Category Archives: Meet the carmichaels

A slice of life with the Carmichael clan. That’s me (mrscarmichael); my present husband, Mr Carmichael; the Carmichael daughters, #s 1,2,3 and 4 and assorted pets.

Good News, Bad News

Is it too obvious to say that we all want good news in these days of Covid- Control disrupting, disturbing and destroying the very centre of all our lives? Good news has been in such short supply of late.

More than a year into the Helter- Skelter slippery slide that is lockdown, lock in, lock up we crave good news like a pint of real ale at the pub. The pint of real ale at the pub is, of course, not mine but Mr Carmichael’s. He has, I believe, plans afoot for lockdown lite next week. Me? I’ll take anything (not whiskey – another story altogether) as long as its WITH girlfriends and NOT in my house or garden. I have seen enough of Casa Carmichael and the green, green grass of home these past twelve months. Yes Sir, yes Madam, yes indeedy.

Some good news is that 33 million people (including YT) in the UK have had their first dose of vaccine. More than five million have had both doses. The take up is high and transmission, infection, hospitalisation and death are all going down apace. In this kingdom at least. Let’s not cast a hairy eyeball at Mr Bolsonaro, Copacabana way.

Some bad news is that Mrs Carmichael is finding it terribly hard to maintain standards. They are slipping. Oh my! Such slippage in Yours Truely’s play pen. Honestly, I’m struggling to know where to begin.

Shall I begin?

Last week I found the need to google ‘what day is it?’. In my previous normal, real lIfe, pre Covid, I have had to check the date de temps en temp. I’ll lay money Dear Reader, that you have too. Never, ever have I not known or been unable to muster brain cells and synapses to know, or rapidly remember, what DAY of the week it is. I asked Lyle, my cockapoo, but he was unhelpful.

Lyle being unhelpful (mrscarmichael)

It was important I knew the day of the week because, pandemic panic has found me, for the second time, taking up a foreign language. Spanish. Again. I have been judiciously wedged into an Intermediate class. This is a stretch. GCSE Spanish mumble or fifteen long years ago is not cutting the mustard. I am mastering the art of silence. Silent Spanish. I struggle with the Spanish AND the silence.

Studying Spanish is a good thing for many reasons but not a good thing when you don’t know if your zoom lesson is starting in five minutes, tomorrow or could it potentially, have been yesterday? Gracias Google.

Good news – It WAS Tuesday.

Good news – the class was running late.

Good news – I had two minutes to do my week’s homework.

Bad news – it was the subjunctive. The list of things I do not know about the Spanish Language grows, like Brazilian Covid, (thank you Mr Bolsonaro) exponentially.

And like the Brazilian variant, I, in my Covid free castle, have become expert at growing other things. The growth includes but isn’t restricted to, toenails, eyebrows and bikini line. I am not proud of the results.

Photo deleted.

I also have become somewhat expert at making wrinkles appear on my face. This is not a talent I want to embrace moving forward. Obviously. Few are yet to see these new additions to my physog but this is all about to change as lockdown eases and my wrinkles and I don glad rags to paint the town red or as red as we can in a socially distanced, covidly- tested brave new world. I am told silk pillow cases may help.

Please be kind. If necessary, pretend to recognise me. I probably won’t be able to see you anyway. Did I mention my eyesight?

I have found a recent talent for dying clothes. Unintentionally. Knickers in particular.

almost looks professional (mrscarmichael)

White to sylvan green in one hot wash. These were an accidentally muted success. Not so much others, now in landfill.

Yesterday I drove to Surrey to visit my friend, Kate in her back garden. Although we both have raging colds now due to sub zero temperatures outside, it was wonderful to see her after eighteen months apart (thank you corona virus), one missed holiday together and two Yule’s without a glass or five of celebratory champers. Dressed for the Artic, I collected my 2019 Christmas present.

too excited (or frozen) to speak (Kate’s camera)

And got stuck in a two hour traffic jam on the M25.

A two hour delay in stop- start, five lane traffic must herald a return to normality. Oh joy, oh bliss. Please let it be true.

It must be true because my, every evening for fourteen months, harem pants now sport a semi sheer crotch and very baggy knees. I have tried to buy another pair. They have been discontinued. And so I have decided, in a moment of cautious optimism, that the disintegration of these Carmichael Covid-Comfys MUST prophesy the beginning of the end of the blue blistering bad news we have been boiled in for ever and a day.

This morning, with Covid brain and woefully slipped standards, I put my yoga pants on back to front #plank #forthesecondtime #ouch

Good News for Yours Truely, cannot come a moment too soon.

Burning Down the House

This weekend I almost burnt my house down. 

I have never done that before. Just to be clear, I’ve never actually burnt a house down. I’ve not even come close. Mrs Carmichael has a very healthy respect for and enduring fear of fire and houses on fire. This childhood respectful fear (or should that be fearful respect?) that I nurture, stems from bearing witness to my neighbours of yore successfully burning their house down in front of my eight year old eyes. It was a bird’s nest in the chimney apparently. Good God that bird must have had pyromaniacal tendencies fo’ sho.

So, you have to believe that almost burning down my house is a big deal for yours truly.

This is how it happened…..

In COVID times many things, for many people are different. Perhaps I should rephrase. Most things for most people here in pandemic central are not as we know them. Nor as we want them to be. Nothing is the same; everything’s different and thus ‘things fall apart’. As centre’s go, mine for one, isn’t holding. Big time. William Butler Yeats may not have been describing an outa control virus in The Second Coming but boy did he get the mood spot on. 

But I digress…..

An element of my centre not holding is that Lyle, the cockapoo, has made his way through numerous obstacles, physical and emotional, and now appears to be sleeping on our super-king of a nighttime. 

‘How did that happen?’ you ask. 

Well, it all started when I forgot his seventh birthday last Thursday and, with literally nothing else to do #covid, I experienced an irrational amount of guilt.

Friday found me walking dog miles, cuddling constantly and feeding my furry friend lots o’ treats. One of said treats came back to bite me in the bum.

Saturday early hours found me waking to the sound of vomit. The sight of vomit way worse than the sound but at least I had, with foresight, shrouded our linen duvet cover with a dog sheet. This must, I briefly thought, be good news. 

The bad news was that, although the spring onion root (M’lud I never meant to put that in his salad) lay solid and whole on the dog sheet, the yellow bile that pooled around it had done its worst and soaked through, not only the dog sheet and the duvet cover but the duck down duvet itself. Such woe but at least, I guess, it gave a purpose to my day #covid.

I stripped the dog sheet and spoilt duvet cover and set the patch of sick on the duvet in a bowl of Vanish on the bedroom floor. I put the linen on a hot wash and took Lyle out for his first walk. Obviously feeling much better on an empty stomach, he was keen to go.

Duvet cover drying, dog sheet waiting its turn my single task for the remainder of the day and evening, was to get the puke, puke stain and puke smell out of the duvet, dry it and remake our bed. Even with nothing, and I mean nothing, else to do #covid, I was aware that time was not my friend. Patch drying a supering duck down duvet is another thing I have never done before. 

Obviously the duvet wouldn’t fit in my dryer. There was no washing line to hang it on nor sunshine to warm it through. Mid-winter COVID is the worst variation of high summer COVID. It sucks in a way sunny summer COVID can but fantasise about.

So…..

I rigged up a, seen better days, drying rack in front of the fire and draped our bedding over it. Positioning the damp patch toward the flames, I sent Mr Carmichael (who was making a business call from his car in the driveway #covid) a photo of my Professor Brainstorm brilliance and sat down to watch episode 16, series 8 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with Lyle. 

I got a text from the Mercedes asking if the duvet wasn’t a bit close to the naked flame and thus a fire hazard but I didn’t have time to read it because our duvet was on fire and the living room wall was queuing for ignition approval.

The room smelt of burnt fowl, the duvet looked like a Baked Alaska and the vomit stain was still soaking and somewhat yellow.

I text Mr Carmichael to say the fire was out. He thought I was joking until he walked in the front door and was greeted by the stench of singed swan and the sight of Lyle making himself comfortable on a floor-based Baked Alaska in the front room.

Today I plan to wash my hair and feed my dog only kibble. Let’s see how that goes…..

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Yesterday I cut my fringe. This was a first time thing. I have achieved my advanced age never having felt the need to take to my own locks with sharp utensils. Others, better qualified (indeed qualified for I am not) coiff me on a regular and pleasurable basis. I’ve always considered it a treat. I now know it to be a necessity.

I pray that taking to my crowning glory with scissors bought to trim my cockapoo’s eyelashes (another story entirely) was a last time thing. But in this time of Covid, needs must and I did. In the process I made a couple of schoolgirl errors. Followers, I did not do a very good job.

Actually I’ve just been overgenerous. It’s a habit and in this Corona induced solipsistic state I find myself (I’m sure I’m not alone) I must find the willpower to cease and desist at being kind and generous to Yours Truly simply because I’ve managed to get through another day, week, month and it’s now wine time. Wine, I hasten to add is NOT being kind. It is, like hairdressers, a necessity. One is out of bounds. The other fills the thirsty void.

But back to my hair. The fringe alone demonstrates, with devastating ease and sublime efficacy at least four results best avoided when attempting to allow oneself to be able to see without having to part a waterfall of darkening roots.

Gurl’s got this one cracked (mrscarmichael)

My mother used to have a weekly blow-dry. We fondly referred to it as a helicopter haircut so heavy in hand was the artiste with the hairspray, Mum could, Regan-Like, spin her hair without her head moving. She was not alone. Although I like hairspray I do not heavy hand it. Now however I would love a helicopter haircut. Or any haircut done by someone else. Someone with qualifications.

Mr Carmichael, after seeing my good work on Lyle, the cockapoo with the eyelashes, suggested I give him a much needed trim with the boy’s clippers. What could go wrong? Of course my husband was focusing on the equipment and the fact they were designed for dogs. They’re the only ones we have in Casa Carmichael which answered one question leaving the begging question unanswered – my aptitude and talent, or lack thereof. Now that the love o’ my life thinks I resemble a demented three year old with bad wrinkles (and an attitude) he’s opted for a silver-locked Tarzan effect from which he cannot be budged. I don’t blame him. He’s made the right choice.

Who knew that:

1) hairdressers cut your fringe at the end of the haircut when your hair is dry? Well, I did but I must have forgotten.

2) hairdressers take a little off at a time with a feathering motion and section the fringe from the surrounding hair? Me again but it slipped my mind.

3) hairdressers don’t curl a wet and what might prove to be very short fringe because that will make it look worse (if that were possible)? I didn’t know this having never had a fringe cut from Hell at the hairdressers.

My god my fringe looks terrible. And what about the rest of my hair?

I have never been ably to blow-dry my hair. It’s just a fact. I’m shit at it. Which is why I don’t do it. But now I must. I wash my hair as infrequently as possible and have moved, with alacrity, through the stages of mourning for my once coiffed bonce. I would be lying to say I don’t care but in some ways I actually don’t care. That much. I’m no longer riding pillion in a convertible Bentley, nor dining in Pall Mall. Certainly pretending to be a happy housewife is out the proverbial window along with the baby’s bathwater.

Now I’m just getting through. Like everyone else. And trying to stay well and safe while not looking in mirrors.

My roots are coming through apace and I have been sent these by my colourist……..

Thoughts?

I thought, somewhat naively, after the naughty puppy stage, life with Lyle would settle in a peaceful walk, nap, feed, nap, walk continuum with lots of strokes and cuddles thrown in to lower the blood pressure (mine not his) but as we approach my cockapoo’s second birthday, one set of naughty is segueing seamlessly into another. Today therefore, I have signed up to Cesar Millan’s newsletter in the hope of an apocryphal epiphany of the training/control/obey your mistress at all times variety and in the mean time I rely on my, not really a puppy anymore’s love of tennis balls to retrieve him from numerous naughty encounters on Chorleywood Common.

Shouting “BALL,” gets Lyle back into my orbit faster than he can eat his dinner, faster than a Porsche’s 0 to 60 and faster even than this particular miscreant can run towards stampeding horses (see previous post when “ball” was sadly yet to feature in my doggy command repertoire).

'who said
‘who said “ball”? mrscarmichael

Along with poo bags, treats, my cell phone for the ‘have you lost a curly cream cockapoo called Carmichael?’ message, my doggy bag is abulge with balls of the tennis variety. I am the tennis ball lady.

Yesterday, “BALL,” got Lyle away from the fast cars of Dog Kennel Lane (he has form there); a discarded chicken biryani container (I do think he finished it first); the Black Horse pub (dog treats) and a moving golf ball on the fourth fairway.

'where's Lyle's ball?' Friends of Chorleywood Common
‘where’s Lyle’s ball?’ Friends of Chorleywood Common

Today, I had a particular and most satisfying success. Chorleywood Common currently hosts five longhorn cows. They are handsome beasts and are contained in Larks Medow by the use of ‘virtual fencing’ which gives a slight electric shock if the beasts dare to wander beyond a designated radius.

Lyle has, over the past month or so, realised that the cows aren’t very interested in him (good), that they are therefore, not very interesting (good) but that they produce a lot of interesting pats (very, very bad). He has recently endured much good natured hilarity from dog walkers and a couple of water- boardings from yours truly as a result of his full body immersion in the slimy sludge.

No cold water shower this day though as I happened to catch the moment when he went in for a left shoulder roll about thirty feet from me and six feet from where Milly, Molly or Mandy had just evacuated one of her stomachs.

“Ball,” I screamed, groping in my ‘bag-o-tricks’ and waving not one but two green spheres in his direction.

And, praise be to all things obedient, my naughty boy lifted his shoulder, straightened his legs and hightailed it back through the shock field to his reward, a ball and off we trotted both clean and both happy.

good as gold www.fanpop.com
good as gold http://www.fanpop.com

Things didn’t go so well for P…… and M……. however. P…… and M……. are a lovely couple who have rescued not one but two Dalmatians and although better now, there was a time when they wished they had stopped at one. B……., although a delightful dog is, a euphemistic handful. There is not much naughty that he hasn’t explored with dedication and a joie de vivre unknown to even the happiest of canines.

P….. and M….. have resorted to their own form of virtual fencing and installed a mini taser on B……’s collar. I assure you it’s for the best and B…….rarely needs the button pushed these days.

Yesterday was an exception. And, as always is the way, P……. and M…… had separated as hubby stayed to talk to a friend in the lower car park and P……. headed off with their charges. B……., in ebullient mood, circled the copse with his sister a number of times and, at the top of the hill raced off towards the longhorns. His mistress, knowing the road was nearby, ran after him calling and waving the detonator. B……, bit between his teeth, did not slow or stop.

M……, having finished his chat was following his wife up the hill when he spotted his younger dog’s collar caught in thistles in the copse.

“B……..’s lost his collar,” he shouted and picked it up.

“B……, come back here,” yelled P…… “c o m e  h e r e  N O W!”

Black spotted canine changed up into fifth gear.

P….. sent the mildest shock B……’s way. No reaction. Turning up the volume she reapplied the pressure. Absolutely nothing, niente, nada. B….. hurtled on disappearing between the cows’ legs. He circled the periphery of Larks Medow, got bored and, in his own time, returned to his mistress for a doggy treat.

Behind them, back down the hill, M……, shocked rigid picked himself up off the ground, taser dog collar still gripped tightly in his pulsating hand.

Absolutely Hot Yoga

In search of my personal yoga perfection I booked myself a ten day pass at my local hot yoga studio. Such a leap of faith was it that I needed to holiday for a week in the hope of recovering from the stress of commitment to heat, sweat, pain and possible panic.

The holiday was super as you know. In Lanzarote I ‘endured’ heat, sweat, only the pain of one too many and no panic what so ever. But then I had to come home and be a yogi amongst titan yogis. Oh the terror. Ah, the lack of sleep. Hmmm, the self recrimination and the contemplation of pulling out and thus letting myself down.

I bought fast drying, tight fitting, all purpose leggings and a sports bra. I dug out a baggy cotton vest and a huge drink bottle. I promptly bottled out of the first class – a foundation level introduction – and so found myself in an ‘Absolute 50′, hour and a half session where my rapid changes of position bore no relation to the other yogis’ in the studio and my dizzy spells went virtually unnoticed because of all the contortionist movement going on around me. #smallmercies

“If this is your first hot yoga,” L……. said to me, “You might be happier at the back.”

Oh so much happier but there was no space for me at the back or I’d have been there boots and all.

My teacher moved an expert to the mirrored front and I settled into my natural habitat at the very tail end of yet another class. #storyofmylife

My brow was beaded with sweat and my breathing laboured. I felt ever so slightly feverish. It was very hot in there.

Then the class began.

“You can’t drink yet.” L…… had spotted me, bending for my bottle, all the way at the rear. “Move away from that jeroboam of water. We haven’t finished the warm up yet.”

Five minutes into the 90 and with 49 asanas to go and I was feeling humid, flushed and more than a little discombobulated. It got worse. Much worse. I was too hot to get the giggles. It wasn’t very funny anyway. I had a wee sit down and felt better. Briefly. Who knew so many of my body parts don’t work properly? Even in, joint relaxing, 40 degree heat.

My bathroom towel kept slipping on the yoga mat, bunching and fighting me with vicious abandon. Straightening it gave me regular breaks. And by now we were allowed to sip our fluids. To compensate the positions got harder. I was sort of managing the first stage of complex, body breaking contortions. And then having a little rest. I was dripping with sweat. L……. helped me into a couple of impossible holds. I realised body lotion makes the limbs very slippy to hold on to. At least I smelt nice. Well I hope I did.

I managed to complete the class. #yougogirl

I booked an ‘easier’ one for the Wednesday. I went. Then I booked an easier, easier one for Saturday.

I have persevered as an adjunct to my not hot yoga classes.

I am looking forward to my turn at this.

you are one crazy dude (www.telegraph.co.uk)
you are one crazy dude (www.telegraph.co.uk)

And in anticipation I have bought a non-slip towel and a smaller water bottle. I no longer apply lotion to my limbs before class. My hips are flexing wider and my waist seems to be shrinking.

It’s a journey – apparently.

Namaste.

Am I now a Yogi?

No, Silly, but I have now been to three yoga classes and am booked in for not only my fourth but my fifth as well.

Pause for applause.

Having been lucky enough to happen upon a class where I am not the oldest, I am not the least supple (amusingly, I have just corrected subtle to supple but fyi I am certainly not the most subtle either) and I am not the most oddly attired, I must continue with this interesting, this difficult, this potentially life affirming form of physical and mental exercise I fear.

Pause for applause.

C……. our teacher is kindness personified. She doesn’t make me feel stupid.

“I usually teach from here,” she whispered to me as I bundled up my mat and scurried to another space in the room.

“Let’s just get you a yoga mat,” she whispered as she removed the what I now know to be a Pilates mat from under me and swopped it for a thinner, longer, righter mat.

“Can you tell this is my first time? I asked.

“I’m beginning to get the picture,” she whispered as she moved an old hand out of the way so I could have a clear sight line to her and thus imminent downward dog perfection.

This was a critical point in my fledgling career. Mrs Carmichael’s yoga class status could have gone one of two very different ways. The class clown was just bubbling to get out and in other circumstances and in an environment with less whispering it would have burst forth from my joker painted lips. But it wasn’t and it didn’t.

“Thank you,” I said.

Pause for applause.

I wasn’t half bad. Well, I was bad at about half of the class but I did like the cat manoeuvre and the ten minute relaxation session at the end was fab-u-lous.

With a mental note to get a sports bra or yoga top (critical for all tipping forward asanas I now realise) I rebooked for week deux.

Pause for applause.

And week three a week later. And even though at least half the class, on hearing that C……. would be in Lisbon and M….. would be the temporary teacher, moaned and cancelled their spots on the gym floor with alacrity, I did not.

Are you getting sick of clapping yet?

Yesterday M……. took our much diminished class. He looked like a yogi, from the harem pants (sans undergarments) to the ponytail to the lithe thin body. He sounded like a yogi (or he was speaking in an Indian dialect), his in- breath loud, his out- breath louder.

imaging the pose but with longer hair and more dangly bits (gallery hip.com)
imaging the pose but with longer hair and more dangly bits (gallery hip.com)

I was quite poor at most of his exercises.

“Is that hurting?” he asked after spotting my puce stretched face in the mirror.

“Yes,” I grunted.

“Well, why are you doing it then?” And, as M……. explained to the whole class that yoga was a journey not a destination, that there is good pain and bad pain and that breathing cannot be perfected if we are uncomfortable, I noticed most of my fellow classmates uncurling along with Yours Truly. What a relief.

I was an inch taller at the end of an hour and a half and I think I had a little sleep as we relaxed for more than the allotted time.

I have booked M…….. for an extra class tomorrow.

Pause for applause. Encore.

 

 

And Today is Yoga Day

channelling the peaceful (community warrior.com)
channelling the peaceful (community warrior.com)

This afternoon I am attending my first ever yoga session. It is an hour and a half long. I am very nervous.

I am nervous because I do not think I am going to be good at yoga. I am not going to be good a yoga because:

I am utterly inflexible (bodywise). I cannot touch my toes or even straighten my legs properly. On a day to day basis, these defects have not hindered my pursuit of the good life but in a yoga class I predict that they just might.

ooh, arrh Mrs (Yogacentre.com)
oooh, arrh Mrs (Yogasuite.net)

I will not be able to do any of these positions…….or anything resembling them. Not this afternoon. Not, I fear, ever.

Where is her head in image 5 btw?

I should look at this as aspirational but as a woman with her two feet on terra firma at all times except bed-time, Mrs Carmichael finds the prospect ever so slightly daunting.

easy peasy (twentysomethingwoman.com)
easy peasy (twentysomethingwoman.com)

 

I should be able to manage this.

 

 

 

And this.

no sweat (yogafocus.co.uk)
no sweat (yogafocus.co.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will that be good enough? I doubt it. Not for an hour and a half. An hour and a half! What have I signed up to?

I am not going to be good a yoga because:

When I can’t do something I tend to become the class clown. I don’t want to be the 2.30pm yoga class clown but bearing in mind that it took me a second to find photo #2 and a good ten to find #s 3 and 4 amongst the contortionists purporting to be in yoga positions on google, I think there’s a high likelihood that I will be sporting a curly wig, pancake makeup and huge shoes by 4.00 o’clock. Oh, woe is me.

I am not going to be good a yoga because:

I don’t have the correct clothing. I don’t even know what the correct clothing is. Am I going to be the odd one out before the class has even started and my utter inability to do anything yogaish is noticed by teacher and classmates alike? Perhaps I should drop out of this afternoon’s class and head straight to Sweaty Betty for a Carmichael sports couture infusion.

Or perhaps I should just stay home and watch House of Cards on Netflix instead.

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Crazy Horses

New Year’s Day dawned bright and crispy in the hood.

NY perfection (mrscarmichael)
new year perfection (mrscarmichael)

Having utterly disgraced myself on the 26th December by over- libating in an eight- hour marathon at the Christmas dinner table the night before and thus unable to entertain invited guests (indeed unable to stand, sit or speak), I resolved to drink little on New Year’s Eve, see 2015 in, withdraw to bed at a reasonable o’clock and rise early to walk the boy dog on Chorleywood Common on the first of the first. I walked and greeted other early risers – “Happy New Year”, “Happy New Year”, “Lovely morning”, “Don’t’ worry, my dog jumps up as well”, “Enjoy your walk”. Lyle walked, ran, gambolled with other dogs, ate horse poo, rolled in horse poo, braved the ice on not one but two of the ponds and got lots of cheese and apple treats. We both had a lovely outing.

Such a lovely outing we had and so full of joie de vivre were we, I decided to take my precious pup out for an afternoon amble. He deserved it and I was revelling in, not only my sobriety and steady pins but also my March 2014 decision to get another dog and the wonderful fulfilment he was affording Yours Truly on a daily basis. Hmmmm.

Just like high stakes gambling where the importance of knowing when to leave well alone, to gather your chips and to walk away from the vingt et un table is critical, so too is it imperative to understand that twinkle in your puppy’s eye, that quizzical head tilt and that canine thought bubble woofing ‘Fuck it’. Only Mrs C didn’t realise it at the critical moment so wrapt up in the wonderful was she.

Because the sky was darkening and birds were beginning to roost in the high oaks and elms overhead, I chose Phillipshill Wood over the more benign Chorleywood Common. Proximity to Casa Carmichael was the deciding factor. That, dear readers, was mistake number one.

dsjkabddbhj
‘Hi Lyle,’ (www.bologgingbe.com)

Mistake number two was opting for the hill trail downward and towards the bottom paddock. The bottom paddock has always provided intense interest for my naughty dogs (that is, two of the three dogs I have owned since Carmichael life began in the hood). If it wasn’t cowpats, it was the occasional ostrich (no word of a lie) and horse, shire or otherwise. Two or three or more. On the afternoon of New Year’s Day it was an equine equivalent to the D Day landings that caught Lyle’s attention. Huge beasts whinnying sweet nothings hurtled to greet him and drew his attention away from me, his mistress, totally and completely. Their siren song of welcome caused him to stop, to pause a moment, to cast a farewell glance at me, head cocked beguilingly. It forced him to canter away from me with nary a backward glance.

“No Lyle. Stay (hand raised as taught in April puppy training classes), stay, STAY, Lyle LYLE, LYLE LYLE!@£$%^&*(”

‘Fuck it,’ he thought as he sloped, eloped and then galloped down the remainder of the hill, under the metal gate and into the midst the advancing flotilla.

The horses must have regretted their invitation immediately. I could have told them and saved us all so much bother but I was too slow, too naive, too utterly out of control.

To this point in the tale my dignity, if not my authority, is still intact. Please stop now if you want it to remain that way. From here on in Mrs Carmichael lets herself down. Big time.

Serendipitously, I have just read an article about what to do when your dog runs away from you and towards danger. Apparently one is supposed to throw body and dignity on the ground flat like a pancake or roll into a ball. Apparently, the dog will see this as unknown and therefore interesting behaviour and return to your now muddy arms with alacrity. To my mind, there is an apparent flaw in the logic. Dogs do not have eyes in the back of their heads. Lyle certainly doesn’t.

My puppy did however come to a stop. Right under the belly of a big, nay huge, brown horse. The horse stood still and peered down and towards the boisterous cockapoo. The boisterous cockapoo ran around between its back legs, chest and whipping tail. Then the boisterous cockapoo tried to smell the horse’s bum. The horse didn’t like this. It snorted and stamped and began to twist around.

‘Great’, thought Lyle ‘it does want to play.’

‘Shit,’ thought I. ‘He’s going to die.’

“Lyle,” I screamed and scrambled, commando-like, across the paddock. “Come here.” Stern voice. “Come here!” Gritted teeth. “Come here you little bugger.” Terrified overtone.

Lyle gambolled around the snorting stamping horse. He gambolled around its friends. He ducked and weaved and dodged me successfully, beatific grin upon his chops. Then his day got even better. Smelling freshly deposited horse poo he traced a double chicane away from the horse and his mistress and hurtled at the steaming mound of dung, Mrs Carmichael in hot pursuit.

‘Numm, numm, numm,’ thought Lyle.

“Stay, stay, stay,” yelled I.

Then I hit him. Twice. Flat palm, big smacks. Mea culpa.

I couldn’t get the lead on and, as the red mist engulfed me, I hit him again. Mea, mea culpa.

He made not a sound but the smile was replaced by a horse poo encrusted look of horror. We turned as one and headed back to the gate.

By the gate stood a woman, Costa coffee cup in hand, a be-coated white dog at her feet. From a hundred yards I shouted something to the effect of, “Did you see that?”

“I saw everything,” she growled. “I saw you hitting your dog for no reason. I saw you screaming and hitting your dog for running in a field. If you can’t control him, keep him on the lead.”

“Oh, please, “ I said.

Sadly, she was only in first gear. “You shouldn’t be allowed to own a dog,” said she.

I was closing the gap between us now and it would be fair to say that Mrs Righteous was not helping the puppy/horse/paddock red mist one bit.

“You obviously didn’t see what happened,” I shouted still thinking I could fix the situation. “The horse or my dog could have been hurt.”

“People like you,” she spat with bulging eye. “People like you need reporting. Your. Poor. Dog. I feel sorry for it.” She retreated to the far side of the gate and slammed it behind her and in my face.

“Nice, “ I said.

She opened it. This is Chorleywood after all. We were now very close to each other.

“At least I’ve given you a supper story.”

“I’m thinking of calling the police, “ said she, face a foot or so from mine. Her breath engulfed me.

Dear reader, you know how much I love my puppy. Mist having morphed from red to midnight magenta I believe I was marginally outa’ control.

“You should stop smoking,” I told her. “It’s bad for your health.”

That stopped her in her tracks. No cigarette in hand the best she could come up with was, “Oh, get off your high horse.”

‘Topically ironic given the circumstances’ thought I.

And as we parted, she choosing my route, I further disgraced myself. “Your breath stinks,” I yelled and marched, dog heeling beautifully, in the utterly wrong but only available direction.

Footnotes

1: I have not hit Lyle before or since.

2: Lyle and I are now in our third week of refresher puppy training.

3: Another time I will take my friend, Gracie’s advice…… “Why didn’t you just ignore her?”

4: I have not, to my knowledge, seen Mrs Costa -Coffee- Cup since. I do not know if she’s taken my advice.

5: I’m thinking of taking up meditation/yoga. Lyle might enjoy it.

6: The horses were the only sane participants in this post.

 

butter wouldn't melt……. (mrscarmichael)
butter wouldn’t melt……. (mrscarmichael)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Countdown

‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me……………………..’

Stop singing. I begin with an apology. And shout out to all those Crimble songsters in the blogosphere who prefer your annual sing-along neat, pure and minimalist. Nothing in Casa Carmichael is that way – no ends, buts or peut etres and for that I can do nothing but say ‘sorry’.

It has dawned on yours truly that the longer I procrastinate in tapping this post the less I need write. But I have dallied long enough and there are now fewer than two fistfuls of days until the big one.  So, on with the show.

Eight:  On the eighth day before Christmas the paucity of merry christmas/happy new year cards gracing the Carmichael shelves cannot be ignored. If we remove the local curry house’s salutation along with a festively decorated offering from one of the local primary schools that has used on- tap child labour to deliver a missive announcing their Key Stage Two results to the hood, we have eight. Eight matches the days until we eat turkey and cranberry sauce but, in card stakes, is not very many is it?

I blame myself. About a decade ago I lost my address book. It had been a wedding present, was leather bound and contained much information. I know it would be worth money were I famous. But I’m not and its leaving passed with but a whimper. Before it left it fell to pieces, slowly but with menace. The M’s stopped receiving Carmichael cards first, followed the next year by the V’s. Being a solo, the V’s hardly counted but before December of the following year my address book was no more.

The guilt I felt at being unable to send cards that year was huge. The next, I’ll admit to a twinge and now I don’t even think about it. Is that terrible? Or is it a good thing?

There was a hiatus of four or five years when cards still poured in to us – perfect but slowly, oh so slowly my deleterious behaviour has been noted and now in 2014 we have a paltry eight cards on the 19th of December. It’s almost embarrassing to put them up. But I am made of sterner stuff. I have spread them wide and thin. Those who faithfully wish us well deserve to be honoured. Thank you and merry christmas to all.

merry christmas to all (mrscarmichael)
merry christmas my lovelies
(mrscarmichael)

Seven: episodes of Missing to watch, all backed up on my Sky Planner. My task (and yes, I have chosen to accept it) is to finish them by Christmas Day. For two reasons. Firstly, it’s a worthy thing to do and I can hide away whilst doing it. Secondly we are cancelling our Sky contract (finally Mr C is getting his way – call it an early present) and installing Virgin. All current recording will vanish.

Six: we are for Christmas this year which means I have enough matching plates, champagne glasses, wine glasses, themed napkins (linen), and a table large enough to seat us all without taking turns. The Carmichaels are not so good at taking turns so this is a good thing. I am excited not to have the hired table and chairs in my living room ’till mid-January this time round. Another good thing.

Five: presents to buy. Things are going extraordinarily well. It’s worrying. I think I am in control of present acquisition. Many are even wrapped. Of course, Mr Carmichael has not got out of park yet. That is always a moment to marvel at. If history repeats the hurricane that is my husband’s pressy purchasing begins on Christmas Eve – after lunch, just as the sun goes down.

“What would you like for Christmas?” he asks from his cell phone, as he stands in a shopping mall, at gone 4.30pm.

Perhaps this year will be different. I’ll let you know.

Four: desserts to try. This year we are going off piste and will not be enjoying Daughter #1’s white chocolate cheesecake. Although delicious we want a change and she wants to cook the brussel sprouts instead. Nor will we not be enjoying my SIL’s triffle on steroids. H…… understands. And is consigned to christmas crackers and all things cheese. It’s for the best and therefore a good thing. You can trust me on that one.

Three/Two: strings of christmas tree lights/two trees. ‘Why three? Why two?’ you ask and it is a most reasonable question. This is why.

the boy's first christmas (mrscarmichael)
the boy beneath the boughs (mrscarmichael)

As good as puppy Lyle is on his perambulations he is not a good boy within Casa Carmichael’s four walls. His adult teeth like to chew. They like to chew glasses, cases for glasses, pens, biros, magazines, mail, money (yes, money!), newspapers, sticks, concrete, toys and socks. Extrapolating from this heady compilation, we can assume that trees, decorations and presents might also be delicious to a ten month old Cockapoo.

My suggestion was that we got a small tree this year to sit atop a table (see above) that he could admire from afar. That suggestion did not go down well. One thing Carmichael pere and enfants adore is tradition. There was a fight. I said I was doing the small tree anyway. So I buy a small box of lights. I test the lights. They work. I put them on the tree. The rest (re another tree), I said, was up to them. Ha!

Days later and with a guilty heart, I chose and purchased a second tree. I have to admit it’s a stunner.

christmas tree numero dos (mrscarmichael)
christmas tree numero dos (mrscarmichael)

Please, it you have a moment read what happens in CC, when tree picking goes wrong. Here it is, you have my permission to feel smug (Me, Thee or the Tree).

Oh, and there, within that post are lights numero 1 – hmmm. Note to self, ring trading standards when a moment frees up. But wait, I’m jumping ahead of myself.

“This year, “I tell Daughter #2, “you can do the lights as well as the decorations.”

“I don’t want to do the lights,” she replies.

“Nor do I,” I retort. “In fact I don’t even want the tree.” Bah humbug.

There is a stalemate and we agree to do the lights together once she rises from her bed. I have lunch while I wait.

“Test the lights,” I tell her. “We don’t want to waste hours only to find they don’t work.”

“They work,” she shouts and we spend the next good while getting scratched but doing a good job, light-wise.

That done, I retire, excited to get on with my day. Her scream halts me on the stairs. “The lights don’t work,” she cries.

I turn to see the top third of the tree lit, the bottom two thirds shrouded in blackness. I get very cross. She gets crosser. Mr Carmichael joins in with the crossing. It’s all very noisy. I leave the house. It’s the most positive thing I can contribute to the moment.

Mr C buys another box of lights. We now have 50 spare christmas bulbs. Is that a good thing? Hmmm.

2014 – the year of three sets of lights and two trees. Lyle is in heaven. He is not in the living room unless accompanied.

One: It’s Lyle’s first Christmas. What a good thing that is.

what's santa brought you, Lyle? (mrscarmichael)
what’s santa brought you, Lyle? (mrscarmichael)

 

 

 

 

Spreading the Christmas Love

So tonight, my darlings, S….. (a Kiwi buddy) and I are off to see L’elisir d’amore at Covent Garden’s finest, the Royal Opera House, no less. I have not seen this particular alcohol induced love triangle before and am anticipating twists, turns, tangles and much quaffing of the red wine elixir.

the elixir of love (ROH website)
the elixir of love (ROH website)

I can’t wait and am going to spend many of the intervening hours debating (with myself) whether I drive in comfort and stump up for congestion charging and extortionate parking or brave (relatively) low cost public transport and get sore feet. Hmmm. If I had the egg -shell blue Vespa above and the clement weather no argument would be needed but I do not and so I must go on fighting. At least until I put on my high heeled boots and grab the car keys from the dog’s bed.

Last month I took a pic from our seats in the stalls of the glorious Opera House. Here it is:

not sitting here tonight (mrscarmichael)
not sitting here tonight (mrscarmichael)

S…… and I will be seated just out of shot and ever so slightly upwards. No, up and back a bit more. Bit more, bit more. Ok, I have my crampons. I have my opera glasses. Good seats at the ROH, I’ll have you know, cost a gazzilion spondoolies and Donnizetti may just not do it for us. Bryn Terfel will though. Of that we can be sure.

It’s all good. So good, in fact already I have popped the tickets in my handbag. S….. will be especially pleased to hear this news. Her last invitation resulted in disaster and the non-seeing of Sadler’s Wells, Great Gatsby, heralded by all (bar S…… and myself) as a triumph:

In Which Mrs Carmichael Looses the Plot and Needs to Take Time Out For a Jolly Good Cry

And for that I am truly sorry. Tonight is going to be worlds’ better. It’s Christmas, I have the tickets, a table for two is reserved in my name at an Italian restaurant (see how I’m running with the theme here) in Bow Street for 6.00pm, my black jeans are in the dryer now and the ‘weather bomb’ predicted to grace our shores today is, as yet, happily making sixty foot waves out west, Atlantic way.

What can possibly go wrong?