Mad dogs and Australians


Well, Augie dog isn’t mad, rather just hot, as we were. We waited until 4pm but it was a 38C summer day, and so it was still more than hot, when Mr FD and I decided to plant some of the shrubs we bought this week.

The next fault in our plan was that where we had decided to plant was right on our front fence; that meant a walk down the hill. Mr FD must garden with Augie, so down we paraded : Mr FD pushing the wheelbarrow with compost and plants, Augie on leash beside him (on leash was we were working next to the road) followed by moi, carrying an assortment of tools and some fish emulsion. Not enough tools, as we soon realised that the ground was not only hard but had long established tree roots crisscrossing the area. A crow bar was needed.

It couldn’t be found in the shed, so Augie and I walked back up the hill to ask Son if he had any idea of its whereabouts. So that pulled Son into our adventure, much to his dismay.

I commenced pruning some of the nearby trees while the gentlemen dug holes, but I had to admit defeat as I became seriously breathless – the respiratory issue. Admitting defeat, I walked slowly back to the house, leaving the gentlemen to their endeavours.

When they returned, soaked in perspiration and heat exhausted, I was ensconced in air-conditioned comfort, cold drink in hand. Son had been bitten  inside his shoe by an ant- he is allergic to insect bites, so that meant antihistamines. Honestly, there was no nefarious plan on my part…

Mr FD has plans to finish the planting and to mulch the area tomorrow. It is expected to be 40C tomorrow. Son has already said not to speak to him.



first, peel your banana


Bananas don’t last long in the extreme Australian summer heat. Five were dying in our fruit bowl this morning. Mr FD manned up and added two to his lunch time salad, but two from five still left three. I decided to make the two ingredient cookies my granddaughters love (2 bananas : 1 cup rolled oats, bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes) . Except somehow I never manage to follow the recipe correctly – this time not quite enough rolled oats in the pantry- and so I topped up with muesli!

Earlier this morning I had noticed all the New Year Resolution posts popping up online. This year’s resolution for me was to be creative and I have given myself a 9 out of 10 for that resolution. Not quite a 10 because sometimes I am too lazy to do anything but sit and mindlessly flick through Facebook or mindlessly resort to old habits! By creative, I don’t just mean “arty”, I also mean trying too look at a world with a design mind – seeking new uses for things, being innovative in my life as well as creative. I am happy with what I achieved overall though.

Looking at the sad bananas in the fruit bowl, I though that maybe 2017 could be the year to work on food waste. We buy so many vegetables and fruits that just wither and rot in our refrigerator. Much of this is due to the fact that I have great plans for the week, but as each day passes and I get tired and the school work piles higher, I resort to pulling in for takeaway at night rather than even think about making a simple meal.  Bad girl!

Looking at it creatively, trying to minimise food waste also means that I am planning our shopping better – maybe even save money in the process. We will certainly eat better meals, and that will impact positively on my health, which we all know needs all the help it can get!

Mr FD  in recent weeks has become quite the hand at the barbecue, so if I  plan meals around that to start with, I can’t see how we can’t prosper. I have a slow cooker to use in colder months. It also continues on my 2016 creativity resolution, which makes me self-pleased. I am feeling superior already.

So, that’s it, folks – my resolution for 2017 is to reduce food waste in our home. Good for me, my family, the community and the planet. What’s not to love?

Just going to tell Mr FD what his first resolution for 2017 is…




Yes, I think it was today, or maybe it was yesterday


Mr FD and I ventured our into the summer heat to visit a new garden nursery in our area. As soon as we entered I felt sadness, as it is obvious that this venture has a slim chance of being a success. The centre has only been open three weeks, but already the plants look neglected.

Anyway, we soldiered on, determined to support a new local business, and chose three native grevillea shrubs, two native ground covers and some potting mix. The shrubs were obviously thirsty, so once home,  I sat them in a seaweed/fish mix for a couple of hours. Mr FD has promised to dig a couple of holes in the garden tomorrow, before the heat returns

Earlier this week, I was pruning a shrub on the boundary line. It was hanging over onto our neighbours drive, but as there is no fence, I was easily able to cross over to prune it. I cut a large section from the middle of the shrub and was trying to tug it out when the neighbour appeared. He offered to help me, and proceeded to give the branch a tug. Suddenly, he jumped backwards, releasing his grip on the branch. Something, possibly a bee or wasp, had bitten him on the lip.

Instead of going into his house for first aid, he whips out his mobile and calls his wife. He was about 10 meters from his door! His wife dutifully appeared with ice wrapped in a tea towel.

So I was trapped having to be nice. I had to stand and make small talk as he iced his lip, just in case he went in shock or something. Who said gardening was relaxing?

Mr FD, who had been further up mulching the prunings, decided he should find out what all the high society was about. Upon hearing of the misadventure, his only remark to our injured neighbour was, “Didn’t I tell you she is a dangerous woman!”

Just as dangerous he may yet find out.


And so it goes



Where was I? So the cardiologist, hearing I was close to fainting all over the place at very inappropriate times, told me to decrease one of the medications, and I must say that has resulted in an improvement. However, there is fluid in a close relationship with my lungs, so the next adventure is visiting a respiratory specialist. So much fun.

Christmas was such fun. Somehow, we managed to meld three groups of grandparents together for the day, so that Petite Fille and Peppercorn had all their grandparents with them for the day. Yes, that means Mr FD and I, Petite Fille’s paternal grandmother and Peppercorn’s paternal grandparents. As well, as my sister, and of course our Son, Daughters and their lovely husbands. It was an amazing day and more than once I saw Petite Fille cuddling up to Peppercorn’s paternal grandmother! I am incredibly grateful that we are able to bring an ever growing extended family together in peace and happiness.

Today, I at the half way point of my vacation. Sigh. I am just getting into the swing of vacation, especially now that all those “must do” items are off the list. A late breakfast, a little pottering around the house, lunch, a nap, then a lovely dinner that Mr FD often cooks out on the barbecue, to a lovely wind down at night reading, checking social media or watching television , sometimes (often) with a drink in hand.

Onward to the New Year. I think many of us are glad to see the end of this “shitty” year. May 2017 be a happy experience for all.

From here to there and back again

imageI have been so absent that I didn’t even see the notices warning me to renew my “flamingo” address and only just managed to pay my fee before it disappeared into an internet abyss. We are on our second week of summer school vacation, and I am still trying to stop the thinking from being thunk. I have to admit that I did a couple of hours works on a unit for a year 8 I am teaching next year. I woke with the ideas for a design inquiry unit and I guess it is better to write them down while they are still in my brain.

I am teaching 3 classes next year – in religion, which is ironic considering I am rather “lapsed”. Well, that was the notification I had when the school year ended, but as things go I could end up teaching chemistry or industrial design, subjects I have zero knowledge of, by the time school resumes!

The three classes I have are all the learning support students in those years. Usually, they main stream them, but many of them struggle with the abstract concepts of religion – you get your head around there being a “trinity” of three persons in one God when you struggle just understanding a simple direction – three into one won’t go! So, I am trying to develop a more “hands on” design inquiry unit.

In one class, I will have an assistant as one of the students is prone to violence when she escalates, so that will be helpful. I may not have assistance for the other two classes, despite the students receiving funding, as religion is not seen as being a core subject.

Anyway, enough of school – I am on vacation.

Last week I got the baker’s hat on to drown a couple of kilos of dried fruits to make two Christmas cakes. One for them and one for me… well, kinda. One half to leave with each daughter and the rest to feast upon. Perth daughter was home briefly over the weekend to play the role of maid of honour for a girlfriend. Luckily the wedding was in our Village so Daughter2 was able to stay with us for a couple of days. Peppercorn, who turned one last week, stayed back in Western Australia with her Daddy. D2 flew back home on Sunday, but the three will return for a fortnight next week. Many flying hours coast to coast, it must be like jumping on a bus for them now.

Today, I baked two ingredient (banana and oats) cookie as well as a banana and oat slice to freeze in anticipation of Peppercorn’s visit. Her favourites!

Tomorrow, I am back to the cardiologist to receive more test results. Elder granddaughter, Petite Fille, will be accompanying us during the visit, as her Mummy has an appointment at the same time, where she can’t take a child with her. Grandpa FD will be on child duty – he has the instructions that if all else fails, to take Petite Fille to the hospital cafeteria for a “treat”.  Her father will no doubt roll his eyes in horror, but some times you just have to adopt a survival tactic and a sugar load might be it!

I hope your Christmas is shaping up well – just remember, Christmas is never perfect, and it shouldn’t be. It should just be fun and a time to reconnect. Take care.

Oh my, you did, didn’t you?

Well, America, you certainly did it. How could you do this to all of us?


I have always laughed at those preppers with their millions cans of beans and bottled water, but I am starting to feel like I should start putting my shoulder to the shovel to dig a fall-out shelter into the side of our hill. One thing for sure, I have promised myself to stop following the political media and much of the news for my own health and sanity.


I just can’t believe it – Trump? Really, that was the best you could do?


Ever since Bush2 dragged Australia into his global fights I have argued for Australia to stop following so meek and mildly into every American bully fest. The time is overdue for us to cut some ties now. Australia needs to stop trying to punch above its weight on America’s soiled coat tails.


Perhaps young middle class women don’t realise how hard the fight was to get them the freedom they trashed yesterday by voting for Trump. We, mothers, have failed to instil in our daughters how easy privileges and rights can be taken away.


My argument has been for a while now, that there has been too much change in our generations and many people just can’t keep up with the momentum. They are frightened and exhausted. A demigod who promises a return to what they think were “the good old times” is a salve to their dispirited world view.


I just can’t believe all this is happening




I am really finding it difficult to drag myself through this day. Unexplained, unexpected, feelings of exhaustion swim over and through my body. I want to lay my head on my pillow, but instead I am hiding in my glass walled office reading book reviews in the Washington Post.

Minerva, whose husband is a bus driver, has just read online that a bus driver has been doused and set alight in Brisbane. It is not her husband, she has rung to check, but she is none the less, rather emotional. This incident, coupled with the four tragic deaths this week at Dreamworld, has made everyone reflect on mortality.

Mr FD visited a friend from high school this week. The friend has vascular dementia and substitutes odd words for the words he can no longer remember. Friend’s wife took Mr FD to task for not visiting when we moved to Brisbane in 2002. According to wife, “he was very upset” that we did not visit. Mr FD is now upset that he did not visit. The thing is, I don’t remember an invitation to visit. We sent a card and a letter every Christmas; they replied with a card, though no details of health, happiness or family. If we did not visit them, they did not visit us. When do the actions of one become somehow worse, more unforgivable, than the matching behaviour of another? Do they get the moral high ground because now he has an illness? Life has too many complications and rules.

Our Senior students have about three weeks of school left until graduation. One of my students has applied to join the elite engineers’ unit in the military – the ones that find the bombs. Why, I asked. “Someone has to do it miss, so why not me?” I argue that if no one joined the army then there could be no war, but he stares back at me like I have just proclaimed I have seen an alien. His father died two years ago, his mother has only him and his sister. How can you do that to her? I ask. What I am really saying is, how can you do this to me? I know I will watch all news reports for his name for a very long time. These kids slip into your heart.

During home class, my little family of students cluster close to my desk. They are like a little litter of puppies rolling around and near me, even the seniors. I would not be surprised if one curled into my lap one morning. Today, my army bound student sat at my elbow, as we discussed life’s lighter moments. How can you make such decisions at this age, boy? How can we allow them to make life and death decisions at this age? I want to tell him he can’t do it, but I merely ask, again, whether he has been given the date for his induction. No. Time to change his mind. Time to make him realise that life is too precious, that things happen to people, and – but he won’t will he? When we are young we think these things always happen to someone else, don’t we? Untouchable. Mistaken.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired


My mother has always been one for a good adage. “Better an old man’s darling, than a young man’s fool” came forth when both my sister and I married men almost a decade older than we were; though neither groom probably considered themselves old. “Go to the doctor and you will get sick” is another one; not so much for the germs you might pick up in the doctor’s waiting room, but for the other ills they find along the way.

I experienced that first hand this week. Investigations for the root cause of blood pressure issues resulted in some incidental findings. Incidental was the doctor’s choice of adjective. I prefer mind numbing, or while not immediately catastrophic, certainly has me contemplating that my goal to live to 102 might be a wee bit optimistic.

Drama Queen that I am, I feel like a ticking time bomb! The doctor mustn’t think so however, as he has sent me off for more tests with instructions not to return to his office for eight weeks! So, I am trying to refrain from lurching through the day, clutching my chest moaning, my heart, my heart! Though it isn’t likely in the short term I have asked Minerva, my erstwhile Library aide, that should I clutch anything between chest and stomach before collapsing to the floor, to be so kind as to not ask the front desk to phone for an ambulance, but to dial triple zero directly. She has solemnly agreed, though I suspect there may be days when my behaviour may influence her to walk very slowly towards the phone to make that call!

Now I am on enough tablets to make me rattle like a child’s shaker toy. I have to take a half tablet of this or that, every day, then every second day, but at the same time take a half of something new, but only on the days I am not taking another tablet. I am sure there are instructions to stand on the west side of the hill, wait for the sun to be at a 30 percent angle to my right foot and to twirl twice before taking a quarter of some pill.

I am feeling old and very mortal. I have taken to wearing purple.

No, really I have. Purple is a colour I have not worn very much since the 1970s, when I was oh so glamourous, but a couple of weeks ago, I purchased a purple tunic. I wear it with black leggings, and every time I do I receive compliments. One gentleman colleague told me I was looking exceptionally lovely in my purple and I giggled like a sixteen-year-old. I didn’t think I was capable of such frippery. Didn’t matter that the colleague is gay, I was all a flutter.

Speaking of colour, the doctor’s office has fire engine red walls. This week’s visit was my second visit, accompanied by Mr FD. Mr FD sat in the office at least 90 minutes this week, reading on his ipad, while I was poked and prodded. Later, I said, that I thought red was a poor choice for a medical office (blood and phobias etc.). Mr FD looked very puzzled and said, “Red? There was a red wall?” More than one, actually.

Obviously, the purple is lost on him.

a dog by any other name, would not be ours.


Our dog loves me so much that I have no doubt that should I fall down dead on the floor that he would eat my face. Love with an animal is a strange thing. Augie Dog is a stately four year old blonde Golden Retriever who weighs about 45 kg. Basically, Augie does whatever Augie wants; and most of the time he wants to eat.

Each morning I make two pieces of toast for my breakfast and one piece for Augie. Buttered, I cut it into four squares and perch it on top of his bowl of dry food. At the weekend if we fry bacon, Augie also receives a piece. His payment is to do a “bacon dance” dashing about the kitchen in a circle as he smells the frying bacon.

Once he has had an elegant sufficiency of his own food, he then eyeballs any family member still eating. If I am sitting in my favourite chair he will place his head in my lap and look up at me with his big brown eyes, so soulful that it is obvious that I must have forgotten to feed in for at least a month and he is obviously suffering dreadfully. Feeeeed meeee.

If this tactic fails, Augie will sniff about the house, looking for things to barter with for food. Grass that has dropped off a shoe, a tuft of hair that has dropped from his thick coat, or a small stick from his exercise yard are all potential gifts that he will drop into my lap.

Should I manage to survive this onslaught without reciprocating with more food, he will resort to his evil bags of tricks and grab a tissue from a forgotten place or an open bin and either masticate this until sodden to drop into my lap, or if he is feeling very vexed about being ignored, he will shred the tissue across the floor.

Mr FD has a habit of opening the mail and leaving the discarded envelopes on a low table that is just Augie Dog height, so as his penultimate act he grabs an envelope and starts to chew. Of course, we can never be sure that the envelope is indeed discarded and doesn’t contain that million dollar check from a forgotten lottery, so Augie has to be bribed with a treat to release it. No idiot is Augie Dog.

Perchance he can’t find an envelope Augie will try physical attack. No not teeth and claws, he will stand on his hind legs and place his front paws in my lap attempt to place his head on my shoulder. A 45 kg dog in your lap trying to hug you cannot be ignored – one, because he is incredibly heavy and all that weight balancing on my legs hurts like hell, but the fact that he is trying to give me a dog hug just melts any remaining  resistance.

Here, Augie, have a schmackos – have the packet.