Tag Archives: dogs

Tasmanian Farewell – Friday Fictioneers.

The Spirit of Tasmania was boarding. With two cats perched on the back window of the Ford Laser, their Border Collie in the back, two lifetimes packed in the boot like a Chinese puzzle box, Jane and Dave were economic refugees moving to the Mainland.

Jane popped a couple of sea sickness pills. It was her first time, crossing treacherous Bass Strait. She was sick, before they’d even set sail. Even this massive North Sea Ferry, could become another Titanic.

Yet, with barely a whitecap, they had a perfect sail.

“It’s a sign, she smiled. “We’re making the right move.

…..

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

In January this year, our family caught the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Tasmania return. We were taking the kids down to Tasmania for them to see and experience where Daddy is from. You can read abut our trip here.

My husband is Tasmanian and his family have lived there since as early as 1828. During the late 80s early 90s during a nasty economic recession, Geoff and his then girlfriend left Tasmania bound for the Australian mainland in search of work. The rest of his immediate family had already left.

It’s a bold move to leave everything and everyone you’ve ever known, to move way. Pack everything up, and throw your stability into the wind.

I’ve done the same thing myself a couple of times in my lifetime. It didn’t seem such a big deal at the time, because I always had my parents to go back to. They were my anchor…my foundation and they’ve always called me home. I can’t imagine what it would be like going one way, with no prospect of return, especially moving to an unknown country on the other side of the world like my ancestors have done. I would love to know how they felt. Were there any regrets and where was truly home?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Do the Milkshake!

Yesterday, my daughter had a friend over and we ended up walking down to a local cafe for a milkshake with the dogs in tow and then onto the beach.

However, these weren’t your average milkshake. Indeed, if you tried doing the milkshake after one of these, your stomach would start to quake. These wacko jacko milkshakes are called Crazy Shakes, and have everything stuck on top but the kitchen sink.  The kids ordered a caramel shake and this came with an entire cinnamon donut parked on top  along with pretzels, popcorn, a caramello koala, a lollypop, possibilly some kit kat, caramel topping and goodness knows what else. Just like our local pie shop makes you sign a waiver before you try their scotchingly hot chilli pies, this place should do the same although I’m not sure how the waiver should read: “Warning: too much gluttonous pleasure contained in this glass?” Or, this milkshake could exceed your annual calorie intake? I’m not sure. I didn’t order one for myself, and ordered a chcolate muffin instead. As nice as it was, it really was “Plain Jane” next to the milkshakes, and I sprinkled some of the kids’ popcorn over the top.

It’s interesting how food trends have changed over the last couple of years. I didn’t bat an eyelid when I saw popcorn or pretzels in the milkshakes. What has become an indulgent take on the norm, would have had you locked up for your own good, a few years ago. That is, unless you were pregnant and could blame it on the cravings.

Anyway, shouting the kids these milkshakes made me feel like the fairy Godmother. “Bad cop” was nowhere in sight.

As I mentioned, we had the dogs with us and they loved being at the cafe. We were sitting outside, which was glorious. Although it’s winter here, sun and blue skies had broken through what had been a week of heavy rain and grey clouds and those warm rays of sunshine felt sooo good! Anyway, Bilbo wandered around the coutryard on border patrol and decided he loved the cafe life when he was given some leftovers. That’s right. It’s perfectly acceptable for dogs to dispose of those delectable leftovers as long as they don’t help themselves off the plate.

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Walking off Indulgence.

After their milkshakes, we strolled down to the beach and walked for a bit. Our struggling beach has been battered further and the erosion and removed more sand and tree cover. While it’s great for those gaining water views across the road, as much as water access would add value to their properties in theory, having your house washed away isn’t quite the same thing. Fortunately, unless there’s a very strong storm, that’s not on the cards…yet.

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Our Beach in Winter.

It was fun walking with the kids and getting to know my daughter’s friend better. While not being gossippy, I’ve found her friends are much more chatty about what’s going on at school and I at least gain some idea of what’s going on. That doesn’t mean that I have my finger on the pulse but at least I might be able to find a pulse if it’s needed.

Amelia looking out to sea

One last point before I head off about this playdate. At 11, the girls are almost old enough to have gone to the cafe themselves and yet they’re not. Not so much because of them as they’re quite capable of ordering, but because of those despicable characters we know are out there and we somehow need to be vigilant without growing out kids up in a dark cupboard. I’m glad they were still happy to have Mum and big brother in tow. We had a wonderful time.

xx Rowena

 

Bush Rescue…Flash Fiction Carrot Ranch.

Bob saw the helicopters hovering over the lookout again.

“Blimey, another bloody tourist’s lost,” Bob announced, taking his eyes off the footy. “All our taxpayer dollars going up in smoke. They should pay. This isn’t a free country.”

“Daddy! Daddy!” The kids puffed. “Jet’s stuck in a tree.”

“How on earth did the dog get stuck in a tree? You gone mad?”

“Hamish threw his tennis ball over the edge, and Jet flew straight after it.”

“Bob, told you that dog’s a maniac.”

“So, all those helicopters are out saving our dog????  Thank goodness, he doesn’t have a collar.”

Jonathon at Three Sisters

Surely, this smiley face would never throw his dog’s ball over the edge!!! Of course, this is fiction but…Our son at the Echo Point Lookout, aged 6.

 

June 8, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves playing an outdoor game, like tetherball, hoops, tag. It can be made up, traditional, cultural or any kind of twist. Go where the prompt leads.

Kids at Echo Point Katoomba

The Kids at the Echo Point Lookout, Katoomba in 2010. Mr was 6 and Miss was 4. Her hair still didn’t reach her shoulders. 

This story is set at Echo Point in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. There’s a spectacular lookout there which has views across to the famous Three Sisters and the expansive Grose Valley. I’ve had this idea for a story since we were there a few years ago. It’s quite common for bushwalkers to get lost in the region and big searches have been mounted to save them. This incredible story of Jamie Neale who was lost in the Blue Mountains for 11 days factored into my story and is well worth reading: Lost Backpacker Survives Blue Mountains Ordeal

Now, bushwalkers are urged to take EPIRBS with them.

Anyway, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see a ball obsessed Border Collie like mine, jumping off a cliff to fetch the ball.

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

By the way, I take our dogs down to our local beach for a run and Bilbo goes crazy chasing other dogs’ tennis balls. Most of the walkers down there, expect a crowd of other dogs to hang around when they throw it to their own. Some of them, however, are not quite so understanding when Bilbo starts barking at them for them to throw it for him! He keeps telling me that he’s a highly skilled athlete, and not an addict. However, I tend to disagree…

xx Rowena

Yum! Mothers’ Day Lunch.

This year, we decided to keep Mothers’ Day simple and have lunch at home. After all, when you have a couple of budding mini chefs in-house, you don’t need to outsource.

On Friday night, we saw a recipe for French Croissant Toast on The Living Room and decided to run with it. Here’s the recipe and the cooks.

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Happy Mothers’ Day…a croissant smile.

The kids had some very enthusiastic helpers in the kitchen.

And even at the table…

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A Lady at the table…Naturally, I didn’t take this photo. It must’ve been Bilbo!

What a yummy lunch…and the day isn’t over yet!

Wishing you all a very Happy Mothers’ Day, whatever that means to you!

xx Rowena

The Queen of the Kitchen…Dog Reports on Intriguing Home Visit.

G’day, Mates!

This is Bilbo, Rowena’s superlatively intelligent and inimitably handsome Border Collie and the reigning ball chasing champion of the universe. Not that I boast. Rather, I’m actually surprisingly timid. Mum’s always telling people I’m like that reserved guy standing in the corner of the pub holding his beer. I need time to warm up. Not that I’m unsociable, or one of those whimpering dogs who hide under the house whenever someone comes over. Yet, I certainly don’t jump all over strangers either. I call that “respect”.

bilbo & Lady friends

This is Lady on the left and I’m on the right.

Anyway, despite my prowess with the tennis ball, I also have a way with words. Being a philosopher’s dog, I also ponder the meaning of life inside, outside and upside down until my rattling, rusty brain short circuits.

It’s been a long time since I last launched myself into cyberspace. I apologise for my long absence and could easily blame writer’s block, but I’ve been busy. That wretched posty still insists on coming round here every day delivering the mail. Although I’m now considered “elderly”,  I haven’t lost my touch. Indeed, it’s a bold and intrepid posty who knocks on our front door with a parcel.

There’s been a series of macabre machinations around here, and that’s why I’m back. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it all and could use your help. Lady, my canine companion and troublemaker extraordinaire, keeps telling me that I’m over-thinking all of this. However, I have a scent for trouble and I smell trouble in capital, huge, bold letters with four exclamation marks…

TROUBLE!!!!

So, let me run through the evidence, and perhaps you could help me make sense of it all. Please explain!

Actually before I launch into what the family HAS been doing, I thought I’d better eliminate the obvious. They’re not going on holidays. That’s the usual reason routines go out the window around here and pandemonium prevails. However, the suitcases aren’t out and instead of packing, they doing what I can only describe as “reverse packing”. All the crap’s being picked up off the floor, couch and even the kitchen table and put away. Mum won’t want you to know this, but much of that, was stashed in the laundry. I don’t think Mum’s planning on doing any washing for a month.

That might also be a clue.

The other bizarre thing was the magical appearance of a new garden out the front.

Now, I bet Mum hasn’t fessed up about her gardening disasters, but she’s a serial plant killer. I pity all those beautiful purple flowers and that striking plant with the colourful leaves, because unless I come to the party with my personal watering system, they’re going to die. Indeed, I’ve even heard her talk about the convenience of heading down to Bunnings, whenever we’re having guests to “buy new friends”. Mum might write a lot about changing the world and making a difference, but she’s supposed to be making a difference in a good way, and not leaving a trail of dead plants in her wake.

Next, Mister was mowing the lawn. That could’ve made it into the Guinness Book of Records, if they recorded personal greats and the rare occurrences when teenagers levitate out of their rooms, put down their devices and move. Indeed, I should be training those kids to take Lady and I for more walks. Find their true calling in life.

As you can see, the evidence is really starting to mount…reverse packing, a new garden and mowing the lawn…my super-sensitive sniffer was very suspicious.

Yet, I was still stumped.

Then, Mum got her Sunbeam mix master out and started baking. I’m always telling her not to turn it up too high at the start or she’ll end up with chocolate splatter paintings on the ceiling. But, does she listen to me? Of course, not! AND, the busier she gets, the less she hears until her ears completely switch off. Humph! However, she actually listened this time, which also meant that no mixture splattered on the floor either. Grr! Of course, all the food which falls on the floor is automatically mine, although Lady my canine companion, now thinks she has rights as well. I was here first and that’s all that matters!

Queens-Corgis

By this stage, I’m starting to think the Royal Corgis are coming for a visit. However, why would they come here when they could go for a run off the leash at the beach?

Humph! As much as I delve into and grapple with humans, the pieces never fit together and none of the dots ever join up either.

What’s going on?

Well, on Sunday all this frenzied activity climaxed with an event of diabolical proportions.

Lady and I were given a bath.

 

Bilbo being bathed.jpg

While I understand other dogs have the misfortune of being bathed weekly and even endure the horrors of the dog salon, I can take care of my own coat and refuse to suffer the indignities of the hose. That’s why I make myself scarce when that excited anticipation of a walk, quickly turns south when my beloved leads gets tied to the dreaded clothesline instead.  Indeed, I feel perfectly justified in getting narky and having what Mum has described to the Vet as a: “pathological hatred of the hose”.Well, by now the evidence was more than mounting. Indeed, there was a veritable mountain of paperwork outside my kennel, as I tried to sleuth my way towards the truth.

If it wasn’t the Royal corgis, who is it?

What if the Queen herself was coming?

The Queen of Australia…

Hang on. Who is the Queen of Australia?

I might be all-knowing, but there seems to be something wrong with the cogs in my brain…a breakdown of sorts. Who is the Queen of Australia? This brain of mine is a veritable Google, yet it keeps bringing up the Queen of England. Humph! It must need a restart. .

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Mum prepared an Alice in Wonderland morning tea for Rabbit, but I have no idea why.

I was starting to ponder the philosophical ramifications of all that, when there was a knock at the door. Another knock and a whole pile of kids arrived. However, before I could even find my tennis ball, there was more commotion and I was back to defend the house. Be it the Royal Corgis, or even the Queen of Australia, they could still be a security threat. So, I dashed into position at the side gate. I’d keep the lot of them out if I had to.

Mum had clearly lost the plot.

Then, I hear them mentioning something about the barking dog messing up their sound recording and Mister grabs me by the collar and drags me away from my post with no appreciation whatsoever.

That’s okay. I’m used to it.

They might’ve got me out of the way but through a very complex interconnecting network of mirrors and reflective windows, I could still keep an eye on things. Moreover, despite being somewhat “senior”, my hearing’s just as good as it ever was.

Rabbit

Rabbit in our kitchen.

All I could hear was: “Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!” and I was a bit concerned Lady might get confused. Before she came here, she was a farm dog and between you and me, she knows exactly how to prepare rabbit. Mum died a thousand deaths when Lady ate a rabbit at Palm Beach.

Of course, Lady needs to watch out. Eating humans is a dog’s one unforgivable crime.  However, just this once, Lady behaves herself.

Rabbit gave Mum another book and I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. A book? You can’t eat a book.

Juli Rabbit Rowena in kitchen

Then this car pulls up and everyone goes hysterical, especially Mum. They’re all calling out: “It’s Julie! It’s Julie!”

I don’t know if this Julie is the Queen of Australia, but I know chicken anywhere and Julie has chicken in her handbag.

Meanwhile, while I was barking on high alert, Lady, my ever-unreliable canine companion, was swanning around with the royals being rather glam, while secretly plotting to nab  the chicken. Of course, I’m no fool. I smelt the chicken too. What dog wouldn’t, but somebody had to keep a level head.

However, before Lady could strike, the chicken was put straight in the fridge. It was “dinner” and I didn’t need to be told it wasn’t my dinner. I already knew.

Well, this Julie might not be the Queen of Australia, but she’s definitely Queen of the Kitchen, because she was teaching Mum how to cook.

By the way, if this Julie character ever comes round to your place, you’d better be good. I saw the way she cut up an onion and trust me, I was being a very, very good dog!!

At this point, I also wanted to mention, that Julie was there showing Mum HOW to cut an onion. Not only that, everybody was watching that onion, as though it contained the very meaning of life. In all the years that I’ve been watching and interpreting humans and feeling completely out of my depth, that onion incident had to be the most confusing moment of all.

What does it mean?

Cooking with Julie.jpg

And what is it about humans and onions? Day after day, Mum’s there crying as she’s chopping them up. I told you. Humans are crazy!!

Then, just as suddenly as this Queen of the Kitchen and the Rabbit person and al the camera people arrived, they were all gone and Mum and her friends were all huddled round the book.

Of course, they take me for some foolish illiterate. However, as I’ve said before, I’m a Border Collie of vastly superior intellect which stretches so much further than simply herding sheep, chasing my ball and getting rid of the posty.

I can read.

Humph…Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook. It just happened to open up to page 43…Roast Leg of Lamb and Lamb Chop Tray Bake. I can already taste that scrumptious lamb fat.

So much for reading, this dog is learning how to cook!

On second thoughts, it’s time for me to put my herding instincts to good use.

Where’s Mum?

xx Bilbo.

Weekend Coffee Share- Happy Easter Edition.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Before I even offer you a cup of tea or coffee, let me wish you and yours a Happy and Blessed Easter. In so doing, I’d like to offer you more than Easter eggs, Hot Cross Buns and give you something meaningful instead, which would be so much more appropriate. So, I’ll offer you a hug and a smile and I just remembered that if you’ve just walked through our front door our Border Collie, Bilbo, and Border x Cavalier, Lady will be there. Bilbo might bark and he takes awhile to warm up to people, even people he knows, unless it’s my Mum who he seems to know is Grandma. Besides, just like Grandparents bring treats for the kids, she bring ham scraps for the dogs. Their love is easily bought.

bilbo & Lady friends

I know you think the dog protests too much. Somehow, friendship seems to grow on you when you’ve been thrown in the same backyard. You can somehow get used to having another dog around. Indeed, after all this time, I might even like the Lady.

We’ve decided to stay home and spend Easter Sunday with just the four of us. Well, that is after we’ve been to Church and Geoff and the kids will be going to hear Martin Smith from Delirious at Church tomorrow night. I don’t think I’ll be going as my lungs are quite sensitive and reacting to the slightest irritation at the moment. I’m slugging ventolin, preventer and phenergan and still coughing. Off for a lung scan, but I don’t think my lungs are any worse.

Anyway, as many of you will know, I’ve been embroiled in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme this year has been Traveling Alphabetically Around Tasmania. Considering my theme last year was “Writing Letters to Dead Poets”, I’d thought this year’s theme was going to be relatively easy. However, I didn’t just want to produce some kind of bullet point, shopping list tour of the place. I wanted something personal, intimate and providing an inside-out view of the place mixing in a bit of history in with our recent trip to Tasmania and our photos.

Perhaps, I am the problem and it was inevitable my A-Z would get out of control again and break out of its box. I do have a tendency to bite off way more than I can chew. This week trouble hit when I started writing about the Irish Nationalists who were exiled to Tasmania. One of these, John Mitchel, wrote Jail Journal which covered the time from his sentencing, escape and arrival in New York. As it turned out, Geoff’s Great Great Grandfather, Daniel Burke and his brother, helped John Mitchel escape. So, there was quite a personal aspect to the story and it took quite a bit of research to get the family facts straight. By this point, I started wondering whether to continue with the A to Z and had a few days off. I don’t know what it was. However, I felt much better this morning and caught up.

The kids are currently on school holidays for 2.5 weeks and have had a few days away with my parents to give us a break. We certainly needed it and am so thankful. I feel like I’m always heading in so many different directions and yesterday I decided to go nowhere. I slept in until the afternoon and parked in my writing chair researching and didn’t budge. Indeed, my phone didn’t even record one step for yesterday. There was no data available.

It’s okay to have a PJ day no and then when it’s perfectly acceptable to wrap yourself up in your quilt and retreat. Stop fighting whatever it is you’re fighting for one day. Unless you’re really unlucky, it won’t be the end of your world. Indeed, I had a lot more energy to get on with things today.

We’ve decided to defer Easter lunch with my parents and brother until Monday, which is my brother’s birthday.

I’m also trying to work out how we’re going to get to the Easter Show this year. We’ve been given free tickets, but there’s only a few days left and things on. Hoping to get there on Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s enough about me. What about you? Do you celebrate Easter? Or, you have different traditions and beliefs?

Well, I hope you’re going well and I look forward to catching up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Thou Shalt Get Walking!

After weeks of torrential flooding rain, the damn sun came out today and dried up all my excuses.

That meant, that I finally had to get outside and do “the 20 minute walk”.

Even if you barely know me at all, you’d know that I’m not the sort of person who goes timing their activities without some kind of outside intervention.

Enter the physio.

After two weeks on the “ten minute walk”, I’ve progressed to the “twenty minute walk” and while this should’ve generated that warm glow of achievement, it also pressed the panic button… just a little.

You see, doubling the distance, also meant twice as much opportunity for DISASTER!!

This wasn’t just anxiety speaking either. My tripping and crash-landing abilities are  legendary! Indeed, only two weeks ago, yours truly swan-dived right outside the test centre where my daughter was sitting for the illustrious Selective Schools’ Test. Of all the times to have a fall, this came pretty close to  being the worst. That said, at least I had loads of help getting back up.

So, this is why I was a bit wary of going for a 20 minute walk all by myself, even if it was a beautiful sunny day and the beach was calling. Our local footpaths are so bumpy, cracked and overgrown that they’ve become ridiculously rustic, death traps. You don’t even need to be accident-prone to fall.

However, being accountable for my exercise and needing to tick the all-important box on my exercise plan, magically propelled me out of the couch and onto the footpath.

First, however, I recruited Mummy’s Little Helper to act as walk buddy. This was not only so she could not only call 000 in the event of emergency, but also so we could also take the dogs for a walk. Miss took Lady, while I took a much stronger Bilbo and off we went….Miss telling Lady to stop sniffing and keep walking. Their pace helped to propel Bilbo along, although Miss did observe him trying to sniff every single tree and post along the way!

That reminded me of a couple of old dog jokes:

What’s the definition of torture?

A dog in a desert with no trees.

What’s the definition of confusion?

A dog in a desert with two trees.

However, Bilbo didn’t have the luxury of any lingering sniffs. That’s because he too was under the physiotherapist’s regime. The goal, or should I say the prescription, was 20 minutes of brisk walking, which is going to boost your heart rate and build a sweat. Obviously, this is not  a leisurely stroll smelling the roses…or anything else!

Bilbo staring out to sea

Bilbo…  who is either admiring the view or contemplating why he can’t smell the roses anymore.

By the way, the idea behind the 20 minute walk is to do a 20 minute walk…no more, no less. It aims to create frequency by surreptitiously sneaking into your daily routine, so you almost don’t realise it’s there. As if!

So what’s motivating my walks:

  • Increasingly the number of steps and kilometres on the health app on my phone. I have found this very encouraging and motivating….both when the results are positive and negative. You find out what you’re capable of and when your steps are low for the day, it encourages you to get back out there. Keep moving. Worth noting, though, that you do need to walk around with your phone to get accurate results. If you feel like cheating, you could also attach the phone to the dog, but you’d only be cheating yourself.
  • Increased fitness and strength leading to greater endurance.
  • Exercise helps prevent chest infections and improves lung health, which is critical for me!
  • Exercise & sunshine boosts your endorphins boosting your mood.
  • Enjoying the beautiful outdoors and spreading my wings by getting out of the house.
  • Running into friends on my walks.
  • Possibility of losing weight.

Before I head off, I’d like to exercise my bragging rights. Although I was feeling that a 20 minute walk was going to do me in today, by the time we reached the beach, we felt like talking the dogs down to the off-leash, dog section of the beach. I lost track of how long we walked for  but it was probably more like an hour. We ended up walking for 3.5km and reached 5,600 steps. This was a vast improvement on 824 steps on Friday and 2,650 steps on Thursday.

So, I deserve a huge pat on the back and my daughter gets a huge thanks…both from me and the dogs!

I thought you might find my walking progress encouraging and that if you’re having trouble getting started or sticking with it, that you can do it. We can do it. Please keep me posted on your progress.

xx Rowena