Lilac and Lime

Contrasts in colour, contrasts in life – Mary Bruce

Archive for February, 2012

Without further I-do

Writing on particularly personal matters requires great tact. While I’m more than capable of laughing at myself and my friends generally share this trait, the last thing I would like to do is hurt anyone’s feelings if they thought I was laughing *at* them rather than *with* them. For this reason this particular narrative may happen in sections as I become overwhelmed by discretion and sensibility. Heaven forbid. Right now I am itching to write and hope only to let you laugh with me and an anonymous character or two.

Recently I have been subjected to such realistic dreams that I have woken exhausted. Annoying, but I also get bored when I go for months on end without recalling a single dream. Not many of the chapters in my current tome of dreams come to mind in the morning but I’ve reconciled myself to awakening exhausted and entertained.

Counting sheep has always struck me as a backward ploy ; for one thing, if I really wanted to count sheep I wouldn’t lie down to do it. Also, my night vision is pretty good but I wouldn’t choose to audit livestock by moonlight. Therefore a couple of nights ago I found myself engaged in calculations of a nature infinitely more likely to encourage somnolence. It seems that at the end of March (next month) I will have bee
n divorced for about the same period of time I was married : three and a half months short of fifteen years.

There is a tiny fraction of a braincell that finds this interesting but the calculation along with recent developments in my personal life have led to a wee bit of introspection. There seem to be many people who come out of a broken relationship and want to immediately immerse themselves in another. This I cannot criticise as I did exactly that after the divorce and the consequences hurt more badly than I’d have believed possible. This is not a bad thing however as it brought home to me the advantages of being truly independent.

Since entering the post-marital state in 1997, I have been involved in four-and-a-half relationships. The last three I have ended which does concern me, but being dishonest leads to inevitable disaster. There have been a couple of ‘implied’ relationships, hence the fraction.

Going to a movie or eating out on my own really worries me not at all. It has of course lead to me sitting next to a total stranger hooting like a hyena during The Full Monty. That observation is obviously based on speculation as I’ve never actually compared the soundbytes. One particularly disastrous ‘date’ meal still has the ability to send me off into peals of laughter but details will have to wait for a later, um, date : my daughter was present and does not share my hilarity, and the male portion of the diners present at the table does know about the Internet.

As a teenager I’d enjoyed numerous penfriendships, largely with friends I’d known in Pietermaritzburg who moved further afield, but a couple had been struck up on paper and remained powered by 3c and later 4c stamps. Four years ago I decided to make some new penfriendships and, for better or worse, joined an online site to do so. One could choose the category of ‘friendship’ one hoped to make and I most certainly wasn’t interested in dating a stranger. The encounters in that forum could populate a number of posts but it was disconcerting to find how many people don’t understand “I’m not looking for a romantic relationship”.

As it happened, one of the friendships I made did lead to a more serious relationship and we remain the best of friends to this day. The aspect that leaves me feeling more relieved than apprehensive is that I am truly happy as I am. This seems to mystify a lot of people but it’s a wonderful way to be. When asked, I simply say I may remarry if it ever feels inevitable. If not, what’s not to love?

Good Old Timers

Reaching fifty last year has not bothered me one bit, in advance, at the time, or since. But watching Daisy, our Staffie, ageing as we look is getting to me.

Last year the lady who works with our vet warned that fifteen is an extremely good age for this breed of dog and that vague symptoms I’d noticed were indicative of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Until then Kimberley and I had been unaware that this could affect animals.

Although Daisy’s appetite remains unaffected, her muscle tone deteriorated and this combined with occasionally sunken eyes makes her look gaunt and malnourished. Changes in her behaviour have been the most obvious indication that all is not well. She sometimes seems to forget where she is and spends ages standing in corners, apparently quite content but just standing. She also wants to be as close as possible, particularly to me. When it happens during the morning rush, or while I’m busy up and down the length of the kitchen preparing a meal or washing dishes, it becomes extremely frustrating. Last week I tried to avoid walking on her and accidentally picked up a roasting pan that had just come out of the oven instead of the adjacent dish. Yelling was an instinctive reaction to the pain but all it did was leave me feeling lousy – and with a red hand.

Possibly the hardest new habit to cope with is her nocturnal restlessness. She sleeps soundlessly during the day and evening, at the most acrobatic angles at times as she adjusts to her location, usually on a cushion alongside the freezer. I hate closing her out of my bedroom as that’s where she wants to be when I’m there, but I’m losing track of how many times I’ve had to function on a minimum of sleep after she’s had a disturbed night. Up and down she’ll pace, down the passage and back, around the bedroom, up and over a packet of clothing awaiting disposal, bump into the bed, and then a cupboard door, before going back down the passage. And then rustle around in a pile of shoes for an hour or two before she’ll settle down. Twice now she’s bumped the bathroom door and been closed inside until we found her in the morning – fast asleep at last.

She hasn’t become incontinent like most dogs I know of, odd drips or ‘leaks’. In fact, I’m not even sure that she is incontinent. On occasional nights her bladder just loses all sense of moderation or fair play and she’ll lose what looks like litres of urine. It doesn’t smell but the sheer volume indicates that it has to be from her bladder. She’s always been a meticulously clean little dog and we’ve often been amused by the hours she spent ‘house-keeping’ her kennel.

She has become stubborn about going out on her pre-bedtime “pee break”. In fact, these days I more often than not have to push her out of the door, although it is only going to be for five or ten minutes. Even a matter of a few months ago, she and Storm and I would go for a short walk around the garden ; she’d break first and do her bit which immediately prompted Storm to rush up and do his bigger-and-better-bit on top of it. Cool, then we’d all go back inside and prepare for bed with beaming bladders.

The most worrying aspect at the moment is that, after a lifetime of communal living and navigating parking lots of sectional title developments, she has become completely car-unsavvy. Thankfully our two fellow tenants are very understanding and keep their eyes peeled for her when they’re in their cars. She and I have developed a routine and I know to watch out for her next to my door when I drive out of the garage in the morning, and she stands behind the car on my righthand side so I can see her when I reverse in at the end of the day.

The distrust of cats that marked her earlier life has been replaced by acceptance and even fondness for Kirby and they are often seen parked off on the lawn next to each other. On cold evenings he even gets away with curling up next to her on her cushion. One particularly cold night we found him curled up halfway on top of her.

Fortunately there is no question about her quality of life. Her appetite remains keen, some days her eyes are as bright and shiny as they’ve ever been, she is in no discomfort that we can discern ; and so we all adapt as she goes through changes we can do nothing to alleviate.

Right now I’m screaming inside.

The only light side I can see is telling colleagues on the mornings after broken nights that I’m grey and haggard because my dog’s getting old. I’m only fifty, she’s almost fifteen.