Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Grinch

I have been unfairly accused of having no Christmas spirit. I find this hard to understand, after all, I went whole hog with the Chrissy decorations this year.

And here they are. A Christmas coaster that's been out since last Christmas and a sparkly bit of green twine.

Ho Ho Ho....

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Farewell, Old Friend

My little old dog was going on 17 and doing really well for her age. Although we had a few dementia and incontinence problems, diminishing eyesight and hearing not as sharp as it used to be she still had a terrific appetite and attitude to match. I envisaged she would make it well into the new year and would peacefully go in her sleep sometime in the future.

But it was not to be. Poor Katie suffered a prolapse. She was still her cheerful little self but there wasn't much the vet could do. At her age she wouldn't have tolerated the anesthetic so it was with a heavy heart we made the decision to put her down.

I've had her since she was 6 weeks old and she's been my constant companion during good times and bad. Loving, loyal and affectionate, she was the dog that comes along once in a lifetime. Irreplaceable.

Goodbye my little friend. I hope they have Schmackos in doggy heaven.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Shuttle Bus

Today I went to a specialist follow up visit at the local hospital and decided to catch their convenient shuttle bus service from the nearby stadium. This free service saves on a $10 parking fee, $50 in wasted fuel while you search for a non existent park and takes the stress out of the endless car queues and traffic snarls.

Although the service is useful it does have its drawbacks.

You don't get to choose who gets on the bus.

There was only a couple of other people waiting to board when I arrived - nice, normal looking people. I managed to get the seat behind the driver which is close to the door for a quick getaway at the other end. It looked like today was going to be a pleasant little trip.

Then the circus folk started to roll up.

The first one up the steps was an ancient man with wild, white hair, a beard and black leather gloves. He plonked himself down in the seat behind me while his wife slid into the seat on the other side of the aisle and shut her eyes. A rather big lady asked if the seat next to me was free and I reluctantly nodded - there goes the quick exit. As she parked herself in next to me I saw the little black gloved hands of the old man in the seat behind. He was holding on to the back of the seats and had jammed his face in between the gap. He was staring at me. I figured it was because I was turning blue - the lady in the seat next to me had squashed me up against the window and I was finding it hard to breathe.

The next ones on were by far the largest couple on the planet. The axles groaned and we listed to one side like the Titanic taking its last breath. I think as a safety measure the driver should have put them over the back axle to spread the load. Then I heard a strange noise and it takes me a moment to realize the old lady in the seat across the aisle is snoring. I thank a higher power that it's only a ten minute trip.

The driver is a no nonsense, 'I'll make my timetable no matter what' kind of guy. As soon as the clock ticks over to departure time, he folds his paper, slams his window shut and pulls the lever to close the door. Ready or not we're on our way. As he swung out onto the road the extra weight in the back had the front end of the bus rearing up like some demented pony performing an intricate dressage move. I'm lucky I'm sandwiched in, otherwise I'd be splayed on the snoring lady's lap.

 The bus driver seemed oblivious to our lopsided load and hurled down the main street and flew around the corner. The woman next to me leaned into every twist and turn as if she was riding a roller coaster.  She's bug wide-eyed, her hand is shaking and I swear she is passing wind in fright.The only one not bothered by the driving is the bus driver. Or the old man. He's still staring at me.

We finally arrive at the hospital and the woman next to me is too slow getting out of the seat and the circus parade beats her to the door. That is, all except the old man and his wife. She would have waited for them too, but it was the words of the wife that made me urge the woman to get moving before we got caught in the vortex.

"Oh my goodness've wet yourself again."

And I have to catch the bus back......

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Bucket List Take 2 - Sam Neill

Okay. After much thought, I have revised my albeit non existent bucket list. To start with, here is number one:

1.  Arrange a sitting and paint a portrait of New Zealand actor Sam Neill.

I was recently asked if there is anyone I would really like to paint and Sam is the man. You will remember him from films like Jurassic Park, Dead Calm, The Horse Whisperer, The Piano and more recently, as the face behind the 'eat more red meat' advertisements gracing our television sets here in Oz. You can't miss these memorable ads- Sam is the tall one, not the orangutan. You can check his and the orangutan's dancing skills here

He has a face full of character and a subtle wit. Now soaking up the vines at his Two Paddocks winery in New Zealand, he recently, in conjunction with a few friends, opened a wine bar in the heart of Sydney. Probably an unobtainable No 1 on my bucket list, but I'll never know if I don't ask. I have sent out the appropriate pinot soaked request messages and now all I have to do is wait.

And wait...

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Bucket List

One thing I have never really had is a bucket list. I've had all the usual wish lists over the years like everyone does and probably the most common items are on it, like winning the lottery, being successful, being happy etc. etc. But I haven't had the list of things I want to do before I die, never written down those special things that are at the core of my heart, dreams and aspirations. After all the health dramas of the last 12 months, I thought it appropriate to start one.

So here is - my bucket list.

1. Ummmmm.......

How hard can it be?

I need to give this more thought....

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Ultimate Devil Cat

Well, here it is. The Grand Poo Bar of Devil Cats. The be all and end all. A bit like salmon really - they change color as they reach the pinnacle of power. I'll never look at my ginger cat the same again....

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Trash Pit

Our other dog is a tiny Chihuaha called Holly. While she lacks size she makes up for it in attitude and heart. She is a good natured, non yappy, affectionate, child proof, spoilt rotten member of our family.

She is also a connoisseur of fine foods. No burritos for her. Her day usually starts with a cup of tea and her toast and Vegemite. She also has a penchant for pasta and baked beans. If it's on our plates, she thinks it's good dog tucker.  

Her basket is known as the Trash Pit. She puts everything she finds around the house in there - shoes, dog treats, rubber bands, pens, coins and any other shiny or desirable object. If there is food or treats around she turns into a squirrel, hiding bits in shoes, under cushions, anywhere she thinks the old dog or the cats won't find it. Usually these morsels end up in the tried and tested Trash Pit as well. She will stand guard for hours and woe be to any animal who goes near.

The other night the grandchildren were around, and after some excited play she sat down with them to enjoy the pats and endless attention. Then, after dinner, Holly disappeared. We called, checked she hadn't been locked outside by accident but she was nowhere to be found. Then one of the kids spotted her behaving strangely in the Trash Pit. I thought she may have hurt herself while she was playing. She was reluctant to leave her bed and it took a moment to realize what the problem was.

See for yourself.

There it was - the prize of the night - stolen from some unsuspecting child's plate. Her very own hot dog.

I'm glad this didn't end up in my shoe.....

Turning Up The Heat

The bane of my life is the air conditioning control in our office. There never seems to be that happy medium within a group of people when it comes to temperature - there is always someone complaining it is too hot or too cold.

I am in control of the temperature - not through any sort of democratic vote but essentially because the box is conveniently placed on the wall behind my desk. It's an odd sense of power - having control over the comfort levels of my colleagues. I can tip it up or down, depending on my mood or my own comfort levels. Personally I like it more on the cool side - there is nothing more invigorating than working hard to keep the blood flow going to the fingertips. However, the rest of the office seem to be in conflict with my comfort levels and have banned me from making any minor adjustments to the scale.

So leave it alone I have. And now they're squawking again.

The last couple of days have seen a cool change hit and the temperature outside has dropped. This in turn has impacted on the inside temperature and what was comfortable before is now a little on the cold side. There has been a chorus of coughing, a reinfection of man flu and a call for everything from jackets and mittens to blankets.

I feel like I'm trapped in a bizarre air conditioning version of Goldilocks and the three bears. After today, I really have sympathy for the bears.

I finally gave in and turned it up. They're still not happy. Now they're too hot so I turned it down. Now there's a discussion on how to booby trap the control - putting a big spider in there to jump out at me when I touch it etc. etc. Now they're moaning about the temperature before it even gets there - "it's gonna be too cold soon", "I think I'm starting to sweat"....."At least the sauna at work is free"..."It's freezing!

Such babies.

The gauge is sitting at 22 and it should be at 21, which is what they originally all agreed was the perfect temperature. A hot flush is creeping up my neck and my fingers are sliding off my perspiration-soaked keyboard. I can feel a dry cough coming on. I sacrificed my comfort to please others and what thanks did I get?

None. Nada. Zilch.

So now I have worked out the perfect solution - all it takes is a little adjustment, a small tweak to our errant control. Everyone can whinge and whine until their heart's content. The temperature is going to be perfect. A small, well placed dab of superglue should do the trick.

By the way, is it hot in here?

Friday, 21 October 2011

In Control

It's been a while since I put up a proper post - life is steadily getting back to normal after my heart attack. I regularly attend cardiac rehab classes at the hospital where they put you through a rigorous exercise regime that leaves an army boot camp for dead. I guess if they overdo it and push you too hard, you're in the right place.

I'm back into my painting full swing as well, which is wonderful. For a while I lost interest in going out to the studio and really didn't have the energy or the motivation to do much in the way of art. But all that has changed. I am nearly finished a major work and catching up on works that have been on the backburner for a while.

Also, in cahoots with a good friend of mine, we opened a working artist/gallery studio. Opening night was packed, paintings sold and a great time was had by all. Especially my partner. His celebration of a successful opening with nearly 3 bottles of red during the evening ended badly when he was left driving the porcelain bus at 3.00am.

On the home front there have been a couple of incidents worthy of mention. They are as follows:

1.   My partner finally got his drivers license on attempt number 2. 
We won't mention the dramas of attempt number one and the speed limits of school zones and how you need to look when changing lanes. He has now been let loose on society to wreak havoc on unsuspecting motorists.

2.   We no longer sniff when meeting other walkers.
Sniffing has been replaced by a loud chorus of "Bananas in Pyjamas". Most walkers turn the other way and run.

3.   My old dog's last hurrah
My old dog Katie, a small maltese cross, is turning 17 next year. She has decided to come on heat, just to show us she still has a little spark of something left in her.

4.   Rodney has laid another egg.
I don't know what to say about this. Rodney just laughs.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Changing Devil Cat

It would seem that the Devil Cats are changing - this one has a bushy tail. I asked her what it meant and she answered it just has a bushy tail. So it's no deeper than that - guess it's just a mutation of sorts.....

Thursday, 8 September 2011


I drive an old Commodore station wagon which has proved itself time and time again to be very reliable. Not the prettiest ride on the street but it is exceptional when it comes to carrying large canvases and art gear around. Affectionately known as "Molly", this faithful old bus gets me to work and back day after day. But Molly has one problem.

The fuel gauge.

The station wagon I had before this one, "Dolly", could be driven on the red line for at least another 30 kilometres before it started coughing and spitting. Many a time I came home in this car on no more than the smell of an oily rag. But not Molly. She still happily shows a quarter of a tank of fuel left, well above the dreaded red line before she drops her bundle.

So far, Molly has run out of fuel on me 4 times. But never out on the road, or in the middle of nowhere. Never has she coughed and spluttered or lurched, giving you a tiny hint that she needs a feed. Oh no, Molly very conveniently decides to run out out fuel the moment I pull up at the front door. So reliable she is. She gets me home every time before pulling the plug.

Molly pulled one of her "out of fuel" tricks on me last night. I arrived safely home, went inside to get changed, pick up my partner and head for a night of wining and dining at my surrogate daughter's house. I assumed I had enough fuel to go out to dinner and stop to fill up on the way home. But when I got back in the car and turned the key, all I got was coughing and spluttering in tune to a protesting fuel pump.

So there we are, soon to be late for dinner, with a car that flatly refuses to leave and the nearest petrol station about 5 kilometres away. She has done her work for the day and nothing is going to budge her tonight. We go back inside, get the fuel can and the keys to our other car.

Our other car is a little green buzz box that we call Harvey. Over the last couple of months we have been having some much needed work done, including repairs to a broken seat. Harvey is usually reliable, but at the moment still needs bypass surgery to fix his sometimes clogged injectors. The mechanic tried to clean them as best he could then shook his head and told us the sad news that he thought the car would need an operation. My partner thinks we should try one of those fuel treatments first and if that doesn't work - then by all means spend the money. So we jump into Harvey armed with our fuel can and a "can do" attitude. Harvey doesn't disappoint. He coughs into life first go and we back out the drive and head up the road.

I know for a fact the fuel treatment is not going to work. Harvey is making a noise akin to a F18 jet fighter, turbo charged with heavy duty extractors and a lumpy cam. The newly fixed seat is like sitting on a concrete block and I wonder if I am going to end up with either a broken back, piles or both. Every rev head on the Peninsula poked their heads outside their door when we went past. I'm sure they heard Harvey up on the Queensland border. Still, undaunted, we kept going until we reached the service station and got that gas can filled.

Feeling game, we decide then to keep going up the road to make our dinner date. We make it, eat, drink and be merry then back in the car to go home. Once we arrive safely back, thanks to Harvey, my partner empties the fuel can into Molly and leaves her for the night.

This morning I came out to go to work and Molly started first go. No coughing or spluttering, just a smooth, effortless kick into life. The fuel gauge is showing half full. My first stop? You guessed it. The petrol station, where I filled her to overflowing.

She's not going to get me a 5th time....

Monday, 15 August 2011


Our house is a menagerie, with 2 small dogs who think they are humans, two cats who think they are dogs, a rainbow lorikeet named Rodney who dances and laughs and a cockateil called Bird who swears and has mastered whistling the Addams Family theme song. It makes for an interesting mix.

Rodney likes to lay in his cage on his back, juggling with his toys and crooning to them. He does this for hours on end., laughing away and jabbering in his own lorikeet language. Lorikeets are well known for their clownish antics and Rodney is no exception. My partner has often hinted at getting Rodney a little 'girlfriend' and breeding these wonderful birds.

But today, Rodney laid an egg.

So I guess he's not the handsome bird we thought he was. His athletic dances and showing off were just a sham. Rodney is really a Rodette.

Rodette. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?

Monday, 1 August 2011

Devil Cat Expert

I am fast becoming a Devil Cat expert.

This is a Devil Cat In Training. Note the absence of teeth or claws, lots of hearts and a happy smile on its face. I particularly like the neat buttons and bows on its shoes.

Can't wait for the next one..

Friday, 29 July 2011

Very Public Breakup

The local town drunk is on a bender.

Not that this is unusual, but this has been the bender to end all benders. Sober, he is the nicest man you would ever meet, but after a few too many he turns into an unreasonable, argumentative and disruptive individual. I guess this is why his live in girlfriend, also an alcoholic, left him following a very public breakup.

Lots of people argue in public but what made their breakup memorable was that it took place in the middle of the main road. Wild slapping, slurring and insults broke the air of our normally quiet hamlet. It drew a great crowd - people are drawn to watching things that aren't quite the norm and this semblance of a wrestling match was definitely not normal. The only thing missing from this fight was the leotards.

A popcorn vendor moved them onto the road verge where the fight continued. Then came the grand finale. One almighty shove and the girlfriend ended up on her back in the mud, skirt above her head, flailing around like an epileptic fish. The drunk had emerged victorious, egged on by the cheers of this carnival crowd.

The girlfriend bolted and we haven't seen her since. The drunk is still in oblivion, only now he isn't ten feet tall and bulletproof. He has become maudlin about the whole affair. His drinking buddy has disappeared, his plans of moving into a new place and starting a new life have gone and it's everyone's fault but his.

We caught a glimpse of him last night - the blind is half open on his front window and he's sitting in there with a bottle for company. I don't know whether he's trying to show everyone he's fine or he's hoping to catch a glimpse of her coming back. Either way, it's a sad state of affairs.

How do you help someone who doesn't want to help himself?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Are Devil Cats Real?

My son and his family are interstate visiting his wife's relatives. The kids are having a ball, doing all the sightseeing, touristy things, especially the animal and theme parks. My son sent through a photo taken at one of the wildlife parks and happened to mention the cartoon animal on the sign.

And here it is...

Who said Devil Cats weren't real, huh?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Devil Cat Update 2

My granddaughter has been churning out Devil Cats at an unbelievable pace. I now have Devil Cats all over my house. They have been mainly rushed with not much thought put into them. This one was a standout because it was missing its hands and feet.

"What sort of Devil Cat is this?" I asked her. "It hasn't got any hands or feet."
She leans over and looks at it. "It's been in an accident - it doesn't have them.''
"Oh" I said. "It must have been a bad accident."
Her face goes all serious and she nods. "That's why it's got this."

She points to the side of it's face where the green lines are. I never would have got what the green lines were in a hundred years.

They're stitches.....

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sex at 82

My mother is getting pretty tech savvy and has come a long way since that first lesson on the internet at the local library. Gone are the days of the tearful phone calls when her screen disappeared after a little venture into 'Control Panel.' Nowadays its only the odd toolbar that has decided to migrate to the side of the screen that I have to fix.

She has a Facebook account, a Twitter account and uses Skype. She is getting a bit of a following on Twitter - I am a bit jealous that HotNHairy and FlexMyMuscles don't follow me. Her new found fame however has a side effect. Her emails.

She always sends me those cute emails of puppies and kittens in various poses and clean, funny jokes that make you groan. I don't know what changed but there it was in my inbox. Three Little Ducks. A risque tale of three ducks and one called Puddles. I wont go into details.....

Fw:Fwd: FW: How Many Mice? followed shortly after. It had done the rounds of every bowling club in the state before it reached me. In a nutshell, the tagline was a moving graphic of two mice doing unspeakable things in a lightbulb.

The grand finale was Sex at 82.  Here it is:

I think next time I'm down in Melbourne it's time to put the child safe internet restriction on the computer. I wonder if she sent this one to HotNHairy?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Greeting Etiquette

I am constantly surprised by the friendliness of other walkers that we meet on our daily walk. It's like being in a special club, regardless of size or shape you are accepted as almost a friend. The greetings range from a nod to an almost full blown conversation. I mentioned this strange phenomenon to my partner who accompanies me every day.

"Look at dogs" he said. "When they meet they wag their tails, sniff butts and go on their way. Humans are no different. It's just greeting etiquette."

As we rounded the bend, a couple were striding towards us. As per usual, they both gave us the customary greeting as they passed.

"See what I mean?" I said.

He stopped and looked at me. "Would you prefer to sniff butts?"

It's funny how a simple statement like this changes everything. The minute he spotted walkers coming towards us, he would start sniffing the air like an old bloodhound. By the time they were within earshot he would stop, but this morning he couldn't help himself. He greeted an elderly couple with a cheerful 'good morning!' and an audible sniff.

"My nose is running," he said.

I guess that's why dogs have wet noses....

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Stairs of Hell

I walk every day as part of my new daily regime to strengthen my heart . Living in a quiet little hamlet by the beach offers some excellent walks with beautiful scenery to help make those hard yards more enjoyable. One such walk, The Boardwalk, extends around the edge of Tilligerry Creek and down as far as the caravan park, a round trip of 5.4 kilometers. The trail winds through the mangroves, goes through a lovely park and then extends through the bush for the next leg to the caravan park. Each day I have upped the ante and gone a little bit farther before turning back for home.

Yesterday I reached this.

 It took me three goes to reach the summit and another 10 minutes to recover. Even so, I was determined that my goal over the next couple of walks would be to reach the summit of the stairs of hell in one go.

On the descent there was a group of three elderly citizens also on a fitness walk. The first, an elderly man in his late 60's, sprinted up the stairs of hell as if it was nothing. The second, a woman about the same age, breezed past barely raising a puff. The third, a gentleman who was older still, overtook the other two near the top.

Recovery can be a demoralizing experience.

I take comfort in the fact that Rome wasn't built in a day.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Everybody Loves Maisie

For the last few weeks we have had a house guest - the landlord's Neverending Story dog, Maisie. She has the most incredible, expressive eyes, and uses them to full advantage. Despite being on a strict diet, she has managed to eat the equivalent of a cow in the last 24 hours.

Not that we overfeed her, it's the thieving that adds up - a cupboard silently opened and a bag of dog food demolished, a quick clean up of what remains of our dog's dinner and a hearty helping of cat food as well as the odd table scrap weaned out of you with those mooching eyes.

Maisie is also an incredible escape artist and does this on a regular basis. That's why she is staying with us while they are away. The routine so far has been that she stays in with us at night and goes back to her yard during the day. All was working fine - the Houdini acts had stopped - she was waiting at the gate every night at 5 o'clock, ready for her sleep over.

Then things changed.

We would take her home in the morning and a few minutes later she would appear at the front window, looking in with those eyes of hers. A quick check of the perimeter of the yard failed to reveal where she was making her escape. Resigned, we let her back in and now she refuses to budge. Maisie seems to have moved in on a permanent basis.

All in all, I think she has gained about 200 pounds. Her masters are due back on Tuesday and I can see it now - Maisie waddling home like the proverbial fatted calf. They shouldn't need to feed her for a month.

That's if they can keep her there....

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Scary Cat

The Devil Cats are coming thick and fast.

This one is apparently a scary Devil Cat - according to my granddaughter he has big, scary, sharp teeth, sharp claws and a sad face. They are getting more and more artistic every day. I particularly like the pose on this one - reminds me a little of Peter Allen. Perhaps it should be renamed Rio Cat.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Learning to Drive

My partner handed in his drivers license before we met when he decided it wasn't safe to drive after he was diagnosed with a medical condition. Now, after my recent heart attack and restrictions on my driving, he decided the time was right to reapply to get it back as his health has improved. Like a lot of things, you need to start at the bottom and work your way back to the top. Getting back a drivers license is no different.

He has been driving since he was 12, where driver education consisted of driving a drunk parent home from the pub. 20+ years of driving experience and an advanced driving course along the way. A piece of cake. After successfully passing the first stage, the Learners Permit, he was ready to drive with supervision. He had the option of going for his license straight away, but decided driving as a learner was the best course of action, after all, he was a little rusty after not being behind a wheel for so long.

Today we went for the first drive.

In my time I've been to Disneyland and Knotsberry's Farm and ridden on the wildest, scariest, heart stopping, white knuckle rides that these theme parks have to offer. They don't hold a candle to what I experienced today.

Most cars these days come equipped with a handle above the passenger side door, which I now affectionately call "the Jesus Bar". I called it by name quite a few times while my face was squashed up against the roof lining as we took the first roundabout on two wheels. Pedestrians scattered, dogs ran up trees and women and children bolted in all directions as we made our way down the street. My partner reassured me that "he had done this before" and I should  "relax and enjoy the ride".

Thank goodness the foot well in the station wagon is roomy enough to accommodate me.The only problem with this is that as the supervising driver, I am required to instruct and teach the finer points of driving to the learner. I found it hard to talk and scream at the same time. At the next turn, the Jesus Bar bailed off the door and joined me on the floor.

I signaled frantically for him to pull over and stop. I'm so glad I had the brakes done recently and I'm sure the panel beater can knock out the dint in the firewall where my head hit. Learning to drive can be a traumatic experience I discovered, more so for the instructor than the one being instructed.

"What's wrong?" he said.
"I'm feeling a little queasy from all these new tablets," I said as I climbed back into my seat. "Perhaps we can go home and do this a little later?" I gave him a wane smile and it did the trick.
He nodded. "I'll take it nice and slow on the way back," he said.

The trip home was a little less dramatic, probably because I was too frightened to open my eyes. As we turned into the driveway, I breathed a sigh of relief and pried my fingers off the seat. I'm sure the panel beater can recommend a good upholsterer to fix the holes.

He was beaming broadly. "That was good!" he said. "Just like riding a bike!"

Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow we are going to practice parallel parking.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Devil Cat Update

At least this one looks happy even though it has pointy teeth. That's thunder and lightning on each side. One electrifying cat!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Aladdin's Treasure

Every couple of months the local council has a hard rubbish collection. It gives you the opportunity of cleansing the house of all that accumulated stuff that you've hoarded because it was:

a.   Useful but you still haven't found a good use for it.
b.   Valuable but you're not quite sure what it's worth.
c.   Broken but easily fixed.
d.   Items found on your neighbor's rubbish pile at the last collection  that was far too good to go to the tip.

Our local collection was scheduled for the end of this month, but the council in its wisdom has delayed pickup for another few weeks. It's a good thing in one respect - it gives you a chance to add a little more to your pile and lets you hunt for Aladdin's treasure in all the piles around town. And treasures there are indeed. There are washing machines, TV's, DVD's, furniture, lounge suites, beds, car parts, exercise equipment - virtually all you need to comfortably set yourself up if you have the inclination to leave home.

Part of my recovery regime is walking each day to build my heart strength back up. This morning my partner and I took a lovely stroll along the foreshore before crossing the road and heading back towards town along the footpath. And there it was. The jewel in the rubbish pile.  The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It was like a beacon of shining light that dazzled my partner's eyes - an old, tarnished, brass wood bucket. Despite my protests, he managed to take advantage of my weakened state and elicit a promise from me to go back and get it at the end of our walk.

Hard rubbish collection time is one of those moments I regret owning a station wagon. Once the back seat is folded down, there is no end to the amount of junk you can fit in. You have to be strong and resist the urge to fill the back to brimming point. So it was with a great deal of trepidation that I drove towards the wood bucket pile. It's funny how after spotting one jewel, other semi precious stones are suddenly visible to the naked eye. This pile was no exception. By the time we left with the wood bucket, we also had a boat anchor (we don't have a boat, but we might one day) and a contraption for adapting a hose to virtually any type of tap.

Our pile in contrast is pretty pathetic and consists of one broken office chair. This favorite finally made the collection pile after one of the supports at the base snapped. Irreparable. We did however, salvage the wheel castors and put them on an architects chair I salvaged off a throwout pile in town.

And the count so far?

1 item out,  4 items in.

Not bad, considering.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Devil Cat

My family has gathered ranks around me since my heart attack.

Last night my son, his wife and my grandchildren came over, more I suspect to check that the voice on the phone saying I was fine wasn't a recorded message and I really wasn't propped up in the corner like some bizarre scene out of "Weekend at Bernies." After reassuring them I hadn't dropped off the perch, we settled in for a lovely night of chatter and catch up.

My grand daughter, who is 5, loves to draw. Every time she comes over she draws me some sort of picture, usually happy homes and flowers, sunshine and beach and the odd crocodile. All the nice things that 5 year old girls draw. Then, a couple of weeks ago she drew me this:

I thought it was pretty good and a little different to what she normally draws. Great control of the pencil, a bit of flair, a few hearts. Very touching.
"Is this a cat?" I asked her.
She nodded. "Yes," she said. "A Devil Cat."
I had to ask. "What's a Devil Cat?"
She rolled her eyes and sighed. "You know, just a Devil Cat."
Unfortunately I'm not really familiar with Devil Cats, but being the Nanna and supposedly the wise old soothsayer of the family I nodded as if I knew what she was talking about.
"Ah, yes," I said. "A Devil Cat."

Last night, as per usual, she drew me another picture. As she casually gave it to me, she said, "here you go Nanna - another Devil Cat for you."
I had visions of Garfield with red trim, happy, smiley, little hearts and kisses and flowers.

And here it is:

WTF???  There's something about Devil Cat this time that's a little off centre. I don't know whether it's the flaming arrows or the little black hula skirt, but Devil Cat seems to be having a bad hair day. I hope those red marks on Devil Cat's face aren't sores, because then I think Devil Cat may have an issue with substance abuse. My granddaughter was so calm, so confident with this one that I didn't dare question her about the finer intricate details. Perhaps a Devil Cat is all it is, no more, no less. Make your own interpretation.

Perhaps this drawing is just a reaction to all that has happened over the last few days.
Perhaps not.
Perhaps it's a prediction of things to come, like the end of the Mayan Calendar.

If this is the case, then I'm in deep Devil Cat Doo Doo.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sunday Too Far Away...

I had a heart attack on Sunday morning.
I always thought that a heart attack would be more dramatic, more of that clutch at your chest moaning and groaning then falling to the floor action. Mine was a little more subtle, a tightness, a strange numb feeling in my elbow and nausea. I put it down to the latest bug going around town, a not so discreet vomiting bug that had everyone on the Peninsula running for the bucket.
I was driving at the time, about 20 kilometres from home when the first signs appeared, an uncomfortable tightening in the chest and a strange numb feeling in my elbow. I drove past the ambulance station and even briefly wondered whether I should turn in and get checked out. By the time I got home I was starting to sweat and was extremely nauseous. Once I got inside the house this seemed to pass, but the tightness was still there. In my wisdom, I decided to have a lie down. There was no excruciating pain to talk of, just this uncomfortable pressure in my chest. After tossing around for a while, I got back up and decided to self medicate with Google.
Google is a wealth of information. You can Google symptoms of any kind of disease you can think of, and they will point you to a website somewhere. My initial query found all sorts of symptoms from severe chest pain to a sore jaw. After all this research I was no closer to deciding if I was having a heart attack or not, but it had planted the seed that something was seriously wrong. My partner dismissed the heart attack theory as he didn't think I was in enough pain and I must admit, I did tend to agree with him. But there was still a niggling doubt in my mind. While he finished bathing our dogs, made the decision that we needed to call someone and get checked out.
I still remember feeling kind of stupid ringing up about what I thought were symptoms of some bug. And I'm only 52 - not ready to sell the farm yet. The ambulance paramedics arrived in no time, asked me the essential questions then hooked me up for the big test - The ECG. I was sure I was going to fail, they were going to look at me reproachfully, shake their heads and say there was very little wrong, you were right, probably just a bug. But that's not what happened. Their faces changed, everything stepped up a notch - the ECG showed I had suffered a heart attack and I was in serious danger of dying.
The ride into Newcastle was a memorable one. Lights and siren, honking horn, seriously fast driving, as well as constantly monitoring me and pumping me full of life saving drugs. It wasn't easy for them either. The back of the van is small and cramped, and thanks to the terrible condition of Port Stephens' roads, administering medication at high speeds is an art in itself. Thanks to the quick action and skilful driving of these two great guys, by the time we reached hospital, the blockage had cleared and I was out of danger. I was scheduled for angioplasty the next day and now have 2 stents in my heart.
I am still surprised that I came so close to death but it didn't feel all that serious. If I had let it go longer, the outcome could have been very different indeed. I'm scheduled for release tomorrow, home for a fortnight to rest before I take up where I left off. A small hiccup in my life, and I won't forget that it could have been the hiccup to end all hiccups.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

 I just became a millionaire.
Today I received an email from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - no joke. It's official. Special Agent Bill Nicholson has verified it as 100% safe and guaranteed. My funds are sitting in the Bank of America, thanks to the hard work of the Agent in Charge Ronald Chong. I am amazed at how hard the FBI have been working on this one, Mr Chong is currently in Nigeria finalizing all the loose ends so my cashiers cheque can be drawn. There is a slight hiccup though, I need to pay a small fee of $300 to Mr Chong to get the money released. I guess it's a small price to pay. They even gave me a breakdown:

(1) Deposit Fee's ( Fee's paid by the company for the deposit into an American Bank which is - Bank Of America )
(2) Cashier's Check Conversion Fee ( Fee for converting the Wire Transfer payment into a Certified Cashier's Check )
(3) Shipping Fee's ( This is the charge for shipping the Cashier's Check to your home address and this fee includes Insurance )

This email was like a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel for me. Things have been tough lately, with rising interest rates and a mortgage that could sink a ship, power bills that match the national debt, petrol prices that need a payday loan to fuel the car and the rising costs of just everyday living. This windfall could change my life. My only troubling thought is - where am I going to get $300?

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Christmas in June

I have watched with interest the goings on with this old building in Hunter Street in Newcastle. After the last heavy rain the awning was hanging dangerously low and on the verge of collapse. A group of men which I assume were from the council dislodged the resident pigeons and their babies in a not so dignified manner and removed the offending part of the awning. After a few more days more people arrived to give the old building a coat of white. It was quite amazing how much this cleaned it up. This is where it gets interesting. A man armed with red paint and a stencil turned up and proceeded to stamp the white walls. Not content with that, next came the tizzy gold stripes between the red flowers. After a good windy day yesterday, the gold trim is peeling off. Who knows what this will look like by the end of next week. My first thought when I saw this? It looks like Christmas wrapping! Rumor has it that the new boss of the Newcastle Knights had a vision of buying some of the derelict buildings in Hunter Street, revamping them and turning Newcastle into the new Freemantle. Well, if this is one of those buildings, I suppose its a good start. Christmassy, joyous, bright and shiny, a little bit of bling to give a tired old street a lift. And if the rumour about the Knights boss isn't true, then who is getting this gem for Christmas?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Pic of the week

I'm looking.....

A Religious Experience

Jesus walked past my office today.
He looked just like all those pictures you see of him - long hair and flowing, billowing robes, striding down the street like a tall ship in full sail. I think he had just been to the job center next door. My first thought was - what sort of job would Jesus apply for?
Feeding the masses with fish and loaves of bread was no mean feat - a job in the catering line would be my best bet. Or healing - there's a big shortage of doctors in the country areas, there might be a spot open for him there. And just what did he put down as his occupation on the form? Carpenter? Prophet? Don't get me wrong - my intention here is not to be sarcastic or belittle religion - my underlying thread of thought has no religious connotations at all. My views here are strictly neutral. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this poor soul is most probably unemployable in this day and age.
We often ignore things we see, take no notice of those who are less fortunate than us, blot out those images we think don't concern us. There are people all over the country just like this guy, homeless, unemployable and a little left of center. I see a virtual Cirque du Soleil pass by the office everyday, but for some reason Jesus was a standout.
So did this man who looked like Jesus make an impression? I guess he did - I gave him a second thought.