Monthly Archives: June 2017

‘I had a dream that I was awake and I woke up to find myself asleep.’ Stan Laurel.

I love to watch my dogs sleep.  They always look so comfortable and content.  Unlike me, they never seem to suffer from disturbed sleep. No tossing, no turning, no thrashing about.  (No thumping the pillows or rearranging the bedclothes.)  They just find a nice, sweet spot, turn around three times, and settle in.  I often wonder what they dream about.  “Chasing rabbits,” my dad would say.  Watching Maudie now and listening to her excited little ‘yip-yips’ as her nose twitches and her feet paw the air, it’s easy to imagine that’s exactly what she’s doing (although I don’t know that Maudie has ever seen a real bunny . . . )

Scientists have been performing sleep and dream studies for decades but still do not seem to be 100% agreed on why we dream.  The most popular theory is that dreams work together with sleep to help the brain sort through the information it has collected during our waking hours.  Dreaming helps us process what to remember and what to forget.

As it seems that humans and dogs have very similar sleep cycles (stages of wakefulness, rapid eye movement (REM) and slow wave deep sleep) perhaps dogs dream for exactly the same reason we do.  Rather than chasing rabbits, Maudie is probably reliving all the sights, sounds and smells she encountered during the day, deciding which ones she should discard and which ones are important enough to keep (there’s a new big scary dog moved in around the corner . . . the little kid down the street always has lollies in his pockets . . . I hid my favourite ball on the couch behind the cushion . . .)

I rarely remember my own dreams.  I know I do dream, and dream often, but I rarely remember the details.  This past week I has been a little different.  I have had some seriously weird dreams.  Really vivid, surreal, almost nightmarish dreams—some so freaky they remained with me when I woke.  I was trying to think why that would be—why these dreams seemed so different—and then I had a thought (it happens sometimes) . . . could my whacked-out dreams be an unexpected by-product of all the (industrial strength) flu medication I have recently been taking?

I had never really thought about that before but now I was curious, so I looked it up.  (I looked it up on the web, because who reads the teeny-tiny printed (‘Please read carefully’) foldouts that come in the medication boxes?  I tried that once.  Not only did I give myself serious eye strain, but the list of possible life-threatening side effects nearly scared me to death . . . )  Anyway, I found that there are in fact numerous drugs used in cough, cold, flu, allergy, motion sickness and (get this) insomnia medications, which have been linked to dream-altering states and vivid nightmares.

(How unfair would it be to be suffering from insomnia, only to take prescribed meds, finally fall asleep and then be hit by screaming nightmares. Talk about adding insult to injury!)

Weird dreams have also been noted as a side effect of anti-depressants, pain medications, blood-pressure meds and drugs to help people stop smoking.  So it seems that while we are happily ingesting any and all pharmaceuticals to cure whatever ails us, we are also unwittingly inviting in all manner of creeping night terrors to join us in our misery as well!

Happily, so far, my girls have been healthy enough that I haven’t had to ply any of them with much medication of any sort, but my own experience this week has made me realise that this is something I should probably bear in mind should they need any ‘medicating’ in the future.  If their sleep patterns are indeed akin to ours, it stands to reason that any drugs they receive might well affect their sleep patterns (and dreams) too.

I admit, this somewhat worrying to me.  Maudie is a happy little dog and would probably quickly shrug off any bad dream (just wave her ball under her nose and she’d be good to go) but Mabel and Molly are both somewhat highly strung at the best of times (that’s putting it politely) and the idea of them (and therefore me) having to cope with raging bouts of doggie-nightmares doesn’t quite bear thinking about . . .


Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Where there’s tea there’s hope.’ Arthur Wing Pinero.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

As you might imagine, after being so ill last week I had a very, very quiet weekend.  I slept, took flu medication, sat gazing into space for long periods of time . . . and then slept some more.  And I drank tea. Pots and pots of tea . . .

These days I drink mostly green tea.  For years and years I drank ‘normal’ tea (that is black tea with milk) and wouldn’t have thought to drink anything else.  Both my parents being English, tea was a daily staple and a cure-all for everything.  (The British consume over 60 billion cups of tea per year.  That sounds a lot—around 900 cups a year for every man, woman and child in Great Britain—but when you break it down that’s only 2.465 cups each per day.  Pfffttt.  Easy peasy.  I can do that before leaving for work in the morning.)

I can’t remember now when I switched over to drinking green tea, although I probably made the switch because I became convinced green tea was going to be somehow better for me (anti-oxidants and all that jazz.  Or perhaps I just kept forgetting to buy milk to put in my regular tea . . . )  Whatever the reason, once I switched over I never went back to my ‘English Breakfast’which is a bit surprising because green tea is definitely an ‘acquired taste’ (my friend Pam says it is like drinking lawn clippings) and I remember I didn’t really like it all that much at first.

But perseverance is a wonderful thing and slowly I became accustomed to it and now am quite happy with my healthier choice.  (The same thing happened when I decided to switch from white wine to to red.  Red wine is also supposed to be a healthier option—and I was drinking far too much white.  My logic was sound.  I didn’t like red wine very much, therefore I was bound to drink less of it.  Right?  Well, that didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would, (there are some seriously nice reds out there) but, on the plus side, I am drinking a lot less white . . . )

Anyway, during one of those flu-medicated-gazing-into-space-tea-sipping moments last weekend I did stop to wonderhow much tea is too much? Seems I remembered (way way back in the fevered recesses of my mind) that I once read that drinking too much green tea can cause hallucinations?  Could that be right? Should I be worried?

Nah.  I decided I really didn’t have the energy to fret about it.  Any green-tea-inspired hallucination was going to have to duke it out with my industrial strength flu-medication . . .  and I would just sit back (cuppa in hand) and enjoy the show . . .


Posted by on June 27, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘I reckon being ill as one of the greatest pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work until one is better.’ Samuel Butler.

I am not at all sure what Samuel Butler was thinking when he said being ill was ‘one of the greatest pleasures of life’.  What a strange thing to say.  I have been what my father used to call ‘sick as a dog’ all week and I can see absolutely no pleasure in it whatsoever . . .

(And, before I go any further, what kind of odd expression is ‘sick as a dog’ anyway?   Why do we always blame the dog?  (dog tired . . . dog in the manger . . . dog’s breakfast . . .  go to the dogs . . . )  Although I have also lately heard the expression ‘sick as a parrot’  too.  Not sure what to make of that one either.  )

As you can probably tell, I am a mite grumpy.  I don’t like being unwell and I have felt absolutely miserable for over a week now (nothing life threatening—just some flavour of miscellaneous virus that happens to be doing the rounds . . . along with a cough . . .  and a runny nose . . . and a monster headache . . . ) and at time of writing I am showing very little sign of improvement.

(I don’t get sick very often but when I do I go all in. I know they say things usually get worse before they get better but hey—give a girl a break—please!  I am well and truly over it. Well, no.  I’m not over it, as in ‘I’m feeling better’. I’m over it, as in ‘I’m fed up’.  Perhaps I should have said that to begin with. Oh dear God I’m rambling . . . )

Anyway, I think the thing that bothers me most (apart from the actual feeling like crap part of course) is that there is very little I can actually do about it.  I can take a tablet for my headache, and another to stop my nose running, and I can keep up the fluids, and rest when I can . . . blah, blah, blah (we all know the drill) . . . . but in the end I really just have to wait it out.  My body will heal itself when it is good and ready and not before.

You know, it’s so easy to sink into the mire when you feel dreadful (nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I’ll go and eat worms . . . ) and I find I have to constantly pull myself up and remind myself—’It is only the flu, Sal!  You will get over it.  This too shall pass . . . ‘

And perhaps, in a round about sort of way, that is what Samuel Butler was getting at.  Perhaps he meant that by being ill (but not too ill) one might be forced to remember what a pleasure it was when one felt well . . . 


Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Every year I look forward to the cooler months of autumn and winter.   As we come to the end of another long hot summer I always start to think how nice it is going to be when the temperature drops a little and I will able to get back into wearing something ‘with sleeves’ . . . and the girls and I will be able to go for longer walks again without fear of Molly ‘overheating’ (and me having to carry her home) . . . and we can spend our evenings cuddled up on the couch together, all warm and snug in front of the heater . . . 

And then the cooler weather finally does come in, and I pull all my jumpers, jackets and scarves out of the wardrobe, and the air is crisp and clean and fresh, and it’s great.  For about a week.  And then I start to remember that I never actually really liked the cold weather much.  (Or ever.)  I have even moved cities (and countries) because I didn’t like the winters.  Sigh.

But there’s always a silver lining.  Tomorrow is the winter solstice (Australian Eastern time)—the shortest day of the year.  Yay!  That means it is downhill now all the way to Spring . . .

So until then I am going to do as my Maudie does—find a cosy spot (and my own hot water bottle) and hunker down to wait for the return of the warmer months.

It’ll be nice to not have to wear ‘sleeves’ again . . .


Posted by on June 20, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Love me, love my umbrella.’ James Joyce.

I’ve been thinking about umbrellas a lot this week.  (Sad, but true.)  That may have had something to do with the fact that we have been absolutely deluged with rain and, consequently, I seem to have spent most of this week being poked in the head, dripped on, tripping over or dodging bloody umbrellas.  (If that is not the reason I have been thinking so much about umbrellas I obviously have entirely too much time on my hands . . . )

As you may have guessed, unlike James Joyce, I am not really a fan. For myself, I have always found umbrellas to be more trouble than they are worth.  They never seem to go up (or down) exactly when you need them to, they turn themselves inside out at the slightest breath of wind, one of the spokes will inevitably pop out of its sheath thereby threatening to poke the eye out of any unwary passerby andnot leastthe rain always seems to come in underneath them anyway and you still end up getting soaked.

That is not to say that I don’t own an umbrella, of course.  In fact, I own several.  There are two in my car, two more in the house (that I am sure about) and (I think) there is even another one hiding out in the laundry somewhere.  But, the thing is, I don’t remember ever buying any of these umbrellas (or any umbrella, ever, for that matter) nor I can tell you the last time I ever actually used one of them.  (How did five unwanted and unused umbrellas manage to survive my last major house cleanout?  No idea.)

It not the umbrellas themselves that bother me so much.  It’s that many umbrella-users don’t seem to take into account how their umbrella wielding behaviour impacts those around them.  Surely there is some kind of polite umbrella-etiquette written somewhere that should be adhered to? Like, perhaps you should wait until you step outside before opening up your umbrella.  (Apart from being just plain rude, has no-one ever told you that opening up an umbrella indoors brings bad luck?)  Or that it might be nice to shake the rain off your soaking wet umbrella before coming into the coffee shop.  And don’t get me even started on the matter of personal space . . .

Still, perhaps I am making too much of a fuss.  Perhaps I have dodged my last delinquent umbrella—for this week at least.  As I finish writing the rain clouds are starting to move away and the sun is trying to struggle through . . .

. . .  which puts me in mind of another sort of umbrella that I really don’t mind so much.  (In spite of my earlier words I am not a complete brolly-phobe.)  I am, in fact, quite partial to a lovely big parasol, which moves about only just enough to keep the sun off me, thus enabling me to sit comfortably in the shade while sipping a suitably chilled beverage (which, if I am lucky, might even contain its own teeny, tiny, umbrella . . . )

Ahhh . . . roll on summer . . .


Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Since I was little, this is my favourite place to come.’ Peter Pan. (J.M. Barrie)

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I can’t remember what Peter Pan’s favourite place was when he was little (the indian camp?—the mermaid lagoon?) but I remember mine was always the movie theatre.

Some things never change . . .

The Plaza Theatre
(see here for photos)


Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘All my life, I always wanted to be somebody. Now I see that I should have been more specific.’ Jane Wagner.

How old were you the first time someone asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Five?  Six?  Younger?  Do you remember what your answer was?

I don’t.  At least I remember being asked the question but I don’t remember whether I had an answer.  Rethinking that question today, some fifty-something years later, it occurred to me that nothing much has changed.   I still don’t know what my answer would be.

We often hear people state, with absolute conviction, “I knew when I was 5 years old I wanted to be a fireman / doctor / pilot / soldier / actor / writer (insert preferred career path here)” and that is what they went on to become.  They never wavered in their conviction.  These people are (rightly) admired for their dedication and passion towards their chosen careers—but where does that leave the rest of us?  What about those of us who never really wanted to ‘be’ anything in particular?

I never had any clear picture of what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I am sure when I was younger I entertained the possibility of a number of potential careers. Perhaps I would work with animals . . . or do something with my art . . . or go into journalism . . . but no.  There were too many choices and I never seemed able to pick ‘just one’ and stick with it.  Which was a problem, because we were always being encouraged to do just that.  What are you going to do?  What are you going to be?  What was once a simple little fun question full of exciting possibilities became a more serious anxiety-inducing question requiring a practical answer.

But I couldn’t do it.  And it bothered me—for a long time.  I was always so sure (because I was always being told) that flitting from job to job, place to place, interest to interest, was not the way I was supposed to be. I never felt like I quite measured up.

But you know time passes and I eventually came to accept that I was never going to be able to choose just one thing.  I’m just not built that way.  And that’s okay.  Over the last 40 year (yikes—40 years—how did that happen?) I have served in the armed forces and worked in retail, the media, health care, finance, business and education. I may not have specialised in any one thing in particular, but I learned a lot of skills and gained a lot of experience.  No regrets.

I also came to realise that, in spite of the pressure to be otherwise, there are millions of people out there just like meunableor unwillingto commit to one single choice, and instead choosing to try many different things. And guess what?  There is even a name for people like us (and not a rude one either)—Multipotentialites‘. Multi-potential-itea person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.  How cool is that?

If any of what I have said here has struck a chord and you’d like to know more, check out a fabulous Ted Talk by Emilie Wapnick where she outlines the merits . . .  and the need . . .  for people like us.

My choices and I feel totally vindicated . . .


Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.’ James A. Garfield.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I love bread.  In fact, I never really met a bread I didn’t like—brown, white, rye, seeded, ciabatta, damper, focaccia, roti, soda, multigrain, pumpernickel, (banana—not sure that counts as a real bread but . . . yum)—the list goes on and on and on. . .

And, although I do agree with James Garfield that bread needs something to go with it, for me it’s not peanut butter.  For me it is cheese (any kind of cheese) and ham . . .  and chutney . . .  and  pickles . . . or . . . if it’s toasted, pâté.  I could, seriously, live on toast and pâté . . . and red wine . . .

Well—when I say I could live on it, I probably actually couldn’t.  My digestive system seems to have much more to say about what I can, and can’t, eat (and drink) these days.  Sigh.

Sometimes getting older sucks . . .


Posted by on June 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


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“Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer care.” Unknown.

I used to shake my head sadly when I saw  ‘Do Not Knock’ notices on people’s front doors.  ‘Cranky old so-and-sos,’ I thought.  Welllive and learn.  I have lately joined the ranks of the cranky-old-so-and-sos and have now also attached one of these notices to my own front door.

Unfortunately, as I discovered this week, my polite little ‘Please Don’t . . . ‘ sign is obviously not bold enough to deter a rabid charity-door-knocker on a mission.  I might just have to start looking for something a tad more forceful . . .

I had never been unduly bothered by solicitations by salespeople, bible toters or charity workers until quite recently.  I monitor my home phone so I am able to pick up the calls I want and ignore those I don’t and I also put myself on the national ‘Do Not Call Register’, which, although I have no idea whether this is in any way effective at all, at least makes me feel as if I am being somewhat proactive.

I also tend to miss most ‘door-knockers as they usually make their rounds during the day, and at weekends the dogs usually hear anyone coming up the driveway long before I do, giving me plenty of time to prepare a polite response (‘Sorry—can’t talk now—eating.’) or, alternatively, find a place to hide and pretend I am not at home until they decide to move on.  (Now, don’t give me that look.  I am (almost) certain I could not possibly be the only one who has ever done that . . . )

I realise the competition is fierce.  A quick on-line search reveals there are around 54,000 charities and not-for-profits now registered in Australiaeach one jostling for our donation dollar.  I am sure most of these charities do good work, and every one of them means something to someone or they wouldn’t have been started in the first place, but it makes me ever such a tiny bit irritated (as you might have guessed) that I now feel like I have to put measures in place in order to avoid their constant, increasingly pervasive, solicitations.

Admittedly, my irritation has been somewhat exacerbated by lately being on the receiving end of a couple of quite unpleasant (dare I say, aggressive) phone calls from charities I already regularly supported, and had supported for years—both wanting more, more, more.  When I reminded one caller I already gave a monthly stipend he said, “I’ll stop calling if you double your donation”.  I kid you not. Needless to say I did not double my donation and, in fact, stopped donating to that charity at all.  It’s a shame, but I won’t be bullied. It also makes me  wonder how many other loyal donors have been pushed to the point where they ‘no longer care’.

On the bright side there are lots of other ways I can contribute and continue to ‘do my bit’.  I just have to start thinking about it differently.   I have started to buy extra dog food and treats on my weekly shopping trips and putting them in the donation barrel for a local organisation that fosters and looks after homeless dogs.  I regularly donate to local charity stores (and buy from them too) and will continue to do that.  And lately I have been thinking that I should take up knitting again.  I used to love to knit but haven’t done any now in years. After a quick search I found several sites that accept knitted donations.  I can can knit squares for blankets, or beanies, or gloves, or even teeny tiny jackets for little bald parrots . . .

I’ve just had a thought.  The next time I am caught by a charity caller I am going to stop them right in their middle of their well-rehearsed (and condescending) speil and hit them up with one of my own . . .

“You know your charity sounds fine, and I’m sure you do good things . . .  but why not think about donating to mine?  We need yarnlots and lots of yarn.  Just think of the good you would be doing, providing lovely new, warm, colourful clothes for people in need (and pouches for possums and teeny tiny jackets for featherless birds.) Only a dollar a day, that’s all I’m asking . . . and for only as long as you want to donate . . . (and, by the way, that really is a lovely shirt you are wearing, the colour really does suit you)  . . .  So, if you’d like to hand over your credit card details . . . “


Posted by on June 2, 2017 in Uncategorized


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