Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 15. Day 105. Irreconciable differences

It is almost universally agreed that disunity is death in politics. To divide is to conquer and pretty much the same rules apply in parenting. Parents need to be on the same page and present a united front or the lunatics will seize on the weakness and start ruling the asylum. I know this to be true but some times there are issues - important issues, vital parenting issues - on which your views and those of your significant other are just poles apart and there can be no common ground found. Neither consensus nor compromise are a possibility. It's war. So it is with our fur baby and the battle of the bows. Rumple's "stylist" always adds bows at the end of his spa treatment. I adore the bows. In fact I would pay the treatment fee for the bows alone. Charles hates the bows and at the last treatment actually instructed that they be removed before he collected Rumple. Them's fighting words. Rumple's file at the stylist now has a note on it that says "There WILL be bows. Ignore any arguments to the contrary". Yes, yes it's pathetic and the people at the salon are in on the joke (or are talking about us behind our backs, or both). But my argument goes like this. I think the bows are beyond measure cute and bring a huge smile to my face. On average they last in the fur friend's fur for about three hours. For every other minute of every day of the six weeks between treatments, there are no bows. So why would you deny me that small pleasure even if you do think they are "ridiculous" and "laughable" and "completely wrong on a male dog"? Rumple has never asked me to remove them out so I shall take that to mean he is with me on this. Not that I would start forcing the children to take sides - that would be very bad parenting indeed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14. Day 104. How much can a koala bear?

One of the things that impressed six-year-old me most about the new family home my parents had just bought was that the property had a name (that and the fact that I would have my own bedroom and would no longer have to share with my baby brother). I'd never known a house with an actual name before but our home had a sign over the gate that read Yaraandoo.  Later, much later, I learned that meant "place of the white gum" which was ideal because there was indeed the most perfect white gum tree in the back garden. It was a stately old thing with a circumference so wide that it would take three of us standing arms outstretched to circle the thing. We all desperately wanted to climb it but the lowest of branches was way out of our reach. It was the type of tree we always imagined should be home to a whole family of koalas (although not once did we ever see one). I say WAS because although my mother still lives in that home, the tree is no longer there. It was chopped down about 30 years ago and while I understand why I am still glad I was out of the country when it happened so didn't have to see it. In the end it came down to this. It was the tree or the house and quite possibly its occupants. The ghost gum was huge and very close to the house. The way it swayed in tropical Queensland storms scared the living sh*t out of my mother. The fact that she spent her life raking up the leaves it dropped also gave her the sh*ts, but that wasn't what led to its demise either. That type of tree has the nickname widow maker because of its tendency to drop giant limbs. Our tree had started to do just that and for the safety of all it had to go. As one who had sobbed for weeks when Judy in Seven Little Australians had died under a fallen gum, I knew about the lethal power of the eucalyptus tree but still I lament its passing. The sign is still over the gate but I rather think there should be something more like this carving in a tree on the university campus where I work. Nothing can replace a tree like that but something should be in its place. At least that's what six-year-old me thinks.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13. Day 103. Time and tide

An "unusual" woman I worked with once decided to share that she really enjoyed when her period arrived because it reminded her she was a woman. She went on to elaborate that cycles were important part of the natural order of things like day and night and the seasons.
While frankly, I can't imagine ever needing a reminder that I am female but I think she had a bit of a point about natural cycles and the need to take notice of them.
Specifically, tides. Not even for a second did I consider the not so small matter of tides when I decided to take the fur friends to Nudgee Beach at dawn this morning. As a dutiful wife, I volunteered to take my husband to the airport at 5.30am. That would a) mean I was out and about at an indecent hour and b) I was very close to the fur friends' favourite place at a time of day that should be perfect for dawn beach shots. It seemed like a perfect arrangement except that it was far too overcast to see the sun rise and the far bigger issue - the tides. A run along the beach would have been lovely if there had been a beach. So it didn't go to plan but we decided to make the most of it and three hours later we arrived home for breakfast. Meals go on a cycle too and that's one pattern I never ignore.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 12. Day 102. Washed up

I would last 20 seconds on Survivor. I wouldn't even last until the first tribal council meeting, I'd evict myself. This creature loves her creature comforts. And frankly I am quite perplexed about the whole camping thing. Why, for the love of God, would people volunteer to holiday in places where there are no flushing toilets and running water. Bathing is one of life's simple little pleasures. Whether it be a long hot bath or a refreshing shower, washing away the stresses and strains is a feel-good-for-free thing you can do without guilt every day. What's not to love about a bath? Quite a lot if you ask the fur friends. For the first time today I took the fur friends for a hydrobath and seriously you've never seen such a performance. Pathetic. But whether they like it or not they both smelt and looked a whole lot better for the experience and that, too, it a simple pleasure.

April 11. Day 101. Clocking off

One of my all-time favourite cartoons was the Merrie Melodies classic involving Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog. The pair arrive in the morning at a sheep meadow and exchange pleasant chitchat clocking on side by side. For the entire work day Ralph tries to steal sheep and Sam retaliates using far from reasonable force, each response more violent than the last. And then the end of day whistle sounds, the two calmly clock off, there's more pleasant chat and they head off home to do it all again tomorrow.
My fur baby Rumple and the visitor Cousin Fed are just like that. They will have wrestles which you would swear are fights to the death which will stop, almost as suddenly as they began, and the two of them will curl up together and go to sleep.
I wish I found clocking off quite that easy. The off switch is a little faulty at the moment and getting a good night's sleep is annoyingly illusive. I'm sick and tired or feeling sick and tired and thus tonight I shall take Valium for the first time. It's something I have resisted by desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm hoping that like the tactics of Sam Sheepdog, a short sharp measure will stop the problem in its tracks and then I can just clock off ....

April 10. Day 100. Don't fence me in

When Drama Teen started school he had a principal - who was nearing retirement - whose response to just about any criticism or suggestion a parent would throw his way was "We've done it this way for 10 years and there's never been any problems". That's what happens when we age. Our thinking becomes more rigid and more locked into how things have been done rather than what could or should be done. There is less and less thinking outside the box and more and more being boxed in by old habits and protocols. Kids, however, know no such restraint and it's a breath of fresh air. Today at the dog park we were playing with a delightful chocolate labradoodle called Cherry, her two young owners and their mum. The kids were running around and throwing balls and frisbees for the dogs to chase and catch when one went straight over the fence. The adults watched as Layla ignored the two perfectly good gates and instead scaled the chain wire. She wasn't going to be fenced in by conventions of what people "normally" did in such situations. And, of course, having fetched the ball she decided that climbing on the fence and hanging off the tree made an awesome alternative activity to playing with her brother and the dogs. Doing things a different way opens up a whole world of new possibilities. And that, I think, is the problem with the "if it ain't broke why fix it" mentality. We shouldn't have to wait for things to fall apart to evaluate how things might be done. Like Layla, see a barrier and take a leap of faith. The results may just be surprising.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9. Day 99. Barking mad

In the scrum at the dog park
"They're not compulsory, you know." These were the wise words of a now departed family friend of ours. Dogs. No-one is holding a gun against your head and demanding you sign on to pet ownership. She'd say it with each expensive vet treatment, or bill to replace something a pet had destroyed or when her heart was shattered at the death of a beloved fur friend. It is totally voluntary. In the past 24 hours I have been presented with many a good reason to revoke the fur friend agreement or at very least the unpaid contract to house sit a certain beagle. I thought the fire brigade might need to be called in when he became wedged between a water bed and the wall. We managed to get him out. Barely missing a beat he chewed up a shoe or two and then to seal the deal managed to steal a printer refill cartridge and treat it as a chew toy on the carpet. Black ink and pale carpet are not friends and in that moment nor were Fed and I. But it didn't last. Within an hour he was out of the dog house and curled up in the small of my back in bed. Dogs are always pleased to see you and that alone ensures their survival. In any case you can't remain mad with a creature that doesn't know what a printer cartridge is and just wants to play. It may be barking mad but dogs repay you in love for all the bills and the heartache they cause. No-one is holding a gun against my head. In fact, I'm not sure I would surrender the dogs even if they were....