Fly from me Raven of Death,
You will not steal my breath,
Whilst l have spirit to fight
To put flight to your vigil.
Pick and nip some other where,
Sip blood and tear
More willing flesh.
My window of life
Is firmly closed to you,
I did not beckon your darkness,
My fevered muscles still a buttress,
Against your vehement feathers,
Go find some other mistress,
To delight in your blackness?
Although full blown,
I still own to the blossom
And the bud,
The Light and the Dove.
1800s and early 1900s, 1000s of girls employed as fish gutters, followed the fishing fleets. The work was long and hard, the girls gutted the fish and the “guts were taken out with a very sharp gutting knife. Their fingers were wrapped in “clooties” – bandaged cloths to prevent any knife nicks – but they endured painful sore hands.
Moonstone mounds of herring,
Torn from the belly
Of the Sea Mother.
Her baldy rolling, groaning,
Foam fingers clawing,
The herring girl,
Slits the guts.
Fish eyes pale,
Steel flick of entrails –
Fish eyes flat.
No requiem for them.
The stench of fish, her breath.
Bright eyes tired –
Girl's eyes flat.
Her dreams float with
Dead fish in parsley sauce.
No requiem for her.
If you have enjoyed this content, then please browse my website and blog posts. You will find information on my many books and even a gallery with photos and slideshows of my artwork. Love, Katy.
Remembering my canine pals. A warm, lighthearted look at dearly departed pets and their quirky habits. Whilst these memories often bring on a tear or two, I still smile at their fun-loving antics.
Before Lucy, my lovely though lively Sprocker Spaniel, my husband and I were blessed with a succession of other dogs – each with their own distinct personality. Here are some random snippets of our time with these wonderful family members.
Jim – Victor of Jimbolia – a male Hungarian Viszla
Jim was our first encounter with the Viszla breed. As a side note, the breeder’s children nicknamed the pup Jimbud because of his little Buddha belly. Very independently minded with a rather crafty edge, Jim would, despite his many walks, find ways to sneak out of our house and take himself on an adventure around the town.
Taking nearby footpaths and alleyways, the wily dog kept a sharp eye out for our car as we searched for him. Sometimes we would catch a glimpse of an orange head peering around a far corner. As you would expect, he had always vanished by the time we got there.
At one time, Jim invaded the pitch at a local football match – an important fixture for the home team. Play was halted as the fearless Viszla chased both the ball and various players.
We were never surprised upon receiving a call from the local police station, where Jim became a well known felon visitor. Sheepishly we collected our errant family member, always promising to be more vigilant in future.
Most of the time, Jim would get bored and wait for us in his favourite park. He always stood, semi hidden, in some shrubs at the edge of the green, and silently submitted to being put back on the leash. As we drove back home he usually just fell asleep on the back seat.
Beth – Bethany of Bethesden – a female Hungarian Viszla
After Jim sadly passed away, Beth, our second Viszla, presented us with a very different personality. Loving and motherly, Beth never took herself away on adventures, but instead kept an eye on our family. She was far more of a guard dog than Jim and would always growl through the letterbox when a stranger came to our front door.
Despite her protective motherly ways, Beth never gave up being a lapdog. We all, especially my husband, endured the pain of a large bony dog clambering up and awkwardly settling herself across our laps. She would lie there, cutting of the circulation in your legs, for as long as you could endure it.
Strangely, Beth also loved the same park as Jim, and spookily liked to play around the shrubs where Jim used to hide. After many joyful years, both Viszlas’ ashes were scattered here. My husband and I still sometimes visit the park and like to think that our beloved pets are still there, waiting for us.
Lily – the Blond Bombshell or the Disco Diva – a female Golden Retriever
A cross between a force of nature and a ditzy Hollywood blond, Lily, the golden retriever really kept us on our toes – or our backs if we lost our balance. Extremely friendly and always happy, she would almost bowl you over as she excitedly raced over to greet you at the front door.
More than any of our previous dogs, Lily would meet and greet anyone who passed by as we walked along the promenade. Her happy go lucky nature was infectious and she demanded and always enjoyed a lot of attention. Perhaps her favourite place was the beach, where she would splash through the surf and launch herself into any large puddles she could find. In fact, she got so mucky that we often returned home to a battle in the shower.
Lily spent many hours watching me write my latest greatest novels. I like to think she she was impressed by my ‘stream of consciousness’ writing style as I rapidly typed away, but it was probably the dog treats I kept in the drawer below.
Like her predecessors, Lily found her way into my stories. In the novel ‘The Wounded Therapist’ – part of the Doctors In Love 2 boxed set – Lily has a prominent role and even has a love interest of her own. Now that Lily has also gone, that particular book holds a special place in my heart.
So, now we have Lucy. Whilst I type away on my PC keyboard, she sits close by on the sofa. Sometimes she ignores me, but there are many times where I get the uncanny feeling that she is taking a real interest in my work. … and I’m sure the two of us have many surprising moments and adventures both real and written ahead of us.
I hope you liked these brief glimpses of my canine pals. However, I am often asked whether I might get a cat instead. Well, we’ve had cats before and, knowing their dark ways, I’m sure it would find a way to delete my precious files while I go to the loo.
Please visit my website, where you can find information on my many books and a few slideshow galleries of my artwork. Love, Katy
Slumping back in my chair, after spending an age editing the structure of an awkward sentence, I am almost ready to engage in writer vs monitor pugilism. Instead, I take a breath and reach over to stroke my dog’s head. Lucy, my attentive Sprocker Spaniel, looks up from her vantage point on the sofa – her sofa – and happily receives the attention.
“Little help?” I ask.
Lucy tilts her head in a quizzical manner, her shaggy ears flopping to the side. For a moment, we gaze at one another, staring deep into each other’s eyes, as if telepathically comparing notes. With a smile, I return to my keyboard and tentatively edit the sentence. Not quite there, but a good start.
“Thank you, Lucy”, I say, briskly stroking her head. She does not reply, not even a nod … because of course, she is a dog.
Do you have a canine collaborator, or some other pet that helps you with your writing?
A recent battle with eyesight problems, which played havoc with my usually prolific writing schedule, prompted some changes to my hardware and software setup. I thought I might share these changes should they be of any use to any fellow writers out there.
I won’t go into the details of my eyesight problems. Suffice to say that deteriorating focus, headaches, and warped imagery were all involved. Whilst medical treatment has helped dramatically, I also made the following changes – and I love my Ducky!
1: A new PC Monitor: For my main monitor, I replaced my trusty, though ageing, Philips monitor with a new 28” BenQ monitor. The Philips is now my 2nd monitor and my even older 19” Acer has now ascended to Monitor Heaven (some dark place in the attic known only to my hubby). Not only does the increased screen size of the BenQ mean I’m not squinting as much at small details, but it also has ‘flicker free’ eyecare technology, which is much easier on the eyes and less likely to induce headaches. It also has built-in blue filter settings for late night typing, but I use software for this, so have not used this feature. It also has a great picture, and wasn’t expensive, which is always nice.
2: Ease of Access Settings: My eldest son, who is tech savvy, introduced me to the Ease of Access settings in Windows 10. These can be found by clicking the Settings icon in the Start Menu, and then selecting Ease of Access. In Ease of Access/Display, you can increase the size of text (I use 125%) and also ‘Make Everything Bigger’ (I use 150%). In Ease of Access/Curser & Pointer, you can increase the size of your curser (I use 2 or 3) and also ‘Make the Curser Easier to See When Typing’ (the icon that changes the curser from white to black depending on the background colour is interesting). Experiment with these settings to find what suits you. You can of course use the zoom feature in your word processing software, but with these settings you may not have to.
3: ClearType: This is a Windows feature that can improve the readability of text and is very easy to set up. Just type Cleartype in the Windows search bar and click on ‘Adjust ClearType text’ in the list. Then, you simply follow the instructions and choose the text that looks best to you. If you have more than one monitor then you can set it up for both.
4: My lovely Ducky! Another change, though not as directly related to my eyesight problems, is the acquisition of a mechanical keyboard. For those that don’t know, a mechanical keyboard has a sturdy switch for each key, rather than a mushy membrane. This is more like the computer keyboards from the 1980’s and can give the typist both audible and tactile feedback.
Ducky, a respected Taiwanese brand, produce clean design mechanical keyboards for both typists and gamers and my son had one spare, which he gave to me to try (keep). The Ducky uses Cherry MX switches, which are good quality. My one has brown switches, which have a tactile ‘bump’ as you press, but not a loud click. Red’s, mainly for gamers, have no bump or click, and blues have both a bump and a click. As a touch-typist, having tactile feedback has transformed my typing. I make far fewer mistakes, especially missed keystrokes. In time, I intend to upgrade to a new Ducky with adjustable backlight illumination. I may get a blue switch version, with a louder click for increased touch-typing goodness (obviously not a good choice if there are other people around when you’re typing).
The combination of these changes has really helped my writing and my eyesight. It is important to remember however, that there is no substitute for simply giving your eyes a rest from the PC screen. It is all too easy to take a break from writing your next bestseller and switch to browsing for a while. You really need to regularly look/get away from your monitor and treat your eyes to some longer distance focus; even if it means just gazing out of the window and watching the world go by.