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‘What do dogs do on their day off? Can’t lie around—that’s their job.’ George Carlin.

I have just finished my first full week back at work after 3 week’s holiday.  I rocked up to the office on Monday morning all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed feeling well rested and ready for the start of a whole new year . . .

By 10.30am the glow was seriously starting to wear off.  The phone lines kept dropping in and out.  I discovered that although I was receiving emails into the office, the emails I had been sending out since 7.30 that morning had, in fact, not left the building.  My printer wouldn’t connect.  I was beginning to wish I was back at home spending just one more slow lazy summer day with my girls . . .

In one of my last posts of 2017 I said I was going to spend my Christmas holidays doing as little as humanely possible.  I joked that I might even take lessons from my dogs as they seemed to have taken the notion of rest and relaxation and developed it to high art.  Well, one particularly lazy daywhen I had no particular plans and even less inclination to make any, I decided it might be fun to catalogue their comings and goings, and see what they really did do all day . . .

5:00am
Rise and shine.  Leg stretches (preferably one leg at a time), back stretches (complete with the ‘oh-that’s-so-good’ face), tail wags (just to make sure they are all still working), fitful grumbles, quick kiss and a cuddle with mum and then all rush outside for a pee.  Before I have even boiled the kettle they are all back inside and lined up in the kitchen waiting for breakfast (a half a chicken neck each for them and a cup of tea for me.)

5:15am
All settle down for a post-breakfast nap while mum watches the early morning news.

5:45am
Walkies!!  Morning walks have been a bit of a lottery lately.  This time only Maudie was interested.  Maudie can be relied upon to go for a walk at any time of day, in any weather.  Mabel prefers to choose her days and times.  She is more likely to go if the wind is not blowing . . . or it is not too hot . . . or too cold . . . or the scary magpies are not already out and about.  Molly hardly ever goes on a morning walk.   She’s really not a morning person . . .

6:30am
All worn out.  (Even the two who didn’t go for a walk.)  Time for another nap.

8.00am
Molly roused herself and went to get a drink of water—and then went straight outside to pee the water away again.  Mabel stood up, shook herself, turned around three times and lay back down to sleep.  Molly quickly returned to her favourite spot and immediately fell unconscious.  Maudie never stirred.

9.15am
The next door neighbour’s dog Harry barked, which brought all my girls immediately to their feet and hurtling out into the back yard to see what he was barking at.  A couple of minutes of (loud) conversation, followed by a might-just-have-a-quick-wander-around-the-garden-and-a-pee-while-I’m-out-here and they were all back inside, on the couch and dozing again.

(Sometimes it seriously pisses me off that I can spend hours trying to get to sleep and the girls can go spark-out as soon as they close their eyes . . . )

10.30am
Still sleeping.

11.52am
OMG!  Was that the postman???  They all lift from a dead sleep as one in a frantic dash to the front window to bark maniacally at him until he’s out of sight. (While they do that I wash off the cup of tea I just threw all over myself after being thoroughly startled by the sudden avalanche of noise and movement. )  Once they have successfully seen the postman out of their street they huff and puff and jostle each other for a couple of minutes, and then, you guessed it, time for another nap.

And so the day progressed.  There was more napping.  The odd raised head, cocked ear, tail wag, a bit of scratch and yawn—and then more sleep.  I won’t bore you with the details.  If ‘lying around’ is actually their day job they’re damn good at it.

But I’m not buying it.  They think I actually believe this is how they spend all their days.  They think they’ve got me fooled.  They’re wrong.  I’ve seen videos of the shenanigans some people’s pets get up to when they’re not around.   Knowing the cheeky personalities of my three little girls perhaps ignorance is bliss . . .

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I have had a holiday, and I’d like to take it up professionally.’ Kylie Minogue.

holidayoverFriday kind of snuck up  on me this week.  I mean, I knew it was coming, but it got here way before I was ready for it.   Another thing I was also not ready for was the realisation that today is the last day of my holiday (the coming weekend doesn’t count).  Sigh.  (Oh and hey!—it’s Friday 13th too, which also seems kind of fitting . . . )

The plan for this holiday was for me to spend it being ‘busy doing nothing’, and I have pretty much succeeded—so much so that I haven’t even prepared anything for today’s post.  (Seriously—the last time I looked at the calendar it was Tuesday!)

So, rather than post nothing at all, I thought I might just show you a couple of homework sketches I’ve done for the ‘A Drawing a Day course I enrolled in on 1 January. (‘Start as you mean to go on’—isn’t that how the saying goes? )  

Over the last two weeks we have been working with different types of pens, pencils, brush pens, sharpies etc, and focusing on working with thick, thin and sinuous lines to show substance and texture . . .

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Fallen tree

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Stack of patterned fabrics

Drawing something every day has always been a bit of an issue for me.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I most definitely do, it’s just that on a normal working day time just gets away from me and drawing always seems to drop to the bottom of my ‘To Do’ list.  I am hoping that starting this course when on holiday (and have no excuses) will help me cement the habit.  Ask me again at the end of next week how I am faring . . .

13thBut it’s not next week yetand I refuse to think about going back to work until I absolutely have to!

Have a great weekend everyoneand enjoy your Friday 13th too . . .

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?’ W. Clement Stone.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I may be showing my age here (ahem) but I do actually remember a time (once upon a dim, dark past) when a ‘liquid lunch’ meant somewhat more than a cup-a-soup or a protein shake . . .

Unfortunately these days (actually, thinking back, and from what I can recall, that should probably read ‘fortunately’) two glasses of wine at lunch time now and I start to feel an all-encompassing need to go lie down and have a bit of a nanna-nap . . .

Happily, I am on holiday at the moment and can do just that. 🙂

I hope you all have had  . . .  and are still having . . . . a lovely holiday break . . .

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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘No man needs a vacation so much as the man who just had one.’ Elbert Hubbard.

daily-routine-clipart-39291I have mentioned before how much my little family runs on routine.  We get up at the same time every day.  We go out for our early morning walk, have our breakfast and watch the morning news together.  While I shower, dress and put my face on (a la Eleanor Rigby), the girls potter around the back garden, watch the birds at the bird feeder or (in Molly’s case) sit by the food bowl in a not-so-subtle attempt to remind me to throw a few more ‘goodoes’ in there—just in case starvation sets in sometime during the day . . .

Picking up my handbag and keys is a sign for the girls to immediately retire to their favourite sleepytime places (Mabel on one end of the couch, Molly on the other, and Maudie in amongst the pillows on my bed) and to have one last cuddle each before I head off for work.

dog-tv1(There appears to be no such thing as ‘separation anxiety’ in my house.  My leaving for the day doesn’t seem to bother the girls at all.  In fact, I am pretty sure they quite look forward to seeing me out the door so they can have the rest of the day to themselves to do whatever it is they do all day—after seeing ‘The Secret Life of Pets‘ I think I prefer not to know . . .)  

Weekends and holidays are different of course.  Everyday routines are inevitably disrupted and for some reason the girls feel the need to keep a more watchful eye on me at these times than they would during a normal working week.  Basically they stalk me . . .

dog-spyWhen I am reading they will all settle happily with me and soon be fast asleep, but if I need to go to another room I will get up (ever so quietly so as not to disturb them) turn around . . . and find they have all, as if by magic, resettled to that room. On returning to the living room, sure enough, they are all right back where they were before.  If I get up to make a cup of tea they will all follow me into the kitchen (although that’s not so very special—they would follow anyone into the kitchen.)  I will barely step out of the back door before they have found themselves several sunny vantage points in the garden from which to track my every move.

For three little dogs who usually seem to spend most of their time napping, it must be absolutely exhausting.

And last week of course, not only was I not well and housebound for most of my ‘holiday’, but we were also ‘puppy minding’ a four month old Cavoodle named Cinder.  If my girls thought having me home all day for a week was exhausting, having Cinder thrown into the mix just about finished them off.

Cinder was adorable, sweet, gentle and hilarious (as all puppies are) and I thoroughly enjoyed having her come to stay, but it is a long time now (6 years) since we have had a puppy in the house and you forget how much time, energy and space a puppy can take up.

puppyIn between (over)dosing myself up on various cough, cold and flu medications I seemed to spend most of the week constantly searching for one of my slippers (always the left one) which mysteriously kept going missing, checking that whatever Cinder was chewing on now was actually a doggie chew-stick and not just some random object she had found lying around the house, or cajoling Molly to come out from under a bush in the garden which she had decided was her new home.

And poor Mabel and Maude.  How could they be expected to keep up their ever-protective surveillance of me whilst also constantly looking over their shoulders in anticipation of one of Cinder’s playful (and unrelenting) ‘blitz-bombs’?  They were both starting to look somewhat frayed around the edges, to say the least.

But, you know, it’s all good.  As I explained to the girls yesterday, sometimes being jolted out of our routine every now and again is a good thing as it makes us realise just how happy, calm and easy a life we normally lead.  (The girls listened carefully but their unblinking stares made me think perhaps they needed a just little while longer to process this point of view . . . )

backtoworkAnyway, Cinder was delivered back to her mum earlier this week, happy, cheerful and, thankfully, undamaged.  The girls have dropped straight back into their usual routine almost as if the last week never happened (they barely looked up from their beds as I left this morning) and I am (at least I hope I am) over the worst of my cold, and back at work again.  Although I am perhaps not as relaxed and rested as I hoped I would be before the start of a new term, I am consoling myself with the fact that it is not all that long until the next term break and my next ‘holiday’ (11 weeks, 4 days, 5 hours . . .)  

Hopefully we will all have recovered enough from this holiday to enjoy the next . . .

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.’ John Tullius

chocolate roseI’ve been thinking about chocolate a lot today. (Don’t look at me like that—I can think about anything I want to.) Chocolate. Mmmmmm. Just saying the word out loud can make me start to salivate.  Everyone knows (or at least they should know) that there are four major food groups—dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and anything else chocolate covered—and I try my best to include all these major food groups equally within my diet (you know, for the health benefits, like the flavenoids and antioxidants—which, by the way, are also found in red wine. 😉)

i_could_give_up_chocolate_greeting_cardAlthough I really do love chocolate (and I absolutely like to keep my flavenoids and antioxidants up) I do not consider myself a bona-fide chocoholic. I can actually go without eating chocolate for quite a long time. (I heard that. Don’t be rude.)  Well, in fairness, I guess ‘a long time’ is a relative term, but, honestly, I am talking weeks. I can actually go for several weeks without eating chocolate . . .

hearnoevil. . . if I don’t think about it at all, if I don’t have any in the house, if it isn’t offered to me in any way shape or hidden form at morning tea in the office, if I stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes when the oh-so-many-deliciously-decadent-ads come on TV, and if I walk really, really, really fast past the confectionery aisle at the supermarket—it’s really not an issue.

countsassaladAnd even if it was an issue (which, again, it isn’t) I don’t think that people should get all ‘judgey’ with me anyway. There are worse things than being addicted to chocolate. At least you can’t get arrested for being addicted to chocolate. Well—yes—okay—I guess if I broke into the local Darrell Lea shop in the deep, deep, dark of night and loaded my little red car with boxes and boxes of chocolate covered bullets, or chocolate covered licorice, or chocolate honeycomb or rocklea road or caramel snows or . . . sorry . . . lost my train of thought . . . where was I going with this . . . oh yes  . . .

Cherub Chocolate_full (1). . . as I was saying . . . even if I did become a full blown chocoholic, it wouldn’t really be my fault—it’s been at least 2000 years in the making. That’s how long it has been estimated that chocolate has been around. Maybe not chocolate as we know it now—but chocolate nevertheless. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, even divine, properties (and who am I to disagree? It has a heavenly effect upon me). Apparently it was also used in their most sacred rituals and it was even thought that Aztec victims were given it before they were sacrificed (possibly in an effort to cheer them up a bit before their more-than-likely-horribly-painful demise?)

moctezumaLegend has it that the Aztec king Montezuma welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included drinking chocolatehaving unfortunately mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. Oooops.  (Just in case you were wondering, the term Montezuma’s revenge alludes to this Spanish incursion and doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the actual consumption of chocolate. Phew.)

When the Spanish took the original bitter chocolate home with them they mixed it with honey or cane sugar and by the 17th century it had become a fashionable drink throughout Europe (for those who could afford it of course). Over the next few years the taste and texture was experimented with and it was a relatively short step to the creation of solid chocolate.  Then in 1847 Joseph Fry discovered he could make a molded chocolate paste, et voila, the first modern chocolate bar was born.  (Three cheers for Mr Fry!  And, on a side note, the modern-day Frys Cream Bar—yum.)

zombieeatingchocolateSince then the there has been a constant and relentless push to addict the whole human population.  And it’s working. How could it not? There is something out there for every taste.  Bitter, sweet, dark, light, smooth, rough, liquid, solidand everything in between.  And we have embraced the choices with alacrity.  Here’s a fun factevery ten years or so, a typical adult eats their own body weight in chocolate! No word of a lie. Typical chocolate consumption ranges from about 5kg a year in the United States to 9.5 kg a year in Switzerland.  That means you could eat a person’s worth in about ten years. (My apologies to those three (or four  . . .  or possibly even five) poor souls I have eaten over the years.)

chocoholic_homeSo, even if I were to become a full on, raging, rabid chocoholic, unable to go a day, or even an hour without tasting it (not gonna happen, ‘cos I can go weeks—honest—weeks) I would be in stellar company.  And more and more people join the chocolate-lovers-of-the-world-society every day.  Welcome!

 When I started doing some research for this article (and by research I mean actual research—not just taste-testing) I found lists and lists of holidays dedicated solely to the veneration and adoration of chocolate.  (They may not be holidays where we get an actual day off work yet, but surely that is something we can lobby for.)

Below I have listed just a few of these fabulous chocolatey holidays for you.  Pick your favourites and plan your treats.

And for those lonely few out there for whom the taste of chocolate does absolutely nothing at all —

mouse and cheese1. How weird are you?    and  

2. I bet I could so a similar search and find just as many holidays devoted to all the exceptional wonders of cheese . . . .  how does that sound?

Jan 1       It’s a Brand New Year
(excuse enough to eat any amount of any kind of chocolate as far as I’m concerned)

Jan 8       National English Toffee Day

Jan 10     Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Jan 27     Chocolate Cake Day

Feb 5       National Chocolate Fondue Day
(also World Nutella Day)

Feb 14    St Valentine’s Day
(any kind of chocolate day)

Feb 19     National Chocolate Mint Day

Feb 25     National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day

Mar 6       National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day

Mar 19     National Chocolate Caramel Day

Mar 24     National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day

Mar 28     National Black Forest Cake Day

EASTER!!
(Chocolate Eggs, chocolate bunnies, chocolate bilbos—
and Hot Cross Buns—’cos you can get chocolate ones of those too you know . . .)

Apr 3       National Chocolate Mousse Day

Apr 21       National Chocolate Covered Cashews Truffle Day
(cashew-truffles?  I didn’t know there was such a thing.  I’m feeling deprived.)

May 2      National Truffles Day

May 12    National Nutty Fudge Day

May 15    National Chocolate Chip Day

June 7     National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 11   National German Chocolate Cake Day

June 16   National Fudge Day

June 22   National Chocolate Eclair Day

June 24   National Pralines Day

July 3      National Chocolate Wafer Day

July 25    National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

July 28    National Milk Chocolate Day

Aug 4      National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Aug 10    National S’mores Day
(Mmmmm . . . s’mores . . . )

Sept 13   International Chocolate Day

Sept 22   National White Chocolate Day

Sept 27   National Chocolate Milk Day

Oct 14     National Chocolate Covered Insects Day
(seriously????)

Oct 18     National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Oct 28     National Chocolate Day

Nov 7      National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

Nov 30    National Mousse Day

Dec 8      National Chocolate Brownie Day

Dec 16    National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day
(way to cover all your bases)

 and then there’s Christmas . . .

and then it’s New Year. . .

and then we can start all over again . . .

😀

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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‘There were five in the bed and the little one said, roll over, roll over . . .’

Ruffles

Ruffles

This is Mr Ruffles.  Ruffles is spending his holidays with us while his mum and dad are away in Queensland.  Due to unforeseen circumstances Ruffles didn’t get to meet my girls before this visit, which made me a little apprehensive.  You know that word they call girl-dogs sometimes?  Well, I love my girls dearly, but sometimes that word really applies. I figured it was going to be an interesting couple of weeks. Ruff arrived on a Wednesday evening, bringing with him his own little bed, his blankie, his medication (not quite sure what that is for and hope I don’t actually get to find out) and a little bag of food and snacks to ensure he wouldn’t starve to death during his visit.

dog-biscuit-clip-art-690442(Note to all future doggie visitors: there is absolutely NO chance of you ever starving to death in my household.  You will always find goodoes in the bowl in the kitchen, or schmackos under the couch, or rawhide chew sticks under the cushions of the doggie beds—along with no end of other deliciously smelly, half-eaten and saved-for-later treats in a myriad hidden locations around the back garden.  And that, of course, is apart from the real food that you will actually be fed by me at proper mealtimes.  Starve?  Never going to happen.)

Maude, Mabel, Molly

Maude, Mabel, Molly

Anyway, when Ruff arrived I shut the girls inside the house and let him come in through the back gate to have a bit of a wander around the garden before I unleashed (see what I did there?)  the howling hordes upon him.  I was pretty sure I knew exactly how it would go. Molly would barrel on up to him in full voice, puffed up to twice her usual size in an effort to appear as big and scary as possible.  Given that she weighs just 4 kilos this is quite a feat. Molly would lay down the lawher house, her rulesand she would continue to enforce those rules on a daily basis. Mabel would give me one of her ‘Dear God, not another one’ looks (she’s only just getting over Molly coming to live with us 3 years ago) and would then retire regally to her favourite chair to disdainfully ignore him for the duration of his visit.  And Maudie—well Maudie would just love him to bits, because Maudie loves everyone.

Boy did I get that wrong.

tassie devilMolly came hurtling out like a tiny black version of the Looney Toons ‘Tasmanian Devil’, pulled up short, sniffed him once and immediately dismissed him as being of no interest whatsoever (way to prop up a guy’s ego there Mol).  Maudie growled at him—actually growled!—and continued to growl at him every time he dared walk past her for the next couple of days. And then Mabel. Turns out Mabel is a bit of a tart. Who knew? She stood nose to nose with him, primped and preened, grinned her silly grin and wiggled her bum at him until the poor wee man was so embarrassed he didn’t know where to look.  Animals and children, they’ll make liars of you every time.

Cartoon-puppy-dog-with-knife-fork-Meal-timeAs with any new addition to a family, even for a short time, adjustments have had to be made.  The first meal time, usually such an orderly affair, quickly descended into a free-for-all melee when, for whatever reason, everyone all at once decided that everybody else’s meal was better than their own (they were all exactly the same for heaven’s sake). Pushing and shoving and snapping and snarling ensued until I eventually had a hissy fit of my own and took all the food away and made them sit there and watch me eat my own dinner while they had a good think about their manners. (Shouldn’t let the power go to my head but sometimes it feels great!)  The second attempt at feeding them was a much more orderly affair. Funny that.

Sleeping arrangements are always tricky with guests.  I knew Ruff slept on his mum and dad’s bed at home, but I thought it was asking a tad much of my girls to let him sleep on my bed with them that very first night so I got him all cuddled up in his own little bed and put that next to my bed and he seemed quite happy with that.  Until about 1.00am the next morning.  Maudie woke me (‘There’s someone moving about the house,’ rumble, rumble).  Ruffles was gone. On investigation I found him out the living room, sitting on the tiles, shivering, with his nose pressed hard up against the front door‘I want to go home.’ Poor boy. So I put his bed on the tiles by the front door, settled him down again, tucked his blankie round him and the next morning he was still there snuggled up fast asleep.  Bless.

Toy Box Treasures

Toy Box Treasures

The toy box has been another bone of contention (Ha—I didn’t get that one myself until I read it back).  Apart from the ball being played with most evenings by Maudie, the toy box has for years been largely ignored.  But, of course, once Ruff discovered all the long-forgotten treasures within, there was all of a sudden a  ‘mine, mine, mine’ scuffle every time he even walked past it. On threat of the same treatment being doled out as happened with their dinner this tension now seems to have abated.  Ruff has chosen himself a favourite toy (a Santa elf which merrily continues to sing ‘Santa Clause is coming to Town’ even when it is getting its left leg chewed off) and the girls have deigned to let him keep it.  Very magnanimous of them I thought.

h15So, having the food, sleeping and playtime arrangements largely under control the last big hurdle was ‘walkies’.  Being used to walking three dogs I didn’t think one extra little one would make that much of a difference. Sigh. You’d think I’d learn. Initially I thought I’d be clever (always dangerous) and tried to do it in shifts of two at a time, but the two that were left behind (and it didn’t matter which two I left) set up such howls of distress and despair that I couldn’t bear it (and I didn’t think the neighbours would bear it for long either), so I gave up on that idea pretty quickly.  I soon discovered that getting them all organised and out the door was actually harder than walking them.  My first time trying to put a harness on Ruffles when he was absolutely beside himself with excitement nearly broke me.  When I finally got the harness on him I had to sit down for ten minutes and have a rest. Swear to God. pugpeeingBut once we were all outside and all going in the same direction it wasn’t too bad, except— and OMG it’s a biggie—I had forgotten that it takes a boy dog at least twice the amount of time to walk the same distance as a girl dog.  Walk, walk, stop, sniff, pee.  Sniff, pee. Walk. Sniff. Pee. Pee some more. Backtrack two steps. Sniff. Pee again.  Aaaarrrgghhh!

'See you after work'.

‘See you later’.

So now Ruff has been with us just over a week and seems to have settled pretty much into our routine.  He sits at the front window and watches me leave for work and when I come home he shoulders his way through the pack as they all swarm to meet me, intent on getting his own ‘Mums home’ cuddle.  He joyfully (and loudly) joins in the mad romp around the house that invariably follows.  He lines up quietly with the others for his dinner and, if I get him in a bear hug before he realises what is going on, I can get him in his harness to go walkies in under 30 seconds.

Ruff has also, of his own volition, abandoned his bed by the front door and is now sleeping on my bed with me and the girls and everyone seems fine about it, although it does bring to mind the final lines of the nursery rhyme . . . ‘and they all rolled over and one fell out . . .’

I’m just hoping that the one that falls out isn’t me . . .

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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