Tag Archives: dogs

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.

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)

 

 

 

 

Writus Interrupted

My darling followers:

I post this in mitigation of my vanishing act of late. Believe me I have loads to tell you. Gracie and Mrs C’s three days on the Kent Coast; Fatima, Aisha and Leila’s travels/travails in Marrakech and the Atlas foothills and a bit of LIG (life in general) but something/someone is taking up all of my time at present.

Je present, Lyle (a Cockapoo with chutzpah):

baby Lyle (6 weeks) Lyle's breeder
baby Lyle (6 weeks) Lyle’s breeder

Lyle came home on Sunday

that step looks huge (mrscarmichael)
that step looks huge (mrscarmichael)

and has taken control of Casa Carmichael.

Lyle and Peter Rabbit (mrscarmichael)
Lyle and Peter Rabbit (mrscarmichael)

Peter really needs to introduce Lyle to ‘the soporific effects of lettuce’.

one shoe fits all (mrscarmichael)
one shoe fits all (mrscarmichael)

Go on, tell me how lovely he is.

I really hope you enjoy dog day tales because they’re coming a plenty as soon as my sleep deprived brain is functioning once again.

Connected through Habit

When my one remaining dog died in April the habit sized hole of daily dog walking vanished like Alice into Wonderland. Conections severed.

Flynn going for the windswept look (mrscarmichael)
Flynn going for the windswept look (mrscarmichael)

My boys spent their lives together and Flynn, the younger and well behaved edition of Dogs Carmichael, was bereft when Bertie died in 2012.

Bertie and Flynn taking the waters (mrscarmichael)
Bertie and Flynn taking the waters (mrscarmichael)

His canine companion gone Flynn started following me round the house standing in any room I was in. Waiting for me to come back and be in the one room where he could relax. It was odd and, it must be said, a little annoying. I guess it was an old age thing. When you’re 98 and your best bud vanishes it’s not really too much of a surprise that you become a tad peculiar.

I vowed I would keep walking. And for a while I did. But when it’s raining and there are no big brown pleady eyes guilt tripping me I’ll admit I have struggled to force myself out the front door. My connection to the Chess River, Chorleywood Common and Old Shire Lane is disappearing. I would like to move.

I vowed to do more with my new freedom. This I told myself, and anyone else who would listen, is my time. My time to travel, to work, to learn and not to be tied to hearth and home as much as I have over the last twenty four some years.

I also vowed not to get another dog. Getting a puppy would swirl me right into a time warp. I’d be back in Kansas whereas I’m hoping for a taste of Oz.

But habits die hard. I’m feeling disconnected.

best foot forward (breeder's photo)
best foot forward (breeder’s photo)

Last Thursday I almost got a puppy.

How could anyone resist her? The cuteness, the colouring and the pose. She is giving off Carmichael attitude in bucket loads.

I’d chosen the flowery Bella Bean collar and I’d shortlisted her names to Desirée or Lettis. Mr Carmichael would have had a conniption over both those choices but that, I can assure you, is not why I stopped myself.

I didn’t get her because right now, at this stage in my life, I need to stick to my guns. To make new connections and create different habits. I need to do more and different stuff.

Tell me I’m wrong.

Related Posts:

I would love you to read these posts written about my beautiful boys if you haven’t already.

This post has been created in reply to both the Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit and Ailsa’s of Where’s my backpack?, connection.

Weekly Photo Challenge (Carefree)

Mrs Carmichael’s take on free of care with a very canine overbite.

There’s a Muntjac in My Garden.

He’s eating the leaves and weeds that currently grow unfettered. The unfetteredness is because 1) Mr C, although recovering mightily well from his knee op, is not yet up to hard labour and hard labour is what is needed in the Carmichael compound and 2) the weather has been so utterly inclement to date that I have not seen the need or urgency of hiring a hard core labourer, yet. The first sunny day……… now that’s a whole different game of gardeners.

hello cutie (mrscarmichael)
hello cutie (mrscarmichael)

The muntjac is getting close to the open bifold doors. He eschews the Rhodo flowers, preferring the two tone white and green leaves of the bush next door. He is cute, looks healthy and is prepared to let me take photographs as he eats.

It wouldn’t have always been this way.

in an Carmichael country garden (mrscarmichael)
in a Carmichael country garden (mrscarmichael)

Thirteen or so years ago when summers were still summers in England’s fair isle I had a fluffy haired toddler in the pool with me down the end of the garden. The day was beautiful, the dogs relaxing nearby and most of the rest of the Carmichael clan glued to the television watching sport (Mr Carmichael) and Disney movies (daughters various).

patch of shade (mrscarmichael)
patch of shade (mrscarmichael)

I got Bertie (left) when Mr C was on a business trip to Chicago. Sometimes it’s best to follow your gut instinct in these things and carpe diem. My husband would probably have said, “No!” and then where would we have been?

He’d been returned to the breeder (Bertie that is) because of an overdose of miscreant proclivities that lasted him a long and crime filled lifetime. His first owners couldn’t cope and that was our luck. Making ‘Naughty Dog’ a Life’s Work puts flesh on the bones of his story.

Anyway.

I paid £400.00 for the puppy and £2000.00 for the fencing to keep him in. It’s one of Mr C’s favourite dinner table stories…….now.

And I promise that the relevance of this sidebar will soon reveal itself.

So, there I was in the pool bouncing a baby when my eye was caught by actions off. My dogs were running, nay hurtling with purpose from one side of the garden to another and back again. Silently, save for the pounding paw falls. All three of them.

But I didn’t have three dogs.

Baby chortled as they veered towards us but this was not a chortling matter because my boys were hunting and appeared in grave danger of catching their prey, a terrified muntjac, ably assisted by the dog proofed fencing.

Terrified myself I screamed. The daughter stopped chortling and joined the scream as we exited the water and ran, dripping, up the grass, sidestepping the canine posse.

“Close the doors,” I shouted imagining the carnage if the three of them gained ingress to Casa Carmichael. “Shut the doors!” I can still see my family’s startled faces. Mr C, tearing his eyes from the, whatever, grand prix began to argue but then noticed the silent movie occurring outside.

I threw baby at an older daughter and Carmichael mere and pere took on the beasts.

“We have to get the gates open and drive it towards them,” I screamed. “Shit, shit, shit, shit!”

what's occurring? (Mrscarmichael)
what’s occurring? (mrscarmichael)

The muntjac was tiring. Bertie was not. Flynn, bless him, probably hadn’t even noticed the deer and just thought his brother was being kind and including him in a game for once.

I got to the gate. Mr Carmichael did a fine job herding. Too fine in fact because the critters arrived before I managed to unbolt the rusty lock.

It was all very scary.

Have you ever felt the Devil? I believe I I did that day.

This bit of fence was six foot, the dwarf deer two at most but it had no time to either work the math or stand and wait for me to wrench open the gate. The force of its cloven hooves on my back pushed me into the wood panels as it flew over fence and off, I hope, to safety.

The dogs panted and lapped water, the peanut gallery applauded, Michael Schumacher won the race and, for quite some weeks, I sported a hoof shaped bruise.

Today there’s a muntjac in my garden but this one can take his time to forage. My boys are hunting elsewhere now.

in which mrscarmichael spring cleans her mind, body, soul and a couple of fridges as well

For three week now I have had more time on my hands. Tuesday the 8th April we put our one remaining dog, Flynn to sleep. He was fifteen years and one month and had enjoyed a wonderful life. His liver failed. There was no choice. I shall write an homage to our boy in another post. One when I’m not due out for drinks and dinner at a London venue where puffy eyes are frowned upon by the unbotoxed, at least.

flynn then aged ten (mrscarmichael)
flynn, then aged ten (mrscarmichael)

The following day Mr Carmichael had his scheduled knee operation. It was a biggy, week-wise in Casa Carmichael.

That same week we had builders repairing a leaking roof and bathroom beneath. There were approximately nine of them inside a confined space, thankfully upstairs, all hurrying to finish the refit because I had indicated future displeasure if they did not leave by Friday evening. Mr C and his new knee were reappearing on the scene midday Saturday and I wanted, nay needed, the construction accoutrements gone. For his safety and my sanity. Which had been tested through the previous five days. They left and left a dreadful job behind them. I am not going to name and shame because two more full days work this week and replacement of all the tiles, grouting and most of the paint and I am all but happy with the snagging. And I have purchased some stunning Designers’ Guild towels to go with. #goldengreenyyellowdelight.

Going with the glory of the towels and a list of far bathroom rules. 1) towels remain in said bathroom. They do not transport themselves to bedroom floors various or to uni daughter’s residence in Birmingham. 2) they are not used when fake tan is being applied. 3) they are not used when hair colour is applied. 4) they are hung in the order I have demonstrated. Mr Carmichael appears too frightened to use them and has been seen taking his own white one down the hallway. I think I can count that as a success, don’t you?

So that was the week that was. I could have done with some Prozac. I made do with wine. And had many moments where I could not talk to anyone coherently and without shaking. Looking back, I was obviously a tad stressed but these times happen don’t they? And our only choice is to make it through.

We all miss Flynn dreadfully. For those who have followed mrscarmichael’s blog for a while will know that we lost our other Goldie, Bertie, last June. Two within a year could be considered flakey but he was even older than his brother and in many ways had an even more magical life. Making ‘Naughty Dog’ a Life’s Work, my tribute to him. Seventeen years of being a doggy family.

All you dog owners will know exactly where I’m coming from and those who haven’t got a dog yet can imagine, I’m sure. All the things I don’t have to do now. All the things I don’t get to do. And the little electric thought shocks keep on coming. I need to get home for Flynn. He needs letting out, feeding, walking. You get the idea.

And this is why I have more time on my hands now. I have to do more things now I’m not quite so tied to hearth and home. I have a lot of ideas.

empty but pristine (mrscarmichael)
empty but pristine (mrscarmichael)

This morning I decided it was time to spring clean the fridges. I have been on a mini shopping go slow these past few days (more detail in a future post) and thus the timing was ideal. Since Goldie and Big Foot departed their goldfish coil and I gleefully hurled their house into the bin, cleaning the fridges has taken over from fishtank as a most hated job. Ahhh but the completer achiever in me loves the result.

Now I guess I should go shopping but before I do let me tell you about some of the other plans I have for more personal housekeeping.

I have bought walking boots. They are very ugly and I haven’t worn them in yet but I have been walking. Proper walking as opposed to the elderly dog amble Flynn and I had become accustomed to of late. I have been tramping the trails we did when the boys were younger and I have been remembering many of the eventful incidents with a grin on my face. As I say, another post.

I do appear to have broken/disjointed my toe. But I will treat this as a set back not a failure and still join the Chiltern Ramblers.

I am determined to go back on my diet next week. That’s the body sorted then.

Free time for my mind will involve more writing. See, I’m doing it already. Right now I should be donning my glad rags for my evening in Blackfriars but I’m here, typing on my pc. It’s a good thing, I think. As long as I can stop myself feeling guilty for doing it. #speedtyping.

Another thing I have decided to do now I’m free as a bird is to get out and see more things. You have already seen evidence of my determination in Art Meets Architecture (A Cultural Diversion) a most successful, get out and do want you want for as long as you want, exercise. I even went to a movie straight afterwards. #liberating.

Mr Carmichael is surpassing all predictions on knee recovery so his days as Lady Penelope are all but over now he can drive his own Thunder Bird again. And mine as chauffeur vanishing in a puff of exhaust smoke.

My mind is feeling, oh so much, cleaner already. I just have to force myself to stay away from the puppy pages on Champ Dogs. #howlongwillthatlast?

Is It Just a Car Thing or Are Men Really From Another Planet?

On Friday evening, still reeling from the extortionate price of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in our local Budgens (a supermarket one only goes to for wine if personal stocks have evaporated and you are late for dinner), Mr Carmichael and I headed off on a double date with friends and a takeaway curry.

Mr C was at the helm so by proxy I was too. It’s always safer if not at all relaxing. I find another pair of eyes and breaking foot imperative. My husband does not concur. In fact he gets very cross if I correct, criticise, brace myself or God forbid, gasp. It’s just something we disagree upon.

We stopped at the T junction in the centre of our village, not only because someone was on the pedestrian crossing and Mr Carmichael had seen him without prompting but because of the deafening roar coming from our right.

hands up who likes this (Ford-speedcar-blogspot.com)
hands up if you like this because I don’t (Ford-speedcar-blogspot.com)

I though of planes crashing (we’re not too far from Heathrow). I wondered if a train was about to tumble off the bridge beside us. Or maybe the Moscow meteor hadn’t all come to earth in the Russian Steppes. I jerked my head to look and almost missed a silver streak as it zoomed across our headlights. I gasped a non-confrontational and therefore permissible gasp and we turned right towards our papadums, chicken madras, sag aloo and Peshwari nan as a boy racer careered up the hill towards a 20mph zone.

Editor’s note: mrscarmichael is not in a position to confirm it was a ‘boy’ at the wheel.

Oh, please? Don’t even go there, Ed.

“I’m asking you this because I’d really like to know. I don’t want to start anything but what did you think when you saw that car?” I asked.

Mr C looked at me.

“Eyes on the road, please. No, it’s a genuine question although I do think I know the answer.”  The last portion of the sentence was sotto voce I admit.

“He’s enjoying himself.”

Author’s note: See, Ed even my man assumes a male driver.

“I think it might be a Noble but I’m not sure about the fairing. Have you heard of them? It’s an English make.”

What have I started? And notice that he hasn’t asked what I thought because of course he knows what I think.

I thought,” I said, ” I thought, what a wanker!”

“He isn’t hurting anyone. He must live round here.”

“Let’s hope not (hurting anyone) and let’s hope not (living around here). I think it’s truly embarrassing,” I replied.

“I wish we’d never sold the Porsche.”

Oh good Lord, what have I started? He’s forgotten that we were fighting each other not to drive it by the end, so hard was the ride and so difficult, nay impossible was it to fit four carseats in.

“I just don’t get racing cars on the road. If you rock up one day with a convertible Maserati I’ll let you give me a set of keys,” I said confident in the fact this will never happen.

not too scruffy (desktops.com)
not too scruffy (desktops.com)

And the girls don’t need car seats anymore. Perfect.

“Or a Bentley. What about a Bentley?”

But I know what he wants,  what he really, really wants, what he starts mumbling about every time he crosses a decade boundary.

“If I ever had the money ………..”

a red Ferrari (hdw.eve-64.com)
a red Ferrari (hdw.eve-64.com)

He wants this to drive to London in the rush hour, to cram golf clubs into a miniscule boot on a Summer’s eve, to transport the one remaining dog to walks on the common and to pour all his disposable income into the fuel tank.

Well, it ain’t happening, Mister. Not on my watch and not, I’m afraid, in your lifetime.

We got to our friends house without mishap. We enjoyed a very yummy curry. We did not speak about cars again that night. I drive a Fiat 500

good enough for me and the boy (mrscarmichael)
good enough for me and the boy (mrscarmichael)

and yesterday morning Mr Carmichael woke me overwhelmed with the news that on the way to get the Sunday papers he had tracked the silver streak down to a neighbouring street and that it is indeed a Noble. It was 7.30 am.

Men really are from Mars and, on occasion, I wish they’d go back for a sabbatical.

Reading Repository #2 – My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding

meet the family (mrscarmichael)
meet the family (mrscarmichael)

Interspersed within my month of January’s and a particle of February’s chosen book list will be some Christmas haulage. This is not a bad thing because it gives me an opportunity to read that which I would naturally bypass. And being out of my comfort zone be it travel, company or indeed reading matter is an ambition of mine for the year 2013.

Clare Balding’s, My Animals and Other Family, falls neatly into this resolutional category. In fact, I remember clearly telling Mr Carmichael not to get it. But, as discussed in Dear Santa, the Christmas Eve buying bonanza went into husbandly overdrive and resulted in quite a few books for yours truly.

In the UK there will be few who do not know Clare Balding. She has been on our television screens for many years now, first as a jockey and then a racing correspondent. Her TV presence has grown latterly and Balding’s 2012 could be likened, in the world of business, to a friendly takeover. Omnipotent. That’s the word.

She was the face of the BBC’s Olympic and Channel 5’s Paralympic coverage and never off our screens for a while this summer. For the very most part she did a jolly good job and even when I became engaged in a tweet-fest over her, I guess he’ll have to settle for bronze, comment, the apology made it all ok again.

A good year then to publish an autobiography. I’m sure it must be one of this country’s best sellers. It’s been marketed hard (Mr C was sold), we all love a horse or a doggy story and Clare comes across as a jolly nice kinda gal.

Now, Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals is in my all time top ten reads and I think, just as I cannot bare to read Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley because it is my favourite movie of all time and I don’t want the novel to be anything but brilliant, I was slightly put off the offering by the ‘clever’ inversion of my conservationist hero’s title. Make up your own, Clare, I thought when first spotting the publication.

Here I must mention that the author does not only credit the original title inventor but asked his wife for permission to flip.

The premise of the book is that the author’s life is relayed by reference to a specific animal (horse or dog) in each chapter and because they, the horses and dogs, have been such a pivotal presence in Balding family life (her father Ian, the champion horse trainer) it is a valid platform on which to tell her story. Clare herself calls it the ‘key’ that enabled her to write this, her first book.

I learnt a lot about Clare and the family she grew up in. A family where she and her brother ‘came very low down the pecking order’ but seem to have got as much out of parenting at a distance as they, perhaps, missed out on. The tales made me smile and I too fell for Frank, one of Clare’s life’s loves.

Anatole France is quoted at the outset. ‘ Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened’ and I think he is right. My soul was vigorously awakened by Bertie, my devil with a smile, Golden Retriever –  Making ‘Naughty Dog’ a Life’s Work.

And I did enjoy the book. It’s a summer read, a light and quick soufflé but there is nothing wrong with that is there? Were I cast away on a desert island I might err on the side of heftier tomes.

I am now reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach which I gave to Mr Carmichael for Christmas because I was pretty sure he wouldn’t give it to me.