Dear Diary – Jan 1st 2021

Dear Diary,

This is my first page of a new year and I feel almost guilty for spoiling the clean white pages but here we are. Beginnings are always hard. Your head is full of things and you have to decide what to write first. Sometimes it’s the opposite; blank mind. What do you write? Where did all those ideas you had before go?

I think it helps to just stain the page with ink, to get rid of the daunting blankness. Doddle on the edges, write your name, the date, quotes, whatever. Make the page unblank. Then, you can start writing what you need to, knowing the page is already marked so it’s okay to do the task you set out on the lines or the plain space.

I don’t what I’m going to record in this diary yet. I guess important dates of appointments and birthdays. Things I need to remember and things I’d like too. There’s not enough room for a whole account of my day, just notes of what happened. If I want to do so.

The first day of a new year seems sort of empty. People are recovering from all night parties, maybe they might go buy a bargain or go for a long walk. It’s always the first day for diets and other get fit things. I didn’t do any of the above. It was just me and the old dog, Betty, the mixed terrier, watching movies. I guess if the ancient woman I had cared for in the last few months of her life had been still alive Betty would have been asleep on her lap last night instead of mine.

Betty is at the end of my bed as I write this. She’s curled up and snoring. I didn’t really want her on the bed but she was a lap dog, not spoilt, just well cared for because she give a dying woman comfort and made her feel not alone. Betty has been making me feel like that over this second week together. I’ve had cats before, they fitted in better with my job but it’s nice to have dog who stays by your side.

Tomorrow is just going to be another day. Nothing special or filled with much. I have new books to read and a cross stitch to carry on with. The weather is looking mild which suits Betty better for walking. Perhaps, I will make a cake and phone a friend. Do some more self-care and not think for awhile.

Nap

The afternoons were getting harder to get through. The time dragged and it felt like waiting for paint to dry. I had tried to fill the time with watching TV, gardening and looking out of the window.

Still though, I caught myself dozing off sometimes and even woke myself from sleep, confused by what I’d missed.

Maybe, it was lack of sleep in the night or the strangely warm autumn. Perhaps, it was a sign as there had been others, of the old age I hated admitting too. I brushed it off, blamed it on other things.

Sleep though didn’t seem to want to let me go. I felt like I was having an never ending battle with keeping my eyes open and my thoughts in one place. I would nodded off and jerk myself awake, I’d get up and shake off the blanket sleep had tried to wrap me in.

Sometimes though it was too easier to give in. I didn’t have the fight like I use too and my energy was lacking after morning activities. So, a little sleep helped me to get through the rest of the day.

The days were getting shorter and darkness always seemed close at hand. My excuse for sleeping was justified; it’s cold and dark, I liked to be warm and feel safe. Plus, the growing aches in my joints were eased when I laid down. – Not so great when I stood up though!

Stretching in my basket, I looked at the clock then the TV and tried to see if it was time for a walk. The old man had fallen asleep in his chair again, his head was on his chest and his hands were in his lap. It seemed unfair to wake him up.

I was comfy and too warm. I yawned and snuggled back down. Maybe, I should just give into these day time naps? They didn’t seem that bad really.

Apple Tree

I looked up at my neighbour’s apple tree and my mouth started to water. The thought of the first bite of sweet crispiness called to me and it was a temptation I answered.

I pressed against the wooden fence and cast through the leaves. There were a lot of apples on the branches that over hung my garden. A few apples were in easy reach too but I wanted one that was ready.

The lowest apples were the ones that had seen less sun and they were not ready. The highest ones were but they were out of my arms reach and it would be too suspicious if I stood on a ladder.

I choice an apple that was at the height of my reach. It’s red and green colours were splashed together and it felt heavy in my palm. A quick twist and it was mine!

The barking started before I could officially claim my prize. I looked across my neighbour’s garden and saw their dog. It was a terrier mix and making one hell of a racket.

I swiftly lowered my arm and put the apple into my pocket. The dog bounced over, knowing he’s territory had been entered and he slammed into the fence.

Shooing the dog away was useless and I know my neighbour would appear to see what the noise was about because their back door was open. Hopefully, they would think it was a bird the dog was chasing after.

I rushed back to the lawn mower I had abandoned and turned it on. The engine drowned out the dog’s barking and I hurried about my task once more.

A few minutes later, I had finished and packed away the lawn mower in the shed. The dog had stopped barking. Sitting on the shed’s step, I took out the stolen apple and had my first bite.

It was just as good as I had imagined.

Empty Chair

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Old Max had for many years sat in the chair outside his front door and watched the world go by. He waved to people he knew and yelled at the kids who played too loudly.

He had a dog called Bill, who loved to bark and charge at passersby.  Old Max would laugh and just say he was playing as Bill bit someone’s leg or tore someone’s coat. When Bill became too old to chase, He would sleep at Max’s feet and growl in his dreams.

Bill passed away and the loss made old Max angry and grumpy then before. Max ran after the children in the neighbourhood and took away their balls and other toys. Parents would go over to take to him but Max was close the door in the faces.

For a few months, Max was seen to yell at no one and people said he was crazy. There was little anybody could do though but tell each other to stay away from the old man who seemed to be working his way through something.

It wasn’t until winter fell that Max stayed inside and the children rejoiced in their outside playtime. From his windows, he watched them and grumbled at their fun. What so delighted them about the cold snow and icy pathways? Max thought he could dimly recall from his own youth but it had been so long ago and his memories were full of holes.

Old Max went to bed on night soon after Christmas day and didn’t get up again.

For years, his chair sat empty on his doorstep weathering away until final the house was able to be sold and be brought back to life again.

Trying to Juggle

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Working from home sounded great but in reality it was horrible. The kids always wanted something then the dog wanted something, then the wife was yelling at the kids or the dog of just in general.

Having a meeting was like dealing doing a deal with the devil. I was tried of telling people to un-mute themselves or turn there sound out or was that a fire happening in their background?

I just wanted a few minutes peace to write this report. My children stuck stickers to my back, I ran the dog’s paw over with my chair and my wife was asking what time I’d finished work because it was my turn to cook tonight.

The house was always a mess, the children kept moving my things and I just wanted my nice clean office back!

Right, enough is enough! I’m going to empty the shed and turned that into a office. I could lock the door and be at peace in there. I could carry my briefcase across the garden each morning and pretend I was going into work. I could get a radio and a coffee machine….

Yes, that’s what I needed, an office away from office.

Gaberlunzie #AtoZChallenge

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Gaberlunzie – a beggar

He was there everyday on the streets with his old dog. He would hold out a hat or a cup and press his head to the floor. He was ashamed. He didn’t want to beg, he didn’t want to be homeless but somehow he had ended up trying to survive like this.

I finally stopped, one April afternoon and decided as if an angel had called upon me to do this good deed. I touched his shoulder softly and met the deep sad eyes of his dog’s.

‘Come with me,’ I said gently, ‘let me help you.’

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Pill Box #CCC

Someone had painted the pill box on the beach again. I signed and let my dog, Teddy, sniff one of the corners. At least the “art work” didn’t look that bad this time but still, some respected might have been nice.

Once a solider would have sat inside, his only light coming through the gun slit and he would have had to watch the shore for signs of the enemy. A boring job, maybe but a crucial one to slow the enemy down when they landed.

I tugged Teddy’s lead and told him, ‘we’ll have to go back to get the whitewash again.’

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/03/18/crimsons-creative-challenge-71/ with thanks).

 

 

Beau #FFftPP

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Beau stolen my heart. I wasn’t looking for a pet when I met him. I was driving home after the death of my beloved uncle and Beau was eating a dead rabbit on the road side.

I took him to an animal centre and hoped his family would come. Nobody did and Beau was put up for adoption but he had problems. I connected the shelter for an update and learnt that, so I decided to rescue him again.

Saving Beau sealed our fate together.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2020/02/12/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2020-week-07/ with thanks).

Wild Day #FridayFictioneers

Dog ownership demanded I faced all kinds of weather. Today, I really didn’t want to. I looked at my greyhound, Apollo, he too was watching the snow tumbling down and wind shake the wooden staircase and pine trees.

‘We’ve been out in worse,’ I spoke.

The snow was blinding and soon I lost sight of Apollo. I shouted him but the wind blocked me, I started a mad search but the snow was too bad.

With frozen tears on my face, I returned and found Apollo shivering by the front door.

‘Good dog! You found your way home!’ I cried and let us both safely inside.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/02/12/14-february-2020/ with thanks).

Storm Ciara

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When the news said there was an amber weather warning, I knew that Ciara wasn’t going to be friendly. She was coming over from America with the full force of a winter storm. At least, the British weather wasn’t as bad as the USA.

Ciara woke me up on Sunday morning by driving hailstone on to my window. I heaved the winter duvet and my massive Great Dane, King, off me and looked out of the window. The wind was fifty to sixty miles per hour, everything was moving violently and the surrounding bare trees were really showing how strong the wind was. Rain thundered down and the wind whipped the water into a frenzy.

I got up and sorted for the day. My bachelor mind doing it’s normal voice off about how nice it was not to have a wife or kids being noisy but also how worrying it was not to have those things.

Letting King out into the garden, the wind blew ice into my face and I was grateful that within a minute King was back inside. I dried him off, wondering how he could be so wet!

King sulked off to his massive dog bed in the converted dinning room. Dispite him being a huge dog – he came up passed my hip and I was six foot two, he could easily rest his head on tables too – King hated the cold and wet weather.

Getting a large mug of coffee and some toast, I went to my study and began working on my different writing tasks. I had a novel to complete, creative writing lectures to plan, students’ essays to mark and journal articles to finish. It might have been a Sunday but writers and teachers never stop.

Storm Ciara erupted throughout the whole day. She hit against the windows desperate to get in. She threw out everything she had; wind, hail, snow, rain, thunder and lightening. I glanced up often from my work and watched the storm from the small window.

King joined me at some point, he put his dark grey head into my lap then curled up tight under the desk. When the thunder started, he yowled and only hugs and comforting words soothed him.

I tried to take him out at lunchtime but a quick trot to the park entrance at the end of my street was it. Storm Ciara was still bad in the afternoon and darkness came early. I took King out again and we embraced the gusty wind and drenching rain together. I tugged him along, trying to convince him that a longer walk was what we were going on.

The trees above swayed violently and the branches cracked. Deep, long stretching pools of water were either covering the grass or the pathways of the park. As we passed the children’s playground, a creeping feeling crawled along my skin. The swings, roundabout and the rocking animals were moving because of the wind but for some reason I thought of ghost children at play.

The wind was whistling through the climbing frame, slide and other things, making ghastly sounds. Rain was dripping off everything and it was all so eerie, almost abandoned looking.

We hurried home and once safe inside, I got use both into a hot shower. King sit, drinking the shower spray and I enjoyed the warmth spreading on my icy skin. After, I got the fire in the living room going and feed King. I just had some soup then we both sat by the fire, watching TV.

‘What is it, King?’ I asked as he raised his head and whined.

Then I heard it, the monstrous groaning and cracking of a tree. There was almighty snap, crunch of metal and shattering of glass. I felt a tremor running through the house and King threw back his head and howled.

I rushed to the window and saw a tree had come down across the street and was laying across a number of cars.

There were bits of tree and car scattered across the road. The wind was picking up the lighter things and blowing them away. Doors of the houses opposite opened and people stepped out. I couldn’t hear them but I could see the shock on their faces and in their body language.

King pushed me out of the way and looked out of the window too. We stayed there for awhile. Watching the crowds of neighbours gather and soon a fire engine arrived. No body had been hurt but some of the cars were write offs for sure.

‘There’s not much we can do,’ I said to King, ‘looks like everything’s under control. It’s snowing again. Let’s go back to the fire.’

Settling down again, King sprawled across the sofa and myself. His head and front legs on my lap, pinning me down. I felt safe like that, even though King was a rubbish guard dog. I guess just having a massive dog and his heavy weight on me was enough comfort as storm Ciara raged outside.

 

(Inspired by current events; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/11/storm-ciara-commuters-warned-snow-ice-across-parts-britain/)