Thursday, 3 September 2009

Rain, memories and unanswerable questions.

Flung open the french doors onto the terrace expecting yet another day of bright blue skies, but no - there are a few real,grey,grumpy rain bearing clouds out there. If the promise of rain holds true our days can be filled with something other than running backwards and forwards making sure the new and hugely expensive (and complicated) irrigation system is working properly. Note for the future when the installation guy says " it's all automatic all you have to do is ..." beware. This is shorthand for it isn't really automatic and is actually hugely labour intensive.Roll on sweet rain!
Despite the presence of hunters Wilf was finally coaxed out into the courtyard with the promise of a ballgame and a digestive biscuit. As he's nearly nine we decided that there was no harm in giving him extra attention - at that age who cares about reinforced behaviour ? He lay with his head resting on the 'fonts' feet until the gunfire eased off but was on edge for the rest of the day. He started his repetitive ear scratching last night for the first time in months - a sure sign of stress! Thankfully the hunters aren't around today.
My eldest brother called from Scotland last night for one of our 'wee' chats. In passing he mentioned that it was today 70 years ago that our parents got engaged. What a day to choose - the day that Britain entered the war against the Nazis. Neither he,nor I,knew whether the date had been planned ahead of time or had suddenly and impetuously been decided on as the world lurched into madness. My mothers diaries talk about it being a beautiful Scottish day, of a wireless being brought into church so the congregation could listen to Prime Minister Chamberlains speech declaring war at 11.15, and of the lunch afterwards trying to be hearty and congratulatory but overshadowed by the enormity of what was happening . We both felt rather frustrated that when they were alive we never asked these questions, we had our own lives to lead and were far too busy bringing up our own families. Now they've gone we want the answers but will never get them.Would we have been as adept at changing careers,uprooting ourselves and tearing up carefully planned futures ? Memories and unanswerable questions.


MAX said...

Hey there, Angus
Wisdom has arrived when you can look back on your parents' lives with reason and without prejudice!
Those war years were something unimaginable! My parents too got married during that time (It's just got me thinking, randomly,...there was a recipe book put out by the late Mrs Smuts - Gen Jan Smuts' wife- using only ingredients which were accessible!)
Anyway, Im getting distracted...were you part of the child generation who had to do without parents in the UK??
What nostalgia!
Anyway, we are glad that Wilf is more settled. Please give your dear pooches lots of cuddles from all of us. Those pictures certainly are beautiful!
Lots of licks

Rocky Creek Scotties and Java said...

I'm glad to hear that Wilf is doing better. I hope the ear scratching stops soon. Dogs show stress in ways only their owners understand.

Memories - what a wonderful gift that can be such a curse! I often wish I had listed more when I was a child to the stories my grandfather, his sister and brother share with each other. Oh, to be back on that front porch with them. Sometimes I can close my eyes and almost her their voices.

Have a great day. Hope you get a nice soaking rain for the olives.


kks said...

interesting how life is.....having my brother in town and watching old family videos has brought up a lot of questions for us...fortunately our parents are youngish and can answer some of brother is into genealogy, and has put together a very interesting family tree....
glad wilf is coming around...

KB said...

I feel the same way about my mother and grandmother - so many questions that I should've asked but didn't.

As for reinforcing stress, the thinking of many 'experts' on that has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. No longer do they think that you should worry about reinforcing stress. Rather, they recommend using positive things (like treats) to train a dog to associate something that instinctively scares them with something good. Using this technique, you can gradually change a dog's outlook on almost anything. E.g., the sound of thunder can become solely a signal that a treat is coming, rather than a scary noise, after some work.

The approach is taken from human and dog psychology research. I.e., real experiments where things like stress hormones are measured.

KB said...

I forgot one thing in my comment. When using the treat technique, you try to give the dog a treat immediately after the scary stimulus (e.g., gunfire) but before his full-blown fear shows up. That's why trainers say to actually carry treats with you during 'high risk' times and to try to keep your dog right next to you. I used to tether my elder dog who was afraid of thunder to me around the time of storms so I wouldn't have to run all over the house looking for him when it thundered.

Angus said...

Max - I think you're right about wisdom. Thankfully,I was the last of the litter and born ten years after. My brothers were brought up on army bases and won't touch canned meat.

RCS&J - What sweet memories. I didn't realise Java was so advanced in years.

KKS - I've been following your families visit. Nows the time to talk - it's money in the bank.

KB - thanks for the posts. I'll try mini treats when the hunters return but the boyz'll need a lot of them.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It shows wonderful optimism to get engaged on such a day, don't you think? As to your unanswered questions, we are all so unaware when we are younger. It's only later that we want to know.

Re your comment on my blog...Mary Oliver is a favourite poet of mine...and I live in Atlanta! Small world.

Clarity said...

I too feel that way about my grandparents. Then one has to move on, close that book because nothing can be done - it is also not your fault, or anyone else's.

Parents from that generation encouraged their children to move on, move forward, build new roads. Perhaps they were proud of that and wanted to keep their memories to journals and quiet talks, together alone.

I would focus on the answers you do know and the love you remember. Perhaps also seek out new questions you will answer from your own resources and wisdom.