The Proust Questionnaire, starts off with a serious bang: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It was quite ironic that I was thinking about happiness when things on the home front were anything but.
As I sat down at my computer tackling the question, there was an incredible thunder storm outside and the rain was bucketing down in huge cascading dumps with something of the force of an AK-47. Our roof had been damaged in the big storm back in April and it sprang another leak right above the printer while Geoff was out for dinner. This forced yours truly of “Break-it” not “fix-it” fame, to come to the rescue setting up buckets and towels… all while researching happiness!
By the way, did I mention the thunder strikes?!! It was wild out there.
It wasn’t much better inside either.
I’m not one to whinge or complain and I usually tolerate a fair amount of medical crap before I happen to mention: “I am not feeling well” or “the kids are sick”. This is usually code for: “we’re on standby for an ambulance”.
So, storm outside, we’ve been battling nasty coughs and colds inside and the kids have been home from school. These things happen in Winter but my son has asthma and I have Institial Lung Disease, so for us anything more than a common cold starts to press alarm bells. We have coughs that would clear train carriages and Mister’s nickname is now “foghorn”. He gets this cough most Winters and I remember standing over his cot as a tot and freaking out, not knowing when to intervene and take him to hospital. Our local hospital is in Gosford. Going to hospital is therefore known locally as “going to Gosford”, a phrase which chills most parents as they remember long sleepless nights in casualty and usually nothing much to report. That said, Miss was admitted with a UTI when she was 8 months old and we both spent a week in Gosford. Definitely NOT my idea of a holiday.
Meanwhile, I somehow managed to get the dog off to the vet for his shots. Bilbo is almost 9 years old and as the vet kept unkindly reminding him, he’s “an old man”. He might be old but he certainly hadn’t forgotten the vet’s. I don’t know whether it was the smell or what but he knew. After all, he’s not an idiot and definitely knew he wasn’t going for his morning run at the beach!!
When you see Bilbo running along the beach chasing the ball, he looks perfectly fit and I hang onto that. Once a large dog starts hitting 9 years of age, however, you can’t help asking: “How long is that ball of string? How long does he have left?” Not being millionaires and having the kids, we have to be pretty pragmatic about vet bills. Our bank account can’t cope with unknown lengths of string. It’s finite.
So, Bilbo has lost a fair amount of weight since Lady arrived, which we hope is just the added exercise and possibly even the desire to impress his new friend. But, at the same time, when your dog has always been portly, you do wonder whether such weight loss is indeed healthy. He’s also had trouble with fleas since Lady arrived and has terrible dermatitis. It’s been Winter so I haven’t been keen to wash him a lot so it’s persisted. I have applied a bit of cortisone cream but it hasn’t really helped. There is also a lump on his head which could be nothing but might be something and needs checking out.
The skin problems are quickly attributed to fleas and a secondary infection. While fleas might sound like an easy fix, we’ve been working on them ever since Lady arrived almost a year ago and I don’t know what strain these blighters are but they’d definitely survive a nuclear blast!
Fleas definitely don’t spell happiness!
The vet tells me that Bilbo needs to be washed in Malaseb a couple of times a week. I hope Bilbo heard that because he hates baths and despite being a “good dog”, when he was last bathed, he chewed right through the lead and was pretty aggro jumping and clawing at me, which is very out of character.
Somehow he needs to understand that these baths are “for his own good”.
Perhaps, this is his way of asking to go to the dog salon. However, being a true-blue Australia sheepdog, the garden hose will do. After all, if the crazy mutt can stand outside in the rain, surely he can put up with the hose?!! Besides, while he might not like the hose, the hair dryer is right up there on his list of hates next to the vacuum cleaner and the postman.
There I was at the vet’s processing all these dog issues with a very heavy cold, two sick kids and a dog who wanted to go home. Oh yes, I wanted to be in bed too!
After half an hour’s torture, Bilbo was finally allowed out after two jabs and two needle biopsies into his lump. The vet was encouraging but after a look under the microscope, thought she needed to check for mast cells. These mean TROUBLE!
So, by the time we left the vet’s and I’d paid the bill, I was feeling worse than the dog!
Naturally, this is hardly a picture of happiness.
So, after dealing with all of this, I am looking at the Proust questionnaire, considering: “What is your idea of perfect happiness?”
Right now, I’m very tempted to say no leaks in the roof, no coughs and colds in the house and a ray of sunshine.
Perhaps, even a chocolate Tim Tam could enter the equation. Or, even something stronger…like the entire packet!
However, I know this question is seeking a much deeper, philosophical response. Something clawed out from the very depths of my soul and that isn’t an easy question to answer. As much as Charles Schulz wrote: “Happiness is a warm puppy”, happiness is much more complex.
Or is it?
It was time to turn to the great poets and philosophers lining my shelves and do a Google search.
Before I could possibly identify what perfect happiness was for me, I needed to do some research.
The DNA of happiness is up next.
So much for a quick romp through the Proust Questionnaire. It looks like we’re in for quite a journey.