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Monday, 30 May 2016

Busy Busy

Writing has been going well. My sort of novel makes for a very odd website history, though.  This week I've searched for the mating and fighting habits of turtles, how to sail in low wind, giant ground sloths, and many other fun things that would reveal too much if I told you about them!

All that weird knowledge didn't seem to do me any good when we went out to a quiz night with some other brigade members last weekend, though.

I must admit that while it was fun, the noise, perfume and whatever gave me a mostly mild bout of acute porphyria when I got home.  Had the chills and shakes and upset tummy but didn't get to my brain this time, thank goodness. Still meant for a pretty bad night.  Not fun, but I've just got to take some chances if I am to have any sort of life.

Training was fun at the brigade last Saturday.  We had a little turnout race. Which team could get into two vehicles, get out to the pretend fire, and deploy hoses. We lost but we did go first, so the second team learned from our mistakes.  :)

This is me trying to reach into the Light Tanker for a flat hose.  Shortness is a disadvantage in some cases, no doubt about it.  Still, I hardly ever bang my head on anything because someone taller has already done so and fixed it!

When I was looking for Nermal photos, I found these old pics I thought I'd lost, of Tam and Buffy and our pool at the last house.

It brought back a lot of memories for me.  Amazing to think that Tam wouldn't swim at all when she came to us at six months. We certainly did a good job of getting her happier with water.

It was a bit of a dangerous game though!  

A new things I've added to my days is learning Anglo-Saxon on Memrise.  It's been fun. I just have to do it, what with playing the Anglo-Saxon lyre and all. I'd like to be able to sing at least a couple of songs on my lyre in that language.  Not that I ever expect to get at good as Benjamin Bagby, or sound as marvelous! 

He gives me goosebumps!  I can now pick out a few words that I know. I hope to be able to read/listen to it all eventually. I do love the sound of it so much.  The lyre, the language.  All of it.  Interesting where learning can lead you, isn't it!


Friday, 27 May 2016

Cats who've ruled the roost.

I've only really actually owned two cats in about a twenty-seven year span, so I don't really have that many to talk about.

Cyrano is currently eleven, and the cat I had before him, Nermal, lived to be seventeen

This is Nermal:
I has a new bed on this feed sack!
He was called Nermal because, like the kitten in the Garfield cartoons, he was in fact the cutest kitten in the world.

The cat with him here is my sister's boy, Taco, who was so kind to him.

He was a Chinchilla, from a lady who bred 'blues', but he came out tabby instead, so he got to come live with me.

He didn't really suit his name.  He grew to be so beautiful and dignified.  He was rather gormless, though.  I'm not sure how much thinking he did!

Never really smoochy, he did like to hang about with you.  Occasionally, if it was very cold, he would deign to grace your lap for a while, on his terms of course!
But most of he time, this was what expressions of affection were greeted with... horror!
Unhand me, peasant!

He could look quite fierce, but actually, whenever you had to do anything like groom or vet him, he would get this buggy-eyed look and let you do whatever you wanted.

You can't see me.  I is leaves.

This was lucky, because he was prone to abcesses all his life, so he spent rather a lot of time with one part or another needing to be kept shaved and treated.  They could be hard to find in all that fur, especially since he wasn't very touchy feely, so I didn't get to have my hands on him much.  Once he even had an abcess explode just as the vet was poking it to see what it was like!  Oh well, that saved me the cost of another operation, but euuuuwwwww!

This is him upstairs with sweet Massey, who was my sister's cat but lived with us for a while.  As you can see, he was a bit skewiff in the cheek-hair due to another recent abcess incident!  
As he got older, he also had to be clipped down to manage his huge coat in the hot weather.  That and the matts he would get because it was just so cottony when he got old that I couldn't keep it un-matted, though he was very good about being brushed.

The rest of the time, though, he spent being hairily decorative. Even in his later years, he was a magnificent cat.
I is magnificent. 
 Of course I loved to paint him.  How could I not?



Monday, 23 May 2016

A Week of Weather Changes

Friday it was so lovely and warm in Perth city, so much so that we were way too hot in our Firey gear when collecting for the annual street appeal for all the bushfire brigades.

Andrew had to strip down to his sexy red braces! 

That's my sister, Jen and my Bro-in-Law too. There were 16 of us from our brigade out on the day, which is great because the takings get divided equally per person/hours. Jen might have had the best donation of the day; a hundred dollar bill from one feller who she said was covered in tattoos.  As they say, you should never judge a book by its cover!

Charles from our brigade was there for his 20th street appeal.  What can you say about that kind of dedication, except three cheers for Charles!

Saturday, just to be totally different, was stormy and wild. A good day for resting by the potbelly after Fireys and reading a good book, complete with Labradors of course.

The book is called "The Apple Orchard," by Susan Wiggs.  Andyroo put me onto it. It's a sweet read.

The girls are loving the fire. You can see Rosie's matching shaved patches on her front legs from having her drip in.  So far so good, though we had to put her back on her cortisone and cross fingers her tum handles it. She really is just too itchy to do without it.  We'll see how she goes now she is fully transferred over to the crocodile and tapioca roll we are getting her.  Geez, we eat way cheaper than she currently is!  :) 

I know that's a bit of a dark photo but at least no demon eyes from the flash.  :) Tuppy is bad for it, I think because she is constantly so adrenalised that her pupils are huge.

This was an odd weather phenomenon we saw this week.

The sun was behind the trees and behind the clouds.  Spooky!

At least all the rain has brought back some green grass as last!  Woo hoo!

Every year these trees take more nutrient from the paddock and the grassed area gets a bit less, but it doesn't matter any more, because we all do is mow it anyway, now there are no horses.

It's the season for baking too. This almond flour, pear and apple tart with rice-milk custard was part of Andyroo's birthday prezzie this year.  :) 

The crust recipe comes from Elana's kitchen.  It's a bit rich for me but he loves it.  :)

I also finished these gold wrist warmers for him a day late.  He liked the look of mine so much he wanted a pair too!

We have another storm forecast for tonight and early Tuesday  morning.  Fingers crossed all our trees have their toes down nice and deep...


Thursday, 19 May 2016

First chapter of Heroic Plans, free to read right here!

To celebrate the arrival of the Heroic Plans print edition at last, I have put the first chapter here for you to read!  Enjoy!

Chapter One

“Argh, gerroff me, you feckin' lump of a dog!” Kat groans.  Batman, her Corgi/Blue Heeler cross, has trotted in and found her sprawled flat on his couch and is now attempting to use her as a cushion in protest.  She pushes at Batman with her hard-muscled, tattooed arms, but he uses his low centre of gravity and nestles down a bit harder, his stumpy blue-speckled legs braced on either side of her skinny body.  He has his huge, pointy, black ears held out to the sides with determination, and I watch idly and wonder who will win in the end.  They're as stubborn as each other, those two. 
Kat heaves again and manages to get Batman's elbows off her ribs, so she calls it good for now, relaxing under his weight as best she can and turning her attention back to the telly.  Batman wins!   
 We're on the couches again, watching tv.  Actually it's been ages since we did this, just us two, but tonight Seamus and Jimmy are off at a bucks' night for some guy Seamus shoes horses for and who Jimmy just knows.  I don't know how he knows him.  Jimmy knows everyone, it sometimes seems. 
So anyway, we've got the couches to ourselves, and we're making good use of them. 
“Shite, will you listen to that?”  Kat is saying now.  “Sings worse than me!”
We're watching one of the singing reality shows.  I have no idea which one.  I've been lost in my own thoughts while Kat chats away about the singers.  She loves those shows, though she herself sings like a puppy with a stubbed toe.  Luckily, she doesn't seem to need any input from me, because I'm too distracted. 
I've got a big problem.  I mean, I know it's a First World problem and not even a very big one for most people in the First World, but to me it's huge.  My horse doesn't like the same sport as me.  I've known it for a while now.  Prince Willie, my young Warmblood, was meant to be my next dressage star, but he is five now, and though I've brought him along slowly and carefully and tried to keep it fun for him, he just doesn't want to do it.  Not exclusively anyway. 
My big problem is, Prince William has the heart of an adventurer, and dressage bores him to tears.  What lights up his big brown eyes is jumping, though at five he has only just got to the age where he will begin to be allowed to jump properly.  Sadly, the sport that reduces me to a trembling mass of jelly is the very thing that fires up Willie.  I'm a dressage queen through and through.  Even the cavallettis I've been using in the arena to keep him happy while doing our schooling make me feel a bit weak at the knees.
An ad comes on tv and Kat is once more available for chat, so I say, “What shall I do?”  We've been having this conversation for five minutes at a time during ad breaks.  It's a bit frustrating, but at least the show keeps Kat in one place for an hour.  Lively as a flea, she's always been a hard woman to pin down for long, but is even more so now she's so tied up with her business on top of all the other stuff she still does. 
“Seems pretty simple to me,” Kat says, wriggling under the crushing load of her Sumo-wrestler dog at the same time.  “Jayzuz, Batman, you're right on my bladder!” she groans, then goes on to say, “It is simple.  You buy a jumping saddle and you take up eventing.  Might as well use your dressage for something.  It's that or sell him, and I can't see you doing that.”
“No, I can't do that,” I agree.  I've had him since he was a weanling.  I've put four and half years of time, money, and, more importantly, love, into his large and magnificent self, and I'm not parting with him now.  “But, I'm such a chicken.  I'll be useless at jumping.”
“That horse is going to be a point and shoot jumper,” Kat tells me firmly.  “He loves it so much his ears prick up just at the sight of a jump.   All you're going to have to do is stay on and try to keep your eyes open.  You can do that.  I have faith in you.  You have more courage than you know, Tam, my girl,”
To hear Kat say this warms my heart, because she's a hero to me, this feisty little woman who has seen so much more of the world and coped with more than I can even imagine.  Not that she looks very heroic right now as she starts to wrestle with her dog again, short hair sticking out in all directions, muppet eyebrows (as she calls them) lowered fiercely over her equally fierce hazel eyes.  “Aha!” she finally yells, as she manages to shunt Batman off the couch.  He jumps back on again in one springy move, but this time she's ready for him and manages to wrangle him to the end of the couch under her legs, where he settles down with a snort of disgust. 
I smugly stroke my own dog, Elly, who snuggles her long body beside mine on my couch.  She groans with pleasure and stretches, tucking her streamlined Greyhound nose into my neck under my hair.  Elly would never do anything so undignified as to wrestle.
“His lines are mostly showjumping, even if his dad was a dressage star,” Kat goes on.  “You should have known he might have shown signs of wanting to go that way.”
“Yeah but Greta let me have him cheaply.  How else would I ever have afforded a classy Warmblood like him?” I argue.  Greta is my boss and she owns Willie's dad.  She's really kind to me, but she still pays pretty crappy wages.  You don't work in the horse world for big dollars, that's for sure.  Especially at the bottom end.   I'm really lucky in my employer, and I know it.  Greta letting me buy Willie cheaply and pay him off was going above and beyond for the average horsey boss. 
Kat always argues that Greta did it to keep me because I'm such a wonderful, valuable employee.  Kat's always saying kind things about me.  I think she's deluded, but I appreciate it anyway. 
“I know!”  says Kat, suddenly half sitting up, which makes Batman jump up and bark.  “Shut up Barnsey! I can't hear myself think!”  She wrestles her dog back into a lying position using both legs and hands, then says, “That old school friend of Chris's, you know, the one who's just come back from England?  He's holding a hunter trial at his place.  That's just the cross country bit of the event.  He's doing it to raise money for that new local horse rescue and the bottom level is going to be pretty potty.  Why don't you take Willie along to that and see how he goes?”
Easy for Kat to say, “potty”.  She's jumping enormous jumps with her boy, Lingo, these days.  The two of them seem more bird than horse and human at times.  Anything over a horse's knees seems too high for me, however.  Still, it's that or force my horse into a sport he's not cut out for and make him unhappy, and that isn't what I'm about.  I figure he'll let me do some dressage as long as he gets to jump as well.  Teamwork.  If you aren't in it for the teamwork, you should go buy a motorbike.
“How small is, “potty”?”  I ask cautiously. 
A new singer is on tv, but Kat drags her eyes back to me for a second.  “I think he's doing three levels.  The lowest is forty-five centimetres.  Willie could walk over them.  And, you can pay to do another round if you want, so you can do it a couple of times and get over your nerves a bit.”
“That or collapse utterly,” I mutter, but Kat is lost back to the goggle box.  She doesn't get my fear of, well, of most things actually, but she herself had such a bad racing crash as an apprentice that she gave up race-riding, so she should be a bit sympathetic to my plight.  Not that horse-racing is in any way comparable to a bunch of jumps you could step over yourself without breaking a sweat!
Sadly, thinking of those low jumps has already made me sweat...  with nerves...  so I turn my mind to the other thing Kat mentioned: Chris Schiffmaker, ex-boyfriend of mine, ex-casual lover of Kat's as well, and his friend, St. John Stirling.  What a name!  It's pronounced Sin-jun, apparently.  Trust Kat, as soon as she'd met him, she'd turned and wiggled those eyebrows at me and whispered, “SIN-jun!  I'd like to do a bit of sinning with him, that's for sure!”
Actually Kat is off the market well and truly, but she still likes to talk big.  She and Seamus are still totally in love after four years, even though they work together as well.  Luckily Seamus is confident enough in himself to just laugh when she talks like that, and why wouldn't he be?  He's totally gorgeous, with his long, curly red hair, his sky blue eyes, and his farrier's muscles.  Even someone as clueless as me could see the chemistry between them from the very first time they met, and that hasn't changed.
St. John, Sin-jun, is kind of the opposite to Seamus.  He's tall and dark-haired, with a square hero's jaw with a dimple in it.  His hair is short and styled neatly, and the day I met him, he was wearing sunnies, a pair of jeans, a red button-up shirt, and a black jacket, looking like some sort of model in an ad for casual business clothes.  I know I'm stupid about men (Kat tells me I am all the time) but I still got an instant crush on him.
He has lovely dark brown eyes.  I know that because I saw him lift up his sunnies to take a second look at me, that time he came round to talk to Chris not long after he got back from the UK.  I swear Chris looked sort of proud that they have such a good looking employee, as if he'd made me somehow.  I know that it sounds really conceited to say I'm good looking, but I'd have to be a moron not to know that I'm considered conventionally attractive.  People tell me so all the time.  I mean, I get that I've got long legs and a slim figure, and long blonde hair, but to me, my face is too round and featureless, my eyes more grey than blue, and a wishy-washy pale colour.  To me, my cheeks are too round, my lips too wide, and I hate how easily my light skin blushes.  What I see in the mirror is not what other people see, apparently, or maybe the figure is enough for them to class me as attractive. 
You want to see gorgeous?  You should see my four sisters, and my mum!  Same figures as me, but taller, and with cheekbones and smiles to die for.  They have an attitude that I missed out on too.  Something about their manner and way of walking.  I'm the mouse of the family, believe it or not.  Even dad's a hunk!             
Anyway, St. John was kind enough not to ogle at me once he'd had that first glance.  He just gave me a friendly smile and went back to talking to Chris.  He's come back to live in Australia after living in the UK and competing there and in Europe for a few years.  The news has been all over the very small and gossipy horse world here.  He's going to run an eventing place, with lessons for outside riders and horses, is also doing specialised agistment for eventing horses, and will breed and bring on special eventing types of horse as well.  He's brought back a superstar stallion that he'll offer at stud too.  I'm no eventing fan (not until now) but even I know his dappled-grey Irish Draft boy, Winsome Pies Startracker.  Gee they let sponsorship go a bit far in the UK, don't they?  What a crappy name!
Startracker won at Badminton and came very close to getting selected for the Olympics.  He's in his late teens now, though.  Time to retire him and make some money off his service fees.  I'd have thought it would be better to leave him in the UK.  More rich horse people over there, but I guess they can send frozen semen anywhere, and maybe St. John is fond of him.             
At any rate, there's plenty of money in the Stirling family already.  Luckily.  As the wry joke goes, “Want to make a million dollars with horses?  Start with two million...”  These sort of considerations seem like they're no issue for St. John, though.  As soon as he got back to town, he bought the fanciest horse place in the Swan Valley, and immediately set about making it fancier.
You'd think I'd be shy of another go-round with a rich guy after what happened between me and Chris, but apparently I'm a glutton for punishment.  It's not the money I'm attracted to, it's the security, the order, that they represent.  And, if I'm honest, they kind of remind me of my dad, who is a businessman and always looks powerful, assured and well-groomed too.  Like St. John.  Like Chris. 
Thinking about Chris makes my heart smart a bit, so I deliberately stroke my lovely, sleek, black Greyhound for comfort and turn my attention back to the tv.  Maybe I should pledge to be celibate.  It'd be safer for my heart...  if I could stick to it!
The guys aren't expected to be home till late, so Kat and I toddle off to our rooms at a sensible hour.  I have morning stables tomorrow extra early, and Jimmy and Seamus have the morning off, so Kat will have to do more work than usual over at Knotty's place.  They still call it that, even though they really run the stables there now, what with Knotty’s bad heart and all. 
I wake up long enough to hear the two blokes tripping over things in the hallway and giggling, yes giggling, and then I'm out to it again.  I'm glad it's not me who has to have a drunk bloke fall on the bed with me at whatever ungodly hour this is.  So I tell myself anyway...




Monday, 16 May 2016

Silly fun!

We had a bit of fun on Saturday night!  Along with two young fellas from our brigade; the brothers Gogs and Pierre, Andrew and I went along to be faces for a local gym's fundraiser for our brigade.

We did a meet and greet before they went in for their half-exercise/half-danceparty class, and we decided it would be more fun to join in than to wait till they came out for champers and a raffle!  What ensued then was much hilarity and excellent fun.

Andyroo shaking his booty

Twerking time!

And drag the hose, drag the hose...

Have to laugh at how short I am compared to the two brothers.  :D

They are THIS tall!

Do the zombie!

We found our heavy fire boots a tad hard to swing about, and the PPE got bloody hot, but on the whole we kept up all through the hour, though I for one was cheating when they started doing hard stuff near the ground.  :)

The guys got pretty sexy there at one point!



Darling Rosie is still doing really well.  We went back to the vet for a check this morning and Dr Alana is still really pleased with her progress.  Woo hoo!  She is on limited rations still for a while, though. She is about to be swapped onto crocodile and tapioca food, of all things!  She is a bit of an itchy girl and can't use her normal cortisone because of her poor tummy, so we have to try a novel food source to see if we can stop the return of her itch now that she is off the good stuff. 

I've finished two crochet project in recent days; my wrist warmers made from hand-painted yarn I got from Marigold&dog...
 They are so scrummy and warm and delectably-coloured!

And, I have also finished the lady rainbow monster, who the nieces have named Rianna...

She is bigger than her husband, but Roy doesn't seem to mind.  I guess the yarn I used was a tad thicker than the last lot.  They were both 8 ply but I have changed brands and there is a definite difference.

Yes he does have a duck on his head.  I don't know, I just put it there one day and liked it.  :)

This was a weird scene this morning, the most Bronzewing Pigeons I've ever seen in one place.  Very odd!   There is a new house being built just there so maybe workmen have been throwing scraps out for them.   Either that or it's some sort of message from the gods.  :)

Tuppy was actually enjoying a bit of a blankie nap after daddy wrapped her in a minky this morning.  Maybe she will turn into a calm dog in time!

I'm not holding my breathe though!




Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Stressful Week.

Some weeks test us, don't they.  It's been a week like that for us.

Monday night, our sweet Rosie kept us up with nausea and restlessness.  We zipped her into the vet first thing Tuesday morning.  We'd have been even quicker, but she'd had a beef knuckle bone the day before and we assumed she'd done what she's done before and swallowed a piece that was too big and was trying to get it back out the front way.  When things hadn't resolved by dawn we knew that if it was a bone piece she was going to need help, so off we went to the vet.   Pancreatitis was in the back of my mind too, after losing Tam to it.

Turns out it was neither, but instead a thing the vet called haemorrhagic gastroenteritis.  We'd seen no blood from either end, but once admitted she showed did throw some up and some was on the thermometer and her temp was high too.  Oh oh!

Poor baby, she's been so sick!

She was admitted for tests and given fluids and all the good meds to help her feel better.  She came home each night so we could watch her, but went back for three days of hospitalisation to keep her fluids up and to get her meds via IV rather than her poor digestive tract.  Yesterday she came home for good, hopefully!

Many thanks to all of our friends over the world who sent Rosie healing thoughts, Reiki, prayers and white light.  You're the best!  The vet said she was thrilled with Rosie's progress.  

Rosie's not so enthused by her current diet of small meals of canned vet food. Too bad, Rosie, that's all you get for a whole week so there's point in hopefully looking into the fridge at every opportunity.  That tummy has to heal!  

Of course she was a darling for the vets and they loved her. It is so helpful when your dog is ok with strangers.  The days of Buffy were much less easy to manage, requiring that I generally be there all the time to manage the front end!

The vet specifically mentioned how helpful it when a dog is crate trained.  They don't get panicky when confined due to needing the drip, they know it is quiet time and settle right down.  Rosie has barely been into a crate since her puppy days, but she remembers and was very good at both the vets and at home where we set up the crate to keep her quiet, since she had brought the drip home with her to be continued overnight.  It's worth crate training your dogs, it really is!

So, we've had some very sleepless, worrying nights, which of course makes for clumsy, distracted people during the day and then all sorts of other silly accidents happen.  The sort of things that just make you sigh and feel like it is suddenly all too hard.  Ah well, we've weathered the lot and hopefully things will get back to normal now!

Tuppence coped alright without her beloved mama, but when we parked at the grocery store to get food supplies and left her in the car alone, she yelled so much that someone called the police!  We had to explain ourselves when we got back to the car and show them that she is in scintillating health.  I do appreciate that someone is watching out for dogs, but really, it was a lovely cool day and we were parked in the shade with the windows down a little.  She was in no danger.  This whole 'saving dogs in cars' thing has got silly!

I didn't bother telling the police that Tuppence is prone to yelling almost that bad even when Rosie is in the car, because she is just a Very Excitable Dog and she thinks we'll take them for a walk after going shopping, even if we've just had one.  :)

Ah well just another thing to add to the major and minor stresses of the week.  Some good stuff happened too.

I kept writing no matter what (it's as good a way to use up the spiraling thoughts as any other) and hit the 20 000 word mark early, on Wednesday.   It's flowing well, now.  I scared myself today with one of the, shall we say, more chaotic of the characters.  Hee.  Love it when that happens.  :)

On Sunday, Andyroo and I finished the archive shelves upstairs in the Fire Station.  Woohoo!  It was a big job and required some silly celebratory photos.

 In the low space, hard hats were a necessity, even for short-arse me!

We've almost finished the east fence of the chook pen.  We put in the buried wire today to stop foxes (and Labradors after scraps) from digging in. Next is to add a last row of shorter wire mesh along the top.  We're basically using up what we already had, to be economical, but it's a little low.
It looks a bit skanky too, but when there is so much rock under the ground, you get the pickets in wherever and however you can.  We had a tractor in to drill holes on the other side when we re-did it, but this side isn't accessible.

Luckily our chooks aren't flyers, but a GSP who was visiting went right over the old fence and killed one of our chooks a while back, so we do need to raise the height a bit.  I should think a fox would make short work of the fence too, but we luckily don't seem prone to fox attacks here.  Sometimes I think it's the chooks' door into the chook dome that keeps foxes away at night.  It's a weld-mesh trap door that drops down and has to be stepped on to enter, and I reckon they think it is a live trap.

The fox-eating trapdoor into the dome

Niamh did more work on her acrylic canvas this week. I probably should have taken sis's offer up to call it off for this week what with Rosie and all, but I figured it was better to keep busy.  I was very drained afterward, though.  Teaching is not my calling, shall we say?

Still, she did a lovely job.
Lots more work to do yet with Ollie's face and her clothes and helmet, but I'm very pleased with the way she got into the spirit of texturing and experimenting in the woodsy background.

We went for a lovely walk at Noble Falls on Monday evening. (Probably where Rosie ate whatever made her sick).  Tuppy stayed out of trouble because she was on her long lead.  After this week, Rosie might be back on lead too!

 Rosie and I taking the above photos of Andrew and Tuppy. Ah the mobile phone age.  :D


Even more lovely was this jar of pickled apples and ginger that I made from our own kefir whey. Yum!  I can't show you the recipe because I basically found a few recipes online for apples and one for ginger beer and combined them.  :)

 The result is delicious; sweet, tingly, gingery and appley, perfect with vanilla yoghurt, as we ate them, or with icecream too if we had any.  :)

 I hope for you all a peaceful weekend with no unexpected visits to vets!