As regular readers know, it is impossible to be a regular reader with El Perro. Blog entries are like busses: none for ages and then three in quick succession. Glancing back, I see that the last time I put fingers to keyboard was halfway through November. I knew it had been a long while and was musing upon the matter as I water-flossed my teeth and my bathroom floor this morning.
There have been several occasions in the last three months when I have almost sat and written something, but life has called me away to more urgent matters. At other times, instead of writing, I have sat like a stunned mullet as the sheer volume of what has been happening has temporarily overwhelmed me.
I put my toothbrush away and headed down to the dog pound, a notebook in hand. There has been so much I could have written about and it might have been easier to take it one day at a time, but I thought a list would be in order. I am a great fan of lists. Making a list is the first stage of sorting: some things are recognised as needing a place on a list, others are rejected. Sometimes just being on the list is recognition enough, sometimes action is necessary, and sometimes action would just be fun.
There was a distinct chill in my nether regions as I perched on the log that stops teddy digging in the water trough. Jonathan and Cecille led the charge of chickens coming to see whether I had food for them. I didn’t, so they went and investigated the feed hoppers instead. Someone was in the palace, laying an egg and that reminded me of a gloriously mangled expression I heard a little while ago: the curious egg.
‘Yes,’ I thought. ‘Life has been a bit of a curious egg this last three months.’
For those unfamiliar with Curate’s Eggs, or indeed, Curious Eggs, here is a little detour…
The Curate’s Egg dates back over a hundred years to a cartoon in Punch, a British satirical magazine. A curate has been served a rotten egg by his Bishop and in his efforts not to cause offence, he says, “I assure you that parts of it are excellent!”
The Curate’s Egg, therefore, expresses an effort to find something commendable in something that is basically dire. Trying to find the good bit in a bad egg is a thankless and difficult task.
The Curious Egg, on the other hand, recognises that life can be a bit rubbish in parts, but it expresses an eagerness to enjoy its richness and variety. The Curious Egg sees the vagaries of life as unpredictable gifts from a benevolent, if sometimes unfathomable hand.
As I sat pondering my Curious Egg of a life, I decided that I would have to organise my thoughts into a few different pigeon holes and write a series of short blog entries, which by the wonders of modern technology can be released into the interwild at intervals, even if I am not actually sitting at my desk.
So here I am, looking out of my window at the lemon grove next door, my bottom has almost thawed out and Mozart’s clarinet concerto is weaving its glorious way around the room. The sky is a pale, January blue, the trees are covered in bright yellow lemons, the grapevine is a spikey, straggly dark grey skeleton and the mountain opposite is a calm palette of grey, olive green and ochre.
My list includes Christmas, with Matthew’s visit, flamingoes and Geoff’s first outing as Santa. It goes on to pruning the orange trees and many bonfires, the chicken ladies and the progress of the veg patch. It mentions friendship and loss, the joys and tribulations of acquiring and legalising a mobile home, dry stone walls, torrential rain and leaks that conveniently drip into the bath. It touches upon the fledgling book tour of Almeria and brief local radio exposure, dreams of ducks, the death of our Spanish neighbour, rotavating, revitalising olive trees, a visit to the UK and dog escapology.
Where to start?
As I ponder, Teddy pads through the door. He has grown into a handsome, substantial dog, although not as huge as we had been prepared for. His main joy in life appears to be careering about enthusing, preferably in a manner that involves flattening Minnow. He is affectionate and devoted, good-looking, marginally dim at times and ever so slightly incontinent when excited.
Min follows her brother. The Tiny Terror is ten kilos of mighty muscle, willfulness and mischief. She is also a total wuss with very little hair, a large surface area to volume ratio and no insulating fat. She is therefore wearing a fetching stripey jumper in pink and brown as she follows her brother into the house, carrying a filthy and part chewed plastic flowerpot.
Poppy, as befits the senior sibling, is basking outside. She has found a patch of warm, soft earth in the dog pound and is warming her middle-aged bones. She is content to play box with Ted should the need arise, or to cuddle up with Minnow, or just to watch the world go by. She may be enjoying a kind of zen calm, or she may be solving the conundrums of the ages. It is hard to tell.
As the dogs have cut across my train of thought and the main development on the dog front recently has been Min’s conquering of the dog pound fence, dog escapology will be today’s part of the Curious Egg.
I do not remember whether I detailed the incredible time, trouble and expense we went to in order to keep our little canine family safe and happy and contained. We employed increasingly desperate measures to prevent them digging their way out and wandering onto the road, down to the cemetery, or into mischief among the neighbours’ chickens. We worried that they would wander into the path of local hunters and get shot or come back with someone’s chicken, partridge or thigh bone. Suffice it to say that large amounts of money, emotional and physical energy were spent on the dog pound.
Not long ago, we noticed that Min was somehow appearing in the garden, having been shut in the pound with the others. She seemed incapable of jumping the three-foot garden fence and would stand at the gate, waiting for someone to go and let her out. It was pathetic and mystifying in equal parts.
We decided we would have to get to the bottom of the mystery, so Geoff watched from the bedroom window as I shut the three dogs in the pound. All was soon revealed. Min has an astonishing vertical take off technique, which we had seen in action when she wanted to see what was on the kitchen work top, but we did not realize she had combined this with a kind of commando scramble. She simply jumps as high as she can, hooks her paws in the chain link and then scrambles over the last foot or two of fence. Why she cannot leap the lower fence remains a mystery. Maybe it is just not a worthy challenge.
Fortunately, the larger dogs have not worked out a way to copy our little escapologist, so they stay and dig and sniff and chase and do important dog stuff while Min primps about in her jumper, enjoying special privileges.
Now the weather is beginning to warm up a little, all three are happy to putter about outside, as long as they know where we are. It seems incredible to think that only a few weeks back we were huddled indoors, log fire at full blast and desperately mopping at the water pouring through the house.
But that is a story further down on my curious egg list and will have to wait for another day.