C is for …. and D is for

carton – but that’s just a box which is” B is for box” – what a relief! That’s C done! Just kidding.

C is for – what? Colour! Colour is an essential part of our lives – imagine a grey world with only shades of black and white – and yet, when I look at black and white photos, I’m blown away by the clarity of perception that they induce – have a look at Ree’s blogs and scroll back through until you find her black and white photos – in one post she compares the same photo in colour and B&W. Somehow the essence of the face in black and white seems to come through in a depth not present in the colour photos – if that makes sense. I fell in love with B&W photos years ago when my youngest daughter was in a B&W photography phase – she is talented with her photography and does take beautiful photos.

Colour is also a thing that I’m wrestling with for our new place. The floors and paint coloours are set in stone by the builder, but I’m having the lounge recovered and have to get window coverings. But what colours to choose? The last time I had to choose colours I used the local interior designer and loved the final result so he is organising things again. But it seems to take forever to reach agreement! He is very keen to use a neutral palette with some hideous patterned highlights, but I love really bright colours – Noro yarn, Indian numdah rug colours. I have told him this and he takes NO NOTICE. He is keen to give us a “smart new look” – but I’m a slobby casual person! Yet I know that eventually I’ll do what he wants and I’ll be pleased with it. That’s why I use him, as I’m no good with imagining things from a small swatch, nor am I good at putting colours together. My friend the ID just smiles and says “trust me” – just what the crocodile said when I smiled at it!

D is for dogs. We don’t have a dog at present, but they have been faithful companions all my life. When I was child I had a black and white cocker spaniel called “Ben” (Chifley) and my brother had a golden cocker called “Doc” (Evatt). Later we had another cocker called “Timmy”, then a pair of puppies whose mother was a pregnant stray that my parents took in. The twins were called “Boof” and “Tweedle”. Later, after I’d left home my parents had an Irish wolfhound called “Gough” – no prizes for guessing our political persuasion! (Ben, Doc and Gough are all the names of Labor politicians – similar to the Democrats). Gough met with a nasty end, a bit like his namesake, and later my parents had another refugee – an English Border Collie, called Margo, that we were all terrified of – she’d been maltreated as a puppy and was very protective of Mum and Dad – she’d run snarling to the gate, barking and generally bluffing us all. I wouldn’t go in until Dad came and called her off. Once inside, it was alright.

My own children had first a severely inbred Maltese Terrier – given to my first child on her first birthday – without consultation, by my father. This dog had the peculiar appellation of “Seaswirl Dodo Boy”, but we called him “Smokey”. Smokey nearly drove me to the brink of desperation – when he wasn’t mounting my little crawling babe, he was having fits of diarrhoea all over the house – apparently a problem with some of these dogs. Charming with a little baby. Sadly, but fortunately, the wretched little thing kept escaping, and was run over by one of the neighbours, who was very upset. I tried to look as if I was upset, but I truly was overjoyed, horrible as it sounds. Our next dog was given to our son when he was five – we arrived in the country at the other grandparents’ house after a VERY long drive. Grandma, who was waiting out the front, rushed over to the car and said “Pedro, I’ve got something for you, IF YOUR MOTHER WILL LET YOU HAVE IT” – what was a mother to do when a tiny little black and white fox terrier puppy was produced? Promptly named “Pooch” by it’s new proud father, Pooch was a part of our family for many years. After she died, I would hear the jingle of her collar around the house for many months.

Before we lost Pooch, both my parents died. What to do with their animals? Someone took the peacocks and peahens, but that still left the cat and the dog. My brother was clever and got in first – “I’ll take Chairman Miaow because I’ve already got three dogs and that’s the limit allowed by the council – you’ll have to take Margo”. Poor Margo was so distressed after Dad’s death that she was quite prepared to love anyone who’d feed her, so we became best friends. I drove back to Sydney from the country with Margo breathing down my neck and drooling in my hair. Once home, we had to let her sleep in our bedroom because she was fretting so much – I think she must have slept on Dad’s bed after Mum died. I couldn’t even visit the bathroom without the dog – she shadowed me constantly. And because Margo was allowed to go on the carpet (how could I stop her?), Pooch decided that if it was good enough for the intruder, it was good enough for her. SCREAM! That’s how we became a doggy smelling household. So, we lived in smelly harmony for many years and replaced the carpet after Margo died. We lost both the dogs quite close together, around the time that the Fleas were leaving (and coming back and leaving etc) home. In the later years of their lives, the dogs would fret very badly if we put them in kennels when we went away, so we had to organise our holidays around a timetable that involved one of the children coming to stay to look after them while we were absent. So we decided not to get another dog until we stop travelling.

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