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‘If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’ Mark Twain.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I feel like I have been eating frogs all week.  Honestly.  One frog after another after another . . .

And it shows in my writing.  Everything I tried to write this week has sounded grumbley, whingey or whiney so, as I believe there is enough of that in the world already, I have decided not to add to it (not this week anyway . . . )

Instead, I have decided to post a sketch of a frogone that I didn’t eatand I promise to be in a more cheerful frame of mind next week.

Have a great week everyone . . .

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Time’s Fun When You’re Havin’ Flies’ – Kermit The Frog.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

frog-under-leafMy garden is home to a number of frogs.  I know this because, although I don’t actually see them very often, I hear them all the time . . .  (although, maybe not quite so much lately.  This summer has been so hot perhaps they have been, literally, keeping their heads down and staying where it’s dark and cool . . . )

But the temperature dropped slightly over the weekend and we even had a bit of rain . . .

(. . .  by the way, commiserations to all those of you who have recently had ‘more than a bit’ of rain. A nice cleansing shower is one thing, but no-one needs the biblical deluges some places received . . . )  

frogandmegaphoneAnyway . . . back to the frogs.   The front door was open to catch the fresh breeze and the girls and I were enjoying a quiet moment.  I was reading (and enjoying the sound of the rain pattering softly outside) and the girls were dozing in their favourite doggie spots.  Suddenly, and totally unexpectedly, our peace was shattered by an almighty bellow which brought us all immediately to our feet.  (Poor Molly, woke up with such a fright she actually rolled off the sofa!)  It took me several minutes to realise (and several more minutes to calm the dogs down) that the sound was actually coming from a frog . . . and that frog was right outside my front door . . .

tinyfrogAlthough initially a bit wary about confronting any creature that could make a sound like that, I ‘manned up’ and went outside to look.  I was astonished (gobsmacked!) to find that the loudest frog I had ever heard also turned out to be one of the teeniest, tiniest, itty-bittiest creatures I have ever seen—a tiny green speck of a thing, perched contentedly on my front porch and happily telling everyone who would listen (like the whole neighbourhood) how much he was enjoying the rain.

I admit it.  I did spend some time ferreting around in the bushes close by searching for his godzilla-proportioned older brother (who was obviously also a practising ventriloquist) because . . .  well . . . no way!   I just could not get my head around that sound coming out of that frog . . .

But it did.  It really did.  And it kind of made my day . . .

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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If bad decorating was a hanging offense, there’d be bodies hanging from every tree.’ Sylvester Stallone.

I think I have a bit of a problem.  I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time rearranging decor and furniture.  Not my own decor and furniture you understand (well, not often) but other people’s.  And not physically rearranging it (that would be just rude!)—but in my head.  Seriously.  I am catching myself doing it all the time—vizualising redecorating a new friend’s house . . . or my favourite coffee shop . . . or a local business window display.  Just last weekend, while sitting in the foyer of the local Plaza Theatre, I got so involved in mentally rearranging all the lovely posters and art deco statues and reorganising the whole flow of the place that I nearly missed the start of the movie!

I blame it on all those home improvement shows that abound on our tvs at the moment.  I can’t resist them.  There is something about these shows I find utterly fascinating . . . which is kind of weird as I don’t own my own home and am therefore unlikely to be undertaking any major home improvement projects in the near future, but there you go . . .

I should make a point of clarification here.  I do not enjoy what I call the ‘reality tv’ renovation shows which seem to me to be more about competition and personalities and drama (and winning money) than about renovation. I honestly can’t bear all the histrionics (although, I admit, I do sometimes tune into the ‘reveals’ after all the drama and tears are over.)

No—the shows I like at those where someone buys an old run-down-seen-better-days (preferably historic) home and then hands it over to someone who actually knows what they are doing to restore it to its former glory (albeit with modern conveniences and plumbing of course!)  And I’m not completely silly.  I do realise I am being ‘had’ when I watch these shows—at least to a certain degree.  If a one-week turnaround on a kitchen and bathroom remodel sounds too good to be true, I am pretty sure it probably is.  The ‘magic of television’ pretty much guarantees that we only see what they want us to see.  Nevertheless . . .

The best part of these shows though, for me at least, is the ‘dressing’ after all the renovations are complete.  I love to see the finished product—the colours that were chosen, the furniture and furnishings, the art work, the linen.  And although many of these end products are not to my own style or taste, I can (usually) see where the designer was coming from and how it all works together.  

I do always wonder though—if we went back to any of these beautifully renovated and decorated homes 3 months, 6 months, or a year later—how many of them would still look the way the designer left them?  How long would it be before the owner’s secret passion for purple plush started to creep back into that perfectly designed latte-toned bedroom?  Or the dozens of ceramic frogs collected over the years (and carefully boxed away by the designer and hidden away under the stairs) start to find their way back on to windowsills and benchtops?

Because no matter how much we appreciate what these incredibly talented and creative designers and decorators can do with our homes, style and taste are still very much individual traits so who, really, is to say what it good and what is bad?  As with our clothes, we express our self-identity through our belongings.  What strongly appeals to me might leave someone else absolutely stone cold . . .  and what someone else might perceive as the crowning centrepiece of their living room might just be enough to send me screaming from the building . . .

But you know,  I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  How boring would it be if we all liked the same things anyway?  Our likes and dislikes, our individual quirks, passions and peculiarities are what make us all  individuals and so much more interesting.

Besides, I actually like rearranging everyone else’s belongings—even if it is only in my head ( . . . that picture over there is so in the wrong place and that . . . what is that?  Is that a vase?  An urn? . . . ) and I think I’d really kind of miss it if I had no reason to do it any more . . .

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

‘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 . . .

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Sometimes the best hiding place is the one that’s in plain sight.’ Stephanie Meyer.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . .

Out on an early morning walk through the park last weekend I stopped for a moment to take in the quiet and stillness.  The girls were puddling about happily in the undergrowth (school holidays, although over now, had brought lots of new visitors and their dogs to the area so there were still plenty of new smells to investigate), the river was ambling silently by and the sun was just coming up.  We were the only ones out and about.  Or so I thought . . .

Calling the girls to me so we could begin to wend our way home I had to do a quick sidestep to avoid tripping over Maudie who, as usual, had tried to charge ahead of me.  In doing so I pirouetted (gracefully, as you might imagine) and found myself looking directly at a low slung tree branch.  What I did not expect was to find was that low slung tree branch had bright orange eyes—and was looking directly back at me!

Once I got over the initial ‘ . . . what the . . . ?’  I realised I was looking into the eyes of a large Tawny Frogmouth.

What a treat!  The Tawny Frogmouth is  a fabulous bird but although they are quite common around here and I hear them a lot (they make a deep ‘oom-oom-oom-oom-oom’ sound) I hardly ever get to see one close up—not only because they are nocturnal, but also because they are so damn good at camouflage.  After their nightly hunts, when they are ready to settle in for the day, they like to roost on low bare branches (as in this encounter), tree stumps, and even shady patches of ground.  I must have come across this fellow just as he was bedding down and probably surprised him as much as he surprised me.

I stood back a bit to get a good look at him.  He had already frozen in place and now closed his eyes and I swear if I didn’t already know he was there I would never have seen him.  How many of these incredible birds do I walk blindly past every morning I wonder?

I said hello to him, and told him he was a beautiful bird (one does these things when no-one else is watching) but he was having none of it.  He moved not a muscle.  Not even a peek under his eyelids to see what I was doing.  I watched him, fascinated, for a couple more minutes but, as he seemed determined to pretend he hadn’t seen me, I reluctantly decided I should leave him to his rest.

Looking around to see where the girls had got to (they had all gone suspiciously quiet) I found them all sitting at my feet, exchanging nervous glances and looking worriedly up at me.  I imagine it could be bit alarming for any child, even a four-legged one, to watch your mum engaging in what appears to be a one-sided conversation with a rotten old tree stump . . .

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘ . . . for the times they are a-changin’.’ Bob Dylan.

‘Come gather ’round people wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown
and accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone — if your time to you is worth savin’,
then you better start swimmin’, or you’ll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin’.’

Bob Dylan recorded those lyrics in 1964—fifty two years ago.  I was five.  Noticing changes around me (or at least the sort of changes Bob was referring to) was not really at the top of my agenda.  But re-reading those words now it is almost like ‘Well—der—way to state the bloody obvious!’

changesComing as we are to the beginning of yet another new year it is probably a good time to take stock, and think about where we might be going, or what we might be doing, in the months ahead.  I am not a fan of New Year celebrations (in truth, they make me a little melancholy) and I rarely make ‘resolutions’ (and I never keep them when I do) but the approach of another new year does always make me more aware of changes that have happened, and continue to happen, in the world around me . . .

From a universal perspective at least, change is the only constant—it is happening all around us, every day, and, seemingly with total disregard for our hopes, needs or desires.

lightningSo what are the rules?  How should we deal with unexpected, and often unwanted, changes to our everyday lives?  I guess it depends on the kind of change you experience doesn’t it?  If you are the one trying to initiate the change—like expanding your social life, or travelling more, or trying to get fit—it’s great.  If, however, the changes all seem to be beyond your contol—your relationship is failing, you are losing your job, are experiencing health serious issues or the government has moved the goalposts again just when you thought you were getting out from under—not so much!

ventMost of us are, quite naturally, concerned with our own everyday existence—and so we should be.  I am no different.   I have embraced some unexpected changes in my own personal world over the years—but I have also raged (really raged) against some too.  I can’t tell you how much time I wasted eating lots of chocolate frogs, drinking lots of wine and grumbling very loudly to anyone who would listen about the unfairness of a certain situation or a door that had just been slammed in my face ( . . . not that eating chocolate frogs and drinking lots of wine is a complete waste of time of course, but you get my drift . . . )

hiding_7_tnbThankfully I am a tad brighter than I sometimes appear and eventually it did dawn on me that once I had eaten all the chocolate, drunk all the wine and my friends and colleagues had started hiding behind the furniture when they saw me coming, that nothing much had been achieved except me making myself extremely unhappy, extremely fat, and, no doubt, extremely unpopular, and I decided to ‘suck it up’ and started looking for a way to move forward.

(Most self-help gurus would no doubt rephrase that into something more shiny-happy, like ‘release the past’, ‘think positive thoughts’ or ‘embrace changes as opportunities for growth’.   Whatever . . . )

All I know is, for me at least, the moment I actually stopped staring at that firmly closed door (or at least stopped physically trying to break it down) was also the moment I finally started noticing the tiny cracks open in the windows around me.  Perhaps change, even unlooked for, isn’t always bad.  Maybe that door was closed for good reason.

open-doorSo anyway—before I start sounding any more like Jedi Master Yoda (‘May the Force be with you’)—here’s hoping that any changes that come into your life in 2017 are ultimately all for the good . . . and if you feel they aren’t, start looking around for ways to deal with them.  Look for those open doors and windows—and for the people who will help you get through them.    Because, bless them, they are out there . . .

Happy New Year.  See you all in 2017.   🙂

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘It’s like deja-vu, all over again.’ Yogi Berra.

holidayWell—that’s it.  Today ends my last full week of work for another year. I will be in the office on Monday and Tuesday next week but, hopefully, just ‘tidying up’.  (Actually, I take that back.  If you are a work colleague reading this and have just remembered something you need to forward to me for completion before the Christmas break—I am absolutely, positively NOT going to be in the office next Monday and Tuesday.)   On Wednesday I will be joining the rest of my College colleagues at our Staff Christmas Lunch (we’re going back to Oasis as we had such a good time there last year) and then I am on holiday.  Woo Hoo!

frognothingSince people found out I am going to be away from the office for the next three weeks (that is worth saying again—three weeks!) I have constantly been quizzed on where will I be going, what will I be doing, what plans do I have for my time off?  Well, I am here to tell you people—I have one plan, and one plan only.  I plan to be flat out busy doing nothing . . .

Does this sound all very familiar?

Well it is.  It is exactly what I did this time last year, and it worked so well for me then that I have decided to do it all over again.  I know from experience that the time will go by in a flash and before I know it I will be back in the office, head down, bum up and starting all over again . . .

peppermintpattyTime is a weird thing isn’t it?  It is an oft-observed phenomenon that time seemed to pass much more slowly when we were younger.  When we were kids each hour spent indoors in the classroom seemed to double in length as the day stretched on; the term between Christmas and Easter holidays was excruciatingly drawn out, and we hung out for birthdays which never seemed to come around often enough.

kids-summerOn the plus side, summer holidays (when we finally got to them) stretched out in an endless stream of hot days spent outside, trips to the beach, eating ice-lolls and watermelon, and (in my case) getting horrific sunburn and sand in places it just really wasn’t meant to be.  (To be fair, people with school-aged children probably still feel that summer holidays are endless—but for totally different reasons.)  Tempus fugit.  Now it seems to me that Christmas and Easter may as well be the same festivity for the space we get between them, holidays are still fun but are over in the blink of an eye—
and, well, don’t get me started on how often birthdays come around!

I wonder why the passage of time seems to pass so differently at various stages of our lives?

ageingOne theory is that each unit of time that you live through is only a small portion of your total experience, so, for example, for a one year old child, one year is, literally, a lifetime.  To a ten year old, a year is one tenth of their total experience, and so their ‘clock’ has really just begun to move.  For those who are 70, 80 or 90, one year is nearer to 1% of their total life experience and so the shorter time that is left races ahead and the past stretches out far behind.  Or, perhaps it all has to do with ‘anticipation’ and ‘retrospection’ . . .

ladydrinkWhy time passes the way it does doesn’t really matter though, does it (and reading up on the psychological, philosophical or physical theories on time can just about do your head in. . . )  so I am just going to accept it for what it is.

I am going to take this time to relax and recharge.  I am not going to feel pressured into thinking I should be doing something . . . anything . . .  with my precious time off.

Feel free to join me—we’ll find a quiet spot, open a bottle and put our feet up . . .

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons—for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.’ Anon.

I have always had a fascination with dragons.  Being a bit of a sci-fi and fantasy geek may have something to do with that, but also, from an arty perspective, even the scariest and meanest ones are usually quite beautiful to look at, and (if Smaug is anything to go by at least) they also have wonderful resonant, sexy Benedict Cumberbatchy voices . . .

dragonThis fascination is not mine alone.  Stories about dragons appear throughout history and almost every culture has their own mythology. Scholars say belief in dragons probably evolved independently in Europe, China, the Americas and possibly even Australia too.  (It is generally thought that these myths were first inspired by real creatures like dinosaurs, snakes, crocodiles and lizards. This may be true, but it doesn’t really explain where the fire-breathing and flying comes from—a little more artistic licence perhaps . . .)

IM000542.JPGI always thought it would be kind of cool to see a real dragon (from a distance at least)although I admit, because of all the mass destruction (the burning, the killing, the eating of whole populations—with or without ketchup) it is probably quite a good thing they aren’t really roaming our skies.  I shall have to be content observing some of their smaller (less murderous) descendants.

silly frogThat should be easy now as the summer is not far away and that means our local reptile population is slowly starting to reappear after the colder months. I am not at all happy about the impending reappearance of snakes (I really do not like snakes—nearly all of them here are deadly and that is good enough reason for me)—but I do not have the same horror about lizards.  A healthy respect yes, but not a horror.  Which is unusual really as I have a bit of a history of being spooked by lizards . . .

Years ago, one very hot Sunday afternoon, my two dogs (Harry and Frank), two cats (Jesse and Cleo) and I had taken to my bed for a long lazy afternoon siesta (as you do).  The blinds were drawn but the back door and windows were all wide open, trying to catch what little breeze there was. Somewhere in the middle of that afternoon nap I became aware I could hear an odd, undefinable sound.  Then there was a dull thump.  Someone was in the house . . .

blue_tongue-1030x688The dogs were up in a flash and by the time I got to my feet, still groggy with sleep, there were volleys of alarm barks coming from the kitchen.  The intruder turned out to be a very large (and now seriously frightened and pissed-off) blue tongue lizard who it seems, had come in through the back door looking for a free feed of cat food.  He was now puffed up to twice his usual size, had his mouth wide open, blue tongue flashing, and was hissing ferociously.

running-lizardAfter a short period of what can only be described as bedlam, I managed to remove all the dogs and cats from the kitchen (all locked in different rooms and howling their displeasure), entice the still very cranky lizard onto the end of the garden broom and very carefully (at broom’s length) walk him through the house, out of the back door and set him down gently on the vacant block of land behind the house.  I then turned and fled home as fast as I could—just in case he felt he needed to further vent his displeasure upon me.

That fellow turned out to be seriously ‘small fry’.  You know that saying ‘Be careful what you wish for’? Well, this week the girls and I had a close encounter with what is probably the nearest thing to a living dragon we are ever likely to come across.

monitorWalking past the swamp (remember the swamp?) we had stopped for a moment (waiting for Molly to pee—again) when, without fair warning, a huge monitor lizard (Godzilla-like proportions—swear to God) launched itself onto the path in front of us and then up the nearest tree, where he froze and turned to gaze (unblinkingly) down upon us.  (Trying to decide which of us looked tastiest no doubt.) After a shocked moment of silence the girls quickly decided that dealing with this critter was well above their pay grade and began retreating quickly back down the path (although still brave enough to hurl doggie-insults as they went).  I was more than happy to follow!

After giving ourselves a moment to restart our hearts we continued on our walk (deciding to go the ‘long way round’) and later met a gentleman who told me that this particular lizard is a long time local, well known in the area.  Apparently he can often be seen in the early mornings and late afternoons—perched high in a tree, overlooking the bush and the river, sitting atop a large (and presumably now abandoned) ant nest, which he seems to have made his home.

And now I wonder . . .

I wonder how many years he has been sitting there, watching us mere mortals wander up and down the river path, day after day. . .

I wonder what he thinks of us . . . I wonder if he thinks of us at all . . .

I wonder what is in that ant’s nest.  Do you think he guards a treasure in there?  Or maybe that’s where he keeps his wings . . .

smaugs-eye

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.’ Samuel Johnson.

facebook-amigosA little while ago I overheard someone talking about the 200 friends who turned up to his recent birthday party.  200.  I am not sure I even know 200 people.  I wonder how many ‘FaceBook friends’ he has?  Probably thousands.  I have 26.  And some of those are friends-of-friends.  Now, if I could ‘Acquaintance’ people my numbers would undoubtedly soar . . .

peopleI am not a very social animal.  I have never felt the need to constantly surround myself with people (even online) and am happiest maintaining only a small group of good friends who know me well enough to not be continually offended by my propensity for spending most of my leisure time alone.  Although my close friends may be few, a recent odd encounter in the supermarket suddenly brought home to me the fact that over the years (and almost in spite of myself) I have actually managed to amass quite a large circle of acquaintances.

my-name-is11These acquaintances range through various levels. First there are the ‘nodding’ acquaintances—people I see almost every single day, and have done so since I moved to the area.  We nod, we smile, we occasionally say hello—but I don’t know any of their names.  (Nor do they know mine, although they might think they do.  I am ‘Sue’ to one old fellow and ‘Sandy’ to another.)

mr grumpyThis group includes people like ‘the sock guy’ (he always wears all black, except for wildly fluorescent coloured socks—this morning they were canary-yellow) . . . or the ‘lady with the hair’ (rain, hail or shine when out walking this woman always has a perfectly made up face and her hair immaculately done up in a French pleat topped off with a massive silk flower) . . . or the ‘grumpy old sod’ (need I say more?)  And I imagine if they were ever to have to refer to me I would probably just be ‘the lady with the three scatty little dogs’ . . .

Then there are those people I bump into on a semi-regular basis and whose names I actually know. People I stop and chat with when we meet—like my neighbours in the street where I live . . . or regular students who come in and out of the college . . . or Pat and Frank who live around the corner . . . Jo, Mary and Bob who I often see at the movies . . . or Diwho used to be ‘the lady in the flowery hat’ until we finally got around to formally introducing ourselves a couple of weeks ago . . .

dogfriendsAnd, of course, there are all our ‘doggie’ acquaintances, who are many and varied.  Old Harry and his tiny dachsund Rosie (she is half the size of my girls, and always manages to emanate an air of supreme indifference every time we meet).  Harry and I met years ago, started chatting and have continued to go on slow rambling wanders around the park with our dogs ever since. (And, to again prove that this is a very small town, in conversation we discovered that I now live in what was once Harry’s brother’s house.)

Paul and his dog Zoe and I met very early one summer morning when we rescued a young Tawny Frogmouth which had been injured in a storm the night before. (In truth Paul rescued the bird while I kept all the dogs from trying to eat it.)  Then there’s Sue and her boy Caesar-the-German-Shepherd, whose feet are bigger than Mabel’s head and whose booming ‘woof’ is loud enough to blow Maudie’s ears back from across the street.    Merv, Narla and Ty.  Bill and Jessie.  Phil and Rosie—and too many more to mention here . . .

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image17451479And, going back to that odd encounter in the supermarket, it appears I even have acquaintances I didn’t know I had.  I had gone into the supermarket to pick up a few things and was stopped by a woman who, smiling brightly, proceeded to tell me all about the fabulous cruise she had just been on.  We had a really nice chat. Lovely—except for the fact I had no idea who she was.  (‘Who IS this person?  Do I know her?  Should I know her?’)  I was at a complete loss. (Did she think I was someone else perhaps?)  I racked my brains. Nope.  Nothing.  We carried on chatting for a good ten minutes and she then went on her way, still smiling, and hopefully, none the wiser that I really had no idea who I was talking to . . .

snoopy&woodstocksAlthough somewhat bemused by the incident it did make me stop and think about all the people in and around my life.  (Perhaps I really do know 200 people after all.)  Although I cannot claim to know many of these myriad acquaintances well (or even at all it seems in some cases) I do now realise that every one of them, no matter how ephemeral, has value to me.  They are part of the fabric that holds my day-to-day life together and my life would be a sadder and lonelier place without them.  For that alone I think perhaps they deserve more of my attention and consideration.

I’m going to work on that . . .

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Every dog should have a boy.’ Mr Peabody.

boy runningWe  had a little visitor to our house last weekend (and no, unlike most of our visitors, he did not have four legs.  This little man had only two legs—although he often moved fast enough to make you believe he might have had four).  His name is Ryan.

Ryan’s nanna, Pam, is good friend of mine and her daughter Emily and grandson Ryan were in town visiting for the Easter week, so we had some fun ‘catching up’.  I was struck at how much Ryan had changed since I last saw him.  He is looking more like a proper ‘little boy’ to me now—although at 2-and-a-half years I imagine he is technically a ‘toddler’?? (Not having had children of my own, I am happy to stand corrected.)

pets welcome(For those of you who don’t know me, I thought I would just point out that not having children was a deliberate choice for me, and one I have never regretted.  I don’t want to offend anyone but, as a general rule (and with notable exceptions of course) I just really prefer dogs to children.  A copy of the ‘Pets Welcome . . .  ‘ sign, left, really is on my front door.)

Anyway, during the week of the visit we were all chatting and decided it might be fun if Pam, Em and Ryan all came over to my house so that Ryan could meet ‘my girls’.  Pam is a regular visitor but Em hadn’t been over in a long while, and Ryan never. I was curious to see how my girls would react.

As you might already have guessed, my girls are not used to children.  We see them when we are out and about on our walks of course, and because the girls are all so small and cute, children often come running up to us to ‘see the puppies’. dog paws on headThe sudden onslaught of a group of children (i.e. more than one child at a time) will often send them into ‘silly as a box of frogs’ mode and scatter them in all directions, but they will, on occasion (and if I hold on to their collars and cajole them a bit) deign to be patted . . . if the children aren’t too big or too loud . . . or on bikes . . . or scooters . . . or skateboards . . . or carrying fishing rods . . . or wearing red . . .

But even though they are often jumpy and nervous around children, I have never worried that they might bite a child.  Experience has shown me that when they get scared Maude will stand her ground bravely (directly behind me) and bark like a maniac, Mabel will try desperately to climb up my leg until she is picked up, and Molly will turn tail and run for her life.  Biting (happily) does not seem to be in their repertoire.

nobarkAnd, true to form, when Ryan appeared in their living room, Mabel begged to be picked up, Maude set off a volley of barks worthy of a dog three times her size (all the time making sure that either I or the coffee table was between her and the small scary person) . . . and Molly ran and hid under the sofa (and also barked, just in case Maudie wasn’t getting the point across).

They needn’t have worried.  As it turned out Ryan was much more interested in the house itself than he was in them, at least to start with (perhaps they have a budding designer or architect on their hands?)  While we adults chatted (and attempted to calm the dogs down) Ryan took himself off on a little inspection tour of the house and garden, pottering in and out of the rooms and making mental notes, with Maudie shadowing him (from a safe distance) the whole time.

Ryan's Notes

Ryan’s Notes

Having completed his visual inspection he then set about ‘collecting’ items from around the house—a couple of pens, a notebook, my glassesand disappeared down the hallway happily humming to himself.   We laughed, wondering was was going on in his head, until his mum got a little nervous when it all went very quiet (even I know that can be a bad sign) and went in search of him.  We found him sitting quietly on the couch in my office, still humming to himself, wearing my glasses and writing in my ‘blog’ book.  (I had a look in that book later.  He has made copious notes but I am not quite sure yet if they are notes on the state of repair of my house and garden, or new ideas for my blog.  When I decode them I will let you know.)

So, although I am not sure my girls will agree with Mr. Peabody’s statement just yet—the visit turned out to be a great success.  And I could tell that my girls, albeit reluctantly at first, were actually starting to enjoy themselves.  When Ryan had finished compiling his notes he came back out in the living room and started to interact with the dogs.  Very funnyand very loud.  My girls don’t seem to be able to ‘play’ quietly. Maudie even managed to learn to bark with her ball still in her mouth. Quite a feat I thought.

apology(And here is a good spot to put in an apology to Scott, Ryan’s dad, who rang his wife hoping to get a lovely ‘facetime’ chat with his family while he was away on his trip overseas, only to be met by a scene of absolute bedlam with Ryan running, dog’s barking, spray-bottle squirting (and that’s a whole other story) and no chance of making himself heard above the din at all. Sorry Scottie.)

snoopy kissAs the visit wound down, and in calmer moments, Ryan did manage to get sloppy kisses from both Mabel and Maude (in his eye and up his nose) which he seemed quite happy about.  Molly got pats from her favourite Auntie Pammy and I myself got to have several long chatty conversations with Ryan which I enjoyed very much. 

(Thankfully Ryan’s mum and nanna were on hand to help with the trickier translations.  I am fluent in several dialects of ‘dog’, and have a smattering of ‘cat’—but ‘toddlerspeak’—not so much.  If I were more fluent I would have asked him the next day why all my drink coasters (which I hadn’t even realised were missing) were later found arranged in a very intricate pattern around the bathroom floor. Perhaps there is something about that in his notes . . . . )

snoreAnyway, I am not sure how Ryan slept that night but the afternoon’s excitement was all too much for the girls.   The three of them were fast asleep and snoring almost before Ryan was even packed up in the car and out of the driveway.  And, as lovely as the afternoon was, I know exactly how they felt . . . .


P.S.  Sad news yesterday that Ryan’s great-grandfather, Bobby, passed away this week, aged 85.
I met Bobby several times over the years and he was a lovely, sweet and gentle man and will be missed by all his family and friends.
RIP GGPa.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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