Looking for the small moment, any small moment.

doggy do

Every night, Augie Dog sleeps on the floor beside my side of the bed. My side of the bed is also the far side from the bathroom. Should the need arise to travel to the bathroom during the night, I have to negotiate around a 40kg dog sprawling between bed and wall, his head often tucked under the bed. His head is the only part of him that will fit under our bed these days. In his “younger days” Augie would climb under our bed every night. Now, like Clifford the Big Red Dog, our bed would balance on top of Augie if he attempted to climb under, I am sure!

Having to perform a balancing tip toe routine while endeavouring to make a fast trip to the loo is quite an acrobatic trip some nights.

It was only last night, the fourth night of Mr FD’s absence, that I realised that I really didn’t have to perform the routine, for I can actually just roll to Mr FD’s side of our bed and rise to my feet like the goddess that I am. Yes, a bit slow on the uptake, but I argue that I am running on near empty these days!

No skirting dog bits, or furniture; just a clear seven or eight steps to the bathroom. I never realised how easy he has it!

Maybe I should move the furniture while he is absent, to provide us with an equal opportunity for injury obstacle course to the bathroom, though I fear it just may lead me to having to visit Mr FD in hospital on a regular basis. He hasn’t seen his toes since 1989 and is prone to kicking them on corners of walls and furniture, so maybe, for my own sake, I should leave well alone. I guess the floor routine is keeping me flexible and agile!

You win some, you lose some.

Do you ever think you sabotage yourself?

sabotage

I believe I threw a challenge out to the Big Whatever last night, when I declared I was going to sleep in. Despite ensuring the alarm was definitely switched to the off position, and checking it twice, I woke not long before dawn. Dawn!

That was it. My brain snapped into activity. Still wondering how to adapt an ICT coding unit for 10 learning support students (in one class!) who have numeracy and literacy levels equal to a year one (some less!) A couple are do not report students, meaning they don’t get A,B,C…E, but rather just comments about what they did and achieved, but they still need to be included in all acitivities. Luckily, next term, I will have a Learning Officer (current term for school aide) to assist with the class, but they are high support students – 10 in  a class of 14! Luckily it is a far smaller class than usual. My other ICT class has 24 students, only two are learning support.

No best solution there, but then my mind just wandered my inner world. Up and down, over there and back here. It didn’t help that Augie Dog slept by the side of my bed the entire time. Not only slept, but snored! He didn’t move until I sat on the side of  my bed and placed my feet beside his nose! He was to his feet in an instant. A shake of his fluffy golden retriever body and he was ready for his Saturday. I wish I was!

Wondering out to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, I flicked on the morning news. More terrorist attacks. Then, I heard President Obama burst into song, singing Amazing Grace at the service for Clementa Pinckney. It brought tears to my eyes. Such a simple, but powerful moment. A gift to see a leader with humanity, a rarity in Australia these days.

On the plus side, I am still in my pyjamas. I shall cling to them like as to a life saver today.The good thing about vacation is that there is always time to nap.  And Augie? Same activity, different position. Asleep, beside my chair. It’s a dog’s life.

and the sun came

breakfast may

Tres bit tired and emotional last night. A late rising this morning, our Saturday breakfast, which has even Augie Dog dancing about in the kitchen in anticipation each weekend, and then a return to bed to sleep until early afternoon, put Flamingo Dancer in a better place.

Most Saturdays, once everyone has risen, the timing of which is rather varied in a household of adults, I cook a bacon and eggs breakfast Sometimes with mushrooms, or bananas, or avocado or whatever we choose. Augie receives his usual breakfast piece of toast that he gets each day, but his weekend treat is a small rash of bacon.

As we cook it, he dashes back and forth across the kitchen. If it doesn’t seem as though we are paying attention to the bacon frying, Augie may bark in his frustration. Once it is in his bowl, he calms down and often has a wee nap. Surely, a reminder that the simple things in life are the best!

It is late afternoon, and I have accomplished very little today. A couple loads of laundry is about it. Right now, I am enjoying a Pink Flamingo cocktail (last night it was one Moscow Mule; we are big on the animal cocktail spectrum!).

Tomorrow it starts over again. Not quite an early weekday start, but I will need to leave by 8am, so no sleep in, no leisurely breakfast. They have promised us a free coffee and muffin…sigh.

 

[The rain cleared in our area, but five people drowned after trying to cross flooded roads last night, three in one family …]

To roll with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon

woman with dog

Will exchange large, ill-mannered blonde golden retriever for old, slow, lap cat.

I decided to strike out and take Augie Dog for a walk. He was so excited when he saw me pick up his orange lead that he started twirling and whirling in circles. Daughter1, who is staying with us, decided to join us. She was in for a treat.

Half way down the  hill towards our front fence, Augie must have picked up the scent of something really enticing, perhaps a wallaby, or a possum and all forty kilos of dog raced away with Flamingo Dancer in tow.

Well, I kept up for a metre or so, before the slope of the hill and poor foot work brought me down. I hit the ground and rolled.

No hand on his leash, Augie turned back and thinking I was in for a game, jumped on top of me. Daughter1, who had the manners and good sense not to laugh at her mother floored by a dog, grabbed his leash and pulled Augie into control.

“Are you okay,” she asked.

No.”

We continued on down the road where we were met by a dog that escaped from a nearby yard. It looked as though it was part pig dog, which too many dogs are in the country, and next thing, my stupid genes came into play and I placed myself between the two dogs. Yes, I know, stupid, stupid, stupid. Luckily, the interloper was more inquisitive than aggressive and its owner soon puffed up the hill and retrieved it.

By then both daughter and I had enough of the dog walking and turned for home. Another neighbour, a wild life warrior from down the road whom we had never met before, pulls up in his truck and as greeting calls, “Is that the dog that ran through my yard yesterday?”

“No, we have a fence. He is never out of his yard.”

“Well, it looks like the dog.”

“The breeder lives locally, there are golden retrievers everywhere,” I snapped and walked on. What an objectionable man.

Back home, I told Augie I was trading him in for a lap cat. He appeared not to care.

Daughter added insult to injury by commenting that “every time I walk out with you, you fall over.” She was referring to the start of the year when I tripped while carrying Petite Fille in the garden.

“Common denominator is?” I replied, applying disinfectant to my knee graze. “I refuse to walk with you for it is obviously your fault.” She appeared not to care.

Minerva sent a text a little later to say that she had been forced to put one of her dogs down over the weekend. I said she could have Augie Dog. She was not amused.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.”
― Milan Kundera

tutti fruiti

country apples

The sun came out this afternoon. It is still raining on the coast, but inland it is starting to dry out. Quiet day at home, so I slept in. Augie Dog did too.

For some reason, Augie won’t move from my bedside until I do; even if Mr FD is up and about. Sometimes, he goes out for a toilet break, but then he comes back to my bedside. I can only guess that he is in the routine of my early, weekday risings to go to work, and thinks the day only starts if I get up. Or he just loves me best!

Got a bit carried away with the fruit today. Cooked apricot chicken for dinner, followed by an apple crumble served with vanilla bean greek yoghurt for dessert. We rarely eat dessert, so after all that food, I feel like a gluttonous little piggy!

Mr FD and I shared a bottle of white as well, which had us heckling the Prime Minister when he appeared on the evening news. We don’t need alcohol to heckle the Prime Minister, we do it most of the time, but alcohol makes us more creative with our insults and outrage.

 

raining frogs and dogs

GR RAIN

Unable to sleep in the early hours of the morning, I wandered out to the kitchen. I flicked on the family room light, only to spy something small and brown near the door leading onto the patio. My sleepy eyes were blurry, despite wearing my glasses, but I was fairly certain it was a small cane toad!

Interesting, as our entire house, windows and doors have insect screens. The screens are stainless steel security mesh and frames, so how the little creature got into the house I have no idea.

“There’s a toad in the house,” I called back up the hall to Mr FD, still in our bed.

“A toad?”

His disbelief was enough to bring on my self doubt. It wasn’t moving, but I wasn’t going to get any closer to investigate. “Well, it is either a  cane toad, or Augie Dog has pooped in the house!” Either way I figured it was Mr FD’s problem.

A naked Mr FD walked down the hall.  “It’s a frog!” A very dark green frog.

I didn’t really care what it was, it just needed to exit. I grabbed the long handled brush and dustpan and handed them to my beloved, well, Mr FD.

It was about then that Augie Dog emerged from our bedroom, where he sleeps by my side of the bed. Hunting toads is one of his favourite past times, even though they could make him ill. He is always being wrenched away from them when he goes out for his night time toilet breaks.

So, naked Mr FD and over excited, Augie duel for the frog. Mr FD won, by quick flicking of the dustpan brush into Augie Dog’s face, and the frog was despatched out through the screen door and back to its rightful place – outside.

A bit of a worry when there are cyclones approaching and even the frogs endeavour to to sit it out inside your house!

 

The cyclone crossed the Queensland coast midmorning, and while there was major destruction, so far there have been no reports of injury, or death. It is gradually weakening as it travels south, but continues dumping huge amounts of rain. It should reach Brisbane sometime tomorrow, probably as a tropical low, but the city is already experiencing minor flooding in some areas.

In our country nest we are soggy, very soggy. The wind increased this afternoon and the poor trees are swaying madly. The neighbours who wanted us to chop our trees down not so long ago, are probably sitting in fear in their home, but I don’t think they have anything to really fear. People can always be hit by a bus, as well.

pours

I didn’t go to school, where the dramas continued. Today, there was a gas leak in one of the buildings, the science block I suspect, and so they had to move students into the library. I can only guess the mayhem that ensued, but these days, I refuse to stress myself out regarding situations that I can’t control. I am proud of our library, but if admin allows students to run amuck in my absence, well that is their issue, not mine. Not my zoo, not my monkeys.

It has been quite the week, hasn’t it? Happy to see it end.  Saturday will be more rain, but hopefully, no major flooding for anyone – and the frogs won’t need to look for dry ground!

Carrying my place with me

 

vase

I don’t know why taking the rubbish out to the bin led to my comment, but as I walked back through the front door, I couldn’t help remarking to Mr FD that “we really do live in the best place in the world.”

For those new to the flock, Mr FD and I decided on a tree change just over two years ago. We moved from a large, two storey house in a Brisbane suburb to live in a small “village” about an hour’s drive from the city. Our home is smaller, more manageable to suit our downsized lifestyle, and has the textures of brick and natural wood we love. Every room has a view of trees.

We have a tall cathedral window in our living room that gives us a floor to ceiling view of tall towering gum trees and our garden, as if there is nothing between us and the world outside. In fact, it does its job a little too well, as once or twice a week we hear the bam! of a bird making contact with the glass. We joke that one day the window will break and then we will replace it with a huge stained glass STOP! sign window, to warn the birds.

Living here means that I have a 40 minute drive each way to teach every work day, but that is a small part to play for the joy of living where we do. (And we traded my car in for a hybrid to alleviate the fuel issues). I can walk onto our patio any morning and watch a variety of birds catching their early worms, or maybe follow a wallaby making its way across our lawn. Our trees are old and very tall, and as I write this blog, sitting near the open window, I can hear the wind blowing through the branches of the gums. Just hear the serenity!

Our property is just over an acre on the side of a hill, and so we have the added gift of sweeping views across the valley. There is even a lake to be seen in the distance. Surrounded by trees, the front road is hidden and we can pretend the rest of the world has ceased to exist. I do, for days on end, when not interrupted by the need to go “out there”.

Add to that, our first family dog, a cream, golden retriever named Augie, who arrived as we did, and the cup really does runneth over.

“We really do live in a beautiful place,” I said.

Mr Fd replied, “Someone from overseas wrote to me that they were sorry for what happened in Sydney (a terrorist siege that resulted in the deaths of two innocent hostages) and I said, that though there are horrors vested upon us, on the whole we do live in the best country in the world.”

The best place in the best country in the world, that is where I live.

 

When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it with you wherever you go.

                                                            Alexandra Stoddard

 

Just putting this into words, has made me realise, that living here has made me a better person. I am no longer concerned about image, or ambition. I have slowed down. Now moments mean more than things. It would be nice to think that I am also a kinder, more forgiving person; mellowed a little, but at the very least, I am happier and so very content.

I wish to you all, that in 2015 you may find your little piece of paradise. If you have already, that you may hang on to it tightly and let it fill you, heal you and make you the person you wish to be.

Flamingo Dancer.

via Flamingo Dancer blog

dog 6

I woke knowing I had to make pancakes this morning. I haven’t made pancakes in, forever. Augie Dog had his own pancake when Son and I breakfasted, and when Mr FD rose from his sleep in, Augie Dog lined up for another pancake.

He was so excited that he twirled around the kitchen while I cooked the pancake. Augie, not Mr FD. Alas, Mr FD’s twirling days are long ago. He can do a soft shoe shuffle though.

Afterwards, Son and I toured the vegetable garden and I picked some of the salad greens and included them on our lunch sandwiches. First harvest of salad greens from our new patch.

After lunch I settled down, a wine glass in hand, and watched one of those teary, warm and fuzzy Christmas movies that we all fall willing victim to at this time of year.

Just waiting for the Christmas tree to be brought in from the garage. What more can I say…

sometimes

 

dogs, foibles and the human condition

fence hole

The sun is shinning, the birds are chirping, Mr FD is still away…

The only downside of Mr FD’s absence has been Augie Dog.  Mr FD usually sees to Augie’s nightie toilet issues, but when he is away it falls to me. The uninterrupted nights I dream of become a bit of a farce when Augie starts whimpering bedside to go out for relief. A forty kilo Golden Retriever will not be ignored!

We don’t have doggie doors, as it would have to be the size of a small adult, and would just be an open invitation for snakes and other wildlife. Augie is more of an indoor dog as well, due to the snake issues, and limited fencing. That said, he does not suffer from his lack of independence.

stroll

Augie is also well trained. He knows exactly when it is time for me to rise each school morning. Sadly, he thinks I should rise at the same time on weekends and vacations as well! Sometimes, I just take him out to the toilet run before returning to bed, other times we take tea and toast together. He likes his toast still warm, buttered; peanut butter is permitted. So is vegemite, jam, honey and anything else Mama FD is having on her toast!

In the next couple of weeks, Augie will be getting a short back and sides trim for the warmer months, and maybe the piles of hair, full tufts, that he leaves everywhere will decrease. False dreams I know! Some days I do feel as though I just follow him about collecting hair. If only I was one of those women who turn animal hair into useful things like face washers or boot liners. As it is, I would probably vomit at the mere thought of it!

I did once in my earlier fashionista days wear a dress that had a portion of rabbit hair. That didn’t bother me until much later, but in the end I think I was almost relieved when I put on baby weight and we parted ways. And yet, I can tuck into a large beef steak with wild abandon. We are complicated individuals, we humans.

The issue I am grappling with today is : do I shed the pjs, or not?

greet

Flamingo Dancer has a little husband who drove her to school one day and he broke all the rules.

woman car

Thirty six hours later and I am still annoyed.

Mr FD was to drive me to work as we had a joint after school appointment and we didn’t want to leave my car parked at the school after all the rock throwing silliness of last week.

First I told him we absolutely must leave by 6.30. We left at 6.45.

Mr FD decided that Augie Dog should have a drive. Augie Dog has never had more than a ten minute drive in the car, so am 80 minute round trip was a new experience. It took some time for Augie to realise that if he sat, or lied down he had more stability, so we had to drive a little slower than usual. We also had to stop to close the rear door of our 4WD as Mr FD had not closed it correctly and there was a danger of a 40kg dog flying out the back of the car. Hmmmm.

dog car

Mr FD decided to take the back road, rather than the highway route I normally take. Quieter road, but more corners and worse roads. And Augie.

As we neared School Town, Mr FD announces that he doesn’t really know the best route through the city to the school. As I always approach from the opposite end of town and only have to slip of the highway and stop as one set of lights before arriving at the school, I didn’t know either.

My suggestion was that we follow the signs that read CITY CENTRE and follow the main road to the other side of the city. Logical. So Mr FD drives a little way and then spontaneously turns right, throwing his life to the wind.

Not long  afterwards I notice he touches behind his right ear which is a dead give away for “I am damn lost” and so I suggest he is a fool and to go back and follow the signs saying CITY CENTRE. He ignores me and appears to take yet another turn that has us heading almost back towards home!

It is then that I suggested that when one’s wife has to be at school at a certain time to open the library on a freezing morning for all those poor students early to school, it was 1. not a good time to start off late, 2. not a good time to bring the dog on his first long drive, and 3. not a good time to take a route one does not know. And did I mention, dear, that our new boss is starting today?

As we then appeared to be leaving all aspects of the city behind and were once again striking out to the rural area I suggested ways in which he might die. Did I mention that he stop and allow us to us the GPS, but he just kept circling? Yes, dear reader there was a very expensive GPS installed in our vehicle all this time.

I was not officially late but much much later than I normally am. As I entered the library, the head of IT said he thought I wasn’t coming and had called the Deputy Principal to see if I had called in sick, but he said I hadn’t and so they were both worried then. They were going to give me another 15 minutes before they panicked.

As I opened the library, I apologised to the students and told them, “it is a long story, but let me just say, it was my husband’s fault!”

Mr FD and Augie returned home, where they both went back to bed for a morning nap.

As I said, I am still annoyed.