Pink Phizz

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Proud daddy

Walrus is flying high today. His team won a place in the premiership yesterday. That's right, West Ham did him proud. It's fun listening to him watching one of his games. His descriptions of various players/plays in the game are quite colorful. Walrus managed to go from roaring at his team, to a nice contented purr at the end. The sign of pure bliss.

Yeah, they definitely made him proud yesterday.

The weekend report

What a lovely three days we had! Saturday, Walrus took it upon himself to plane/sand two out of the three doors that needed done (so they can actually shut properly now). And, he had the initative to take them outdoors to do them so the house wouldn't be covered in sawdust. That, folks, was a wonder in itself. Now if I could only get him to put things away more often. Case in point, it's wonderful that he will feed the birds when he is home, but I constantly find the container that holds the bird food left open for the day. One of these days I won't see it opened, and the squirrels will think they will have died and gone to heaven! What can I say. Just like a kid.

Saturday night we went to our local pub to watch the football game between the USA and England. I would love to write that we, the Americans, won, but we didn't. it was 2-1 in their favor. However, we gave them a run for their money. Our team looked great out there. That in itself was something to be proud of.

Let's see. On Sunday, we decided to take another walk. This time we only did a six miler. However, we climbed seven hills in those six miles. I hate hills. I absolutely do. All in all, it was a great walk. The weather was perfect for it. It's pretty cool to be able to get right up and personal with the farmyard animals we see along the way; the sheep, goats, cows, and horses. We managed to flush out some pheasants, made several rabbits bolt, and heard our first coo coo bird (a sign of Summer says Walrus). And best of all there was a pub at the end of the line. That made all that trudging worth while. Since Flower will be out of school for the Summer, she will be coming along now for the ride too. It's always great going with a kid because you see the landscape in their eyes, which can be so much different than how an adult views things.

And, yes, Mad Hatter went along too. But you already knew he would, didn't you.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Where eagles dare to tread

Today is suppose to be the prettiest day of the year; so far it appears that way, and since it's also Friday, Walrus is going out to play golf after work. Asked him if he was gonna wear shorts today, since it's the first day of at least 80 degree weather. He said he wasn't ready. Good. Cause I don't think too many people are ready to see his white legs either. There would be more boogies going down than eagles being made if he had attempted to wear shorts today.

He is going out with two of his golfing mates. One of them is retiring today. Now that is a scary thought. Anyway, Walrus looked pretty smart when he left. He looked like he knew a thing or two about golf.

One thing I have learned is that looks can be deceiving.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Mad Hatter

I think it's only fitting that our mutt, affectionally known to this journal as the Mad Hatter, should have a place here. In order to understand how we came about naming him after this character for this purpose, I suppose I should tell you a little bit about his background, hence his personality.

Back in November of 2003, and I'll admit it, I decided that I was in dire need of a four-legged companion so when Walrus was out producing the bacon I wouldn't be alone. I would have opted for a kitten/cat. But nooo. Walrus wouldn't have any of that nonsense. He is a dog person. Okay, that's fine with me. So then I was thinking more on the lines of a nice big dog. Someone that I wouldn't have to bend down to scratch their ears. Someone who would fill our home with his presence, if only through their sheer size. You know something like a Lab, Retriever, or a Shepard. But nooo. Walrus wouldn't have any of that. He likes little dogs like Terriers, or Jack Russell types.

So what did we get, you might ask? Well, we got the smallest dog I have ever had. And we got the largest dog Walrus has ever had. We got a terrier mutt. He looks like a cross between a Border Terrier and an Airdale. And he managed to inherit the worse of both characters all rolled into one. At least when he is on the loose.

But I digress, where was I. Oh, so back in November of 2003, Walrus and I went a hunting for the perfect dog, a mutt. We went to three rescue centers. Just to look, you understand. At the first two, I found some that I really liked, but didn't like Walrus. Walrus found some that he really liked, but I didn't like. (Side note: Funny how many dogs don't like men, but they all seem to like women. Smart dogs, I'd say.) Anyway, as it's said, third time's a charm. We went to the furtherest rescue center from us, Viking Oaks, to be precise, and lo and behold there was our dog. Well, the dog I fell in love with. He was so cute. Just kinda sitting there with this mournful look on his face (one, I might add, we have later learned he must have practiced in front of a mirror because he has shown us that he can turn it on and off like a light bulb). I would like to say that Walrus fell for him too, instant like, but nooo, it didn't happen quite that way.

Anyway, so here is this poor little mutt, sitting in the corner of his cage, looking like he has just lost his best friend. A sorry, miserable sight; probably the worse I have ever witness in all my years on this green earth. The dogs to the right of him and to the left were just barking like there was no tomorrow. They didn't have the look of sorrow about them at all, not at all. The mutt must have kept his secret, "the look," to himself. Finally, the mutt called to us. Just some short little barks. So we answered.

"Oh, Walrus! I like that one! He's so cute!"
"That one?"
"Yeah, that one. He's not to big for you, is he?"
"Uh, noooo."
"Well, com'on, let's get the lady to let us see him."

So with that, the woman put a leash on the mutt and away we went. Literally. The mutt took off like a shot. The mutt damn near pulled Walrus's arm right outta his socket. In fact, for about five minutes, until he could equalize his arms by pulling it back into place, Walrus's arm was dragging the ground. It was one of the funniest sights I have ever witness. And by laughing, I told him so.

Needless to say, Walrus was not amused.

"Alice! We are not getting a dog now. You are going back to the States for a visit, and I will not have a strange dog in the house, alone, while you are gone. God know's what he'll do while the house is empty!"

That was Walrus putting his foot down. This is me, sitting in the car. For my part, dead silence.

"You are gonna pout now, right?"
"But Walrus! If we don't take him today, someone else will get him."
"I doubt that."
"Oh com'on; someone will come along and fall in love with him, just like us."
"Correction, I am definitely not in love with that dog. He damn near pulled my arm off!"
"All right, we won't get him." (sob, sob)

We got the mutt. That day. Brought him home. He was so cute. Found out that he was about six years old. House trained. Could sit. Lie down on command. Perfect. Wow. Then we took him out for his first walk. Decided to let him go; because, afterall, Walrus's last dog walked next to him.

Always. Naturally, right?

The Mad Hatter struck. He did a runner. I figured out that day that Walrus should have been a rugby player. Wow, could he run and block! Admiring his tackle of the mutt, I innocently asked him how he learned to do that. He just stared a me. And blinked.

It's been two years now since we got the mutt, the Mad Hatter. We let him go in the woods now. To run. He never walks with us. Sometimes we see a flash of tan fur go streaking by, and we are assured that it is the mutt. Finally, when he is exhausted with his tongue hanging out, we are able to entice him back on to his lead. And then he pulls one of us all the way home. Maybe someday, his body won't be able to cash in on the cheques that his mind is writing, and he will sedately walk along with us like we see all the other dogs in the woods do with their owners.

"Ah, huh."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


You know it's said that if you want to see a country, walk it. And this is what we like to do. Walrus goes nuts if you call us ramblers. We are not ramblers. They tend to stroll along, we definitely don't stroll. Sometimes it feels like we are out on manuvers or a march, especially when our backpacks are loaded down with everything but the kitchen sink. Every single time, the mutt, whom I have dubbed as the Mad Hatter for this journal, becomes a real pain in the ass. The only time it's fun when he pulls on his lead is when we are going uphill, which is a lot of the time, I might add.

So Sunday, being the first really beautiful Sunday that we could get away in such a long time, we decided to take a walk. Yes, I know, there have been one or two other Sundays like this one this Spring, if even nicer. Don't even remind Walrus of them, that will drive him nuts too. However, those Sundays had to do with flooring, or lack of it, and having to lay the new floor. Of course, if he had done this job over the winter season; well, we won't go there, will we.

Anyway Saturday afternoon, before the fiasco of Saturday night, we got out our books and maps of various walks and got down to business zeroing in on where exactly we would go the next day. We decided on a moderate 8 and 3/4 mile march, uh walk.

We seemed to be walking all day, when I asked Walrus approximately how many miles had we gone.
"You sure? It sure seems longer than that."
"How many more we got to go?"
"Almost seven."
"Damn. Maybe we shudda taken a shorter walk; you know, like a five miler or something."
"I'm not feeling any pain. Maybe you are outta shape."


So after walking through countless apple groves; seeing an enormous amount of "stunning" scenery; walking up several steep hills, only to walk down again (which by-the-way, as a side note: I find rather pointless don't you?); eating lunch; wading through muddy patches; having to pee in the middle of nowhere; getting stung by neddles, we finally got back to where we started. And I have to honestly admit, my favorite part is when we can see that lovely car in the carpark. I feel like a horse heading back to the barn. My sore, tired feet literally dance all the way back, knowing that soon I will be taking those bloody hiking boots off.

Ahhh, pure bliss.

This Sunday, we are planning on going again. We'll get out the books and maps on Saturday; Walrus will plot out our march, uh walk. We will fix lunches and various other treats. Pack up the all weather gear for wind, rain, etc. And Walrus swears that that damn mutt will not be going again - ever. The Mad Hatter will stay home, and Walrus says he doesn't care how the mutt feels about that, because he is just a pain in the ass all the way. This of course, is coming from a man who knows all the birds around in our area, most of the plants, and won't even kill a bug in the house. Now me, on the other hand, is another story (on bugs that is). You enter my domaine, consider yourself dead meat. Anyway, so Mad Hatter is to stay home from now on. And Walrus doesn't give a damn how the mutt feels, let him pout, he says.

Uh huh. The mutt is coming. As sure as my feet will be killing me next time. For if Walrus's marches, uh walks, can be a pain in the feet for me, then Mad Hatter can be his pain in his ass.

Life wouldn't be the same without Mad Hatter, or for Walrus, for that matter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A ghostly shade of pale

So a couple of weeks ago I was cruising through our local weekend paper, and my eyes lighted upon this nifty little advertisement about 'A Ghost Night at Upnor Castle.' I decided to alert Walrus to this little advert for an exciting evening.

"Hey, Walrus, I found a great advert in the paper about a ghost night on the 21st of May. So instead of us going to the pub like we always do and me having to be bored and fidgety 'cause it's just you and your mates, why don't we ring up about the tickets and go to this instead."

Walrus peruses the advert and says," Sure, why not, sounds like fun. We'll get two more tickets and see if Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum will come too."

And this is how Saturday night came about for me, Walrus, Twiddle Dee, and Twiddle Dum. A night that we will always remember. A night that will go down in the annuals of Saturday nights, never, ever to be forgotten. A one-of-a-kind night, a one-off.

Saturday night finally arrived, the Twiddle's picked us up, and we set out to a nice little pub for a few round of drinks and a great meal. Conversations centered around what both couples had been up to since the last we all got together, and about the fantastic night that was waiting for us. Twiddle Dee and I talked about how it was great to get out and do something else, instead of always heading for the pub like lemmings to the sea.

Finally, 7:15 rolled around and we, along with our group, are standing around at the gate like a bunch of sheep, waiting for our group to be called. After we are briefed on the historic value of the castle, we are solumnly told to stay together and never, ever wander off alone. We are reminded that when we see the "Lady in Black," we are to follow her wherever she goes.

So we did.

We went to the magazine area, where 5, 206 thousand barrels of gun powder were once stored, where our guide gravely and oh so thoroughly explained how important it was to never, ever let a spark of anything enter that room, or the "Big Bang" would be repeated, on just a slightly smaller scale. We were told about a ghost sighting there by two old biddies, in the day time no less! They called him the "Man in Black." Twiddle Dee kept referring to the ghost as the "Black Man." We giggled over that.

We stayed there for about 30 minutes. No ghost to be had.

The next two hours were spent going all around the castle, inside and out. Listening, listening, and yet more listening to the droning of the various guides talking, talking, and yet more talking about the four hundred (or is it five hundered) years of history of the castle. We heard about Elizabeth I; heard about how the Dutch whooped the English (which you will find in the Dutch schools' history books, but you won't find in the U.K. schools' history books); and heard about all the other uses that Upnor Castle had been used for. Finally, for the final treat of the evening, we all got to listen to a ghost story that had absolutely nothing to do with the castle Upnor, but was read by a gentleman all dressed up like a Charles Dicken's street player tripping over the words like a drunken sailor tripping over cobblestones at night. I fidgeted, others slept.

We listened to talk all night long. Didn't see a ghost. Not one damn ghost. None.

When the Twiddle's dropped us off, they laughed and voiced what a great time they had had with us. How it was an experience that they would never, ever forget. And, they actually suggested that they would be doing the calling, instead of us calling them for the next Saturday night out.

Gee, I thought that that was kinda nice.

"Hmmm, I thought tonight went rather well," I remarked casually, walking through our doorway. "I mean, dinner was great. The castle was a bit boring. Okay very, very boring! Might have had more fun watching paint dry. And why was it called a 'Ghost Night at Upnor Castle?' We didn't see any ghosts."

"That's 'cause they were all at the pub."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fledglings lost

On Friday night, my husband, who shall from now on be called Walrus, noticed that the Great Tit's nesting house had gone suddenly quiet. It was like no one at all was home. No sounds coming from the inside, and no movement at all around the nest. Now for the past two weeks the noise had been almost deafening with the chicks inside wailing all the time for food. Watching the two parents frantically trying to find food for these chicks, working almost non-stop on an hourly basis made for exhaustive viewing on our part.

So when Walrus noticed the lack of frenzied activity around the nest, he went immediately to check why the parent birds had abandoned the nest. There were four little chicks inside, all dead. We don't know what killed them. We will never know what killed them. It was a very sad and somber moment for me and Walrus when we found them.

They were thrown into the compost container.

Of mice and men

We have some little wood mice, actually darling little tykes, who we feed a biscuit to every evening. We had four at one point, a mother and her three little ones. One evening last week, we watched a hawk sweep in and catch the mother off guard.

Now we have three little orphans left, and the hawk's chicks dined quite well that night.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A bird's eye view of things

In our small garden we have quite a variety of birds that are nesting, in the process of raising their young, or have just released their fledglings into the great unknown. Among these birds, some have become quite attached to us, or rather we have become quite attached to them.

One blackbird that hangs out in our garden we fondly call Mr. Bob. Now Mr. Bob is a real pain in the ass. He is bossy, very territorial, and downright sneaky. His sneakiness I will get to in a moment.

Another bird is a sweet little female robin. She definitely has a brood that she is raising. We have found out that she loves raisins. In fact, she will let us feed her right out of our hand. The other day, my beloved left the kitchen door open, and she flew onto the countertop and picked up a raisin that had been left on it. Now that was cool. And this is where Mr. Bob's sneakiness come in.

I decided to leave the back door open so that Little Miss Robin could come collect her raisins off of the kitchen countertop (only because having her feed out of my hand can be a real drag sometimes, you know, jumping up and down at her beck and call) and who shows up and eats all of the raisins? You guessed it, Mr. Bob. Sneaky Mr. Bob.

Poor Little Miss Robin was left sitting on the fence with a look of shock on her face.