Tag Archives: family

Dog Training 101: Don’t Cross Over The Rainbow Bridge.

“When the student is ready the teacher appears.”

– Buddha.

In hindsight, there’s one thing I really should’ve taught my dogs. While “sit”, “stay” and doing your business outside are important, perhaps this one command could really save their lives:

“Don’t Cross Over the Rainbow Bridge. Never. Not ever. Got it?!!! Stay here. Good dog!”

While I know that it might be a little late to start teaching Bilbo new tricks in his old age, given his current health crisis, I’m doing some fast talking and have even resorted to flash cards.

happy rainbow

Don’t Cross Over the Rainbow Bridge.

I’m hoping it works. Bilbo is an incredibly obedient dog. Our side gate or front door have been left open in the past. However, did Bilbo take off? Escape? Surprisingly not, not even when his untrustworthy canine companion, Lady, was long gone. That’s right. He was still there with his paws out in front staying put and being a good dog.

So, Bilbo would be a prime candidate for testing this theory.

What do you think? Am I onto something here? Do you think Bilbo could resist the alluring appeal of the Rainbow Bridge? Perhaps, would you like to join me and give it a go with your dog as well? 

Humph. It was much easier to believe I was in there with a chance, when I was just mulling it over on my own. However, you did have to remind me of a few unfortunate, biological realities. That, in what seems like complete madness, dogs and humans live side-by-side and yet the hands of their clock spin round seven times faster than our own. Poignantly, I just have to look at our 11 year old daughter and our Bilbo, our 11 year old dog. While Miss is about 6 months older than Bilbo and was crawling when he arrived as a pup, she is still a child and he’s become elderly…an old man.  That contrast really puts things in perspective.

Bilbo + Amelia

Bilbo and Miss almost 11 years ago.

Moreover, there’s another spanner in the works. Despite his strong willpower, if there’s a pot of fresh mince at the end of that rainbow, Bilbo would be over that bridge in a flash. Even with his reduced appetite, he can still polish off a pack of fresh mince and he could never resist that.

“I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?”

– Sir Walter Scott

So, it appears I’m back to the drawing board. Or, as it turns out, Bilbo is back to the vet tomorrow for a follow-up appointment and a scan of his spleen. AND…on the off chance he can’t pull a magic pill out of his hat, we prayed for Bilbo at Church tonight. I know there are more important matters a foot in our world at the moment, but I make no apologies for loving our Bilbo to the moon and back. He has loved us absolutely and without qualification. He has been there for us in such a ubiquitous way often sleeping in between the lines of everything that’s gone on around here in the last 11 years, yet possessing an empathy and understanding which defies logic. He’s also brought us so much joy…even if it’s just running our fingers through his coat or patting his ears while he sleeps.

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs your heart is very big.”

– Erica Jong

Perhaps, you would like to share some of your dog stories or introduce the special dog(s) in your life.

xx Rowena

In case you haven’t heard of the rainbow bridge, here’s the poem:

The Rainbow Bridge

“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….”

Author unknown…

Weekend Coffee Share 17th June, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Shark Foam

Did you like my bit of fun with the Scrabble letters? Thought I’d give you a bit of a laugh. We’ve been playing Scrabble as a family over the last couple of weekends. It’s Winter here and Scrabble is such a great hibernation activity. Actually, I play Scrabble all year round, and I’m really thrilled our son’s really got into it. However, as much as I enjoy playing Scrabble online, its not the same as  as  delving into the bag to pull out your letters, and all the highs and lows which go along with it. Like books, I prefer hard copy or “the real thing”.

Jonathon scrabble blog

Our son using the modern dictionary to play Scrabble.

I’m starting to think we should film our Scrabble games, and even post them on utube. They can get quite hilarious what with the various words which crop up, and certain persons attempts to get weird and wonderful “words” through to the keeper. Last week, my attempt was “Quan”. Today, our son tried “Jaxie”, which is cockney rhyming slang for your backside. He’d found a site where you typed your words in and it came back with options. This was very good for him and enabled him to play along with my husband and I who are Scrabble affectionados. By the way, another cheer went up when my husband put down “GLOAT”. He did end up gloating at the end of that game. Although I won the first game, Geoff romped home in the second game and thrashed me by 101 with a score of 238.

Gloat

Sorry, I’ve been raving on about Scrabble so much, that I’ve forgotten to offer you a cuppa…tea, coffee, juice? I can also offer you a mint flavoured Tim Tam. They’re really addictive (much like Scrabble).

How was your week?

Thinking about the last week, I seriously need a holiday. I’ve been spending the last couple of months, sorting out our house and I’m starting to reach the point where a good week involves clearing the stuff out of the bathtub. Yes, it was quite a eureka moment when our daughter was finally able to have a bath for the first time in well…a long time. Being so focused on cleaning, organization and the state of dust around the place, is so not me and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve crossed over to the devil. After all, for most creatives, cleanliness is anti-creativity.

Rah 2017

Rah the New & Improved Much Loved Lion.

During one of my clean-ups, I found my son’s toy lion in need of major reconstructive surgery, looking like he’d been mauled by a tiger after years of enduring “too much love”, which included having his mane cut off during a “haircut”. So, I did what parents do. I donned my surgical cap. Pulled out the needle and thread and patched him up “like a surgeon”. Well, at least I did my best. I certainly didn’t throw him out. He’s part of the family.

You can read about saving Rah here: Like A Surgeon…Saving “Rah”.

Meanwhile, there’s a world out there beyond my four walls where things have been pretty bleak. Naturally, my thoughts have been over in London following the terrorist attack and the horrific fire which destroyed Grenfell Tower. Words can’t describe such grief, but like people the world over, I care and offer my condolances, which sounds so lame.

However, last night I heard about The Great Get Together , which is being held arount the UK this weekend on the anniversary of the death of murdered MP, Jo Cox who spoke out about greater racial tolerance, acceptance and intergration. Being a social person, her husband, family and the wide community wanted to do something positive to honour her life.

It was all a bit late to organize a physical get together this weekend. So, I did what bloggers do. Organized an online party and invite you to join us here. We’d love to have you along.

Anyway, I hope you’ve had a great weekend.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Nerd in the Brain.   We would love to have you pop over and join us. Just click on the Linky.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Like A Surgeon…Saving “Rah”.

Today, our son’s much loved soft toy lion, “Rah”, ended up in the operating theatre with Dr Curtin on duty. Unfortunately for Rah, he got the wrong Dr Curtin. So, while he’s all stitched up and you can’t see the stitches through the fur, he’s not what he was. Not that he was what he was before I got to him. Indeed, when our son was three, he gave Rah a haircut and took off much of his mane. So, you could say, that Rah had lost his magic powers long ago. On the other hand, after being with us all this time, he’s gained a very different power… the power of love.

Sadly, when you’re an über-loved, scraggly soft toy, you don’t get your choice of surgeons when your stuffing pops out. Rather, “You get who you get and you don’t get upset.” Worse still, you’re told to be grateful. Unlike so many of your peers, you’re being stitched up. You’re not being thrown out. As for anaethesetic or fancy equipment, all you get is a needle and thread…nothing high tech. And, as for the surgeon, that’s a no brainer. It’s Mum. Mum who failed cross stitch class and could never turn her needlework over. Yes, Mum of “hack stitch” fame is sewing you up. Yet, all you can do is: “Keep calm and carry on”. Face your challenge like a lion. Be brave!!

So, there I was finally sewing Rah up. This wasn’t going to be easy. His front leg was split open with stuffing missing. There was a hole under his chin and another gaping wound on his hind leg. Many would’ve written him off, unceremoniously binning him while the child was at school.

However, I am not most people. I believe in history, stories, memories, friendship. So, when I was asked: “Can you fix it?” Of course, I answered: “Yes, I can!!”

 

 

There’s no way we’d ever throw Rah out. Indeed, I still have my childhood teddy which is probably little more than moth fodder by now, but I still remember my mother trying to patch her up as well. There was never a question of throwing her out either.  That’s because we need the old as well as the new. That, while time causes wear and tear, it also produces shared experiences, which ultimately develop into memories. Story stacked upon story, building fanciful tales.

By the way, the other thing I really like about my son’s attachment to Rah all these years, is that Rah was his choice. Our son chose Rah as his favourite toy and Rah is unique. He’s not a teddy, but a lion and I’m pretty sure he came from the op shop and wasn’t new. Our son also obviously named him “Rah”, making the roar himself for the lion which couldn’t make a sound.

 

Now, I’ll be interested to hear what the kids have to say about Rah’s surgery when they get home from school. While he’s now in one piece after having 4-5 holes stiched up, including a leg reconstruction, he’s obviously not in proportion. The stuffing had fallen out of his right leg and in order to give it added strength, I over-compensated and it now looks like it’s on steroids and his front legs are quite different. This could be considered “character”, but I have a feeling my daughter will struggle with the two legs looking quite different. However, it’s not her lion and unless she’s willing to fix it, she’ll have to let it be. As for our son, I think he’ll just smile at the latest Mummyism. After all, I do have my own unique way of doing things.

What are your views about fixing toys? Are they “trash” or “treasure”? I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

 

Recipe: Aussie Pumpkin Soup.

It’s Winter here in Sydney and warm Pumpkin Soup is almost as Australian as Vegemite, Pavlova and Hugh Jackman. According to Australian Masterchef host, Matt Preston, Pumpkin is the most common type of soup Googled online. Preston has also found that our love affair with Pumpkin Soup, is uniquely Australian:

“As a nation we are rather unique in our love of pumpkin soup. The French cook it but it doesn’t feature as prominently in their kitchens as a bouillabaisse or a bisque. Americans do it too, but the soup is a poor cousin to the far more popular pumpkin pie. And the Korean hobakjuk is as much pumpkin porridge as soup.”

Before we proceed to the recipe, I have found it necessary to clarify what I’m actually calling “pumpkin”. Apparently, pumpkin by any other name does taste the same, but I’ve also found out that what is referred to as “pumpkin” in different parts of the world, isn’t what we Australians know as “pumpkin”.

Indeed, the butternut pumpkin I’ve used, is known as “squash” or “butternut squash” in other parts of the world.

However, to be sure to be sure to be sure, if whatever you call it comes in a tin, forget it. It’s not going to kill you to make this from scratch and some supermarkets do sell pumpkin pre-peeled and sliced so you can cheat without spoiling the soup.

This recipe is based on on a recipe by Margaret Fulton, who helped launch my cooking journey as a child. In 1968, she launched her first cookbook: Margaret Fulton’s Cookbook,  and it revolutionized Australian cooking. Along with the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook, these were cooking Bibles in Australian homes and still are in many today.

Pumpkin soup after school

Our whole family loves this Pumpkin Soup and it literally evaporated off the plates . Indeed, it’s spoon licking good!

Pumpkin Soup

Thanks to the butternut pumpkin/squash, this soup has a deliciously sweet flavour and creamy smooth texture. Yum!

Ingredients

90g butter

4.5 cups butternut pumpkin/squash…peeled and diced

A sprinkling of salt.

½ chopped onion (one smallish onion)

2 cups water

3 tablespoons plain flour

1 cup milk

1 egg yolk

Optional Serving Ingredients:

Sour cream

Chives

Bread.

Cracked pepper

Directions

  • In a large, heavy frying pan, melt half of the butter (45g) on high heat.
  • Add diced pumpkin and onion, turning constantly.
  • Fry for about 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin has started to caramelise.
  • Add water.
  • Reduce to medium heat and simmer until pumpkin is very tender and falling apart.
  • Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. This produces a finer texture.
  • You need to puree this pumpkin mix. I usually do it in the blender, but this is quite messy and my ancient blender struggles a bit. A friend recommended using a stick blender, which would cut out a lot of mess and encourage me to make it more often. However you blend it, the texture needs to be very fine and creamy.
  • Melt butter in frying pan. If you have pureed the pumpkin mix in the frying pan, you will need to do this a separate, small frying pan.
  • Add flour to the melted butter and stir together.
  • Add a small amount of pumpkin soup to flour and melted butter and mix well, gradually adding the rest. Stir rigorously to prevent lumps from forming. Blend again if lumps develop.
  • Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, combine egg yolk with a little of the pumpkin soup and then mix that in with the rest of the soup.
  • Serves four.
Floured Lady

The dogs are my ever-faithful companions whenever I cook. Sometimes, however, they can get caught in the cross-flour. 

Serving Recommendations

Pumpkin Soup is usually served with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives. I usually chop the chives with a pair of scissors over the top of the soup.

Bread is a natural accompaniment to Pumpkin Soup. It is often served with a crusty bread roll and butter. However, yesterday I diced up a day old baguette, and fried the pieces in a mix of melted butter and olive oil in the frying pan. These were scrumptiously delicious, even if they were a little naughty. Watch the bread closely as it can burn easily.

A word of encouragement. In my experience, it is hard to get this wrong.

That is, as long as you don’t heed the cardinal rule of cooking. Never turn your back on a hot stove.

Bon Appetit!

xx Rowena

5th June, 2017.

Weekend Coffee Share 4th June, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’m offering you something a little different…pumpkin soup. Perhaps, this might’ve been healthy once upon a time. However, I’ve ramped it up tonight  with a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of home-made croutons. I don’t know what it is about this recipe. However, it’s the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever had. I always make it using butternut pumpkin, but it seems to have a special something. Could it be love?

Hope you like the photo I snuck in of the kids eating their Pumpkin Soup! It’s only a few years out of date, but they looked so cute!

Now, that you’d been fed, let  me ask you how your week was?

One of these days, I’ll have to add a rating scale.

Today, is my Mum’s birthday and my Dad’s birthday is later in the week. Usually, we’d go down to their place in Sydney, but we’re so busy. Our daughter has dancing on Saturday mornings and our son has rehearsals for the Scout Gang Show. I’m hoping we might be able to get together yet.

The past few weeks have been fairly stressful. I don’t know if  is the sort of stress you experience when you’re stretching and growing. After all, growth is by nature uncomfortable. So much is going well, and yet my awareness of all these things I’m struggling to change, has also increased. So, while I’m now tap-dancing and doing yoga, I’m still wading through stuff trying to clear up the house. I won’t use that dreaded word “declutter”, because I don’t believe in it. Indeed, after spending hours working on my daughter’s room, I arrived home with a crate of books from the op shop. These weren’t any ordinary books either. They included a four volume set of Home Mechanics Books from around 1910. They were more about repairing things around the home  such as your Grandfather clock and were absolutely fascinating. However, I am trying to follow what I’ll call a “trading policy”. That for everything that comes in, something has to go out. It works well for me in theory. However, like so many things, not so well in practice.

Jeffrey Smart Car Park in Bologna

Jeffrey Smart, Parking Lot Near  Bologna 1992.

This weekend, the whole issue of my teenage son’s school assignments reared its ugly head again. He’s been unwell on and off and the night before his assignment was due, our wifi went down. I don’t need to tell you that was a catastrophe of epic proportions. Anyway, not unsurprisingly, yours truly found herself researching Australian artist, Jeffery Smart, and his painting: “Parking Lot Near  Bologna”. Not to do his assignment for him, but to be able to help.

To be perfectly honest, this painting did nothing for me. Yet, I had to find something. Understand, at the very least, why it was considered worthy of an assignment. I personally prefer more of an expressionistic style with thick, lashings of paint, whereas this almost has a flat, photo finish. No, not my style, but I could see why the trucks might appeal to my son. That said, he’d probably prefer a Ferrari!

The last part of the assignment involved writing a 100 word story about the painting. It finally clicked that this was just like the flash fiction challenges I do. So, we talked through various plot ideas and possible names for the two men (Luigi for the Italian and Sergei for the Croatian) and then moved onto people smuggling. I wanted to teach him the thinking that goes into writing something like this, particularly the structure involved. Having that twist or punchline at the end. So, I wrote an example for him.  Here’s the link. It was very difficult to write, being set in Italy. However, as usual, Google came to the rescue.

MackayHugh03

Hugh McKay

In  between the assignment and playing Scrabble with the lad, I also read read a fantastic novel, Selling the Dream by Hugh McKay. Hugh Mackay is a social researcher and the author of 17 books, mainly in the field of social analysis. Selling the Dream is his seventh novel. I am in the throws of writing a review. However, if you enjoyed reading Graeme Simsion’s: The Rosie Project, you’ll love it. It’s hilarious and despite being classed as satire, it’s incredibly real. Sorry, I forgot to tell you that it’s set in a Sydney advertising agency and has a serious swipe at the industry and it’s “heroes”.

I really loved reading this book and am really going to try to read books more often.

However, I’m sure you know how it in. Before you know it, the day just disappears.

As has the weekend. So, I’d better get this posted quickly.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share.

xx Rowena

 

Out of the Depths…Friday Fictioneers.

The river’s fury knew no bounds. Swallowing and regurgitating all in its path, the river gushed through precious Queenslander homes, but didn’t care… just buried its dead in mud.

Pete and Julie clung to each other like limpets. Photograph after sodden photograph fished out of the mud, their memories were falling apart in gloved hands.

Despair…utter despair.

Then, the aliens landed. Strangers wearing gumboots, rubber gloves, carrying spades, mops and plates of food. They’d salvaged their daughter’s precious teddies. Mud was glued to each and every fibre, but for the very first time, they knew they could make it.

………

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo prompt is © Karuna

A series of floods hit Queensland, Australia, beginning in December 2010. The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities.[2] At least 90 towns and over 200,000 people were affected.[2] Damage initially was estimated at around A$1 billion[3] before it was raised to $2.38 billion.[1]

Three-quarters of the council areas within the state of Queensland were declared disaster zones.[5] Communities along the Fitzroy and Burnett Rivers were particularly hard hit, while the Condamine, Ballone and Mary Rivers recorded substantial flooding. An unexpected flash flood caused by a thunderstorm raced through Toowoomba’s central business district. Water from the same storm devastated communities in the Lockyer Valley. A few days later thousands of houses in Ipswich and Brisbane were inundated as the Brisbane River rose and Wivenhoe Dam used a considerable proportion of its flood mitigation capacity. Volunteers were quick to offer assistance, and sympathy was expressed from afar…Wikipedia

At the time of the floods, I was staying near Byron Bay in Northern New South Wales and also experienced the deluge. People talk about the sound of rain on a tin roof, but this was terrifying and yet at the same time, strangely beautiful at the same time. We have family and close friends in Brisbane so these floods were very close to our hearts.

I felt I had to write something uplifting in response to this prompt which I found quite disturbing.

xx Rowena

After the Flames…Friday Fictioneers

Her studio guttered, Pixie peeled the charcoaled canvas off the concrete.

She’d been burned to death.

That painting was the culmination of every single heartbeat, every flicker of shadow and light. Her soul pulled inside out, spurted in thick acrylic, bleeding and raw.

Art was her voice. Her only exit from the labyrinth.

Pixie covered her ears and started to scream…a scream without end.

Axel wrapped a blanket around the shattered nymph. He’d seen her waft in and out of the warehouse before, lost like a leaf in the wind.

That,” he beamed, “Is how I met your Grandmother.”

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll