Monday, 30 June 2014

Acting on impulse

I used to be quite impulsive, but as I've got older I have found myself stopping to consider pros and cons before taking any action.

I have to admit that I have never liked tattoos.  Years ago, tattoos were just for men, and usually consisted of something like a heart and flowers and the name of their loved one.   A bit unfortunate if the loved one at the time was subsequently replaced.  

In recent years it seems fashionable for men to be practically covered in tattoos.  Although I think David Beckham is lovely, I really don't like the enormous number of tattoos he has on his body.

Women have also been getting tattoos for some years now, and again I think a lot of them are quite awful.  Occasionally though, I see a small one on a woman and it is well done and very tasteful.

You probably know where this is leading by now.  Yesterday I caught a bus over to the salon where Mr A is working.  I was picking up a couple of sweatshirts from the shop next door to put aside for my grandsons when I visit in October.   It was early and the salon wasn't busy, and I got chatting to the guy who does the tattoos.  He is very experienced and I have seen the results of his work.  His room is also extremely hygienic and so is he. 

And...all of a sudden...I acted on impulse and decided to get one.  In a way I think I might have been rebelling against getting's my birthday next week, and yet another reminder that the years are slipping away.

It's just a tiny butterfly on the side of my wrist in my favourite colours of green and yellow.  The picture makes it look bigger than it is. It's very small, it's just that trying to use a camera with one hand while trying to focus on the tattoo resulted in a close-up.

I sent the photo to my daughter half expecting her to disapprove of my doing something so frivolous at my age, but her response was "Yay...go mummy...I love it".   So that's OK then.

It didn't hurt at all when I had it done, but it feels sore today.  This is normal and the healing process can take a few weeks.  The tattoo artist has given me good instructions on how to keep it clean and a pot of special post-tattoo cream to apply every day.  I didn't realise there was so much involved with the aftercare.  I don't know how these heavily tattooed people cope. 

I won't be attempting any more, but I absolutely love this one and am very glad I acted on impulse.

(If anyone is visiting Gumbet, Bodrum and would like a tattoo done by a good artist in hygienic conditions, here is the artist's Facebook page )

Friday, 27 June 2014's a must!

We all know that there are far too many dogs out on the streets of this country.  It is something that distresses me every day of my life.  As you already know I have 9 dogs  that I have rescued.  They are now happy, well fed and safe.   We also take responsibility for other strays in our area, as do many other volunteers in other parts of Turkey.

We feed them during the winter months, when food is scarce, and have also encouraged the locals to feed them during the summer months.  This (touch wood) is working so far. 

We are also aware that by law the vets employed by the local councils have a responsibility to spay and neuter street dogs.  Those of you involved in animal rescue and welfare here, will know only too well that many of these vets do not implement the TNR (Trap, Neuter and Release) programme.  Our council vet is a difficult man to tie down.  We only managed to get two female dogs spayed by him during the winter, in spite of the fact that he had promised to do one a week.  Constant badgering has made no difference, and because Mr A is now working an average of 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, he doesn't have the time to fight this battle.  It is something that he will start again in earnest once the summer season is finished.

Today my friend David collected me and Melek and took us to my vet Mehmet's clinic for Melek to be spayed.  We waited around in 40 degrees heat for the operation to be completed,then collected her and brought her home.  As usual, a huge thankyou to David for all his help.

 I found Melek a coolish spot in the house and she slept off the anaesthetic.  It's actually not cool anywhere in the house to be honest, and my aircon (which I rarely use) is not working...just when I need it!

Around 4pm, Melek got up and made her way to the door.  I let her out and she went to the toilet.  Chas and Dave, who normally jump all over her, were incredibly gentle with her, as were Monty and Tommy.  It never fails to amaze me how sensitive these animals are, and it's a real joy to watch them all treading carefully around Melek and kissing her.  Her appetite is unaffected and she has eaten her dinner.  She shows no signs of wanting to come back into the house and appears perfectly happy to be outside with her brothers.

Seven of my nine dogs have now been spayed or neutered.  Chas and Dave are next on the list and will be done in approximately a month's time. 

Spaying and neutering makes a big difference: Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years.  It comes as a bit of a shock doesn't it?   My advice to anyone adopting a dog....please get them neutered...apart from keeping down the population, the procedure also prevents all sorts of illnesses in later life.

Having paid the vet today and also stocked up with 4 sacks of dried food, my dog fund is now exhausted.  Apart from the two neutering ops now required for Chas & Dave, I am anxious to start building up the fund for the feeding programme which will start again in October.  Please help if you can.  Every donation, no matter how small, really helps. (You'll find the Paypal button at the top of the page).   Thankyou.

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Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday photos

5 motherless pups that David found and fed. Yesterday we took them to Torba dog shelter, so now they are safe.

The black dog Mr A rescued and now adopted by one of the hairdressers, showing Mr A her appreciation!

If the hairdresser gets fed up with this one (now called Zeytin) I have a feeling Mr A will be bringing her home.

Very relaxed on Mr A's feet!

Do you remember how tiny the pups were when they first came to us?  Here they are with Monty.....just look at them now.....

Monty and Tommy on the left.  The pups are now bigger than them.

Saving the two best photos until last......My beautiful daughter with Jimi


Billy out for a stroll!


Saturday, 21 June 2014

This week's update

The temperatures are rising here and as usual I'm staying out of the sun as much as possible.

The dogs are doing the same and I don't blame them.  Monty has had some kind of infection on one of his toes, which I have been cleaning with hydrogen peroxide and applying an antibiotic cream.  It is gradually clearing up.  Sammy seemed to have some kind of muscle sprain on his neck/shoulders a couple of days ago, and was crying a little when he bent forward to eat.  He was still jumping about so I assumed it was nothing serious.  I massaged his neck and shoulders yesterday and today and he seems OK now.

My neighbour Sevke's young chickens are finding their way into our garden, which is very annoying.  At the top end they are eating the tomato plants (I had no idea that chickens ate plants), and if they get through the chickenwire in the bottom garden they are munching the flowers.  I have been in and out constantly chasing them back into Sevke's garden.  I know when they're around because the puppies, Monty and Tommy see them and bark furiously.

Mr A has already spoken to Sevke about this.  She sits outside all day so she must see them coming into the garden.  She seems to take no responsibility for them at all.  We recently bought some chickenwire with small holes, to use around part of the dogs area.  He suggested to Sevke that she get some the same to keep her chickens in, and she agreed.  We actually have a whole unused roll left which cost us 50 lira.  He asked Sevke if she would like it, but when he said she would have to pay for it, she declined.   I interrupted Mr A to say "don't you dare just give it to her" because I know he would have done.   Honestly, people in this village make out they have no money, but Sevke has just had her balcony enclosed with walls and uPVC windows which must have cost a fair amount.  I'm all for helping out when people are less fortunate than us, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

So the chickens continue to come into the garden.  Mr A suggested I let the dogs down into the front garden to chase them back, but I can just imagine it being a bloodbath and not something I want to experience.  However three days ago there were about half a dozen chickens in the front garden and I went down and took Tommy with me.  Brilliant move.  He ran around herding them up and chased them back into Sevke's garden.  He didn't try to catch any of them and once they had gone, he accepted that his job was done.  So this will be the solution from now on.

You may recall Mr A persuading his boss to adopt a street dog which I mentioned in a previous post HERE.   Well he's done it again.  Another dog has appeared and one of the hairdressers is adopting him.  I have provided worm tablets and a Paraband collar, and enough food for a few days.  His new owner will get him vaccinated. 

My friend David who lives near Mumcular, is very much a dog lover like me.   He recently discovered a couple of litters of young pups in a wooded area on the road into Mumcular. There were approximately 8 or 9 of them.  He has been feeding them but is concerned for their safety.  There is a landfill on the other side of the road where packs of big dogs live, and pretty soon these pups are likely to wander in that direction.

I went into Bodrum early on Friday morning and decided to meet up with David on the way back to go and see the pups.  I took some worm tablets, flea spray (which I had used on my pups when they were very small) and some immune booster paste.  When we arrived only 4 pups appeared. We gave the tablets, sprayed them, fed them, and David put down some containers with clean water.

At the moment, David is making contact with someone who was recommended by a Facebook friend of another Facebook friend (networking is the key!) and we are hoping that this person may be able to take the puppies.   If this works out, I will go over and help David to round them up and get them to safety.  No news as yet, but I'll keep you updated.

I now have an appointment next Friday for Melek to be spayed.  The three pups are now 5 months old and it's essential we get Melek done as soon as possible.  I had been worried about how I was going to get Melek to the clinic and back.  Mr A is here rarely, and never at a convenient time, and Mehmet the vet is so busy that I don't want to ask him to collect and return her.  David has come to my rescue, and is going to drive over and collect us.  Melek will have her op and we will then bring her home two hours later.

I am so grateful to David for his help.  It's great having a friend who cares as much about animals as I do.  And he's brilliant company too!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Summer routine

I hate the heat of summer here.  Today the temperature has reached 37 degrees C, and it will only get hotter from now on.

It's becoming impossible to move around during the day. Popping outside to clean up after the dogs takes all my energy.  My hands are even sweating typing this post.

Since taking in 9 dogs I've had to make some adjustments to my sleep pattern anyway.  They do tend to bark sometimes during the night if they hear a noise or see a cat or fox.  It's fair enough.  They are very protective of our territory, and I can't complain.  It means that I try to take a nap during the day to make up for loss of sleep.

This week I've taken it a step further and am now in a different routine for the rest of the hottest months of summer.

Things that need to be done have to be undertaken very early while it's still relatively cool.  This morning I was awake at 4.15am.  I logged onto the internet for half an hour.    I fed the dogs, cleaned up their areas (poo patrol as Mr A and I call it).    I then turned on the hosepipe to water the garden.   I'm a good multi-tasker and whilst watering I check on the tomato plants and the melons that are coming along nicely.   Some of the tomatoes at the bottom of the plants have started to turn red but they are also rotting very quickly.  The ones nearer the top are fine.  So this morning I picked all the green ones from the bottom of the plants, plus some ripe ones which were OK for eating.

Next job was to sweep and wash the balcony and sweep the driveway, then refill the dogs' water containers. 

Into the kitchen to cook a kilo of pasta for the dogs, and to chop up all the green tomatoes, a couple of onions and peppers and put into a pan with vinegar to make chutney. I put some clean jars in the oven to sterilise and  left the chutney to simmer on the stove while I loaded up the washing machine and got on with the housework.

On previous days this week I picked some plums from a tree in the garden which doesn't provide enough fruit to make jam, but did enable me to make six individual plum pies, which I've put in the freezer.  I also pickled a red cabbage, and 2 kilos of onions.

Believe it or not, all these chores are completed before 8am, by which time the sun is starting to beat down.  I can manage 10 minutes out on the balcony with a coffee before I have to retreat to the bedroom which is the coolest room in the morning.  I move to the sitting room late afternoon after the sun has moved round.

I do pop out a few times during the day to refill the dogs' water bowls.  When it isn't so hot, I like to spend time playing with them, but in this heat they (and I) don't have the energy.  They just find the coolest spots and sleep.  I am now getting two naps during the day and am in bed by 10pm at the latest.

And the next day at 5am it starts all over again.  Roll on September!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Clothing sizes

Ever since I moved to Turkey to live, I have always puzzled over the differences in the sizes of clothes.

There are many charts on the internet which convert international clothing sizes, but Turkey is mentioned nowhere amongst them.

I now know that if I want to buy trousers or skirts, which in England would be size 12 to 14 (depending on the shop),  here that would be size 40 or 42.  If I want to buy tops then I have to have sizes 14 to 16, which are 42 or 44.  These are standard European sizes.  Of course if I was in the US, a size 12 would be a size 10.

My shoe size is 6, which is 39 here, the same as Europe.

When it comes to buying underwear, bras in particular, there is no logic in the sizing.  I want a size 36 (UK size) so I have to get a size 80 here.   Size 80 is the same all over Europe.....ah...except for France and Spain where it is size 95.   The size of the cup is the same as UK, ie A, B, C, D.  If I lived in Australia, however, a D cup would be a C cup.

With international travel so commonplace these days, wouldn't it make  sense to have a standard International sizing system?

Last night Mr A came home.  As usual after midnight.  We were both up at 6am today.  I had attempted to shower the four big dogs yesterday with the hosepipe.  Megan was fine, although not keen on her feet being touched.  Freddie just tried to escape from his collar.  Blondie lay on her back and refused to stand.  I managed to wash her though, but I shouldn't have bothered, because she immediately rolled around in the dirt and ended up worse than before.   Sammy?  He just disappeared and refused to come when I called him.

So we've given up on washing them and Mr A gave them a through brush this morning, which has spruced them up.

We set off to Kipa (supermarket) this morning to do some shopping.   Kipa is owned by the UK company Tesco, and it means that I can often find such items as Heinz baked beans and Bisto gravy.  But they also sell clothes, which are very reasonably priced.

Because of all the aforementioned problems with sizing, I tend to buy my bras on my trips to England.  If I had gone in April I would have bought them then, but as I didn't my current bras have gradually disintegrated.  So I decided to look in Kipa.   They had a pack of two in my size, and I tried one on just to make sure.   I also picked up a pack of two stretch seamless panties.  Then the rest of the food shopping, and back home, Mr A setting off for work at 9.30am

I took out the panties and discovered that the security tag was still on them, joining them together.  (how did I get through the door without sounding the alarm?  No idea but it makes you wonder whether this security system actually works).  Anyway, shops have a special tool for removing these tags, and I really couldn't be bothered to go back to Milas on the bus to get it removed.  So I tried for about an hour to remove it.  Eventually it came off, but it ripped a tiny hole in each pair of panties.  Aargh!  I sewed up the tiny holes and I think they will be OK.

I removed the price tags from the two bras, and discovered that the adjustable strap on one of them had been threaded wrongly before stitching, so the strap was twisted.   The only way this could be rectified would be to cut the strap, re-thread and re-stitch.

By this time I was thinking I should return them at some point so I searched for the receipt, only to find that I hadn't been charged for the bras.  The panties were on the receipt (maybe that has something to do with the security tag not setting off the alarm?  Who knows?).

So I made a decision.  I cut the strap, re-threaded and re-stitched and it's fine.  It's perhaps a little dishonest to keep them when I haven't paid for them, but I am justifying this action by convincing myself that I was already inconvenienced with the damage done to the panties by them leaving the security tag on.   I'm telling myself that it kind of makes Kipa and I you agree?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Accident prone...

...that's me. I think I've mentioned it once or twice before now.  I am pretty clumsy, although it's mostly when I'm tired, which is more often than not these days.

Last weekend we had gale force winds here, some thunder, but no rain.  The wind did quite a lot of damage to the garden, so I have been making attempts to sort it out.   Most of the pots containing geraniums had blown over and the plants damaged, but I managed to rescue most of them.  It does help that even though the plant breaks off, they are quite sturdy, and once just popped back into the soil, seem to grow again.

During this tidy up I managed to bash my head on a tree, have a bit of a tussle with the hosepipe, resulting in me getting drenched from head to toe,  and also slipped over straight into the area just watered, plastering me in mud.

As I came down the balcony steps a few days ago, stepping carefully over the three pups, I bent down to stroke Dave and in his enthusiasm at trying to kiss me, he headbutted me instead, cutting my lip.

I have burnt my arm on the iron, and scalded two fingers on hot water from the tap.   

You may remember the heavy wooden shelves that Mr A made and fixed to the wall in the bathroom?  This afternoon I stood on a stool to place a towel on the top shelf, and the whole thing started to come away from the wall.  In fact it was hanging by one screw.  To stop everything from falling off the shelves, I quickly held up the hanging end with my shoulder, whilst trying to carefully remove the contents.  As a result of this, I now cannot move my neck which is also very painful, as is my shoulder and arm.   I'm taking painkillers and using an anti-inflammatory cream and hoping this will do the trick.

I really shouldn't be left on my own.  It might be safer for me to stay in bed for the rest of the week....if only!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Mr A...the dog magnet

I've just had the following photos sent to me by Mr A which he took yesterday.  He is working in a hairdresser/beauty salon in Gumbet, and this little chap just wandered in and made himself at fear whatsoever.

Mr A has convinced the owner that they should look after him, and that he will be popular with the customers.  So he is there to stay.

Edited to add an Update:  Yesterday the salon boss took the dog to the vets and Pasha (the dog's new name) has been vaccinated and treated for worms and fleas, and is now living in the garden at the boss's home.  Another success story!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Sofa Stories

Not a particularly interesting topic, but as I haven't posted for a week, I had to think of something to write about.

We don't buy furniture very often.  In fact we have mostly bought secondhand items over the years, renovated them or cleaned them up and with a bit of imagination made a comfortable home.  The last time we bought a new sofa was about 12 years ago when we lived in Cappadocia.  In fact we bought a set...a three seater which converted into a double bed, a two seater, and two armchairs.  Even then I searched out a bargain.  This set was in a terracotta colour, very plain, and had sat in the shop for some time.   Turkish taste in sitting furniture is quite the opposite to mine.  They tend to like very bright colours, lots of flowers...the brighter the better.  So we managed to get this quite unelaborate set for half price.

It has served us well over the years, until we started taking in more dogs.   Our sitting room is quite small and couldn't accommodate the whole set, so the two seater sofa ended up on the balcony.  One day Blondie took a shine to it so we allowed her to sleep on it.  One morning however we woke up to find she had ripped the stuffing out of the seat.  I repaired as best I could, and around about this time Mr A made the  bedroom for the four big dogs out in the old house in the garden.  We moved the sofa out there, where Blondie and Freddie had great fun removing more stuffing from it.  One of the matching armchairs soon joined the sofa and ended up the same way.

We had two sofa beds which were left here by my father-in-law and these were in our spare bedroom.  We eventually bought another double bed to replace these, so one was moved out to the dogs bedroom and the other on to the balcony.  Eventually the dogs wrecked the sofa bed.  The one on the balcony is still fine, but only Monty and Tommy are allowed on the balcony so it has stayed in one piece.  The dogs bedroom however now consists of two large pallets made by Mr A which are covered in old blankets and towels.  These get chewed from time to time, but are easier to replace.

So our sitting room now had just one sofa and one armchair, plus a completely different chair which I bought from my friend Gwen in Selcuk.

My dream was to have an L-shaped sofa, but they are very expensive, and way down on our list of priorities.  Last week I was browsing through a Facebook page set up by people living in the Bodrum area to sell and buy household goods. I spotted an L-shaped sofa in a light tan colour and fell in love with it.  It was being sold, along with other household furniture, by an English lady moving back to the UK.  It was priced at 450 lira  (approx. £130).  The make is Istikbal, which is good quality.

I wanted this sofa badly but wasn't sure whether we would be able to get it over to our house.  I phoned the lady and she thought we might be able to use a van and driver being hired by another friend of hers to move furniture to Mumcular.  It wasn't to be,  the man was just too expensive.  However, Mr A managed to find a friend with a van who would charge much less but Mr A would have to help him move it.   Mr A doesn't finish work until around midnight, but the lady selling the sofa didn't mind it being collected so late.

It arrived at the house at around 2am.  The old sofa was taken outside, the armchair found a spot on our bedroom, and the new sofa moved into the sitting room.  After coffee, Mr A and his friend set off back to Bodrum, and I pottered around putting things into place until 4.30am. No point in going to bed as the dogs have me up at 5am.

Now we have a lovely sofa and I am so happy with it that I have to keep standing and gazing at it.  It is now a completely dog-free zone!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

This week

 All the dogs are doing well.  Monty's neck which was very sore last week, has been cleared up using an antibiotic cream.  It would seem that the Paraband collar was the most likely cause.  All the other dogs are fine with them, including the pups,  but Monty's skin is very sensitive.  As it is now getting warmer by the day, I will also start to use a sunblock on areas like his ears.  Those of you with white cats and dogs, will know that they are prone to skin cancer, if the areas without hair are not protected.

I managed to track down Mehmet, the vet, this week by phone.  I had intended to go into Milas to see him, but I am having back pain problems at the moment, and the bumpy dolmus is the last thing I need.   When I spoke to him he was clearly upset and told me that one of their dogs, a tiny one called Peggy, had died that morning.  I was very sad to hear this. Peggy was a funny little thing.  Very similar to Tommy in temperament.  She would always bark furiously when we entered the clinic, and dash around in circles chasing her tail.   She will be greatly missed.

So Mehmet and I communicated by email.  I will be collecting the vaccinations for the pups this coming week, including the rabies jabs.  We discussed the spaying of Melek and neutering of Chas and Dave, and he thinks that this can be done when they are around 7 months old.  This is fine for the boys, but because I want to avoid Melek coming into season (and this can sometimes happen earlier than anticipated) I will try to arrange for this to be done sooner.   She will have to go into the clinic for her op, but the two boys can be done at home.  Once again my kitchen table will be used for the ops, with me assisting, as we did with Freddie last year.

As always, Mehmet tries to keep costs down for me, but the total for all vaccinations, Frontline for Monty,  and all three operations, will soon mount up.  Thanks to a couple of donations last week, I almost have enough to cover this. 

I also received an email this week from a couple who live in Izmir.  They don't like to use Paypal to donate, so they ordered a 15kg sack of dried food and sent it by cargo.  It was very much appreciated.

Mr A continues to work in Gumbet, from around 9am until midnight every day.  He is unable to get home very much, but did make the journey on Friday night, or rather early hours of Saturday morning.   Just as well, as Blondie had managed to escape yet again.  If you saw how secure the perimeter of the 4 big dogs' area is, you would wonder how this was possible.  But she always finds a way.   I don't worry about her being outside because I know she will always come back at some point, but whilst she is away, all the other dogs bark furiously, and this keeps me (and probably the neighbours) awake.  So when Mr A arrived home, Blondie heard the car and came back.   Mr A had a few hours sleep, then secured the area once again.

We then drove into Milas to stock up with shopping, and whilst doing this I had a call from the cargo office to say the sack of food had arrived from Izmir, so it was good timing and we were able to collect it. 

Transport is a problem for me when Mr A is away.  I don't like to rely on him too much, and I recently bought a shopping trolley to get what I need from Milas.  I have a feeling though, that dragging this up the steep hill the week before last, was probably what damaged my back.  The shopping trip yesterday by car enabled me to stock up with essentials which will hopefully last until Mr A can get home again.

And that's pretty much my week.  It's not exciting, and I was unsure about posting today, but you probably all know that feeling of leaving blogging for too long, then finding it difficult to start again. So writing about mundane things, at least stops me from giving up altogether.

Happy Sunday everyone.