2016 Rang, It Wants Its ‘Shittest Year of the Decade’ Crown Back

Right, 2019, you need to get your act together. We’re approaching 2016 levels of fuckery and I’m starting to get suspicious and slightly paranoid. Fred had a seizure and died last week. When I stop having horrible flashbacks and feeling guilty for not doing more for him, I’ll probably feel philosophical about the circle of life and reflect on how he enjoyed 13 years of stealing food, leaping from second story windows and unwrapping Christmas presents… but I’m still in shock and I can’t believe two of my best friends died within six weeks of each other, so at present I want to run away to an island somewhere for several months.

This is definitely one of those years where a lot goes on, and we’re only half way through. I know people who are dealing with illnesses in the family, or illnesses of their own, or who generally have A Lot Going On. Don’t even get me started on how you switch on the news and it’s a barrage of the-UK-is-falling-apart-nuclear-war-might-happen-next-week-the-planet-is-dying-and-it’s-to-late-to-stop-it-by-the-way-Trump-might-get-a-second-term. I’m getting a bit paranoid that my grandmother’s going to have a fall, or an earthquake’s going to hit Zante when my family’s out there, or nuclear war might actually happen but the planet is actually dying so does it matter. I know this is a black hole way of thinking, so I also keep thinking, ‘let’s find an excuse for a huge party! Let’s go backpacking! Let’s put the whole of The Princess and the Dragon on the Internet for free! Let’s retrain in something useful like ecological management! Is ecological management even a thing?’

I don’t think ecological management is a thing. I think I’m thinking of those people who look after forests and lobby Parliament to ban single use plastic. Eco warrior? It’s too early for compound phrases. You know what I mean. Sometimes life forces you to put things into perspective.

What a cheerful post this was. Here are photos of Fred from a few years ago. He was  quite hard to photograph until he got elderly, because when he was younger he only had two modes: asleep and Doing Stuff. You’d aim for the picture on the left and get the picture on the right.

Legitimately the nosiest dog who has ever lived. I think I’m going to Google ‘ecological management’ now.

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Let me introduce you to a friend

I want to tell you all about a friend of mine. He moved to England a few years ago for a better life, but he speaks very little English, hasn’t yet found a job and has never, as far as I’m aware, paid any tax. He sits around a lot and his efforts to integrate with neighbours have been sub par; he’s quite antisocial to be honest, which I’ve always put down to trauma experienced in childhood.

dav

I’ve been meaning to make that joke for about 4 years. Originally it was going to be a YouTube video where I lift him up to the camera, but it’s hard to make a fuss of one dog without making a fuss of the other and although  Adonis has always been easy to pick up, trying to get too close to Fred is like trying to wrestle with an octopus.

Anyway, the reason I’ve finally got my arse into gear is that Donnie no longer looks remotely as happy about life as he did in that photo, which I think was taken last summer. He’s got prostate cancer (ironically given that I was writing a similar post about 6 years ago about leishmania) and the prognosis, a few months ago, was a few months. And I hate it when people make a fuss of friends and loved ones after they’ve died but not before, so. HAIL DON THE WHEEZE. One time he was so intent on killing a fly that he almost knocked himself out on a wall. Occasionally he falls off a bed and has to get up before anybody can see him. If you’re playing with Fred and he wants your attention, which is every time you’re playing with Fred, he sticks his head under your arm so you look down and see a nose sticking out of your armpit. It is a source of some regret that I’ve never managed to capture the phenomenon on camera.

blurry dog with very happy human
I was going through photos the other day and I can conclusively say that this image is probably the one that best sums up my relationship with my pets. I think I must have ambushed him while he was doing something, unless I was going through a phase of doing squats at every opportunity.

One day I might write both my dogs into a set of short stories or something, and fully retell the legendary tale of the time Donnie nicked a carrot from Fred while it was sticking out of Fred’s mouth, but I was cleaning up canine vomit at 6:30 this morning and at the vet at 8:30 listening to options regarding dehydration treatment and using phrases like ‘keep him comfortable’ so today is not that day. Have I ever mentioned that Donnie really likes the vet? He actually slipped his harness when we were in there once and escaped out the back to say hi to the nurses. It’s only because he makes a beeline for anyone who might make a fuss of him. What an embarrassment.

Anyway. Say hi to your pets from me. Say hi to your pets from you while you’re at it. Next time I write here I will almost definitely be one dog short of a pair, which is shit. They’re both my best mates, excepting those two or three epic fights they’ve had over the years, and Fred has leishmania (the irony of this entire year is starting to itch) and the thought of being entirely dogless by Christmas is completely appalling and look just say hi to your friends. I saw this bullshit Twitter post once that said something like ‘a dog might only be part of your life, but you are their entire life’ and terrible graphics aside the phrase has stayed with me. I’m aware this post has become kind of a downer and not the joyous celebration I was aiming for, so here is Fred wearing a Pilates mat. I was in the process of practising Pilates when he decided that he might like to take up the exercise as well. Spoiler alert I put up with him for a bit then gave up.

dog wearing a pilates mat

I think he was probably judging me on my downward dog.

How to Have a Snow Day When You’re An Adult

House of Night neon poster by Francesca Burke

IT’S SNOWING! I haven’t had a snow day since I was 17, but I also didn’t have to go into my office job today and was going to work from home regardless. Not remotely fair, and the desire to curl up with a book is immense. The snuggle struggle is real, you guys. But I have money to make and a university course to pass, so I loaded up some podcasts and have ended up having an unusually productive day? Maybe being locked inside the house with a foot of snow on the ground is a good way to focus haha. So here is how to have a snow day as an adult!

Step 1: Ughh. Just get it together.

I got showered and dressed and put perfume on to get into ‘the work mood’, which is weird because I never wear perfume when I work from home. Clearly that should change.

Step 2: Do your physio.

Wait, that’s just me.

Step 3: Chain yourself to your desk!

Shit I’ve done so far: some market research for Etsy, a section of my course (I’m studying women’s suffrage and hellooooo the only thing I’ll ever talk about at dinner parties ever again), cleared out some of my emails and done some graphic design. One of the designs is for this very blog’s sidebar:

Indifferent Ignorance Patreon sidebar advert

The other is a cool Heroes of Olympus-inspired poster I’ve wanted to do for ages:

House of Night neon poster by Francesca Burke

Step 4: But take lots of breaks to make a cup of tea and stare at your snowy garden!

Do you want to build a snowman? Yes. Do you want to go outside? No.

Step 5: Check your dogs are still alive

Both dogs refused to go outside this morning. Fred inspected the garden at midday and Donnie chanced it about half an hour ago. They have the right idea.

Step 6: Rinse and repeat until 5pm

Or whenever you normally clock off when you work from home!

YOU’RE WELCOME. I have to go and do some more physio now. I might also build a snowman.

In Which My Dog Cleans His Teeth

Today I learnt that in the three-and-a-half years they’ve been open, my WordAds adverts have earned me a total of $14.74. I feel this is representative of my career as an artist.

As you may have noticed if you’re reading this onsite instead of in the email inbox (does anyone still do that?), I’ve made the banner slightly brighter. It’s now the same shade as roughly one-fifth of my hair on a good day. I’ve also added a little cookies info banner for visitors when you first arrive, because it’s an EU law thing and although my instinct is telling me to vote stay, it’s also telling me that we’ll go and I want to get my money’s worth of widgets before 23rd June. Stay tuned for a couple of other little changes; I have been thinking about my ideal blog and right now, the colour pink and more widgets are on my to-do list. I kind of want a blog personifying this:

Top 10 Gay Bars in Los Angeles/My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way Made Me a Better Person
laweekly.com

 

But that’s enough about me. On Sunday I went to clean my teeth and noticed a small daddy long legs nestled on the handle part of my toothbrush. Had it just wandered in from the bathroom window? Was it the first of a scouting party? Was there a nest of baby daddy long legs ready to move into the sink area? Could I remove it from the room before it got to the tooth-brushing part of the toothbrush?

No.

Out went the spider. Out came my travel toothbrush. Out came my grumblings that I only bough the old toothbrush a fortnight ago this is why I’m an atheist. Yesterday evening I bought a new one.

Yesterday evening Donnie got bored or hungry waiting for us to come home from the supermarket so he raided the bathroom bin. I found very chewed half of a toothbrush on the bathroom floor. Presumably he heard me bemoaning his disgusting teeth (he’s not allowed those teeth-cleaning bones because of his kidney problems, and he does not understand the point of chewing rubber tooth-cleaning dog toys. Ironically my toothbrush was made of the same material they use in those rubber toys) This morning Mum found bristle-filled dog vomit on the floor.

Donnie’s teeth are as grim as they were yesterday morning. Our carpet is a little grimmer. The only thing any of us have learnt is that it’s high time we bought a dog-proof bin.

I am prepared to bet the spider has snuck back in.

Dogs and ’90s Hairstyles

I was going to start this with ‘happy Wednesday’… happy Tuesday. I’m going to make a coffee after this.

Thank you to everyone for the love for the MCR post! I’ve been blasting May Death Never Stop You for three days and there’s a definite correlation between the amount I listen to good music and the depth of my desire to colour my hair again. I must say, though, because I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few blogs that garner a lot of attention from people who aren’t regular readers, that I’m always nervous about the post that comes after. What if those one-off readers decide to stick around and expect more mind-altering and wonderful prose? You ain’t gonna get it today, ’cause I have two pieces of freelance work to finish, vacuum cleaning to do and I’m seeing a friend tomorrow so I’ve got to do whatever I might have done tomorrow today instead.

I haven’t got as far as planning tomorrow. Let’s pretend I was planning to hash together a blog!

We took Donnie to the specialist vet yesterday (good news: he’s not going to die of leishmania yet) and while we were in the waiting room we made the acquaintance of an Afghan hound. Until yesterday I had neither met nor seen pictures of Afghan hounds, and the only association I had with them was from a childhood book called The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls. I now realise the inherent and unnecessary sexism of the title, as it was essentially a compendium of fun facts and activities: it taught me how to stop a nosebleed, for example, and contained excellent Halloween ideas. It also had a section on famous hairstyles, and described Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Rachel’ do as making the wearer ‘look not unlike an Afghan hound’.

from hairstylesidea.us
from hairstylesidea.us
from Art.com
from Art.com                                                     

Sexist as fuck maybe, but not entirely wrong.

Hogmanay Hangover (Sort Of)

Happy new year everyone!

I am quite tired today because I went to bed technically today on a bed that is technically a sofa.

But the tired-blues haven’t hit yet – we’re about to walk the dogs, ask me later – so I thought I’d say hey and happy new year, since the whole globe is now in 2015… And asleep.

Anyway, the dogs are woofing for a walk so I’d better go and get my wellies on before they explode with excitement and try to eat Christmas decorations.

Quick Art Update

I usually just post these things in Twitter and/or Tumblr posts but they’ve all cropped up in the last couple of days so I thought I may as well do a proper post… Ahem.

I got an email earlier that most of my Etsy shop’s listings are expiring really soon, so if you’ve ever fancied any of what’s there head on over ASAP. Plus I am going on holiday for ten days on Friday so any physical orders after the 11th July won’t be shipped until the 23rd at the earliest, by which time most of those items will have gone. So get on it!

Society6 is having one of its free-shipping-on-most-items days if you follow this link and this link only. It’s weird and they don’t tell you how long the offer lasts, presumably to whip you up into a frenzy. It’s until the 13th according to that very link.

I’m currently taking story commissions on DeviantART (all the info is on the right hand side below the advert). Once again, when I’m away I will technically be on holiday so if you request anything then you won’t get a response for a few days.

I hate doing what are effectively sales pitch blogs but at least this way it’s one lone social media post, as opposed to eighty over the course of a day… plus this trails on nicely to what I really want to talk about, which is HOLIDAY READING.

You know the drill. I take more books than I can carry, I read most of them, set up blogs talking about them and always include one novel that is totally depressing and/or gross. The first year I did it I took Trainspotting, which I haven’t read since; last year was We Need to Talk About Kevin which I then chose to study for my A Level and never want to read again… the further I explored it, the more effed up it became. I think this year will be Goodnight Mister Tom, which I have never previously read because I saw the TV adaptation about ten years ago, got so distressed I cried and have refused to open the book ever since.

But I’ll probably take this fortnight’s Private Eye and The Son of Neptune so it’s okay! There will be laughs all round! I will also take a book of codewords because since I stopped going to school my vocabulary has been on the downturn, which is bad for everybody. If I’m not careful I’ll only be able to speak in dog chatter… “Don Don, why are you barking? No one cares. Shhh. Hello Fred. You look very handsome. Go away that was my flapjack. Snuggles time.”

I love snuggles time. Speaking of which.

From goldenstories.tumblr.com
From goldenstories.tumblr.com

The Six O’Clock News: Dogs Are As Smart As Humans (but that’s not saying much)

Wag the dog

It’s been scientifically proven that dogs are smarter than they look. Again. According to The Economist, Italian scientists have discovered that not only do dogs “wag their tails to the right when they see something pleasant…and to the left when they see something unpleasant” but that a video or silhouette of dog with “a left-wagging tail… induced… an anxiety response” in subject dogs, while the right-wagging one didn’t. Basically, they can both tell humans how they feel and impact how other dogs feel – with their tails.

I want to take a video camera out with me when we go for a walk, and record everything, especially when Fred and Don meet their dog friends. We could analyse who likes whom and whatnot. (Video camera necessary for playback because those tails go fast, man).

Clerics rule besieged Damascus residents may eat dogs

The end of Eid is traditionally cause for c e l e b r a t i o n in Muslim cultures, but there are Syrians starving to death because humanitarian aid can’t reach their areas – so clerics have issues a fatwa, a ruling, that people are allowed to eat dogs, cats and donkeys. The BBC says that “similar religious edicts were announced in Homs and Aleppo when the fighting in those cities was at its fiercest”.

I’m not sure how I feel about military action in Syria (Iraq versus Rwanda, Iraq verses Rwanda) but for God’s sake, UN, find a way to get food and water to these people. Better still, get them out. Okay so the Mediterranean-refugee issue is suggesting that people who are leaving aren’t finding help, per se, but if you can’t end the war please try to make the whole fiasco as painless as possible for civilians. Ahh. Go here to give money if you’d like.

How do you safely match stray dogs to new owners?

It was simultaneously heartbreaking and anger-inducing hearing about Lexi Branson’s death this week. Her family’s bulldog Mulan mauled her to death and in a bid to help her daughter, Lexi’s mother stabbed the dog to death with a kitchen knife. They had owned Mulan for two months. It’s opened up another debate about whether we should be adding to the Dangerous Dogs List (don’t think it’s actually called that) or whether or not people should rehome strays.

My thinking is that instead of blaming the dogs when they bite a human, we should be blaming the humans. Not the little girl, of course, nor her family – but the thing is that Mulan had been a stray for an unknown time before being rescued. Very little was known about her history or the treatment she had in her previous home(s). You could blame the rehoming centre for giving a potentially dangerous animal to a family with a small child – but every single dog is a potentially dangerous animal.

They all have teeth, yes, and claws, and really strong jaws. Even Chihuahuas can do some damage if they really want to. I love Adonis with all my heart but I will never, ever, take his food away from him while he’s eating it because he would take my hand off. He’s lived on the streets and has had to fight for survival – manners don’t matter when you’re hungry, and despite the whole wagging-tail thing, dogs are far less able to think critically than humans. They see a person getting in their space, they growl. The person keeps provoking them and they’ll bite. If they’ve been mistreated, they could lose their temper and attack. Even your cutsey Labrador that you bought from a breeder off the Internet who’s real good with kiddies because all Labs are good with kiddies will bite your kiddies if they poke him in the eye, or hit him with a toy, or torment him by taking away his food. The breed of dog is almost irrelevant – yes, Mastiffs or pit bulls are “dangerous”. They are physically big and strong so are naturally able to do more damage than, say, a Boarder Collie. But that’s what they were bred for. Dobermanns were “invented” by a tax collector named Mr Dobermann who wanted a dog that was intimidating enough that people wouldn’t give him shit while he did his job. Go figure.

Humans are the ones in charge of the dogs, not the other way round. It’s up to us to make sure that our dogs are raised in a safe and stable environment so that they in turn are part of a safe and stable environment. The BBC is nicer about saying this than I am.

Do you have a dog? Have you had one? Let’s share pictures. (I will upload some of Fred and Don when I can get Fred to sit still.)