Archive for January, 2010

Are you listening?

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.

~Christopher Morley

Oscar (dad)

“You can say any foolish thing to do to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, ‘You’re right! I never would’ve thought of that!’” — Dave Berry, musician


For more wise animals, please visit: Pet Pride!

The cloths of heaven

It was cold, sub-zero temperatures — and yet the air was so alive with crystals of moisture. There, at the end of the street, I saw a rainbow, which later on went to weave its colours into the clouds and skies.

Bringing to mind one of my favourite poems by W.B. Yeats…

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

For more magical skies, please visit: Skywatch!


Anklebiter # 1: Mama, you know what? I’m paranoid.

Brief pause while I wonder how to respond.

Anklebiter # 1: I know what paranoid means.


Me: Really? What?

Anklebiter: Well, it’s when you’re really annoyed with your parents.


Anklebiter: I’m paranoid quite a lot.

Does that mean I’m going to be kiddanoid when they’re teenagers then?

Seeds of hope

It amazes me to see trees in hibernation, seeds covered in thick crusts of frost

That defy gravity and, instead, cling to the branch in icy embrace.

Just think how fragile the bond between ice and tree:

All it takes is a slight change in temperature

And the whole relationship crumbles, ends

Fluttering to the ground in a soft explosions of snow.

Just like human relationships.

Yet those seeds survive the cold, those Arctic breezes

To blossom out into flowers of hope when spring arrives.

For more peeks into other parts of the world, please visit: My World!

The Given Day

At last, dear readers, I’m ready to bring you another review of yet another huge novel: The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.

Lehane  – he of thriller fame? Yes, the very one. The master of cool noir has now written a literary novel based on the Boston police strike back in 1919.

The Spanish flu, immigration, segregation of blacks and whites, corruption, violence – and love – all appear in this sweeping novel (over 700 pages).

The two protagonists are Luther, on the run after killing a mafia boss, and Danny, son of one of Boston’s most powerful police captains. The threads of their lives become intertwined in Boston, where they survive tough times and become friends, overcoming the racial barriers still in force at that time.

And how clever of you to notice that the horse in my photo is a reference to the mafia (think Godfather)!

The real main character though is the historical setting of Boston and the police strike of 1919. At times, the history takes over the story and makes the human characters pale into insignificance.

I enjoyed the story – and although it flagged a bit here and there – there was a thrilling finale followed by an all-too neat tying up of loose ends.

My final verdict? Rich, intricate storytelling with a hint of fury.


Help! The sky has disappeared!

Can you see it?

Nope – no sign of the sky around here.

Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to enjoy the scenery instead.

For some more visible skies, check out: Skywatch!

Contemplating your navel

As a language expert afficionado, you get asked all sorts of odd questions.

My editor wrote to ask me a vital question: What do we call that stuff that collects in the filter of a clothes dryer? I immediately told her the exact scientific word: fluff.

She then mailed me back and wanted to know what you call the stuff that collects in your belly button.

I know, I know… my day is filled with tasks of startling importance!

Naturally, I told her that we call this stuff ‘belly button fluff’, but then decided to dazzle her with the extent of my knowledge and let her know that the real term for these kind of ‘fluffs’ is, in fact, lint.

Yes – you get pocket lint, clothes dryer lint and – wait for it – navel lint!

I’ll wait while you applaud me for making your day.

Now, navel lint is truly fascinating to many, it seems. In fact, a Dr. Karl Kruszelniki from Australia even went as far as to delve into the in and outs (pun intended) of belly button fluff. He was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2002 for ‘achievements that cannot or should not be repeated’.

Thanks Wikipedia for this disturbing image!

This stuff defies the laws of gravity and – contrary to popular belief – it doesn’t migrate downwards from your armpits but upwards from your underwear.

One thing I wonder though is this: if your belly button sticks out does that mean you collect less fluff than if you’re an ‘innie’ and your belly button is sunk into your tummy?

I’ll just tiptoe away now and leave you to contemplate your navel – or maybe even someone else’s!

Working on ice

The ice started rumbling and shaking…

What was going on?

Even the dogs had a quick peek in mid-gallop.

It was the man with one of the best jobs you can have when it’s winter:

Driving a motorbike all day long and getting paid for it.

Yes – it’s the snow plough making the ice smooth for all the skaters!

And my, just look at the glorious view he has from his seat of work.

No wonder he’s out on the lake every day polishing the ice.

For more great views, please visit: My World!

The tail of a sick dog

Day one: Actually this tale starts a couple of days before day 1 when Oscar stopped eating altogether (well, apart from those reeds, sticks – and yes, that skate blade protector)! Shortly afterwards, he started rushing upstairs to leave me sticky packets of vomited love next to the bed. In the middle of the night. And then he would complete his love by leaving a few more tokens of affection downstairs – for good measure!

Anyway, when Day One came around I was wondering just how worried I should be. According to the vet, very worried…. So we rushed him into the emergency vet’s, got him hooked up to all sorts of drugs (and no, the vets weren’t sharing) and took X rays to see what was causing the problem.

Sir Pe was Florence Nightingale while I stayed at home with the anklebiters and would have bitten my nails to the quick, if I were a nail biter, that is.

After a long series of X rays, the verdict was that something was blocking his colon – and yes, I’m referring to the dog’s colon here!. Pumped full of antibiotics and nourishing liquids, he was allowed back home. We thought he was going to be operated on the next day and Sir Pe spent the night on the couch next to the dog.

Day two: I thought the dog was going to die in surgery, so I elected to spend the day at the vet’s.

The X rays weren’t in agreement with my verdict and instead they showed that the mysterious UIO (unidentified intestinal object) was on the move. Good news – no surgery! The bottom line that day (if you’ll excuse the pun) was to take Oscar out for cold walks in order to make him poop out whatever was in there!

To no avail.

He was on the drip, off the drip, out for a walk, on the drip, off the drip, out for a walk…

Finally, an enema did the trick and the dog came back full of life and mischief — and a lot emptier too.

Was it a foreign object? We don’t know. The vet on duty on Saturday thought so. The Sunday vet thought it was more likely to be a build-up of gas – a kind of canine colic if you like.

Remind me that my next pet will be something simple – like stick insects, a man or a slinky, perhaps!

For healthier pets, please visit: Pet Pride!

Pretty as a picture

It was cold. And a seemingly dull day.

Until I looked up and spied red streaks across the sky.

I rushed to find a gap in the trees and was blessed with this sight…

The branches of snow-laden trees gracefully framed this lovely view.

My heart swelled, and I was humbled.

For more stunning skies, please visit: Skywatch!

X-ray humour

Inside Oscar

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

- Groucho Marx

Cold beauties

I’m British, so of course, I like to talk about the weather! After all, what can be more fickle (apart from politicians)?

Since I moved to Sweden 13 years ago, I’ve had to get used to sights like this one…

Are you sure you can bear it? Oh – the snow, the ice, the bone-chilling cold…




However, if you can dance on the ice, then you can triumph over the cold!

And then, in really chilly weather, you might come across this…



If you’re squeamish, please close your eyes now!

…. Are your eyes averted?


That’s right – frosted hair! (My neighbour usually has lovely brown hair.)

Why is she smiling?

Well, it might just have something to do with views like this!

I’m not sure I can bear anymore though…



So much cold beauty to enjoy!

For more gorgeous views, please visit: My World!

I can do it with my eyes closed!

UPDATE: Thank you for your warm wishes. No operation on Oscar was needed and whatever was stuck has now been expelled … by force!

Running like the wind…

So easy, he can do it with his eyes shut!

For more running pets, please visit: Pet Pride!

Rising fog

Winter took us by surprise, marooning jetties and boats in its icy embrace.

It swept the world in its freezing cloak of fog.

Fog that tried to escape the weight of snow, the burden of ice and instead tried to dance

To where the new dawn was spreading out fingers of warm colour.

It seemed as if the ice itself was soaring upwards

To hear the heavens sing.

For more great shots, please visit: Skywatch.

What kind of pot are you on?

And now… just in time for the start of a new school term … and as light relief amongst all the boring lovely snow photos I keep on posting…

May I present the teapot that performs complicated calculations while making the perfect cup of tea?

Oh, that precious spice!

UPDATE: You can find the recipe for these saffron cantuccini here!

Last week, I mentioned how saffron buns taste of medicine. What I should have said is that anything made of saffron tastes slightly medicinal. Why? Well, it has been used as a medicine for centuries… And not only is it famous for its bitter taste, but it is also the world’s most precious and expensive spice. You need to ‘harvest’ 75,000 Saffron flowers in order to produce a pound of saffron. And yes – it’s all done by hand!

The cold dark months over here in Sweden are saffron months – symbolized by the bright yellowness of saffron buns. And in our household, we have another saffron tradition (a year round one, I might add): the consumption of saffron cantuccini. Sir Pe got the recipe from a couple who run a Bed and Breakfast in England.

You need an apron and ear plugs if you’re going to make this recipe with noisy kitchen helpers anklebiters! After a lot of stirring and sore wrists, you put the dough in the oven – only to take it out after a short while.

And yes – it’s supposed to look like yellow horse doo-doo. Thank you for asking!

It then goes back into the oven overnight and miraculously turns into sugar-coated cantuccini the following morning!

And because it’s good for the brain, keeps away colds and soothes the nerves, I think I’ll have to eat a few kilos, don’t you?

For purely medicinal purposes.

For more tasty posts, please visit: My World!

Say cheese!

Dear Santa,

When you brought my owner, Lady Fi, a new black box thingie – something with four letters like DSLR – did you realize how annoying it would be for the rest of us?

As soon as I put  my head down to get some well-earned sleep and put in some good ole canine snoring…

… I am suddenly disturbed by her nuttiness oohing and aahing at my cuteness and all-round adorableness. Now, while it is true that I am pretty lovable, I don’t need to be reminded of it every time I try to get to sleep!

It’s no wonder then that after the umpteenth time of being asked to say cheese…

I started looking – how shall I put it? – cheesed off!

Please please let her go outside with her new toy so that I can get my beauty sleep!



For less annoying pet owners, please visit: Pet Pride

Bella Luna

After unseasonably warm weather, December finally got into winter mode with a sudden sharp frost

That let us walk on a carpet of diamonds.

And the moon – oh that glorious honeydew melon of a moon…

It hung in the early morning sky, a golden honey orb that painted the world in gold and silver and ice.

Here’s wishing you all a remarkable new year…

For more dazzling photos, please visit: Skywatch.


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