Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Little Star

Three Paw is the star this week on a website in America for tripawd ( or in her case bipawd) pets.

Proud mama here.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

A good day for nimble feet and minds

Yesterday was such a beautiful morning Three Paw decided to spend it in the bottom garden. There is nothing more delightful than watching her bushy tail swish its way down the uneven, stone stairs. Honestly, she does it far more nimbly than I ever can. I am always clutching at the wall; afraid I am going to tumble down, crack my head open, and get eaten by all the rats I inadvertently feed at the bottom garden because I don't know what else to do with my food scraps.

In the evening, she helped supervise the class I have started in my house. I am not sure how good her English is because she is nowhere near as vocal as Pirate but she dished our stern and approving looks in equal measure. Pirate joined in briefly but seemed more interested in rubbing people's  sweaty bag straps.

Three Paw supervising from the back

Teaching a group again felt good. I enjoyed planning the lesson and during the class, I had this peaceful hour and a half when I felt in control of my universe.

Three Paw distracted from the task of education by a marching band in her head. A common occurrence for her.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Cinque Terre

I first visited the Cinque Terre almost twenty years ago - gulp! I remember how beautiful I thought it was; all those vineyards cascading down to the sea; the shimmering lemon trees; the colourful, painted houses.  I wasn't very well during my visit but I still found it enchanting. D did not. I still don't know why but he remained totally unmoved by everything he saw.

The next time I visited was 11 years ago with my mother but it was only for a day. We did a mighty job though and walked four of the five villages. We had lunch in Manarola and mum ate a whole garlic bulb, which drifted merrily in our company for the rest of the day. I remember us both arriving back in Florence at the end of the day absolutely spent but utterly beguiled.

Now finally this summer I managed to go with mum and dad and Three Paw. We stayed in Portovenere for two nights. While not officially included as part of the Cinque Terre, I found this village utterly charming and a perfect base for exploration. It had a lovely promenade by the water and a narrow, medieval street full of shops and rustic buildings. It also had a formidable-looking church from which you could gaze out onto the ocean and all things beyond.

Portovenere was also pleasing because it had ThreePaw friendly facilities which she was highly approving of. In fact, I don't think she had a single complaint about the entire trip except, perhaps, for the bathroom queue in the morning.

Hurry up already!
Have case, will travel

Three Paw and mum shooting the breeze at Portovenere
The nicest thing was that we were able to cruise between the five villages for a day which meant (a) a partial escape from the full onslaught of Lucifero (b) satisfying dad's love of the boat trip, and (c) the use of very nice ship stewards to help us off between ports.
I like Ligurians. They are very friendly and patient despite all the tourists, They could teach a Tuscan a thing or two ( in my humble opinion.)

We had a gorgeous day. My favourite village is Vernazza but to be honest, the whole place is magical and when we finally staggered off the boat at the end of the day, Three Paw was lounging on the bed waiting for us to tell her tales from the sea. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Super girl

Mum and I in Florence back in 2006.
Yesterday I was in Florence and at one point I wandered past Via Santa Elisabetta. I lived in an apartment on this street back in 2006 for about eleven months. I never actively seek out this street when I am in the city so it took me a little by surprise to be standing outside it. All I could think was how I had been there 11 years ago and how Three Paw had been living a parallel life somewhere else at the exact same time; our lives not yet enriched and enmeshed.

And I wondered how I was able to live without her back then and how I will be able to live without her in the future.

I feel especially disappointed in myself for not documenting her past four months post-amputation with more vigour. I like to think it is because I was too busy living each triumphant bound and leap with her. And that if you spend all your time behind the lens or the keyboard, you might just be missing the real magic anyway.

Still, the beauty of having a memory (relatively intact despite a persistently impressive grape intake) means I can recount the highlights now anyway. 

The thing that stands out for me the most was her total acceptance of the change and immediate decision to accept it. From running across the hospital floor within twenty-four hours of her amputation ( and Alberto's accompanying joyful face) to her adaption to the toilet I specially designed for her so that she has not once lain in her own previous work. I mean I like to take a little credit for the genius contraption (an enormous plastic dog bed lined with a pet pad) but the way she spins herself like a wheel so she never lies in the same spot is true genius.

During these months she has never cried out ( and I wouldn't have blamed her if she did) nor sulked. She has scaled the garden stairs, run the ramp I built up to my bed, and worked out that if she runs to the cushion I set up in the kitchen she can get a meal. Her intelligence and optimism and love of life has been a gift and lesson to me and my love for her is as layered and rich as any other love I have ever felt.
And now she even has a boyfriend...a randaggio from my garden.  Her talents, simply, never cease.

But above all this, she is happy and at peace. And that is what  I love most of all.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Piece by Piece

You know so much happened during my summer blog hiatus, I feel a little regretful it wasn't documented: Three Paw's amputation recovery and trip to the Cinque Terre; Lucifero - the heatwave; my parents' visit to Italy and our holiday together in Devon; a rather nauseating hysteroscopy; the discovery of the village organist's practice schedule; oh and me quitting my job in a progesterone-enhanced rage. I have no regrets about the last one I might add even though my life is somewhat precariously unemployed now. It felt like a good decision the minute it fell out of my mouth.

I guess piece by piece I can put all those stories together. Especially since I have ample time being somewhat employment-challenged.

I think I will start with a picture of my folks who bravely marched through the Tuscan countryside under the relentless gaze of lucifero.

This picture is of us at end of a scorching day, enjoying the street life of San Miniato - willing it to rain!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Lessons in leaving the bed.

At present I am unemployed. I have a few private students, which keep Three Paw in the two legs she has become accustomed to, but that is about it. I feel no sorrow, however, about not returning to my old school even if things are very stressful and uncertain for me now. Sometimes you have to jump to save yourself in this life.

It is hard being unemployed though. Not just financially but emotionally as well. At first, I was up at 8.30 every morning with a huge list of tasks to do, emails to send etc. But as the days turn to weeks, I find myself struggling to punctuate my days with meaning.  It is difficult not to let the anxiety take over my life.  And today when I woke up I just didn't want to get up.

This made me feel even worse.

Finally, at midday, I told myself to go for a walk. See the sky and a different view. So I decided to walk to Cigoli. I hadn't done this walk since Three Paw's diagnosis but as I started to stride out I felt better and better. Ideas began flowing and the September sun on my bones felt like just the right tonic.

Walking is free too - so no guilt about spending.

Of course, I accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up walking a far greater distance than I had planned. My poor little thighs were beginning to worry about how they would get home when suddenly this-out-of-service bus came hurtling past. It halted further up the road and pulled up on the footpath. I then saw a man approaching me from the bus. It was Gino,  the bus of my favourites. He had just finished his shift and was on an hour break. He wondered what I was doing so far from home. I told him 'ho fatto un giro' ( I had gone on a little ramble) but now I was spent. He drove me back to the valley centre and told me if I waited an hour he could take me up to San Miniato for no ticket, of course. It was perfect because I wanted to do some grocery shopping anyway.

And even better he told me he was glad he had seen me because he wanted to call me about arranging lessons for his son.

Suddenly I felt so glad I had got out of bed.

And if that was not enough of a reward I also stopped in a bar to use their toilet and discovered (a) their bathroom smelt like a holiday and (b) when the door closed it groaned like chewabacca.
joy, joy, joy.

Happy to be up

Wednesday, 6 September 2017


In case you need evidence of fabulousness, paste this in google and watch :-)

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Pandora's Smile

 I have a new short story out this month in Issue 230 of Antipodean SF. You can read it  here It is a very silly story but in a such a serious and sad world sometimes that's all you need.

I promise to resume normal blogging very soon but in case you are wondering -  Three Paw is doing fabulously!