Saturday, 1 March 2014

Grumpy Old Ken

A life in the day, or a day in the life is a wonderful idea by blogger 'Grumpy Old Ken.' Each reader can provide Ken with a blog posting of their day. So I decided to do my part. So here we go, Saturday 1st March 2014.

It's hard to actually say when my day begins. I am usually awakened by the needs of one of our dogs. To be accurate its the old one, who is like me and sometimes needs to do a call of nature in the night. So any time from 3am to 5am is when I first wake. Today it was 04:35 and by 4:45 the deed had been done and I was able to go back to bed. We have had a deep frost during the night and the grass was white and the ground crunched underfoot. As usual, I don't try to go to sleep, I just cocoon myself in bed. Then I listen to one or more podcasts. (I did however manage to nod off later)

The Podcasts that I listen to are all pre downloaded from iTunes onto my iPod. The current series I'm listening to is called 'Damn Interesting.' Its hard to say what the content is going to be for each podcast. It could be a short story, it could be an excerpt from a book. It could have an historical flavour or it could be factual. Out of the current batch of Podcasts (free download) I enjoyed my latest night time listening, it was called 'The Conductor.'

The Conductor, has nothing to do with music, this podcast was about the worlds most lucky and at the same time, unlucky person.  I don't know about you, but I find thunder and lightning to be a spectacular natural phenomena. Best when viewed from a distance, the power of nature can be awe inspiring. However, when actually caught in a lightning storm it can be very frighting. Lightning is a massive discharge of static electricity that occurs when there is an imbalance in the electrical charge between the cloud and the earth's surface. Put very simply, it is a giant electric spark in the sky - but a very powerful one. It can stop a person's heart and on occasion has been known to cook their internal organs. 

A popular saying about lightning is associated with chance. How often do you hear the phrase 'as much chance of happening as being struck by lightning.' Yet, on average three people die in the UK each year from lightning strikes. In the UK, up to 60 people every year get struck and survive, but it's estimated that more than three-quarters of them suffer some form of permanent disability.

Apparently men are four times as likely to be struck than is a women. This is believed to be because men are statistically more likely to be outdoors. Golfers are probably at greatest risk, because they are likely to be caught in the open far from shelter. There are three types of lightning strike. A direct strike is when it hits you and goes to earth through you. A side flash is when it hits another object and jumps sideways to hit you. A ground strike is when it hits the ground then travels through it, hitting you on the way.

So as you can imagine, I was thunderstruck (pun intended) to learn from the podcast about Roy Sullivan who worked as a park ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Roy in his lifetime was hit by lightning on no less than seven occasions and survived all of them. He gained a nickname "Human Lightning Conductor" or "Human Lightning Rod." Roy was recognised by the Guinness World Records as the person struck by lightning, more recorded times than any other human being. (Actually he was hit eight times) However, the story seems to be about the man with the same number of lives as a cat. The subsequent events surrounding each strike adds an even more remarkable chapter to his life.  He may have been unlucky each time he was struck, but he was also remarkably lucky afterwards. More surprising is Roy's wife who was also struck once in her own right. Unfortunately Roy later ended his ninth life with a self inflicted gunshot wound. 

I awake from my slumbers again. A cloudless sky and that type of bright sunshine that only comes with a frosty morning, pours in through the portholes. I make two tea's one is 'Chai' for the Memsahib and the other is 'Yorkshire' for me. Then its back to bed and podcasts.

A short nap later, its breakfast time and the Memsahib who is already up and about, prepares my usual treat. A brown bread, bacon, egg (duck) and tomato triple decker with a cup of steaming hot tea. Then I'm cajoled out of my pyjamas and into the shower before dressing to take the dogs for a walk. Today, its along the crispy crunchy canal towpath. The weather this morning is bitter cold but the sun feels quite warm for the first day of March, Care has to be taken underfoot to avoid the remaining crusty but squidgy mud and iced over puddles. Soon, everyone is glad to be back into the wonderful warmth of the boat and peeling off the outer layers of cold clothes. I suppose I should have mentioned the boat earlier.  We are currently spending quite a bit of time aboard our narrowboat which is just over 50 feet in length. Narrowboats vary from around 25 to 70 feet in length. 

So I'm back on board watching the old girl Abbey. She is such an indomitable character. I suppose as dogs go, she has been around for quite a long time. (15) In that time she has obviously observed us at close quarters. She was once aware of every slight inflection in our voices. So for instance, whispering about going to the vet was sure to alert her. But now she is as deaf as a post and seems to be enjoying the quiet solitude. However, she continues to observe what we do and more to the point, she knows exactly when we are scheduled to do it. Because Abbey suffers from anxiety attacks when left alone - we have to organise our outings whilst she is having one of her frequent and silently undisturbed siestas. 

As for Abbey, the day tends to start much closer to 11am than 8am. I have just laid out her breakfast food. She sidled up, gives it as close a visual inspection as her one good eye (cataract) will allow. When she finally decides that we are not trying to poison her. She carefully extracts one tiny piece to conduct further taste tests upon. So, she makes a unilateral decision that today the fare on offer is not up to the expected standard. Now, she has to make a judgement call. Ignore, eat or its to be buried. As usual, she decided to go for the latter option. 

With consummate ease the old girl decides that the carpet can be rearranged to cover the dish of food. A quarter of an hour later and after much pushing and thrusting with her nose. The dish has made two laps round the coal scuttle. But the task is still unachieved. Its at this point she becomes a bit irritated. There are several short pauses while she re-evaluates the situation. A further short bust of nose shuffling round the bowl leaves her even more frustrated.

A change of plan is required, so after a senior moment, she decides to lay alongside the dish guarding the contents from our other dog Poppy. Poppy starts much earlier in the day 6:30ish and has long since had her breakfast. She has been known to clear up unattended food. In fact her dish has been washed and dried ready for future use. 

The old girl decides that a short walk might help. So she paces up and down the boat several times. Returning to look at the food bowl once more. Even more pacing up and down is obviously called for. Then on her return to the dish, there is a low whimper of frustration before a further futile round of carpet nuzzling.
Abbey has a drink from her water bowl, another senior moment before contemplating the situation once more. She regroups from a position in front of the nice warm stove and a new strategy is decided upon. She eats half the content of the bowl, thereby reducing the amount of food to be buried. This is followed by a further protracted round of nose shuffling of the carpet around the bowl. However, even with the amount of consumables reduced by half, the burial task remains unachieved.

Its at this point that I am brought into the 'equation for persuasion.' She places herself in my line of sight. With occasional backward glances towards the food bowl. However, I choose to remain ignorant of her commands. Now there is an added, soft low whimper or two. With more frequent glances at the food bowl. I have still not made any eye contact. Its time to up the anti! There is a small whimper which comes with a light and delicate touch of a paw on my shin. Followed by a glance at the dish, however I still choose to ignore the request.

The ultimate weapon is now deployed. This is when a hairy chin, propping up a hairy face is placed gently upon my knee. I can see in the midst of the faded ginger mop of the Fox Terrier breed, two dark eyes. (one is slightly milky from the cataract) Both of which are in close proximity to a small dark nose. Now, whilst some of her faculties have either stopped working or have been blunted. The nose is as good as its ever been. Chocolate can easily be detected and the nose soon points the rest of the dog to where its located. The nose this morning has a thin covering (a menu) along the ridge, consisting of what she has eaten so far. 

There is another small pleading whimper, from the hairy but wonderfully cute monster. I acknowledge with a stroke and she immediately looks at the food bowl, before returning her gaze to me once more. "OK" I say, getting up I place the bowl on the galley top out of reach. I'm not sure why I hold the conversation with her, as she hears almost nothing in her silent world.

With a sidelong glance, (is it thanks?) she heads for her bed. She begins to turn round and round in circles. Then she makes several turns in the opposite direction, before resuming back to circling the other way again. There is an unsatisfied slump of her rear end, before I am placed in her gaze once more, I ignore her. She returns to circling again, first this way and then that. Followed by another unceremonious flop to her haunches. I am once more the object of her gaze and attention. So I give in and move her bed a little closer to the stove. Then I gently lay her on her side after fluffing up her bed. There is a contented sigh, as she lays back once more. Now she wipes her nose and hairy face on the pillow. It goes quiet and there is no movement. An eye drop is quickly placed into each eye. The eyes close, just as the blanket is tucked in at the edges. 

Arranging my day, is such a tiring task. I know my place and so does she.

Now, its mid morning and I have a few chores to do. Starting with me stoking up the stove. Then I fill the coal scuttle with fuel for later use. The solid fuel stove actually keeps the boat toasty warm. Once the boat chores are done, then its a trip back home to repair the garden fence. The gales over the last few weeks seemed to be trying to move the fence next door, one section at a time.  By late afternoon I had cut back about ten different types of climbing plants that had overwhelmed the fence-line. The climber cover was so good, the plants had been holding the fence together. Soon the first two panels were replaced.  But the wind still has a cold bite when the sun is behind the clouds. Then as the weather took a turn for the worse and as the light was beginning to fade, it was time to pack up the tools for the day. I returned back to the boat. 

Feet up and a couple of large cups of percolated coffee later, its time for a bit of work on the blog. First a quick run round my favourite bloggers - including Grumpy Old Ken - and then its on to create a blog posting of my day. I have been blogging now for four years and this is post number 1617 to be published. I have a further 98 posts I'm working on and most are almost ready for publishing.

But today being the 1st day of the month, there is the CaRToon Caption Competition to be published. This has a watery theme and comes without a prize.  The guest judges selected for this months CaRToon Caption Competition are 'Dee Compose' and 'Joe King.' The pair were recently awarded the Nobel Pea's prize for their services to Hot Dog Vending and the body part modelling industry.

Most of my blog is written with the tongue firmly planted in cheek. Based around the day to day chit chat when we are out cruising. However, much as we like boating the rivers and canals around the UK. Its nice to moor up the boat for the winter months in a marina.  Even when moored up for long periods, I'm never left short of inspiration, as there is always something on the news that grabs my attention. I also do a bit of writing for NarrowBoat World an on-line newspaper for the inland waterways.  I also enjoy reading old newspapers from a 100 to 200 years ago. I search for old waterways articles and use them to stimulate new posts, often contrasting then and now. Actually its quite an eclectic mix of subject matter that eventually gets published.

Now, its early evening, and its time for our meal. The Memsahib is a wonderful cook who  always makes up a mouthwatering daily menu for the week ahead. Today its baked potato done in the hot coals of the boat stove. With a topping of chilli and cheese. The Memsahib will have a glass of wine and its a small beer for me. 

Now its mid evening and time for another walk around the marina for the dogs. Then we settle down to watch a bit of television. (football) Then a bit more blogging for me and the Memsahib usually does some knitting. This time its a chunky woolly boaters jumper called a 'Gansey.' The dogs winter coats are also hand knitted as are almost all of the other dog coats around the marina.

Its, late in the evening. The Memsahib is always first to bed where she likes to read electronic books on her Kindle. An hour or so later after the dogs have had a last walk, its time for bed. Tonight's podcast is the amazing story of Mary Toft. In September, 1726 Mary began to give birth to rabbits. Yes, that's right 'rabbits'! The local surgeon, Doctor John Howard, responded to the family's summons and hurried to Mary's house where, to his amazement, he helped deliver nine of the animals. They were all born dead. Nevertheless, this didn't lessen the amazing fact that she was giving birth to them.....

I start to feel the heavy eyes and decide to listen to the rest of this podcast later... 

Good night..

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please put your name to your comment. Comments without a name may automatically be treated as spam and might not be included.

If you do not wish your comment to be published say so in your comment. If you have a tip or sensitive information you’d prefer to share anonymously, you may do so. I will delete the comment after reading.