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Friday, 30 September 2016

Dogs of the Family Pack: The Cairn Terriers

This is Dougal.  He came along when I was, um, probably just school age. 

He was feisty, funny, smart and opinionated, like most Terriers, but as I got older he and I got to be good friends.  In those days a kid could take her dog lots of places.  

Later, along came Kirsty. Cairn Terrier puppies don't look real. They look more like stuffed toys.

Jenny was pretty darned cute too!

Then they go through a really odd stage where they molt out to their true colour. 

Kirsty was a wheaten colour, really pretty.  She wasn't the smartest dog, but she was super sweet.  This isn't her, but it could have been.   

She and Dougal got to have a couple of litters of puppies.  

We were lucky to get to grow up with such nice dogs.  I'm not sure why I don't like Terriers more.  Well, it's not so much that I don't like them, as that I don't feel capable of managing one.  They are generally feistier than me!


Monday, 26 September 2016

Life Goes On, Mostly Without Me!

At day six of the fun flu, I am actually feeling vaguly human this afternoon, but it is a shallow thing.

Andrew has done a great job of holding the fort, while i laid around and sweated and coughed and groaned.

Sickies get to watch with a cup of tea while the last two bonfires of the season get burned.

Sickies are very boring for their dogs.

But the cat doesn't care as long as there is someone to give him kitty smooches.

Luckily daddy was available to take them up the block for walks, at least on the days when he wasn't out fencing with a fellow brigade member.  

 While I've been busy dying, the spring has been arriving. 

Our little oak tree up the block is poised to burst into leaf.

I hope I'll feel the same way in the next few days!


Thursday, 22 September 2016


Bleagh, I have the flu properly this time, not a mingey cold like last time. No writing done since Monday, only just managed a tiny bit of lyre without singing last night, and even that wore me out and made my achey hands hurt worse, and pretty much am busy coughing my innards out and lying around feeling utterly craptastic, along with half the people I know, it seems like!

Blogging service will hopefully resume on Monday, and the meantime, this meme pretty much covers how I am feeling.  

My fairy niece won an award this week for best singing voice at a theatre thing her school went to, where a few plays went on one after another, so yay Niamh!  Great work!  Julie Andrews here you come!  Poor Niamhy has the same lurgie I have so am sending her lots of best wishes to get better soon.  

Ps. this is possibly the cutest photo i have EVER seen:

Monday, 19 September 2016

A Busy Weekend of Oxfam Trail Walking and Partying.

Well, what a weekend!  I must say that I overdid it, even for my currently advanced state of return to wellness.  Still, it was worth it, and today after a very slow and shaky day yesterday, I am almost back to normal.  That sort of bounce-back would once have been unheard of, even from doing much less, so it's still a win of sorts.

The Oxfam Trailwalker event was very interesting to work at.  The day started very early, in the dark, with the full moon not yet set in the west.

It was beautiful, clear but very cold.  The car said 3 degrees C as we drove to the ranger station to start our shift.  I felt for all the teams who were out on the trail trying to rest or walk in it!

By the time we had picked up our vehicle and gone to do our first job at the start for the 50 k teams,  it was possibly colder as the sun came up, and Chidlow is always a little colder than Mundaring, despite being only ten minutes away by car.  

There were lots of enthusiastic volunteers and walkers there getting ready to start the 50 k walk, and the 100 k people had all left by then so we didn't see those until later down the trail.  Another of our brigade members did the last support crew shift and said the last people through the finish came in at 2am on the sunday morning, and they were 100k  people so they had been on the trail for nearly 48 hours by then. Brave people!

The fastest people did the 100k in under 13 hours. Amazing!

We saw a lot of sore feet but I'm sure that it was all worth it when they went over the finish line.  

Part of the trail took the walkers across our famous Zig Zag road, and since it was blocked for the event we got to go up it the wrong way, to check the toilet paper in the toilets that were placed halfway up it.   (A super sexy job, but someone had to do it)

Golly, I hadn't been on that road since I was in my early twenties and we used to ride it with dogs and horses and hip flasks of bourbon!  I'd forgotten how lovely it is to see the city from up there and to take the precipitous turns.

This is how sharply the road turns back on itself!

And this is what it was originally made for:  Trains!

This cool old pic and info from here:

 We got a St. John's Ambulance guy to take a picture for us.  This pic makes me giggle.  We look so countrified and somehow touristy.

Anyway after an eight hour shift, we went home and Andrew, who had also done an eight hour shift the night before, had a lovely nap.  Then we went to our brigade's annual dinner.

We were very pleased to receive our awards for being the best new members for the year.   They were well chosen, being a beer tankard for Andrew and an engraved gold pen for me,  the author, who does not drink beer!

Sunday was a bit of a write-off because I basically felt like all my cells were flapping like stranded jellyfish, and after a dog walk (stagger?) up at the block, I slept the morning away and then read for most of the arvo.  I didn't even play a single musical instrument all day!  Ah well, it was worth it.  (I know, I keep saying that.)

The sunset was lovely when I finally did drag my carcass outside again.

Cyrano, of course, thinks we are mad to ever leave home, but I know that it is good for my brain to do these things, even if I overdo it at times.

Why not just lie around and be picturesque like me?



Friday, 16 September 2016

Fairy sprite and firey stuff.

We had another controlled burn this week.  We have a very small window between winter and summer when it is safe and yet dry enough to burn.

Some of the she-oak got going but mostly it was a pretty cool burn and we were soon on top of any trees that flared up.  Here are Angus and Mirline on firebug duty.  I did a lot of that this day.  We would lay in a new line or series of spots of fire behind the burning area, working into the wind, so that the wind would be driving the flames onto already burned land. This always makes for a safer burn.  The other thing I was doing was bobtail goanna spotting duty, as I didn't want us to trap any between the rows of fire!  Luckily we saw none and I'm sure we would have if they'd been there.  

And on the other side, on the bridle trail, we had crews working to make sure the fire didn't jump the trail.  That's Phil and Pierre on the hoses, and Andrew was crew leading that side for some of the time, and that is him just coming back into picture.

At home there is plenty of work to be done too.  I'm never sure whether it is better to brush-cut the grass then collect sticks, or the other way around!  This time I cut grass first then picked up sticks, which makes the sticks easier to find and pick up but means for more painful stuff flying into your legs while you are cutting! 

It hasn't even been six months yet since we last did this and yet this is how big the piles are from a very small amount of space along the extreme west side of the place.  

Andrew had the mower and trailer out and was picking up piles of leaves he'd raked up,  while I gathered more sticks.  At this time of year we can put everything on a bonfire so it is well worth the effort as it saves us a from a few tip runs. 

The chooks have been out every day lately and they have learned that following me along in my work means disturbed ground cover and more bugs, or maybe they think I will keep them safe from eagles?

All the foraging is doing them good.  They look great!

Now if they'd start giving me more than one egg a day between five of them I'll be happy!   I think Mrs Guppy lays an egg every day too but she lays them in the stupid places, basically wherever her bum is at the time, and the crows or dogs get them.  Honestly, I have never had such a stupid chicken, and I've had some pretty stupid ones.  :D

Up at the block I was admiring my shelter belt on the north side.  Most of this is four years old now.  I remember the year I planted it because Buffy was not well, it was 2012 and I was about to have to say goodbye to her, and I had her on a stay, lying on a blanket beside me while I planted these, so that she could be with me but not run around and set off a heart falter.  I don't think I ever walk by them without thinking of her, my precious girl.

Ah well, they are thriving and the birds and bees love them and they are a lovely screen now too.

Speaking of birds, listen to them singing away in this video we did of Niamh singing "Son of the Trees" by Pilgrim.  She was singing it and dancing around the other day and I wanted to show the band how much she loves the song they wrote, so we videoed this.  What a fairy sprite she is!

And how glorious is her hair?  Mum's was this colour before it went white, too. That's me newly born there, looking a bit boring!   

 Today and into the night Andrew is off driving the local bridle trails doing support crew for the local Oxfam trail Walk. It is the sort of interesting stuff Fireys get to do when they aren't at fires.  Tomorrow we are both doing a shift so hopefully will get some photos of that.

Writing is still happening 1000 words each week day. Just now am finding it a bit hard.  For some reason being at 108 000 words seems like starting all over again at 8000 words.  :) Sister Jen suggested I try working it out by percentage instead and if I end up at around 120 000 as I plan to, I am 87% done.  Yay, that does look better!

As a ten book veteran of novel writing, I know that these boggy moments come round for every book and you just have to keep plugging away. It never reflects in the book whether it was hard or easy to get that bit, so with that knowledge to back me, I will just keep on writing!  Think I might start thinking about the cover art now I am so close to finishing too!





Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Firey Weekend

Well it's not much like spring here today.  It's grey and windy and the wind is freezing!  We took the dogs up the block and then came home again to hide in the warm. 

Andrew made us a new handle for our potbelly stove today.  I'm glad because we had the old split one wired up and the wire on it would get too hot.

As you can see. Tuppy is in her usual fave spot.  :)  

We're having a bit of a slow day today because we had a busy weekend.  We had our usual Fireys on Saturday, and then on Sunday we went down to the city to go to the local Fire and Emergency Services award breakfast and we also poked our noses into the exhibition while there was a speech on.  We had the place almost to ourselves and got to check out all the display appliances and such.  

Angus didn't win the Bushfire Service award, but he was one of three very worthy short-listers so we weren't worried about that.  In fact he was happy because he didn't have to make a speech.  :)


I have no idea what I was doing in this picture?  Looks like I'm eating baked goods off the Lazy Susan without hands or cutlery.  :D  Can't be that though because they weren't gluten free so were off the list for me.  Food sensitives suck!  I had to eat a few things that I'd normally avoid (egg, bacon) or I'd have had nothing to eat, but gluten really creams me so it was easy to get myself to avoid the cakes and croissants.  As it is I'm dumb as a post today, headachey and in more pain than usual, and Andrew didn't avoid as many things as me and feels worse than that. I wonder how many people walk through life in a brain fog and/or in pain induced by their eating choices and never realised they don't have to feel like that? 

Each finalist for the six awards had a little video made showing their brigade and a bit of an interview with them.  They were really great to watch.  I bet it was a bit excruciating for shy Angus to have to watch his though!

Michelle got that picture with perfect timing.  :) Way to go Michelle!

These were all the winners and finalists.  What a bunch of great people!  Emergency Services Volunteers rock!  

One of the stalls in the exhibition let you type in your brigade and find out how many fires you attended in the last five years.  Apparently we've attended 271 but only handed in official paperwork for 221.  Oops!   Ah well, Fireys tend to be very practical people.  We don't much love the paperwork side of things, but the main thing is that we were there to fight all those fires.

Not much chance of fires today, but the fire season is fast approaching.  We've been doing plenty of training and recruiting this year and we're ready, and just as well because we've had a wet winter and the grass is ris!       

Friday, 9 September 2016

Kelly Bear and scary cleaning lady.

I don't think I'm that scary but I do tend to whirlwind the housework.  Fur-nephew Kelly, who is visiting today, decided the bed was the best place to be while I was vacuuming, whence Andrew and Rosie had already retreated.

Note that Rosie is sucking her teddy's head, which she likes to do in moments of high emotion, including when I vacuum!

Tuppy on the other hand, likes it if I can manage to keep up a running game of tug-o-fetchy with her with one hand while vacuuming with the other.

It's my fault we started this because as a pup she was showing signs of wanting to have a go at the vacuum head, so I got out a toy to distract her, and bingo, dog conditioned that floor cleaning time is also game time!

Ah well, It's better than a chewed vacuum cleaner!

We took Kelly up to the block for a safely-fenced walk with our two this morning  He really enjoyed running around sniffing rabbity smells.

 I enjoyed this view past some of our giants at the top of the block today.

It is a bit of a grey day, but spring is definitely in the air. The smell of honey coming off this variegated-leafed Hakea was nuts!

I don't know why they call them variegated-leaf.  As far we can make out, every leaf has the same amount of spikes that get you coming and going.  Andrew calls it  Bastard Bush, along with some other local prickly varieties, based on pain factor rather than taxonomy!

Prickly Moses is another Bastard Bush, but I plant them as a companion to our Jarrah saplings because it supposedly deters the fungus, Dieback, that Jarrah is so vulnerable to.

At first glance you'd think it was the tthree year old Jarrah tree flowering oddly at the bottom only.

But a closer looks shows it is two plants.

This Grey Honey-Myrtle has gone to town with flowers this year too.  

And this is another one of our Raspberry Jam trees, looking good!   They grow more slowly than some of the other locals but are very hardy and of course the birds and bees love them when they flower.

   Andrew has been busy framing up this painting this week.

It was done from a photo taken of some kittens asleep under the kitchen table on a hot day.  They were the babies of our then cat, Molly.  No I wasn't responsible enough in those days to think of getting her spayed soon enough to avoid this 'oops' litter.  Then my relationship of the time broke up rockily and I left her and the kittens with the ex, who was always the cat and poultry man of the family.  Where I was moving to, a share house, already had 13 cats, I kid you not!  They were nice kittens.  Very friendly and cuddly.  I hope they got good homes.  He was a bit of a dick, no doubt about it, but he loved his cats.           

Anyway, I did the painting many years ago and never got around to framing or hanging it anywhere.  My youngest niece saw it in my stack and asked if she could have it, so she is getting it for a birthday present.  She is becoming a bit of a collector at a young age:  She also cadged a couple of canvases off our Aunty Wendy the artist!

This week my current novel made the 100 000 mark, so that was a lovely milestone to reach, and am coming along with the song I am writing and also my arrangement for Jabberwocky.  I'll make you a video soon, I promise.  Just have to find a mimsy wabe to do the filming on!

My lovely Yamaha acoustic guitar, Pele, has developed a metallic ring when played, which I am having trouble finding the cause for, dammit!   She has been mellow and beautiful to play for more years than I can count.  I hope I can resolve it soon.  I still play her, but it detracts from the music.