The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


Enter Poirot

A week ago tomorrow, I sprained my left ankle, sprained my right knee and went to bed for two days. I tried walking with a stick that crunched the bones in my osteoarthritic wrist, so I stopped that.

I found I could walk like a penguin, shuffling to the loo and back and even around the house.

In the medicine cupboard I found an ankle brace and a knee brace and a wrist brace. So I’m all braced up.

Enter Poirot! I’m getting good at little mincing steps, with erect back and pinched bum. Agatha Christie might even be proud…

Today took the dog for a short mincing walk. And tomorrow, I’m going swimming – well “going swimming” is actually me lolling around in a 35deg heated pool and relaxing.

I’m very pleased with my recovery. I must be a strong old bird. But mainly I suspect it’s my absolute delight that I never broke anything. Happiness heals!


Zombies, now penguins

In 2017 six months of my year was curtailed by sciatica. During that time, I walked like a Zombie. I must have looked like the mad woman of Cumbria walking about our streets here doubled over and shuffling. I even walked old Bobby-the-now-dead-dog in Zombie pose.

But now, since my fall, in which I achieved a sprained left foot and a sprained right knee, Zombie pose is useless. A further complication is that I’m a one handed person with severe osteoarthritis in my right wrist which is the only hand that works. So my first day or two, I tried to use a stick which crunched the bones in my hand.

But I dumped it.

I have found a solution!

I walk very erect with a stiff right knee which lessons the pain on it. And I shuffle the sprained ankle foot. Its not as speedy as a Zombie, but it makes me look like a human pretending to be a Penguin.

Penguins are much cuter than Zombies don’t you think?


I fall. I sore.

One of the Furlong children took longer than our other children to talk. She didn’t use silly baby words much. She started talking with a full paragraph. She fell in our lounge. Standing up and brushing herself down, she said very clearly ” I fall. I sore!”

That’s two full sentences in a comprehensive paragraph.

I was always grateful for that. Our friend did not speak at all until the age of three. Then he said “Mommy, Daddy, Stop the car, I’m going to be sick,” And was.

Last night, at two in the morning, I fell. I was rushing over to my sister’s after an emergency call. She has recently moved to a flat in a block. The very first time we saw it, Mr Furlong, who has uncanny psychic moments, pointed to a tiny step in a silly place and said “Hell, that’s dangerous, someone could fall on that!”

And they did.

It was me.

I fall. I sore.


Enlightenment – dogs

The new dog Bass’s uncle, Bobby-the-now-dead-dog, was enlightened in many ways. He would sit outside and meditate in the garden daily, contemplating deep and serious subjects. He was SHARP.

He was a serious dog. He learned all his tricks almost in the first session. “Sleep” meant he lay down with his face against the carpet. I think I only pushed his head down twice to indicate what I wanted him to do. The same applied to all his other tricks. He learned quickly. He got it. Sharp, sharp!

He rarely barked so if he barked, we paid attention.

What made him so unpleasant was the way he habitually attacked any other dog he met. I hated the walks.

Then with Bass, we have had a reversed situation. Walks are a dream, people coming to our house, a nightmare and it’s taken four months of daily training to get him to lie down on the carpet on “down!”


I think enlightenment is occurring!

All of a sudden, he is barking less, he’s not leaping on visitors and yesterday, he wasn’t even on his training lead! He was free. And sweet!

What has happened?

I think Bass is a superficial dog, no meditative moments; not keen on the garden; he’s not a serious fella. He’s a party, party, people loving chap, and learning and training is a drag. I recognise the symptoms that I saw in some boys in my classes. But even they managed to pass their exams at the end of a year of just mucking about.

Bass has had some kind of penny-drop. He’s realised something in that little brain. He’s on his way to enlightenment.

I think our lives are going to improve. Well done Bass. What a good boy!


Counting seconds – dogs

I learned recently that all land mammals that stand on legs, from dogs, cats to elephants take twenty one seconds to empty a full bladder. The reason for this is that their bladders are relative to their size and the position in the belly causes gravity to also work on this function. It’s science. Every land mammal takes twenty one seconds to pee!

When we let new dog Bass out for his evening ablutions, we watch him and we count the seconds he takes to finish a wee. We do that because, if its cold, or rainy, he lies to us that he is “finished”, when in fact he skipped it. Our son did that too. He told us he had washed in the bath, but a quick sniff would expose his deception.

So we report to each other “That was a nine in the Lavender.” or “Six under the table”. At night, I know a “six” is too short, and we know Bass will wee twice in short succession if offered the time. I’m always happy when we have a “ten” or “twelve. It means, he will sleep right through the night and not meet me at the loo door at three o’clock in the morning.

We have never counted twenty one seconds.


Night fight

I can never work out why, occasionally, I simply cannot get to sleep. I want to sleep, but my body absolutely cannot seem to get comfortable.

My bed fights me.

What was, the night before, beautifully comfortable, perfect for sleeping, suddenly seems constructed of spikes, rocks, nails and bedding wrestling with me. How is it my bed dislikes me so much?

Last night, my bed fought me. It was two hours of wrestling, spikes, rocks, stones, before I gave up and got up. Why on earth I persevere so long, beats me. I should KNOW my bed is telling me to get up right from the first bout of the fight.

So the oat cakes I ate at two in the morning when I realised I was famished, helped. And the dog went out for a pee. And I distracted myself on my tablet for a while.

And then I crashed. My bed accepted me back with love and comfort; till the morning….

What made the difference? God knows!


Sickness from Ivy

The posts on my blog that have had the most traffic and even appeared on other people’s blogs, are the ones about becoming sick when working with Ivy.

So I am summarising them here – by date order in the hope they will continue to be useful.

Sore throat and ENGLISH Ivy pruning

English Ivy – bit amazing really

English Ivy allergy – burning throat

Am I right or am I wrong – burning throat ivy?

Ivy science – burning throat after pruning English Ivy

Taking down ivy


Taking down ivy

Mr Furlong and I cut down the old ivy covered wooden arch that must have been in the garden for, maybe twenty or thirty years. I’m going to ask the people who put it there when exactly they did.

The howling wind that frightened the dog the other night, almost blew it down. But it had been lurching sideways, not a thing of beauty, since we moved here.

Cutting down Ivy can make you very sick. We knew that our Ivy was that kind. Pretty deadly actually. The arch was covered on one side with variegated ivy which seems friendly and not sick making, and on the other side, dark green English Ivy. THAT’S the one to avoid.

We dressed carefully to do the job. Mr Furlong was covered from head to toe and wore a surgical mask. I wore purdah with a black voil scarf covering my head and face. Gloves. No skin exposed.

It took us an hour. It was HARD work.

Some of the stems were the thickness of Mr Furlongs wrist. He used a saw. Ivy “wood” is hugely tough, without rings it seems. No way of dating the age from the slices.

Last time we worked with the Ivy, we both were dreadfully ill for a week. We weren’t going to have that happen again.

Afterwards, we threw all our gear in the washing machine, every piece, and then showered ourselves, every piece.

We have survived.

The dog did nothing but sit on the garden table in the sunshine watching us.

Dogs are pretty useless sometimes, don’t you think?

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How it could have been, but wasn’t

Here is our Qui Gong routine from last night.

The Furlongs were in a school hall. There was no fantastic sea nor massive cliffs, nor boulders. Nor was there a tranquil blue sky. It was raining again. There was no gentle breeze, nor passing yachts.

We wore any old clothes. Our hair is not long enough for a bun. It’s hardly thick enough either. Our grace was not so graceful. Our hands not so elegant. One of us is disabled. Our skin is white and wrinkled; our feet were bare.

And they hardly left the ground!

Here is what it could have been…

But wasn’t.

The meditation for today…


Boots not made for walking

I bought dog boots.

I bought them thinking it would shield people from the jumping dog claws.

They stop the dog jumping anyway…..he just stays ROOTED to the floor

and whines.