Online Shopping Sucks & Peace At Last.!!

I despise online shopping… with a vengeance.! Saturday evening I was sat, looking for a decent sized Mr. Bean teddy for my grandson who’s Mr. Bean mad at the moment… he watches all the cartoons and has a toy Mini that he loves playing with. The only place that had decent sized teddies was Amazon, so I browsed Amazon.com and found several in various sizes… with two issues, one was that it would cost me twice what the bear cost in shipping fees and the other was that it would get to the UK between December 26th and Jan 11th..! So I tried Amazon.nl… they had the same bear at a similar price but didn’t ship to the UK… ffs.! So I tried Bol.com, same issue… no shipping to the UK.

Okay… so I went to Amazon.co.uk who offered me free shipping and had a good amount of bear’s left, so I wouldn’t miss out… but who refused to accept Bear’s Dutch payment card.! Apparently to shop for the UK, you have to live in the UK, have a UK mobile number and UK payment card.! How the fuck do people shop for their UK relatives when they don’t live in the UK.? Anybody.?! Because all I seem to get is grief from these oh-so-convenient shopping sites that are nothing but a massive pain in my ass.! I can’t go shopping because everywhere is closed due to the ‘Rona restrictions and the Post Office is open for an hour a day, four days a week, but the queues are ridiculously long and walking all the way into town, standing around for an hour and walking back again would cause me more pain and for far longer than it’s worth.

Last year I had to put up with my grandson’s Christmas present finally turning up on February 20th, due to Post.NL and DHL being too incompetent to deliver on their promises. We’ve had Christmas every December since the year 336, thanks to the Romans. Post.NL has been around since 1926 and DHL since the late 1970’s and yet neither can get their acts together after 94 years and 40 years respectively.! WTF.! Thanks to my stepmother’s best friend, who seeing my post on the family chat group agreed to order and pay for the bear herself and get it shipped from within the UK (and I would transfer the money into her account), my grandson will get his present in time for Christmas.

Finally, my ex-‘s mortgage issues will become a thing of the past. After being messed around for almost six months, the paperwork is finally completed, witnessed, notarised, scanned to PDF and sent and I can finally stop stressing over the stupid damned hoops I (and Bear) have had to jump through to get the process finalised. My ex- can do whatever the hell he wants to with his house and I can finally silence my phone again and ignore his stupid messages. Peace at last.!

A Pointless Exercise, Moulting & Going Grey

Stupidly, my first thought upon waking this morning was ‘I need to clean the windows’. Stupid because it’s chucking it down outside and blowing a howling gale and window washing would be a particularly pointless exercise. Being an expert at pointless exercises, I washed the downstairs windows.! With the help of the dog who found it mesmerising watching me clean the inside of the windows and a whole load of fun, following my cleaning of the outside windows with his nose… meaning the inside had to be cleaned again.!

Not content with leaving smeary nose prints on the windows he decides to shout at the local moggy, who blatantly ignores his persistent barking and yelping and whining to be noticed and sits on her doorstep with her nose in the air, while the dog is almost hysterical and scrabbling like crazy to get through the recently cleaned windows with his slobbery paws and strings of over-excitable slobber splattering everywhere in his haste to race from one end of the sofa to the other, to see if there’s a way he can get through the window to shout at the cat up close and personally…

Which is just mildly entertaining to watch when you know that the second he gets anywhere near a cat, he whimpers and tries to find somewhere to hide from it… so full of bravado this pup.! So my totally pointless exercise of the day was just as pointless as I knew it would be, but not for the reason I thought.

For some reason demon dog is moulting and I have no idea why. He moulted half his body weight during the summer with the excuse that he was shedding his winter coat… I’m accepting no such excuse this time and holding him personally responsible for the blanket of hair I have to vacuum from my floors and furniture on a daily basis. At this rate I could weave a dog rug. I’ve told him I’m going to give him a full body mohawk if it keeps up… his Papa is of course on his side, but then Bear moults just as much as the dog. Now that he’s working his way into his fifties his hair’s going grey and his beard’s turning white and moulting. Although the ginger bits are still ginger, which amuses me no end.

What doesn’t amuse me is the wing of white hair I’m developing on my left temple. I’ve been going silver since 2012, but this is more than just a few glittery strands, it’s a whole swatch of hair that gets whiter and whiter every time I see it, which isn’t often as there are only two mirrors in this house and neither one is positioned to catch a glimpse of the facial area unless you’re over 6 feet tall, which I’m not. I will be the youngest in my family to go grey.! My grandmother and father didn’t have a single grey hair until they were well into their fifties and my mother is 68 and only has a handful of silver on her head, she’s never dyed it.

Living On The Edge, Christmas Pudding & The New Niece

On Thursday evening, Bear decided to transfer from the dining table to the sofa with his iPad and phone, to be comfortable with his internet addiction… while I finished up the genealogy I was working on before joining him. The dog is of course curled up in my spot on the sofa beside him, so I sat on the other side of the dog, not wanting to disturb his sleep, seeing as the little shit had performed several ‘near misses’ and ‘hit and run’s’ that day whilst tear-assing like a demon around the living room and patio… and I had the bruises to prove it.!

Eventually Bear re-enters reality long enough to start streaming the Mandalorian, but then pauses it and goes back to his iPad. Twenty minutes later he puts that down and picks up his phone, then goes back to his iPad. Meanwhile I’m sat like a dick on the sofa, twiddling my damn thumbs and waiting for him to un-pause the Mandalorian, so we can watch it. Intuitively the dog has sensed my irritation with his internet engrossed Papa and decides to go bring him back to the present by clambering across his iPad screen and I moved into my spot on the sofa.

Bear then checks the time and says it’s now too late to watch the Mandalorian and switches the TV to some MTV crap, while I direct a filthy look in his direction.! I’ve just spent a little over an hour sat on my own, in silence, waiting for him to put the fucking Internet down and spend time with me, while he’s been poncing about playing some Star Trek style game, waiting for me to sit in my spot on the sofa because it seems the TV remote doesn’t work if I’m even an inch out of place.! Very little has been said in the meantime, while I consider the benefits of smashing his sodding iPad over his head and shoving the wi-fi cable up his ass.!

Yeah, taking deep breaths doesn’t work for me… homicide probably would though.! Bear sure does like living on the edge of my sanity.

Which leads me to today’s Christmas pudding, which I started to make on Tuesday of last week, until I discovered the alcohol we had was either really old or damn near gone, so got all the dry ingredients, sans fruit, all together and sealed in a Tupperware box. On Wednesday Bear begrudgingly went to Gall & Gall after work to get a certain Pedro Ximenez sherry I’d requested, which having been recommended by Nigella Lawson, was a must try.! He comes home with a different Pedro Ximenez sherry because it was cheaper and he got a second bottle for half price… *sigh.! FML*

So on Wednesday evening I pour 3/4 of a bottle into the dried fruit and leave it to soak until the morning, hoping to God it doesn’t smell like paint thinner.! On Thursday I discover I’m almost out of aluminium foil.. ffs.! But at least it means another day of soaking for the dried fruit, which smells divine (thank you ethereal being I’m doubtful exists). Thursday evening I get the new aluminium foil and set to work to find I don’t have enough butter… yeah, it’s been one of those weeks.! I daren’t ask Bear to go back to the store for butter because he’s done a full week of early shifts and is almost dead on his feet… then Thursday night happens.

Friday, I don’t give two shits how dead he is, I want butter and I want it now or I’m just gonna dump the whole damned lot in the bin and drink the remaining sherry all by myself. Friday night, after driving an extra 62 miles to pick the kids up and bring them back for the weekend, Bear gets me the butter which goes straight in the freezer. We have a fairly pleasant evening as Bear’s “Oh shit.!” radar has finally kicked in and he’s being overly affectionate, while leaving his iPad on the dining table. Very wise. This morning I’m up early to get on with the pudding before I give up and get to work grating frozen butter, mixing the dry ingredients into the sherry and fruit and getting it into the glass bowl to be steamed for 6 hours.!

After almost two, the pudding has risen, which it shouldn’t, and the lid of the steamer is now an inch off the pan.. fuck.! Not good, because the pudding is now drying out and not cooking properly. So Bear and I had a brainstorm and came up with a different pan with a tighter lid, but no wiggle room so I couldn’t see how far up the bowl the water was… taking a chance I filled it to where I could just see a glint and put it in the oven. After three hours and two more paranoia fuelled refills, the pan lid starts vibrating, so I whipped it out the oven and let it cool before checking to see what was going on.

The pudding is overcooked on top, but undercooked on the bottom. Ffs.! I knew I should have given it up. Bear’s solution… turn it upside down on to a plate and shake it.! So now I have a dinner plate covered in over cooked and under cooked pudding pieces and lots of crumbs because rather than using a little common sense and allowing the pudding to cool in the bowl and sliding a knife around it to loosen the baked on parts, it got the shaking of it’s life and fell to pieces all over the counter top. So that’s Christmas pudding for this year… done and dusted. I’m not playing anymore.

On the plus side, my sister is pregnant.! After her ‘edge of COVID’ wedding back in March (the one we spent a fortune for and ended up locked down two days before.!), she and the new brother in law have been trying for a baby, in vain until last month when they discovered she was 5 weeks pregnant. So overjoyed are they to be becoming parents that their tiny human has already been gendered and named.! I only hope the disappointment isn’t too crushing if they discover they were wrong. Baby Nyla is due on June 19th 2021 and I am very much looking forward to having a baby niece.

The elusive baby is still elusive and presumed non-existent. It being mid-November with still no sign of my brother’s youngest daughter giving birth to whatever she decided she’s been carrying around inside her for the past 61 weeks and making out she was on the verge of birthing. I think she needs help. Miscarriages are horrifically traumatic, I’ve survived through 6 and needed help I didn’t get… which probably explains a lot. Pretending she’s pregnant in the hopes that it might actually come true is not a healthy way to cope or to live.

A New Grand-Baby And Their Asshole Father

On October 13th my youngest son’s fiancee produced grandbaby #2. A gorgeous little girl they’ve named Rose Marie. She has her father’s nose, which I’m particularly happy about and looks more like her father than her mother… I have yet to see whether condolences are necessary. Her big brother Riley (2) isn’t all that impressed and seems to be confused in most of the photos he has with her. I totally get that. My eldest was just as confused when his baby brother was born. He wanted to know where the baby in Mummy’s tummy had gone, and where the new baby brother had come from in the hospital. Probably so that he could take him back… which he wanted to do less than 5 years later.. poor kid.!

Rose Marie

Hopefully Riley’s relationship with his little sister is less volatile and a lot more companionable than his father and Uncle’s was and is. He’s been spending lots of time with his paternal grandparent’s and his Uncle since Rose was born, having fun and eating a proper healthy diet. His parents’ idea of parenthood has much to be desired as does their take on hygiene. They’ve been warned to get their act together, but they’re both so bloody lazy that only something dramatic will kick their asses.

Riley and Rose

#2 son passed his driving test last month, on the second attempt and did exactly as I knew he would… sped off in his tiny little 1 litre Corsa and drove like an asshole. His father’s fault… he paid for the lessons, the test, the car, the MOT, tax and insurance and taught him all the lazy ways to drive a car that professional instructors hate. #2 son has ADHD, ADD and autistic spectrum disorders, so it was no surprise to hear that he did 90mph in a 60mph zone and took corners on two wheels in a residential area. The dumb fucktard.!

What makes me want to go over there and smack his head into a wall is that he took little Riley to school in the car with no car seat and no seatbelt on because he was too damned lazy to walk 100 yards. He admitted it to his father when he confessed that the car was now fucked because he’d been driving like an asshole. He broke the fanbelt.! I can guess how he broke the fanbelt and I know it’s not going to be the last time he drives like an asshole; it will however be the last time he takes his child out in the car without proper restraints and protection because he’s had his one warning and he knows the consequences of him causing that baby harm will be me causing him harm. He knows I’m not joking.

The Elusive Baby

Yet again, a postponement on the birth of baby Gracie Mae. My niece is now allegedly, 42 weeks pregnant having been due, finally, on September 5th. This pregnancy has been memorable for my family only because of the amount of changes of due date and odd excuses for the lack of baby’s appearance.

My niece sadly miscarried last August at 18 weeks of pregnancy. It was her first pregnancy and they knew the baby was a girl. Within six weeks, it was announced that she was pregnant again and that due to her history of gynae issues eg. Ovarian cysts, fallopian tube infection, cervical cancer, she would be having a premature birth to save the baby around the six months mark.

In early March, we were informed she was having another girl and would be induced on March 28th. Then the date changed to April 28th. By May, no baby appeared and so we asked how Mum was doing.? She seemed happy and healthy and said the hospital had decided it was safe for her to go a few more months under observation. Her due date was then amended to July 4th.

On June 21st her plug dislodged and passed and excitement rose in expectation of the impending birth. On June 24th contractions were reported to have started naturally. Those contractions turned out to be Braxton Hicks and she was allowed home. By July 4th there was still no baby. My brother reported that my niece would be going into hospital on July 31st.

By August 5th still nothing so again we enquired as to Mum’s health. Still fine, still allegedly pregnant. By August 29th we were told the baby was due the first week of September. Mum herself confirmed she was due to go in for a C-section on September 1st. It didn’t happen. On September 2nd she was admitted to the hospital and put on a saline drip with Pitocin in, so that her labour came on a little more naturally to try to keep the baby safe.

Nothing happened and on September 4th she was told she’d be having a C-section the next day. That night contractions started. On September 5th, we were told the C-section would now be on September 9th. On September 8th, we got a message from Mum saying her partner was showing signs of Covid-19 infection so she wouldn’t be going into hospital the next day after all. Maybe on the 10th.

Since then, we’ve heard nothing and it’s now September 17th. By my estimation my niece is now 52.5 weeks pregnant, which of course is impossible, but it means that when she told everyone she was pregnant again last year she probably wasn’t. Either way, I’m very dubious as to the validity of her claims to be on the verge of giving birth in light of all the excuses, stalling and outright impossibility that she can still be pregnant.

But I’m still waiting….

Puppy Intelligence, Equity Transfer and A Dying Dad

The nutso puppy completed his introduction to Puppy Training course last week and received a certificate, having proved that he can sit, stay, come when called, touch his nose to our hands and eat his way through an intelligence test, rather than eat the treats as he was meant to. In his defence all the other puppies had been sniffing, licking at and chewing on the tests before him and the remnant smells of doggy treats must have been alluring because he managed to complete not a single intelligence test and chewed on every one of them.!

Some he didn’t even bother looking for the hidden treat, he just started chewing on the test instead. He made a good effort with one that was shaped like a large puzzle piece that had to be opened in the centre to reach the treat… he managed to separate the two sides, ignored the offered treats and chewed on both sides of the puzzle piece. The fleece tie blanket that you hide treats in and the dog has to sniff them out, just got chewed on. Not a good ending to the course for him, but at least he got a participation certificate, so Bear felt good about it all.

My ex- has re-started the process of the equity transfer with a completely new solicitor, after the initial contact he made with the first one resulted in a total lack of communication. They said at first that they could help me, then decided they couldn’t because I lived in the Netherlands. Then stopped communicating with my ex- completely. Total lack of professionalism and my review of their company will reflect that.

This new solicitor seems to have more than a passing clue and responded to my initial contact with a long list of document requirements and a breakdown of all the costs involved. I like him already. I have a questionnaire to fill out and to send back asap. Now I have to find a solicitor here in the Netherlands, who speaks almost fluent English and knows what the hell to do with all these documents I have to acquire. Already, this is starting to get on my nerves.

I had hoped it was a simple case of flashing my passport, providing my name change document and signing a piece of paper… but it’s not. I have to prove who I am, who I was, that I live where I live and that Bear owns the property, and that we are a couple and have been for the length of tenancy that I have reported. Gee whizz! Seriously.?!! I know this is going to stress me the fuck out before it’s done and I shall be only too happy to block my asshole ex- again as soon as it’s completed.

This weekend he’s down in the south of England, after being informed of his father’s hospital admission and impending demise, should he refuse a life-saving operation he needs. Which is highly likely. His father is 81, has lived alone for the past 15 years and is as cantankerous and hard to shift as granite when he decides something is what he says it is. He’s spent all of lockdown alone at home, having his papers delivered and his groceries brought by his eldest son and left on the doorstep.

He used to go walking for an hour a day every day to keep fit, but due to lockdown hasn’t done any exercise for five months. Meaning he’s been sat on his butt at home watching TV and barely eating because he didn’t want to gain any weight, he’s barely even pushing 9 stone (126lbs), so it was assumed he’d been suffering from starvation and malnutrition. Far worse than that is that for the past almost year he’s had a hernia and didn’t tell anyone, so it’s become twisted around his bowel and pretty much stopped it working, sealing the lower half of his colon so that it filled up and filled up and then burst, poisoning him with his own waste.

Still he didn’t tell anyone, despite the pain he must have been in, until it was noticed that the old fool was going grey in the face and slurring his words. Fearing a stroke, his eldest son calls an ambulance and he’s rushed into the A&E and immediately sent up to the emergency ward and put in for an operation on his bowel. The problem is the operation will leave the old man with a tube fitted to the outside of his abdomen that will go to a waste bag that he has to carry around with him and both his son’s (and I) know that he will not agree to that.

He might be 81 but his vanity level is far higher and carrying around a bag of his own waste outside his body and having a care assistant come to his house twice a day to empty his bag and help take care of the hole in his tummy is too undignified to be considered. This is a man who would rather die than suffer any form of personal humiliation even if it means prolonging his life long enough for him to sort out his affairs.

Note: As yet, still no baby…

Shopping List, Heatwave & Trying Again

Tonight I made Taco-Corn Chilli for dinner. It’s a mild chilli (because the boy child doesn’t do spice) made with taco seasoning and eaten with corn tortilla chips. Except we had to have it with rice because Bear forgot the tortilla chips when he went shopping yesterday. The whole forgetting thing seems to be becoming a trend with him. Last week he forgot the eggs, so no-one got a fried egg on their burger and the week before it was cream, so I had to make stroganoff with milk, which made it far less creamy than it should have been. 😦

It’s starting to piss me off to be honest, I’m constantly having to have a back-up plan for at least one meal every week because Bear will always forget something, usually a major ingredient. It takes me a few hours every Sunday to formulate the week’s menu, find recipes and list all the necessary ingredients for each meal plus anything we need that is a staple, for Bear to forget something, and throw everything into disarray because now I have to find a different recipe, or change the recipe to accommodate the missing item, or just fall back on chippies (if we have potatoes) because I just can’t be assed to solve the problem I didn’t cause.

I am SO done with this heatwave… it’s been over 30C every day for the past week and it’s scheduled to be so for the next week… I’m finding it very difficult to cope with being hot, sweaty, sticky and uncomfortable for so long, even with the fan on full and am getting irritable, frustrated and pissy as all hell. I’m just as hot and sweaty after a shower as I was before it and the only time I actually manage to cool off is after midnight, when I go to bed in the cellar. Thank fuck for cellars in most European houses. They’re big, cool and a necessity in this insane heat.

If we didn’t have a cellar to sleep in there would be a whole ton of dead people in my neighbourhood and the corona virus couldn’t be blamed. Only the other night, one of our neighbours decided to have a pool party after 11pm for a whole load of teenagers who were screaming, yelling and whooping it up past 1 am… Bear called the police… it was a better solution than allowing me to go around there to tell them to shut the fuck up… or else… I’d have no problem throwing my toaster in their pool.

I’m trying for the 20 something’th time to get on with my birth mother. Our relationship has always been rocky and distant, she’s well known for being a liar and an attention seeker, in the worst ways, so I’m taking it slowly and carefully and trying very hard not to let past events taint what we’re trying to build. She’s not an easy person to get along with, but then, neither am I and we’ve both been kinda circling each other keeping our backs to the wall and making sure we have something to defend ourselves with. Only time will tell how well we do…

The Very Crappy Day

This morning started well, with an unexpected period of physical affection. Bear was probably hoping the attention would improve my mood after yesterday’s words and his attempt at persuading me to go today. Despite being late getting up, we still managed to get everything done and grab a shower each and leave at just gone 10am. Pup was his usual unimpressed self with the whole car journey and spent it dribbling like a rusty tap all over the back of the car, me, his blanket etc. and rushing from one side of the car to the other to check that all the traffic was behaving itself and the sun wasn’t creeping up on him unawares.

We made it in good time and arrived in The Hague at 12.32pm. Twenty-eight minutes early. Which was a blessing considering that at 12.31pm pup decided to upchuck his breakfast all over me and the hastily grabbed blanket I shoved under his face as he urged. Thanks dog, just what I needed… dog vomit all down my front. It’s a good thing I decided to take two blankets for him as well as a bag full of cleaning things, extra food, treats and other detritus necessary when you have a puppy, so I was able to bag the puked on blanket and try to clean myself up with a little dignity. Pup wasn’t allowed in the art studio because the artist has a dog of his own and his dog would not appreciate our dog being in his house.

Fair enough. So doggo and I went back to the car to air out the vomit smell, while Bear went up to collect Captain Picard and pay the man. From there we headed to the doggy beach which is surprisingly wide and very long and was occupied by every variety of doggy you could think of. Pup was quite impressed with the sand and all the eye candy, while I wondered why the sun had suddenly decided to make an appearance when I had been promised clouds, rain and cool winds. What I got was a bloody sunburn from sitting in 25°C heat with a restless pup waiting for Bear’s bubble buddy to turn up with her husband and kids, who were 20 minutes late.

We said hi and were introduced and that was about the extent of my interaction with them… Again I wondered why the hell I’d bothered coming. So I took pup to investigate the sea water puddles, while bubble buddy’s husband took their kids off to swim in the sea. Pup was not that impressed with the water once he found it became deeper than 2-3 inches the further he went in, so he came out and wouldn’t go in it again. Then he got accosted by a yappy little fluffy thing that seemed determined to mount him, one way or another and ran for his life as far as the extendable lead allowed him, before racing in circles trying to shake off the amorous attention.

Yappy thing’s owner finally managed to grab it and took it away and pup decided Bear was the only protection he was likely to get from unwanted attention, so headed back determinedly up the beach to his Papa, avoiding making eye contact with every and all canine interested parties. Once we’d had some lunch and said goodbye, we headed back to the car and tried to get pup to use his potty pad, to no avail… Why on earth would he want to pee on the potty pad when he can wait five minutes until he’s back in the car and pee all over me.?! Which he did, spectacularly.

Bear asked if I still wanted to walk around the city centre, but with vomit all over my chest, urine all over my abdomen and lap and slobbery sand smeared in my hair, I really wasn’t in the best mood (or state) to be wandering around in public, stinking and pretending all was fine. I was pissed off and upset that despite accepting the change of plans because of Bear’s lack of consideration, the whole day was a washout because the damned dog couldn’t just pee where he knew damned well he was supposed to, just for bloody once.! I told Bear to head home. There was little point in continuing when things were going from crappy to really crappy.

Finally, pup decided to settle down on his clean blanket, and with a potty pad under him, just in case, he slept through the entire journey home. Why the hell he couldn’t have been that docile on the way in I don’t know. Just to top the whole day off while he was sleeping he peed, luckily most of it went on the potty pad, but somehow he managed to get it on the back seat too… so my left thigh was also covered in pee by the time we made it back home at 18.45pm. You’d think my first stop would be the shower… but pup was cleaned off first and then the bathroom had to be cleaned up from all his escape attempts, and then I got to shower.

I shall be sure to remember this little adventure the next time Bear comes up with some grand plan to go on a long journey involving the dog, and next time stay the hell at home.!

Change Of Plans, The Elusive Baby & An Old ‘Flame’.

Tomorrow we’re supposed to be going to The Hague, to pick up the Patrick Stewart picture and take a leisurely, touristy stroll around the main city with the pup before heading to the dog-friendly beach for a paddle in the sea. That was the plan. Then Bear decided to make arrangements to meet up with some of his Twitter bubble pals for lunch and not say anything until this afternoon, when he casually mentions the new plans as part of his route planning. Needless to say I was not one bit impressed and decided I was no longer going on the trip, which was supposed to be a ‘family’ deal, not a hangout with total strangers he swaps messages with online.!

The fact it takes three hours to get there, so three hours to get back, and Bear wants to be there for 1pm and home by dinner-time leaves us with maybe 2 hours to wander, paddle and enjoy the sights. Lunch with his bubble buddies means one of those hours is taken up with mindless chit chat, and I’m none too pleased about it, or the fact that I’ll be expected to be sociable with people I have no clue about while trying to keep a restless, excitable puppy under control. Bear of course, is annoyed that I’m refusing to go while he also understands that I’m pissed at him for making arrangements for me, without talking to me about it first.

Something he’s constantly doing. He knows it bugs the shit out of me, but he does it anyway. Typically, despite us having had words about it, he’s carrying on as though I’m going, telling me about all these architectural places we were going to be seeing together and telling me of the layby’s he’s planned to stop at so the dog can stretch his legs.

My niece has, as far as I can tell, still not had her baby. There is a real mystery about this child, as originally we were told she was due on March 28th, then April 28th, then July 4th… I’m at a complete loss. On June 24th there were contractions, and my niece lost the ‘plug’ that usually is followed by labour. Since then… nothing.! I’m watching her Fb religiously waiting for news that the elusive Gracie Mae has finally made an appearance. I’ll keep you posted… 😕

Last Thursday I received a Messenger message from a guy I used to know (and dated for a few weeks) back in the days of my lost youth. He used to be a friend of my brother’s who ingratiated himself into my stepmother’s affections and so he became a family friend. He’s been very polite and friendly so far, informing me that his life has been a real struggle the past few months and that he’s hitting the bottle a little harder than he perhaps should. Then he asked where I lived and was a little nonplussed, going by his reaction, to discover I no longer lived in the UK. He had planned to ask if I wanted to meet up for a drink but that obviously was not going to happen.

Now, I probably wrongly, get the distinct impression he has no idea who I am, because if he did he wouldn’t have messaged me. Our last meeting, when he was 17 and I was 14 wasn’t a pleasant one, resulting in him losing a front tooth and me gaining a hairline fracture in my pinkie knuckle. I’m not sure whether I should mention my family members to give him a few seconds to figure it out for himself, or just go for the jugular and tell him who I am. What do you think.? It’s at times like this I wish I wasn’t so paranoid about webcam’s, because I’d love to see the look on his face when he realises. 😄

A New Laptop, Bear’s Female Colleagues & A Clever Pup

I got a really nice surprise present on Wednesday of last week. A new laptop. Completely out of the blue. The boy child received the Chromebook he’d wanted for his birthday and was perfectly happy all Sunday afternoon sorting it out and adding all his apps. I meanwhile have been struggling to get anything to work on my ancient Acer for over a year. It has to sit on a freezer block because the fan no longer works well enough to cool the CPU and other components and it’s RAM is only about 2 GB, so it barely manages to keep two tabs accessible and Chrome is a nightmare. Snails are faster. It has to be hard wired to the WiFi modem because it won’t connect otherwise and permanently plugged into the power because the battery is dead and won’t charge.

So when I got a knock on the door and handed a package addressed to me, I was somewhat taken aback. I hadn’t ordered anything and Bear hadn’t said anything about expecting a package. When I opened it I found a refurbished Dell laptop with Windows 10 and 4GB of RAM. Obviously I had to message Bear to find out what it was all about and was responded to with “You’re welcome.!” Okay. A sudden self-initiated flash of consideration from Bear. Far more surprising than the actual gift if I’m honest. So I’ve been, for the past 10 days, slowly figuring out how things work and getting used to the smaller screen, less compact keyboard and the positioning of some of the keys and trying to figure out why in the hell I went and deleted all my bookmarks from Chrome on my old laptop. Stupid.!

The Beer-tasting last Saturday went fairly well, but taking the pup was a complete pain in the ass. The colleague who hosted the beer-tasting lives in a tiny first-floor apartment that you couldn’t swing a kitten in, never mind host 5 people and an energetic puppy. So we all sat outside in the community area and had to attach the pup’s lead to a length of rope, which is turn was attached to a huge wooden column, so we weren’t constantly being dragged out of our chairs. Pup spent the entire afternoon, evening and night happily ripping the grass up by the roots, chewing on it and leaving huge clods all over the lawn, barking his ass off at anything that moved and trying to jump on all of us at opportune moments to steal food.

All Bear’s work colleagues were women, which kind of explains why he took me with him. Had there been any men among the beer-tasting colleagues, he wouldn’t have felt the need to invite me because he would have mentioned that there were men going. The fact that he didn’t made me realise they were all women, which doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is that he doesn’t mention that they’re all women. When there’s men involved in any of his work socials, he mentions them by name, when there isn’t, he calls them colleagues. It’s almost like he thinks there’s something wrong in spending time with his female work colleagues, so he doesn’t mention them as female. Like I might have an issue with it.

One of them was 23, another in her early thirties and the host is 50. All of them are beer drinkers, all of them his friends on Untappd and none of them remotely interested in a romantic capacity in Bear. They were more interested in me than him, having known him for a decade and heard all about me, but never having met me. It was an interesting evening, when we weren’t jumping up to rescue some poor wandering individual from the attentions of the nutso pup, who alternately treated people like friends and then enemies. We finally packed up at 2am and headed for bed, which for me was in the eaves of a tiny bedroom that you could only just get a double bed and the pup’s crate in. My nose was 3 inches from the ceiling, which for a claustrophobe is not at all fun.

I spent the night lying awake, listening to Bear snore and the pup fart, keeping an eye on that damned ceiling and waiting for the dawn to come, which it did at 4.30am with the usual morning chorus and traffic, which was surprisingly closer than I’d realised. Of course with so much light coming in the pup was awake and so was Bear, none too pleased to see the time… so as quietly as possible (in an apartment that creaks and squeaks and squeals at every turn), we got dressed and made our way outside with the dog to wait 4-5 hours for everyone else to get up before making breakfast. Pup slept like the dead for the rest of Sunday and most of Monday We slept really well on Sunday night too.

Puppy Training has been going okay’ish so far, with socially acceptable behaviour consisting of looking into our eyes and touching our hands with his nose, when told to. All things he’s been doing since we got him. He’s half Border Collie so he has an intense stare and he always touches our hands with his nose when he wants something, a trait in Toller’s apparently. Until this week I’ve seen little point in going to the lessons that only make pup anxious and over-excited. This week we’ve been teaching him to stay when he’s sat down and to lie down from a sitting position. We’ve decided to train him in Dutch from now on. Although he’ll still have the known English instruction at home, as he already understands that.

It’s getting too frustrating for Bear that the dog listens only to me because I’m the only one he spends an extended amount of time with every day. Bear’s trying to teach him in Dutch and the dog’s ignoring him, but when I command him in English, he does as he’s told straight away. So I agreed that the dog should be trained in Dutch and that I would practice his Dutch training at home too. He’s a damned clever little pup, already he lies down when told and stays sat down until told to come, even if Bear has walked to the bottom of the patio. As long as he can’t see the treat he’s going to get as we walk away, he’ll stay put. He’s also becoming a lot more affectionate. He comes to us for cuddles and tummy rubs and when I sit down in the evenings to watch TV, he comes and sits next to me and settles down to sleep.

A marked change from the racing around like a lunatic, bouncing off of us on his route around the living/dining/patio area. He only does that once a day now, instead of four/five times a day.

claytoonz

Nationally Syndicated Editorial Cartoonist

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