Sue Woodcock: A friend's sudden passing puts Christmas into perspective

I am finding it very hard to write the diary this week. When our weekly Knit, Stitch and Natter group assembled, a good friend of mine, Dee Adams, a kingpin in the group, was missing. When she couldn't be raised, the warden was called and then the police. They had to break in and unbelievably Dee had suddenly died.

I of course was late for the meeting and got a frantic phone call from my friend in great distress. I rushed down there but there was little I could do. The police officer was wonderful, showing tact, gentleness and professionalism in controlling the situation. I spent the rest of the day feverishly doing chores to keep me busy. Our friend was 76, which is young nowadays. She was a fascinating woman, clever and great fun. We will all miss her very much.

The second Dickensian Saturday was hectic. There were thousands of visitors and the weather was kind. I took half an hour out to sing carols with the local singers who were short of a first tenor. It was fun. I was then invited to become a member and will indeed consider it if I can fit it into my already hectic schedule.

On our stall we did much better and after I had packed up at the end of the day I got home, saw to the animals and then a little later headed into Skipton to do my stint on Street Angels. The Christmas decorations are very good and in the fog we came across a photographer trying to capture the atmosphere. Fog light can make things look very different. It was very quiet and as we walked we saw huge lumps of ice floating in the canal. The ducks had all got out and were sitting on the towpath. We made ourselves known to a newly-reopened pub and then picked up a couple of discarded bottles but there was no trouble. Most of the revellers were very sensibly remaining inside. I got home late and was pretty tired the next day but managed to write and later run, the weekly quiz.

Snow remained as white ribbons of drifts all over the fields. McWoof decided to round the sheep up and chased one ewe into a drift and once I had caught the dog I had to go and extract her. She is a big sheep and I was still in my pyjamas and dressing gown, nattily combined with wellies. I must have made a funny spectacle to any passing walkers.

Coming back after dark I often pause to look at the sky. I sighted Jupiter close to the moon and there have been some shooting stars. There is something very calming about it and also humbling. It makes me realise how transitory my life is and how small our world is.

When a bit of rain consisting of a fine drizzle finally arrived there were wonderful rainbows stretching in perfect arcs across the sky and I noted where they grounded. I might just find the pot of gold, but not until the ground softens up a bit!

We are warm but the frost and snow are to return so I have loads of supplies in case the forecasts are right. I do need to replenish a few other items as the dogs have taken to massacring my socks. They have also found the dog treat store and have emptied it. I did wonder why they were so pleased with themselves the other day and were looking very guilty.

The charity I work with managed to rehome two dogs this week. One was Boo's litter sister and the other was a lovely border collie, whose owners had just decided they didn't want him any more. He has gone on a probationary period to a lovely family who have recently lost their old collie We do need to find a town home for a chocolate lab

who has taken to chasing sheep but is otherwise well-behaved and good with children.

I went into Keighley with some friends. I thoroughly enjoy a good shopping trip occasionally. The stores are totally over the top with Christmas but I picked up some bargains which will help me cope with the cold weather. They were not quite my preferred colour but under coats and ski suits who cares?

I purchased a little dog coat for Brillo as I had found her shivering during the week. I don't believe she was actually cold. I think she was nervous I might find where she had hidden all the dog treats.

As I unpacked the shopping the dogs were sitting there and noting where I was hiding the chocolate. So I went back later and found a safer place and presented each dog with a filled bone which kept them busy for half an hour.

I've had a lot of Christmas cards from wellwishers, as well as a great cartoon, ready framed, that makes me laugh whenever I look at it. I have put it on my desk.

The cats have taken up residence in an igloo-type cat bed I had purchased and hidden to give them when the weather turns cold again. I might have known they would find it. Anyway, Christmas isn't far away.

CW 18/12/10