A Completely Horrible Night


We all have bad days, I think last Sunday was one of my worst, though it might have been even worse. It began just fine, Bea was here for the weekend, and we’d all had dinner and watched a film, and I was preparing to go to bed. I’d fed Kia and put her out for a last wee, but I had forgotten to sort out the heating for the night, so popped back downstairs. Bea and Jay met me in the kitchen, and said something was wrong with Kia.

Kia was pacing, looking uncomfortable, and stretching her neck as if about to vomit. I had earlier dropped an egg in the garden, and I wondered if she’d eaten it, especially as when moments later she was sick, the result was what looked like uncooked meringue. Maybe she was allergic to egg? But then my mind began to process what was happening, and that she had been fed an hour earlier, and yet none of that food had come back up. Plus, Kia was now panting, stretching out her neck as if she couldn’t catch her breath, and when I felt her stomach it was as hard as a rock. I had read about symptoms like these on one of the German Shepherd Facebook groups I belong to—Kia was showing all the signs of a twisted stomach. And that is often fatal.

I woke Husband and said I thought we needed to go to the vet. We are very fortunate—in a nearby town is a 24 hour veterinary hospital, and they have an out-of-hours casualty department for emergencies. This was an emergency. At least, I thought it was. But when I put on my old dog-walking coat, and collected the lead, Kia seemed suddenly fine. She started to wag her tail, and trot around excitedly, ready for a walk.

“Could Kia simply have had a bad reaction to something she ate? Was I overreacting by rushing her to hospital?”

Possibly, but the facts were that if she had a twisted stomach, she needed to be operated on as soon as possible or she would die. If she had simply eaten something bad, the vet would tell us the visit was unnecessary, we would apologise and return home. The risk of not rushing to the vet was too great. We rushed.

Kia was okay on the journey, obviously uncomfortable, but not in agony. We arrived, I explained the problem, and the vet agreed it sounded suspiciously like a twisted stomach, which is quickly diagnosed with an X-ray. I signed the consent form, Kia was led away, we waited.

Within a few minutes the vet returned. Kia had a twisted stomach, the vet could operate, but Kia is an old dog (12 years old, which is old for a GSD) and the operation was a major one. Did we want to take the risk and spend the (considerable) money? It was all too quick.

Pause for a minute with me, and try to imagine the situation. An hour ago, Kia had been fine, all was peaceful at home. Suddenly, everything had changed, and my completely healthy, very fit dog (lets face it, one of my best friends) was now about to die. What to do? Was I committing her to months of pain, to never properly recovering, because I didn’t want to let her go? Or should I give her a chance, should I decide that she is remarkably healthy for a dog that age, she had every chance of a full recovery and a few more years of active life, and I should not deny her that. What was the right choice? As is often the case, I have no idea. There was no time to take a moment, to pray for wisdom, to test how I felt. The decision had to be now.

I chose to operate.

I then went to sit in the car, leaving Husband to listen to the potential risks and to sign the release forms, because all the sensibleness had deserted me, and a hot fountain of tears was about to escape and I wanted to be somewhere private. I sat in the car, aware of how much I love that opinionated, determined, faithful animal, and how much I was losing if she died; and I cried.

Husband returned, and we drove home. The vet said that if, during surgery, there was too much internal damage, then they would phone and ask permission to put her to sleep. (We were unable to give consent prior to surgery; I don’t know why.)

At 4 am, the vet phoned. The surgery had gone well, Kia was in recovery, but the next 72 hours would be critical.

At 7.30am, the vet phoned to say Kia was awake, and seemed remarkably well. By the evening she was able to walk outside to toilet, and was drinking, though she still had not eaten.

Monday morning, the vet told us that Kia still had not eaten. This didn’t overly surprise me. She has always been a picky eater, and at home she will only eat when I eat. If I put her food down in the morning, it will sit there, untouched, until she sees me eat my evening meal—then she will eat. The vet suggested that if I was comfortable giving all the medication, Kia would be better at home, as she needed to eat. We collected her (and a suitcase of pills).

As I write this, Kia continues to improve. She is still very weak, and is eating lots of little snacks rather than a proper big meal. But gradually her strength is returning, and she is relaxed at home, as long as she can see me, she is happy. The drugs make her drowsy, and her shaved tummy needs to be kept warm, but I think she is going to be all right.

I am so grateful to the dog owners who described the symptoms of a twisted stomach so that I recognised them. I am grateful to the vet, who reacted so professionally. And I am grateful to God, who allowed me to keep Kia for a little longer, even though we never know how long that will be.

Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and non-fiction books. You can find her work in bookshops and Amazon.
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You can read more about Kia in my travel book (though she was only invited on the English holidays!) You can read it free if you have a kindle. Also available in paperback–a lovely Mother’s Day gift.

Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

UK link Here

Trying to be ‘Normal’


Trying to be ‘normal’

Yesterday, Bea brought home a friend she wanted us to meet. I knew this was a fairly big deal for her, and so I was very keen that we shouldn’t embarrass her. Usually I consider that I have earned the right to be embarrassing to my children due to suffering through their teenage years when their clothes and hair and general attitudes were often not what I had hoped for when they were 5—but not this time. This time I was keen to be ‘normal’.

Now, I would say that housework is not my forte. Basically, I hate doing it, and although my kitchen is hygienic, you might find dog hairs on the floor and dust on the window sills, so my first task of the day was to tidy the house and wave a duster around a bit. Unfortunately, Husband (always to be relied upon in these situations) had helpfully decided that this was the day he was going to empty the loft of important papers from 20 years ago, and put them into bags ready to be recycled. The whole of his office resembled a rubbish tip. We had an argument (always a good start when guests are due).

I then began to wipe surfaces in the kitchen, when I noticed an unpleasant smell wafting under the utility room door. We have one of the outside cats in there, in a cage, because she has pulled the ligaments in her back legs (fell out of a tree) and the vet said she mustn’t climb or jump, and I have no idea how you stop a cat jumping, so I have put her into the old dog crate, which is big enough for her to walk around in, but has no opportunity for jumping. She is very cross, but the ligaments are healing, so all is good. Except yesterday, she had dirtied her bedding.

I attempt to open cage door and remove dirty bedding without cross cat escaping, and am about to shove dirty bedding into washing machine, when I hear a shout from the garden. Husband is yelling that the cockerels have been fighting.

I have several cockerels, hatched last year. Until now, they have lived fairly peacefully alongside each other. Cockerels will sometimes live for several years in the same flock without incident, provided they have sufficient space and females. However, sometimes you hatch an aggressive bunch, and then you can only keep one. I hurried into the garden.

One of the cockerels was clearly suffering, having been attacked by one of the bigger ones (his brother actually—chickens are pretty nasty creatures). The bird was obviously dying, and in pain, so I quickly killed him. When chickens are dead, the nerves in their bodies continue to function, making them twitch, so it can be hard to know they are completely dead. I didn’t want it to suffer, so to be sure I chopped off the head. (A chicken with no head is definitely dead, though bizarrely they can still run around!)

Looked at time: daughter due at house with friend at any moment. The cockerel had been a big bird, and it seemed wrong to simply throw him away (waste of a life) but there was no time to do anything with him. So, I tied up his legs, and hung him in garage, to deal with him later. Sent Bea a message: “If you give friend a tour of the house, don’t go in garage because there’s a dead chicken hanging from the ceiling!”

Bea replied: “What? You are meant to be trying to be normal! Dead chicken hanging in garage is not normal!”

I felt she had a point.

The rest of the visit went okay, and we liked her friend immensely. I have no idea what the friend thought of us, but hopefully we appeared to be relatively normal.

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading.
anneethompson.com
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 I am excited to tell you that my new book, Sowing Promises, is now available. A sequel to Ploughing Through Rainbows, it is also a stand-alone book and my best one yet (though I always think that!) A family saga, set on a farm, it is all about a family coping with unexpected happenings. . . and trying to be normal.

Available from an Amazon near you, and if you buy a copy today it will still arrive in time for Christmas–it makes a great gift for someone who you want to make smile.

UK link HERE

US link HERE

Amazon Germany HERE

 

Secret Heroes


Secret Heroes

When we visited the death camps at Auschwitz, we were told something which has stuck with me, something which made me realise that some people are incredibly brave, even unto death, and are never recognised for it. Not in this life, anyway.

We were told that as the Nazis refined their killing systems, they realised that the part that took time, that could not be rushed, was the disposal of the bodies. They had learned (the hard way) that having thousands of decomposing bodies in the ground was something of a health risk. The only way to successfully complete their genocide, was to refine the disposal of the bodies, and thus they built the crematoriums. The crematoriums were worked by prisoners, who were themselves killed after a certain period, so that no one knew too much and the scale of what was happening could be kept hidden. (I have no idea how hidden, or how you keep such a thing a secret, but that was their claim.)

Now, Auschwitz Birkenau was something of a model camp, and they increased their killing capacity by building more crematoriums. However, things didn’t go smoothly, as the new crematoriums kept breaking down. The Nazis complained to the engineers and architects, who blamed the Sonderkommando (the prisoners tasked with burning the bodies). Apparently, they said that it wasn’t their fault, the Sonderkommando must be scraping the inside of the ovens when they added bodies, which was breaking the seal, so the furnaces kept breaking.

Now, stop and think about that for a minute. We were told this by our guide in passing, as an interesting snippet of information. But stop and consider. These people were living under huge duress, their job was to load bodies into the ovens, they knew they wouldn’t survive for very long themselves, they had no power to fight the Nazis…and yet they managed to slow down the killing by damaging the ovens. Who did this? We don’t know. Nor do we know how many lives were saved by slowing down the process, but I’m guessing it was thousands because the prisoners could not be gassed until there was a way to dispose of the bodies, so every time a crematorium was out of order, the whole system would slow down, and fewer people would be killed.

I keep thinking about this, about those brave people who managed to find a way, even in their position, to save lives. They must have known that if they were discovered doing it, they would be shot. They would have known that they would soon be killed anyway, and yet they did what they could. In secret. No medals, no honour, no recognition—they may not have even told the people working next to them. I think, of all the stories we heard when at the camps, this was the one which affected me the most. It gives me hope that even in such awful times, individuals were able to be brave and do good. The challenge has to be, would we?

Anne E Thompson has written several novels, which are available from bookshops and Amazon.
Anne also writes a weekly blog — describing her travels, her animals, and life in general — Why not sign up to follow her blog today?
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Hearing What Is Meant


When I was teaching at Limpsfield Infant School, I would very often look up from taking the morning register, to find a child standing next to me. “What’s the matter Tommy?” I would ask (though it might be Jane or Christopher or Matthew). “I’ve got a tummy ache,” they would reply. And I would guess that whatever the first subject of the day was, they found it difficult. Usually I would assure them that maths gave me a tummy ache too, and we would sit down together and try to sort it out.

(Of course, sometimes they really did have a tummy ache, and I will never forget the day that a girl – whose name I remember clearly – vomited all over me. This was not helped when her mother – who I also remember – came to collect her and seemed to find it terribly funny, even though the child was ill because she’d just been taken to have vaccinations for a holiday. There is so much I could say here, but hey, I’m over it. Sort of.)

Anyway, my point is, children don’t always say what they mean, and part of being a good teacher is hearing what they’re trying to say. Grown-ups also don’t always say what they mean, and sometimes this is good. So when, driving home after an event, my husband turns to me and says, “You were the prettiest one there,” I am pleased. Even though I know that it’s not true. But he’s telling me that in his eyes, I am still pretty, and he’s glad I was there. It made me smile recently, to watch a film on Netflix, when all the wives were told by their husbands that they were ‘the prettiest one there’, because I had thought it was only my husband who said that!

However, sometimes people don’t say nice things, they say horrid things, and part of being an adult—I think—is trying to hear what they’re really saying.

I find it much easier with children, perhaps because I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Or perhaps because they’re not so good at pretending, so it’s easier to see what they’re really saying. My mother always says she likes teenagers, because “they are completely selfish, and they don’t pretend not to be.” Adults are harder, because generally we are also completely selfish, but we try to hide it.

I hope you agree that sometimes, what people say, is not completely what they want you to hear. And usually, they simply need some reassurance, to know that no one else is perfect either, and that’s okay. Sometimes we need other people to hear that we’re vulnerable, and we’re not quite managing to keep up. Because all of us are falling behind with something. And sometimes, we all need someone to say to us: “You were the prettiest one there.”

*****

Thank you for reading.

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Which book would you like to read next? Available from bookshops and Amazon.

All Quiet On The Chicken Front…


I thought I would give you a quick update on my news. First, the family of cockerels. As you may remember, I was fortunate (!) enough for five of the six hatchlings to be male. Now, contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to have a flock with more than one cockerel and not have open warfare. I know this because I had two cockerels who lived very peacefully alongside each other for a couple of years (until a fox ate them). However, five young cockerels, plus their father, seems like a lot.

As the hatchlings grew, and were allowed to roam freely around the garden, the flock separated. The parents and the female wander around the garden together, and the young cockerels form a separate flock. A few weeks ago, they started ‘facing off’ to each other. None of them has spurs yet (the deadly sharp talons on the back of their legs) so I figured they were unlikely to kill each other, and were probably simply sorting out the pecking order. I left them to it. The dog takes a keen interest in this, and has taken upon herself the role of peace-keeper. If they start to fight, she stamps on them – which is remarkably effective.

When we went to Devon for a week, I was worried about leaving them all in the same cage, so I split them up. I waited until evening, when they were all roosting on the perch, and then went to move the young cocks into a separate cage. I have to say, it takes an amount of courage to approach a cockerel, which is staring you in the eye, at head-height, with an elongated neck and fluffed up feathers. But I managed to pick them all up, ignored all the squawking, and carried them, one by one, to a new cage; and I survived without getting my eyes pecked out (which would have made Husband cross).

When I returned home after Devon, I opened both cages, to see what would happen. For a couple of days, the father and both hens roosted in one cage, the five young cockerels in the other. Gradually, as they have established a pecking order, two of the weaker cockerels have started to join the parents. I now have ‘the elite team’ of cockerels in one cage, and the rest in the other. For now, we are at an uneasy truce. If any of them become very aggressive, they will have to go (don’t ask me how – but I am not vegetarian, and neither is the local fox, so I figure I have a couple of options…unless you would like a pet cockerel? Do let me know.)

My other news, which is sort of vaguely related, is my new book, which is set on a farm. The first draft is finished, and I began to send it out to publishers. One publisher sent back a detailed editorial report, saying they didn’t want to publish it as it was, but would reconsider if I rewrote it. I am therefore in the process of rewriting it. This is taking much longer than I expected – longer in fact than writing the first draft, because as I change things, I lose the rhythm of the story, so have to rewrite increasingly large sections. It feels like work, and is not much fun. But I do feel the book is improving, so it’s worth the effort. When finished, I will resubmit to the publisher, and see what happens. I would like it to be released in the summer, but it may take longer than that. I will let you know.

A late Christmas gift was a trip to the British Museum and having a tour of the artefacts that relate to various stories in the Bible. Do you know why it was historically appropriate for Daniel to be put in a lions den? Or the name of the Pharaoh who put Joseph (of the coloured coat) in charge of all the agriculture? Or the Pharaoh who suffered the plagues at the time of the Exodus (because it probably wasn’t Ramesses!) I’ll tell you all about it in next week’s blog.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a good week.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
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“Oh, you shouldn’t have…”


“You shouldn’t have…”

I have been watching people receive gifts recently (we all have, I suspect) and I have noticed that some people are exceptionally good at receiving gifts—and others aren’t. There are those people, who simply make you feel that what you have given them is the best thing ever, and has made their day. They seem to smile with their whole face, and look genuinely delighted with those slippers or that mug or those earrings. Other people (and I’m afraid that I might be one of these) struggle to appear pleased, even if they are. I am always aware that I’m being watched, that my reaction matters, and so it all goes to pot and even when I am excited by the gift, I’m not sure that I show it very well.

The thing is, I think that receiving is very important, and there are lots of us who find it difficult. This Christmas, I have heard lots of people say things like: “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” and they mean it. They absolutely do not really want to be given anything. They don’t want gifts, and (perhaps even more) they don’t want help. If they need to be driven somewhere, they would rather pay for a taxi than accept the offer of a lift from a friend. They will grind themselves into the ground with exhaustion rather than let someone help them.

Of course, this isn’t true of everyone, and there are a few people who ONLY ever take from others. They will stand by and let others do all the work, ask for favours but never do any in return, and generally are a drain on those around them—but I’m not talking about those people. I want to consider the others, the people who dislike accepting, because I think it’s important.

We talk sometimes about relationships being “Give and Take” and yet we are so loathe to “take”. This makes relationships unbalanced. I find I feel much closer to those people who will let me help them, who are not completely self-sufficient.

If you believe the Bible, there is lots there to show we should accept help. Right back in Genesis, Man was created to need a helper, so Woman was created. Man didn’t say,”Oh, no thanks, I can manage on my own.” Man needed Woman. And later, the absolute example has to be God himself, who came as a completely vulnerable human baby in order to reach us. Many times during Jesus’ life, from the very first time he needed to be fed by Mary, to the times he asked for a drink of water, or for other people to organise things or find things, or provide things, he asked for help. And his needs were genuine—when he asked a woman at a well for a drink, he really was thirsty and needed a drink and didn’t have a pot to collect water.

This is a lesson that I learnt painfully, when I had brain surgery. I changed from an independent person who didn’t need (or want) much help, to someone who suddenly needed lots. It was a tough lesson to learn.

So please, think about it this week. If people offer to help, perhaps you will deepen your relationship with them if you accept. It’s probably good for us, makes us humble, to realise that we all need other people, we can’t manage to do it all on our own. We were created like that.

Thanks for reading, have a good week.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and non-fiction books. You can find her work in bookshops and Amazon.
Why not sign up to follow her blog today?
anneethompson.com

People Know Best…Right?


People know best…right?

Recently there was a march in London – 670,000 people walked the streets of London – showing they wanted a new vote on Brexit. Nearly seven-hundred-thousand people. Surely, that many people can’t be wrong, can they?

On 23rd June, 2016, 17,410,742 people in the UK, voted to leave – so surely they couldn’t all be wrong – could they? And yet over sixteen million voted to remain in Europe. Which is also rather a lot of people. So who was right? Who had the best interests of the country at heart? Surely, when millions of people vote for something, it shows what is right – doesn’t it?

Yet, as the above example shows, clearly millions of people can vote for something that is wrong, because in the Europe vote, both sides cannot be right, which means millions of people have voted for the wrong thing. Which shows, I think, that we cannot always trust what other people think to be right. Something which has the support of the masses, is not necessarily correct. Sometimes, people are wrong. Sometimes, millions of people are wrong. (Which is a slightly scary thought when you live in a democracy – because populations can vote for the wrong thing.)

If we look at the arts, we can see more examples of what the masses think. I know of many singers, musicians, artists, who will probably never be famous, but not because they weren’t ‘good enough’. Were the Spice Girls the best singers at the height of their fame? Are the acts that win X Factor the best entertainers?

Look at the book reviews on Amazon. Some modern books have thousands of reviews. Other, great books, do not. The Phantom of the Opera has only a few hundred reviews, even though everyone has heard of it – but not many people read it. Sometimes, the number of reviews say more about the amount of time the author spends on social media, and less about the quality of the book. {Small plug here – if you have read one of my books, please scribble a review on Amazon. Even if you didn’t like it! Only 1% of people who read my books bother to put a review on Amazon, and it’s how some people choose books.}

I was thinking about this recently, as I was asked to preach at a nearby church. It’s tiny, with a tiny congregation of mainly elderly people. The service was very traditional, and several members took part, some of them with major health issues (the lady leading the service pulled her oxygen tank around with her) and I gave the talk. It was not a professional product. And yet, it was a service where I felt the worship was very real, the love of God was very evident, these were people who were sincere in their faith.

In comparison, there is a study-guide which is popular at the moment in churches. The author is a well-known American pastor, who leads a huge church. He is an engaging speaker, I imagine his church has beautiful music and up-to-date IT, and a wonderful building. But would you feel God there? Certainly the study seems to be made up of popular sound-bites and clever phrases, the sort of thing that people like to repeat because it makes them feel better about how they’re living. But there isn’t much in-depth Bible study, there isn’t much that encourages you to come in awe to the presence of God and understand more about who he is. It seems, in my opinion, rather glib.

So why does a seemingly superficial church have thousands of members and a sincere group of Christians remain tiny? Perhaps because God wants it that way. Perhaps he wants to bless those faithful Christians, and for them to have a safe place, where things don’t change, and they can worship him. Sometimes Christian churches can feel like scalp-hunters, they judge the value of something by how many people are in the building. I don’t think God does. Sometimes, people don’t know best. Sometimes the most popular is not the best. Sometimes we need to look to God, and make choices based on what our hearts tell us, not simply follow the crowd. Because sometimes, the crowd is wrong.

Thank you for reading. Hope you make some good choices this week. I’ll write again next week – I want to tell you about an author who refused to accept that “what everyone thinks is best” (which perhaps was a mistake).
Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow today?