Saturday, July 19, 2014

Molly passing; some links; alpaca

Thank you so much for all the truly wonderful, heartfelt and heart-warming support about dear Mol, here and at Tom's place, by e-mail and letter and in person. We really have been quite bowled over by how much affection, sympathy and kindness could be prompted by one small, rather eccentric, not very socialised dog and her, not always very socialised either, humans. People are marvellous sometimes, nearly as marvellous as dogs.

I find myself reluctant to post again, and let the photo of her slide down from the top of the blog. It seems like another of the many small lettings-go we are doing, each of which can feel like a relief and kindness or else a betrayal and abandonment. We are gradually rearranging and adjusting things,  having to think again and again as to which habits and routines we need to maintain and which were instituted because of, or indeed by, for she had us well-trained, Molly.  There is much to be caught up with in house and garden that was rather let slide in her last days, weeks, months even, so we do not as yet feel we have abundant time on our hands, though we are constantly aware of how much detail has gone from our life.  We are cleaning and clearing, keeping and discarding and re-purposing things, the last sometimes a positive and creative action; for example the purple fleece blanket we used to put on the bed so she could come up and join us for morning tea, still good but rather rough and worn and always, even when washed, with a residue of Molly hair, I shall sew inside the beautiful red cotton cover my sister brought over for us but which proved to be slightly the wrong size for our duvet, to make a new piece of bedding with the relic enshrined, as it were. Other items I will take to the local SPA dog refuge, but that's not a place I can face just yet.

Yesterday we went to settle up the final account with the vet, we'll get Mol's ashes back at a later date - much as she loved this garden we simply couldn't just dig a hole and put her in it, come in at night and leave her out there, nor could we simply ask for her body to be disposed of and that an end to it. It was a wobbly moment to call Emy (the vet) again and talk about it, but it did drive me to sort out all the medicaments, throw some out and return some, and in fact it was nice to see Emy and her husband Paul again. I shall miss them as friends, if not all the reasons for having to see them. They too were lovely, with just the right balance of brisk and stoical good cheer and gentle kindness.  I really don't know how vets do it.

I do wonder if people live longer these days because there are fewer deaths. I've had so few really to grieve in my life; I minded my parents passing but I was still young and they had been old by my standards then (I was born to them late); I bounced back and moved on into the life I'd yet to live, lightened and with a sense of freedom, I have to say, from worry and sadness and a little resentment at their decline and the demands it placed. Not a very worthy thing to admit but there it is. Yet I've found the losses that have hit me of late, even those which couldn't be called shocking or unexpected, have seemed to age and diminish me, physically, mentally and in spirit, as though some of my essential life stuff really has been taken away and may not, this time, be restored. The skin around my eyes seems more discoloured, thin and lined, my body more squashy and shapeless, my mind more weary and reluctant to address things, I am more ready to despair and abandon. It seems to me quite possible that mourning too much death could shorten your life.

Enough. I know I owe it to them to live better and not waste time, dogs especially do hate wasting time. I have had and still have so much love and beauty in my life. I am often joyful and always grateful. I shall keep coming back here, and Molly will appear here again, many times, you may be sure. I have been reading back through the Out with Mol blog , lately neglected but always maintained, with enjoyment as well as sadness, and may do something with some of it, we'll see.


Other stuff.  I hesitate to even hover round the edge of the matter here, but these articles I've found quite helpful.  Not that they particularly make one feel any less despairing, but they do, for me at least, shed a bit of light on things I either didn't know about, or have read or heard about over and over but still find it hard to get straight in my mind.

9 questions about the Israel-Palestine conflict you were too embarrassed to ask
11 crucial facts to understand the Israel-Gaza crisis
Israel's Gaza invasion is all about tunnels

I imagine this probably provokes eye-rolling in most quarters, since anyone who's remotely interested knows everything contained (and all the answers) and can't understand why I even need to read them, and anyone who isn't simply feels sickened, bored, hopeless, apathetic or whatever. But I found them clearly written and, as far as I can see, unexceptionable in their editorial line.


And to finish some photos of happy fluffy stuff, which is no more nor less inappropriate than happy fluffy stuff ever is. This is from an outing that we made a few weeks ago, while my sister was still here and Molly still able to set out for a ride in the car quite cheerfully.  Things closed in and I didn't get around to posting them at the time, but they merit showing, I think. A little while ago we saw some alpacas on the telly, and immediately felt we just had to meet some, and of course I love the fibre they make as well. A quick search revealed there were some just down the road (well, almost). Quelvehin Alpacas is on a straight road up a hill a few kilometres out of Pontivy, it's a beautiful place, made and run with real love and care by Steven and Jayne, who also run gîtes, which would be lovely to stay in, and courses on alpaca care and management. Jayne made us really welcome and gave us a load of her time and told us all kinds of things about these delightful creatures, a subject clearly dear to her heart.

Alpaca are South American camelids, like lamas and vicuna, related to camels but no humps. Other alpaca farms, there aren't nearly as many in France as the UK, tend to concentrate on breeding white ones because the fleece can be dyed, but lately there's more and more interest in the natural colours, and there's quite a range, through all kinds of browns and greys to quite a black black.

Alpacas are the most cartoonishly endearing animals imaginable, and the babies, known as cria, are endearing to the power of ten.

They were quite friendly and amenable to strokes,

though, Jayne chuckled, most of all when they aren't pregnant but would like to be, that makes them very affectionate.  This embarrassed Tom rather.

They seem quite affectionate with one another too.

Alpaca come in two types, huacaya, who have soft, woolly, curly fleece, and suri who have silky, straight hair


This lady was a suri (it had been raining). They are more delicate and difficult to raise. In fact alpaca are quite delicate anyway, they barely have enough milk for their young and are exacting about their diet.

We went on to visit the yearling young ones, who had struggled to survive in last year's wet winter, even with all kinds of extra care.

They all seem to get on well with the handsome resident Weimeraner.

In the final paddock were the boys.  Now, alpaca, unlike camels, won't spit at you.  But they do sometimes spit at each other, and it's mainly about sex.  If the girls think that the male on offer is too young and green and just doesn't take their fancy, they'll spit and kick at him and just not co-operate.  If, on the other hand, a fanciable more mature chap hoves into view, they will um... sit down.  This is what is required. 

Atlas, above, is one such comely fellow, and you have to admit he looks pretty cool.

We tended to think Solomon, above, didn't look too promising by comparison, but were assured he'd done all right for himself, with a few handsome cria among his progeny.

They were all in the field together and seemed to get along very equably.  However, we were told, when the males have been taken off to meet their designated date and then come back to the paddock, all the other boys spit at them and give them a good kicking, then everything calms down again.  Jealousy I suppose. 

Lovely creatures, lovely place, and I came home with 200 grms of the most heavenly alpaca yarn, handspun by Jayne, the colour of milk chocolate.

A few more photos on a web album here.

It's nice to be back, withal.


Zhoen said...

Molly will likely haunt you for a long time, benignly.

Lovely chocolate wool from sweet, flirty creatures.

the polish chick said...

well, it looks like i need to get me a little white cria (wait, is that singular as well? if not, we can make it two!)

glad to see you writing again.

marja-leena said...

Great to see you back, even if you are still sad and missing Molly dearly.

Those alpaca and cria are adorable! They remind me of the llamas that a neighbour of our eldest daughter used to raise (see story here:

May your days be brighter ahead!

christopher said...

All I can really say is "Ouch"

Love to you, my friend Lucy K. and to Tom... and to Mol, wherever she may be.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thank you for this wonderful post, Lucy. And for the excellent links re the Israel/Palestine conflict.

And isn't alpaca Solomon wearing a cable-knit scarf around his neck?

Roderick Robinson said...

I didn't know "purpose" could be turned into a verb or, at least, a participle. It just shows: a Talmudic approach to Box Elder can pay off.

Deaths of those close. Initially the grief is just that, unsusceptible to analysis. But thereafter selfishness plays a part (e, Why isn't Joe around to judge my recent versification?). Can such selfishness be interpreted as a continuing and legitimate tribute? I'm not talking about selfishness on a grand tragic level ("Part of me has gone." etc), more a source of irritation or tetchiness. Reducing what was once a human bond to the level of misplacing a garden tool. All strong feelings - love, hatred and the aforesaid grief - are usually modified with time and, in recognising this, we may believe ourselves guilty of betrayal. But modification protects us, allowing us to scab over. I find it helps if one can briefly re-create the voice of the person we've lost - preferably answering the questions I have just put here. I hear Joe starting up: "I think...", dragging out the word "think", giving himself time to re-arrange his thoughts. His accent was perfectly attuned to dragging out words, especially "Yes." - "Yey-ar-us."

jarvenpa said...

Late to the news of dear Molly, and loving the alpacas. And joining your masses of readers in wishing you (and the whole world) peace.

Ellena said...

Yes it's nice to see you back, Lucy.
Sweet alpacas - does anybody understand their 'ear language'?

Catalyst said...

Love the photos of the alpacas. We have visited with llamas, which must be cousins.

Lucas said...

Returning to your blog I was so sorry to hear about Mol. Joyce and I sympathise with your feelings and observation of what losing a loved fellow creature means. We still see in our minds and discuss or respond to remembered ways of our two cats, who died years ago now.
Also, the way that deaths of those we love affect us worse as there are more to adjust to.
The beautiful Alpaca are most comforting.

Lucy said...

Thank you.

Z - I think you're right about Molly, and it's OK.

PC - I think singular and plural are the same, like alpaca. They are unbelievably cute aren't they?

ML - Thank you. Llama(s?) are bigger, and I think were also used as beasts of burden, but you can certainly get their wool too, though it's perhaps not as fine as alpaca.

Christopher - very nice to see you, thanks for all your faithful kindness over the years.

Natalie - I'm glad you found the links good, there were also many within those articles worth following. The alpaca had recently been shorn; on the website 'at stud' page there was Solomon in full fleece, and he did look rather more imposing!

Robbie - I am flattered (I think...) by your Talmudic approach! In fact one wouldn't use purpose as a verb I don't think, but 're-purposed' is one of those Green design ethos words like 'upcycled' which I seem to have caught like a lurgy. I rather like the word 'purpose' because of its resemblance to 'porpoise', despite that, or perhaps because, those creatures are the lowest caste of the cetacean world, horribly bullied and oppressed by many of the others, as I understand.

That grief is really being sorry for oneself is a truism with which I am quite familiar, and indeed one should always guard against trying to make self-pity into anything more or less, yet I feel that too much severity with oneself, and too much reduction to need and interdependency in the matter, is also false, unkind and dishonouring. Mostly I think of pleasures shared, not of usefulness, though we find with Molly one of the things we miss most is the doing of needful little services to her, which could be given and received so much more cheerfully and without complications than in most human relations. But now I do find that while thinking of something which my immediate impulse is to share with Joe is still poignant, it is also a source of happiness. As I've said many times, I'm not someone who looks on my own past with much favour, so a source of happy memory is treasurable. His spoken voice was of course less familiar to me than to you - I do like your trnascription of it! - but I can evoke it better than his face (I think this is quite common). With Molly it's almost wholly about physical and sensory presence, and very vivid; I think it will always be, though of course the pain of it will lessen. Her voice was very much part of our lives, and even when we cursed it when we were trying to think straight leaving the house while being beset by excited barking, we knew what a large absence there would be when it was no longer there! We still think we hear her in the night.

Jarvenpa - thank you for stopping by, and for kind words.

Ellena - I wonder? The ears are most expressive aren't they?

Catalyst - yes, llamas are larger cousins!

Lucas - thanks, nice to see you. We find we still have to tread a path between seeking experiences which will console us, including those which having Mol precluded but which we promised ourselves we would do, and overreaching ourselves when we are still a bit too fragile and mourning to really enjoy. Small things, like meeting alpacas, are probably a good way to start. And knitting with their wool; I've some lovely soft coloured stuff from elsewhere to make a thank-you shawl for the vet.

Anonymous said...

Losing a family member . . . I haven't had it happen since I was much younger. I'm glad you're doing well, moving through the terrific loss of Mol.