I love cacti. Whole rows of terracotta pots stand in a sunny place in my garden. They are easy to propagate and don’t demand much attention. A few years ago I got a little cutting from a friend and the result you see in the picture! My son and I called it our “Hermaphroditus”.
I can go into details and tell you the story from the Greek mythology about Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite who had both male and female sex organs, but the photographs speak for themselves.
So I worry.
Sleep with my ears up, not soundly.
When I’m not watching I’m greeting.
People are not grateful enough
for visitors. I am. I worry
about them not being grateful enough.
So I make up for it by howling
till they get up off the couch
to shake hands. Between the dangers
and the greetings I am simply exhausted.
From “Lola’s Lament”
In the fifties my parents had moved house to the centre of the Netherlands. Of course our cat Tommy came too and settled quickly in. Half a year later an acquaintance asked if we were interested in a boxer, remembering that my parents had a boxer before the war (see blog). Thus “George Washington” entered our life. George was a well brought up gentleman with clipped ears and tail and a little bit too short an upper lip. His teeth always peeped out. His American diplomatic family had to return back to the States and I guess out of national feeling the boxer was called after the first president of the United States.
One Sunday shortly after George came into our life; we all left to celebrate our grandfather’s birthday and the cat and dog were alone at home. When we returned, we found George sitting in the hall with the saddest expression on his face, whining softly. He had a cat nail on either side of his nose and was very upset, while Tommy acted as if nothing had happened. But we can imagine the fight that George definitely lost! From then on there was a kind of truce between them. Tommy made the kitchen his territory and slept on top of the central heating which kept him warm. Tommy died a few years later of kidney failure. Just before he passed away he hardly got off the central heating; the warmth kept him going.
George lived in the living room where his basket was and where he loved to roast in front of the fireplace in winter when a few blocks of wood kept us all warm.
There exists a wonderful story about George. Even if he was well brought up and behaved like a gentleman, he was a beggar. Marga used to let him out early in the morning and he went for a walk by himself. That was long before one had to keep dogs on a leash and pick up their business. He was well known in the neighbourhood and known as a friendly dog. One morning when Marga looked out of the kitchen window, she saw George going to the back garden with two big sandwiches in his mouth. Marga followed him and saw him burying them on the compost heap. When we investigated later, there were quite a few decomposing sandwiches around. It was a mystery and we had no idea, where he found them. One day when Marga went for a walk with George, a Salvation Army lady from the Orphanage near our house accosted her and said to her: “Are you the owner of this poor dog? He really does not get enough to eat. We give him every morning, when he comes to the kitchen door, two sandwiches.” Marga burst out laughing and told her that he was a first class beggar and hoped that they would stop giving him food!
George was an old dog. When Marga heard of a young boxer, she decided that that would be good company for George Washington.
Now Ecco (number two) entered our household. (The first Ecco lived with Marga and Ted before the war) . This one was an energetic but lovable dog and very good friends with George. In later years they slept together in one basket. I believe it kept George comfortable and warm. He passed away in old age.
Ecco sired a tub full of puppies with a wonderful boxer bitch. The owner, Gera, was a good friend of Marga’s and from this tubful we chose Alex. The father has always first choice.
Those two dogs loved to roll in stinky messes, jump into muddy ditches and run after rabbits. To take the dogs home afterwards, was a noxious and smelly business and they had a bath immediately.
Ecco and Alex both suffered from epilepsy and within a few years of each other they were given an injection by the Vet. They both died quite young.
In memory for all the boxers in the Strauss’ house.