At first it was black swans taking up residence in the newly created wetland a couple of hundred metres from where I live. A couple of years ago a pair of white swans arrived with a brood of almost grown cygnets, which have since departed. The adult pair reappeared, but I can’t say for sure whether it is the same pair as before. They have been keeping a low profile lately and I was beginning to wonder whether they had moved away, again so what a thrill it was to see they have merely shifted to a different pond and produced five cygnets. That’s seven swans a-swimming at Christmas, but they are camera-shy and you’ll have to look hard to see the cygnets in this photo.
It’s the time for end of year functions and my favourite, so far, this year was lunch with one of the poetry facilitation groups I worked with earlier in the year. The participants were delighted when I brought poems back to them using their own words from the previous session, and in a fit of enthusiasm I suggested we had enough poems for a small booklet. It took a while to pull it together, but it was finished in time to give each participant a copy of the booklet at their Christmas lunch. This was my first poetry facilitation group and I was thrilled with the poems produced.
A couple of weeks ago I had a stall along with other local authors at the local Lincoln Farmers’ and Craft Market. Once a month the market has a special theme, and for July it was books. In a sunny spot at the far end of the market, alongside the huge second-hand book sale, a group of authors sat bundled up against the cold chatting to a steady stream of people about their books. I fortified myself with bramborak—a Czech potato pancake—and hot blackcurrant juice from a nearby stall selling Czech food. Then all I had to do was sit back and chat to people and sell books. By the end of the morning I’d run out of stock.
Most book marketing efforts don’t involve sitting outdoors in the middle of winter. I’ve had a couple of lovely talks at libraries recently. The first was at a meeting of a book group run by the local library and coincided with the group’s anniversary. I’m not sure which was the bigger attraction—me or the very large, generously iced anniversary cake. The second talk was at a meeting of the Christchurch Friends of the Library. I hardly needed notes at either meeting and spent most of the time responding to thoughtful questions on topics ranging from how I wrote the book to coping with dementia.
Bubu came into our house when he was three years old. He was already seriously overweight and simultaneously timid and aggressive. His face, paws and tail were dainty, and despite the fact that he wasn’t greedy and didn’t eat much, we could never get the weight off him.
He arrived almost by accident. When his predecessor died, we asked our vet to let us know if he had any cats come in that needed re-homing. Big mistake. Two weeks later the vet phoned and soon after Bubu moved in with us. We thought his name was rather silly, but he wouldn’t answer to anything else, so the name stayed.
He mellowed over the years, especially after we moved from Wellington to Christchurch. In Wellington our house was in the shade of a hill; here our house gets all-day sun. Bubu knew within minutes exactly where the sun was at any time of the day, any time of the year. Although his temper improved, he still found it necessary to reprimand us at times with a swift whack or an unfriendly bite. In later years he took to stalking my father’s dog whenever he visited. He only once sat on a lap, but every night he would burrow under the cover on our bed and push his way into the best spot.
He went down-hill fast and the weight fell off him. Despite this, he seemed quite happy sleeping in the sun and snuggling up beside us, but never on us. After a month of this he became lethargic and stopped eating. The vet told us he had almost no kidney function left. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t pee, so sadly we had him euthanised.
I didn’t think I’d miss the bad-tempered old fellow, but I do.