I can still hardly bear to think of them, even though it's almost a year since they died.
I have spent most of the year, I find, expecting Top Dog to suddenly appear, especially when I've been away. Driving home from the airport, I have to remind myself that he won't come running out to greet me.
I am sure everyone feels the same, about anyone they have loved and lost.
It's a tough one to get used to.
|Top Dog and Under Dog sleeping the sleep of the just. As they do now.|
I came across their collars the other day, folded together in a drawer, their mother's collar with them.
I could have wept.
The resonance of them still fills the quiet corners of this place.
But it has not been a mournful day. Far from it - despite the lowering sky and steely edge to the breeze.
I have been out in the yard potting up tulip bulbs, the ever-faithful Model Dog at my side.
The TeenQueen doesn't really like such pointless activities, especially if there are no bones involved, so after a while she opted to keep Model's bed warm in the cosy kitchen.
Potting tulips is such an obvious thing to do, but somehow it has largely eluded me until now.
Of course, they look wonderful in vast drifts as well, but, lovely as it is, I'd need a tad more space, and maybe a handful of full-time gardeners to achieve something like this.
|Thank heavens I didn't have to plant these|
Over the years I have planted I don't know how many tulips in the flower beds, and for one season they rise, stately and beautiful, but generally they don't put in many subsequent appearances. Our climate is too damp, or perhaps the slugs and snails eat them, or mice, or people steal the bulbs from under my nose - who can say? But last spring, on Gardener's World, Carol Klein said she always planted tulips in pots, and at last I woke up to the blindingly obvious.
|Pink tulips with a touch of orange - amongst my favourites|
The massed effect, without disembowelling the flower bed, trashing bulbs already planted in the one spot you choose to excavate, and driving yourself into Bedlam.
I can't wait for them to bloom
Meanwhile I'll make do with fabulous paintings to brighten my days.
This one cheers me up no end.
|Judith I Bridgland's wonderful painting of Tulips and Cherry Blossom|
And these tulips, by another Scottish artist, Fiona Sturrock, never fail to cheer me up.
Her next exhibition runs from November 15-17 at Edinburgh Art Fair at the Corn Exchange. I wish I could go and see it.
|Tulips and Lemon by Fiona Sturrock|
|Tulips by Fiona Sturrock|
|Tulips in Antique Jug by Fiona Sturrock|
Beautiful, all of them.
Oh, how I wish I could paint.
The tulips weren't the only bright note to my day.
At lunchtime our friend Colin dropped by, as promised, to deliver a special present.
Three of Napoleon's grand-daughters.
You may remember Napoleon. I will never forget him, and like my lovely dogs, I miss him regularly.
He had so much character, and, despite his small stature (we can say that out loud, now that he's gone), he dominated the hen's paddock.
|The Emperor Napoleon with his Little Empress|
He caused me untold anxieties -as on the day when he was not to be found - anywhere - and, by dint of climbing a ladder to look over our high walls, I espied him in the wild churchyard behind our garden. I had to walk round, pick him up and carry him home through the street.
There are other, far more terrifying incidents that come to mind - one involving a dozen bullocks - but that is by-the-by. He was a dear creature and I loved him. I don't know if he loved me, but he was devoted to his wives, Josephine, then the Little Empress and finally Mrs Smith (aka the Golden Princess or Dolly).
I am thrilled to bits to have three of his grand-daughters. Although they came from his third marriage, they bear no resemblance to Mrs Smith, but look like Napoleon dressed in the Little Empress's attire.
They all have rather dinky little hats - somewhat more feminine than the Emperor's tricorne - and the larger of the three certainly has her grandfather's bearing..
I shall look forward to seeing how they grow up.
|Napoleon's grand-daughter - she has his air|
|Is that a smaller version of a tricorne I see?|
Tonight they are tucked into the spare pen I built for the Escapees. They are a little uncertain of their new home, and have spent the afternoon being stared at through the mesh by all and sundry. At dusk, I found them sitting on their roof in the rain, rather than cuddling inside. I put them into their shelter, and hope that by now, they are all fast asleep. Tomorrow they might feel up to staring back.
And last but by no means least, I have received queries as to why the cats never appear.
It's not because I have done away with them, nor have they left home via the churchyard.
It's just that I don't see much of them. Now that autumn is turning into winter, they have become lazier than ever. After their breakfast they retire to bed and don't get up again until supper time. And after supper they retire to bed... you're getting the idea.
Pushy has been performing quality control on the new pole warmer.
|Pushy warming the pole warmer|
And Hobbes is gearing up for a leading role in 'Red Sails in the Sunset'
|Barley sugar ears|
As for little Pixie - as she is very nearly blind, she can't see how lovely she looks on this Peruvian throw, but luckily, we can.
|Pretty little Pixie in pink|