Nine years ago Gracie was born and I was very excited to meet her.
The dog I got and her brother.
Photo by T Moriarty
With her Mummy.
Photo by T Moriarty
All grown up with Macy.
With her new Mum.
An easy life.
A new friend.
In the bluebells.
Martha and Gracie on holiday.
Evie and Gracie.
9 Years Old! Happy Birthday Gracie!
I would say that every person who reads this blog is already aware that I have had my baby. Just in case there is anyone out there who does not know – I had little Martha Amy on 19 September. We have spent the last 4 weeks getting to know each other and it is bloody hard work, but very rewarding.
The dogs were extremely interested in her when she arrived home. We sat her in her car seat on the floor and both Gracie and Maya sniffed and licked her. They were very gentle. When Martha cried both dogs started vibrating in fear – they have since got used to the sound of crying.
Naturally I haven’t had much on the way of free time and I haven’t yet learned the art of multi-tasking feeding and typing. Though we have got to grips with sleeping and knitting or reading.
Mentally I am the same size I was before I grew my bump. Physically I cannot fit through the same tight gaps – especially between car wing mirrors. According to my mother my arse looks bigger. I guess it’s a balance thing, my arse grows to balance out the big belly so that I don’t topple forwards.
I have a new hobby – sleeping during the day. It is brilliant! The dogs love it too, we all pile up on the bed and rest a spell.
If it is quiet here it is because: I have been away; I am sleeping; I am working; I am talking about bathrooms; I am knitting; I am walking the dogs; I am eating my dinner.
I am slowly gathering together all the basics I will need for the arrival of my baby. Some stuff is bought and some is made. I threw together a quick homemade version of this. Dave wasn’t very impressed by it, his attention was only held for a couple of seconds. He reckons a boy would never be engrossed by something so silly. I said, just you wait to see your wee idiot son playing away with it! Actually, I didn’t really say that, I said something a lot less PC and had myself a hugh, wobbling belly laugh.
Well, if you haven’t been enjoying the weather what have you been doing?
Yesterday I was at a training course in Craigavon. I don’t normally mingle with others in my field of work so I found it strangely reassuring that everyone, everywhere is exactly the same. The same old stories of being passed over for promotion. The same old complaints about insincere praise. The same old bitterness everywhere. And in every single break we had the majority of people became glued to their mobile phones, except for one person who brought a book. I too brought a book but had left it in my car, so had to make do with texting Dave. Anything but talk to other people!
The drive home was hot and sticky – I removed most of my clothes when I got into my house.
Back in work today I find more people are discovering I am pregnant. Nobody looks me in the eye anymore, they all talk to my bump. I guess this is normal and I should just get used to it.
Over the weekend we took the dogs to Waterfoot beach, a place normally deserted except for a few hardy dog walkers, but which on Saturday was packed with kiddies and their sun-worshipping parents. On Sunday we walked up Trostan from the Glenariff side, another normally quite place, but which on Sunday was positively hiving with people. We even encountered a guy on a bike – Trostan is not exactly easy biking territory being surrounded by boggy ground.
Going away on holiday has many positive points, not least of which is the greeting that the dogs gave us on our return. Both waggled with excitement from their noses to the tips of their tails. Gracie’s full greeting takes up to an hour and includes much waggling, jumping up, climbing onto our shoulders; where she rests herself like a fox stole, but an alive one, with a big tongue to wash our faces and probe deep into our nostrils.
Needless to say our holiday was very pleasant. We stayed in a cabin in the woods in the Dordogne. It was bliss. We ate tasty food, we relaxed, we rafted on our little lake, we fed carp our leftover bread.
On our return we stopped over a night in London, where we visited the Cybercandy shop near Covent Garden (Hannah would love this place). We bought Hot Tamales, Jelly Belly Jellybeans and Watermelon Jolly Ranchers (which proudly proclaim on their packaging that they are both ‘Naturally and Artificially flavored’, so they are twice as good as other sweets!)
We ate lunch/dinner in Wahaca and then went to stay with London Aunt. The following day we were treated to a delicious brunch with London Aunt, her hubby and Ganching. A very pleasant morning was had.
I started the bank holiday weekend a little early by taking the afternoon off work on Friday. I used the time to cook the ‘no knead bread’ I had started the night before and to go for a photowalk in Top Wood with Dave and the dogs. Gracie was in fine posing form and Maya was just having a brilliant time.
Later, for dinner, I made omelette with a goose egg and hen eggs I had got from my Mum. I added chard and thyme from the garden and we ate it with the bread I had just cooked. For pudding we had vanilla ice cream with stewed rhubarb that our neighbour gave us.
Saturday was spent knitting, walking the dogs, playing Frisbee with Dave and Gracie, tidying the house and eating tasty food. We had scrambled eggs (from Mum) and bacon (from Hillstown Farm Shop) for lunch. For dinner we had sausage and bean bake with a pile of buttered ‘no knead bread’.
On Sunday we went walking – a fine stroll, into the wind, along Portstewart Strand. Back at home we dozed, then we ate pasta with aubergine (cooked by Dave), then back to sleep.
Monday we took easy – I made oatcakes for lunch, which we ate with melted cheese and more of our bacon. It was a rainy day so we just went walking to Waterfoot Beach – nothing too strenuous. Then I visited my Granny. Later we had lightly smoked salmon, béarnaise sauce, mashed potatoes and puy lentils for dinner. All cooked by Dave and a marvellous job it was! I ate until I thought I would burst.
Last night I dreamt that there was something wrong with daylight – it was broken – and everything was the colour of a film negative but 3-dimensional.
So, that is what I have been up to. What is coming up is a week away in France, happy me! We leave on Saturday for a week in a wooden cabin in the Dordogne. Sadly, the dogs aren’t able to join us on this trip and will have to spend a week in the Leighinmohr Dog Hotel. On our return we will stop over in London for a night and maybe take in a few sights. I can’t wait!
Yesterday Nelly, Dave and I went for a walk in Portglenone Forest with the dogs (Gracie, Maya, Bonnie and Paddy). The dogs had a beezer time and Nelly and Dave nearly poisoned themselves eating Lords and Ladies.
Dave had picked up a leaf he thought was sorrel and asked my opinion – I didn’t think it was sorrel, but I couldn’t be sure. So, Dave and Nelly tore off a wee bit each and put it in their mouths and almost immediately both spat it out declaring it was definitely not sorrel.
Then their tongues started to burn a bit, and their lips. We all tried to figure out what they could possibly have eaten and whether or not they would collapse in the forest and die. Nelly eventually figured it out – Lords and Ladies – and I had a right old giggle at the thought of the pair of eejits nearly poisoning themselves.
So, me, Dave and the dogs were sitting chatting about how the dogs would have to take a cut in their pocket money due to the credit crunch. The dogs were keen to help in any way they could and suggested that perhaps they could go out to work in order to bring in a few quid – to keep them in James Wellbeloved chow and pigs ears.
Gracie thought that she could get work as a dog model, sure she has plenty of experience of posing for photos and she is working on the bulimia and drugs addiction (see Chocolate story below). Maya thought that if Gracie still had her big long ear hairs she could have got work at the hairdressing college, where the students could have practised their crimping iron skills on her.
Maya didn’t really know what she wanted to do. She thought maybe she would be well suited as some kind of meeter and greeter as she just loves meeting new people. I suggested that she should hire herself out as a professional mop head.
Just to prove that I am not a Christmas grouch, I give you Gracie and Maya frolicking in the winter snow in their Christmas hats. No dogs were harmed in any way in the making of this photo.
Gracie hopes that she will get a Big Bone from Santa Paws and Maya wants Sausages and a cuddly toy. Santa Paws, if you are listening, I can vouch for the fact that they have both been very good girls.
I know that in my last post I said that I would love to have Gracie in work to keep me calm and that I would keep her in my drawer. Well… today I had both dogs in work after having locked myself out of the house at lunchtime, following the dogs lunchtime walk. Naturally, I didn’t have my phone with me, so my only option was to go back to work with the dogs.
At first I tied them up to the railings outside the building and ran inside to see if I had ever gotten around to stashing an emergency house key somewhere handy – no. Nor did I have any useful phone numbers written down.
The Director of Personnel came into the office with some stuff and I told him the situation and explained that I was distressed about my pooches being outside, so he suggested I bring them in.
Pooches came in. Maya was very excited and barked loudly. Shhhhh Maya, don’t give the game away!
I tried phoning the only number I could remember, Dave’s parents but they weren’t home. Then I realised that I could get the number of the guy Dave was out for lunch with and I could call him.
Much relieved to speak to Dave and for him to agree to come and take the dogs home. Though he took his time about it. Meanwhile Gracie relaxed on my lap and Maya stared out the window and barked at the leaves blowing outside.
3 today! Or tomorrow, sometimes it’s hard to remember!
Gracie is lying on the sofa giving lambdoodle (a long limbed toy lamb) a thorough chewing, while Maya whines and barks from the floor. Occasionally, one of lambdoodle’s long fleecy limbs strays to the edge and Maya grabs hold of it, but Gracie is still the stronger of the two. Lambdoodle has a squeak which they have yet to discover.
Maya and Gracie are good friends now and they have new matching bone-shaped name tags; Gracie came to the pet shop to help me choose.
Gracie has just discovered lambdoodle’s squeak – it has terrified her!
Yesterday I listened to Spirtiualized – Songs in A&E 5 times. Once while visiting the Fairhill Market, once while doing the rounds of the local charity shops (coincidentally managing to meet a heap of my family – Granny in a car on Mill Street, then Granny again with Auntie T on Church Street, Mum in Barnardos and Hannah outside Oxfam), twice while contemplating doing some housework (and reading a Good Housekeeping encyclopedia from the 1960s containing tips on doing housework) and once while doing the housework (not following the Good Housekeeping tips).
Then Gracie and I headed out for a walk. At Harryville bridge we ran into a fellow dog walker, though on this occasion he was without dog and had obviously spent some time in the pub. He kept us chatting awhile. We eventually made our excuses and trotted on down Railway Street, over Stick Bridge and down towards the river past the old squash courts. This is when it started raining. We walked on and did our usual walk, despite the lashing rain. At some point I regretted that I was wearing jeans and not waterproof trousers, at another point I realised that my walking boots were letting in water. I congratulated myself on choosing a marvellous raincoat as my top half was the only part of me that was dry when I got home. Gracie was so wet Dave thought she had been swimming.
But the leaking boots are a problem. Especially as I am heading off to Scotland next weekend for a week involving a lot of walking.
It is almost inevitable that at some point a hard drive will die. This is why we are told to back-up our files, make multiple copies of them, make discs and keep them in fireproof boxes.
So far, I’ve been lucky. Any lost files have been due to my own carelessness and accidental deletion. Then my laptop started making a buzzing noise last weekend. It is very sicky-poorly-not-well. I’m no expert but I guessed that it is a failing hard drive. Dave suggested transplant surgery, I agreed. Sadly, I cannot get access to the hundreds of photographs I have taken since the New Year and I expect that they will be lost to me forever.
Still, it could be worse. I could have lost every photo I had ever taken.
Not a lot I can do about it now.
As for horses, I think Horses could well be Gracie’s favourite song. We went a walk from Benone to Magilligan on Sunday. At one point I turned to my left and saw two horses gallop along the beach, I urged Dave to grab Gracie but he was too slow, she saw them and off she went barking at the horses’ hooves. She is pretty speedy when she wants to be. Of course we shouted to her to come back and of course she completely ignored us. She ran after them for what seemed like ages, at the side of them for most of the time, then she moved in between them. I think she may have got a sideswipe of horse hoof as she stopped quite abruptly and came running back to us. Where she was severely reprimanded.
I am typing one-handed as a small dog is lying, softly snoring, on my lap with her head resting on my left wrist. She can quite often be found on my lap when I am at the computer. She is also very fond of lap lying while I am knitting.
This week I won the top prize in our local community group’s Christmas raffle, a food hamper. It has been ages since I’d won anything in a raffle. I recall winning a pie dish and a packet of biscuits in a raffle in the Protestant Hall when I was a wee girl, the pie dish became our official Shepherds Pie dish. I loved Shepherds Pie.
We always enter the community group’s raffles but have never won anything. Then there was that raffle I entered in the pub near Auntie T’s last summer, where everybody in the pub walked out with a prize (or 2!) and I got nothing. I think what I am trying to say is that I am not normally blessed with any luck in raffles.
So, I’m pretty chuffed!