#Friday Fictioneers — The Scourge

Genre: Dystopian
Word Count: 100

THE SCOURGE

After the floods and gales, pestilence descended, and you had to pretend you were ill or get eaten. It began with the homeless and the already forgotten, those without symptoms and too aimless to feign the tell-tale cough.

Not so Vince, with his filched pot of pepper and his begging tin filled with dried butter beans from the dumpster. I remember his contagion act all too well. The raw eyes and the pepper sneeze. The butter bean chest rattle.

I never let on. Being a vegetarian with allergic rhinitis, why would I? We were the last two survivors, the obsolete.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright (c) Roger Bultot

                

Book Review: Taz — Tales of a Rascal Pooch by Michael J. Dibden

I’m so excited to share my review of this fabulous non-fiction book by debut author, Michael J. Dibden, especially after my involvement as a beta-reader during its pre-publication stage. Below is what I had to say on Amazon and on Goodreads, where I awarded it five stars.

Taz – Tales of a Rascal Pooch is a humorous biography, told from the alternating viewpoints of the rascal pooch and his owners who he refers to individually as “The Suit” and “Ms Noodle”, or both together as “the hoomans”.

The story has its sad moments where I fought back a tear or two (no spoilers here), but mostly it had me laughing out loud. Taz does his utmost to play his new hoomans, who, although experienced dog owners in the past, have never had to handle an uncouth Staffordshire Bull Terrier who makes it his mission to train them, rather than the other way around. As an ex-stud dog, he has sex on his mind and a habit of humping the air at the most inopportune moments. The same goes for his dispensing of foul odours. He swears a lot, too, so please don’t buy this book and then complain afterwards, when you’ve been warned. If Taz could talk, this is how he’d sound – in other words, it’s authentic characterisation.

It is a well-written book, which, although memoir, has the pacing, spot-on characterisation, sense of setting, and realistic dialogue to be found in some of the best humorous novels. I think the story would appeal best to dog-owners, although it is also possibly a story for those who enjoy true stories that demonstrate canine loyalty towards their owners — a dog’s ability to know when its owners need it to temper its excesses and transform itself into a caring and tender creature of vast understanding.

A highly recommended read.   

Taz — Tales of a Rascal Pooch is available both in paperback and kindle versions at Amazon (UK) & Amazon (US), and other Amazon sites worldwide.

Trees and Us #Environment #Global warming

 Where aged tombstones lean, do you feel the weight of my presence?
Where lichen crusts my face, do you imagine I was ever young?
Where storms erase my name, do you fear your future oblivion?
Where willow fronds cloak me, do you sense I am finally at peace?
 
I am the beating heart of a tree.
I am the life oxygen you breathe.
I am your past, present, and future.
I am your responsibility.
 
Do you feel the weight of your presence, when aged tombstones lean?
Do you imagine you were once young, when lichen crusts your face?
Do you fear your future oblivion, when storms erase your name?
Do you sense you are finally at peace, when willow fronds cloak you?
 
You are the beating heart of a tree.
You are the life oxygen you breathe.
You are your past, present, and future.
You are your responsibility.

No, She Hasn’t Been On A World Cruise!

Four months on, she reappears and is most touched to find her blog has the same number of followers as when she last visited her site! Thanks all, for your loyalty and patience.

Despite the post’s title, this particular lady wouldn’t fancy a world cruise even if she could afford one, but a trip to the Norwegian Fjords to watch the Northern Lights is definitely on her bucket list.

Rather than list the negatives that have stood in the way of regular blogging throughout 2019, she will share with you some good things.

  • She has bestowed much tender loving care on her garden.
  • She has finished the 2nd draft of her 6th novel Twicers, a satire set in the near future, which she began in 2017 during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and has entered its opening chapters to a competition. Its rules didn’t insist on the entrants polishing their work to a gleam, let alone completing the first draft. The 2nd draft is now with beta readers, to whom she extends her heartfelt appreciation and thanks. She awaits their feedback/constructive criticism with bated breath.
  • She has discovered the wonderful calming effects of CBD oil, which has stopped her heart palpitations and lifted her mood, and for the first time in 20 years her thyroid levels are normal due to the endocrine boosting effects of the oil, plus a 3-month course of homeopathic Thyroidinum.
  • She has new, super lightweight and comfy eco-glasses and can now see properly, as well as doing her bit for the planet. For those who haven’t come across these specs, the frames consist of 63% plant-based materials and 95% recycled materials, plus every time someone purchases frames, ECO plants a tree — over 1.5 million trees so far.
  • She has joined an all-female small choir and mastered the art of singing alto, having previously always sung soprano. With three concerts under her belt and two more scheduled for this year, she’s feeling on a high. They’re a fab group of girls and the choice of music most eclectic.
  • She has two wonderfully practical men in her household who’ve recently drilled a hole in the wall of her home office upstairs and hardwired her PC to the modem downstairs, which means she can be more efficient with her work and still have quality time with the family, dig the garden, do singing practice, and re-engage with the blogging community.

For those of you who sent such kindly getwells to a certain sweet old chocolate Labrador at the time of her op and convalescence, she has just had her 6-monthly health check at the vets and passed it with flying colours, despite still hosting the mast cell tumour that was meant to have been removed! Thanks to love, prayers, and alternative remedies, she’s in fine fettle: eating and sleeping well, enjoying her walks, playing/winning tug of war, and fully engaging in her role as chief supervisor.

A game of canine peekaboo!

Working from Hard Copy While Nursing a Patchwork Dog

Here I am again, at last!

As mentioned in my last post, my sweet old chocolate Labrador bitch had to undergo surgery to remove some lumps, one of them a nasty mast cell tumour. On the day of her surgery, it felt as though I was delivering her to a torture chamber.

Usually the association in my dog’s mind between visits to the vet and bountiful “good girl” treats makes things just about okay. However when a dog has had no food since 8 pm the evening before surgery and then has the vet steal her away from her family on an empty stomach, this is bad news. The previous morning it seems she sensed the need to build up her strength.

Following many hours of waiting, the vet called us to say the surgery had gone well. Late in the afternoon, we collected a very sorry-for-herself but brave dog all trussed up in a string vest to hold the padded dressings in place and protect her stitches. She came home armed with anti-inflammatory pain meds and some tasty soft food, her appetite unaffected by the experience.

We live on a hillside and that means loads of steps in the front and back garden, but our list of instructions for her included no running up steps or stairs. Initially this meant carrying her up on to the lawn to do her business and banning her from going upstairs in the house. She also had to stay on the lead in the garden, to prevent her from chasing marauders, scratching her underside on undergrowth, or jumping against the fences.

Of course I made sure to stay downstairs with her, so she didn’t feel lonely or unloved! This meant a holiday from my computer, which lives upstairs. With editing still to do on my manuscript, I decided to do it the old-fashioned way and print it out into hard copy. This enabled me to set up my nurse cum editor station on the sofa, with a wedge pillow as a climbing slope for my four-pawed friend.

On Day 3, the vet removed the string vest and suggested our old girl wear a T-shirt instead, to help the air circulate better to assist her healing. Mister and Son donated one garment each for this purpose, and pretty super-cool madam looked, too. As for the indignity of wearing one of those lampshade collars, Mistress Houdini was out of the offending anti-fashion item in one minute flat. Mister tried it on as a hat and it suited him much better. Shame I didn’t have my camera to hand at the time.

Zoom forward to 13 days later and freedom at last: stitches removed, off the lead in the garden, stairs and steps permitted. And a week on from then, her undercoat has regrown and resembles brown carpet underfelt. She is back to her usual happy and exuberant self, even demanding I play tug of war with her today.

As mast cell tumours have a habit of popping up elsewhere on a dog that’s susceptible to them, I’ve added cod liver oil to her diet, for its anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. I’m also treating her with relevant homeopathic remedies, plus the twelve cell salts. Fingers crossed, she’ll be with us many more years yet, hopefully as long as our last Labrador who lived to the grand age of 17.

I’m taking homeopathic remedies, too, along with probiotics containing anti-histamine bacteria — all to good effect so far, other than my inability to put on weight (unusual for hypothyroid, I know). Unfortunately the synthetic thyroxine medication prescribed by the doctor made me very ill and I had to stop taking it, but that’s another story for another day.

Have I done much editing during the last month? That’s questionable, although the experience has reminded me that working from hardcopy has its definite merits. It’s easier to spot errors, get a sense of flow, and put yourself in the reader’s head, plus it stops you going boss-eyed in front of the computer screen.