The next time that I'm asked, it's what I'll say. 'What have you been up to?' 'I've been picking up the pieces'. I've been sweeping them up, not in a broken glass, shattered life kind of a way but in more of a searching out all of the good bits, I've gone a huntin' kind of a way. Reflecting, remembering, finding buried treasure, covering up old wounds and burying familiar worries, asking for help which by the way, I hate to do. I HATE asking for help. I'd rather bite off my own paw and then lick and lick and lick my wound in the hope that it will heal just like my childhood dog Sheba would do. As much as she tried to work it out all by herself, those wounds of Sheba's never would heal until my nurse mother would tenderly bandage those gnawed at paws and knot the bandages so cleverly that Sheba would struggle to use her teeth to untie them for a day or so at least, long enough for the wounds to heal a little. Sheba was utterly her own person, not really led or swayed by her companion Snoopy. She was on the difficult side, she was challenging in that way that non box tickers tend to be. She was as stubborn as can be, hence the gnawing of paws. She demonstrated this stubbornness in many different ways, she was and still is the only labrador I ever heard of that would sit in the midday baking west african sunshine, tongue out, panting and gasping for breath and refusing to come into the house when we beckoned her. She would wait. When it either became unbearable or it seemed like moving from the sun was her idea, she would return to her water bowl, take a drink and temporarily find shade. As a young girl I would listen to my mother chastising Sheba, like she was another of her children. She would say things like 'Ooh, you silly thing you're just so stubborn. You couldn't listen to me could you … No! You have to do things on your terms, just when you were ready. Don't you?' My mother would have her hand on her hip and be glancing down at Sheba. Sheba would refuse to look at her. Eventually my mother would lean down and pat her on the head and say tenderly 'You daft apeth!' Sheba would then finally give eye contact and would smile back at my mother. I think Sheba and I are a lot alike.