pesky pets

Pah!

It’s not been a good day.

The grumpy old chap who had such a large part of all our hearts died  today. All of a sudden. He wasn’t in form- he had no oomph- and we were going to phone the vet for an appointment, when he just keeled over.

Spurs Fan demonstrated heretofore hidden agressive driving techniques, but it was too late. Jake didn’t make it to the vet. He was gone by the time we got there; he was undoubtedly gone before his head hit the floor, but we didn’t want to believe that.

We came home empty handed.

As with all things, it could have been worse. He could have been home alone. I could have been the only person here. Our friends who looked after him on Monday night and Tuesday morning could have found him. Instead, because it’s half term, we were all at home. We were able to satisfy the urge to do something, however pointless. We were able to pet him and hold him and talk to him.

He’s never been in great health, but when he was checked out last week, all he needed was an antibiotic, which cleared up his tum issues. We expected him to keep on pottering about for a good while yet.

My days at home will be longer and lonely.

I just made a toasted cheese sandwich and had no gentle nudge on my leg. No shake, stretch, or pitter patter when the fridge door was opened. When I leave the house in a little while I’ll not say “Bye, Jake. You’re in charge.”  I’ll not need to check on him first thing, or wonder where the poo is, or forget to let him in. He won’t knock over the footballer gnome (doesn’t everybody have one?) or stand in exactly the wrong place in the teeny kitchen. He won’t choose the bits of newspaper for the fire, or complain about the  television. He won’t or sniff every leaf, or grumble at each passing dog.

He came to us when he was about 8, a lifetime behind him. He needed a quiet house, with somebody about most of the time. He didn’t like fuss or noise or contact he didn’t initiate.

He was our wee old man, who got the blame for all the random smells.

He was one of us.

The wee pet.

talking to ‘our own’ politics

I spent Monday afternoon and early evening watching news and social media, and doing a bit of ranting. Then I stepped away from the screens and read my book. But the family, going to beds, didn’t turn off the TV, the news came on… Cue lots of fuming and little sleeping.

We’re having a ‘crisis’. The astonishing chaos, unwillingness to take responsibilty and arrogance at the heart of our political system was laid bare before Christmas. I was agog as I watched our First Minister react appalingly to claims about incompetence made by her former friend and colleague. A ‘car crash TV’ / ‘fetch the popcorn’ current affairs programme.

Arlene Foster was the Minister who oversaw the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive. Largely copied from England, the key difference was that there was no upper limit to the amount to be paid out. Since people are being encouraged to use renewable fuel by being reimbursed £1.60 for every £1 spent, the more they spend, the more they will earn. Heating empty sheds can make for a great income, costing the UK approx £1 BILLION over the next 20 years. Ah, sure never mind, £600 million of that is coming from GB, NI only has to spend £400million. Cash for ash indeed.

A series of unconnected facts:

The First Minister is from Co Fermanagh.

The largest supplier of renewable wood pellets is from Co Fermanagh.

No member of the First Minister’s immediate family is benefiting from this scheme.

There was a fire in a shed in Fermanagh this week. It contained 8 of the biomass boilers.

The green area on this spoof map from@LADFLEG equates to Co Fermanagh.

lad-snow

It was suggested that Arlene step aside for a while so there could be an inquiry. No. No. And, again no. People concerned about competence and possible corruption were accused of misogyny. By a political party known to ‘Moo’ at women politicians. One of the party said, in support, that the First Minister was doing a good job, considering her domestic responsibilites. There is plenty of misogyny in local politics, most of it from the First Minister’s own party. The public are not aware of any attempts she’s ever made to challenge it.

Due to the complexities of our political system, the First Minister holds position along with the the leader of the second largest party. It’s a cross community post. Two people. Equal authority. One can’t act without the other. When Arlene tried to speak to the Assembly as First Minister without the support of the ‘deputy’, on the RHI scheme, all the MLAs of every other party left the chamber. She was speaking without authority and up with it they would not put.

Nothing calmed down during the holiday recess, and local politics hit the fan on Monday when the deputy First Minister resigned, citing the RHI mess, other areas of disagreement and ‘deep seated arrogance’ of the largest party.. His party refused to nominate a successor. Unless a whole lot gets resolved in the next few days, we’re heading for another election. Joy untold.

arlene-firepla

Countering claims of arrogance and incompetence, Arlene released a video in the style of the Queen’s speech, talking to her subjects the voters in front of a large fireplace. Cash for ash being flaunted. This was not a mis-step from a PR junior, but a clear statement of what she feels to be important. Arlene. Arlene’s mates. Everybody else can go and jump. She also said that any election would be ‘brutal’, setting exactly that tone. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t care what anybody thinks if they’re not a natural DUP voter. She speaks only to those she thinks she knows. The rest of us are irrelevant or a block to the return of majority unionist rule in the region. There is no desire to explore commonalities, or to consider notions of good governance, leadership or equality to be desirable.

I read an article recently, which I now can’t find to re read/ consider/ credit, about the suggestion that we replace all our politicians by other members of the public. No parties, no elections, but selected members of the public, a bit like jury duty. A decent salary (but no expenses) for 5 years while you develop policies which benefit the public of the area governed. In this muddle, I could be convinced.

I want politics to be about community building, society, working together for the good of us all. Why does that make me feel like a naive fool?

who are you now and who are you becoming?

The Sunday paper is doing its bit to support my plans to read more this year. A long listy article on essential reading and a ‘Yes, that!’ piece, A novel approach to life

We all ask each other a lot of questions: “How did you sleep?” “Where did you go on your holidays?” But there’s one question I think we should ask of one another as lot more often, and that is:”What are you reading?”

When we ask one another that, we sometimes discover the ways we are similar; sometimes the ways we are different. “What are you reading?”isn’t a simple question when asked with genuine curiosoity: it’s really a way of finding out, “Who are you now and who are you becoming?”

I like to read- crime, humour, light romance, worthy fiction, memoir. From time to time I buy books I’d love to read but don’t have the concentration for (Richard Dawkins, Owen Jones and others who try to explain the world to us). I seem to live in hope that my brain will magically recover the power to read anything beyond short factual articles and easy reads.

Just this week I had to stop reading the beautiful Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, its complexities too much for me right now. I will get back to it, eventually. (see above)

I enjoyed two humorous, twisty puzzly books: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion & The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee Each of these is part one of a series. Series are good for those of us with addled brains- familarity helps- but much as I enjoyed these two, I know too well the disappointment of discovering the formula too soon.

What are you reading?

starting over

The holidays are finishing, decorations are waiting for the boxes, schedules are reappearing from under the mince pies and wine.

There are no ‘resolutions’. We muddle through and do the best we can, even if we sometimes try to shift our focus to different aspects. There’s no need to resolve to do that; it’s “do or do not”.

Our ‘all the good things’ jar has started re stocking. I love this random collection of  notes about good events gathered up during the year. We had several notes about Girl2’s netball team winning a regional competition, a note of clothes drying weather last March, and a reference to the circa 1985 souvenir from Knock sunvisor we were gifted during the summer. Not what you’d find in most of the reviews of 2016. We can go for ages without adding things, and some of the stuff reflects otherwise forgotten moments (Speccy lost some weight!!!) causing New Year hilarity.

I have a pristine work book ready to start the year. I love new note books, and always aim to be neat this time. That never works. I’m incapable of neat. Neat doesn’t have arrows and squiggles to join up thinking, or asterixes to remind me of the important stuff. When I grow up I’m going to take neat notes on a tablet, and know what they mean the next week.

Our charity has a million tasks to complete in the next few months, and, prior to the break I was feeling overwhelmed. How could we do it all? What would happen if we couldn’t meet the challenge? What if my brain stopped working and I couldn’t be an effective Chair? I’ve spent some time sleeping and reading and hanging out with my people and those issues haven’t crossed my mind. Now they’re back and I know I can handle them, with a bit of planning. I need to switch off. I need to read more books, listen to more music, take more walks, if the overwhelm is to stay away.

I can do that. Reading is good for me.

Happy 2017, bloggy buddies. Plan to be good to yourselves.