Uncommon Ailments of Menageriness

Irritable Owl Syndrome is  the ailment  our semi-resident frog-mouth owl must be having now that we have interrupted his food supply. In addition to the ever prowling cats, we have added some mouse traps in the garage as the wee rodents are attracted to the chook feed store. Poor frog-mouth doesn’t look happy of late and now has to go further than our back garden for his tea; not that he ever does look happy, but who would with a name like that!

Even the puppy isn’t immune to the odd illness and, (as a result of my experiments with Paleo inspired bread making) now seems to have developed Flaxtoast Intolerance’; defined as an intense dislike of my flax seed and coconut flour bread, the symptoms of which result in her giving the best sad-eye pathetic looks to ‘himself” until he caves in and makes her some vegemite toast from his own wheat flour laden loaf to make her feel better.

Influhenza only seems to be fowl based (Not THE bird flu) and manifests in intense flapping of wings and squawking when the pigeons get into the coop and try to pinch their seed; the noise certainly gives me a headache so I can only imagine how they feel.

The cats main complaint seems to be Hypurrtension, the stress  trigger point of which is the critical moment when you have to tip a contented moggy from your lap in order to get anything done. Strangely contagious, at its most active phase it can spread scratch marks to the human thigh.

However, uncommon ailments are not confined to the animals of the menagerie and I have succumbed (on occasion) to Osteopertoesis, which is the intense throbbing of toes following an accidental barefoot encounter with a discarded dog bone. I must take preventative measures by inoculating myself by  wearing shoes.

One of the saddest looking malady’s is currently endured by “himself” who appears to have Sighnisitis ,exhibited by repetitive tutting and shaking of the head closely followed by long exhalations of breath and a sort of hunching of the shoulders……..poor thing, he always seems just fine until he sits down to read my blog; must be a positional thing.

*Mindful of the importance of good health and laughter is not only the best medicine, but also the best prevention

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Invigilated by Stranger

 

A complete stranger Invigilated me last night and didn’t even buy me dinner first! I had taken some preventative Panadol as I suspected it would be painful, still, I expected a little more humanity during the process. It had been many years since such an event had happened, so the memory was a little hazy about what to expect, and as most of the learning to date had been at a distance; this was my first trip to the University.

City Uni

As the Uni is up in the City (and I don’t get out much) I had prepared for the event by rubbing the sock marks off my legs and dressing appropriately…….after all, they say appearances count, so  the look I went for was  from country Ho-Bo to Bo-Ho; at least that is what I was aiming for, but may just have made it on one of those syllables……tis a long time since I was a student, but as it happens, I blended in just fine. A right motley crew of would-be brainy types.

he who must be obeyed

The head Invigilator, ( I forgot to mention he had brought his mates to watch) was obviously well versed in not smiling, or indeed  showing any emotion at all;  he had all the animation of a turnip with the colouring to match. Still, there was a quiet authority about him as he blew a few non-existent cobwebs from the PA mic and started  our relationship with the fore-amble…blah blah…safety, blah blah ‘one bell take note but don’t move’….blah blah ‘two bells Il see you in the car park’…..blah blah toilet…Wait, I should have listened to that more intently as this session was going to be for three and half hours….and then, with both arms pointing at the giant clock (in case we had somehow missed it) we were given the signal to do something with the neat pile of paper in front of us.

the watchers

This is when the head invigilators’ mates sprung into action; like silent snoops they drifted amongst us, checking our personals nick knacks (ID’s that we had been told to put on display….note to self..should have had a new pic taken for driver’s licence….) and checking pencil cases for illicit information that may have slipped in there in cryptic note form between the pens.

archaic

On the subject of pens, in this day-and-age why would we even be needing such a thing?…….why , since my last exam ( many moons ago) has there been no progress into the use of a simple (cheat proof) word processor for use in exams?……..what kind of  thinking has made exams the last bastion of writing by hand ?. Why not go the whole hog and give extra points for using other instruments with ascending degree of difficulty?…….extra points if you use a leaky Biro that has been through the wash; more if you adopt the blunt pencil and left the sharpener at home and top marks if you can struggle through the writing of ten pages using a quill and ink.

relief

And then, as if we had been transported by academic Tardis , it was over, and the neatest thing on the page was my name in the top corners. I was going to add a wee comment on the last page about my internal spell checker being broken, but the exam,Mr turnip head and his mates had fair sucked the joy out of me and it was 10pm; way past my funny bones sleep time. The turnip’s calls for ‘silence as papers were  collected’ fell on the deaf ears of  me and the rest of the rabble rushing to leave the scene of the cramped-hand crime. Cast out into the night and dreaming of a hot peppermint tea, there was just one final test in the day; where did I leave the car?

 *mindful  that we can all be doing the same thing, yet feeling it differently…and that there is life beyond the gumboot sloth so I should get out more 🙂

 

The Hen Eulogy

Dear Wilma, we are gathered here today, in this blog to wish you a fond farewell. As you know, we were on unusually intimate terms (*see Chicken Violation Blog), and while it was a shock to find you dead on the nest, it was comforting that you seemed to have passed in your sleep old thing, with your head resting on a pillow of soft straw. There are many lessons to thank you for dear girl:

tolerance and cooking tips: ta for making the new chook ‘Madame’ welcome. Going from a coop of two to three can’t have been easy, as we all know when three females are together, one is usually left out. But you made a great show of backing off and  letting her have the some food scraps………now you and I know it was just the carrots you let her have coz you didn’t like them, but that will be our little secret. On the subject of food; thanks also for being the ultimate benchmark of edibility for some of my food experiments……….the trial cakes you left on the coop floor told me all I needed to know about recipe success…

trust: thanks for sitting very still as we did the regular trim of your flight feathers, your beady eyes never left the scissors once, and I like to think it was out of respect for my cutting prowess rather than fear….

fashion and safety: cheers for the  ‘beaks-up’ on my colour choices, on the busy days when I was mucking out your house in open toe sandals, you clearly showed a preference for the pillar box Red nail polish on my toes as you couldn’t leave them alone, (not something that happened when I wore the pale pink shade; you gave that colour a good ignoring, so you clearly were not a girl into the pastels). I think red must have been a favourite all round, as you didn’t seem to mind when I dressed you up in red reindeer ears at Christmas (so ta for letting me do that too x)  However, with my sandal wearing you did  always have a wee go at the back of my heals…as if, with each peck you were saying ‘where’s your gum boots, where’s your gum boots…..tap tap tap…..sometimes it even made me change for safety reasons….

grounding: still re. the open toe sandal wearing (‘thongs’ in Oz), thank you for all the times  when,stepping in a pile of chook poop had it squelch up between the toes, usually at 5am when doing the rushed food and water routine for you Gals before getting ready for work…That, and having to hose said feet and thongs in back garden  with chilli water first thing, before sun-up made it impossible to feel anything other than ‘grounded’ all day…., and the only place from there is UP :)….

football and gardening: a cherry tomato will always be a wee Wilma football from now on, as you seemed to prefer playing with them to eating them. Not that you always avoided the eating part….which brings me to the thanks for the gardening tip…..that tomato seeds can pass, intact through a chicken and be fertilised on the way; as evidenced by all the little tomato plants that have sprouted in the garden anywhere I spread chook poop!……

And so farewell faithful chook; will think of you every time I see a tomato plant in the petunias. Thanks for feeding us with quality eggs, the entertainment and the life lessons; and if there is a chicken heaven I hope they gave you Red wings * mindful of the small things that aren’t  so little

 

Wilma in antler drag

Wilma in antler drag

 

 

 

 

 

Catitude and Chore Meditation

Meditation and yoga got the housework done; no, I haven’t invented a new variety of either, it’s just that its TRUE…..meditation and yoga help you see things differently.

Of course Precious ‘s (cat) own brand of ‘Catitude’ helped spur things along as she wont be ignored; indeed if you try, she gives you a look that would curdle milk. But I am getting ahead of myself. For this mornings meditation I though I would try the added hurdle of meditating with my eyes open; its more challenging (seemingly) because you have to concentrate on avoiding what you see as well as what you hear / feel etc.

Meditate

Great thought I, will gaze absent-minded  out the window and drift into the rhythm of the breath….breath in and be grateful, breath out with easy and feel the surroundings….breath in…wonder what to have for dinner?…..ohh breath out with thanks….. breath in deeply…..am I getting a cold? and look at the weeds out there! exhale….bring mind gently back to breath and quiet the commentary in head…. breath in …..Look at the dirt on the windows! how can you relax?….breath out in irritation……. Ten more minutes of a banal mental newsreel and I was thankful when Precious appeared at the window demanding to be let in. Honestly, if you ignore her she gives you the paw!

Switch to Yoga

By this stage I was a little tense so attempted a quick half hour of Yoga, I mean the mat was out so why not? and it may just achieve what the meditation didn’t. Precious abandoned me as I wasn’t going to sit still and be her pillow for her average nineteen hour nap, Fickle she is!. Yoga Tree pose’ into… I am a Crane’, breath….was that a twinge?…breath out and move gently to next.. feeling empowered in warrior pose’, head up…is that a cobweb in the top corner?….. down on mat for Cobra pose’…Damn, Precious is back  and rubbing herself on my head as I am now closer to where she wants to be as the sun is coming in the window now. Pause to put cat back out and then straight into a challenging Eagle pose’, now, for those of you not familiar with Yoga, this stance involves wrapping one leg around the other while standing and at the same time entangling your arms with each other and then pretending squatting , as if to sit on a chair that isn’t there, and then (allegedly) holding the stance. I say allegedly as my imaginary chair vanished and I arrived at the relaxed baby pose’ flat on back. And this is when I found a bit of Christmas.

Chores

From my floor vantage point, there, under the couch was some glistening strands of foil from the Christmas tinsel !,what can I say, I don’t lift the couch on a regular basis, and lets just pretend that static must have made it stick to the underside of webbing and so must have missed it during previous vacuums. Nice as it was to find a bit of Christmas as we approach Easter (a bit of a reverse to having Easter eggs in the shops at Christmas!), it spurred me into action and if you now looked through my nice sparkling windows you would see only boring  tidiness, no tinsel in sight. So you see, Meditation and Yoga got the work done.

Celebrate and Relax

Whether you are looking at celebrating the impending holiday from the perspective of religion, chocolate or a love of bunnies, I hope you have a fun and satisfying time. I am not going to be doing an Easter egg hunt for fear I might find a well hidden abandoned egg next Christmas! Instead, we will paint hard-boiled eggs and roll them down the nearest hill until they are smashed and inedible; which is a ritual from my childhood. The dogs will no doubt help in the clean up of any leftovers as they will eat just about anything, even it has rolled through a cow pat. I don’t know the exact origins of our egg rolling habit in Scotland (where I am from) but as a child I always imagined it must have something to do with the biblical ‘rolling away the stone’; only the youthful me imagined the large oval ‘stone’ being rolled away as a big oval Chocolate Easter egg and hence the need and desire to chase it down steep slopes. But then have always had an over active imagination and chocolate took precedence over any religion  in the tender, chubby years. Happy Easter x. * Mindful that practice makes perfect, but thankful that I am not.

 

Goldfish in disguise

The goldfish have faded and I don’t think it has anything to do with daylight saving. I have a sneaky suspicion that it has something to do with  how I feel about ph. You see it has never made sense  to me that a low ph is acid and high is alkaline; for some reason my brain thinks it should be the other way around and so balancing the  fish tank is a regular juggle between what my head thinks and the reality of the litmus.

Chemistry teacher to blame

The history of this ph black spot  can be traced back to a Chemistry teacher I once had; so ultimately HE is responsible for the fish turning white……. they could be a teeny bit bleached. If only he had embraced my creativity, when  during a lesson on acid and alkalinity, a bored me asked ‘which tube of powder do you add to make it the pretty  aqua marine colour?’ Like many time poor teachers he seemed to equate artistic with not smart, so following his suggestion that I should move to the art class I took up Physics instead and became head of class that year; not least because I got to do experiments that were far more fun, if a little dangerous!….but I digress…..the fish…..>

A whiter shade of shale (groan, I know)

Six of the nine little darlings are now goldfish in name only; with only Bruiser, Eric and No Name holding onto a wee bit of colour; although Eric is supposed to be black and is now a peely-wally grey around the gills. The liberal chucking in of bicarb or  acid  I will admit can be a little erratic if it’s a busy day, but before you call the RSPCF it should be said that its only the once (I think) that I have grabbed the cream of tartar from the baking cupboard instead of bicarbonate of soda, and frankly they didn’t seem to react to that by swimming any differently. I have no idea what it does to a fishes insides (cream-of-tartar), but know that it keeps meringues nice and soft in the middle; so maybe it has just made the shoal tender. However, I do know that said cream of tartar is an acid, so I probably added to an already acid bath for the poor wee things. As  most of the fish have been with us for more than three years, am thinking they are mostly tough little dudes.

No Name’ goes for gold

‘No Name’, so-called because of his sparkling personality, has now taken on a whole new level of interest, as am curious why he is still holding his colour where others have succumbed. His gold bits now have him looking rather distinguished, sort of like he is wearing a small gold waistcoat. He seems to be enjoying standing out from the (now pale) crowd and has expanded his horizons away from sucking algae off the same plastic plant day after day to digging in the gravel!  {tunnelling for freedom perhaps?}  In fact, he has become so interesting that he has graduated to a name & will now be known as Digby.

Not sardines on toast

In truth, I have never had much luck with fish, and seem to attract the suicidal variety. One tip I will give you though is to never keep your goldfish on the kitchen bench; mainly because the wee devils can jump! When my kids were little ,one of our fish jumped from its perfectly comfy bowl on the kitchen bench straight into the toaster; unfortunately I didn’t witness the leap as was busy getting the kids ready for school and it wasn’t till I had added bread and turned toaster on that we discovered his demise! Not a smell I will ever forget. It took all my best mummy fibbing skills to distract the children from the smell (and the crime scene) long enough to get them safely to school and find an identical one as a replacement before they returned, (a new toaster was also purchased as couldn’t use that murder weapon again).  Not sure the charade worked, but the kids played along me thinks, just to make me feel better.

* Mindful of the tranquillity watching the fish can bring. and conscious that they seem to survive despite my best efforts. Should keep my white powders for cooking, where the equation is just Cooking=Chemistry /Alchemy+ flavour.

 

 

Obedience Olympics

It’s all in the quality of the  bones, not the ones that frame our bodies but the flavoured canine variety used as inducements; or as Ms Hi Vis likes to call it ‘positive reinforcement’.

Saturday saw the culmination of the fist phase of puppy training with a Gala event, organised by Commandant Hi Vis (the instructor, and wearer of luminous clothing); which, she assured us would be great fun…..or more accurately ‘You WILL enjoy it’………she is a master of the emphasised word is Ms Hi Vis, certainly gets your attention and you have to overcome the urge to SIT each time she barks in your general direction.

So with trepidation in my heart and a glint in Aggi’s eye we joined the other twenty or so ‘contestants’ from the puppy and advanced pup group in a fenced small paddock, which was festooned with colourful strange obstacles. I should say at this point that the little dogs seemed to all have entered into the spirit of the occasion and were literally straining at respective leashes to get going. It was just the humans in the field, who were showing signs of uncertainty as we climbed over each others frantic  fur balls and dodged tangles of excited affection.

LET THE GAMES COMMENCE..

I was just admiring the outlandish  ribbon and glitter handiwork on a nearby hoola hoop when I heard… “and Aggi will go first and show you how its done”…….how what’s done?….I wasn’t listening, what? what? But no time to consult with the tittering humans as to the Puppy Olympic rules, Ms Hi Vis had said COME, and off we trotted like a pre programmed Borg.

Faced with coloured poles, spaced in rows with hoola hoops  in between, intermittent small jumps and a large blue poly tunnel at the far end, Ms Hi Vis gave me an encouraging wink and told me just to go fast and ‘use the obedience signals’. Well I must have been off puppy school the day those formal signals were taught.  Aggi and I have morphed into our own version, that passes for “this is what I want you to do…pretty please with bells on top”. Not so much obedience as encouraging pleading; and if she is bored or in mischievous mood? I say black and she does white,I make the signal for DROP DOWN and she does a wee leap in the air; go left means shoot off to the right at speed, SHAKE  paw means lay on back and get belly scratched; you get the gist.

THE TUNNEL

The workout commenced at a slow trot, weaving through the poles by signalling Left so she would go right, dodging and jumping over Aggi as she attempted to jump through the hoola hoops (something she was quite good at, after I told her to lay down before the ring!), abandoning all hope of a ‘sit & stay’ on appointed plinth we reached the last part which was the tunnel. Ms Hi Vis came to help, as Aggi had never seen a blue corrugated plastic tube of this size before, let alone ran through one. Hi Vis held her as I went to the other end and encouraged with treats and praise.

Three times she ran around the outside and nabbed the treat from my hand (as if to say ‘don’t be daft, I can just come THIS way)…so on the final try I chucked some dry liver treats into the middle of tunnel and crawled part way in  from other side and she understood what was required………diving at me with such force I had to do a hasty reverse crawl, with a back-tuck roll. now you don’t see many of them at the Olympics!

Sadly, the dignity defying moment, when three-quarters of me was in the tunnel and the least flattering bit sticking out, was when Himself’ decided to appear on the sidelines with Henry as a spectator. I am sure Aggi found the laughter as distracting as I did, and no doubt this is why I slipped on a small poop on the home straight slid past final jump.

Following us was another  4 month old Lab called Bobby, who frankly was no competition as he has a ball fixation; his own, not the tennis variety and so stopped at every obstacle to have a good lick at himself. He was followed by a German Shepherd pup that missed every pole and did a clean jump on top of poly tunnel in spectacular fashion, shame that wasn’t one of the events really as he would have romped home. And so the afternoon progressed, with every pup excelling at its own (unspoken or scripted) event……from ‘lick to glitter off the hoola hoops’ through ‘chew the top off the jumps’ to make it easier for the next pup to ‘chase your tail in a circle till you through-up all the treats’.

FINALE

Just when we thought it was all over, Ms Hi Vis revealed the “hide & Seek” challenge. A tarpaulin had been strung from trees in the far corner of the field to make a ‘Hide”, behind which was an infants plastic chair for us to sit on. Object of the exercise was to hide from pup and for them to find you by sound and smell. Commandant Hi Vis took this very seriously, held the pup for us and even covered their eyes as we jogged off to hide behind tarp in our lowly position. Did she come find me?, did she heck-as-like! Was left hanging’ again…….only after she had mine swept the back half of the field for treats others may have dropped did she give my incessant yelling’s any attention. In the end, it took a slight bending of the rules by me jumping up and down behind the tarp to see over and the chucking of  treats to get me found.

Note to self: if you are lost in the woods and want a Labrador to find you, make sure you have pockets brimming with dried liver.

WINNERS ARE CHOMPERS

Aggi’s grand prize (for entertainment and enticing her owner into the tunnel) was a red biscuit bone , which she enjoyed for the three seconds it took to inhale, but we had a fun day and the memories will last a lot longer. Slightly mollified by the fact I was not the only owner that would have been left in the woods to find my own way home, the humans celebrated together with tepid tea and  stale buns ,  which had been  artfully arranged on the wobbly trellis table by our own Olympic volunteers [ the cheerful partners of the participants] . Cheerful because they had somehow avoided taking part. *Was mindful in each ridiculous moment and was reminded of the importance of taking part in new things. Also remembered that there are reasons I don’t do sport. (or tunnel crawling) Went home to a soak in the bath and a good lay down {both of us, although separately!}.