Tag Archives: dogs

There’s A Lady On Your Pillow…

Our son made the mistake of leaving his bedroom door open when he left for school this morning. When I went to close it, I noticed a black ball of fur quite at home on his pillow, let alone snoozing on his bed!

Lady Cropped

Lady wasn’t phased by my appearance at all. Indeed, instead  of showing any guilt or remorse, she simply rolled over wanting a belly scratch.

I have mentioned before that Lady tends to take her name much too literally, and even elevated herself further up the ranks. I have no doubt that she believes she’s a princess, and us humans are at her beck and call. Indeed, I have wondered whether she really thinks she’s a cat, especially when she becomes totally unresponsive when the ball or stick fly past.

However, there’s another side to Lady. She lived on a farm before she came here, and she’s a trained hunter. She’s not interested in balls and sticks because she’s after the live ones. That, by the way, is when she’s becomes rather “unladylike” and let’s instinct prevail. I have been horrified on more than one occasion when she’s not only rolled in a very dead fish carcass at the beach, but actually rubbed the stench deep into her fur follicles to camouflage her scent completely. She is a trained assassin. I’m just lucky she doesn’t eat humans.

So, now she’s back to being an ordinary dog again, asleep on her own blanket!

Hope you’re having a wonderful day!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Here’s a link to the Lady’s escapes after she first joined us: Portrait of A Lady

A-Z Challenge…A for Adventure.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

Just to remind you, my theme for this year’s A-Z April Blogging Challenge is motivational quotes. I am currently hunkered down working away on a collection of biographical short stories and was concerned that the challenge would be a distraction. Howe3ver, I’ve changed my mind and thought that coming up with motivational quotes every day could really boost my efforts and keep me going. After all, I’ve only just started writing up the stories and it’s going to get harder down the track. Of course, the going is always good at the start and it’s fine tuning the stuff at the end where things get really hard. Well, I think it’s how it goes. That’s how it’s been for me in the past. This is why I’ve also decided to go with short stories, even though many of these stories could be a book in their own right. They just didn’t quite seem to have enough oomph to make it to 80,000 words, although perhaps they’ll follow down the track. At this point, I just need to get a book I can be proud and has commercial potential done and dusted. I’m not investing all this time anbd effort into this for no reason. There’s a lot riding on it. I am the gambler who has stacked all their chips on one number and the wheel is spinning.

I guess that’s why I this quote by Helen Keller came to mind and I had to Google to remind myself who wrote it. Naturally, Helen Keller was a great choice because they other word I was considering was ADVERSITY and she covers both.

In case you’re not familiar with Helen Keller’s story, here’s a brief bio:

Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. In 1882, she was stricken by an illness that left her blind and deaf. Beginning in 1887, Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, and Keller went on to college, graduating in 1904.

She’s an incredibly encouraging woman and an inspiration to all.

Touching on the featured image, that’s our dearly loved and departed dog Bilbo looking at the “cliffs”, which had developed on our beach after a storm. He’s certainly looking rather circumspect, and not at all likely to jump in for a swim (his idea of a daring adventure). Indeed, most of the time, Bilbo didn’t like getting his paws wet let alone going swimming. His paws were rather precious. That was until his beloved tennis ball started drifting away, in which case, his heart was seriously torn.

Do you have any adventures planned? What is your A for the A-Z Challenge? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Running Faster Than A Speeding Bullet…

This afternoon, my son and I took the dogs for a run along the beach and it was absolutely spectacular. The weather was absolutely magnificent with lashings of warm, balmy sunshine and if I was more adventurous, perfect for a swim.

Zac Rosie Lady

Our Three Canine Companions….Rosie left, Lady Front and Zac rear. 

Well, here we have our three canine beauties photographed in motion at the beach. Well, the two now fully grown pups are in motion, while lady takes a more leisurely approach to the beach. That’s not difficult considering that the pups view it as a racing track.

There’s quite a knack to taking the dogs to the beach. Although we live walking distance from the beach, dog beach is a little further away. This means it’s a bit too far for me to walk with the three dogs, and walk along the beach as well. So, we all pile into the old car known as the “Dog Mobile” to get there. What with three irrepressible dogs who know exactly where they’re going, the drive is pandemonium and a bit like shouting lollies to a pack of toddlers. You have to brace yourself.

Once we’ve parked, we walk the dogs onto the beach on lead for safety. By this point, they’re truly irrepressible and I really need to remind myself to step into my boss shoes before we all become airborne. Geronimo! Once those leads were off, the pups flew like bullets down the beach and they were truly beautiful to watch. Indeed, they reminded me of thoroughbred horses.

Our son became quite agitated about them and worse-case scenarios flooded his mind like a storyteller. One minute the dogs were going to disappear in pursuit of a seagull. Then, they were going to run out through the shallows onto the sandbar halfway to Palm Beach, in which case it would be my job to retrieve them. There was also a strong rip and this has proven hazardous to smaller dogs and a friend’s had to dive in after his white fluff ball a few times. There’s was also a fisherman and the dogs often end up trying to snaffle their bait. However, today the dogs were more focused on running than prawns and just flew past.

Despite their unbridled energy and a smorgasbord of hazards on every flank, I was quite relaxed. All they wanted to do was run. Run faster than the wind. Indeed, they were built to run fast. However, they weren’t running away. Indeed, whenever I’ve been here with them before, they’ve always had an eye on me.

After all, just like humans, dogs know that as much as freedom is a wonderful thing, so is a sense of belonging. That becoming lost, especially when you’re alone can be terrifying whether you’re a human or a dog. Mind you, I must say that getting lost doesn’t seem to worry Lady. She’s been quite the escape artist and we’ve received multiple calls asking if we’ve lost a dog.

That said, we haven’t had her since she was a pup, and perhaps that explains her apparent lack of attachment. However, she was quite happy to leave her former life behind and come with us in the car when we picked her up. It was only some time later, that she started wondering what was going on and wanting to go back.

I really loved being back at the beach. We’ve had about three weeks’ worth of torrential rain and with the sun out, it was time to do the happy dance. It was magnificent.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – October 1st, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Pinch and a punch for the first day of the month. No returns.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, could I offer you a stick? Well, I’m not exactly the one offering you the stick. That’d be Rosie whose dropped the stick right on my keyboard for you. Zac’s parked himself a bit further back but though he’s hiding in the boon docks, he’s just as keen. Lady, our 6 year old Border Collie x Cavalier couldn’t care less about chasing sticks or tennis balls. She parked herself next to a bag of dog food for the afternoon desperately willing it to levitate and magically fill up her bowl.

It’s now Monday night here and today was the Labor Day Long Weekend here in NSW and Geoff had the day off. The kids are on their first week of school holidays. We couldn’t quite get ourselves organized to go away. Amelia will be in a dance production next week and the kids are taking turns staying with my parents in Sydney. Term 4 gets incredibly busy for us what with dance concert, sailing and Christmas. So, I just feel like l needed to get things sorted out at home and start the term ahead, not from behind. I remember getting back from holidays the night before school went back when the kids were younger and she could sort of get away with it. Now, there’s so much to grapple with and get under our belts and I just want us all to pass muster.

On Saturday, Geoff and I drove over to Pearl Beach about 15 minutes drive away. We’d planned to go to the Pearl Beach Food & Wine Festival but got the date wrong and went to an art exhibition instead and then went for a walk along the beach and onto the rock platform, camera poised. I picked up on the limpets which seemed to be sitting on the edge of a pool sunning themselves. Their miniature underwater wonderland was quite mesmerizing.

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The  Pearl Beach Garage Sale.

Driving back from Pearl Beach, we stopped in at an art and garage sale. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, although for some of you, you’d probably think it was a funny kind of heaven. Three artists lived in the house. The garage sale was on one side, which looked like something out of my grandparents’ place and I could’ve bought the place out if I had the money and the space. One of the artists took dressmaking mannequins, laquered them and turned them into lamps. They were stunning and so unique. My grandmother had one of those things and used to make me dresses. Indeed, her mother was an accomplished dressmaker and used to make my grandmother’s gowns for her piano recitals. I have a thing for antique and vintage sheet music and they had a pack of 60’s Beatles sheet music with Can’t Buy Love on the top. I really wanted it but came across an antique photo frame with waratahs carved into the wood. This is the only one of these antique carved frames I’ve ever seen which has depicted Australian fauna. I’ve studied Australian cultural history at uni and ever since and really believe Australians need to know their own culture. I put that under a very broad heading because we’re a very diverse people but when I’ve travelled overseas, I’ve known that there’s something, that mysterious X-factor which runs through us. Hold us together.

Oops. I was supposed to be giving you a bird’s eye view of this garage sale, not beating you over the head with a sermon about what it means to be Australian. As we pulled up out the front, we couldn’t miss the laminex table with orange vinyl chairs. I remember having something very similar as a kid and being overjoyed when it found its way to the tip. Yet, I was so excited to see it again and if we didn’t already have about three tables surplus to requirements, I would’ve brought it home. I quite literally felt my heart jump out of my chest when I saw it. I must be a fairly simple soul, because it wasn’t anything flash, designer or unique. It was just a memory. A kitchen table. Our kitchen table.The heart of the home. Geez, I’m a sentimental sod and it’s no wonder the place is packed to the rafters.

I was pouring over all the stuff and came across a violin. As you might be aware, I’ve been learning the violin for about five years but lately my confidence has taken a nose dive and I’ve been feeling self-conscious. I think I’ve outgrown beginner’s pluck and am much more conscious of my mistakes rather than being thrilled to play anything at all. However, a moment of madness, or to be honest it was the real me breaking out because I’m a performer at heart. An extrovert. Someone was interested in buying it and taking up the violin at 51 and I did my very best to convert her to what must surely be one of the most difficult, cantankerous and beautiful instruments in the world. I tried to play a few bars of Danny Boy, which I’m preparing for the end of year concert but without the music I was flying blind. It was fun though and more like a stand-up performance.

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The kitchen table mid clean-up.

Today, was D- Day. That is D for Desk and this was operation clean-up my desk to set up the stereo Geoff bought me last Christmas. It’s been sitting in its box all that time, which I know was an incredible waste but in addition to finding room for it, I also had to set it up and that was a huge unknown. I hate anything technical and Geoff’s been so busy plus he always seems to want me to do these things for myself when all I want, is for him to take care of it. I’ve never felt the need to learn how to change a tyre either. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in feminism or equality. I’m sure there are a lot of men who can’t change a tyre either. No one has to do it all. Fit all of humanity in their own two shoes. Indeed, we can’t. That’s why we have community.

Anyway, I’ve managed to set up the stereo and spent the afternoon listening to Icehouse: Man of Colours while carting stuff in between my desk, the kitchen table and the bin.

These cleanups are all great at the beginning when you’re making great progress. However, as the hours go by and you’re down to the nitty-gritty sorting and there’s no end in sight, it all seems like a very bad idea. Yet, this blitzkreig or clear-felling approach to sorting out my desk has been tried and tested. It works, but the mess gets so bad that you really wonder if you’ll ever find the surface of the kitchen table again.

Creative Genius at Work

For some strange reason, this desk is looking more than a trifle staged. BTW do you like my creative genius?

Well, the kitchen table wasn’t even clear beforehand. I’ve started packing up our lounge room so we can replace the flooring and I had half a dozen items on there which still needed to be packed up. They’re now gone back where they came from for the time being. Rome wasn’t deconstructed and rebuilt in a day.

Well, the table passed muster and we had supermarket lasagna for dinner to keep things simple.

In terms of this week’s posts, I shared about a new stick swing Geoff built for the pups in Exhausting A Working Dog. For Thursday Doors, we went back to Penguin in Tasmania for Penguin Doors. Then, for Friday Fictioneers, I wanted to incorporate Macbeth into my plot this week, after re-reading it during the week to encourage my son who has had to study Shakespeare for the first time at school in The Wake. Finally, I wrote about our trip to Pearl Beach

How was your week? I look forward to catching up with you and thanks for popping round to join me.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Exhausting A Working Dog.

A working dog needs a job, a challenge and when none is provided, it will soon create a job of its own. Although Rosie and Zac, our year old Border Collie x Kelpie pups, love chasing balls and sticks right down to retrieving minute splinters and fragments, fetch becomes difficult when there’s no one home to throw. With no one to throw, somehow  being home alone translates into: “Let’s dig a hole.” Or even: “Let’s play wombats and dig a network of underground tunnels”. For all I know, they could even be digging an underground spy network, or even working on the great escape. No. They wouldn’t do that. They love us much too much. On the other hand, Lady, our Border Collie x Cavalier would be off in a flash. We’ve even had to install chicken wire along the fence line. Yes. She could well be called: “The Wanderer” :

“They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around”

– Dion.

Humph…when you consider escape artists and the diggingest dogs, even I’m wondering why we’ve further complicated our already complex lives with three “unnecessary” dogs. However, love knows no bounds, no logic, no sense. We have four humans and only three dogs, not that we have room for anymore except on a temporary basis. After all, we’re not on a farm. Of course, this also means that when the dogs decide to dig large, wombat like burrows, our backyard becomes a safety hazard and it wouldn’t take much to break an ankle, let alone your neck.

This is when their excavating activities met their match. Deciding to distract them, Geoff built them the stick toy to end all stick toys…the Giant Stick Swing. He screwed a chain into a very big stick, which he suspended like a swing so the dogs could grip hold of the stick and wrestle with it for hours and hours while they keep trying to work out how to extricate the stick from its cage. Our daughter was given the task of getting them interested and then their new job began. Both of them were working flat out pulling at the stick trying to get it out, running round and round and back and forth. It was the perfect device for exhausting two very energetic working dogs. Happy Days.

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The Dog Proof Lawn Protector in situ.

By the way, the Giant Stick Swing is only Geoff’s latest invention. You might recall that I recently introduced you to the  Dog Proof Lawn Protector where Geoff attached a layer of protective chicken wire to a large wooden frame which he is moving around the backyard on the equivalent of a crop rotation system, where he’s sowing grass seed and installing new sprinkler heads as he goes. It’s a lot of hard work just to have a patch of green, especially when there are no guarantees. Growing grass seems to be as precarious as farming crops. There are no guarantees.

Yet, there are those green thumbed-freaks of humanity out there who somehow have a perfect lawn. Indeed, they have a manicured lawn, which looks like it’s been trimmed with a pair of nail scissors and is meticulously maintained. Lawn which is a show piece, a status symbol. However, the perfect green lawn is quite an indulgence when we’re in the midst of a severe drought. Yet, at the same time, we’re doing what we can to salvage our patch of green from three working dogs, the drought and sandy beach soil and we’re succeeding without too great a cost.

Do you have any dog posts to share? Or, perhaps you’re also struggling to nurture your own patch of green? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Chocolate Brownie with a Stick on the Side.

It’s been awhile since I’ve dobbed in a dog on Beyond the Flow. However, when I found one of Rosie’s sticks parked on the plate  right next to my chocolate brownie, duty called. All of a sudden the quirkiness of living with dogs was flashing like neon lights and I couldn’t keep my amusement to myself. I had to share it with you.

Above: Zac top left, Lady bottom right and Rosie has the red collar and spots.

Just to recap on the dogs in our family…We have Lady, a 6 year old Border Collie x Cavalier who is more Cavalier in temperament. Left to her own devices, she’d love to eat and sleep all day and chase the occasional moving critter. She totally ignores balls and sticks and refuses to chase inanimate objects. Last year, after Bilbo our beloved Border Collie passed away, we fostered two Border Collie x Kelpie pups from the same litter…Zac and Rosie. They’re now about one year old. Zac and Rosie are like twins and it’s not uncommon for each of them to grab an end of the stick and play tug-of-war with each other. Lady has absolutely no interest in chasing sticks or balls, which was a big reason we adopted the pups. We were used to a crazed, ball-obsessed dog and as much as he drove us crazy, we couldn’t live without this harassment. We needed that constant pestering.

That might explain how I’ve allowed myself to get manipulated and dare I say trained into perpetually throwing the stick , or even the teeniest splintered fragments to Rosie. I’ve also found myself feeling rather fed up, and it’s a natural instinct to throw something away when it’s annoying you. However, you don’t need to be a human or dog psychologist to know that this is only reinforcing the very behavior I’m trying to curb.  Clearly, I’m being out-manipulated by a dog. Or, you could say that I’m  very well trained.

Being a true blue desperado, Rosie keeps depositing these bits of stick right in front of whatever I’m watching. Quite often, she’ll hover over my laptop and delicately remove the smallest fragment of stick out of her mouth with surgical precision and place it on the keyboard. This might even be accompanied by a gentle nudge with her paw as a polite but rather insistent reminder.  “Come on, human. Get moving!” Or, as one of my teacher’s used to say back in primary school in around 1978: “Wake up, Australia!” (I wonder if this was because Australia was generally seen to be asleep???!!)

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I’m not sure why I found it particularly funny that Rosie had deposited a stick on the plate next to my brownie. There are random stray bits of stick scattered all around me and I’ve even had a stick or two go down my top. That was rather disturbing and quite an invasion of privacy. So, having bits of stick turn up in unexpected places is nothing new around here. However, it did look particularly striking on the plate and like it had been dished up…Chocolate Brownie Served with Fragment of stick. Humph…I can see it appearing on the menu at Heston Blumenthal’s  The Fat Duck in However, the very near future. The must have dish!

However, perhaps it’s what happened next which really caught my attention. Rosie goes over to my plate and unlike your average dog who would’ve helped themselves to the brownie if they’d had the chance, Rosie picks up the stick and brings it closer. Drops it on my lap. I don’t know about you, but if I had the choice between a brownie and a stick, it’d be a no brainer. Just in case you’ve been infected by a similar madness, let me just confirm. I’d take the brownie.

Rosie! Rosie! Rosie! Hasn’t anyone told you that you’re just a tad too obsessed? Trust me! We’ve tried. We even get her up on our laps, massage and pat her and try to get her to relax. It occasionally works. However, most of the time she’s looking trapped and is squirming to escape.

Clearly, she’s taking the whole working dog thing too seriously, and needs to learn about holidays.

Has your dog been up to anything “interesting” lately? Feel free to dob in your dog in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Making the Grass Greener.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

A few short weeks ago, we looked out over our backyard the same way Moses saw the Promised Land. However, all we saw was a dust bowl with three dogs standing somewhere in it and a few holes dug in for good measure. Indeed, if I hadn’t seen the three dogs, I might’ve wondered whether a wombat had taken up residence in our backyard. Some of these holes were huge.

Needless to say, the grass wasn’t happy.

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

Walt Whitman

Moreover, just to add to it’s struggles, we’re in the throws of a serious drought and just because we’re not farming out on the land, doesn’t mean we haven’t been affected by the lack of rain. It might not be affecting our livelihood but our backyard was a dust bowl.

“The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

–   Henry Miller

So we have digging dogs, dry drought and then there’s the sandy soil. We live metres away from the beach and while this very same sandy beach might be a thing of beauty, our sandy soil is largely infertile could go a few rounds of IVF. Indeed, even the weeds had given up trying to grow in our backyard. There was just bare sand.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t hold out much hope of ever seeing green grass out the back, let alone anything approaching a lawn. I’d more or less assumed that my husband had also given up. After all, it had been awhile and there wasn’t exactly a lot of activity out there.

However, I don’t know what happened, but my husband sent up the backyard sprinkler system again. That was step one. Then, he built a very clever lawn growing contraption of the likes I’ve never seen before. Just like Australia has the rabbit proof fence, my husband built the dog proof lawn protector by simply nailing four planks of wood together and covering it with chicken wire. Just like the Parable of the Sower, my husband sowed out the lawn seed, covered it with the protector and then it was on with the sprinklers every night.

Then, miracle of miracles, we now have lawn. Indeed, the dog proof lawn protector has been moved onto its second location and much of the grass in the first plot is still alive.

Sometimes, I think we can settle where we are believing that things can’t get any better. That this is as good as it gets and we can forget to prepare the soil, sow the seed and water our dreams or just even our basic needs. It’s too easy then to fall into an engulfing sense of despair where there is not point lifting a finger or even trying to get up off the ground and pick up our mats.

I also want to say that I’m proud of my husband for coming up with our dog proof lawn protector. He commutes to Sydney puts in a long day’s work and is my carer 24/7 as well as being a father to our kids and the three crazy mutts. In so many ways, that’s life. We’re all busy. We each have our lot. Our hardships and our blessings. Last weekend, he started a sailing course. So, now he’s not only enjoying some green grass, he’s also experiencing some smooth sailing. Well, perhaps in time.

Is there something that’s changed recently in your life that’s made a difference? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena