Archive for Uncategorized

http://julieboydpublishing.wordpress.com/

http://julieboydpublishing.wordpress.com/

.50 Social Media Marketing Tips and Tactics People watch YouTube videos because they are entertaining, educational or just plain funny. Viewers turn up to your Slideshare account and take the time to view a presentation because the content is compelling. LinkedIn works well for personal branding because you are providing answers to your peers to questions in the Q&A section and providing updates that answers problems, informs and educates. Twitter teases you to click on links that are engaging blog posts or news that is topical and timely. The knowledge economy is all about the content. Facebook is where your audience is online so content needs to be posted and updated to the social giants ecosystem. So here are 50 synergistic social media marketing tips and tactics to market your content and ideas and help them to spread to a global audience. Apply some of these tips and you maybe surprised in the journey that unfolds as you and your company are discovered and shared and your goods and services are purchased because you were ‘found’. The secret sauce behind these tips is to allow you to create a ‘social media synergy’ that totals a sum far greater than the individual parts. This approach is to guide you to go beyond being just ‘Facebook Centric’ and provide substance, endurance and longevity to your on-line presence and digital assets. These tips are also about assisting you in optimizing and integrating the multiple social media platforms listed below Some of these tips are basic for some but this is a checklist that may assist you in synergizing your online presence and bring traffic and viewers to your global digital properties. 50 Social Media Marketing Tips and Tactics Blog Produce inspiring, educational and awesome content that is so compelling that people want to share it, this is the foundation of your marketing. All media is about good content and social media is no different Write regularly and consistently, people will then come and visit regularly and keep coming back because they know it will be new and topical (that is why magazines have regular publishing time frames) Learn to write a headlines that make people want to read the rest of your article Use ‘list’ posts (eg 50 Fascinating Facebook Facts and Figures) regularly. They may be a bit passe for some, but they work and tend to get passed around online Place a Retweet button on your blog at the top of the posts (WordPress plugins make this really easy to do) Place a Facebook share button at the top of all posts Include a Facebook ‘like box’ near the top right side of the blog so people can ‘like’ your Facebook page even while they are on your blog Place a LinkedIn share button on your blog (LinkedIn has over 100 million users and they are typically high earners and influential) Comment regularly on other bloggers in your niche As you grow your traffic and followers, highlight this on your blog and demonstrate some ‘social proof’. This could even include the number of Twitter followers you have or awards you have won or your website grade or even your Twitter grade Make it easy for people to subscribe via email (email marketing may be perceived as old school but it works big time!) Offer to guest post on a another influential bloggers blogs and provide a link back to your blog as part of the agreement Provide subscribe buttons so people can follow you on your other web properties (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc) Provide a subscription button via RSS so people can have your posts pushed to them in their ’Google Reader’ account after they are published More reading 105 Tips to Make Your Blog Rock Facebook Update your Facebook ‘Page’ with your blog posts straight after publishing Provide content and links on your Facebook page that will make them want to share and like your updates Include Twitter in your menu (This is available as a standard setting on your Facebook fan page) Run polls using the standard Facebook ‘Question’ feature (above the ‘Write something’ box) to engage your audience and involve them Link to your Facebook page in your email newsletter Run a competition on Facebook Use a reveal tab that is set up as your landing page that provides access to unique content, this could be a video a content or even a voucher Respond to all comments on your Facebook page in a timely fashion More reading How To Take Your Company Facebook Page From Zero To 40,000 Fans Twitter Acquire Twitter followers – quantity is important Engage and develop Twitter followers within your niche using Tweepi (Tweepi.com makes it easy to follow followers of influential bloggers on Twitter) or Twellow.com (Twellow provides a tool that enables you to find powerful Twitter follower lists in your niche) – this is the quality part of the Twitter equation Share the content of influential Twitter people and let them know by including their Twitter name eg @Jeffbullas Automate the tweeting of other bloggers content that you trust and add value to your followers with other peoples articles and content Tweet regularly and consistently the posts of other influential bloggers in your topic category Automate the retweeting of your great content so it is not forgotten and buried in the archives (SocialOomph professional can be setup to do this) When tweeting your posts include # tags that deliver the Tweet to # groups/lists eg #SocialMedia More reading How to Write a Mind Blowing Headline for Twitter so People will Read Your Blog YouTube Interview influential people in your topic category on video and post them to YouTube Include your website/blog link in your profile Automate sharing after posting (available under ‘Account settings” then ‘Activity Sharing’ , then choose the social accounts and as a minimum select Facebook and Twitter (Reader, Orkut and MySpace are also able to be enabled) Write a headline that is ‘keyword’ rich for your industry and niche Write a tempting and teasing headline that makes the potential viewer want to ‘hit’ the play button Place a link to your blog at the beginning of each description for each video and make sure you write a description that includes keywords and inviting description Include keyword tags for each video More reading 9 Secrets of an Online Video Marketing Strategy LinkedIn Use all three website or links that LinkedIn allows in your profile (these can point to your website, blog and Facebook) Make your LinkedIn profile ‘Public’ in your settings Pose questions in the Q&A section of LinkedIn with links to your possible answer as a post link Setup a LinkedIn profile for your blog (not just your personal profile) Integrate your Slideshare into your LinkedIn account using the ‘Add an Application’ button at the bottom right of your home page Integrate your Blog post feed into your LinkedIn account using the ‘Add an Application’ button at the bottom right of your home page Add your Twitter feed into your LinkedIn account using the ‘Add an Application’ Slideshare Turn your posts into PowerPoint presentations and post them to Slideshare Write a good headline both on the presentation itself and the Title area Include keyword tags that would be used to find the presentation Promote your presentations on Twitter Allow viewers to download your presentation to assist in making it easy for people to share Post them to your Facebook page In choose a license make it CC (Creative Commons) License so people can use your content and then attribute and link to your blog What other social media marketing tips and tactics have I left out? http://summify.com/story/Toc3lY3fhyeDAAVL/www.jeffbullas.com/2011/05/24/50-social-media-marketing-tips-and-tactics/ Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment » Welcome to Julie Boyd Publishing August 22, 2010 by jboydedu | Edit I have been self publishing for more than 20 years. My initial forays into publishing were in the field of EDUCATION where I have worked as a consultant for many years. These days I am enjoying membership of a number of writing groups and organisations, and am working with others to help them with their own publishing efforts. NOTE: This site is under construction. More information will be added on a daily basis over the next few weeks. Please feel free to contact me for ways I may be able to assist you. Links: Twitter jboyded LinkedIn Julie Boyd Website Home website http://www.julieboyd.com.au Blog : Education http://jboydedu2.wordpress.com Blog : Education http://julieboydandassociates.blogspot.com/ Blog: Ecoliteracy http://jboydedu.wordpress.com/ PUBLICATIONS http://julieboydandassociates.blogspot.com/ http://southernshortstorywriters.blogspot.com/ http://www.julieboyd.net.au/Index.asp?pagename=PRODUCTS&site=1&siteid=2019&FormID=Product Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Leave a comment »

The Jorge Diaries

http://thejorgediaries.wordpress.com/

My dog and I have matching tumours.

© Julie Boyd 2011

My dog and I have matching tumours.

We first met ten years ago, just after one of my closest friends had died. She had been dealing with an unusual abdominal tumour which was growing daily, looked like a pregnancy, and was inoperable. At the time, I had several tumours in various female bits of my anatomy, and a dodgy heart that had caused a three attacks, several minor strokes, and  a couple of close encounters with the afterlife. So the two of us had been making wagers about who would go first.  I was not at all fussed about a funeral for myself. Another friend and I had, on another occasion, over a couple of bottles of red,  discussed being cremated and packed into a firework rocket, then shot up over our favourite spots on respective beaches. This mate, however, was lamenting the fact that she wouldn’t be around for her funeral. She wanted a big bash with all her friends there. As things were getting progressively pretty serious at that time, her being on the slow, progressive deterioration route while I was likely to pop off unannounced any time, we decided that I would organise a party for her. We spent a wonderful few hours planning what we called a death party together as we took our final walks along the beach, but found later we had to reframe it to a ‘Celebration of her life’ party, to save the sensibilities of others. They weren’t the ones dying, we mused, why were they so upset about it?

We had travelled and worked together a lot, and the last trip we took together was to Queensland. I’d been saying for some time that if I survived,  I wanted to move from my lovely old, very large, home compound in Tasmania. The maintenance of the huge house, stables and separate cottage,  built in 1930 as one of the original Tassie homesteads, with 22 foot ceilings, was getting too much. So together with my daughter and one of her mates to keep an eye on us, we all embarked on a trip, which took us from Noosa to Byron Bay, looking for the perfect place for me to move to.

My mate, unfortunately won the wager and died just weeks later, surrounded by her friends and her gorgeous sons. I tried desperately to fly in from Tasmania, to reach her before she went, but I was an hour too late. Just before I flew out, my own Doctor had given me six months. I never told anyone.

A month later I was spending some recovery time with a mutual friend. I’d only met her at the funeral, but it was one of those precious instant friendships that clicked immediately. She arrived home one day with a tiny bundle of white fluff, a puppy called Trev who took up residence on my lap and stayed there to lick the unexpected tears from my face. Several days later my mate arrived home with a second bundle – this time a black and white one who decided to come home with me. He was promptly named Jorge, after one of the spirit guides who had helped me through my recent near death experiences.

Jorge and I went home to Tassie, where he spent every available moment cuddled up close, often lying on various parts of my body – he seemed to know where the tumours were, and making me laugh with his puppy way antics. He was so quiet, I didn’t even know he could bark until much later when he wuffed one day and gave himself the biggest fright. His persistence as my little healer paid off, I gradually started to improve and together we prepared to move to the NSW north Coast.

We arrived at our new home just before Christmas and both my kids and my dead friend’s kids all joined us. It was a perfect day. I was finally walking again, well kind of, with the help of two sticks, and even though we lived right on the beach, it was impossible for me to walk far enough to be able to manage the 100metres down the street to the edge of the sand, let alone the ten metres across the sand to the water.

But every day we’d make it a little further, me with my two sticks and Jorge with his little collar and leash. It took two years for us to make it to the edge of the sand, and another one to make it to the water, but we finally did. Jorge was ecstatic. His world was complete, with crabs to dig for and waves to chase. The local surfers did their best to teach him to ride a board, but he was always reluctant to get too far away. My tumours shifted and shrank and my heart attacks became further and further apart. Over the next few years, the six months the Doctors had talked to me about, faded into memory.

Then three months ago tragedy struck. One weekend Jorge became totally constipated. It didn’t matter how much he strained, nothing would come out. He’d had this happen about a year before, but then,  feeding him paraffin oil and cat-food had fixed it. This time, nothing. By the time we got to the vet he was so miserable, and I was frantic with worry. She took him off for an x-ray to check whether he’d swallowed a fish hook or a crab that may have blocked his bowel. Half an hour later she came out with the strangest look on her face. ‘It’s not just a bowel blockage. He has a massive tumour about the size of a grapefruit pressing on his internal organs. It seems to be attached to both his kidneys. I’m not sure we can do too much to help. ‘

I wasn’t ready to lose him. He’d healed me over so many years, I owed it to him to fight as much as I could to save him – for me. An extended conversation, shared examination of the x-rays and ultrasounds, and several calls to vetinary surgeons and university professors,  and a plan was hatched.  There was some fluid surrounding the tumour contained in a cyst. Surely if the fluid could be aspirated (taken out), that might stop the pressure on his poor little squashed insides and let them function again. So that’s what we did.

Jorge and I headed off on a road trip down south to see the rest of our family, and across to visit his little white fluffy mate, Trev,  on what we called his farewell tour. We had a ball. Jorge had heaps of cuddles and lamb roasts and we came home again happy.

A week later the same thing happened. Another blockage and more bad news. The cyst had filled again, but this time instead of clear fluid it was filled with blood. One of his kidneys had ruptured and all the time we thought he was doing well during our big trip, he’d been dealing with a collapsed kidney, but with no outer signs of distress or discomfort, and no symptoms. Aspiration wasn’t an option this time so another set of decisions had to be made. Open him up, see if the tumour could be isolated from the second kidney, and if so, the tumour and the dodgy kidney would come out.

We almost lost him – twice. Watching that little body lying on the operating table was one of the hardest moments of my life. The vet knew his role in healing me and she was determined to do her best surgery, against all odds. She’s been told by the Professors and specialists she had consulted that they all thought there was nothing she, as just an ordinary surgeon, could do and advised her to send us off to them. I’d decided that her love of dogs would pull him through, and if he wasn’t going to make it, I wanted her to be the one to tell me, not some stranger.

That was three months ago today. It took him a week to recover from the anaesthetic as he’s allergic to them. Feeding him on slivers of frozen chicken breast kept him nourished as it’s hot at the beach. He ended up with 42 stitches in that tiny body. His first visits to the beach after his stitches healed meant he had to be carried.

Today, we’re just home from a morning of digging for crabs, his favourite pastime. A passerby asked if he was going to China as the hole he’d made in the sand was so deep his whole body was below ground level. He found one, his first in months, and chased it in circles before the crab stopped and conceded defeat. Then, instead of eating it as had been his previous practice, he picked it up in his mouth and carried it into the waves.

Memories of him carrying me to the beach all those years ago didn’t seem that far away.
Jorge’s tumour

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 27, 2011 · 4:24 am | Edit

Mates for life

© Julie Boyd

My mate Trev and I grew up together. Trev is white with a curly tail like a pig. He is low to the ground and very speedy.  I’ve got long gangly legs, and a long tail that waves all the time and I’ve got different colours.  I can’t beat him but I can usually outsmart him. His human tells people that he’s ‘decorative more than brilliant’ whereas my human describes me as ‘smart as a whip but very lazy.’ I’ve never actually met a whip, but I have seen them being used by those little blokes who ride horses very fast on TV, and I’m sure smarter than them and their whips. If they just got off the horses’ backs they’d run very fast just to get away from the whips.

When Trev and I were little we used to get up to all sorts of adventures. Hiding in the grass was always fun. Trev was so low that he’d get lost and just run around in circles making the grass move, but I could always see where he was- he never figured that out.

Trev is a great mate. Whenever anyone would bring food out it was always for me. So I’d hide mine then start a growly game to trick Trev into giving me his as well.

We used to love watching TV together. Inspector Rex , and the dinosaurs, and the monkeys were always good wuffing material. We’d stand in front of the TV and dance and yell our heads off. I told you I’m a smart person. I’d gone looking for Inspector Rex one day behind the big tv box, and he wasn’t there. But when I came back to the front he was. It took me a while but I figured out that TV was really just moving pictures so we were quite safe wuffing at big people. I told Trev and he didn’t believe me for a bit, so I suggested he ask them if he could go and play. He used to race up to the big people at the puppy park and sometimes they’d snap at him. I didn’t because a lot of them weren’t very friendly and I like to choose my friends carefully.  So from then on, everyone he saw on TV he’d ask them to play- and no one ever did. But they didn’t snap at him either.

We always had a lot of fun pretending to be whoever we saw. Trev used to especially like the packs of hunting dogs racing across the paddocks, but I was pretty hooked on Inspector Rex and used to go off sleuthing a lot. My sleuthing got me into trouble a bit. Whenever the front door was open I’d bolt outside as there were always crimes to solve out there, and if I ran fast enough I could get away. One day as I was belting down the road I could hear Trev’s human who we always call Bob (even though that’s not her name) yelling at me ‘Jorge stop’. I was on a mission so I really couldn’t. I raced over to the big empty space where there were lots of men humans doing stuff with square trees. There was a big box near them that they would go into sometimes and the smell of it was just out of this world.

On this particular day I headed for the box, intent of discovering at least one new smell when Bob yelled ‘a schmacko for whoever catches him.’ Well, next thing I knew I was locked inside the box and I could hear them all laughing outside. I heard Bob say ‘thanks Kenny’ as they opened the door and she picked me up. I figured I really had the last laugh though as being locked in with all those smells was pure heaven. I only wished that I could have rolled more in them so I could take the experience back and share it with Trev. Later I saw Kenny on tv and he had lots of boxes at his place. That was one time when I wished that TV was real as I’d loved to have gone home with him for a while. That night I had wonderful dreams about rolling in the boxes at Kenny’s place. I must have been talking in my sleep because Trev nudged me and I fell off the sofa where we used to sleep, onto the floor and gave myself a big surprise.

Trev and I also took a great interest and pride in home decorating. We used to work very hard when Bob and my human went out for the day. We didn’t mind them going because they’d come home and bring packets of schmackos and chicken necks, and wings and all kinds of stuff. So we thought that if they were off working it was only fair that we did the same. We’d spend entire days arranging baskets full of washing all over the house. Trev used to chew stuff a lot so he was in charge of creating the holes so you could see the carpet, or the cushions through the clothes. He was good on decorating shoes as well. My specialty was toothbrushes and flowers. I love flowers and whenever I could I’d take them out of those containers with the water in them and sprinkle the coloured bits all over the floor. My human would get the noisy sucker thingy out of the cupboard sometimes and suck up everything off the floor to prepare it for us which was nice of her. She wasn’t overly impressed by our efforts, but Bob was. She’d come home and compliment us on the balance of colour and texture we’d achieved in our latest presentation. She was particularly impressed by what she called my ‘interest in dental hygiene’. I never knew what she really meant but she always sounded happy to see us and we were always happy to see her so I’d just wag my tail a lot.

As I’ve grown up I don’t go to visit Trev and Bob so much these days. Getting there used to be fun. We’d get my box out of the shed, and as soon as I saw that I knew it meant a trip on the plane so I’d get very excited. We’d go in the car to the airport and I’d sit on a cushion so I could see out the window. Then the men at the airport always made a big fuss of me. I only ever met one awful man. The rest would sit me on their laps as we drove over the plane before I’d get shut in my box for a while. Then when we arrived I’d get on a moving belt with all the luggage and come out through some curtains as if I was making an entrance at the Oscars (saw them on TV too). Bob would grab my box and let me out then Trev and I would race around the airport while Bob and my human would tell everyone we were ‘trainee sniffer dogs’. But times have changed and we can’t do that any more. Travelling on planes is awful now and I’d really rather stay at home. So Trev and I use computers now to keep in touch. We started using email but now we can even see each other so we have lovely chats. I’m not really sure how it works- it’s like TV only real, but he’s still not there- I’ve checked.

When we do get together now, it’s just like old times. We’re still best mates. Even though we’ve grown up and I live at the beach, there are always so many stories to share. Our growly games and our adventures and sharing our sleeping spots haven’t changed a bit- and I can still trick him out of his food.

July 21, 2010 · 12:59 am | Edit

Persons I admire

 
May 4, 2010 · 4:14 am | Edit

This Doggone Life

© Julie Boyd 2010

Those people who claim that we should not attribute human emotions to animals must be cat people. Dog people know that their four-legged mates are often far more empathetic than many humans.

I almost lost my canine companion, or ‘significant other’ as my daughter refers to him, this week.

Jorge came into my life as a small ball of back and white fluff, courtesy of a mate of mine who had seen how quickly I’d attached to her own small ball of white fluff, Trev. At the time another friend, Polly, and I had been taking bets on who was going to die first- her from the tumour that was engulfing her abdomen, or me from a heart which had already failed a couple of times.

Polly beat me to it and Jorge filled part of the very large gap that gets left when one of your closest mates departs to the great hereafter. He would take up position on my chest until both of us were able to get up and walk again.

Together we began our sojurn as seachangers on the north coast of NSW- before it fell prey to spivs, shonks and con artists.

Our pristine estuary has provided numerous opportunities for waterborne expeditions- Jorge perched on the front of the kayak respectfully watching curlews, egrets, jabiru and even a koala before they were scared off by the construction trucks.

Our stunning stretch of beach can be tricky to those who don’t know it. We did have a couple of instances of being hit by rogue waves which carried Jorge out into surf requiring rescue efforts. He much preferred to paddle in the shallows, digging for crabs and then racing them to the water, or just enjoying pats from smiling locals- the tourists often too busy racing along trying to get fit, or learning how to surf. He earned his keep finding rubbish during our Monday cleanups after the day-trippers had left. Sometimes we came across dolphins dancing, or whales spectacularly belly-whacking the water as if to say ‘this is our territory’. We were also constantly surrounded by death- a headless turtle, half a shark, or bluebottles lying in wait. Or tourists who think they can beat nature- only to find they had to be extricated by local surfers if the lifesavers were off-duty.

But paradise also has its perils. From Jorge helping me to heal, to this week when his tiny body failed because of a massive tumour that was crushing his insides, the wheel has turned full circle.

The week before Polly died, those of us caring for her would have to follow her around as her bowel and bladder leaked as she wandered around her house. I would have given anything for Jorge to be leaking rather than totally blocked. As her body finally shut down a last minute change of heart, and an override of her living will, saw her end her days in a hospice. As his little body shut down the option was clear ‘I don’t want him to suffer any more- but can we try one last possibility’. Both of them had ‘unusual’ tumours and specialists could not offer any more to her- nor could university researchers offer any solutions for him. Euthanasia was not an option for her. It was for him. A last minute decision to attempt a new procedure by the vet had him walk out of the surgery wagging his tail. Two days later he is back digging more crabs- not cured- but much more comfortable and happy to sit and people- watch on the beach now.

I don’t know if he has an extra week, or a month or a year. I was given six months and have had eight years. I do know that we both have tumours floating around our bodies right now. And if they get worse, I’d like to think that we can both make decisions about when it is time- and not leave those decisions in the hands of professionals who are acting according to their oath, and not in our best interests at all. Jorge is back lying beside me right now. As a thank you, or another warning to me. Only time will tell.

April 5, 2010 · 2:57 am | Edit

Mates

© Julie Boyd 2009                                    1329 words

My mate Trev and I grew up together. Trev is white with a curly tail like a pig. He is low to the ground and very speedy.  I’ve got long gangly legs, and a long tail that waves all the time and I’ve got different colours.  I can’t beat him but I can usually outsmart him. His human tells people that he’s ‘decorative more than brilliant’ whereas my human describes me as ‘smart as a whip but very lazy.’ I guess we’ve fooled them both. I’ve never actually met a whip, but I have seen them being used by those little blokes who ride horses very fast on TV, and I’m sure smarter than them and their whips. If they just got off the horses’ backs they’d run very fast just to get away from the whips.

When Trev and I were little we used to get up to all sorts of adventures. Hiding in the grass was always fun. Trev was so low that he’d get lost and just run around in circles making the grass move, but I could always see where he was- he never figured that out.

Trev is a great mate. Whenever anyone would bring food out it was always for me. So I’d hide mine then start a growly game to trick Trev into giving me his as well.

We used to love watching TV together. Inspector Rex , and the dinosaurs, and the monkeys were always good wuffing material. We’d stand in front of the TV and dance and yell our heads off. I told you I’m a smart person. I’d gone looking for Inspector Rex one day behind the big tv box, and he wasn’t there. But when I came back to the front he was. It took me a while but I figured out that TV was really just moving pictures so we were quite safe wuffing at big people. I told Trev and he didn’t believe me for a bit, so I suggested he ask them if he could go and play. He used to race up to the big people at the puppy park and sometimes they’d snap at him. I didn’t because a lot of them weren’t very friendly and I like to choose my friends carefully.  So from then on, everyone he saw on TV he’d ask them to play- and no one ever did. But they didn’t snap at him either.

We always had a lot of fun pretending to be whoever we saw. Trev used to especially like the packs of hunting dogs racing across the paddocks, but I was pretty hooked on Inspector Rex and used to go off sleuthing a lot. My sleuthing got me into trouble a bit. Whenever the front door was open I’d bolt outside as there were always crimes to solve out there, and if I ran fast enough I could get away. One day as I was belting down the road I could hear Trev’s human who we always call Bob (even though that’s not her name) yelling at me ‘Jorge stop’. I was on a mission so I really couldn’t. I raced over to the big empty space where there were lots of men humans doing stuff with square trees. There was a big box near them that they would go into sometimes and the smell of it was just out of this world.

On this particular day I headed for the box, intent of discovering at least one new smell when Bob yelled ‘a schmacko for whoever catches him.’ Well, next thing I knew I was locked inside the box and I could hear them all laughing outside. I heard Bob say ‘thanks Kenny’ as they opened the door and she picked me up. I figured I really had the last laugh though as being locked in with all those smells was pure heaven. I only wished that I could have rolled more in them so I could take the experience back and share it with Trev. Later I saw Kenny on tv and he had lots of boxes at his place. That was one time when I wished that TV was real as I’d loved to have gone home with him for a while. That night I had wonderful dreams about rolling in the boxes at Kenny’s place. I must have been talking in my sleep because Trev nudged me and I fell off the sofa where we used to sleep, onto the floor and gave myself a big surprise.

Trev and I also took a great interest and pride in home decorating. We used to work very hard when Bob and my human went out for the day. We didn’t mind them going because they’d come home and bring packets of schmackos and chicken necks, and wings and all kinds of stuff. So we thought that if they were off working it was only fair that we did the same. We’d spend entire days arranging baskets full of washing all over the house. Trev used to chew stuff a lot so he was in charge of creating the holes so you could see the carpet, or the cushions through the clothes. He was good on decorating shoes as well. My specialty was toothbrushes and flowers. I love flowers and whenever I could I’d take them out of those containers with the water in them and sprinkle the coloured bits all over the floor. My human would get the noisy sucker thingy out of the cupboard sometimes and suck up everything off the floor to prepare it for us which was nice of her. She wasn’t overly impressed by our efforts, but Bob was. She’d come home and compliment us on the balance of colour and texture we’d achieved in our latest presentation. She was particularly impressed by what she called my ‘interest in dental hygiene’. I never knew what she really meant but she always sounded happy to see us and we were always happy to see her so I’d just wag my tail a lot.

As I’ve grown up I don’t go to visit Trev and Bob so much these days. Getting there used to be fun. We’d get my box out of the shed, and as soon as I saw that I knew it meant a trip on the plane so I’d get very excited. We’d go in the car to the airport and I’d sit on a cushion so I could see out the window. Then the men at the airport always made a big fuss of me. I only ever met one awful man. The rest would sit me on their laps as we drove over the plane before I’d get shut in my box for a while. Then when we arrived I’d get on a moving belt with all the luggage and come out through some curtains as if I was making an entrance at the Oscars (saw them on TV too). Bob would grab my box and let me out then Trev and I would race around the airport while Bob and my human would tell everyone we were ‘trainee sniffer dogs’. But times have changed and we can’t do that any more. Travelling on planes is awful now and I’d really rather stay at home. So Trev and I use computers now to keep in touch. We started using email but now we can even see each other so we have lovely chats. I’m not really sure how it works- it’s like TV only real, but he’s still not there- I’ve checked.

When we do get together now, it’s just like old times. We’re still best mates. Even though we’ve grown up and I live at the beach, there are always so many stories to share. Our growly games and our adventures and sharing our sleeping spots haven’t changed a bit- and I can still trick him out of his food.

· 2:50 am | Edit

Just Call Me Kenny

Just Call Me Kenny

The road we walk along down to our beach is a big mess right now. I think it’s great. So many new smells. Lots of new people to talk to, and great big cars with gadgets of their front that lift up dirt and dig big holes. Something different happening every day. Cool boy stuff.The man that stands there (or sometimes sits) and holds a sign that he turns around- sometimes red and sometimes yellow is called Peter. He’s a nice bloke. Always gives me a pat and likes a chat.

His job is to stop cars coming along. Not that they can cos there’s nowhere for them to go right now- so I guess his job is pretty easy.

My human got into a big chat with him and they were using words like greedy developers, sneaky plans that need to be exposed …. It all sounded a bit boring to me though Peter was talking about what our beach was like 30 years ago when he used to live here. He wished he’d bought a house then.

While they were chatting I decided to go and see what the others were doing. So I sidled around the big truck… dumdedumdedumdemdedum and noone saw me. Then I saw it. Joey and Carlo and the others were all standing around a huge hole in the middle of the road. They were all leaning on their shovels and going hmmmmmm so I thought they must have needed some help.

I ran over and started digging. I thought I was helping and I almost fell into their hole. It was the biggest crabhole I’d ever seen. I was only trying to help but all of a sudden people were yelling and I got a bit of a fright. So I ran towards the beach puffing and panting. There in front of me, just at the beginning of the track down to the sand was a little house and beside it a bigger house that had a veranda and wheels.

I remembered about the little houses. When I was a puppy and living with Bob and Trev I used to run away every chance I could because I really wanted to find where my human was. It wasn’t that I didn’t love them- I was just concerned when my human didn’t always come home.

One day when Bob opened the door I shot out like a little fluffy rocket. Up the street I went until I saw a big pile of dirt and lots of men playing with shovels. I thought really quickly that if I raced over to them- they might be able to tell me where my human was. So I started running. Of course my legs were really little back then.

All of a sudden I heard Bob yell ‘schmacko for whichever one of you boys catches him’ Then I looked and all the men had dropped their shovels and they were chasing me.

I was really confused then so I looked around really quickly for somewhere to hide. That’s when I saw the little house and ran inside.

Let me tell you- I don’t know if the guys got their schmackos or not but they all dived in and grabbed me- but we were all pretty much knocked over by the smell.

So- when I remembered that adventure I- quick as a flash- saw that the door to the bigger house with wheels was open and jumped up the stairs. Right into the lap of another man who was sitting there peacefully enjoying a drink.

I guess when you’re faced with a choice- sometimes going for the one that smells that least bad will still give you some big surprises.

 

 

Safe at last

After the market our day wasn’t finished. We headed home and took Phoebs’ present over to her. We’d wrapped it up so her human said I could help to unwrap it (WMD was outside on the veranda asleep so I was safe). Both her humans were there and they started laughing and laughing when they saw it. They opened the door so WMD Phoebs could come in. When she saw me of course she came belting in- but they grabbed her and put her present on. It was a little hat that she wears over her nose and it holds her mouth shut so she can’t bite me. Well…… how cool is that. I felt safe for the first time. She could still whack me with her head but NO biting. I was so happy and I didn’t mind at all that Phoebs got a present and I didn’t (I don’t actually want one). I hope she doesn’t have to wear it much as she looked a bit cross. But she did have a lovely time figuring out how to pull it off and that kept her occupied. So- for the first time since Phoebs came home- I could go and get Mr Men that I keep on a special shelf over there.
I guess sometimes drastic measures do pay off- but only sometimes.

posted by Jorgedog at 2:27 AM

 

 

It’s coming

OK- I think I’ve figured out what’s going on.
This morning it was raining cats and dogs (I still can’t find those cats no matter how hard I look) so we went out to the shed. That’s always an adventure ‘cos that’s where the stuff we don’t use very often gets kept. So when we go out we have to open the door very slowly and peep around in case something jumps out at us, or falls out on top of us.
So there we were – peeping- when the nextdoor man (the one who’s there today- they come and go a lot from there) sneaked up behind us and said ‘do you need some help? Well that made us both jump just as much as anything that might have come out from behind the door. And because I was in my pouncing ready mode facing into the shed, and he came up behind me I got a bit fright and jumped in the door- and hit the little fridge where we keep the beer- and that made the books fall off the top and crash onto me- and- oh dear- what a mess! 

After we picked all the books up my human reached up and got the huge big black bag from way up on the top shelf. She had to make herself really big to get it down. Then we took it inside.

Now I like bags and boxes cos they have presents inside then so I was very excited. When we opened it up there was lots of the coloured sparly stuff that I remembered we threw all round the house last year and then my human brothers and sisters came home. They called it Christmas. It must be really soon now. While the sky hose was watering everything outside we had a lovely time spreading the sparkles all over the place and I was such a help as you can see.

Then- off we went in the car to do shopping. Again! We’re doing lots of shopping at the moment. I had to wait in the car for a few minutes (my human won’t let me do that if it’s hot cos that’s not good for me) while she ran in and came back with a little present. She said it was for WMD Phoebs so I wasn’t real happy- but it was only a little tiny present so I thought maybe that would be OK.

Back in the car and off to a market we went. Along the dirt road and round lots of corners. It took us a while but I like the market so I wsa happy to just watch all the moos out the window as we drove past. All of a sudden my human said ‘hang on Jorge’ and we slowed right down and stopped. She put her window down adn I heard her say ‘what are you doing out here, are you lost?’ Silly me- I thought she was talking to me so I was thinking she really has lost it if she doesn’t realise I’m RIGHT HERE. Then I looked out and there was a bigger Phoebs on the road. Luckily there were no other cars anywhere cos that’s really dangerous- walking in the middle of the road. I was a bit confused as it wasn’t Emma, and not Phoebe- kind of halfway in between. We were a bit ocnfused about what to do so we put her in the backseat of the car. She was very happy to hop in and drove along a bit further again till we came to a shop that lives in the middle of nowhere. My human went in and asked the lady in the shop if she knew where the Phoebs/Emma dog lived and the lady said no – maybe she had been dumped. But she was very happy for us to leave her there which was nice of her. The poor dog had told me while we were in the car that she had lost her family. She was very sad but it sounded as if they weren’t very nice to her so I did feel sorry for her. That’s very naughty as the dogs will grow up unhappy and angry.
Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to be parents.

posted by Jorgedog at 1:55 AM

 

 

My stressful day


It’s been such a stressful day today. We had to get up early as the man was coming to wash all the carpets and make them nice for when all my human family come home for a holiday next week. I’m getting really excited as I’ll have lots of people to play with and lots of PRESENTS to open as well.
But getting up early is not one of my strong points. I’m not a morning Prince at all- like my sleep-ins. So being turfed out of bed at 6 this morning made me a bit grumpy to start with- especially as I had a bit of a sleepless night last night.
As soon as we were up my human started moving everything outside. I wasn’t really sure why but there was stuff everywhere. It was OK for her to move all her stuff, but when she started to shift mine I was a bit ‘not impressed’ Out went my toybox onto the patio. ‘Well’ I thought- ‘that’ not acceptable’ so I started to carry my toys back inside. Then my two beds moved and I had to run around looking for them. Where was I going to sleep if my beds were gone. I found one out on the patio so I put my duck in that one to hold that, then the other one I found in the laundry. What on earth was it doing there. The my human came and said ‘Jorge- your bed needs a wash’ and put it in the big white machine that goes wrrrr wrrrrr bump bump bump.
Between trying to move my toys and finding my beds, and chairs blocking my way to the door that the food gets kept behind in the kitchen – I was getting seriously worried. Then my human said ‘come here Jorge- here’s a bed you can sleep on today’ so I felt a bit better.
The carpet man turned up in a little white van and got this huge machine out- so I went and hopped in my bed. I figured ‘this looks like a big noise coming up’- and it was.
So he scrubbed and washed and there was water and big sticks and humans pushing my chairs and stuff around. I tried a few times to help then gave up and went and lay in the hole in the garden I’d prepared earlier. I can watch cos there’s a little gap beween the flowers just big enough for me to peep through.
The noise in the house went on forever. Then they packed everything up and the man left.
Well- just to show how much I was not happy by the days’ proceedings I walked inside- and promptly threw up on the carpet. (I don’t think my human was very happy about that).
Was my day over- not likely! Then, just as I was feeling a bit better I heard another noise at the door and ran over to see who the visitor was this time. Whoops- big mistake. It was the lady with the noisy things that make my hair fall off. So as well as the carpet having big noisy machines rubbed all over it- so did I. But at the end she gave me a schmacko so I did my very best ‘please’ by sitting on my bottom and waving my paw (I think it’s a bit silly but the humans tell me ‘Jorge how cuuuute’ so I do it to get more pats and schmackos.
Finally everyone has gone and I’m exhausted. My bed is back in it’s right place, everyone has stopped trying to chang things and all is right in my world again. So- while my human sits down for a glass of wine with her friends- I’ll just sneak off for a relax with my duck and a snooze.
A man needs his comforts and to know that all is right in his world!

posted by Jorgedog at 11:15 PM

 

 

WMD Phoebs

WMD Phoebs and her human came to visit tonight. I heard them coming so ran out to the front door wagging my tail to let them know I was pleased to see them.
Just as I was getting to the door there was a big craaash and ‘ouch’. We have a little fence across the front patio to stop the canetoads getting in. They make an awful mess and like to hide in the big fishbowl that’s out there. So we try to keep them out. But Phoebs was so excited to visit that she had crashed into the fence.
Once they made it past that barrier she barrelled in the door like a little bulldozer and headed straight for my foodbowl. I tricked her cos I eat the good stuff and leave that awful dry muck in the bowl- and she eats that. Honestly – some people will eat anything.
Then she headed for my toybox and my bed so I thought it was time we all went outside to play on the lawn. Well- Phoebs went nuts- racing around and trying to bite me again. I jumped up on my chair and did my best Grrrrrrrrrrr to tell her to calm down and she did for a minute. So I hopped down to show her where the little lizard lives behind the palm tree as I thought she might like to play chasey with that. But she started biting me again. So- I pulled myself up to my full height (well actually she jammed me up on my back legs against the air conditioner box) and started boxing her ears with my front legs and making loud Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrs. She stopped a bit and I thought it was a bit unfair that the humans were laughing – even though they were telling me ‘good boy Jorge- you need to tell her off’ so I figured it was OK.
Then my human played a trick on Phoebs. We have a curly hose so she wrapped a little bit of the hose round Phoebs’ tummy and she started running like crazy round the yard. The more she ran and did crocodile rolls- the more the hose wrapped round her like a giant snake. She was having a great time with it. Then my human went and turned it on so there was water coming out of it.

Well- talk about mayhem. Phoebs was wrapped in the hose and chasing the water (just a ittle bit cos we can’t waste water)- the garden was getting watered, Phoebs’ human was laughing so much they must have been able to hear her in New Zealand, and I was sitting back watching.
She eventually managed to get herself untangled and we all thought she’d need a sleep then- but no. Off she went again. Tearing through the garden, jumping into the water bowl and tipping it over herself then trying to eat it and chewing up a few of my toys and scattering them artfully across the lawn.
By the time they left- the place looked like a bomb had hit it- we were all exhausted. Sometimes after we’ve had visitors what we need is a cup of tea and a good lie down.

posted by Jorgedog at 6:13 AM

 

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

 

Sometimes a man just has to make a stand


OK that’s it. Enough’s enough!
I’ve been on ‘present watch’ for 24 hours now and the pile has grown a bit. I’m doing my best guard dog thing and sleeping beside the pile- with one eye open of course- just in case a present stealer comes along.
I’ve even chosen to stay home instead of going out in the car a few times now. 

Last night my human had to go out to another meat-ting. This was a big one with lots of people so I couldn’t go. I didn’t mind because they were going to be talking important stuff about stopping Mr Greedy from filling in our creek and building houses on it. I’m reall yglad they’re talking about that because Warren (the pelican) and the other birds are pretty worried that they might lose their homes- and my crabbing beach wouldn’t be there any more which would be awful. So I am worried about that.

I also didn’t mind as I had something I wanted to do. In my sniffings around I found that my human had wrapped up one of my toys as a present for Phoebs. Now- I know it’s an awful squeaky thing that looks a lot like the beer bottle the idiots leave on our beach sometimes. I don’t like it and never play with it. But I’m thinking that Phoebs probably should stop biting me if I’m going to give her a present and I’m not convinced that she will.

So- when my human was out at her meat-ting, I pulled it out of the present pile and unwrapped it, and put it back over near my toybox.

Sometimes a man just has to make a stand!

posted by Jorgedog at 12:36 PM

 

Sunday, December 10, 2006

 

The plot thickens


posted by Jorgedog at 9:41 PM

 

 

Doctor, Doctor

My fanclub President is going to the Doctor-man today and I just wanted to tell her that we’ll be thinking about her- and what to expect. I know what happens with these things after my trips to get my ears fixed a few weeks ago.
I’m sure he will be a very nice man and give her lots of pats. Then a nice lady will come along and stick one of those needle things into her bottom and she’ll have a big sleep. Then when she wakes up she’ll feel awful, and her legs won’t work and she’ll be sick everywhere. She probably won’t even feel like eating the schmackos they will give her for being so good, and all she’ll want to do is sleep lots and lots on her favorite beanbag. But hopefully there’ll be lots of people to give her cuddles and pats and licks and before long she’ll be back feeling OK again and the bad stuff will be all gone.

posted by Jorgedog at 1:36 PM

 

 

Hidden treasures

I think there’s something going on and I’m not quite sure what it is. My human keeps going out in the car and coming home with bags of stuff that she’s putting away in the cupboard. Every time I go to try and help her unpack she tells me ‘no Jorge- not for you’. But I can hear paper rattling and I know what that means …..PRESENTS. I looooooove presents. 

Today when she went out I said I wanted to stay home. When she asks me ‘do you want to come in the car?’ I usually run over to the front door really quickly before she changes her mind.

But today I thought…..’hmmmmmm….. I might just stay home’. So I went….. dumdedumdedumdedumdedum…. and hopped into my bed instead.

I waited till I heard the car start up and drive out – then I figured I was safe. So I checked out the storage cupboard. It was open. Not only that – but there was a chair in front of it- and you know what chairs are for- jumping up on of course. When I was a puppy I could never get up because they were too high. But the day I finally made it up onto a chair was the day I knew I’d become a grown up. (Phoebs can’t jump up onto any chairs yet so I’m safe from her up there too).

What’s a lad to do but jump up and have a bit of a sniff around. I did- and what did I find. A plastic bag- with something wrapped up in crackly paper inside. I love plastic bags. i know they’re very environmentally unfriendly because when we find them on the beach we get very upset- but in a cupboard I figure they can’t hurt the fish.

Crackly paper is a favorite memory from my puppyhood too. There were always good things inside- or if there was just the paper that was fun to play with anyway.

I pulled the plastic bag apart very carefully. Then- oh dear- the crackly paper fell on the floor so I jumped down really quickly and pulled it apart as I could smell something – and there it was. A white bear that looks a little bit like my Canada bear that Phoeb’s human brought me back from when she went away for that long time. This one smelled a bit different though. I was so happy I jumped onto it and it started to sing ‘wahwahwahwahwhah….’ Bears that sing are my other very very favorite thing- even more that pats and crackly paper.

I had such a wonderful afternoon- jumping on the bear and making it sing, and biting it’s eyes off (my favorite thing to do) and pulling it’s nose off.

When the nose came off a bit of white cloud came out from inside the bear. So I pulled and more came out.

I was so absorbed in what I was doing – singing with the bear and making the white cloud bigger that I didn’t hear the car some back until ….. ‘Jorge what ARE you doing’ I was asked. ‘Well- that’s pretty obvious’ I said. I wagged my whole body but didn’t stop as my human came over. She tried to take the bear away but I thought she was joining in the game so I sat and waited for her to throw the bear for me but instead she said ‘Jorge have you been naughty. Look at all this stuffing.’ (she pointed to the white cloud).

But I know she can’t stay mad with me for long and the bear sings so beautifully. So I just spent the rest of the evening making the bear sing while my human went round closing cupboards and moving chairs and joined in the song that goes ‘I wish you a merry xmas….I wish you a merry xmas….I wish you a merry xmas….and a happy new year….burp.’

posted by Jorgedog at 2:02 AM

 

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

 

Surf School

Someone turned the sky hose on a little bit this morning. I’ve never seen the hose but I figure it must be up there. Where else would the water come from? 

Hoses are great. Even Phoebs is getting into them now. She likes to roll over and tangle herself up in Sue’s hose. (Note to myself- Maybe I could give her a hose to tie herself up in then she’d leave me alone). My human tells me that if I had puppies (which I can’t cos I’ve had ‘the snip’) then they would probably never even get to see a hose because people won’t be allowed to use them in the future.

Anyway- they mustn’t have turned the hose on very much as there were only a couple of drops of water. Not even enough to wet us.

So imagine my surprise when we walked down the street where the big hole is one the way to the beach to find noone there. All the big machines were there- but no humans.

We soon found where they were though when we got down as far as the little houses with the wheels.

All the car doors were open and there were the blokes- having a snooze in their cars. I thought they were supposed to be digging more holes but Carlo told us ‘too wet- we can’t work when it’s wet’. Well- I thought- I do- I do my crabhole digging on the beach every day and it’s always wet down there. So I didn’t really see what the problem was at all. As we walked away my human said ‘good to see our taxpayers dollars working so hard boys!’

Down on the sand there were some big waves and lots of surfers out today. So I dived in for a swim and my usual wave jumping before we ran along the sand towards the head of the creek.

As I ran around the corner and went to dive into the creek I looked up and there were heaps and heaps of kids paddling along the creek towards me on their surfboards. They looked just like the little hermit crabs that swarm towards you sometimes on the beach- then disappear really quickly.

I went in for a swim anyway. I thought I could just join in.

One boy was out in front of the others. He paddled right up beside me, gave me a pat and told me what a good swimmer I was. I thought he seemed pretty nice so when we got out of the water I went and stood beside him and shook myself all over.

Then he asked my human if I could surf and she said ‘a bit’- so he put me onto his surfboard and we went up the creek a bit further while the others all caught up.

I was so happy after that I was dancing along the sand and I was allowed to have two crabs for breakfast.

While I was eating my crab my human started yelling and running along the beach. I ran after her as she sounded very worried so I was wuffing in sympathy.

She kept shouting that she could see an arm and it looked like someone was in trouble. But when we got close it was really just a tree that was being rolled around by the waves. It did look like a person though.

My human really needs to look through her eyes better.

posted by Jorgedog at 7:29 PM

 

 

Young Upstarts

Patience is a virtue- but boy can it get stretched sometimes. 

Phoebs has been part of our extended family for 3 weeks now. She keeps getting bigger and stronger but her teeth are still like little daggers- as sharp as… I’m glad she lives at Sue’s house and not ours.

Her human and my human are really good friends. Phoeb’s human really likes me. I know this because she gives me lots of cuddles and tells me what a good boy I am so I’ve had to manage these new relationships carefully. When I sit on her lap- which I really like doing, she lets me wriggle my bottom so that it’s sitting on the soft cushion that she carries around under her shirt. She doesn’t like the cushion and calls it her ‘tummy’ but I love it- it’s the best cushion ever. I love to sit on it in the car when we all go out too as I get a comfy seat and I can see out of the window as well.

Anyway- since Phoebs arrived I haven’t been able to sit on Sue’s lap quite as much. She’s had her hands full looking after Phoebs- who is a bit of a livewire- when she isn’t asleep.

Now she’s getting bigger she’s not sleeping as much and she is getting a bit rougher.

I’ve tried to be really good. I’ve tried running away – but she’s faster than I am cos she can get a better grip on the slippery floor with her bigger feet.
I’ve tried to sit on my bottom and hid my tail- but she knocks me over and finds it anyway- or jumps at my ears and bites them.
I’ve tried running away on the beach- but she catches up then falls in my crabholes and gets stuck.

All in all- I’ve really, really, really tried hard to like her cos I know how much our much the humans want me to- but it has been really really hard. Not like when Trev and I had to look after each other when we were babies.

Tonight we all decided to try something different. We went over to visit and Phoebs came racing straight towards me like a little cannonball when her human went ‘whomp’ with a rolled up newspaper. She didn’t hit either of us but it made a noise on the floor. We both got a bit of a shock and stopped- then Phoebs lunged again. Another whomp on the floor close to her and her human said ‘no Phoebs. Leave Jorge alone’. So I though ‘phew- her human has finally realized what a pest she’s being and she’s not cross with me.’

The next time she came at me I turned around and gave her my biggest ‘GGGGRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrr’ and crashed my teeth together to show her how cross I was.

I’ve only ever done that once before with another puppy that was being just as annoying. She kept jumping on me too- and I got really sick of it. I put up with it for a while and then- well you just snap don’t you.

Well- Phoebs went to come at me again but took a look at me drawn up to my highest four legs and stopped. Both our humans were patting me and saying ‘good boy Jorge- you go boy!’ so I figured they were OK with me growling.

I walked over and laid down on the floor as if nothing had happened- though I kept a close eye out- even if they thought I was asleep. You do learn to watch your own back as you grow up.

Phoebs tried a few times to come again but her human had put the pink noose around her neck and tied her to a table leg. So she could get close but not touch me- and I just stood (laid) my ground! I was so tough. Well- I wasn’t so worried any more.

Afer a few minutes they took the pink noose off and – surprise, surprise- she left me alone. Hooray. The humans were both a bit speechless.

Off we headed down to the beach for a big play and a swim. When I got home I was so exhausted. Telling these youngsters to respect their elders can take it out of you.

Young upstarts who think that they can just come in and take over whatever they want- without earning their stripes sometimes need to be taught a lesson.

There are times when it’s OK for them to take over- and there’s time when they need to learn that age does bring wisdom- and they need to appreciate that.

 

 

I’m hearing voices

Wow- was I excited today. We’d just walked in the door after we’d been out to the market and I heard my (human) sisters voice saying ‘hi Jorge’. 

I thought maybe she had done one of her surprises again. When she just turns up at the front door and walks in and we don’t know she’s coming. When that happens my human gets all excited and even cries a bit. That’s weird. Why cry when you’re happy!

Anyway I heard the voice so I started wagging my whole body because I was really, really happy to see her. I raced over to get the little tigger that I had given a little boy 20c for at the market as I know she always loves to play with my new toys. But when I got back to the door- she wasn’t there and her voice was gone. I was so disappointed.

Then- a bit later I heard my brother and other sister’s voices. They live in Japan so I was so excited that they must be at the door. Ran over to collect tigger and the same thing happened. no-one at the door. My tail put itself down again.

My human held up the plastic gadget that she talks into sometimes and I could hear their voices coming out. How weird is that.

So- it’s possible to hear people and that’s nice, but it sure isn’t the same as a pat and a cuddle.

posted by Jorgedog at 3:49 AM

 

Friday, December 01, 2006

 

Meat-tings

We’ve had such a busy day today. My human told me we were going to a meat-ting. Now- I’m not fooled by these any more. The first time we went to one I thought there’d be bones and stuff to eat- but no such luck. Just lots of humans talking all over the place and waving this hands- and bits of paper everywhere. 

I did know where we were going though. The humans who live there are really nice and sometimes come and take me swimming when my human isn’t very well.

And they have a bird. He’s called Zeus and his favorite thing to do is to jump along and climb up people’s legs and sit on their shoulders. Sometimes he sits on my back for a little bit. I don’t mind him cos he’s a good singer and sings stuff that I like. He also has a little hat on his head that’s a bit cute. He can move it around without using his feet so I’m impressed byb that.

I know I’m not allowed to touch him as I might hurt him. That’s what the humans say anyway. We have birds who come into our backyard at home to swim in the bath that’s there for them. It’s too high for me to drink out of and I like lying on the grass watching them. Specially the little coloured ones who dance in the water. They’re a bit more entertaining than the chooks at the farm- although the chooks and I did have some fun digging holes together.

On the beach we have lots of birds too. There’s one lot that I’m allowed to chase sometimes called seagulls. A whole lot of them sit on the sand together and it’s way fun to run very fast towards them and watch them take off. But there are other birds, like the little terns who look a lot like seagulls but they’re not, I get into trouble if I try to go and play with them.

Then there are the sea-eagles that like to fly over the top of me. My human gets a bit worried that they might like me for lunch- and I think if they’d like to take me to the restaurant they go to for lunch that would be fine by me. Then of course there’s old Warren and his mates. They are called pelly-cans. They have great big mouths and I know not to get too close to them as their mouths are bigger than their bodies- and my body.

So I just watch Zeus dancing around on the table and kicking papers around and pooing and everything.

But if he was a dead Cockateil- I would have a ball rolling in him!

posted by Jorgedog at 6:39 PM

 

 

Puppy-sitting

I’m absolutely stuffed tonight. We’ve been puppy-sitting all day. Phoebs’ human had to go off to school and Phoebs couldn’t go today so we said we’d look after her. 

Weeeell.

When we arrived she was sound asleep. She looks so cute when sh’es asleep. Legs stuck up in the air, and her little fat tummy kind of spreads out around her liek a puddle. She was having puppy dreams and making little ‘eh’ noises. We saw human babies doing that on TV last night with a lady who said that’s how babies talk. The lady said that babies make that noise when they’re hungry- so I wonder if Phoebs was dreaming about food.

I bet she was because as soon as she woke up she went looking for food. She couldn’t find anythink to eat so she went for a chomp on my tail. I had to put it between my legs and try to run very fast away from her. But her house has polished board floors and my feet are little than Phoebs so I couldnt’ get a grip.

I did make a desperate jump though and got up on the sofa. I can sit up there and look down at her. She’s as big as I am but her tummy is so fat that she can’t lift it off the floor when she tries to jump. So I’m safe up there.

My human had to grab her really quickly and take her out to the grass so she could do a big wee. She doesn’t lift her leg like me (though I must admit I didn’t do that until about a year ago), she squats down and puts her tummy on the grass. Then when she gets up again there’s a puddle under her. Sometimes when she tries to stand up she falls in the puddle and I just laugh inside.

We decided to take her for a walk on our beach so we went a long way. Her little legs were having trouble keeping up and her bottom kept falling over so she did look funny. I ran ahead so I could do some crabbing in peace but she caught up while I wasn’t looking and fell right into the crab hole. My human had to fish her out cos she got stuck.

We walked right down to the creek and back. She had a little paddle in the creek but I cruised out in my best Ian Thorpe swimming style to show her what she can aspire to. Besides that I was safer out there.

At home again she was stuffed from her walk so she went back to sleep – so more peace for me.

Then of course when she woke up she was still starving. My human gave her a huge plate of dog biscuits- more than I eat-ever and put my lunch tray down over near the door- far away from Phoebs. I like to savour my lunch before I eat it so I was just sitting watching my lunch when over barrels madam kerfoops and dives nosefirst into my food. That was the end of that as she mopped up my tray as well. I wasn’t really happy about that but I’d been into her bedroom (where the washing machine lives too) and she had a new big yellow rabbit with long ears. I’d found that earlier when she’d been asleep and I went over to look at her- but I hadn’t told my human about it. So – while Phoebs was busy eating my lunch I figured- fair swap- and went and started licking her rabbit.

The whole day was pretty much like that so when Sue came home- we were all tired. Sue sat down while my human made them a ‘cuppa’ and I climbed up on Sue’s lap. I thought she should have the chance to tell me I’m still her special friend even though she has phoebs now! Phoebs tried too but she just fell down again and went to sleep right where she fell.

My human wanted to go home but I’d decided I was quite happy so I didn’t want to go and just stayed sitting. So Sue said she would bring me over to the restaurant for dinner at 6.

It was roast night at our ‘local’ so we all go over and I get to eat all the bits that noone else wants. Phoebs was there tonight and she was awake so her humand put the pink noose thing around her neck adn tied that to a chair. Then I could sit just far enough away that she couldnt’ reach me and eat my dinner. I got lots of dinner that night. The human’s must not have been hungry, but I was.

Looking after babies is sure exhausting.

posted by Jorgedog at 6:11 PM

 

Sunday, November 26, 2006

 

My new pig

I got a present. Don’t know why but I was very excited. It’s fluffy and oinks a song that I remember hearing last xmas and then gives a little piggy cheer at the end of the song.
I love presents and toys that sing are my very favorite. I like to hold them and run around in circles and show them all my favorite spots then lick them all over till they’re nice and wet. Then we might have a little lie down before we run around again.If they have eyes I’ll always have a bit of a chew. The eyes give a big ‘pop’ when they come out then I leave them on the floor while I look at what else I can pull or chew off. Pink pig was holding a little book called ‘Xmas songs’ so I chewed that off too. 

We went out into the garden and lay down in my little hole that I’ve dug in the dirt. It’s wheere I go when it’s a hot day cos it’s nice and cool.

Then my human said ‘c’mon Jorge, let’s go to the beach’ so I picked up pink pig and refused to put it down. I wasn’t going to leave it behind. Off we went and I carried pink pig in my mouth. We went over to Pheob’s human’s house first. I ran up to the house to show Sue and she was very happy and told me what a lucky boy I was. ‘I know’ I wagged. Phoebs woke up. She’d been having a sleep in her new bed in the laundry so she came stumbling out- till she saw me with pig. Then it was on. She came racing over but I made it out the door and down the steps. I know she can’t get down the steps yet so I knew we’d be safe down there.

Off down to the beach we went. I still carried pink pig in my mouth- all the way. I wanted to take it in for a swim ut my human told me that wasn’t a good idea as it wouldn’t sing if it got wet- so I didn’t. I sat it down on the sand so it could watch the waves whileI went in swimming. But I kept a very lose eye out so none off the other dogs or birds would come along and pinch it.


By the time we got home we were pretty exhausted so we shared some dinner had to hop into bed and have a sleep. Pink pig is kind of a browny, sandy, licky colour now- but I guess when you’re loved, you do change just a bit.

posted by Jorgedog at 4:44 PM

 

Thursday, November 23, 2006

 

Gaia gives…and Gaia takes away

The weather on our beach is a bit strange at the moment. One day really hot, the next a lot cooler. Not like other places though. My (human) sister told me on the phone the other day they had snow where she lives in Australia, and now there are bushfires. My (human) brother tells me today is only 1degree. Where he lives in Japan sure goes from very hot to very cold…very quickly. And my Number One fan and President of my fanclub who lives in New Zealand has big icebergs floating past her island right now- that’s seriously weird. 

We were on the beach this morning and I was digging for crabs when all of a sudden I got ‘whomped’ from behind by a big wave that come right up the beach after me. It was so big that some of the kids who were out on their surfboards learning to swim got thrown onto the sand and we had to go and make sure they were OK. BUt there was only one so which was a bit strange.

Then a bit later the same thing happened- only this time I’d been digging a big crab hole and my head was still down in the hole. So when the water some over my head got stuck in the hole and my human had to grab my back legs and pull me out.I came up coughing and spluttering and my mouth and eyes and ears and everything were full of water.

A bit further along though- I found a treasure trove. A fisherman who had been whomped as well had tipped the little fish he uses to hook onto his line to catch the big ones- onto the sand. His line had been broken in the whomping and he was soaked through- but not happy. So he stomped off and left the little fish there for me to eat. I have to be quick so I grabbed one and ran way up the beach so I could eat it before my human could catchup and take it away.

This Gaia person who makes the waves is getting really good at whomping people . It would be so great if she’d become a bit more selective and whomp the people who come and break beer bottles and leave rubbish on our beaches- and not those of us just after a crab to eat. The again- maybe she was telling me that instead of just eating crabs I should wait for a bucket of fish to be spilled in front of me! I’ll make sure I keep cleaning up all the beach rubbiish – just in case.

posted by Jorgedog at 5:10 PM

 

 

Dining Out

Tonight we went out for dinner. We have a little restaurant next door owned by two wonderful humans who think I’m lovely. Every time we go over there they make a big fuss of me and I get bits of roast beef from the kitchen and heaps of pats and cuddles. 

Sometimes we get a few weird looks – but only from strangers and the restaurant lady just says to them ‘Jorge is one of our best customers’ so they just mutter behind their hands about ‘dogs in restaurants’. It is kind of funny around here. You can always tell the people who don’t live here. They’re the ones who walk round with screwed up faces- even though they’re in one of the best places ever. They also tend to frown and yell and throw things at us dogs- or be scared of us. And they always look worried about something. The people who live here always have time to stop to say hello and have a chat and a pat for me.

Tonight was a bit different. It was the first time that Phoebs and I went to dinner together. Our humans were there too of course. When we arrived Phoebs was already out to it- sound asleep on the floor with her pigs ear (favorite present from moi!) right in front of her nose. She really is cute when she’s asleep. She was exhausted again as she’d been to school to look after the kids again today- and she is still only little. Well- not that little. The kids weighed her and measured her as one of their lessons and she is exactly the same size as me. But I’m 4 years old and she’s 8 weeks. Corrrrrrr- that’s scary!
Anyway she snored her way through dinner while I sat up and ate my roast dinner. The adults muttered that it was a bit gristly- but that’s fine by me cos I get to eat more.

Phoebs wake up just as we finished and a few little kids came over to give us both pats and cuddles and tell their Mum and Dad that they want 80 of us to take home. Imagine that!

Then we had to take Phoebs out for a wee. She’s still learning about all that stuff so we have to be quick to make sure she gets outside or there’s lots of ‘whoops, grab the towel’.

While everyone was concentrating on her- I decided to check out the rest of the garden. There are some really pretty flowers that weren’t out last time I was there a few days ago. My humans thought they’d lost me so there was a few minutes of mayhem in the restaurant while everyone yelled ‘he’s over there’ and the restaurant lady, Amanda, came over to give me a cuddle and take me out to where my humans were.

Whew. After all that I was glad to get home- and – to top off a really good night- my other favourite show (other than the Meercats) was on TV. Inspector Rex. I just love wuffing at him. He’s so clever.

I’m a bit worried though. THe humans were talking about how Amanda has to sell the restaurant as Mr Greedy- the guy who owns the place- has just put her rent up way too much. I don’t know why people have to be so greedy. Why can’t he realise that spending time eating with friends is probably one of the most enjoyable things we can do – apart from chasing crabs and swimming.

posted by Jorgedog at 1:29 AM

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

 

Schoolies

I guess it made sense that Phoebs Puppy should have arrived this week. It’s ‘schoolies’ week up here- when all of the older kids who’ve been locked up in schools suddenly arrive here to make a big mess and lots of noise.
Puppy Phoebs and I both had busy days yesterday. She went off to school with her human to look after the kids who are left there- and when she came home last night she was too tired to try and chase my tail- so I was REALLY happy.
I had a busy day too. On the beach there were a heap of boys about the size of my big (human) brother. They were digging in the sand and making a big hole so I raced over to help. I thought they might have been looking for crabs. They werent’- they were trying to bury each other which I was a bit worried about. So every time they put a boy human in the hole I’d dig and dig to get him out again.
Then last night I had a really busy time wuffing at some noise that was coming out of the house just over the road. Whenever I hear the noise that humans like to listen to that goes ‘doof doof doof doof’ I just go nuts. And they were making the noise for most of the night. Being able to hear again does have it’s disadvantages. 

Now- I know that young humans have a lot of energy- just like young puppies. Thank goodness Phoebs hasn’t learned to make as much noise…yet.

posted by Jorgedog at 1:30 PM

 

Sunday, November 19, 2006

 

Trainee Women

Oh boy- we have a new woman in our lives and I’m so confused I’m totally stressed out. It’s been a whole year since my old friend Emma went to sleep and didn’t wake up and her human has gone and brought home a new puppy. Well- when I looked at her asleep I agreed with the humans that yes she was cute. Then she woke up and boy oh boy. She’s decided she loves my ears and my tail and wants to bite them all the time. I don’t know why. I have to try and sit on my tail but I don’t know what to do about my ears. I gave her a pigs ear for a present cos I know they’re good to chew on when you have puppy teeth. But this little one- well I use ‘little’ advisedly as she’s already as big as I am- loves to chew on everything. Me, the humans fingers, any shoes that are in reach, the legs of the tables….she’s right into it.
I do understand that- after all I was a puppy myself once! But what really confuses the heck out of me is that she looks just like a little version of Emma- but Emma’s in the big hole that Bob dug for her to lie in when she went to sleep and didn’t wake up. And then the humans keep calling the new puppy ‘Phoebe’ But she doesn’t look anything like my friend Phoebe who is a big fat Staffy dog who lives on a farm and likes to drag home dead cows to eat.
 

We took her for a walk to the beach last night when we were puppy-sitting cos her humans had to go out. She was so funny- jumping along on the sand. She didn’t like the water so I thought I’d stay in it so I’d be safe from her chewing teeth. Then all of a sudden she just flopped down on the sand. So my human sat down too. Little puppy (I still can’t get used to calling her Phoebe yet!) crawled up on my human’s lap. I like to do that but I didn’t mind sharing cos I’d found a crab to dig out and have a wuf at for a while. When I came back though- I was just in time to see the puppy stretch a little bit and fall off onto the sand- while staying sound asleep.

This name stuff is very puzzling and boy having a new baby in the house is stressful! But she is so cute- when she’s asleep!

posted by Jorgedog at 5:23 PM

 

 

Farm Sitting

We’ve just been asked if we would go farm-sitting again. It’s pretty cool up there so I didn’t mind saying yes. Once my head stopped hurting so much I was up for another adventure and there’s always plenty of those at the farm. There are the horses to keep away from. The first time we went up I trotted over to try and make friends and one of them rolled her eyes at me then lashed out with her foot and kicked me. She knocked the wind right out of me and was just standing up on her back legs to jump on me again when my human scooped me up and threw me over the fence. I went ‘ooooooph’ again then my human had to jump over and she was feeling my legs to make sure I wasn’t hurt. I was OK but ever since then I prefer to sit up on the deck and wuf at the horses. They can’t get me up there and I can tell them off as much as I like.
 

Then there’s Rick the dog. He’s a lot bigger than me but he listens to what I tell him to do. We both like swimming so we have that in common, and I do lend him my teddies cos he likes them. But I won’t share my food. This visit I decided to play a game with him where I was too full to finish my last chicken neck but every time he came near it I’d do ‘grrrrrrrrrr’ wth my really mean growl. I had him fooled for a whole day before I finally ate it and put him out of his misery. I am a badboy sometimes!

Then there’s the big moos. The live just over the road and they are so much bigger than the moos I have in my toybox but they make the same noise. They’re the same colour too. I like them- they just hang around and moo and eat and drink lots so we have a lot in common.

And finally there are the chooks and Teddy cat. The chooks make a cleeeeerkkk noise and eat and scratch a lot. They like digging in the garden so we swap notes about our digging techniques. There’s one really big chook called an ostrich who is blind so we have to feed her with a bucket and Rick and I stand on each side so she doesn’t run in circles.

Then there’s teddy-cat who wasn’t very friendly when I first met him- but we’ve worked it out – he smacked me with his paw and I smacked him back with mine- and now we sleep together.

posted by Jorgedog at 5:00 PM

 

 

Stress-full

Owweeeeeeerrrrrr my head hurts. I don’t like going to see the vet man very much. He’s a nice guy and everything but he does some really mean stuff. I had to go twice this week. The first time wasn’t too bad – but the second…. oh boy – I wasn’t expecting that! I got sucked right in by the humans. When I was told I needed to come back tomorrow I thought- well today wasn’t too bad. He just looked in my ears adn stuck that pointy thing that stings a bit they call a needle in but that’s all. So I wasn’t too unhappy about going back. Until my human handed me over to the lady in the white coat. She was nice too and gave me a big cuddle and told me ‘you’re going to have a sleep now Jorge.’ Now- I was worried when she said that cos I remembered that’s what happened to my old friend Emma- and she never woke up again. But I went to sleep anyway and boy I wished I’d stayed that way! When I woke up my head was hurting and my ears were hurting and I kept being sick and I was really thirsty but every time I tried to drink I threw up again, and I couldn’t stand up- my leg wouldn’t hold me so I kept falling over. It was AWFUL. All I wanted was to go home and get into my own little bed and NEVER go back to the vetman’s place again. So my human picked me up and wrapped me in a big towel that felt soft and nice on my sore head. Then she put me on her lap in the car. I must have gone back to sleep cos I woke up in my bed and that felt good. Every time I woke up there were worried faces looking at me to make sure I was OK. I’d try to wag my tail a bit to let them know I was happy to see them bu it was like my legs and wouldn’t work. Then after I’d had a really big sleep and my head stopped hurting I lifted my head up a bit because everyting seemed so LOUD. Before I’d been to the vetman I hadn’t been able to hear much- which was a really good excuse for not coming when I was called and stuff. But now- every little noise was so incredibly LOUD I kept jumping out of my skin. My human said it was because the vetman had taken something called a tumour out of my ear. I don’t know what that is but I wish he’d put it back and make everything quiet again.

posted by Jorgedog at 4:27 PM

 

 

Meercats and Scary Chicks

Now- I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I’m a big Meercats fan. Not that I’m a celebrity watcher. None of those silly women who pay dressups with their crappy little dogs for me. I like a good drama- but not the Paris Hilton kind. The Meercats are the best reality show on the box that sits in the corner. 

Last night Meercat Manor was on again. I had to watch because last week Clive and Dudley, the babies, weren’t being looked after very well and I was really, really worried about them. But this week- one of the Auntie Meercats gave them a drink of milk- even though she was weak herself from not finding enough food. What a nice lady she must be. Then she taught them how to find their own food so she’s not only a nice lady but a good teacher too. I reckon she’ll be a really good Mum when she has her own babies.

Then – after the Meercats all went off to bed the human lady with a horsetail stuck on her head turned up. Her face looked as if she’d eaten something really awful- it was all screwed up. Maybe the Meercats had left something behind. But she had a really cool car. Usually she gets to yell at the human blokes a lot – but not this time.

Off she went into a house where they had two really yappy, crappy little dogs. Boy were they noisy. I tried yelling at them to shut-up but would they listen to me- no. They can’t say I didn’t try to warn them! So the horse-head lady attacked. She didn’t go for them- she went for the other human lady- the one the dogs live with- and told her ‘what for’ because she was letting the dogs get too bossy.

At that point I thought I might go to bed as I was suddenly really sleepy (not really I just wanted to get away) but my human made me sit and watch all the things that were done to the noisy dogs. The biggest worry was that they slept on the bed and every time the man-human tried to go to bed they’d bite him. Now I know that’s not very nice- you should just move over to your own corner of the bed and you don’t get kicked off- well, not all the time anyway. So I thought they were being a bit unreasonable.

But- I’ve been warned. My human said to me- ‘and if you behave like that Jorge- I’ll get the horse-head scary chick to come and have a talk to you too’. Boy did I have nightmares last night. And I’ve been a really, really good boy today….so far!

posted by Jorgedog at 4:23 PM

 

 

Secret Men’s Business

Every bloke worth his salt understands the importance of golf in his life. I certainly do. Take today for example. I headed out with my human caddy this morning for a round of dog golf at the beach. We usually play 18 holes. It’s like one big bunker so her job is to come along behind me and fill in the divots I make. 

We tend to tee off pretty early. Around 6am is good- before the course becomes too busy when the hit-and-giggle day-trippers arrive to clutter the place up.

I teed off first and had a good 9 holes dug before my mate Luce arrived. Luciano to most people, he’s the head of one of the more wealthy and successful corporations (i.e. families who own beachfront mansions), but he’s still a good bloke. He tends to let me get on with my game and just lies down and gives the occasional bit of advice. ‘Dig a bit more to the left. I think I saw a crab’s leg move’.

Golf is like a moving version of a bloke’s shed. I decided a long time ago that golf is to the shed, as running is to tai chi. It’s a bloke’s version of meditation. It also provides a place to relax while you’re competing against your mates. A place to escape from the incessant chatter of women. A place to think and plan over a few beers. A place to dig deeper into the important concerns of life, and a place to network.

posted by Jorgedog at 4:20 PM

 

 

Travelling Terrors

I’ve been travelling on planes since I was just a kid. My frequent flyer passport is almost full and I’ve racked up huge numbers of flight miles. But my goodness it’s becoming more difficult. Usually everyone treats me wonderfully, though I have noticed a sharp decline in the level of customer service recently. 

It used to be that I could rock up to the airport, get settled into my business class cage by the nice young check-in chick, then get chauffeured out to the plane. At the other end I’d be met by my personal driver to take me across to the terminal (sometimes I sat up on the seat in front beside him which was really cool) and cruise out to meet my human on the conveyor belt.

Now I have to go to the freight depot to check-in and get treated like a dog. The last flight I took the silly girl who checked me in kept insisting that my cage no longer fitted airline requirements due to a change in their policy and was not going to let me fly- until we insisted on speaking to her manager, and then his manager! Apparently there has been the occasional terrorist dog who has been getting onto planes and undoing their cage-belts while airborne so they can attack the baggage handlers with serious licking when the plane lands. I’ve not heard of any of them doing serious damage yet, however of course we all have to be punished!

I am thinking seriously of relocating to Europe where dogs are treated well and allowed to fly inside the planes!

And they call this progress!

posted by Jorgedog at 4:18 PM

 

 

The One That Got Away

The other day we went down to the river at the bottom of the garden (top side of the bridge where all the fishermen go). Off I went for a swim as there are no waves and I love it down there. There I was swimming around really happily until I hit something and jumped- almost out of the water- and flicked my paw. Next thing I knew there was a fish lying on the sand. I’d somehow caught a fish by its gills on my toenails. Don’t know who got the biggest fright. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen. The fish tried to swim away but of course was a bit damaged so just went round in circles so I swam round in circles after it. We both got a bit exhausted so my human just reached in and picked the fish up. Nice little bream I think. You should have seen the looks on the fishermens faces- and you should have heard the offers my human got for ‘that little fella that rounds the fish up for ya love!’

posted by Jorgedog at 4:16 PM

 

 

The Platypus Surprise

There are times when a bloke just has to cool off. 

They say when you get older you start to reminisce about things you’ve done in your mis-spent youth. The other day I saw another platypus. Haven’t seen one for a couple of yearsand it reminded me of the last time.

I’d just been hobnobbing with Dave Foster at his Museum in Tassie. He would have to be, without doubt the biggest human I’ve ever met. But a gentle soul who knows how to treat a dog.

I don’t know about you but on a hot day, when I feel happy, I tend to race along and take a flying leap into the nearest cool drink. On this particular day it just happened to be the river opposite.

So, off I went. Racing through the wildflowers, past the rocks and fallen trees till I spotted a nice little spot just perfect for launch.

Off I flew, out over the water. Bracing myself for the perverse pleasure that comes with doing the perfect belly-flop I landed… on something that wasn’t water.

As you might imagine I flew vertically again, body lifting out of the water as if by magic. Except that it wasn’t. I think the poor little platypus that had been peacefully floating in the sun until I’d landed on it got just as big a shock.

When you get hit by the unexpected, jump, say ouch if appropriate, then get on with the business of checking for potential opportunities.

posted by Jorgedog at 4:11 PM

 

Friday, November 03, 2006

 

Making Friends

I love making new friends and I seem to be good at it with both humans and other dogs. 

I’m pretty fussy though. I’m always polite to everyone I meet and I treat them as if they could become a friend unless they either jump all over me, or try to do something nasty or scary to me. I’m a pretty good judge of character about who might be a good friend – and who won’t.

Last night George was really nice to me and today I had Boz come to visit. I’ve met him at pilates before. His human tells us how to do pilates- although I always have to show her how to do ‘dog’ and ‘relaxation’- and when everyone is down on their hands and knees I go along and check that they’re in position correctly and give them a kiss, or a little lick. Sometimes I like to sit on other human’s mats and help them. But I’m getting distracted.

Boz and his human came back to our house for some lunch. He’s a big dog and very polite- which I like in a dog. I’m not into noisy dogs who like pack parties,

We said hello by sniffing each others bits. He’s a lot bigger than me so I had to stretch my head up a bit. Then I showed him my toybox. He told me he’s not really into toys but could see how I was. I think he was pretty impressed by my collection and I even showed him my latest collector piece- a new Teddy that my friend Emma’s (who died) Mum had brought me back from Canada. That’s a really nice thing about friends- they know what you like- and I like presents and pats… and body massages…and chicken… and my beach- but I’m getting distracted again.

I showed Boz where my water bowl was and let him have a drink. He really liked the dry food that sits in the little bowl with my name on it beside the water bowl. I refuse to eat it. Terrible stuff it is. I much prefer a nice juicy chicken wing. So I like to think about the dry food as the visitors bowl. He mopped that up while I had a chewy stick. Now we both know our humans pretty well and that when our they start talking it tends to go on for a while- so we just raised our eyebrows at each other and agreed to go outside for a spot of sunbaking together on the back lawn till they finished.

I like to treat others as I like to be treated- so I approach cautiously. If they run up and jump all over me, or are too noisy, I don’t like that. Personal space is important. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt at the beginning. I’m very choosy about who Iet come into my house. I love to share whatever I can and I love to feed them. And I really love presents!

posted by Jorgedog at 2:46 PM

 

 

Jorge, meet George

Have you ever walked on the beach at night when that big thing humans call a moon is like a huge torch. I know what a torch is. It’s a stick thing that my human carries and when she presses a button it makes little moons on the ground that jump around. Trying to catch them is almost as much fun as chasing crabs. 

It’s a bit cooler at night and that’s when the really big crabs come out to play which is a good combination as I have heaps more energy to run around and chase them.

Well- last night was like that. Off we went on a big adventure, walking in the dark till we got to the sand. Everything smells different when it’s dark but I know the way so I led.

I could smell the sea and the crabs and all the other dogs who’d been down during the day. So I was running around sniffing- there’s Jennifer’s smell, there’s Fred’s, there’s Lucy’s, there’s Thick’s…. and having so much fun I wasn’t really concentrating on the humans. Then all of a sudden I heard ‘Jorge- where are you?’ I stopped for a minute and listened- but I was really enjoying what I was doing and didn’t want to stop- so I kept going with my sniffing. Then- the voice again. ‘Jorge where are you?’ I just sat on my bottom and waited for the humans to catch up.

All of a sudden they were everywhere. My humans coming up behind me and another couple of humans coming up from the beach along the track. The man coming up along the track said to me ‘Hi Jorge I’m George too.’ Well. I thought, that’s pretty cool having a human with the same name. He seemed pretty cool. He sat down on the sand and chatted to me and patted me for a bit. But I had to explain that I was on a crab-hunting mission so I had to go.

So this morning when we went down for our morning walk, George was down there again too so I ran over to say hi and wag my tail to let him know I remembered him. He’s a nice bloke. He gives me big pats and he’s even given me a new name which he says really suits my personality. He calls me ‘killer’’!

posted by Jorgedog at 2:34 PM

 

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

 

Rich and Thick

Rich and Thick are two dogs I meet on the beach sometimes. Rich hasn’t learned that it’s not nice to hassle people. His human let’s him do whatever he likes so he jumps all over us, and tries to climb into the holes I’m carefully digging, and she doesn’t even clean up after he goes to the toilet. Not nice and makes everyone pretty mad as it gives us all a bad name. 

Thick is more polite but he has a real knack for getting himself into trouble. Take this morning for example. We were all down at the mouth of the creek- where it runs into the ocean. The tide was running out and when that happens it’s not a good idea to go swimming as you can get washed out into the big waves. We all know that because it happens every day. So what does Thick do- jumps straight in without looking and starts to get swept out into the surf. His human was standing on the beach yelling adn waving her arms a lot – but not doing anything very useful- so my human jumped in. I didn’t!

I couldn’t really see what happened but next minute they both landed on the beach with my human hanging onto the scruff of Thick’s neck. They were both puffing and panting and soaking wet.

I thought if he wants to be that stupid that he can’t think of anything but what he wants to do- and make a nuisance of himself to everyone else- then he needs to learn how his behaviour affects others- and to be much more thoughtful and considerate! I wonder if he’s ever learned how to say sorry!

posted by Jorgedog at 3:37 PM

 

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

 

Tall tails

Heeeeeeeeeeelp. I’m surrounded by snakes. My human tells me that snakes and serpents mean transformation in indigenous lore. I have no idea what that means but when she says stuff like that I sit with my head on one side and my most intelligent look on my face and act ‘as if’! 

There was the snake on the wall the other night. Then this morning we were walking down our little track to the beach when all of a sudden my human said ‘Jorge wait’ in that voice that means – stop right now and don’t move- so I did.

She grabbed me and held me up in the air. I looked down to see what was wrong and there, right in front of us, were 2 huge big brown snakes, slithering across the path. They were long enough to stretch right across the path from one side to the other. We stood very still and my human whispered ‘shhhhhh no wuffing’ so I was as quiet as a ……… quiet puppy – and even my tail stopped waving. We looked very carefully from then on till we got back home again safely.

Even then- it wasn’t over. Out into my backyard for a roll on the new lawn before settling down for my morning snooze and- wouldn’t you believe it- a very little snake with legs and a long tail ran across in front of my nose. Well- I wasn’t going to let that one get away so I pounced- as quick as a flash, grabbed hold with my paw and flicked him back onto the grass. I was having a lovely game with him – lifting my paw to let him run away then pouncing again when my human saw me. ‘Jorge stop teasing that poor little lizard’ I was told. I don’t know what teasing is but I must have lifted my paw as she spoke just enough for the little snake- lizard- to escape again. So I pounced again and landed right on his tail. ‘Let him go’ I heard, so I looked down to apologise to the little lizard and there- under my paw was a little wriggling tail- but no lizard. Ewwwwwww- I jumped. And it didn’t matter how hard I looked for the front of the lizard- it was nowhere to be found. But the little tail kept wriggling and wriggling and moved itself right across to the flowers.

I guess Be Prepared is a good motto- but there are some things- like vanishing heads and jumping tails that no amount of ‘Be Prepared’ will help unless it’s Be prepared for the unexpected and Be Prepared for transformation (Whatever that is)

posted by Jorgedog at 4:20 PM

 

Monday, October 23, 2006

 

Being famous

I know David Beckham is famous. He’s pretty cool. I like watching him play soccer and I try to practice his moves with my loungeroom soccer. But he’s also got a really squeaky voice that I try to copy when I get told to ‘quiet wuf’. And he likes to get all dressed up. I don’t. I have a deep masculine voice and I hate having to wear the sparkly cocktail collar. So that’s where our similarities end. Or is it? 

I’m told that he’s famous because everyone knows who he is. If that’s the case- then everyone round here knows who I am too. It doesn’t matter whether I’m walking on the beach, or down the street or wherever, I get mobbed by people (well- people come up for a chat and a cuddle!). So much so that my human Uncle thinks it’s really cool to take me walking down the main street of Byron Bay because all these cute women come up to chat to us.

So- I’m not sure what ‘famous’ means. If it means being cute- I meet that criteria most of the time. If it’s that everyone knows you- then I met that criteria too. And if it means you have a fan club, then I bet David Beckham doesn’t have a fan club President called Di who lives in New Zealand. I do- so I reckon that puts me one up in the famous stakes on him!

posted by Jorgedog at 2:59 AM

 

Sunday, October 22, 2006

 

Don’t…fence me in….

I had such a busy night last night. We’d been out all day with the girls and sharing myself round all these women can be exhausting. Especially when they’re all dressed up in dresses with lots of different colours and things on their heads and feet. having ‘high tea’. So much to look at and so many new smells. Then after we got home there was so much to do. 

I watched the Meercats again. The bloke meercat must have listened to what I told him last week because this time he was much more helpful with some new babies and helped the Mum to carry them. I did have to wuf very loudly at one point when another cat came along that looked like the ones I like chasing, and was trying to eat the babies. I kept yelling “watch out it’s behind you”- that’s why they moved the babies.

Then, after the Meercats went to bed, there were some new dogs appeared that I hadn’t seen before and the scary chick wasn’t around. Boy were they having fun, jumping around and wuffing all over the place. They were playing with sheep and their human was letting them chase the sheep into a place with fences so they couldn’t get out. They had to go past a river and they wanted to go for a swim.

I want to be a sheepdog when I grow up so I went and got my moos out and practiced wuffing at them- but they didn’t move like the sheep. Then one of the sheepdogs started singing so I thought- goodo- another chance to practice my singing and I joined in. We were all having a great time singing along together till all of a sudden my human pressed a button on the box and they all disappeared.

I went round the back of the box looking for them, I took a bone and tried to leave it there for them because I thought they might be hungry but when they didn’t come back I went off to sleep.

Then- when I was asleep something happened in my house. Up on one of the walls is a picture of two big white bears cuddling each other. Now – I love teddies and have heaps in my toybox so I don’t mind them being there. But, when I woke up the teddies had gone and instead there was a huge yelllow snake on the wall. Well- I went nuts as I’ve had a few encounters with snakes and this one looked different to the others.

I think it was pretty late as everyone was asleep so my human yelled at me ‘be quiet Jorge’. But I wasn’t having any of that- she didn’t realise this snake had come into the house, eaten the two big white bears and taken up their postion on the wall so I kept wuffing till the humans understood and came out. They weren’t happy- but once my human finally understood what the problem was she went over to the snake and lifted it down- and by the time I came back, the bears were back. I have no idea how that happened- but I was happy again.

Sudden change can be pretty scary. Now I know why the sheepdogs were wuffing so much. The river they used to swim in isn’t there any more and they’re a bit worried about that as they have no water to swim in or drink. Perhaps the humans can just lift the river back to where it was so the dogs can swim again and everyone will be happy.

I once heard my human once say that the only person who welcomes change is a wet baby.

posted by Jorgedog at 4:55 PM

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 

Location location location

Location is crucial. Any real estate agent will tell you that. Looking for a special place is something that takes time and patience.
The way I do it is to move slowly and consider carefully.
I smell every blade of grass.
I inspect every stick and leaf.
I walk round and round in circles thinking hard.
I look intently at any trees to see if there are insects, or traces of others in the area
I check to see if there is any rubbish that has been dropped in the area by humans.
I look for any food and water sources that might be available
I glance up every few minutes to see if anyone else is coming along who might want to interfere.
I walk round and round in circles again and ask myself-
Does it fit my criteria?
What are the facilities like?
What is the history of the area?
Is it private enough? 

The first spot is rarely the right one.
I sometimes have to repeat the process many times.
As I start to close in on ‘the’ spot I get more excited and run faster in circles.
Sometimes I get so happy that I’ve found the perfect spot that I just…don’t want to share it with anyone at all.
So I close in. I run in circles one last time, and then………I poo!

Sometimes it takes a long time to find the exact perfect ‘MySpace’.
Important decisions in life need to be made very, very carefully.

(P.S. The I look very apologetically at my human who is a ‘responsible pet owner’ and has to wrap it up in paper towelling so it doesn’t leave a mess. The I run in cirles ‘cos I’m so happy- and I feel ten pounds lighter!)

posted by Jorgedog at 9:31 PM

 

 

Dogs will be dogs

Uh-oh I’m in trouble! And I’ve been sprung- so I’m in double trouble! My human gave me a really juicy bone tonight when she went out in the car for a bit. She was so pleased she’d got the car going again cos it had been broken. When she came back she told me what a good boy I was for eating all my dinner. I love being told what a good boy I am so I did the right things- wagging my whole body and asking please now can I have a schmacko as I’ve been so good. I asked please ever so beautifully.
Then- she went into her bedroom and next minute I heard ‘JOOOOORGE-get in here!’ Owwwww- I knew that sounded like trouble so I went and hid under my old bed so she couldn’t find me. Cos she’d just found…….the bone i’d hidden under her pillow. (You can’t see me, you can’t see me, you can’t see meeeee)

Well………you know that humans have the theory about how if you put certain things under a pilow and you sleep on them you dream all kinds of nice things- it could have been that… or it could have been a dog just being a dog!

posted by Jorgedog at 4:29 AM

 

 

Karaoke

I’m a multi-national kind of dog. My big brother married a beautiful Japanese girl last year and I love it when they come to visit. I understand Japanese very well so have some great conversations with her, and she gives the most wonderful body massages. And my big brother takes me to the beach right at the best time for crabs and we go hunting together.
I wish they could be here much more often but my human tells me they’ll be home again soon. So – I have to start practicing. Not my Japanese language- I’m pretty fluent in that- but my Karaoke.
Singing and dancing are great. I watched the soccer players on the box and they dance a lot- so that’s what I do when I’m playing soccer too. I’m very good though one of my human friends tells me I have long gangly clown legs- I think that’s a compliment.
I especially love to sing when my human goes out and I have the whole house to myself. sometimes I sing the national ant-thumb very loudly ‘Australian’s all let dog’s rejuice for we are young and wee….’ but if my human hears me sometimes she tells me ‘no Jorge, quiet wuffs’ so I have to turn the volume down. I can get a bit excitable about my singing.
It all started when I was visiting Trev’s house and his human gave me this really cool present. I love presents. Unwrapping them is such fun and at xmastime I love to help everyone- but that’s another story.
my favorite presents are soft toys- and ones that sing to me just drive me nuts.
This one was a doozy. Not one but two stuffed puppies sitting on a pink cushion- Sonny and Cher. And if I sit on one corner of the cushion it starts to play a song and they start to dance. Sonny, the brown dog starts first. He sways from side to side and waglles his lng ears as he sings. Then Cher- the little white one- joins in. And we can all dance around together and sing
DumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDumDum
I…..got…….you…..babe………. 


posted by Jorgedog at 3:32 AM

 

 

To Sleep …Perchance to Dream

I’m sure I could win a Mr Universe contest. Isn’t that the one where you get asked what your favorite pastimes are and what you want to do in life? I can answer that as well as anyone. My favorite things to do include sleeping, eating and playing. I figure if you don’t get enough of the first- you can’t do the other two- so I have many, many, many ‘best’ places to sleep. Oh- and I do think this is the very best way to achieve….world peace! 



posted by Jorgedog at 3:11 AM

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 

The Big Questions

I often ponder the big questions like ‘where will I sleep today,’ and ‘what would I like for dinner.’ But this morning I met another friend on the beach who got me thinking about love and respect and boundaries and where they all cross over.
Her name is Jennifer and she’s an ex-police dog. I love just looking at her as she runs along the beach with her human. She is big, and graceful and beautiful and soooo well behaved. Her human just has to move his hand or speak and she immediately jumps to do what he says. I’ve never seen her make a decision for herself.
I just watch in amazement. I think she’s very clever and smart- but I do wonder whether she’s even known the joy of being able to climb on to her human’s stomach and join in during the ‘relaxation’ section of our pilates class. But- I do come when I’m called – the second time- and I do listen and then try to reason with my human rather than follow instructions blindly (I’m deaf not blind) and I do know how to be polite and not hassle others.
Then there was Rex the big black dog who is just a big klutz. When he came along he just wanted to jump all over us and be a big nuisance. His human kept saying ‘he doesn’t get out much’. Well duh! I wonder why. If he behaves like that no wonder no-one wants him to come and play at their place.
So- my big questions for today is ‘if I was going to have puppies (and I can’t cos I’ve had ‘the snip!’) how would I want them brought up, and I wonder if people raise their human puppies the same as their doggy ones.

posted by Jorgedog at 9:11 PM

 

 

Slowly Dying

My human just told me that Mollie is dying. I know what that means. My friend Emma the retriever died. She was really old and she kept getting sicker till one day she went to sleep and didn’t wake up.
When I first met Em she was old but fit and I used to be able to walk on the beach with her. We’d walk down from her house on the top of the sand dunes, through the bush and along the little track onto the open beach where we could run into the water and splash and chase balls and stuff. I was only little then so Em was like a grandma for me.
When Em’s human was away we’d go over and feed her and play with her and talk to her. She was a special old lady.
Then she started to slow down a bit. She didn’t run as fast and she had to lie down a lot. She had a big bed out on the veranda overlooking the ocean so I’d just go and lie down beside her and we’d have a snooze while the humans chatted and watched the whales.
When Em started to have trouble with her legs she found walking hard, and she couldn’t run any more. But she still loved going to the beach. She’d wander off into the sand dunes while I went and played in the water and sometimes she moved pretty slowly. But she always had a big smile on her face.
Then gradually she got sicker and weaker until one day her human talked to the whole family and the dog doctor and they decided that Em needed to have a big sleep and not wake up.
So we all went over to her house and her human sat with Em’s head in her lap on the veranda where we sit to watch the whales. I sat with them both and just watched, and kept giving them both little licks – just to let them know that we were all there with them. None of us got in the way. The doctor lady just gave Em some medicine then she lifted her head and looked at each of us. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep. I thought that was called dying.
Mollie moved up here about the same time I did. So when I went to visit her I used to love bouncing up the steps to her little house and knocking on the wire door until it rattled. She’d come over and open it and say ‘hello Jorge it’s lovely to see you.’ Then I’d get to go in and explore her little house and try to sit on her knee. She was only a very little human with very short legs so there was never much of a lap for me to sit on- but I did try.
After lots of visits though Mollie started to find it harder to walk to the door so we used to let ourselves in and she’d be just sitting in her chair. I’d still give her cuddles, or sometimes I’d just go and lie in my special spot on the sofa and watch her. Then I don’t know what happened but one day she wasn’t at her house any more.
My human comes home and tells me she’s been to visit Mollie but she’s in a place now where I’m not allowed to go and visit. How silly is that- Mollie used to love to see me. It would make her very happy and she’d have a big smile on her face while we talked. I’ve heard the humans talking and they say that Mollie doesn’t like the place where she is. The food is awful and she used to always love her dinner. There’s noone there for her to talk to – and she used to love to talk. There’s noone there for her to cuddle- and she used to love to cuddle. No wonder she keeps getting sicker and sicker.
I would love to think that Mollie can go to sleep just like Em- surrounded by people who love her, in a beautiful place full of flowers or the beach, and that she’ll just go to sleep after we’ve all said goodbye and the doctor person has given her the medicine. But I don’t think that’s how humans do it at all. What a shame. Poor little Mollie. I only hope that when she does go to sleep maybe Em will be there to sit and listen to her stories.

posted by Jorgedog at 9:04 PM

 

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 

Double Standards

Now- I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I’m a big Meercats fan. Not that I’m a celebrity watcher. None of those silly women who play dressups with their crappy little dogs, or use them like handbags- to match their outfits- for me. I like a good drama- but not the Paris Hilton kind. The Meercats are the best reality show on the box that sits in the corner. 

Last night Meercat Manor was on again. I had to watch because last week Clive and Dudley, the babies, weren’t being looked after very well and I was really, really worried about them. But this week- one of the Auntie Meercats gave them a drink of milk- even though she was weak herself from not finding enough food. What a nice lady she must be. Then she taught them how to find their own food so she’s not only a nice lady but a good teacher too. I reckon she’ll be a really good Mum when she has her own babies.

Then – after the Meercats all went off to bed the human lady with a horsetail stuck on her head turned up. Her face looked as if she’d eaten something really awful- it was all screwed up. Maybe the Meercats had left something behind. But she had a really cool car. Usually she gets to yell at the human blokes a lot – but not this time.

Off she went into a house where they had two really yappy, crappy little dogs. Boy were they noisy. I tried yelling at them to shut-up but would they listen to me- no. They can’t say I didn’t try to warn them! So the horse-head lady attacked. She didn’t go for them- she went for the other human lady- the one the dogs live with- and told her ‘what for’ because she was letting the dogs get too bossy.

At that point I thought I might go to bed as I was suddenly really sleepy (not really I just wanted to get away) but my human made me sit and watch all the things that were done to the noisy dogs. The biggest worry was that they slept on the bed and every time the man-human tried to go to bed they’d bite him. Now I know that’s not very nice- you should just move over to your own corner of the bed and you don’t get kicked off- well, not all the time anyway. So I thought they were being a bit unreasonable.

But- I’ve been warned. My human said to me- ‘and if you behave like that Jorge- I’ll get the horse-head scary chick to come and have a talk to you too’. Boy did I have nightmares last night. And I’ve been a really, really good boy today….so far!

I guess if humans don’t go to obedience school and they don’t get trained at home by nice people like the Meercat lady- they need to have a scary chick (or a Dr Phil) to come and sort them out.

posted by Jorgedog at 5:05 PM

 

 

Those gender differences again

I do like the weekends when there are lots of kids around home and on the beach. This weekend was pretty exhausting. It’s really hot, and my fur is growing again, and there are so many people to say hello to on the beach so work- my greeting service- is pretty busy.
One of the things that I’ve noticed over a long period though is the differences between the way kids – and parents- behave on the beach. I wonder if it’s just here or if they do the same thing in other places. The Mum’s usually like to sit on the beach and read a book or sleep- I guess they’re exhausted- while the Dad’s run around with the kids and throw them in the water and play games and stuff. 

The little boys come running up and want to play. It’s not very often that one of them will walk past without coming over for a chat and a pat- doesn’t matter how old they are. The little girls are different though. Most of them are very shy and some of them even cry as if I’m going to hurt them or something- as if!

I’ve also noticed that the Dad’s come with the little boys and encourage them to pat me while the Mum’s tend to stop the little girls from coming over. What’s with that?

I’m the same dog and I treat everyone the same. I’ve very polite and I don’t go and hassle people. If I don’t want to go home from the beach I might go and sit at a discreet distance from a family- close enough so I can pretend I’m theirs- but far enough away so they don’t think I’m a pest. I’ve consulted with my mate Lucy the Boxer about this. She’s pretty laid back and savvy about the differences between men and women- and she’s noticed the same thing.

Yesterday was a classic day. In one family- and they had a dog with them- the little girl went and hid behind her Mum while the boys picked me up and sat me on top of their sand castle like a king. Another kodak moment lost.

So- my puzzle for today is to wonder whether Mum’s and Dad’s even realise that they treat their kids so differently and whether that has anything to do with them growing up to be risktakers- or not.

posted by Jorgedog at 1:43 PM

 

Saturday, October 14, 2006

 

Jorge for Prime Mini-stair

Well- it’s official. The call went out on the beach tonight ‘Jorge for Prime Mini-stair’ and there’s never a camera around to capture the moment. 

I’m not exactly sure what the Prime Mini-Stair does. But it has to be better than the other one they call the Pressy-dent. (I don’t want anyone pressing my dents!) All I know is that my human and her friends talk a lot about his lack of compassion, his promotion of a culture of fear, his support of greed and competition over and above compassion and sharing, and his lack of real aussie values even though that’s what he talks about all the time. I have no idea what any of that means but what I do know is that’s the problem with talking. If you spend all your time talking rather than doing the values- then you’re back to being a ‘human doing’ again.

What I do know is that a mini-stair should be more like a more caring ‘stairmaster’. There to help people get a leg-up, not to punish them for trying and failing. To help them to climb higher to reach for the stars. And being an aussie dog I think it’s our job to help our mates- not to make life harder for anyone but to make it easier if we can. I think that if we all tried to make the world better for us having been here- what a difference that would make. Our cousins the wolves know that whatever we do we need to consider how it will affect our kids and grandkids- not that I can have any of them ‘cos I’ve ‘had the snip’, but some of my friends are pretty worried.

Take today on the beach for example. It was really, really hot and really really windy so there weren’t many people down there. But there was one family with a crappy little white dog that looked a lot like my mate Trev. I was so excited when I saw him ‘cos I thought it was Trev- but it wasn’t. Anyway- his family were throwing a stick for him to chase. The problem was that it wasn’t a stick they were throwing- it was a whole tree and the Trev-dog could hardly lift it. He was getting worried and they were all laughing at him. So- I did what any good aussie would do- raced into the fray to help him lift it. Then I helped him figure out a co-ordinated strategy so we both ran in the same direction to bring it back. They were seriously impressed and all said they thought we could teach the Prime Mini-stair about working together for the common good.

So ‘Jorge for Prime Mini-Stair’ I reckon I could do it. What a pity the current bloke seems to think that he was put in as the Prime Mini-Star!

posted by Jorgedog at 3:04 AM

 

Friday, October 13, 2006

 

A Dog’s Code of Conduct


• when loved ones come home, always run to greet them
• never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy-ride
• allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy
• when it’s in your best interest – practice obedience
• let others know when they have invaded your territory
• take naps and stretch before rising
• run, romp and play daily
• thrive on attention and let people touch you
• avoid biting, when a simple growl will do
• on warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass
• on hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree
• when you are happy, dance and wag your entire body
• no matter how often you are scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout…run right back and make friends
• delight in the simple joy of a long walk
• eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough
• be loyal
• never pretend to be something you are not
• if what you want lies buried, dig until you find it
• when someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently

posted by Jorgedog at 10:44 PM

 

Thursday, October 12, 2006

 

Ute Boy

Woo hoo. Today I get to do serious boy stuff. We’re going to the farm. I love the farm- almost as much as the beach- but not quite. 

As soon as we get over the river and start heading up the windy road I know where we’re headed. I can smell it. We go past the little shop that’s painted to look like me- black and white splodges, but it’s s’posed to actually look like a friesan cow! The lamposts are also painted black and white and the whole town is called Mootown. I love Moos. i’ve got lots in my toybox. One still makes moo noise when I stand on it or whack it with my foot snf it just drives me wild!

Then up another little windy road past lots of cows that look like real big versions of me- big black and white ones. So I put my head out the window and smell them

Then finally we get to the farm.

My first job is to go and check on the chooks- after I’ve said hello to the humans of course. They wander around but go back into their house to lay eggs(the chooks I mean) . Then round the front of the human’s house to the pool for a swim. Then I have to wait till everyone puts big boots on- no idea why -but they do- then off we head for my very favorite thing- a run down to the dam. This is ‘us blokes’ time. If we go by ourselves I’m allowed to run where I want and go and jump in the dam for a swim, and roll in the mud or the cow poo or whatever I can find.

Then we go and ‘check on the cows’ My mate Michael the farm human walks around looking at them going ‘hmmmmm’ a lot. I just walk around with him.

Then we check on the weeds that are growing that he wants to pull out. Sometimes we pull a few out but the rest of the time we just walk around and go ‘hmmmmmm’ a lot again.

Then we go back up to the human’s house and get in the ute to drive over to the shed. Sometimes I get to sit in the front and sometimes in the back. I think it depends what I’ve rolled in at the dam.

The shed is like a doggy amusement park. More stuff to climb on, and roll in and hide behind. And heaps of treasures to find.

Finally we head back after a hard day’s work, and it’s time to relax on the outside chairs – until the women turn up – and I get thrown in the bath AGAIN! They do know how to spoil a good day out.

This clean business sucks. I think now I understand GroundHog Day. There are some things in life that- regardless of how much you try to make them different- just happen over and over and over again!

posted by Jorgedog at 2:38 PM

 

 

Spin drying and spinning dry

The best thing about having a bath is when it’s over. Then I sing, and race circuits around the house and finally whack the white thing till hot air starts to come out of it and I can lie with my head right up against it. 

‘I’m spinning around, spinning around…..’

‘They call me Speedy Gonzales….fastest thing on 4 feeeeet….’

‘What a feeling….I can’t tell you……Make it happen…’

Dance as though noone is watching
Love as though you’ve never been hurt
Sing as if noone can hear you
And live as if heaven is here on earth

posted by Jorgedog at 4:11 AM

 

 

Cleanliness is next to…. woofiness

Women- can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em! Well- that’s not totally true. My human is not a bad sort. She manages to get dinner on the floor at the right time- when I’m hungry, and take me off to the beach for runs every day. We get on pretty well really. But she does have one failing. She insists on me being clean. So here I am in my best centrefold pose.

Now- her idea of cleanliness and mine are two different things completely, Like all housemates we’ve had to negotiate on certain things but this is one thing that we’ve had to agree to disagree on. To me there’s nothing sweeter than the perfume of something dead. I figure- If the aim of humans is to come up with a perfume that lasts, doesn’t fade and is non-allergenic- why on earth don’t they look to us in the natural world and realise- you can’t go past the smells dogs love. I’d be happy to take a consultants fee to some of these big cosmetics companies to share my secrets in this regard!
 

I guess relationships are all about negotiation. Trying to figure out who’s right is a bit of a waste of time really – if you’re coming from totally different places.

posted by Jorgedog at 3:20 AM

Leave a comment »

This Priceless Life

(C) Julie Boyd         First published in The Australian newspaper

It is easy to recognise the locals during my daily walk on the beach. They’re the ones with the relaxed smiles on their faces who have the time to look you in the eye and say “G’day”. Although, these days, there is a little strain creeping into those smiles as the threats to our community grow.

During the past five years those friendly smiles and accompanying chats have healed me. So has my dog.

When I first moved to this tiny seaside village I was extremely ill, walking with the aid of two sticks. My closest friend had just lost her battle with cancer. So had her baby grandson and her mum. All died in the same week. My friend and I had been taking bets on which of us would go first.

I still wasn’t sure if I was coming here to live or die. I couldn’t walk to the beach, let alone help clean up the mess eft by thoughtless tourists. (To be able to do that now is my thanks). I knew no-one but oved the smallness, reminiscent of my birthplace, the magnificent estuarine wetlands and the long stretch of surf beach.

It had taken quite a search to find somewhere that fitted my physical limitations so perfectly. It is a quiet, affordable family camping holiday destination, beloved by many families who cannot afford other holidays, or who deliberately chose this experience for their kids. Some have been coming here for generations. Then, all my energy was focused on becoming well again. Now, I was take two hours to walk to my friend Trish’s house at the other end of my street for a cuppa, not because of my health but because of how close our community has become. The 500m walk means patting all the neighbourhood dogs that come out to greet us along the way as my own little furry healer wanders along sniffing all the familiar smells.

A word to Rick about the state of the wetlands as he runs past in his wetsuit for a quick surf between jobs. He’s a godsend mechanic who fixes everyone’s cars and will race up to led you a battery charger when needed. No charge, of course. Or a chat with old Mrs J, who has arthritis and is having trouble wit her knees, and her son’s dog, the one she’s looking after because her son can’t have him in the house he’s renting.

A moment to compliment Joan on her new hair colour and a few minutes spent with B. strategising our latest plan to save the placet. A chat to Mary, who has just moved here. She no longer feels the need to hide away, afraid of the wild surfer kids who live in the street, the ones who are fighting alongside us to save this beautiful place.

Then there’s Maddy, our community baby, who has just taken her first steps. We’re all very proud. My own kids live interstate and overseas but stay close thanks to technology. They love the place as much as I do.

These days my community has become my family, and, like any mum, I will fight any threats to it. We live simple lives here. We know what is important. Like me, anone who has had a near-death experience or two will tell you that the last thing on your mind before you start floating is your family, friends and community. The bank balance doesn’t rate a thought.

If you want to know what contentment feels like, I can certainly tell you, but you can’t buy it.

It’s priceless.
© Julie Boyd First published in The Australian newspaper

Leave a comment »

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to Drink!

© Julie Boyd 2011

‘G’day, love. Not sure your little one will make it through okay. Whatderya reckon?’ I looked up to find myself eye to crotch with the owner of the voice, a fluorescent vest-wearing man-mountain who had appeared unannounced outside the window of my small car. Along with a multitude of other lost souls. I’d stopped in the face of a flooded creek which we were wondering if we could cross.
‘Dunno, mate, I guess it’s up to you guys to let us know what to do.’
I was in a queue, something that Aussies tend to not like doing, and the impatience of some of the other drivers was clear. One bloke in a red ute directly behind me threw a three-point turn into oncoming traffic before speeding away in a flurry of stones carried by a good spray of water, earning the curses of all those around him who added chipped duco to the list of car issues they were already facing.
We were stuck at a flooded causeway. An unexpected flash flood in Melbourne’s far-eastern suburbs had been caused by local construction damming water which would normally have been able to escape quite easily. The state government had imposed yet another planning nightmare on residents vehemently opposed to the construction of a desalination plant on one of the pristine areas of Westernport Bay. This had created an unexpected hazard, resulting in widespread destruction. A high price to pay for water infrastructure that was not needed in the first place.
Anyway – as a direct result, trying to get through a 100 metre strip of land that stretched for kilometres was proving a nightmare. Local councils unprepared for such an emergency had hastily constructed signs right at the floodwaters helpfully advising ‘floodwater, find an alternate route’ which resulted in frustrated drivers, like Mr Red Ute, spinning in circles, as they tried first one road, and then another, finding the same advice each time. Not one of them actually suggested an alternate route, which meant that non-locals found themselves taking scenic drives through endless mazes of dead-end streets as they struggled to find their way. Even those with electronic guidance systems in their cars could be heard yelling at their dashboards ‘I tried that way and it didn’t bloody work.’ At least one such electronic gadget was seen being despatched unceremoniously through the driver’s window and into said flood waters.
As my conversation with the crotch of the orange-vest wearer continued, some activity was observed on the northern shore of the flooded causeway. A postie, had zoomed up as only posties can on their little motorbikes, hat and coat flapping like the superman she clearly intended to be, saddlebags each side of the bike bulging with mail that must get through. She, too, had encountered an orange-vest-wearing person, and from the level of arm-waving that occurred, was clearly agitated at her predicament. Her ‘orange vest’ responded by summoning two more orange vests – built more on the burly side, who simply picked the motorbike up and trudged carefully through knee-deep water before depositing it carefully right beside my crotch-conversationalist. ‘There ya go, love, they made it through, let’s arks them what they reckon.’
The next minute three beaming faces appeared as they all squatted down for a problem-solving session about how to get me through. ‘Have ya ever driven through floodwater before, love? Not sure any of us would fit into that little fella, though I’m happy to give it a go. It’s not very ‘eavy tho is it?’
‘Yeah, mate, I have done it before, but that water looks like it’s moving pretty quickly and I haven’t got much weight in the car this trip – apart from me.’
‘No worries, love. You’ll be right,’ the largest one decided. ‘I reckon if I sit on the bonnet, Bill ‘ere might fit in the passenger seat if ya take the lid off, and these other mugs walk behind, that should keep it down enough.’
I looked up just in time to see the postie superman lady leaping onto the back of a fourth burly orange-vest wearer. To the cheers of surrounding onlookers, he ported her carefully through, with only one wobble in the middle, which could have seen them both dumped into the raging water, before depositing her carefully beside her bike. ‘There ya go, love. The mail must get through,’ he said with a salute as we all waved her off on her travails.
As I unclipped the soft-top roof, threw it back and wound the windows down, ‘in case we hafta haul you out, love’, orange-vest Ron hopped aboard the bonnet of my car. Bill, the smallest in stature, managed to get into the passenger’s seat, and, satisfied that we had maximum possible weight on board, we headed out.
One tiny red sports car, with four orange vests, one in, one on, one beside, and one behind, proceeded slowly and steadily, with maximum care, safely through to the other side.

Leave a comment »

From DISCONNECT to SACRED BALANCE – a personal learning journey

(C) Julie Boyd 2010
————————————————————————
The 21st century will see monumental change. Either the human race will use its knowledge and skills and change the way it interacts with the environment, or the environment will change the way it interacts with its inhabitants.
————————————————————————
Look at this one Jules. Ain’t she a beauty. Nah, we won’t touch that one. See ‘ow ‘ealthy she is. Look at those leaves, an’ the bark. She’s only a young ‘un just like you. Let’s see who’s living in her. ‘Ave a look at this little fella. Wonder where ‘is mum is? ‘Ave a look but don’t touch – utherwise ‘is mum’ll pick up ya scent and chuck ‘im out. Ya gotta ‘ave ‘respec’.
Yes. Having ‘respec’ was around a long time before rap music and Ali G. It was a concept that I learned very young from the old men of the bush, around whose ankles I played, and who taught me lessons about conservation and ecology I’ve never forgotten. My Dad was one of them.
When I was four years old, in the late 1950’s, he would wake me up and help me dress, ready for the day’s adventure. We’d walk hand in hand, both dressed in our work overalls, his covered in oil, mine in mud, through the stacks of timber that filled the paddock behind our house, among which we kids played hide and seek, over to his workshop. There, the petrol tanker he’d had to weld the day before because it was leaking, and no one else would go anywhere near it, would be ready to head out. So would the log truck that had a chain break the day before allowing a massive Mountain Ash log to roll onto a hapless mill worker- crushing his arm and leg. I’d heard my Mum and Dad talking about it with the bush nurse who lived next door to us and was the only medico in the area. She wondered if he’d be able to work again. He was a newbie, and had stood on the wrong side of the truck, a potentially fatal mistake, as he’d discovered to his detriment. To be in the wrong place at the wrong time was often deadly or at least disabling, in those days.
But a log truck couldn’t stand idle as other people’s livelihoods depended on it. The show had to go on. So my Dad had fixed it and was going to drive it up the mountain that day to collect a load. I went as his navigator.
With no seat belts to keep us safe we just had to hang on as we crawled around corners so tight we sometimes had to ‘back and fill’ to make it. My nose would wrinkle at the smorgasboard of smells – oil, diesel, dirt, and honest sweat. I would wriggle in anticipation of the wonders I would see, the stories I would hear, the sounds and smells of the bush. On the way Dad would point out all sorts of birds and animals. We’d often need to stop to allow an echidna to amble across the road in front of us, or to check a dead wombat or roo to make sure there was no baby hiding in a pouch, hidden safely and protected by Mum’s body. Often there was, and we’d arrive home with a baby animal to install in a sock or a pillow case strung on the back on a kitchen chair, in front of the wood stove to keep it warm. We’d then have to take it in turns to get up during the night to feed the baby every four hours with eye droppers. Dot, the local district nurse would show us how. She was as experienced with animals as she was with people so there was no need for a local vet, and everyone was a wildlife carer – we didn’t have any special training. Most of them survived, and they either became pets and bounced around the backyard and schoolyard with us, or we released them back to the wild – those we had carefully nurtured but not humanised. Learning to love and let go was one of the first of many lifelong lessons.
We’d stop halfway up the mountain and have a cuppa with Old Bill, a Chinese man who seemed so old he seemed to have been there since the gold rush. In a town of eccentrics, he was an oddity. He didn’t have a car so we would drop off his groceries, and collect letters he wanted posted. He couldn’t speak a lot of English but always had treasures to show me that he’d made or found. One day a magnificent feather, the next a nest with some baby chicks in it, or a new moss he hadn’t seen before on a dead branch. Then we’d travel on to where we had to collect the day’s logs. Sitting in silence with these men who seemed as ancient as the trees, yet who were probably only in their thirties and forties, taught me the value of contemplation. When it was time to work, we’d wander through the bush putting red ribbons on the trees that were to be felled. You took only the ailing trees or those surrounded by new growth that would replace them. Discernment and care-full selection were key. Clear felling in those days meant clearing the way for more growth, not wholesale slaughter.
There was no unnecessary talking, nor unnecessary taking. This was their cathedral, and my library. I learned that This one ‘ere is on the way out. We’ll take ‘im but not the one next door. First though we ‘ave to check to make sure ‘e’s not anyone’s ‘ome. Then, after a close inspection to make sure no-one was in residence and we wouldn’t be destroying someone’s home, the next discussion would be about how to fell the tree.
I WISH I WAS A TREE POEM: Author Jack Aged 6
A tree is a person
Sap is its blood
And the roots are its legs
It has so many hands
Because they are its leaves
It has quite a number of arms
Which are the branches and
Inside the trunk is the body.
It drinks from the rain and
Gets energy from the sun
I wish I was a tree.
A cuppa before we started was always the order of the day. I had my special little stump to sit on so I could watch and listen while I drank my milk. A plan would be constructed and we would all silently commune with the tree before they felled it expertly. Precise angles would be calculated by these men who’d never experienced a physics class in their lives. Their formal education, if they’d had any at all, would have finished at year 6, at latest, but George could tell you could tell you exactly how many cubic metres of wood were in a tree just from looking at it, and Old Lindsay could fell a tree with a cross-saw so that it would fall exactly where he said it would. You sit over here little ‘un. She’s gonna land between those two mountain ash. We won’t touch ‘em, they’re only young ‘uns like you. We havta miss those branches, don’t want to damage anything else. I would sit and watch in absolute awe as he did exactly that. Connoisseurship, discernment, environmental partnership and sensitivity became the basis of my personal value system.

ECOLOGICAL VALUES
These values are inherent in living systems/learning communities. They require a new way of thinking about and acting in a world whose fundamental characteristic is relationship and connectedness. This involves a shift in thinking.
From interdependence to interdependence
From competition to cooperation
From quantity to quality
From expansion to conservation
From domination to partnership

You learn the wisdom of the elders very young in the country. Lessons city kids seem to miss. The science and spirituality which pervade my adult life was first shaped by these old men, and the bush. I never saw them in church, but to sit in silence with them, watching clouds float overhead that often contained magical stories, surrounded by animals going quietly about their business, the overpowering smell of eucalyptus and the rough touch of bark on bare legs as we sipped our morning cuppas was my first introduction to real spirituality. Thoughtfully assessing the readiness, or willingness, of a tree to cease being the shelter for animals and birds and form human shelter instead was a lesson in peaceful collaboration.
They taught me the bush is to be respected. Nature is to be revered. You work with her, as they referred to her, long before Gaia became the name given to mother earth, not against her. Like all women, never take her for granted. Never try to ‘conquer’ as she’ll always win. James Lovelock, developer of the Gaia metaphor, in his book The Vanishing Face of Gaia describes Gaia not as a kind and gentle mother, but as a powerful, overbearing figure who knows how to put her children in their place. This is exactly as the old men of the bush used to see her.
Cooperation is the key. Take only what you need. Give thanks for what you do take, and make sure it’s replaced wherever possible.
But the old men gradually died, and with them their skill and bushcraft, to be replaced by efficient machines. These relentless monsters grew bigger and bigger, seemingly more bloated with each tree consumed as they ate their way, ‘War of the World’s – style – across the landscape, consuming everything in their path. Sustainable logging became replaced by the environmental rape of machine clear-felling, I started to become ill and commenced a lifelong search to re-find the health and joy of my own childhood, and ways of helping others learn similar lessons through delving into earth-centred cultures and environmental principles. These were to be found in later work with education, developed in alliances with wonderful mentors, and through life with indigenous communities around the world, where I found congruence in values and rituals which celebrated human beings as an integral part of the macro-ecosystems, and showed we are capable of making life better, or far worse, for other species.
Indigenous spiritual principles such as:
Connection to Force beyond Self
Individual Working for Common Good
Holism
Passion, Energy, Spirit
Balance and Harmony
Worth in All
Mystery
Reconciling Paradox and Dualism
Not thinking, but wisdom; not knowing ,but intuition and creativity;
wakefulness; compassion, beauty
Inspiration–fill with energy, spirit

Working with Aboriginal communities in Australia where western education seemed at odds with the needs of their young people to live in, and be part of, the bush, led to a meeting Dr. Greg Cajete. A Native American Pueblo elder, Greg was the first Indigenous person to achieve his PhD through demonstrating the traditional learning techniques of his people. He introduced me to the ‘Four Fold way’ – a perspective of the native American medicine wheel which in various interpretations provides the pivotal and fundamental element which provides the simple framework to explain all we need to consider to live well. The wisdom of the elders is balanced by the enthusiasm and need for detail of the youth of our society. Vision is balanced by introspection, male by female. In all incarnations it reminds us of the paradoxes which dominate our lives, and the need to balance and surpass them for our systems to survive and thrive. And what happens when we fail.
Greg Cajete’s seminal work ‘Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education’ described the beginning of the Great Disconnect where the French saw their task as creating a new society, half indigenous, half-European. So while they educated Indian children in the ways of the church, they also encouraged their leading families to send their children to Indian villages to live as part of a chief’s family and absorb Indian ways. Whereas the English, from whom educational efforts have always been derived, sought only to provide Indians with sufficient familiarity with their economic system so that educated Indians would fit into the rural Protestant agricultural milieu. Gradually the philosophical basis of learning moved away from seeing the world as an intimate relationship of living things, towards the world as an inanimate mass of matter arranged by chance into a set of shapes and energy patterns and a Cartesian-based belief in the certainty of scientific knowledge.
Native American Principles for Living
Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect,
Remain close to the Great Spirit,
Show great respect for your fellow beings,
Work together for the benefit of all mankind,
Give assistance and kindness whenever needed,
Do what you know is right,
Look after the well-being of mind and body,
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good,
Be truthful and honest at all times,
Take full responsibility for your actions.
And so the societal journey through disconnection began, where we all gradually moved through a series of educational eras where the purpose of schooling kept changing – e.g. the Agricultural Era where schools promoted common culture and citizenship, to the Industrial Era (‘Americanise/Australianise’ immigrants and prepare them for factory work), to the Social Era (social reform with a hospital perspective) and finally to the Electronic/Ecological Era where one would hope that the wheel may finally turn again so that community building and ecological principles may become the norm. Along the way young people gradually disconnected from the natural world and their families as their environments changed and technology enabled them to access broader and broader networks which expand their access and eased their need for physical work, but not necessarily their improved their self worth or their personal capabilities.
Now, I look at young people growing up now, plugged into PDAs and earphones through which ear-splitting music blasts as they simultaneously text their mates, tweet their thoughts and post comments on the message boards of ‘friends’ they’ve never met. Intimate relationships have been replaced by the need to accumulate people and material stuff. I despair at the disconnect many of them appear to experience with their surroundings – both human and environmental, unless their Facebook friends tell them there is a ‘cause’ they should become involved in. The principles of living systems that informed ancient cultures seem to have become lost in the consumeristic game to invent the next intriguing gadget that will enable you to connect with everyone, but at arms, or computers distance.
While I appreciate the flexibility and reach afforded by advancing technologies, I also wonder whether our ‘Adaptive Mutation’ as humans is being adversely affected, particularly the brain and intelligence development in young people which is becoming skewed.
Understanding that building resiliency in young people to overcome this sense of disconnectedness requires that they are supported to build relationship with self, others and the environment, led me into the fields of systems thinking, environmental literacy and ecopsychology where the focus is restoration of balance, and the wonders of natural capitalism, sustainable development, and Biomimicry are suddenly entering the popular lexicon as we struggle to address climate change concerns both of our own making, and Gaia’s response.
The question now is what do we need to do to ensure the survival of the human race on earth, or, as luminaries such as James Lovelock, Tim Flannery and Clive Hamilton have written recently, are we already past the Tipping Point.
I choose to think not. I continually search for ways to reverse the ‘damage of civilisation’ and take heart in contributions such as the Minke Whale Project, where university researchers who couldn’t get funding have paired with ecotourism operators in creative ways; in the ‘Real Avatar’ call where thousands from around the world lobbied the Indian Government recently to stop a British company from mining the Niyamgiri Hill worshipped by the remote Kutia and Dongria Kondh indigenous tribes who have no access to modern technology; and I take heart in moves by the Victorian Government in establishing a Sustainability Commission to address at least one of the Principles of Ecology on a systemic basis.
Principles of ECOLOGY, EDUCATION and COMMUNITY
Interdependence sustainability ecological cycles
energy flow partnership flexibility
diversity co-evolution
I also choose to live at the beach! Here, my daily, health giving walks are constantly interrupted to gaze at the skies as a newly released baby wedge-tailed eagle learns to ride the air currents, with no parent to teach her. Or where a sea eagle pair engage in a provocative courtship dance out over an incoming tide. Where an osprey has built her nest on top of a specially provided pole, far out of the reach of any human related mischief, but when a young one peeps tentatively over the side before a first flight, locals gather excitedly to watch.
I glory in the feel of the wind on my face as I watch whales protectively shielding their babies as they cruise purposefully, but slowly, past on their way to summer feeding grounds. I experience the wonder of dancing with dolphins, first discovered on beaches in Florida and Western Australia, who do come in when they are called, to circle around my legs and then with a flick of their powerful bodies leap back into an oncoming wave.
My beach-walking memories are also of being introduced to salmon fishing in Michigan, where the magnificent creatures are caught and prepared in grateful ceremony by the Ojibwe people; and of Monterey – where the local people care so much for the Monarch butterflies which migrate there each spring, that they not only voted to pay an extra tax to build a sanctuary, but they staff the sanctuary and encourage police to pin $1000 fines on anyone disturbing the butterflies. And I give thanks to the friends in Pacific Grove who first introduced me to Sea Otters – to me the most endearing of creatures. Venturing outside, I simply walked down to the beach, past wild deer grazing on berries along the path, to craggy rocks from which you can see otters frolicking. These delightful little creatures have a highly practical habit of rolling themselves in kelp to sleep or eat, belly up, often with a very cute baby lying on top. The mums also roll their babies in kelp to keep them secure while mum is off finding shellfish for dinner. They are also great parents and watching otters teaching their babies is one of the best time-wasting pleasures I’ve ever experienced.
The sound of waves is accompanied by the knock, knock of the stones they hold in their paws to break open molluscs on their stomachs, behaviour Jane Goodall compared to her observations of the tool-using Gombe Chimpanzees, and I send silent thanks to Margaret Wentworth Owens and her colleagues in their conservation work to save these most playful of creatures from extinction. The same day I was introduced to the sea otters I stayed the night and watched the sun sink into the golden ocean, listened to the plaintive calls of the seabirds, the haunting barks of the seals, the slapping and sighing of the waves breaking on the rocks below.
As the conscience of conservation shifts from the dim memories of yesterday to the uncertainties of tomorrow, cannot we hold in our heart the shining hour of today?’ Margaret Wentworth Owings 1998
As the young teenagers call out ‘Hi’ as they run past with their surfboards tucked securely under their arms, or in a carrier attached to their bikes, or stop to chat about the latest battles we’re having with bureaucracy to ensure the biodiversity of the area through restricting unsustainable development, I give silent thanks to those old men of the bush who first opened my eyes, heart and soul to my personal place in the ecosystem, and I renew my vow to continue to do whatever I can to ensure that my brand new grand-daughter, and all of her friends, can survive and thrive through a legacy of my generation’s stewardship and my on-going work with Eco-Literacy.
We are all united in a common cause
It is a proud cause, which we may serve
Secure in the knowledge that the earth will be
Better for our effort. It is a cause that has no end.
The closing words of Rachel Carson;s acceptance speech after receiving the National Audobon Society’s Gold Medal, 3.12. 1966
ECOLITERACY IS BOTH A CONTENT AND A PROCESS
Ecoliteracy as content
Ecological principles
Ecological values
Ecoliteracy as process
Systems thinking
Systems change

Leave a comment »

Otterly Delightful

Otterly Delightful (C) Julie Boyd 2010

Australia may have some of the strangest animals in the world, but America surely has some of the most playful.

From dancing with dolphins in Florida to swimming with sea lions in California and playing hide and seek with chipmunks in Michigan, their creatures seem as fascinated by humans as we are by them.

The most playful of their animals, and possibly the cutest, are sea otters. And the best place to see them – Monterey Bay in California. Otters were once hunted to near extinction and it is due to the persistence of people like Margaret Wentworth Owings, often called the Jane Goodall of California, and the Friends of the Sea Otters, that these little guys have survived and thrived.

Driving from San Francisco towards the Monterey Peninsula, the entrance sign to Point Lobos, a State Park so popular that bookings are essential even for a day trip, states proudly ‘Sea Otters in Residence’ with the pamphlet you are handed beginning ‘The sea otter is without doubt the most observed and beloved marine mammal in this park.’

The Monterey Peninsula itself is full of wonderful surprises. One doubts whether tourism was on anyone’s mind when John Steinbeck came out in the mid-1940s with his famous fictional classic, “Cannery Row,” but that novel ultimately had the effect of turning the Monterey Peninsula into one of the most popular destinations for a Northern California vacation. Aspiring writers find real pleasure in being able to walk the same streets as Steinbeck, where the smell of fish from the sardine factories, has now been replaced by the great coffee and wonderful food on offer at cafes and restaurants; and souvenir and book shops now grace the old buildings. Thank goodness this is not somewhere developers have been allowed to destroy the heritage which brings millions of visitors a year.

It’s always an advantage having friends who live locally and can show you around an area. If they are heavily involved in their local community, so much the better. My dear friends are docents (helpers) at the famed Monterey Bay aquarium just down the road from Cannery Row. Financed by David Packard (of Hewlett Packard) for his marine biologist daughter, Julie, who is currently Executive Director of the aquarium, this is not only possibly the most incredible aquarium in the world, it also houses a crucially important research institute. Located right on the famed San Andreas faultline, there is a submarine canyon immediately off Monterey which drops sharply to 3,600metres, so the research institute has access to some very unusual deepwater creatures. This also makes the water extremely cold, so swimming is not really an option, though it is one of the premier scuba diving spots in the world. The most famous aspect of the Monterey aquarium is a wall of glass, more than three storeys high which enables a view into a giant kelp forest and the habitat this provides. Outside the aquarium, a favourite pastime is kayaking out among the otters, though knowing the depth of the water beneath can be slightly intimidating.
I was visiting Monterey to attend a conference which was being held at the Asilomar Center (American spelling) in Pacific Grove, just down the road. Arguably one of the best conference locations in the world, Asilomar consists of a series of log cabins, the largest of which has an open fire which spans the entire wall, and is the perfect location for a fireside chat or glass of good Californian red. Venturing outside you simply walk down to the beach, past wild deer grazing on berries along the path, to craggy rocks from which you can see otters frolicking. These delightful little creatures have a very endearing, and highly practical habit of rolling themselves in kelp to sleep or eat, belly up, often with a very cute baby lying on top. The mums also roll their babies in kelp to keep them secure while mum is off finding shellfish for dinner. The sound of waves is accompanied by the knock, knock of the stones they hold in their paws to break open molluscs on their stomachs. They are also great parents and watching otters teaching their babies is one of the best time-wasting pleasures I’ve ever experienced.

An easy walk around the end of the small peninsula is a little like rounding a mini Cape Horn. Raging seas on one side give way to slightly calmer waters just around the corner. A park bench near the tip provides a welcome resting spot to otter watch, gaze at the sea of wildflowers which carpet walkways on this side, and the plethora of Victorian houses that frame the town. For those who remember a singer by the name of John Denver, this bench also carries a plaque in memory of his death, in a plane crash immediately off this point. Sitting there quietly you can hear ‘Annie’s Song’ being sung by the wind.

Pacific Grove also marks the beginning of the 17 mile drive – a large gated community which is home to many wealthy celebrities, which stretches from Pacific Grove to Carmel-on-the-sea. The lovely guy at the toll booth told us to be sure we visited the Lone Cypress. To Aussies used to seeing trees growing out of granite mountain-sides, this is nothing special, however here, for some reason, a single tree has become a major tourist attraction. This is just opposite the famed Pebble Beach golf course, home of the US Open. If you spend more than $25 at any of the Pebble Beach Company restaurants along the 17-Mile Drive, they’ll deduct the toll fee from your bill. Roy’s restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Bay is famous for their great views and service. Their prices are also much more reasonable than the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and after the fee was subtracted, our lunch bill was only a few dollars more than a mediocre breakfast we had in Carmel the previous day. My friend enjoys her food so much that she sings to it, often unconsciously, and her rendition of the day saw our bill reduced even further, much to our delight.

Carmel is a beautiful seaside village. The town is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. In 1906, the San Francisco Call devoted a full page to the “artists, poets and writers of Carmel-by-the-Sea,” and in 1910 it reported that 60 percent of Carmel’s houses were built by citizens who were “devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts.” Early City Councils were dominated by artists, which may explain their street system, and the town has had several mayors who were poets or actors, including Clint Eastwood. He sat beside us at breakfast at the Carmel cafe with some of his mates, all of whom seemed to be fascinated by Aussie accents. The quaintness of the tiny houses is highlighted by the fact that no street numbers exist here, which made trying to find another friend an exercise all the more interesting with the cuteness of the homes continually distracting us.
Driving home, this time along the freeway, we took another detour as my friend, Laurel is also an avid supporter of the magnificent Monarch butterfly, and she was on duty, again, as a docent (trained volunteer) so I was fortunate to spend some time as a docent assistant at the butterfly Sanctuary.

Pacific Grove is often nicknamed “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.” The community has always welcomed the butterflies and fought for their protection. Citizens of Pacific Grove even voted to pay an additional tax to create the Monarch Grove Sanctuary. The Pacific Grove Police Department continues to enforce strict regulations that prohibit the “molestation of butterflies.” The fine? $1,000.

Arriving in October, the Monarch Butterflies cluster together on the pines and eucalyptus trees of the Sanctuary so that the entire forest becomes a stunningly beautiful, giant moving entity.

That night, as a perfect finale, we visited the Feast of Lanterns, with a picnic. This Festival has evolved over its 100-plus year history to a lantern parade down to the beach and fireworks over the bay – a multi-cultural community event filled with entertainment. A special pageant on the final night celebrates the legend of the “Blue Willow”. While the origins of the story are a little obscure, the Pacific Grove version tells a story where the lovers fly away as Monarch Butterflies, to return again every fall(autumn).

The Monterey Peninsula is one of my favourite places in the world. Stunningly beautiful, teetering on the edge of Big Sur and the Monterey underwater canyon, it is not only full of playful animals, but wonderfully playful people. It is otterly delightful.

Leave a comment »

A Surprisingly Bountiful Utah

A Surprisingly Bountiful Utah
(C) Julie Boyd 2010

‘Hello and welcome. My Uncle lives in Launceston. He tells me you have a lovely home there.’ To say I was a little taken aback by the greeting was an understatement.

I was honoured to have been invited by a work colleague, who is a singer with a wonderful voice, to the monthly filming of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, Utah. Walking through the breathtakingly beautiful gardens of Temple Square http://visittemplesquare.com/ to the tabernacle was, in itself, an experience. A backdrop of the magnificent snow-capped Wasatch Mountains surrounds the city, as wagons would have surrounded the original pioneers, sheltering and protecting the community and its famous caverns of historic and family record documents, which apparently included mine, from the intrusion of outsiders.
‘Come and follow me. Is it true that Tasmania has some of the strangest animals in the world? I would love to see a Tasmanian Devil.’ My greeter continued to ask questions about Tasmania where I was living at the time, as she showed me to the seat of the special guest. It was a simple wooden pew, right in the centre at the front, from where I had a wonderful view of the magnificent 11,623 pipes of the specially built pipe organ and the entire choir, with my colleague bedecked in regalia beaming from the second back row.
As the most unchurch-like television crew raced around connecting cables and setting up cameras and lights, I took the opportunity to gaze around, not really knowing what to expect. I was struck by the deceptive simplicity of the wooden building, the ambition of the magnificent domed ceiling, and the devotion with which the entire building seemed to have been built. This unique Tabernacle was an architectural marvel of its time. Through the bridge-building technique of Henry Grow, the Tabernacle roof was able to span its 150-foot width without centre supports–an amazing achievement in both engineering and acoustics. The domed shape is so acoustically sensitive that a pin dropped at the pulpit can be clearly heard at the back of the hall, 170 feet away. I know- I tried it!
The singing was truly magnificent. The voices melded and soared, echoing around the buttresses and exposed beams of the ceiling until I became lost in the music, in the same way I had been transported at a gospel choir in Noumea the previous year. Still enthralled by the experience, it was difficult to put the words to a simple ‘thank you’ as I was presented with a signed copy of the choir’s latest CD by my greeter who now ushered me through powerful doors into the gardens again.
Salt Lake City is probably one of the easiest cities in the world to find your way around. Designed on a simple grid system with each street in the central district a super-wide boulevard to enable horses and buggies plenty of turning space, the streets all fan out from the central tabernacle. It is also a city of contradictions.
Utah is a ‘dry’ state. It is illegal to carry an open bottle of alcohol in your car. Any new bottles must be secreted in closed carriers or brown paper bags and the few bottle shops keep limited hours. This is somewhat at odds with the fact that restaurants there also make the best margaritas in the world. You just can’t buy them by the glass, to get around the somewhat obscure laws in the state, but a jug of these is the ideal drink to wash down the best fajitas in the world from the Agave Tequila Bar, where you can choose from over 70 brands of tequila. The dining experience is only slightly dampened by the lines of unemployed and homeless men outside the soup kitchen just down the street.

Dinner with local friends unearthed some fascinating stories about life in the Mormon state. One friend had tried to leave the church, only to find that it didn’t matter what country she moved to, or how obscure the place, she always found a ‘brother’ knocking on her door within two weeks, inviting her to come home. In the end, she did, and over dinner, told me that hiding in plain view is the easiest thing to do. Another had been part of a polygamous marriage. She was/is gay and talked about the number of women she knew who were happy with these marriages as they could maintain their relationships with their sister-wives in a form that not even the most religious husband was aware of. No doubt they were the exception to the rule! They also explained that the young men we saw at the soup kitchen were probably the outcasts – those who were expelled from their communities once they reached puberty and left to fend for themselves after a closeted upbringing – a practice causing many problems in Utah.

They were also surprised that I had been invited to visit a new temple which was about to be dedicated. Once this ceremony occurs, no ‘non-believers’ are permitted into the building, so I was looking forward to seeing as much as I could, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Mormons believe the higher you are, the closer to God, so the mountains are dotted with developments, and this new temple was perched on a high rocky outcrop, as close to the top as possible. Built of marble, it shone ghost-like through the mist. As with the main tabernacle, the design was beautifully simple, the foyer stunning. Descending the first stairs we passed a number of small rooms. There are so many ‘sealings’/marriages that multiple rooms are required to meet the demand. Still further into the depths of the mountain we entered the changing rooms, where clothes are exchanged for particular religious garments. Men and women have separate areas of course, and it is here that they prepare before moving into the special font room where full body immersion baptism rituals take place in a font large enough to hold several adults. These fonts are apparently always held up by 12 sculpted oxen.

The next day a trip out past the ‘This is the Place’ monument where Brigham Young supposedly announced to the pilgrims it was time to stop travelling, to Antelope Island State Park, was another surprise. Set in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, past the Yacht Club and the works that supply much of America’s salt, over a special causeway and perched like an oasis in the middle of Lake Eyre, this is a sanctuary for a roaming herd of over 500 bison. Once the masters of the prairies across America, they are now an endangered species. On the day I visited, the cowboys were doing a herd check as there were several babies due. Much larger and stronger than I was expecting, these magnificent animals seemed to vacillate between nonchalance and frustration at being unable to run free like their ancestors.
Utah is full of surprises. Meeting friends at the Concert Hall necessitated a walk along one of the long streets. The concert hall was not the only place to be hosting a show. Bon Jovi was advertised at one venue. A little further along a James Taylor concert was about to take place. One of the key differences between Australia and America is not just in the quality of margaritas, but in the plethora of entertainment opportunities, even in unlikely places. Any one of those artists would draw a massive crowd in Australia.

The Capital Theatre concert hall is, again, an elegant, deceptively simple and beautiful building. To my absolute delight the artist to whom my friends were taking me was Kitaro, the Japanese musician whose work in melding traditional music with technology had long been a fascination. The massive drum, traditionally made and three metres in diameter that sat centre stage was a hint of the power of the music to come. A Kitaro experience is a full sensory one. During some sequences you can feel every cell responding. I can still hear it reverberating right through me.
Sundance was the next wonderful surprise for me. Several hours drive from Salt Lake City you wend your car through canyons filled with Aspen trees. When fortunate enough to be there when the Aspen leaves are falling, entire mountains appear to be covered in gold. None more beautiful than the mountain, actor Robert Redford bought back in 1981 to protect it from those he felt would prefer to develop it, and named it after the movie that had given him the wherewithal to do so. The day we travelled there it was snowing. As an Aussie who had never experienced real powder snow before I was astonished at its softness and warmth. Parkas were discarded as we walked in tee shirts, feeling the snow alight like fairy-dust, as chipmunks and squirrels ran busily past – a truly magical experience. The lodge and Tree Room restaurant were log cabins, built from trees on the property, and serving wonderfully hearty local food. Magnificent Native American artifacts and rugs adorn walls and floors, and a massive open fire beckoned. Redford himself is a regular visitor but it was an unexpected treat for an unabashed fan, for my friend to greet him with a ‘Hi Bob. I’ve just brought my Australian mate up to see your place.’ I didn’t know she knew him.

Park City was the next stop. I drove in, trying to read street names through snow drifts in an effort to locate a family my Salt Lake friends had called, and who had offered me use of their basement apartment for a few days. Clearly missing the mark I kept going into the main street – another fairyland of fascinating shops. Parking outside a ski store which had closed for the day, I walked towards a place that looked open. It was – a brewery where tastings and Mexican food were the order of the day, the Wasatch Brew Pub. As I ate, drank and chatted to some locals, and a very nice couple from Ireland whose accents were so broad I had to translate for them, the people with whom I was staying arrived saying ‘It’s good that you ended up here as we were going to bring you in to a gallery opening this evening. It’s just up the road.’

We headed off, walking knee deep into the snow, after deciding to abandon my car for the night as the snow chains hadn’t been fitted, and stopped outside a small shopfront with one artistically placed, stunning photograph of a wild bison in the window. Catching my breath I said ‘that looks like a Tom Mangelson photo.’ ‘So it is – come and meet him. This is his gallery and he’s here for the opening tonight.’ As I was introduced to one of the world’s best wildlife photographers and handed a glass of champagne, it was difficult to think of any other place I wanted to be right then, listening to his stories of the patience it takes to capture the perfect image, and introducing him to – my favourite Tasmanian wilderness photographer, Peter Dombrovskis whose photo of the wild rivers stopped the damming of the Franklin all those years ago.

Utah certainly is full of surprises

Leave a comment »

Memories of Dalat

Memories of Dalat
(C) Julie Boyd 2010

There is a village in Vietnam that has no name. There may be others, but I’ve seen this one. B2 took me there.
****
When crossing the road in Vietnam, particularly in Ho Chi Min city (formerly Saigon), walk very slowly. The people will not deliberately try to hit you with their motorbikes but make no sudden moves. With this sound advice from my Lonely Planet, I landed at Saigon airport on a spontaneous trip to meet my daughter who had been travelling there for a month. We rarely get to spend time together at home these days, so this seemed a precious opportunity to both catch up and have a holiday, or so I thought. To my surprise, my trip became so much more – almost a pilgrimage.

After finding each other among the thousands gathered outside the airport terminal – a feat in itself, we travelled into the city on a local bus, much to the astonishment of the other passengers. Two relatively tall, blue-eyed blondes are still a novelty in some parts of the country.

Passing the sign to the CuChi tunnels was the first indication that perhaps this trip would be more than I expected. The horror of a long buried memory of my friend Lawrence who died as a ‘tunnel mole’ there during the Vietnam war, along with thousands of Vietnamese people, hit like a thunderbolt. My first inkling that this trip was to be – unexpected …

Taking the first step into peak hour traffic on the main street of Saigon is like stepping into a vortex. You have no idea if you’ll make it across safely. It’s an exercise in hope. As I stood in the middle of the street, on our way to a history lesson, Vietnamese style, at the Reunification Palace, with thousands of motorbikes swirling around, I was struck by the realisation that Vietnam is a place of survival and memories, and the quirky characters which make the human race interesting. Elegant women, impeccably groomed in their áo dài perched behind wiry men, often with up to four or five children sandwiched between them, or merchandise, or the family shopping, dangling precariously around them; alongside food and furniture carriers. Want to go to a temple on a whim – just jump on the back of a taxi-bike and with a quick price negotiation you’re off to become part of the swirling masses.

The central market is a treasure trove of food, clothing and shoes- as long as you are a small Vietnamese sized person. Searching for size 12 shoes for my daughter’s boyfriend was impossible, though she managed to end up with some beautiful sandals. My guilty pleasure was to have an áo dài tailor made. This outfit was actually created in the 1920s, during the period of French rule, when Vietnamese nationalists envisioned a costume that would contrast with both European clothes and the varied ethnic and status-differentiated clothing that existed throughout the regions of pre-colonial Vietnam. It is incredibly elegant and very comfortable to wear.

A short bus trip found us in the Mekong Delta which is incredibly beautiful, but haunted. A former Khmer Rouge stronghold, it is easy to see how western soldiers would have found it impossible to work there. Now, flat boats paddled by stunningly beautiful young Vietnamese wives while their ancient husbands supervise, negotiate you through the maze of waterways and showcase the enterprising and entrepreneurial nature of the people. Along the Cambodian border, former army generals bark orders to tourists such as ‘you will now enjoy this view’. Peasant farmers hawk their goods in boats at the floating markets while successfully multi-tasking. Rice fields in the dry season become fishing ponds in the wet, while their wives and children make incense sticks and delicious coconut candy to sell.

Dalat, a very bumpy eight hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, is described in many tourist books as a cheesy town with tacky tourist sites. That was far from our experience. The bus ride is usually 6-9 hours depending on the traffic. Located in the South Central Highlands, Dalat was originally the playground of the French who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast and the city. Called Petit Paris, complete with Eiffel Tower replicas, the city spreads across a series of pine-covered hills, with Xuan Huong lake in the centre – ideal for picnics – and surrounded by higher peaks, making for some lovely scenery quite different from the rest of Vietnam. Dalat’s high altitude (1500-2000 m) and fertile landscape make it one of Vietnam’s premier agricultural areas, producing varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers that don’t grow in the lowlands. The French influence is widely enjoyed through food, with patisseries on street carts carrying delicious croissants and baguettes alongside more traditional Vietnamese foods. Known as the food basket of Vietnam, vegetable and flower vendors in markets as far north as Hanoi, tout their “made in Dalat” produce.

Strolling through the market on our first day we were greeted by ‘Hello madam. You are Australian. I am in love with Aussie Eltham.’ The engaging grin caught our attention as he explained the relationship he’d developed with a former Aussie client who he was saving to come and visit with intent to marry her, and the original Easyriders became our guides for one of the most memorable parts of the trip. Now described by the inimitable Lonely Planet as “A witty crew of freelance motorbike guides who were truly born to be wild, whose popularity is reaching cult proportions among travellers seeking an alternative to being herded around on the usual open tour bus trail.”

After introducing himself as Binh, he then introduced his partner – also called Binh, so we promptly labelled them B1 and B2. B1 knew the Aussie children’s characters of the same name and thought it was hilarious. B2 was the older of the two so became my driver by default when B1 claimed my daughter so he could ‘practice moves’. I hoped he meant practice his English.

B2 was quiet and seemed agitated. As we headed out of Dalat, a quiet conversation revealed why. After some gentle coaxing, he reluctantly told me he has a daughter who is blind. Agent Orange related, almost every family in the area has at least one disabled child who they are unable to take care of. She had been put into an orphanage when she was four years old, and she was flying home for her first visit since. She was now 15 and he was justifiably nervous. The only reason he told me was because we rode past the airport as she was supposed to be landing, and he had to stop riding as he was shaking so badly.

Guide books tell you that the area around Dalat was where, 40 years ago, Viet Cong guerillas found refuge in the caves and forests, while the South Vietnamese army held the fort in the city nearby. Dalat and surrounds, however, were spared any fighting during the war by tacit agreement between both sides who apparently appreciated its therapeutic values for rest and recreation. Not believing the tourist spin, I was looking for the real story.

The further we rode, the more B2 opened up. He had been a member of the Khmer Rouge but has never talked about it and gave me a little of the history of Vietnam from his perspective. In return for his confidence, I told him that almost forty years ago, a school-friend, Billy, a poet and songwriter, was conscripted, and had died there the day he arrived. Realising that I was curious and not critical of his history, he offered to take us to the area where Billy had died. Dismounting and walking through coffee plantations to the first of our ‘official’ stops, a silkworm factory I noticed what looked like fire-destroyed jungle beyond the coffee fields.

It was an area devastated by Agent Orange and napalm where the jungle still hasn’t recovered and practically nothing will grow even now. As we stood in silence waiting for the others to catch up, we both became lost in our own memories, and breathing was difficult.

B1, in his inimitable manner, proffered that although nothing would grow in the devastated area, it is surrounded by these coffee plantations which also offer considerable camouflage from the road. If you don’t know where to look you would pass by oblivious to the horror that had occurred there.
Next door to the silkworms we were introduced to another highly entrepreneurial gentleman. He had set up a small cafe on his veranda so his wife could serve morning tea. After eating some delicious coconut cake, B1 asked his friend if he could take us downstairs for a rice wine tasting, and to see the biggest pig in the world. Fed on the refuse from rice wine production it lay in its pen, a huge smile across its snout, content in its drunken stupor as its myriad progeny played in the next pen. The fires for the wine stills are fed by husks from coffee beans being grown on the edges of the devastated jungle. I asked B1 what happened to the coffee. ‘We sell to Brazil. He call it Brazil coffee and sell to Starbucks – call Arabica and Mocha’. ‘So I should tell my friends not to buy these in Starbucks. Is this Vietnamese karma’? I asked. He smiled enigmatically as we headed off to their favourite roadside diner for a feast of frogs legs, and other local delicacies, but no coffee.

Continuing our sublime and ridiculous tour, our next stop was the infamous Dalat Crazy House. Built like a movie set for a Tim Burton movie it was hard to know whether to be bemused, amused or astonished by the architecture and decor which could best be described as tree house meets mad hatter’s tea party.

My favorite memory of Dalat however has to be the tiny Buddhist nun with the meditating dog. The boys had realised early that we had no interest in touristy stuff, so took us to meet their friend in the minority (indigenous) village where she lived and ran her version of a free hospital. Medical supplies could be counted on two hands and they relied on the sale of incense sticks to buy more. Seated serenely in a chair, laughing like the Dalai Lama she would have to be one of the most beautiful and contented people I have ever met. ‘She have dog’ explained B1, and as a dog owner I understood perfectly. ‘I thought nuns didn’t own anything’ I quipped ‘ No, dog own her, 5 dog own her’ he quipped back. As an ancient woman sat beside her, smiling as she hand-rolled incense sticks for us, the nun picked up her smallest dog, a fluffball just like the one I have at home – perhaps with a few more fleas. He lay back on her lap and stayed as still as a statue. Gently she held a lighted incense stick for him to grasp between his front paws (unassisted) as he raised his eyes heavenward and remained that way for 30 minutes. A small furry budda.

B2’s ‘I have another place for you to see’ saw us back on the bikes, heading further out and down a dirt track into a valley. Rounding a corner he stopped suddenly, as if hitting a wall. In front of us was a village, clearly built on the edge of a napalmed area. A cold shiver ran down my spine and my stomach lurched the same way it had when I visited Auschwitz years before, as B2 said quietly, ‘This special village. No one come, no one go. These people from North. They must stay. Everybody sick. Every baby sad. No food in, no food out. They grow, they eat. Food no grow, they die.’

His face set into a protective mask- the sublimated anger palpable. Even from a distance the people looked haunted, the children disabled, the buildings different. The village has no name and does not exist on any map.

Leave a comment »

Vale Chocolate

(C) Julie Boyd 2009

Just one more piece- what harm can that do?

Millions of women, and possibly the occasional man, around the world justify that next piece of chocolate to themselves. The warning a moment on your lips, forever on your hips is no deterrent to the true chocoholic. Until now.

I once suggested when Bush declared war in Iraq that instead of sending soldiers he should plant the world’s supply of chocolate in Afghanistan then send contingents of mothers in to rid the world of the Bin Laden acolytes. Set the chocoholics loose- you’d have them in a day, and they’d get a damn good talking to as well.

The change in the shape of the wrapper was the final straw for me. Cadbury, that great Australian institution and temple to all chocolate worshippers has done the unthinkable and changed its chocolate.

Not since I was a kid and Akta Vite (what?) underwent a similar makeover which destroyed the flavour, and its own market share, have I felt so betrayed.
I am part of a generation that grew up with ‘a glass and a half of milk in every block’ allowing us to see chocolate as an integral part of our daily requirement of dairy food, until some genius declared it as a food group in its own right. I know, I have the tee shirt to prove it. Dutifully, a block was consumed each day to fulfill my dietary requirements. Until now.

Suddenly my milky, creamy, addictive (but dietarily important) fix is being presented in a cardboard box instead of the gift wrapped paper treat which tore with a certain sound, revealing a chocoholics secret to others in the household whenever they indulged.

And to add insult to injury, the texture has changed from creamy to oily. Why?
Who was the bright spark at Cadbury who said let’s p… off half the population of Australia, and most menopausal women by making our chocolate inedible. They clearly didn’t do their research and realise that those of us with no gall bladders, still secretly addicted but unable to digest properly – now have no hope of eating the newly oiled substance.

Who, at Cadbury said to the Board, let’s use palm oil in our chocolate and reduce dairy herds as our contribution to climate change. After all, cows fart methane, a more poisonous gas than carbon dioxide and the climate change scientists are calling for a reduction in meat related eating habits by those countries who indulge so heavily. They meant hamburger eating fatties fuelled by greedy multinationals you fools – not chocolate producing dairy cows. A pulp mill in Tassie will fart far more gas into the atmosphere than the dairy cows which fuel Charlie’s Chocolate factory in Hobart.

Your change to palm oil is an even bigger problem. Not only has it changed the flavour, but palm oil is collected by child labour and the plantations are destroying precious Orangutan habitat, critically endangering our nearest DNA relative.

The only possible explanation that still makes no sense to me is that milk has changed too. From the simple white stuff of my childhood that came straight from the cow and had to be heated (to pasteurise it), and then allowed to settle so thick cream could be scooped from the top and made into butter, or put on scones fresh from the oven, to the dozens of boxed varieties of sometimes questionable white stuff that fill supermarket shelves these day. I often wonder when we’ll start getting small subtitles on the boxes stating ‘reconstituted milk. Contains 5% whole milk’. Maybe we already do and my eyesight isn’t good enough to read the small print.

So thanks, Cadbury, for forcing me finally to give up a lifetime addiction. May my favourite chocolate RIP along with my last glass of Akta Vite.

Leave a comment »

Value for Money?

(C) Julie Boyd 2010

We seem to cost more as we get older- or does it just seem that way? So when do we become cost-ineffective? Dogs, cars, people. We all get too expensive to run any more. Then what do we do?

My first car was a Mini. Chatsworth I called him, I have no idea why.

Spew- green in colour, Chatsworth was purchased for the phenomenal sum of $300.00 not long after we changed over to decimal currency. For the first couple of years I drove him through situations that I now warn my kids against. Mini-crams were a popular sport back then – particularly during vodka fuelled pub crawls. Thirteen was the maximum we ever got in to Chatty so that he could still be driven by our version of a designated driver. (Non-believers pleased check http://www.recordholders.org/en/list/carcram.html) I have no idea how we did that and survived.

He was excellent at bouncing over kerbs, particularly those blocks they put in the centre of roads to stop you from turning around. He knew where he wanted to go, and always seemed to find his way to where we were headed, and then home again.
On University field trips to the beach, all in the pursuit of marine biological excellence, he was easily carried across footbridges along with his mate, a Fiat Bambino enticingly called Bambi. There was one time when Bambi was left on the beach overnight only to be found by an erstwhile young constable who promptly took it upon himself to search her, and found owner John’s private stash, which required some fast talking and slow smoking to mitigate. Bambi was the cheeky flirt while Chatty made an excellent wing-car when we all headed into Uni. We had a new building in which study supposedly took place, six storeys high – quite a skyscraper in Melbourne at the time, with an enticingly large lift designed for wheelchairs. Bambi’s cheekiness used to get her into terrible trouble and she’d often find herself jump-started, then pushed into the lift for a trip to the sixth floor, where she would be paraded around the large open lecture theatre in all her glory. John, her owner, would spend many confused hours trying to find where she’d gone on her latest adventure.

Mary the Ford Prefect, was another of Chatty’s mates. A delightfully genteel old lady, Mary’s most memorable moment came when a couple of girlfriends and I had been out for dinner at another mate’s place, right at the end of the newly opened South Eastern Freeway and none of us had noticed a pea-soup fog had settled over Melbourne. I don’t remember the imperative to get home that night but there must have been one. Mary’s headlights were a little dim- approximately ten candlepower, and given that we couldn’t see the end of the bonnet in the fog that did not bode well for the trip. It was just as well there were three of us in the car at the time. Kathy drove, Marg kept a watch out for the rails on the side of the road and other cars, and I sat on the bonnet holding two torches which we’d had the foresight to tuck into Mary’s bonnet.

Chatty also conveyed me and my friends the five hour drive home from uni when we craved one of Mum’s lamb roasts. Once he lost power, and brakes, going up the steep hill near my uncle’s farmhouse, and we proceeded backwards all the way off the road, through two fences and straight to the bottom, sailing sedately and sturdily with all four wheels planted on terra firma. Any other car would have rolled, and probably killed us all – but not Chatty. He was indestructible. We took less luggage after that, and my uncle got the tractor and towrope ready whenever he knew we were heading past.

On another trip home- just me and him- I had my first flat tyre. Not being particularly mechanically minded (though I did know how to check water and oil), I found he didn’t possess a jack. Two hours from home in the middle of a very windy road along the Tambo River, I breathed a sigh of relief when a truckie pulled up behind us. The road was extremely narrow with bends that trucks often had to back around, so he completely blocked the road in both directions, so did his truck. Few cars used it so it didn’t matter.

I’d never met him before, his name was Big Phil, and he got the gist of my problem pretty quickly. ‘No worries love – git the spare and the wheelbrace out and git ready’. Before I could say ‘Ready for what?’ Phil backed up to the driver’s side door like a removal truck. I almost expected him to start beeping, but he squatted down, and picked the whole side of the car up. ‘Git on with it love, I can’t hold ‘er up all day.’ ‘Sorry mate, I’ve just never seen anyone pick a car up by themselves before.’
’And you probably don’t want to see it again – just git on with it.’ It never occurred to me that I probably should have been scared when the truck stopped. Serial killers seemed to be few and far between in those days though, and it was normal for people to stop and help each other. Phil, like the gentleman he was, then followed us all the way home in his bloody big truck, with his truckload of baaing sheep ‘just to make sure you don’t git yerself inter more trouble, love.’ He wouldn’t come in for a lamb roast- though by then Mum was used to me bringing home all kinds of strays. He thought the sheep might be upset.

As he started approached the Autumn of his life, Chatty appropriately developed rust-coloured spots. So as not to embarrass him, I enhanced the rust with stick-on flowers. The larger the spot, the larger the flower, until he pretty much looked like a moving botanical garden.

Someone tried to steal him once from our backyard in Carlton. We could hear the scuffling from where we were sitting inside eating one of Henry (one of my ten housemates) amazingly experimental dinners. Henry, clad in a Marilyn Monroe embossed apron and blonde wig, brandishing a large wooden spoon, stuck his head out the back window and yelled ‘don’t bother. All the cops in Melbourne know that car. Try a couple of doors down. They’ve got a Sprite.’

‘Thanks mate’ a disembodied and slightly quavery voice called back.
Paul called the cops, while I yelled out the front window to Mick, the cute Italian guy Sprite owner, who just happened to be standing at his front door. ‘Oi, Mick. Henry’s just sent a couple of car robbers who were trying to steal Chatty down to your place. See if you can keep them talking for a few minutes- the cops are on their way.’
Yes, Chatty had some adventures. But in my last year of uni first round, all of a sudden he got old, or maybe overly embarrassed by his flowers. Things started to go wrong. His clutch went, then the brakes, then the floor, until we could see the road underneath as we drove along. Once the cost of fixing him went over the cost of buying him, a decision had to be made- euthanasia, trade or sale. I was getting married as we needed a reason to extend the end of University party, and I needed a washing machine, so he got traded- the first mistake of my sojurn into marriage.
My uni husband, Mark 1, exceeded his purchase cost after ten years, so he had to go. Actually he exceeded it after six, but I couldn’t decide between euthanasia or trade, so it took a while.

My dog cost $600. For ten years he walked me along the beach, and kept me alive. Between us we buried or cremated twelve friends in that time, ten humans and two four-legged humans. We found dead stuff that he rolled in and I scrubbed off, sat each side of mates who were going through hard times, held the hands and paws of those who died, cleaned up rubbish left by day-trippers and shared our idyllic life with friends, family and everyone else we liked- and quite a few we didn’t like. Then one day he got old. His teeth started to fall out, his back legs went and we developed matching tumours. His mates are all in the same boat- so are mine. When his vet bill exceeded his initial purchase price, a decision had to be made.

Euthanasia or trade. I don’t know that he’s made a decision about which is the most appropriate fate for me yet.

Leave a comment »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.