Buddy


Buddy just living out his life

One of my little dogs, Buddy, short for Buddy Holly, who was almost blind, deaf as a post, no sense of smell, very senile and almost 14 years old, took a turn for the worse. I had taken him to the vets a week before as he was not eating and they ran a whole bunch of tests, kept him for a week and then sent him home with a stack of pills that I had to administer on a daily basis. The little bugger fought me all the way as I literally forced the bloody things down his throat. He seemed to be doing much better until Thursday when he was more confused than ever and would walk his way into a corner or up against furniture and would just stand there for 10 minutes or so before moving again. He could still figure out the doggy door and when he did go outside on a walkabout, I had to go with him to be sure he didn’t fall into any of the ponds as he would get very confused and rush around from place to place unable to figure things out. On Friday, I had to go to pick up my truck that just had the on board computer replaced and when I came home, Buddy was in a terrible muddle. He had walked under a chair and could not figure how to get out. He had peed everywhere and could not stand on all 4 legs and no matter how hard he tried, he could not do it. So, with a very heavy heart, I took him to the Vets for one last trip and they put him to sleep. I brought him home and buried him alongside of all of the other dogs where he will rest forevermore. So now, our little pack is down to 2 dogs, Mikey and Sandy.

I am not sure if I will find another dog to fill the void left by Buddy but maybe if the right one comes along and gives me that special look, we will bring another one or two, home. Both Mikey and Sandy are acting really quiet as if they know that Buddy has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. My Sister passed on the same day and I will miss them both. Maybe it is because I have a guilty conscience for having to put Buddy to sleep something that I hated to do especially with the memory of Ginnie still very fresh in my mind.

I have lost six dogs, Pete, Richie, BB, Gizmo, Ginnie and now Buddy these past couple of years albeit that most of them were growing old but it is still hard to handle and I miss them all.

Written 3/9/2020

My Final Words to my Sister


My Sister Peggy

I previously blogged about my Sister who was almost 10 years older than me. You can read those blogs here and here.

There were four of us in the family, my two brothers Norman, the oldest and Peter and then my Sister Peggy as she was known. (Her real name was Barbara Eileen and I have no idea where Peggy came from).They were all grouped closely together and then there was me, who arrived 10 years after them. Later on in life, I learned there was a lot of chatter about my Mum having an affair with a guy named Basil from Punnetts Town and the gossip goes that he was my real Father.

Anyway, the point is that I really didn’t know any of them very well until much later in life when we were all adults (sort of adult in my case). Back then, there was a war going on and all three of them enlisted. When they returned, they were all grown up and I was still just a kid and I never got to know them at all. Peter died of the after effects of rheumatic fever that he had contracted during his time in service and which left him with a very weak heart. That left Norman and Peggy who were busy getting on with their own lives. My Mother had met a GI and left us to come to the USA and my Father remarried which was followed by my stint at living with my Step Mother, whom I disliked intensely. I moved again to live first with my Aunt Elsie in Sandy Cross until she became too sick and then moved in with Peggy and Ron and her family in Hailsham for a couple of years as I moved around in my earlier troubled life. I remember that I was often called upon to be the babysitter for their two kids Jim and Sheila, a job that I thought of as unfair to keep me from being with my friends and kicking a football (soccer) ball around.

Both Norman and his second family, having divorced his Egyptian wife that he met during the war, and my Sister and her family followed me over here to America and we all settled in at Fort Plain, New York where our Mother lived with her husband Hermie. That was the closest that we had ever been as a collective family and it only lasted a few years as I moved out to Texas following my marital break up. I barely saw them much after that and then only on the very few trips that I made back to Fort Plain. I came back for Normans funeral when he died of Alzheimer’s and for my one last visit to my Step Father, Hermie prior to his death of lung cancer. Then our Mother died at the ripe old age of 94 and after that, I didn’t see Peggy again. She was the only one of the original family left. She lost her husband Ron and then moved to Florida to live with her Daughter and their family. I kept saying I would go visit but much to my regret, I never made that trip. That was all probably 15-20 years ago and although we stayed in touch we never physically made any more contact. We kept in touch either by letter or by the occasional phone call. One day, a couple of years ago, when I called to speak with her, Gary, Sheila’s husband and with whom Peggy was living, told me to say that she wasn’t mentally doing well and was in the first stages of Alzheimer’s and was very confused. This got progressively worse and when I called a couple of times after that and I tried to talk to her she just ranted on about where she used to live in Hailsham and had no clue to whom she was speaking. That was my last verbal contact with her. A couple of months ago, Gary and Sheila moved her into a special old folks home where she was living out her life and seemingly doing very well. On Friday last, I got a call from Gary telling me that my Sister was gone. She had died in her sleep at the age of 93.

All in all not a very good day all around. The truth is that we never grew up together and I was just a teenager when I lived with them and not really knowing which end was up. Now, as an old man I lack the compassion to feel much of a loss as time and lack of contact has eroded much of the sisterly or brotherly feelings between us. All I can say is that she was my Sister and in my own distant way, I loved her. Because of the Alzheimer’s we had stopped communicating a long time ago. Such a shame but that is the way of the world.

Now, I am the only original member left of this family…

Written 3/9/2020

One of Those Days


Showing the area that has been cleared. Sandy is being nosy.

Have you ever had “one of those days” when you are full of good intentions but somehow, when it comes to the actual doing, it just doesn’t work our? I had one of those days yesterday as I went through a series of events of doing and then not doing and finally doing nothing at all.

Showing the brush at the bottom of the garden still waiting to be dragged up to the gate. This is Murmuring Creek which only murmurs when we get a gully washer.

It was a bright sunny day, just right to continue the brush clearing that I have been working on my property. I only have a half acre lot but over the course of the years have built four ponds two of which are 5000 gallons and 6000 gallons so are a pretty big size. The other two are 3500 and 2000 gallons. I also have two streams of different lengths to add to the water features. All of these ponds are interspersed with gravel pathways making it easy to walk around. Just right for Buddy, my fourteen year old male Dachshund who is not only old but has very poor eyesight, no sense of smell, deaf as a post and I swear is more than a little senile. He manages to find his way around the paths and occasionally wanders down to the bottom of the garden to the area of the Murmuring Creek which, by the way, only murmurs when we have a gully washer of rain. Most of the time, it is a grassy area where he proceeds to lose his bearings and madly rushes from one place to the next until he can get back on track.

Another view of the cleared area

Over the years, I have allowed the lower end of the yard to grow a little wild either by the sprouting tree saplings which are now eight to twelve feet tall and are interspersed with out of control Thyalis and Leadwort Plumbago making for one unholy tangled mess and completely cutting off the view of that end of the yard from the house. As I have already had one episode of Sandy digging her way out resulting in me replacing the electric fence all the way around, it also made sense to cut back all of the extra growth so that I could observe most of the bottom end from indoors. She may not attempt it again as she has already had a shock with the electric fence resulting in her running screaming back to the house so she knows what the wire can do. Incidentally, it is only a doggy shocker and although enough to give her a start, it is not going to really hurt her. Rather the shock than to be dead on the road outside of the fence.

Brush inside the gate waiting to be added to the pile outside

I have already cut down all of the overgrown brush and the tree saplings and cleared all of the Thyalis but the problem is cleaning up the mess. What I have to do is drag the cut material all the way to the double gates and then outside to the temporary brush pile which is already getting out of control and that is currently where I am stuck. Not physically but metaphorically stuck lacking the effort and the willpower to complete this task. It is not that the work is heavy duty but there is a certain amount of effort that goes into it. The hardest part is trying to work the material on top of the existing pile which is already pretty high so as not to take up all of the space at ground level.

A view from the outside gate

It all sounds simple enough and it is. What is not so simple is actually pushing myself to do the work. For several days, I have tried to work up enough enthusiasm to get out and get it done. After all, my part of the heavy work, cutting the material down with my chain saw, is already done but somehow, finding the willpower and energy to do that last little bit seems to elude me.

Yesterday, I battled with these thoughts and finally decided I would go for a hike instead. Much more interesting you would think but after I arrived at Reimers Ranch, it being the closest hike to my house, all I did was drive the roads in the park, sit for a while and meditate and then drive back home. Like they say, it’s all in the mind and mine is going through a lazy spell right now. It’s like going to the gym. The hardest part is actually getting there and walking through the door. The working out is the fun part but first you have to get past that mental blockage of making the effort.

The outside stack ready to be mulched, after I add the rest to it…

You might be wondering what I plan on doing with this large pile of brush which is currently blocking my driveway to the back gates. I have two choices. One is the Brush and Tree clearing company located right across the street from me with one of those big Wood Chippers that blow the material into the back of a covered truck to then be taken away to the composting place. The other is to call the Tree Trimming company that did work for me a couple of years ago and have them haul it off in their trailer. Either way, cost will be the deciding factor.

And then again, who knows when I will find the energy and push myself to complete my end of the task. I read somewhere that it is not that as the body grows older it lacks the strength but that the mind is controlling the situation and making the decisions to do it or not. Just like going to the gym…

Hopefully, by the time you read this it will be all cleaned up and I will have a tidy driveway again.

Written 2/3/2020

Land of the Free.


Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York
The inscription reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me

I had another day today
when I could not think of a thing to say
that others might find interesting to read
and stay awhile their curiosity in need
of something stimulating and bright
or make them laugh with all of their might
alas no humor in me today
as I go about my way
with the world a somber place
and wildfires threatening the human race
animals in need of a helping hand
as the fires spread throughout their land
closer to home we have troubles of our own
as Congress sits the President to de-throne
turning this country to an upside down place
as the Politicians take sides whether to displace
and impeach the President of this land
if there are enough votes at hand
making the people to choose sides
awaiting for the Members to decide
even while waiting for these actions to start
the country is hurting being torn apart
with no hope at all to politely disagree
and friends and neighbors will be enemies
such is the way of the modern world
where news spreads fast the mind in a whirl
I too am an immigrant to this land
from England where it was originally planned
that America as it was known
would always belong to the English throne
but the subjects who were already here
had different ideas and with no fear
sent the English back to their land
causing them to disband
declaring the country the Land of the Free
and giving the Nation its liberty
but Americans being the mix that they are
no longer like strangers from countries afar
they are not welcome to inhabit this space
no more the land of the free a terrible disgrace
the people here have memories so short
that everyone was welcomed through New York’s port.
and erected a statue for everyone to see
that you are welcome here to the Land of the Free.

Written 01/14/2020

January 20th was My Birthday


Me at 19 years old. A long, long time ago when I still had hair

January 20th was my 84th birthday. Happy Birthday to me…

Who would ever have thought that I would have managed to last this long. From avoiding the bombs and doodlebugs of World War 2, to playing soccer all of my life and suffering blows on the head causing concussion, numerous broken limbs resulting in time spent in a cast, from irate husbands for daring to flirt with their wives and girlfriends including a spell in hospital by one who really did a number on me, living through three broken marriages including outliving one of those wives, losing the lives and friendship of countless doggy friends and living a solitary batchelor life for the past twenty eight years giving up on women and wives as a lost cause at least for me and preferring the company of those same doggy friends. Did I mention the trip across the Atlantic to a new life in a strange country? By the way, after fifty three years of living here, this country is still strange and bewildering.

Looking back on all of those years wondering what I would have changed if I had foresite really becomes a bit of a puzzler. Thinking about it, if I could have changed just one thing early in my life, which would have changed the whole sequence of events and making the future different, it probably it would have been that when I was ten, my Mother never left my Father to come over to America to marry a GI she met in the war. Who knows what would have happened if our family had stayed together back in those troubled times. One thing for sure is that I would never have come to America which for all of its greatness does have a lot of problems especially in the modern day political picture. Even after all of these years, I very much miss the old country although it has probably changed to where I wouldn’t recognize it.

Still, all of that is history as is my life up to this point. Nowadays, my concerns are much more mundane. Things like when and where to go for the next hike, what problems do the ponds and fish have today, is that a Heron out there? are all of the dogs OK and what to eat for dinner tonight. I do worry a bit about what little future I have as the body grows older and weaker and the mind is not as sharp as it used to be. Should I sell the house and move where? Into an old folks home to join all of the other old fogeys sitting around and waiting to die. I am not ready for that so I will probably live the way that I am until I am senile or I get carried out feet first in a wooden box preferably a plain old pine box with no trimmings to be buried under a tree in a natural setting.

Compared to a lot of people, I have been fortunate to have lived as long as I have and with relatively good health and being comfortably enough off to enjoy it. I hope that I can continue living for a few more years as long as my health stays good. If I do become senile, then I give anyone permission to shoot me just as they did in the old Wild West as I don’t want to become a vegetable.

Life is way too beautiful for that.

Written 01/20/2019

The Dogs on a Rainy Day


Mikey, my affectionate little boy
Buddy just living out his life
Sandy looking pensive…

Today outside it is rainy and cold
and my interests in being out there are on hold
as I had planned to hike today
but the inclement weather has made me stay
indoors along with the dogs in the heat
who are all snuggled up warm and asleep
all of them have their favorite places
where none of the others dare show their faces
Mikey has a chair right next to mine
where he spends most of his time
when I am working at my desk
this is the spot that he loves the best
just a paws length away and close to his Dad
surely the best spot of all to be had
and occasionally when he thinks it is time
he will jump from his chair and onto mine
looking for attention that he knows is there
spending time on my lap which the others can’t share
although Sandy is not going to be left out
her favorite spot is without a doubt
one of the dog beds that are spread around
of which at least four can be found
but the minute I get up or stroke Mikey’s head
she is right there beside us with a, stroke me instead
making sure she gets her fair share of attention
wiggling away to be part of the action
and the minute she figures the treats are all through
back to the beds more snoozing to do
there is only one more dog in the clan
since Ginnie has gone to the Promised Land
Buddy the little old man of them all
at fourteen or so and not very tall
who is deaf and half blind but still trucks around
on walkabouts in the garden where he can be found
wandering on pathways where he gets confused
and quickens his pace as he tries to choose
the right way to go to get back inside
as his senility is sometimes a little hard to hide
he always eventually gets it right
and pushes through the doggy door with all of his might
and heads back to his basket where he can sleep
and dream of the walkabout his memory can keep
it’s great to have four legged friends
who are loving and faithful right to the end
who sense my moods if I am down
or join in with me if I act the clown
who ask nothing more than to be by my side
with love and affection they do not hide
if dogs have a fault then it has to be said
their short lifespan breaks hearts when they are dead
till another comes along not to replace
but to fill in the voids in that big empty space
that their passing does leave as Nature does say
that the cycle goes on for another day
I will always have dogs right to the end
until my flesh is so weak that I cannot fend
for them or for me and my time will cease
as I lay down by their graves my spirit at peace.

Written 12/20/2019.

Growing Old


It is too late for regrets, just be thankful you are old and not dead.

Funny thing that when you are young
and your life has just begun
you never think of that day
when your life starts slipping away
as the present is all fun and play
and the body reacts in a normal way
then one day what used to be fun
now takes more effort as aging has begun
the aches and pains and all the hard knocks
take longer to heal and are more of a shock
bathroom breaks come faster it seems
and walking past one the impossible dream
the hair is gone and now there’s a gut
no matter on how hard you suck
to try to make yourself look thin
for that is an unlikely dream
pretty girls are still worth the time
to watch them out of the corner of your eye
for to stare at them admiring their form
only gets you treated with scorn
and labelled as a dirty old man
though what it is that they don’t understand
that looking at them is all you can do
as age has left you a little askew
and things that used to work so fine
now are reminders of a different time
with physical pleasures a thing of the past
alas good things just don’t last
you sigh and walk slowly away
with thoughts abound of a long lost day
when girls looked at you with smouldering eyes
handsome and confident needing no disguise
not thinking that this day would come
and an old man in more ways than one
and that is about the extent of my life
which now resembles more of a strife
to get my body to work just fine
even though it takes more time
to crawl out of bed so cozy and warm
with the company of dogs who true to form
snuggle up in the night which is no mean feat
staying close to me to get the heat
that my body puts off to keep them warm
thinking that this is the norm
and is what dogs do in their natural way
to protect their hooman from going astray
the body may be weak but the spirit is strong
though it takes more effort to drive it along
it’s still worth the time that the effort does take
as even an old man has a future at stake
it’s not time to lay down and die
but to give it a shot and your best try
and to work through the aches and the pains
and be smart about what is possible to attain
as an old man still has his pride
in allowing his body to be his guide
if he can physically perform each task
then there is nothing left to ask
and until his dying day
this old man will do things his way…

Written 12/15/2019