Archive for February, 2012


February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

A 'pack moment' at home (Joules is looking towards the neighbours)

‘Dogsick’ describes the way I feel when we drop the dogs off at the kennels.

There are always other dogs barking, and quantities of cats sneaking along under the hedges. At first our dogs are so distracted that they don’t cotton on to their imminent abandonment, but when they do, they have very individual reactions.

This time Joules gazed imploringly at me with huge brown eyes and tried to climb up my legs. Taylor stood across the gate that barred the way back to the car and tried to leave when I did. Kepler, on the other hand, took it upon himself to defend everyone from the dogs in the next-door enclosure. He was so busy barking that he didn’t see me go.

They’ll be fine when they settle in, but I’ll be counting the minutes till I can pick them up again.


February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

We’ve had 2 days of glorious, hot sunshine and now the weather has closed in again, with wind, rain and mist.


Just before the rain started, I prowled round the garden and found these lovely sun-like flowers – the first coltsfoot.

I always thought the name came from the fact that the flowers, when closed and hanging down, resemble the shaggy hoof of a young horse, but it seems I’m wrong: it’s to do with the shape of the leaves.

There’s no sign of the leaves at the moment; they come on after, when the flowers are over. Which gives rise to the other name which I rather like: ‘Son-before-the-father,’ referring to the unusual order of events.

Getting ready

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

At least, we’re supposed to be getting ready, seeing as Clive leaves in the middle of Monday night to go to Germany for lymphedema treatment.

We’ve been filling some boxes at random with what my father used to call ‘hard tack’, and I’ve washed a couple of last items so that they’ll dry in time, but I’ve yet to haul out Clive’s big suitcase and start the serious business of packing clothes.

In fact what we mostly did today was sit outside in the glorious hot sunshine, talking, drinking coffee, and eating lunch.

Clive is bursting with literary plans for nasty characters and unpleasant happenings. His first collection of short stories, Hobson’s Choice, has just appeared in Kindle Edition.

Tiny scorpion

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

I moved a tub of chlorine on the rim of the indoor pool today and a tiny little scorpion fell into the water.

A tiny scorpion

I fished it out on my finger where it lay still. Drowned, maybe?

I called to Clive who grabbed my camera but by the time he was poised it was no longer a still shot: the scorpion was on the move.

It crawled along the side of my hand and was heading for my wrist when I decided enough was enough and flicked it onto an outside windowsill.

Scorpions are visually appealing but they’re definitely better outside than inside.

It also looks as though we may have 2 species of scorpion. This one has completely different proportions to the ones we normally find.

Sarcoptic mange

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

We took Joules to Terni today for his next check-up after the chemotherapy. All was well in that department, but another problem surfaced.

Sore on Joules' elbow

He’s been scratching himself to death and has a huge crusty sore on each elbow. 2 other vets have variously suggested psychological or dietary problems, but the Terni vet discovered that he has sarcoptic mange (‘rogna’ in Italian).

This is a disease caused by microscopic mites (Italian: ‘acari’) which burrow into the skin and cause an allergic reaction. They had to take 5 skin scrapings from Joules before they discovered them, but this was not an indication of a mild infestation – apparently the less they are seen, the more embedded they are.

It’s possible that Joules’ chemotherapy lowered his resistance and made him more susceptible.

Taylor had been scratching, too, and to a lesser extent Kepler, so we’d taken them along as well. The vet assumed they had the same disease, seeing as it’s contagious, and so he treated all 3 of them and gave me detailed instructions on how to continue.

Now we have to think what we’re going to do about the dogs’ bedding.

Very expensive ham

February 23, 2012 1 comment

Small packet of ham

Yesterday I went into one of the major supermarkets in Foligno and bought, over the delicatessen counter, 2 ‘etti’ (one fifth of a kilogram) of their most economical cooked ham.

The girl who served me put the label that came out of the weighing machine to one  side, and stuck another label on my packet. She made a slight flutter as if correcting a mistake, and I thought nothing of it.

Today, Clive noticed the rather bizarre price of €12.50 on the very small parcel of ham. The label had neither product name, nor purchase weight, nor weight per kilogram. The price had been ‘manually imposed’. My till receipt confirmed that I had indeed paid €12.50 for the item.

I phoned the supermarket and asked to speak to a manager.

“What’s it about?” asked the man who answered.

“A complaint. Well, a mistake,” I said, giving the benefit of the doubt and going on to explain.

“What’s the time of purchase on your label?”


“Come in tomorrow afternoon.”

“I may not be able to come in the afternoon. I have to take a dog to the vet …”

“Come in the morning, then.”

“It might not be the morning …”

“You have to come in! What do you expect me to do over the phone?!”

“I’ll definitely come in. But it’s your error, and I can’t give a precise time. I think it’s likely to be at lunchtime.”

“Come at lunchtime, then, and we’ll sort it out.”

“Will you be there?”


“What’s your name?”

He told me.

Clive, who listened in, will vouch for the fact that there was not one conciliatory word, let alone an apology however conditional, in the whole conversation.

We noticed subsequently that my till receipt records 14:40 as the time I went through checkout. There’s obviously a time warp in this supermarket.

Unnecessary cargo

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

When the snow was on the wane but the drive was still slippery, the Valtopina Police kindly brought us (at our request) a sack and a half of grit salt to use as  necessary.

Shortly after, our cleaning lady was on her way home and her Ford Focus couldn’t make it up a tricky slope some way from the house. After watching her tail lights go quickly up and slowly down a few times, I phoned her on her mobile and said we were coming to the rescue.

Between us, Clive and I put the sacks of salt and a spade in the car. We’d just got the engine started when she phoned us back to tell us she’d finally managed to make it to the top.

As we’d both nearly ruptured ourselves lifting the sacks in, we decided to leave them there in case they were needed on another occasion.

Snow-clearing equipment

Today, with the snow reduced to a few white ribbons on high ground, I lifted the tailgate to put the shopping in, and there was all the clobber. I’d forgotten all about it and we’d just given it a free ride to Foligno.