indeed was faintly surprised to see the flowers appear last year, as I thought the plants were part of the epic bedding plant order), but I suppose that I must have done!
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Road maintenance

♥Jun. 27th, 2016 // 06:39 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1165381.html]

We reckon that the council needs to hire a few sheep to keep the road clear:

Today, Jo was at the vet for zapping. She does seem to be getting better, have to see how it goes. She's obviously still sore, though: the only bunny she's tried to chase recently was the one with mixa that I pointed out to her last night by our school.

On the advice of the nurse last week, I bought a ramp so that she doesn't have to jump in and out of the car. In retrospect, we should have had a go with it before today.... We did eventually get her to go up it, mostly with me moving her legs one at a time, but when I got to the vet she just looked at it and plonked herself down at the back of the boot while I made coaxing noises. The vet wandered past and laughed mightily, as did several passers by. Eventually, I gave up and just let her jump. When we left, I again walked her up it one leg at a time but then decided to wait her out when we got home. It took about five minutes, but eventually she -- very gingerly -- edged her way down it, and I brought it through and set it up on the front step of the house. After two or three times up and down it, she seemed a lot happier, so hopefully she's figured it out now!
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♥Jun. 25th, 2016 // 08:11 pm
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Jo seems to be doing better today, which is good. When we went to the vet yesterday, the nurse who did her laser session* said she was probably sore from being posed for the x-rays.

* I'm increasingly thinking that the laser is, to use the technical term, Woo Woo Shite: "results no better than a placebo" Wikipedia says on the use of the treatment in humans. Well, I suppose it can't hurt for a coupke of weeks.

I've now got doggy massage instructions, so we've been doing that: Jo just thinks it's a strange kind of snuggle, I think, so she's quite happy with it (but wishes I'd just get on to the tummy rubs!).

Bugs, on the other hand, is getting nicely lame again now that he's not spending all his time loafing about in the field. I'll give it a few more days and then have the second-opinion-vet back.
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♥Jun. 23rd, 2016 // 11:17 pm
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Casually turning the radio on to listen to the first five minutes of R4's vote results in the hope of hearing something about the rumoured exit polls was probably a mistake, wasn't it?
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Ah, kids....

♥Jun. 23rd, 2016 // 07:33 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1164331.html]

Today, I gave five lots of directions to gaggles of girls doing what I very much hope was just practice for their D of E: they were all trying to cross The Horse Next Door's field on the footpath, and they'd all instead ended up on the not-a-footpath that's there because we use it (and, to be fair, is much more visible than the actual footpath, which gets very little use).

Other than the fact that their route-planning discussions were so noisy that they kept waking Jo up so that she could bark at them (not like her, I think they were so loud that she thought they were on the road or in the garden), I wouldn't have minded at all. Except that three of those occasions were the same bloody group....

The third time, I let them get all the way down to the road before I went out, as shouting "you've missed the footpath, it's a couple of meters below the fence line and through the trees" was obviously not working with this lot (the previous two times, they'd turned around and gone back into the woods; the other two groups managed to figure it out so I don't think it was my instructions...).

"Are you lost?" I asked, to be told that, no, they'd finally got it all figured out and they needed to go along the bottom of the valley. As neither of the competent groups had done that, I asked them to show me the map, which they had upside down (this is impressive navigation. I didn't ask if they'd remembered to wipe their feet as they walked through the middle of our house). Once I'd turned their map around and pointed out where they actually need to go, they looked vague again.

"So, we can go through the gate and along this road?" one of them eventually asked me. I agreed that yes, they could, if they wanted to accept the fact their map reading was shockingly bad and that they were trespassing despite having been told twice that they'd missed the footpath: I couldn't possibly say, that was something they'd have to decide for themselves.

Then I went back inside, and was somewhat pleased when, after a five minute conflab, they went back up the hill and, glory be, found the correct route. I'm sure they're currently bitching about me in their youth hostel, and I hope that the other two groups are saying "But she was perfectly nice, she told us just where the path was". I also hope that their teachers give them another lesson in map reading. As Mike pointed out, they probably got lost here because there's no mobile signal!

(A few minutes after that, I heard the clang of TWWOTV's PAI Gate, followed by more conflab. Yes, they had found the footpath, found the stile, and then turned the wrong way on the road but apparently not realised they'd done so until they got back to the bottom of the hill and saw our house again. Sigh.)
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Hoppy McHopLeg

♥Jun. 21st, 2016 // 01:55 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1164156.html]

Jo Jo's having a bad time of it with her leg today. Not sure why, as she was doing a lot better over the weekend and yesterday. I've given her a tramadol, but she's still struggling. Poor pooch.
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The pooch returns

♥Jun. 20th, 2016 // 04:48 pm
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We've just collected Jo from the vet, where she was very pleased to see us after I unaccountably let the stranger take her away and do bad things to her this morning.

The vet still thinks it's the cruciate, and added as an aside that the arthritis in her hips doesn't seem to be too bad. Her blood test results for her kidney function was a tiny bit high, so could we bring a sample in (that'll be entertaining. I have a premonition that as soon as one of us runs over with a jam jar when she's about to wee, she'll apologetically stop and move out of the way. We shall see).

We talked a bit more about the surgery, which would mean six weeks of being confined to a single room and just being taken out on a lead to go to the loo: I really can't see it working. She's got the travelling osteo surgeon coming out for another dog in a month, so we're going to see how we get on with laser treatments and no walks for a couple of weeks and then decide if we want to meet with him or if she's improving without the surgery.

Also today, I had my first horse fly bite of the season. Lovely. And The Horse Next Door is lame, but Mrs Next Door is back tomorrow evening so I've just popped him in his stable to wait for her to have a look. Trying to decide if I want to make elderflower vodka again: it was lovely, but rather lethal....
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♥Jun. 19th, 2016 // 07:09 pm
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This afternoon, we left the poor deprived pooch alone for an hour or so to walk up the hill to our local NGS garden, where we bought some irises (Braithwaite, iirc: blue and white, very pretty) and a tall variety of geranium, which should contrast nicely with our low-growing ones. I also picked up a packet of Eryngium giganteum, which I think is the giant spiky thing that I had unfortunately close to the path last summer; I shall plant it in a better location this time!

Plant identification time, hampered by our internet being crappier than usual: leaves to about three feet tall, big heart/spade-shaped leaves coming directly off a central stem, with rings of little yellow flowers also coming directly off the stems (the ones with flowers go up to about five feet). They didn't have it for sale, sadly, else I'd have bought a couple! They seem to be good ground cover, which I'm always keen on, and the flowers are quite unusual.

Edit: Hurrah! Back to usually crappy internet levels. Here's the pic:

Jo is alternately hyper and sad that she can't figure out what she's done wrong to make us not let her chase squirrels or go for bounds in the woods. Poor pooch. Vet tomorrow.

In a bit of good news, the saddler just called to say that she's had an offer on the saddle that Bugs came with (it's a good saddle, it was just a matter of waiting for the right buyer to come along). It's more than we paid for it, so we've accepted it. Should help with the vets' bills, at least! ("How are the horses?" she asked. Five minutes later, she said "But how are the ducks?" and I was able to concede that the ducks were all laying well!)
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Quilt class

♥Jun. 18th, 2016 // 06:07 pm
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Last weekend, I went to a quilt club class. It was about ways to cut fabric so that you get several identical pieces, which you can then make interesting mirror image or kaleidoscope patterns with.

The 'what to bring' instructions for the class were pretty mystifying, specifying that you should bring a fabric with a 24" pattern repeat, but also mentioning that it was possible to use an 8" one without any indication if of it was practical to use something in between. I found one 23" repeat fabric that didn't revolt me, but it was £18 a meter and I needed 4 so bugger that. In the end, I bought a nice duvet cover (with a 24" repeat, no less) in the Dunelm Mill sale. It was only when I took the fabric out at the class (having washed and cut it apart at home) that I realised that the two sides weren't the same: it was a pattern of branches with birds and butterflies, but they'd left the wildlife off on one side. Oops. I'm sure I'll find something I can do with it.

Fortunately, someone had brought a huge stack of fabric on the grounds that she couldn't find anything with a 24" repeat and would any of these do, so I bought a piece from her (13" repeat. Guess what? Perfectly fine. In retrospect, while everyone was muttering about how hard it was to find fabric with a 24 inch bloody repeat I should possibly have suggested to the woman running the course that she update her instructions).

It's not entirely revolting*, but it's certainly not a fabric I'd ever have bought myself and I really imagine using the left over length of it. It did, however, work really quite well for this class.

Anyway. The technique turned out to be pretty simple once it had been demonstrated, but it would have been bad form to go home terribly early so I just got on with it and made enough squares for a small quilt. This afternoon, I put it together with some more of the fabric (if I were doing it properly, I would probably have found a matching plain blue and used that in between the squares, but see above re: a use for the left-over fabric!)

I quit like the Moorish-tile effect that some of them have.

I'm in no rush to turn it into a quilt. In fact, unless someone sees it and falls in love I'm vaguely inclined to wait until I've something of the same sort of size as a result of a different class and just stick them back-to-back!

* "That fabric's obviously your colours," one of the women said, pointing out that they were very similar to the colours of the fabric I'd brought and that I was wearing matching trousers and t-shirt.
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♥Jun. 18th, 2016 // 06:06 pm
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This morning, we rode the boys. Mike went on GB, and I briefly lunged Bugs and then rode him as the vet instructed.

They both seemed fine. GB was a little reluctant to stay in the canter, but whether that was because he was sore or because he's lazy is hard to say. Mike reported that Bugs looked very good, and he didn't feel at all lame to ride, so fingers are crossed.

(Although, as I said to my riding instructor, and never mind what the vet says, my current plan is to work Bugs every day for a week so that next week I can go back to the vet and say "right, he's lame again, please will you come and see him when he's not just had a week off?")

One of the things that the vet was muttering about yesterday was sacroiliac, which is some variety of gubbins in the back - a nerve, maybe? It's not a terribly common problem. This vet has been in the area for about six or eight months. He also diagnosed it for The Horse Next Door (wrong) and for Not Very Next Door Neighbour's horse (has had the treatment and is now having the summer off, after which we'll see if it worked). This does rather make it seem as though it's his pet diagnosis.

Jo seems to be hobbling less today. Whether that's because of the laser treatment that the vet did or because we're trying to get her to rest it is a mystery. She's feeling enough better that she's doing that 'hang behind when the humans walk off so that I can run to catch up' thing that she does when walk-deprived....
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Good news?

♥Jun. 17th, 2016 // 11:21 am
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The (different) vet's been out to see Bugs, and thinks he's basically going to be ok. He wasn't lame today, although I showed a video of him hopping around the school last week.

The provisional conclusion is that his back is sore from trying to avoid the pain (now solved) in his leg, not helped by being out of work for three months or so. I'm to bring him back into work gradually, and get the back lady out to check him ASAP (which might be the harder part, as she's hard to get hold of at times).

As that went so quickly, I asked him to have a quick look at GB, who obligingly trotted one way down the school then threw his heels up in the air and charged back again like a loon. "Yes," the vet said, "you can get back on him!"

Jo, on the other hand, is feeling very sorry for herself. I'm not sure how much is pain and how much is the thunder we've being having. (The vet nurse went and got her dog out of the car, because he was also scared, but not before he'd ripped the headrest of one of the seats in his panic.) At least the vet was here during a lull in the rain!
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♥Jun. 16th, 2016 // 04:04 pm
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Not wishing to be out-done by the boys, Jo also has a poorly hind leg....

For the last few days, she's been hopping lame whenever she gets up from lying down. We thought it was just a fairly sudden progression of the arthritis, but I took her off to the vet this afternoon and the provisional diagnosis is that it's the knee, probably the cruciate ligament. We've got human painkillers for her, and she's had laser treatment on the knee (and, as the machine was out, on her hips). After a weekend of nothing more than bumbling around the field, she's back there on Monday for a more thorough poke around and x-rays, under anaesthetic.

The vet said that, if that is what it is, the treatment would be complete rest (crate; carry the dog outside for a wee then carry back to the crate) or / then surgery. Looking online, the non-surgical option is a non-starter for a dog of her size. Even with the surgical option, there seems to be a lot of advice saying complete rest afterwards for several weeks (although the surgery dogs are at least allowed to walk from the crate to the lawn, on a short lead, as long as they don't have to use stairs). I have no idea how the hell we could possibly manage that: either she comes with us (on a lead if necessary) as we do horsey jobs, or she gets left alone and is furiously and energetically happy to see us when we come back five minutes later.

Horse vet tomorrow, for the second opinion. Fingers crossed.
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Poor little wren

♥Jun. 14th, 2016 // 11:52 am
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Swimming in water buckets not optimal behaviour )

I didn't see any adults this morning, but they're pretty good at staying out of the way when we're in the stable yard (the swallows, on the other hand, are getting used to us and barely bother to swerve around us). T'internet tells me that wrens have two or three broods of five or six eggs, so I suspect that there are still others, hopefully choosing better places to practice their flying.
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The News

♥Jun. 12th, 2016 // 09:26 pm
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Earlier, I spoke to my parents. After I'd done that, we were putting the boys to bed when I remarked to Mike how odd it was that my father (who, despite being on the boat, does keep up with what's going on in the world) didn't know that the monsoon had failed for the last two years leading to drought in India, or that South Africa has declared a state of natural disaster due to drought (and, natch, similar things going on in neighbouring countries), or that Ethiopia has been pleading for aid for the last year or so because the government knew that they were heading for a crisis (but that there was no aid available, because Syria).

Mike looked at me blankly and said "Well, you do listen to the World Service a lot". And then I came to write this post and, as you'll see from the above links, couldn't even find the SA story on the BBC UK website (and why on earth do they not let you sort search results by date? It's a news site! Ooh! Just got asked to do a survey about what I think of their search, how fortuitous). Is this all under the radar for the UK media? I tend to not keep track of what's on WS and what's on R4 (especially as the same things are often on both in slightly different forms), so I just assumed that everyone knew.

(Here's a great story that I doubt has had much press. There have been similar schemes on the Indian subcontinent.)

Yesterday, I went to Quilt Club Class. I learnt something moderately interesting, and made most of the top of a quilt that I dare say I will finish at some point, but I haven't taken any photos so tough. Today, I have been quilting the current project. I liked the effect in the centre, I'm less sure about the look of it further out. I'll have another look in the morning.

The boys have been happily stuffing themselves silly on Mrs Up The Hill's grass, but are sadly both still lame.
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