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‘Something feels funny. I must be thinking too hard.’ Winnie the Pooh.

Soas I am sure you are all excruciatingly aware—the end of this year is upon us and the start of a brand new year is fast approaching.  I am not quite sure how that happened again so soon (it feels like I have just gotten over last Christmas and New year) but nevertheless here it is and so it seems like a fitting time for a little self-reflection. (You have my permission to run screaming from the building . . . )

When I started this blog in 2015, I admit, it was on a bit of a whim.  I didn’t know anything about the mechanics of blogging, and in fact, I don’t think I even read any kind of blog on a regular basis.  I can only imagine that it ‘seemed a good idea at the time’.  I was doing a bit of writing for the college brochure (just a paragraph a term) and perhaps thought it might be fun to see if I had anything to say on more a regular basis.

(Well—that’s the party line.  In all honesty I was probably bored rigid and looking for a new ‘project’.  I think I probably fully expected that I would give it a go for a couple of months and then it would all fizzle out, like so many other of my pet projects—’Cure for an obsession: get another one’—Mason Cooley . . . )

Anyhoooo—imagine my surprise then when last week I realised that I have actually been posting my scribbles and sketches for over two years now!  Two years!  That seems incredible to me and I was immediately prompted to ask myself a couple of questions.  Onewhat did I do with my ‘spare’ time before I started blogging? . . . and Two: what on earth did I find to write about during those last two years?

I have no idea what the answer is to question number one (slept more, probably) but the answer to question number two seems to be anything and everything . . . and (often) nothing of consequence at all.  Taking some time to go back and re-read some of my much earlier posts has been a weird experience.  Some of it I remember writing and some of it not at all.  Some of the writing seems quite readable (trying to look at it objectively) but at other times I wonder what on earth I was thinking.  Very strange.

I have never considered myself a natural writer and I have never found writing easy (you know those people that say ‘the writing just flows out of me . . .’?  Well, bully for them.  Personally, I just want to poke their eyes out with a sharp stick) but I do think I assumed it would get easier the more I wrote.  It seems like I was kidding myself for, in fact, I found almost the exact opposite to be the case.  I am not even sure whether this is a good thing or a bad.  Is the writing getting more difficult because I am trying harder—or am I just running out of things to blather about?

So, here’s the thing.  Here’s what I have been asking myself.  Should I continue?  Should I continue to write my weekly missives or have I run my course?  Seriously.  I’m asking.  I don’t think I am ready to stop writing entirely (although there are certainly days . . . ) but then perhaps I have already passed my ‘use-by-date’ and you lovely people who regularly drop in to catch up with me are just all too polite to tell me.

I have been going back and forth about it in my mind for a couple of months now and I have decided I need to clear my head.   I am therefore going to give myself a couple of weeks off.  I mean really ‘off’.  The college closes next week and I will be away from the office for three whole weeks!!!  During that time I have determined I am going to do as little as humanely possible (perhaps I should say as little as ‘doggily’ possible.  My girls have it down to a very fine art and I am going to observe them closely . . . ) and that includes taking some time off from writing this blog too.  (Was that a collective sigh of relief I just heard?)

So dear readers, I am going to now take this opportunity to thank you all for following me thus far and for your much valued friendship and support.  I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve made some fabulous new friends and I’ve even reconnected with some very old friends again too.  It’s been great.

But for right now Winnie and I need to take a bit of a break from thinking so hard, so I want to wish you all a very happy and safe and carefree Christmas (eat, drink and be (really, really) merry!) and a fabulous start to the New Year and, with a bit of luck, a much clearer head (and I’m hoping a vastly renewed enthusiasm) I look forward to seeing you all again in early 2018 . . .

Sally and ‘the girls’ XXX

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘It is necessary to relax your muscles when you can. Relaxing your brain is fatal.’ Stirling Moss.

As I am sure you all realise we are fast coming up to the end of another year.  Yay!  But alsoYikes!  I’m not at all ready for it.  Well—yes I am, but also, no, I’m not, if you know what I mean.  I am really looking forward to the Christmas break when I know I can take a couple of weeks off and just lie around the house and veg out (no phones, no computers, no students!) and play with my girls, go to the movies, do some sketching and catch up on my reading (and sleep)—but I am also very aware there is still so much I have to do before then.

To tell you the truth my brain aches.  I have never had any trouble relaxing my musclesin fact you could say I am a bit of an expert at it (sloth is my favourite deadly sin)—but my brain is a whole other story.  Although I can see Stirling Moss’s point about not relaxing your brain totally, it would be kind of nice to at least be able to switch it down a notchor three.  I like to think I am pretty good at dropping into relaxation mode when I need to and I can’t say I consciously feel overly stressed about anythingbut every now and again my brain likes to kick in and and remind me that I am obviously not as good at switching off as I think I am.

This past week I have woken every morning around 2.00am (wide awake—bam!) to find my mind running through lists of things that really (really, really) have to be done this week.  Because once they are donethere are all these other things that need to be done the week after that . . .  and the week after that . . .

‘. . . the festive season is thundering towards me and I have barely given it a moment’s thought . . . the car has to go to the garage on Friday for its MOT . . . got to think about the new term timetable now  ‘cos if it’s left until the New Year all hell will break loose . . . I have a house inspection this week, I’d better get go over it once more to keep the rental people happy . . . did I actually transfer those last course results on to that other database, or just think I did?  . . . I’ve got to get the brochure away to the printers at the end of next week . . . Marg’s puppy is coming to stay with us for the weekend  (shhhh, I haven’t told the girls yet) . . . what the hell am I going to write for this week’s blog . . . ‘

You know, that kind of thing.  Sigh.

Of course I am no different to anyone else and, if I am perfectly honest, my life is undoubtedly much less complicated and a lot less busy than many othersbut there you are.  It’s not their brains keeping me up at night, it’s mine.  It’s not as if I can do all that much about it either (short of getting really really good at meditation in a hurry and  that seems unlikely) and I do know that all these ‘things-that-need-to-be-done-right-now’ will eventually resolve themselves in due course.  They always do.  (In other words, suck it up and ride it out Sal.)

But you know, in spite of knowing all thatsometimes . . . just sometimes . . . it does a body a world of good just to have a bloody good grumble about it anyway . . .

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Simply because the nanny-state wants to hug you doesn’t mean it’s not tyrannical if you don’t want to be hugged.’ Jonah Goldberg

Australia has always been known as a relaxed, laid back sort of place.  A country that praises character, individuality and celebrates the weird and the wonderful.  People are known to be easy-going, generous and generally hard to ruffle and any slight indiscretions are more likely to be met with a ‘No worries, mate, she’ll be right’ attitude rather than a standup argument or a psychotic rant on social media.  Well, that certainly used to be the case but lately I fear our live-and-let-live attitude is being sorely tested on a daily basis . . .

I absolutely understand the need for rules and regulations.  People need to feel safe, comfortable and deserve not to have their individual rights stomped on by those of a less considerate nature and although I may not agree with them all I have never considered myself to be a rule-breaker.  (A rule-bender, perhaps—it would be kind of un-Australian not to be—but not a rule breaker.)   At least I thought that was the case butwowit seems I was mistaken.  Looking around at the multitude of do-not-must-not-absolutely-definitely-prohibited signage I see these days it is quite possible that I (and probably everyone else I know) have been easily breaking at least one law every day without even realising it, just by quietly going about my humdrum life.  And it is really beginning to bother me.  Maybe it is my age (ahem) but I suddenly find myself becoming very, very tired of seeing ‘not allowed’ every time I turn around . . .

I can’t quite remember what prompted the conversation but earlier this week we spent a very funny morning-tea happily reminiscing and relating tales (and hilarious consequences) of some of the games we used to play as kids.  Among them were British Bulldog, Red Rover, Dodgeball, Freeze Tag and Scrag.  (That last one I hadn’t heard of but the college manager (who is a Kiwi) assured us that dropping a rag into a rain puddle (of which there were always plenty) until it was saturated and then hurling it at your friends, was an absolute hoot . . . )  

None of the games we loved best would ever be allowed in today’s school yards of course (although how a person is ever expected to get through life without learning how to  ‘duck’ is beyond me).  Even seemingly simple pursuits like running, jumping or cartwheeling are now frowned upon at some schools, and in NSW and Victoria swings, see-saws, flying foxes and roundabouts have already been banned.  The once staple of our playgrounds, the monkey bars, have also been removed from many schools.  (I know I have never had children of my own and am therefore not allowed an opinion but—really?)  

Of course, children now will grow up dealing with the laws that are in place today and they know no different, so I guess this does set them up well for when they eventually become adults and have to deal with the morass of (ever-increasing) rules they will have to learn to live by.

Still, it seems a shame to me that many children today will never grow up to knowing the pleasures of playing frisbee or sand volleyball on the beach (so dangerous!) or riding a bicycle without a helmet (how all those Europeans manage to stay alive is a miracle) or, when older, having a quiet beer or glass of wine sitting in the sun while watching their own kids play in the local park while celebrating Grandma Alice’s 95th birthday.  (Good luck finding a park that will allow you to bring beer or wine and please also remember, if Grandma’s family revellers number over 20 people you’ll need a special permit to use the park for your picnic . . . and don’t you dare bring the dog!)

Ohand by then of course, everyone in their family will probably, by law, have to be wear a hat, and protective eyewear and ankle-to wrist-coverings before being allowed to venture out into the lovely Australian sunshine because, naturally, your average Australian obviously cannot be trusted to decide for themselves whether they are likely to get sunburnt or not.

Do I sound like I am over-exaggerating?  GodI hope so.

Now look what’s happened.  Writing about this has made me all bad-tempered and cross.  Still, hopefully, sooner or later, a lot of other people are going to become bad-tempered and cross about it too and decide enough is enough with the silly minutae (perhaps we should start teaching the concept of personal responsibility again—there’s a thought) and maybe we can persuade the government to spend their time and energy (and our money) on more pressing issues and leave some of us lesser mortals to work out some of the smaller details ourselves.  I guess time will tell.

So anywaythat’s my rant for this week and now I find I have only one more thing to say on the subject of our burgeoning nanny-state. . .

(. . . but don’t get caught doing this either.  The Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Act of 2016 bans mooning (and streaking).  First time offenders face up to 2 months in jail . . . )

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘A bear teaches us that if the heart is true, it doesn’t matter much if an ear drops off.’ Helen Exley.

Last weekend I started my usual annual spring clean and clear out.  I had a plan.  I would start with the easy rooms first, the bedrooms.  They wouldn’t take long.  Just move the furniture, get into the corners that haven’t been got into over the winter, wash the curtains, clean the windows, wipe down the walls, clean the carpets, go through the wardrobes . . .

Okay.  Maybe this was going to take a little bit longer than I originally thought . . .

It doesn’t really help that I can be so easily distracted from the task at hand.  There I was, beavering happily away, when I glanced at the bed (where all three girls were comfortably ensconsed ‘supervising’ the proceedings) when I noticed that as Maudie was watching me she was also happily chewing on one of my teddy’s ears.  ‘No Maudie,’ taking it gently from her.  ‘That’s not your bear, that’s my bear.’   (Maudie looked somewhat crestfallen—he was obviously a very tasty bear.)    But as I moved that little (slightly dusty, slightly dog-chewed) teddy out of harm’s way it occurred to me that I really had no idea where this bear had come fromor even how long I had owned him (for he definitely was a he-bear—he was wearing a bow tie).

It turned out that I had eight (yes, eight) teddies living quietly in that first bedroom.  Two of them were gifts I received many many years ago—my Paddington Bear (red wellies and all) which my mum gave me and my ‘Berliner Bear’ which someone gave me for my 21st birthday—but where the other six came from I have no clue.  I can only assume I must have bought them for myself over the years.  Why I still have them in my bedroom now (i.e. how they have all managed to survive my many decluttering rampages) I am not so sure.

I don’t remember having a beloved teddy as a child—dogs and cats were always my cuddle-buddies when I was a kid—but perhaps by subconsciously collecting them now I am mourning some sort of latent childhood loss?  (I was deprived!  I never had a teddy!)  Er . . .  maybe not . . .

I do admit though there is something innately precious about a teddy bear.  Any teddy bear. There’s something about their little furry bodies and the wise little faces.  I mean—what’s not to love?

My old dog Harry was only 10 weeks old when he adopted ‘Teddy’ and his devotion was soon absolute.  For all his long life Harry would not settle to sleep without his beloved bear.  He would carry Teddy carefully into his bed, tuck him gently up underneath him and drop off to sleep with his head resting gently on Teddy’s cheek.  When Harry passed peacefully at the age of nineteen I buried Teddy with him.  How could I not?

So perhaps that is the connection for me.  Perhaps when I see any teddy now it reminds me of that patched, balding, chewed on (and exceedingly smelly) bear that brought so much joy and comfort to my lovely and still greatly missed boy.

Okay.  Maybe I can see why those teddies are still in my bedroom after all.  I reckon they can all stay a little bit longer . . .

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I only eat candy on Halloween. No lie.’ Michael Trevino.

I believe them.  Don’t you??

Photo pulled from the internet.  No ownership citation available.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.’ Robert Maynard Hutchins.

Every once in a while it occurs to me that it might be time to shake up my exercise levels again.  Usually such a thought is sparked by one of those oh-no-don’t-tell-me-it’s-shrunk-again moments when I decide to try something on that I haven’t worn in a while‘Mmmmm . . . I don’t remember this being quite so snug the last time I put it on . . . and I don’t recall it showing off all those wobbly bits quite as much either . . .’  Sigh.

You might have gathered  that I am not really a fan of exercise per se.  I exercise because I ‘should’ (and obviously need to) but not because I enjoy it.  There have been periods in my life when I have done much more regular exercise than I do now (like going to the gym religiously 4-5 days a week) and periods when I have done a good deal less (like lazily lifting a glass of wine while watching exercise videos . . . ) but there have been very few times I can remember actually enjoying the exercise itself.  (I admit I have enjoyed the benefits of regular exercise but the actual bending and lifting and running—not so much.)

(Just quietly, I blame my parents.  Neither of them had the slightest interest in sports, or indeed exercise of any description at all that I noticed, and they obviously passed this apathy-gene down on to me.)

In spite of this I do force myself to be not entirely sedentary.   I walk the dogs every day (although the dogs are getting older and therefore slower and so I am too.  Getting slower I mean.  I’m definitely not getting any older).  I do a bit (a very little bit) of weight training every day (for the ol’ bingo arms) although how much I achieve often depends on whether the girls decide to ‘help’ me along with the process (lying on your back holding a barbell above your head while three little dogs lick the sweat from your eyes, ears and nose can be a tad distracting) and I also ride my (stationary) bike for around 30 minutes a day.  Granted I sometimes catch myself pedalling more slowly than perhaps I should because  the book I am reading at the same time is getting kind of interesting and I can’t read it quite as well if the pages keeping jumping up and down and . . .

. . . okay, yes, maybe I could stand to need to kick it up a notch.  I’ll sit down, make some decisions and draw up a new plan of attack.  I’ll do that.  Later.

But first I think I’ll join my Maudie for a quiet little nap.  Decisions are always so much easier after a nice little nap . . .

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘My mother’s menu consisted of two choices. Take it or leave it.’ Buddy Hackett.

It’s a hard life being a dog.  Or, to clarify, it’s a hard life being a dog in my household.  My three little girls are fed, watered, washed, brushed, walked, played with, fussed over and loved to within an inch of their lives on a daily basis, and frankly (but don’t tell them this) I wouldn’t have it any other way.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I do feel they can be a tiny bit inclined to take advantage of my good nature . . .

Anyone who has ever raised a dog knows that dogs like their routines.  Routines are comforting.  Routines are safe.  Dogs like to know what to expect and when to expect it.  (An early morning walk, breakfast, mum goes to work, sleep, mum comes home, ten minutes of over-the-top silliness followed by an afternoon walk and play at the park, dinner, and then more sleep.  Perfect.)  Of course, day to day (human) life means it is not always possible (even if we wished it) to do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time every single day but even so we usually manage to rock along at a fairly steady momentum at my place.  So you would think, wouldn’t you, that my girls might allow me just a little bit of slack on the odd occasion when something goes a tiny bit awry . . .

There they were, all sitting in a row patiently awaiting their breakfast (well,okay—Molly was squeaking under her breath and stamping her feet but that’s about as patient as she gets) and I went to the freezer and . . . oh-oh . . . no chicken necks.  Sigh.  I knew right away I was in trouble.

Okay then.  Deep breath.  Smiling brightly and looking down at their eager little faces—”So girls.  Why don’t we try something different for breakfast today?  Who’d like a ‘lolly’ instead?”  (Lollies are in fact doggie-chicken-sticks and I am usually all but knocked over in the rush when I offer them as a treat.) 

I was met with blank stares.

“Come on!  You love lollies.  Here Molly, you have this one.”   (There was method in my madness.  Molly can always be relied upon to never turn down food of any description. She’s rotund, but she knows she’s fabulous so she cares not a whit.)  Sure enough she took the proffered treat and disappeared into her basket.   Two more to go . . .

“Here Maudie, you have one too.”  Maudie obediently took the lolly from me . . . and then very carefully laid it at her feet.  She gazed back up at me.

“Mabel?”  Mabel sniffed the end of her chicken stick daintily and then turned her head disdainfully away.

And then Molly reappeared, “Hey mum, that was great.  Thanks for the lolly.  Now where’s my chicken neck?”  Sigh.

Now I love my dogs dearly and fully acknowledge they run my life, but I was also not about to make an early morning, pre-work dash to supermarket to buy them chicken necks when there was a perfectly delicious alternative being offered.  I stood my ground.  (Buddy Hackett’s mom would have been proud.)  But—wow.  Those eyes.  Three sets of what-have-we-done-wrong-and-why-won’t-you feed-us eyes watched every morsel of my own breakfast disappear into my mouth.  They followed me silently into the bathroom and watched me brush my teeth and they continued to watch from the bed as I dressed for work.  Not a grumble, not a whimper, not a sigh was uttered.  Just those eyes.  You’d think after decades of owning dogs I’d be immune butnope.  I got out of the house as quickly as I could . . .

Needless to say, by the time I got home all was forgiven.  I was met at the gate by the usual over-excited onslaught and then we went to the park to play.  When it was time for dinner I had a brainwave“Hey, what say you all have chicken necks for dinner (well of course I picked some up on the way home) because you didn’t get one for breakfast?”

I swear I saw their faces fall.  Does that mean we’re not going to get our regular dinner . . .

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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