Tuesday, 28 February 2017

There is probably medication, but I choose not to take it

Anyone with a much-loved dog who is not as young as she used to be will recognise this scenario:  a jump into the car or down from the sofa which used to happen without a thought can still be accomplished but you see a moment of hesitation, a brief pause as joints age and muscles stiffen.  And so it is with Daisy who has now been with us 4½ years and is probably around 12 years old.

When we first got a caravan Madam could easily jump on and off the bed with no difficulty, but in the new caravan I have noticed she has to think about it for a moment, so of course I have to do something about the problem.

In our usual fashion, nothing is simple at Bag End πŸ˜€

We tried plastic glasses and melamine plates in the caravan and we really do not like eating or drinking from either.  So we take 'proper' glasses and crockery when we go away.

But all these items are heavy, and need to be well protected whilst travelling, so my solution is to wrap everything in a generous quantity of tea towels and travel the whole lot in a tub in the car.  When we arrive on site we put the plates and glasses in a cupboard and have an empty Really Useful Tub until it is time to go home.

But Really Useful Tubs are really useful, and this one is just the right size to act as a half-way step for Daisy to get up to her bed.

But the tub is plastic and the top is slippery if you have claws and hairy feet, and a towel laid over the top of the box doesn't stay put.

So what's a Mum to do but take advantage of terrible wind and rain that kept everyone indoors at the weekend and make a foam cushion to fit on the top of the box, and a quilted cover to go over the whole lot?

Going Up:

Whilst in an elevated position take the opportunity to have a good shout at someone walking innocently along the pavement:

And Coming Down:

It looks nice in the caravan, the padding means I don't catch my shins on the edges of the tub, and it will double as an additional seat should we ever need one.  Oh, and like all other quilted items in this house, it can be slung in the washing machine when a Certain Hairy Paws doesn't wipe her feet on the way in.

Monday, 27 February 2017

For those with veterinary leanings

I know all this is recorded at the vet's, and somewhere in a file I have these results from previous years, but it would be clever if I could pull everything together so we can compare year on year.

ALP - alkaline phosphatase: liver function (bile)
ALT - alanine transaminase: liver function
BUN - blood urea nitrogen: kidney function
CREAT - creatinine: kidney function
GLUC - glucose: diabetes
TP - total protein:  low levels can indicate liver or kidney problems, high levels can be an indicator of some cancers

Before someone asks, our vet charges £34 for this test and I think it is worth every penny.  Looks like there are a few years left in the old girl πŸ˜€

Sunday, 26 February 2017

(Mostly) rain stops play

Storm Doris left Bag End relatively untouched but the weather has still completely dominated the last week.  The only day LP could come in was Monday and it was too drizzly to be completely outside (and the ground was too wet to work) so he spent the day 'playing' with logs which he admitted was far too enjoyable to really be called work.  The end result was that the dumping area at the side of the log store is much tidier and far more accessible, and the log store is filling up rapidly ready for next year.

It was a surprise to both of us that we've filled this much and still not touched the large pile next to the shed, I do wonder how many more years our log mountain will last - quite a few at the current rate of progress. 

On Wednesday the edge of 'Doris' thrashed me severely in Carlisle to mark a significant bit of HRT (horticultural retail therapy).  A tray of heather for the new patio bed and more bushes for the fruit cage:

And after much thinking, cogitating and palpitations at the price, a decent lawnmower to replace my ageing 'internet cheapie' which has actually proved to be a splendid buy.  It is, however, completely on its last legs, has been repaired numerous times and I'm surprised it didn't conk out on me last summer.  The new baby should be delivered next week.

The only gardening I achieved was on Friday morning.  This week's rain has left most of the garden far too wet to work on but I got away with it in the large new bed next to the patio.  Two rosemary bushes were released from tubs where they had not been terribly happy, and all the heather have gone in to create a mass of ground cover, hopefully both plants will provide cover and food for bees in future years.  With the bark chip it all looks a bit 'Parks Department' and horribly new but I know it won't be long before everything settles down.

Some snowdrops which had been rescued/relocated when the willow fedge came out found themselves back in the soil too.

It would have taken far less time to achieve all this if a Certain Person hadn't thought that playing rugby was far more important - actually, she was probably right.

She also had her annual check up at our local vet.   He is absolutely superb with her but she still shakes like a leaf and trembles until we are back in the car.  Happily, John pronounced her the healthiest dog he had seen all day.  Her heart murmur is so small as to be almost impossible to detect, her weight is perfect, she doesn't seem to have any discernible joint problems, the teeth don't need cleaning and there is no gum disease.

Whilst I might have been happy with that, things didn't improve greatly (from Daisy's perspective) until we got home and I lit the fire.

The weather forecasts have been unpleasant and accurate.

With apologies to the BBC πŸ˜‰

But it did mean that the little blue quilt got finished. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

There goes another week

For no reason that I can currently discern I am really struggling to keep the blog going at present.  But I'm going to slog on because not blogging, having gaps in the story and a huge backlog is worse . . . .

Everything is absolutely fine at Bag End and I am (as usual) busier-than-a-busy-thing, and last week went by at the rate of knots. LP came for half a day on Tuesday and all day Friday.  During that time we finished the raised beds on the patio (or rather LP did the carpentry and then moved barrow after barrow of soil from the big heap that's been under a blue tarp for ages). In the interests of planting clematis nice and deep, I put plants in as we filled with soil, including a huge "Geurnsey Cream" that was moved from the large side bed.  We've got new plans for that area so it was a good opportunity to move a plant and get it back in the ground within minutes.   "All" I have to do now is finish planting.

Also fitted in was filling large pots with homemade compost for me so they're ready and available when I have time (and/or inclination) to continue working on that side bed.

LP also hacked out a huge clump of flag iris which had invaded a bed next to the Big Pond, and then spent the end of the day cutting up a pile of leftover timber which was waiting to be added to the Log Store.  The words don't make it sound much but it was a really good start to the new season and I ended the week feeling quite cheery about the garden.

Indoors I spent a lot of time with fabric.  I've been struggling to make progress on the floral quilt; tried a few different ideas for what came after the green triangles, settled on just a mix of florals.  After spending hours sewing squares into pairs and arranging them on the design boards I ended up packing all of it into a tub and putting it away.  I don't love this quilt anymore, not sure I even like it and there are not enough hours in the day to spend them on something I am not pleased with.

What I was pleased with, however, was spending two days with the longarm machine and quilting the random green top, and a small blue quilt that has been hanging around for years.  The green one came out brilliantly, the blue not so much - changing to a different quilting thread and a brushed cotton back did not please Molly the Millennium and the back is fairly ropey.  But, after binding and a wash it should look a lot better and neither Management or Daisy are going to point out the faults to me.

Unfortunately this success has generated new enthusiasm for quilting up some of the pieced top backlog, a time consuming activity and I am not quite sure how I get to fit it in at present!

Monday, 13 February 2017

It takes as long as it takes

In Spain it is maΓ±ana, in the West Country it's dreckley but here . . . ah well, West Cumbria works to its own unique timetable which sometimes means so-bloomin-quickly-that-you-cannot-quite-believe-it and sometimes means much, much longer.

Wayne and Keith were last here working on the patio on 23rd September 2016 - and they know perfectly well that the job is not finished which is why I have still not been invoiced for two days labour and materials.  At least the rubbish has finally gone though!

It would have be nice to get rid of the builders' bag but that's half full of sand Wayne needs to complete the patio.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A few "wins"

In a garden the size of Bag End it's very easy to get disheartened (and sometimes thoroughly fed up) when the weather thwarts my plans or I just don't have the energy/strength/enthusiasm to get work done.  Thankfully this state of affairs doesn't usually last too long and I get a week like this one where much is accomplished and the nagging fear in the back of my mind that the garden is too large for me to manage is swiftly kicked into touch!

I've already written about Simon's visits on Tuesday and Wednesday which resulted in a generous quantity of bark chip and some tree work.

Whilst Management was in London on Monday I finally lost my patience with the unfinished patio area outside our front door.  It's not perfect and definitely not up to the standards which LP or Alan can achieve with carpentry, but I cut some left-over trellis to size and fitted it between the house and the arch, installed the gate, and fitted trellis the other side of that.  And for good measure, I lined the finished raised bed with damp-proof membrane ready for Management or LP to fill with soil.

On Thursday I cleared up about half of  the leaves which had blown off the bulb bed and then had a frustration-induced conniption fit about the rest. 😭   A long walk with Daisy improved my mood somewhat, but not nearly as much as returning home and finding Management outside clearing up the rest, bless his little heart πŸ’š.    He then helped me move bark chip and we covered the whole bulb bed filling in where the leaves were missing, and (hopefully) anchoring down those which remained.   It all looks a bit "yellow" and weird at present but a couple of days of rain will tone it all down.

Suitably encouraged I had a session on Friday which saw the heather/topiary bed next to the Big Pond weeded, fed with seaweed and the box edging mulched with homemade compost.  I finished the whole lot off with more bark chip and theoretically, that's all the attention this bed should need for the rest of the year, apart from starting to shape the yews which are destined to be topiary.

By the weekend the weather was on the turn so most of Saturday was spent indoors, but Sunday gave an opportunity for a couple of hours on the Top Pond bed removing most of the blue hardy geranium (which is lovely but too tall) and relocating it to the curved bed next to the pavement.

and as a 'bonus', underneath an old roof tile, I found where the mice have been having their lunch.

There was also some nicely-protected-from-the-wind tidying up in the greenhouse, but that will get a post all of its own in due course.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Tree stuff

A good couple of days.  Yesterday afternoon Simon arrived with a full trailer, the contents of which needed getting rid of and I was the lucky winner.  A very generous quantity of freshly chipped birch which was the waste from whatever tree surgery job he was doing nearby.

He was back again at lunchtime today to tidy up a couple of our larger silver birch trees.

It didn't take long, and there was more chipped bark as an end of job bonus  πŸ˜€

All I had to do today was stand around agreeing (or disagreeing) which tree limb got cut and where, but my hard work starts tomorrow - all the bark has to be moved but before that I have the miserable job of relocating many of the leaves with which I'd mulched the bulb bed.  Those I put down last week stayed put, but the ones which were spread at the end of January were "relocated" during the very high winds and have decided they are happier making a mess of the paths and the vegetable area πŸ˜’