Category Archives: Dog-Our dog Bilbo

Daunted By the Year Ahead?

How do you feel about starting another year? Have you made numerous New Year’s resolutions or goals, even writing them up in a spreadsheet with KPIs, deadlines and possibly even a star chart? Or, has the start of another year washed right over the top of you barely leaving a ripple in its wake?

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Fireworks Sydney Harbour NYE 2016

Well, I was still struggling to get my head around the last year when the fireworks started booming off the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was all happening. Indeed, 2017 was already here.

What the? Couldn’t I somehow press rewind, repeat and start the new year all over again when I’m ready? What about this new-fangled feature I have on the TV called catch up? Would that do the trick? As my daughter just reminded me, if I press the paw button on the remote, will I suddenly catch up on last year like magic? If only…!!

I guess that leaves time right where it is. Grr!

The terrible thing about starting another year is that our “exhausted post-Christmas end of year crashed out on the couch self” is suddenly confronted by our ideal, perfect self. The one who is going to exercise like an Olympian, diet like Jenny Craig, run on time like a clock and write more books than Enid Blyton. That’s while being the loving, attentive spouse/partner and even parent. Some how, we’re juggling like a clown and not dropping any of our balls at all.

This is what happens on the 1st January and it’s no wonder I’m feeling depressed, overwhelmed, inadequate and looking for someone else to drive the bus. I’ll disappear and hide in my hammock for the rest of the year, giving what you could describe as a totally underwhelming performance.

Okay! Okay! I’ll get out of my chair and get moving.

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One mixed up fridge door.

One look at the cluttered paperwork stuck on the fridge door gave me somewhere to begin.

Then, I thought I’d better clean the kitchen table first so I could sort out all the stuff on the fridge without it drowning in muck.

From there, I somehow ended up cleaning the inside of the fridge. It now looks like something out of a storage company catalogue with everything neatly stacked into boxes and tubs. Who owns this fridge? Has the fairy been? I must’ve woken up in someone else’s house.

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Eeyore Chilling Out in the Clean Fridge.

This reminds me of one good thing about ending one year and starting another. You can turf all last years notes and paraphernalia and create empty space. Indeed, if you’re lucky, you can now stretch out without causing an avalanche!

While I’m still formulating and getting my head around my goals for 2017, one word is entering my vocabulary….no! This is particularly pertinent to my daughter and all her activities. We can only do so much. That’s it. No more. There are limits. There are only 24 hours in a day and at least 8 are for sleeping. She can not live multiple lives at once. We have to make choices. Well, I’ll be making choices anyway. As I said, I’m learning how to say and apply the use of the word no, which will also apply to our son and the excessive use of electronics. No. Enough. Stop.

I can do this. Take a deep breath. Stretch into my full height and say no and mean it. Put my foot down and even push it through the floorboards, if that’s what it takes to be heard. That said, I sure hope it doesn’t come to that!

Meanwhile, I still have to muster up my inner strength. Lady, our recalcitrant Border Collie x Cavalier has been refusing to go out to bed at night. Last night, I ended up carrying her and trust me all that Christmas Cake she ate weighs a tonne. She’s going to find herself dealing with a sterner voice as well. I won’t be accepting “no” as an answer either.

Humph! Looks like these embryonic resolutions are starting out with training myself  and that’s a task I really don’t relish!

How are your New Year’s resolutions going so far? I’d love to hear from you!

Good luck!

xx Rowena

 

 

Happy New Year – Sydney

We would like to wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy and Wonder-Filled New Year.

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The kids watching the fireworks on TV. 

We had an action-filled NYE at home watching the fireworks on TV and playing psychiatrist to Lady who was a quivering mess AFTER the fireworks had ended.

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Geoff comforting Lady.  Taken without flash. Didn’t want to freak her out any further!

Every year, the movie: Can’t Stop The Music plays after midnight and after watching it last year, I was back again tonight and I’m listening to YMCA.  That song  followed me through so many life changes. I remember dancing to YMCA at school and uni formals, numerous parties. After having kids, Geoff and I danced with the kids  to YMCA at the daycare family discos.  Now, here I am listening to YMCA  on NYE at home whole playing psychiatrist to a stressed out dog. The fire works terrify her and she trembles, dribbles and totally freaks out and that’s when she’s on our laps.   So, tonight I was doing the YMCA in my writing chair. No complaints though just great memories. That said, my 20 year old self is sneering at my current self asking: “Have we met?”

I am still working on my New Year’s resolutions but I’ve at least practiced my violin two nights in a row so that’s a good start.

How have you spent NYE? I’d love to see your posts so please leave links in the comments.

xx Rowena

Christmas Coffee Share!

Welcome to our Christmas, I mean Boxing Day, Weekend Coffee Share.

We hope you and yours have had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the season.

Not quite sure what to other you in the way of drinks this week. I’m leaning towards tea or coffee with a slice of Christmas Cake or toasted Stollen.

We celebrated Christmas Day with lunch at my aunt’s place with the extended family and then back to my parent’s place for “dinner”. The kids spent much of the day in the pool mucking around with my cousins. I didn’t get in yesterday, although I did manage a pre-Christmas dip in my parents’ pool.

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Never too old for pool toys!

It’s now Boxing Day Monday and we’re perched in front of the TV set watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Winds are currently 10-15 knots yet to the untrained eye, they appear stronger. The yachts are keeling over at about a 45 degree angle. While I’m no veteran of the race, they seem to leaning over more than usual.

Yesterday, my aunt asked our son when he’s going into the Sydney-to-Hobart. Give him a few years. He starts racing locally in January.

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Start Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2016.

By the way, Perpetual Loyal made it out of Sydney Heads first. We’re still watching, listening to all the sailing talk and giving our son a few lessons. I know watching sailing is no compensation for being out there yourself. However, this is his chance to learn from the masters…and my husband who is providing us with arm chair commentary.

Today, I’m following my father’s Boxing Day Tradition and not doing anything. Well, I am writing and jotting down all the snippets from yesterday.I know writing isn’t doing anything but it’s letting energy out, rather than taking energy in and that’s what I need. So, although I’m in my writing chair surrounded by the family and dogs glancing at the yacht race, I’m still in my own little space bubble. I need to breath. Stretch my wings again. I feel like I’ve been locked in a matchbox and I need to break free. I suspect that’s all the built-up pressure of the end of the year and I’m now  finding myself needing to reflect and debrief. Let myself flow. It’s been so stop start lately that I’ve become jammed somewhere in  between the accelerator and the brakes (if that makes any sense). That description makes a lot of sense to me.

By the way, the camera people were just catapulted off the back of the yachts as they leave Sydney Harbour, picked up by the rescue boat. It sure looked odd and more of an emergency than a planned operation, especially as there are sharks in Sydney Harbour.

Christmas Eve we went to Church and then off to a pot luck dinner. By the way, they were giving away hampers at Church and they were offering them to the person with the loudest voice. No surprises there. My son’s voice boomed out and we’re now feasting on chippies, fruit mince pies etc watching the race. Yum! I’m about to head out to the kitchen for a piece of toasted stollen . More yum. Couldn’t fit in half the goodies yesterday. So while I’m explicitly doing nothing today, I am feasting away.

We went to my aunt’s place in Sydney for the usual big, extended family Christmas and went to my parents’ place afterwards. No one was hungry although I did manage to squeeze in another piece of pudding, custard and brandy butter but only just!

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Lego Santa Loves Christmas Cake.

I’ve been blogging about the lead up to Christmas, which I thought you might enjoy. I wrote about The Meaning of Christmas Cake. After finally making my Christmas Cake, I’d packed it up to take to my parents’ place mid-week and the dog got in and ate it…Christmas Dogastrophy. Bilbo just asked me to clarify that it wasn’t him. It was Lady, who naturally ended up at the very top of Santa’s naughty list…not that it bothered her. She kept wagging her tail and looking up at us with her huge brown irresistible Cavalier spaniel eyes showing no remorse whatsoever.She very good at that!

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Bilbo & Lady

I also ended up making a second Christmas Cake…the Aussie Harvest Cake. This adventure and indeed, it did turn into an adventure started out with driving round and round trying to find a bottle shop which was open at 10.00PM…All For A Sozzled Christmas Cake. If you’re not into making your own Christmas Cake, you might not appreciate that they’re very heavy drinkers. This one was demanding an entire cup of brandy. I’d be sozzled.

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Yet the adventures didn’t end there. I should’ve realized that3 kgs of dried fruit was hugely excessive and that this recipe would produce a monster cake to feed an army. Obviously, I didn’t and that’s how I came to develop the Christmas Cake Workout .

In addition to all the Christmas preparations, I also took part in Friday Fictioneers again. I’m really enjoying these challenges and have been thrilled with the results. If you haven’t tried writing flash fiction, I encourage you to have a go. You might also surprise yourself. American Diner Down Under.

Well, I hope you and yours have had a Merry Christmas and we also wish you a Happy and wonder-filled New Year!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster and here’s the Link-Up

Love,

Rowena, Geoff, Mr, Miss, Bilbo and Lady.

For those who have been following the growth of the sunflower seeds, which were salvaged from the MH17 crash site site in the Ukraine, two are flowering for Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cake Dogastrophy

If you look into those irresistible, chocolate brown eyes, you would never suspect that cute as a button dog could be capable of such wickedness.

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The Christmas Cake.

That she could sit there licking her lips seemingly asking for more when she’s all but devoured our homemade Christmas Cake. That’s right. The very same Christmas Cake I made using my mother’s recipe, which has been part of my Christmas every year for at least 45 years or thereabouts (I doubt a 5 month old baby would’ve eaten Christmas Cake, but you never know.)

The world was very different then and so many of our family traditions have disappeared. So, this Christmas Cake is special. Of course, it doesn’t replace the true meaning of Christmas but it was made with love and the dog gutsed all that love all by herself.

Well, fortunately, she didn’t get all the cake. Thanks to my Dad’s rather peculiar aversion to cinnamon, I’d made a tray of mini Christmas Cakes for him, which I’d safely sealed away in a plastic box.So, it looks like Dad will be sharing.

As for Lady, she showed absolutely no remorse and has shot up to the very top of Santa’s Naughty List.

So, there’ll be no pressies for her…except a potentially nasty tummy ache!

Do you have any Christmas disasters to report? After all, as much as we strive towards a perfect Christmas, most of us are only human and we’re left to blame our mistakes on the dog.

xx  Rowena

“Danger, Will Robinson! It’s Heston Junior!

“As we get older, we tend to become more risk averse because we tend to find reasons why things won’t work. When you are a kid, you think everything is possible, and I think with creativity it is so important to keep that naivety.”

-Heston Blumenthal

When I first laid eyes on my daughter’s efforts in the kitchen yesterday, the world’s greatest chef, Heston Blumenthal, came to mind and I wondered how his mother survived. Did he convert her kitchen into a similar scene of mass destruction… a post-apocalyptic disaster zone with bowls of rainbow-coloured cake mix all over the kitchen table, trying very hard to look like pots of paint? How did she cope? Did she ever resort to a Bex powders and “a good lie down” just to get through the day? (Damn those side-effects!  Motherhood’s never been the same again!)

Yesterday, was my kids’ first day of Summer Holidays. For me, the first day of school holidays is a designated “Pyjama Day”. Unlike some of our traditions, this one wasn’t going anywhere. Just like an immovable rock, I wasn’t budging .
Yet, although we spent the day in our PJs, that doesn’t mean the residents were asleep.
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When it came to adding colour to her cake mix, my daughter held nothing back!

Indeed, far from it. While I was having a siesta, my daughter whipped up a cyclone in the kitchen.Rather than feeling excited, energized and inspired by such unbridled creativity, I felt like I’d stumbled into an apocalypse. Bowls of lurid, rainbow-coloured cake mix were scattered on the edge of the kitchen table like paint pots. Indeed, in hindsight I should’ve been grateful that the colours hadn’t been plastered all over the wall. A few bowls isn’t such a huge mess, is it? It’s only me being Catastromum again!!
And yet…
My revulsion and outright panic showed me just how much I’d changed. Not so long ago, all I could see was the masterpiece and never noticed the mess. Yet, somewhere along the way, I’ve gone from making the mess to becoming the:”Make sure you clean up after yourself” person. Have I gone stark raving mad?  I guess so. Armed with Spray & Wipe, I’ve now joined the Clean Police!
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Food colouring is like  glitter. You can’t have too much of a good thing.

Well, not entirely! As much as I complain about the rainbow mess, the results were particularly striking, especially when you sliced the cakes in half. The lurid, multi-coloured swirls reminded me of the inside of a thunder egg with its dazzling crystals and colours. They were impressive.

Indeed, they were works of art.
Yet, they were works of art I was reluctant to eat. Not because they were beautiful. Rather, I didn’t want to OD on all those  artificial colours. Talk about bouncing off the walls for a week and not in a good way either.
Speaking of works of art, there was one last detail my daughter had overlooked…the clean-up. Given all these multi-coloured bowls of drying out cake mix, this was like cleaning -up after a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. Move over Cyclone Katrina and the Brisbane Floods, we had Cyclone Cake Mix to resolve and those bowls weren’t going to clean themselves.
Yet, as desperate as I was for the mess to go away, much to their disappointment, I wasn’t about to resort to the doggy dishwashers. Yuck!
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Mum, we’ll clean-up. Promise!

After all, we have a dishwasher but for some reason, the bowls aren’t migrating from the bench into the machine. Rather, they just keep sitting there making me mad.
Why is it so?
It seems Heston Junior hasn’t read her contract. That she is required to clean up all messes made in the kitchen immediately. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
I had to remind Heston Junior that my job description does NOT include cleaning up after her fanciful cooking experiments, especially when they expand so far beyond one bowl.
Oh no! Junior Heston had to face the harsh reality of cleaning up after herself.
It’s cruel world.
Do you have any funny stories to share about kids cooking at home?
If you enjoyed this story, you should also have a laugh at my efforts teaching the kids to make pizza three years ago when they were nine and seven years old. It was a hoot: Cooking with Kids: Pizza From Scratch.
xx Rowena
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The End…Rainbow Crumbs,  Dog Hair and a Chocolate Storm Cloud.

 

 

Anyway, although I whinge so much about the mess, I was impressed with the stunning colours, even if she did use a packet mix to make it. Yes, I know Heston’s cooking philosophy is primarily about taste despite his creativity but everyone has to start out somewhere and this was just the first day of the school holidays. She has plenty of time to grow.

Death of THE Cat.

Yesterday, I found out that my brother’s cat was bitten by a tick and tragically died.

Well to be perfectly honest, Archie wasn’t exactly my brother’s cat. Archie’s official residence was actually across the road. However, Archie and my brother formed a special connection where the distinctions between human and cat disappeared.

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”

Terry Pratchett

Not that Archie was a particularly friendly, smoochy kind of cat. Rather, he  was actually quite timid, reserved and you could even say aloof. Mum and my brother would often pander to his latest food interest and leave him bits of cheese or gourmet ham to tempt him in. However, any loud noises, and he’d disappear into the darkness.

This reminds me that Archie usually turned up after dark. On our visits, the kids used to look out for him scampering down the driveway and there’d be loud whispers that “the cat had arrived”. He was like rock star royalty turning up…a very much loved, cherished and anticipated feline super star. Probably that’s because he wasn’t our cat and he came and went as he pleased. There were no guarantees he was going to turn up, making us ever so happy and grateful to see  him.

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

Robert A. Heinlein

In this regard, you could say he was a typical cat. Indeed, I’m sure that’s what my dogs would say. If you want a loyal friend who’s always thrilled to see you, why would you ever get a cat when you could have a dog?!!

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

Winston Churchill.

The strange thing was that for many years we didn’t know Archie by name and he was simply “the cat”. We didn’t know the neighbours across the road either. I can’t remember quite how they broke the ice but eventually we found out his name was Archie and that their other cat, was dying after eating lillies from a funeral. So, Archie officially moved into my parents’ place, while the other cat slowly passed away.

It was probably during the death of the other cat, that the two families came together and the walls of suburbia started crumbling down. That our shared love of Archie brought us all together. Mum and Archie’s other Mum would chat beyond Archie, developing a special friendship where love extended beyond ownership, fences and modern busyness.

There was never any mention of jealousy or  he’s “my cat” and the neighbours were more than happy to share Archie with us. No one ever accused Archie of infidelity either.

Now, Archie is gone.

There’s a void. Such a void.

While you could say that a cat is just a cat and you could go out to a farm and easily pick up a handful of them, Archie wasn’t any ordinary cat. No pet is. They have their own personality, quirks and habits. They’re a one off.

Initially, I thought my brother should get another cat. It might seem callous, disloyal but it reminds me of a cheeky saying from back in my single, dating days:

“If you can’t have the one you love, then love the one you’re with. If you can’t love the one you’re with, turn off the light.”

Not good advice, especially when you get dumped all over again.

Moreover, every cat is different and Archie can’t be replaced.

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

So, we say farewell to our feline fella.

Goodbye and Good night. Archie, you were one of a kind.

Anyway, I thought Memory from Cats would be a fitting tribute to Archie.

 

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Get Your Paws Wet?

Try telling this dog it’s not the Captain of the ship, Master of its domain?!! As I watched the boat powering through the river with the dog proudly standing at the helm, how could I let the moment pass by?

As a casual observer, I never had the opportunity to find out whether this dog was an avid swimmer and water dog or a land lover who couldn’t think of getting its precious paws wet.

However, after my recent post A Different Type of Rescue Dog where a Newfoundland Dog threw its anxious visitor far into the river to stop its yapping and get it where it wanted to go, this dog really caught my eye. He didn’t need to swim. He had a boat. No doubt a boat it considered its own.

How does your dog manage around water? Do they love swimming or perhaps they’re more into dry land. Let your stories flow!

xx Rowena

This photo was taken at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, Sydney.

Photo: Rowena Newton.