Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A book, A play, A Cat...

I feel like I am back with the living. Loss of my little dog really knocked us around. People who don't love dogs won't understand that, others will. To lose a loving creature who was never more than a metre away from me for over 15 years old makes me feel like I lost a limb.  But life goes on and he is now safely within my memory where he will stay forever.

Onwards and upwards to books. Our book group is reading
A Little Life. I was looking forward to it because the hype around this book has been intense. But my word it is long. Too long. This author is so wordy. I think the story is interesting. We follow the lives of four boys, one of which was badly abused by the brothers as he grew up an orphan. Jude is a very bright boy and goes on to study law as an adult but he is extremely emotionally damaged due to childhood abuse. JB is a friend who grows up to be an artist of renown. Other friends Malcolm and Willem are also featured. The friendship begins in their teens and through adulthood we go. I admit I am only 35% of the way through this so I continue to read this book on my kindle as well as listen to the narrative on audio. The editor in me wants to slash and burn. The author makes a point. He then goes on to make it again....and again.... and again.  Then the point is explained. I am finding it a tedious read but I do want to know what happens to them.  I enjoy hearing what these boys get up to in their life but the writing does drive me mad at times. I will persevere for another few days. I can't promise to finish it but I am giving it my best as we discuss it on the last Wednesday of the month.

On a happier night our play reading class through U3A (University of the Third Age) has our group reading Juno and the Paycock. A wonderful Irish play by Sean O'Casey. The Irish woman in our group chose this play and we are learning a lot about the author and the time and location in Ireland. We have a lot of fun trying to do an Irish accent. Reading the words out loud help us to slide into the accent quite easily at times but the vocabulary of the country and the time period trips us up sometimes. We have a woman in the class who is German, some Aussies, some English and Scottish and of course we follow that up with my American accent.  We have many laughs. I never appreciated plays until I started up with this class and our teacher, Marlene, in her 80's with years of drama experience is wonderful. We love her sense of humour, her enthusiasm and her knowledge. I think we finish up this play this afternoon.

On the animal note in our house, life has begun again for Griswald or Grizzy Bear for short. Tasmania has a glut of cats at the moment. We await the day when the legislature governing cats comes into place. The government is slow. Feral cats in Australia are a huge problem and kill much of the wildlife here. Wildlife that can only be found in Australia but that is another story.

We have problems in our house between Cousin Eddie and Uncle Buck. You see, Uncle Buck or UB to his friends, is neurologically impaired due to severe abuse as a three week old kitten (before we got him). I saved him from a vet office when working as a vet nurse at the time.  I was asked to bring him home for the weekend to try and get food into him. We did not expect him to live. Ten years later he is a big round fat long haired grey cat. Loving. Very loving. Not very bright. He tries.  Cousin Eddie is a two year old kitten from the RSPCA who has worked out there is something wrong with UB.  Bullying has ensued.  It hasn't gotten better but worse.

Enter my bright idea of bringing in a third kitten. Grizzy. He is 16 weeks old, pure black with the exception of white chest hairs and his behaviour at the Cat Centre was placid. In fact I was told he sleeps most of the time. Likes cuddles, his food and warmth.  Sounded perfect. Cousin Eddie would have a playmate and leave UB alone. That was the plan. The reality?

Grizzie is like a bullet shot from a gun, ricocheting off every thing in the house. He slides across the room as easily as he leaps to the highest spot in the house. He eats like a horse and Cousin Eddie is so dazzled by him he had airplane ears for several days every time he looked at him. It took him three days to put the fur down on his back. I was worried.

But the rush is over and they are all getting along fine.  UB is being left alone and he is happy. The dogs think the cat skirmishes are good fun to watch and leave them all alone. Casual interest now.  Eddie and Grizzy seem to love chasing each other, playing and having meals together. The plan has worked.  Fortunately we have a large outdoor enclosure to put the two of them into when their jets need cooling. We do not let them roam at will as Tasmania has too much precious wildlife and it will not be killed by these goofy guys.

As I said, life goes on. Books are being read and placed on hold at the library. Discussions around them occur regularly. Animals give us peace and the autumn weather here has been delightful.

We still miss Wally but have come to terms with what a wonderful life he had with us and we are feeling better. As long as there are live animals who need homes we will do our little bit here in our part of the world. We do draw the line though at five. Our family is complete.

Looking forward there is the Sydney Writer's festival coming up when I fly to Sydney on 16 May and stay a week.

My sister arrives from California in mid June for awhile and we will see parts of Australia we have not seen. I have a trip to England and Ireland planned for mid September to mid October with a friend of mine from Florida. We will meet at Heathrow and rent a car. We plan on driving around the Cornwall area, Wales and then spend two weeks in Ireland by car. There is a lot to look forward to and I plan on sharing all of it here with anyone who is interested.  There will be books involved. The Penguin and I are ready to travel and read.

Until next time.......

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall....

Rest in Peace Old Boy, we really loved you.
It was October of 2000. A small brown puppy was born in a suburb north of us. We hadn't met him yet but we would. We had no idea how our life would change.

November 2000 I was diagnosed with MS. I was 50 years old and to say the least I was surprised. Being the pragmatic person I am I decided to milk it for all it was worth.  We had an older dog, Bluey. He was lovely. He was 12 years old and after spending years doing dog obedience and agility, having beach days, loving this dog, he was slowing down.  We needed a puppy to get him feeling young again. Enter Wally.  The day I went looking for puppies there were none to be found. The dog's home didn't have any, the
RSPCA didn't have any.  I did what I would probably never do again, I turned to the classified ads.  I read "10 puppies for sale. 8 Female- 2 Male. Call 1-800-xxx-xxxxx." I did. A used car dealer answered the call. I had heard of him and he was a bit shoddy. However I was determined.  I went to see the puppies on my lunch hour from where I worked at Disability Services. It was very nearby.

Wally at 8 weeks. A stuffy body, dachshund legs and a jack russell head.

As I walked into the car dealership I saw a box in the corner. One puppy had his head sticking up. The other 9 were asleep. I told the man I wanted a boy. I think boy dogs are smoochier. What kind of dogs are they?  Well, the father was a staffordshire terrier crossed with adachshund. The mother was a full Jack Russell. There were 8 small puppies who didn't stir much from sleep. But there was one big fat tummied puppy ready for life.

I didn't have to think twice as I picked the squirming bundle up, paid the man and took him back to work.

Our old dog Bluey taught Wally a lot and Wally loved him.

Life for him was to be very full, lots of fun, with lots of jobs he made for himself and he was like the chefs on the Bake Off shows when it came to food. He loved his food then and he never stopped eating his way through life.

Wally thought Bluey was the wisest dog on earth and they
doted on each other.

Fifteen and a half years have now passed and I am sorry to say Wally departed from his life, in his own bed, with his fuzzy blanket and with everyone he loved surrounding him.  The grief has been solid and we are only now coming out of it.  I know, people say "he was just a dog" but we don't have kids, we don't have family in Australia and our animals are our family.
Once Bluey passed away Wally became the "dog of the house" and
he took his responsibilities seriously. He decreed the beach
was the place everyone should hang out the most.

Fortunately we still have Odie and Molly, our other two dogs and our two cats, Uncle Buck and Cousin Eddie but all of us are a little bit lost because Wally seemed to manage the household in his own way and we sure miss him.

We are happy though we were there for him in the end and he never suffered any pain. He went downhill one sunny morning in a matter of hours and we didn't let him linger. This post is for you Wally.
He loved Christmas. Bluey had taught him how to open gifts and he
was good at it.
When the dog's home gave us a litter of very young puppies to foster for 
a few weeks Wally took over and taught them manners. They loved him. That is
our little Odie at the back of the picture on the mat.

The puppies went back to the dog's home when they were 
old enough for adoption.  We kept Odie. Wally accepted Odie from the start and
tolerated his questions, his playfulness and hours of being silly together.
He taught him to eat as much as you can, play with every toy and love the
beach. Get along with others and always be good. You're family now, be respectful.

Wally in his final years. He turned into a grand old master and we won't
ever forget him. His ashes are with us now and one day maybe we'll all 
be together again.