The shish kebab saga – part 2

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Well, what a few days it has been. I tell you, if you’d ever like a little more drama in your life – feed your dog something long and pointy.

So after dropping Alfie at the vet we waited for an update and a decision about surgery. It seemed that the better he felt, the more likely he was to need surgery. Kind of ironic. Had he expelled the offending object from either end we may not have reached the decision we were forced to.

We transplanted his head with that of a tiger to make a fearsome beast with a comedy body.

That’s not entirely true.

We did, in fact, decide to do the surgery. Well, we agreed to the decision – we didn’t offer to wield the scalpel ourselves, just to be clear. The vet told me that the kebab stick was visible during the camera-down-throat process and had been snapped in two pieces (my guess of one clean bite was clearly correct) and was sitting ominously in his tummy.

I got off the phone and sobbed my little face off.

“They’re going to cut him open!” I howled dramatically. The Viking nodded sagely. Perhaps the hint of a single manly tear. I lay on the floor, beating my breasts without restraint.

We waited for the next call. Emergency wine was administered by a caring relative.

The phone rang. He had come through it well, but was tired and sore, and would stay the night at the vets in case anything happened. We were to ring and check on him in the morning and pick him up if all was well.

That night I slept surprisingly well. The Viking was up at the crack of dawn, which is rather unlike him. I asked why and he said that I had stolen all of the blankets. It turns out that Alfie sleeping on the foot of the bed acts as an anchor, preventing me from unconsciously wrapping myself in a duvet cocoon.

Our house is not a home without that pooch tripping us up in every doorway. Bubba’s scraps lay idly under the table, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to clean up dropped food from the floor.

When we went to pick up our boy he looked like he’d had a hard 24 hours. His normally long, tousled and glorious stomach hair has been shaved off entirely and he’s sporting a scar so impressive it makes my c-section scar look like a paper-cut. He’s exhausted and he’s tender, and he’s clinging to his Mama and Papa like there’s no tomorrow.

If there is a moral to this story I think it would be:

When it comes to meat, dogs are idiots. You could wrap an AK47 in a piece of schnitzel and a dog would swallow it whole. But you gotta love ’em.

No more meat on a stick! Doctor's orders!

No more meat on a stick! Doctor’s orders!

 

Is this the world’s ugliest lampshade?

I like to call this 'the lightshade effect'

I like to call this ‘the lightshade effect’

There is so much I love about being home in New Zealand, some things are weird and unexpected, others are part of the what drove me back to these fine shores. Here’s a few of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve got back:

Surprise benefits of living in provincial New Zealand

– Incredibly cheap parking. 50c an hour. No wonder everyone learns to drive at an early age here, it’s cheaper than busing and SO much cooler when you can wind the window down on your 1995 Holden and pump that awesome bass. Oh yeah.

– Our new ride. Speaking about cars, we said a sad farewell to the Hulk in Melbourne, actually – that’s a lie, I barely glanced at the Hulk in the madness that was the morning of our departure. We then pimped the Hulk out on social media and eventually sold it from New Zealand to a Dutch guy with a love of passenger airbags and very, very shallow pockets. But we now have the Ewoo, another wagon that has the automatic windows the Hulk aspired to but never quite achieved and a radio that continues playing when travelling over speedhumps – there is nothing worse than belting it out to Katy Perry (hey, we’ve all done it – don’t judge me) and then being dumped into the world of off-key acapella when the radio quits. The Ewoo gained his name because he is actually a Daewoo, but the d and the a went AWOL, hence the Ewoo. Sorry Hulk, you’ve been usurped.

– The Op Shop Paradise that is Taranaki. I hadn’t realised how seriously New Zealand takes all things retro, and I am SO down with it. If you follow me on Pinterest you’ll notice, amidst the crochet devotion, that I’m now all over teacups and vintage crockery, because I am nearly 100 years old – no, but I’m slightly ashamed to say I’m a Shabby Chic lover. You can take your minimalism and clean surfaces and shove ’em, give me a beautiful upcycled hutch filled with pretty vintage any day.

Hope Santa doesn't slip a disc delivering this to me for Christmas

Hope Santa doesn’t slip a disc delivering this to me for Christmas

– In keeping with my Op Shop addiction, I’ve also been clearing my parents’ garage of all of their amazing old stuff. My Mum is ecstatic to offload a bunch of stuff that’s cluttered their back rooms for years, Dad’s got a touch more ‘hoarder’ about him so I tend to whisk things away before he has a good chance to consider how he really could use that decanter.

A box of deliciousness rescued from behind the lawnmower at Mum's place

A box of deliciousness rescued from behind the lawnmower at Mum’s place

– Small town manners. I haven’t lived here for over ten years, and I haven’t been back in New Zealand (for longer than a week) for almost four years, so it’s kind of a weird culture shock settling back in. People look you in the eye here, all the time. You walk down the street and people will look right in your eyes and acknowledge you, that doesn’t happen in big cities – and I like it. People want to talk to  you, I bought a magazine and left knowing the name, age and behavioural oddities of the saleswoman’s grandson. Coffees take a lot longer to make and deliver, there’s not the sense of hurry. Everywhere I go I see people who are vaguely familiar, which can be disconcerting. Because it’s been a while since I’ve been here it’s like being surrounded by those drawings of how celebrity babies will look as adults, I know the faces but they’re a bit more wrinkled than I remember from high-school. I asked a friend what the protocol is, am I meant to approach everyone who I vaguely recognise? She said no, that that will do my head in – “it’ll be non-stop Steph, pick a few you want to talk to and just smile at the rest.” Sage advice. But I do love a good chat – I met the woman who trained me to make coffees at my first cafe job when I was 16 yesterday, she still makes a killer flat white.

– Our house. We love our new house. The location is amazing and our daily beach walks have seen the size of Alfie’s butt decrease ever so slightly (the size of my own is staying strong though, lots of family catch-ups means lots and lots of cake) and Bubba is loving trotting up and down the walkway, spotting ducklings and rock towers. (We told her Macca Pacca comes from Taranaki – that’s an ‘In the Night Garden’ reference for those in the know). Our house has many amazing features, two fully-functioning bathrooms, an industrial size washing machine, a double-door fridge – I know, I know, it’s the stuff dreams are made of, but there is one screaming beacon of ugliness that adorns the lounge.

This:

A rainbow lighthouse? A Baroque traffic light? The losing find in Bargain Hunt? No, no, no it's the feature item in our eclectic loungeroom decor

A rainbow lighthouse? A Baroque traffic light? The losing find in Bargain Hunt? No, no, no it’s the feature item in our eclectic loungeroom decor

It’s a lampshade with a fetching ‘traffic light’ colour palette. It hangs low in the lounge, which is on the street-side of the house. Mum is most concerned that the red lamp is closest to the window – perhaps encouraging horny vagrants to knock on the front door – I’m sure they’d be a bit deflated by the sight of a grumpy bearded Viking answering the door though.

I love the deco ceilings, I can live with the dodgy paisley carpets – but this lamp, oh you’ve got to go my friend.

 

A very Kiwi homecoming

New Zealand - doing fruit flavoured marshmallow wrapped in chocolate like no other country

New Zealand – doing fruit flavoured marshmallow wrapped in chocolate like no other country

We’re here!! We touched down in New Zealand on Thursday night after a gigantic day of travel. I think time travelling with a toddler should be measured like dog years, the flight was three hours but felt like about 14. And then there was the rigmarole trying to track down a fretting spoodle after we hauled our own selves through customs. That was three hours of my life I’ll never get back. But we got our shaggy little sidekick in the end and he celebrated with masses of kisses for us all and a wee on the grass outside the imports warehouse that went for about 15 minutes. Bless.

We stayed the night with my sister on Thursday before driving south to Taranaki the following day. As we drove through the frankly spectacular New Zealand countryside I looked at my lovely husband and said

“So what do you think? Of MY country?”

There was a pause.

“It’s very green.”

Oh darling, stop with the gushing already.

Twenty minutes passed.

“And quite hilly.”

Hang on, is that Tourism NZ on the phone, busting a gut to have the Viking pen their next campaign?

New Zealand – very green and quite hilly

Look out Peter Jackson, I think you have a competitor in the promotion of New Zealand stakes.

But anyhoo, effusive praise aside, my Viking does seem quite pleased with the lay of the land. Our new house is so much better than the dodgy dark photos we were shown online, with a massive kitchen and double-door fridge – of course stocked full of every delight you can imagine by the world’s happiest grandparents.

Bubba has a line-up of new toys, and a reserve line-up of new toys for when the first lot need refreshing. Alfie has a comfy couch to lie on and a front yard to bark from – it’s elevated above the street so he can peer over the heads of passers by and feel quite mighty, important features for an anxious dog with a ‘small canine’ complex.

And me? Well I’m glad to be back in a place where I won’t have this conversation for a while:

Person: So you’re from New Zealand?

Me: Aha

Person: You don’t really have an accent? I didn’t pick it up.

Me: Well, yes I’ve been…

Person: There it is! I heard it! Wow! It’s strong! How did I miss that? Do “fush n chups”

Me: I’d rather not

Person: “Choice bro Tafe?”

Me: Nah

Person: What comes after five?

Me: Yeah, I’m not really…

Person: “RILLY” ha! You Kiwis are hilarious!

There are a few things I’ll miss about Australian life but that conversation will not be one of them.

For the rest of the weekend we intend to keep up with the unpacking, and I will continue my barrage of all things Kiwi for the Viking. So far we’ve had perky nanas, New Zealand salmon, Vogels bread and the Sauv Blanc is on ice. Any other suggestions? So far he’s rated the Vogels very highly, I’m keeping whitebait fritters in my back pocket (not literally) for when I really want to pull out the big guns.

Have a great weekend,

 

A failed Garage Sale and a very handsome houseguest

Rush hour at the Garage Sale

Rush hour at the Garage Sale

What a weekend it was. Our house has transformed from showhome spectacular (maybe ‘spectacular’ is a bit strong) to squatter’s quarters in 48 hours. We had the open inspection for the house on Saturday morning, which meant cleaning the house totally ruined my Friday night mandatory So You Think You Can Dance viewing, and yesterday we had a failed Garage Sale and the beginning of the sad goodbyes. Now, our house is a dump of half filled boxes, with random pieces of furniture and toys spread across the floor.

We tried to tempt people into the Garage Sale with the promise of free coffee, but considering I made the decision on Friday to have the sale our campaign to attract crowds wasn’t exactly far reaching. In fact, the campaign included one free ad online and half a dozen hastily taped up posters down the street. The result was maybe ten or so shoppers, including a local lady who stayed for about two hours, stepping me through every medical procedure her and her siblings had ever experienced. She bought a wheat-bag and a blanket.

During our emergency-room themed conversation I drank about four cups of the superstrong perc coffee the Viking had brewed up, and ate about 14 of the biscuits I had placed out as a sly sales tactic (or so I told the Viking). Nowadays, I rarely drink coffee – I might have a soy latte once a fortnight but nothing stronger. So my heart raced like a hungry greyhound all day. It’s a shame more punters didn’t show up, I think I would have been on fire with my sales spiels.

A couple of my girlfriends from my mothers’ group turned up. Mothers’ groups seem to fall into two categories over here, nasty little cliques of ultra-competitve mothers marking off their child’s achievements like notches on a belt or a group of fantastic women who openly share all the crazy, wonderful, vomit-inducing, sad and scary experiences of being a new Mum. I’m so, so fortunate that my group falls into the latter category. In fact, had it not been for the friendship of these women I doubt whether I would have made it this long without being drawn back into the supportive family circle of New Zealand. And I guess it’s just starting to hit home that after next week, I won’t be seeing them every few days. I won’t be marvelling over how much their kids have grown every time I see them or taking turns either drinking wine or ‘running DE-fence’ with six toddlers at the local RSL. And that makes me more than a little sad.

It reminds me of when I moved back to New Zealand after two and half years in London, and had that harsh come-down of finishing a big adventure and arriving back to old friends whose lives hadn’t changed and who really weren’t that interested to hear that yours had. And I found myself seeking out other travellers, who I could talk to about my backpacking experiences without feeling like they thought I was bragging. Travellers just got it. Well now, after becoming a Mum and having my life changed forever, these girls just get it. I’ve had close female relationships before, but it’s a whole different level with these girls. We’ve talked about everything from our fears for the future with our kids being plunged into a world of Facebook and sexy selfies to how much we love our husbands pretty much 99% of the time – but exactly how we’d finish them off and hide their bodies if they pushed their luck that bit too far.

One of the mums is on holiday at the moment and the Viking and I gleefully accepted the offer to petsit Harry the headstrong pussycat and Archie the Hercules Morse Rhodesian Ridgeback. Harry is great but our love is a bit restrained by the VIking’s cat allergy, our love for Archie though, knows no bounds. Especially the Viking’s love for Archie. Men and big dogs – frank and beans.

The look of love

The look of love

As we were on a double-dog walk the other day the Viking pondered out loud – “I wonder, if people see us with these dogs which dog they think matches each of us?”

I replied coolly, “Gosh Honey, I’m not sure. There’s Archie – all tall, lean and handsome, calm and quiet but worth listening to when he does make a noise; and then there’s Alfie – unkempt blonde affro, chunky butt, incessant barking and penchant for processed cheese. I’m not sure there’s any resemblance whatsoever.” And I did that dangerous glint in my eye look when I said that last bit.

And then I tugged Alfie away from the three week old chewing gum he was trying to lick off the footpath and we both sauntered off, blonde ponytails swinging in the breeze behind us.

 

"You got my back, right Arch?"

“You got my back, right Arch?”

 

 

My dog is on Xanax – and other tales from modern suburbia

 

Alfie today - never was there a more ferocious hound  seen in these parts

Alfie today – never was there a more ferocious hound seen in these parts

I must say, I have, in the past, scoffed openly at those who claim that their dogs are in need of human medication for anxiety disorders. I’ve thought to myself, “um – what for? What the hell is so stressful about getting your tummy rubbed every night and drinking out of puddles? It sounds like a sweet life to me.” And then I got Alfie, and I became the proud mother of one of ‘those’ dogs that jumps on everyone, runs across furniture, steals food from plates, licks inside ear canals and enjoys nothing more than a bowel motion in the open air – preferably with an audience of construction workers or school children.

Alfie is high energy. He goes from nought to a hundred in a nanosecond and frets terribly when he’s left without human company for longer than, well about one second. He sits outside the shower door. He’s been known to creep up and lie his head on the pillow between the Viking and I and snore dogfood breath into our sleeping faces. And now, two weeks out from our trip back to New Zealand, we’re pretty worried about how our little pooch will handle the move, especially the flight.

Alfie is not a seasoned traveller. I blame it on the fact that we didn’t get a car until he was about six months old. We did hire a car for a weekend getaway to the Ottways when he was about four months old. During the car trip Alfie managed to spew twice, once into the open pages of the Melbourne Lonely Planet and once into the Viking’s upturned beanie. Now, even though he gets regular outings in the car, he still makes a noise like a distressed chimp from the back of the car. The thought of putting him in a plane makes me get a bit sweaty. At first I assumed he would be on the same plane as us and we would have to sit through the entire flight with the soundtrack of crying spoodle filtering up from the cargo hold. Someone told me that the sound of the engine would drown him out, which kind of made me even sadder – the poor pooch crying with no one to hear him and feel sorry for him.

But he is now booked to fly out a couple of hours before us, so that he can be ‘calm’ and ready for us to pick him up as soon as we land. (As a side note – unless, like us, you have a ridiculous affection for your animals, think seriously before booking in to ship them overseas, Alfie’s flight cost four times as much as ours and the health tests at the Vet we had to get done for him to fly knocked us back another $500.) So, on the advice of the vet, we’ve been given Xanax for Alfie to keep him relatively relaxed during the flight. And because we don’t want him to suffer a bad reaction to the drug we’ve had to do a trial run at home.

So, my normally hyper, excitable puppy has suddenly turned into a sloth-like, chilled out, bong-smoking dog. He’s gone from hard house to reggae in 24 hours. When I arrived home today, instead of the normal jump up, jump down, turn in three circles, run around until he finds a bone to show me slobberfest I got a raised eyebrow and a lick on the hand. A single – lick on the hand. It’s the canine equivalent of “sup Mama?” I’m amazed he wasn’t playing on a gameboy or flicking through a magazine.

The vet told me to trial the drug for two or three days, but to be honest I’m stopping after one day. I thought I’d like having a bit more quiet around the place but it’s just not right. I think our life just functions better with a decent dollop of crazy in it. This afternoon, as the buzz started to wear off,  Alfie suddenly raised himself from his five-hour nap and randomly barked and ran around the couch three times and I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d take my chronically hyperactive cartwheel-turning dog over a barking bearskin rug any day.

 

Have you ever flown with a pet? Do they bark-proof economy class?

Talking to strangers pays off yet again

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In an effort to rid my week of foul-mood Tuesday I have started a Tuesday beach walk tradition. It’s actually a bit of a highlight now, the dog shakes and whines with excitement for the whole car-ride to the beach and licks and sniffs at everything we come across on our travels. It’s thoroughly enjoyable. Both kids behave *uses term loosely* extremely well, for Alfie this includes doing at least two ginormous craps in the busiest areas of the walkway, and, as an added benefit, this morning took a whiz so massive in the exact centre of the concrete walkway that it threatened to flood neighbouring suburbs and had passers-by leaping over the pool like show-jumping ponies.

Bubba is somewhat more sophisticated and premeditated in her approach, she tends to wait until a frail older lady approaches, cooing into the pram, before removing her hat and one shoe and firing it into the poor old dear’s face. Her other new and delightful trick is to burp like she’s just done a keg-stand at a frat house and then laugh like Kiwi legend Billy T James.

Billy T James - the Kiwi comedian who looked confusingly similar to my Dad in the 1980s.

Billy T James – the Kiwi comedian who looked confusingly similar to my Dad in the 1980s.

 

But another thing that spices up our Tuesday walks are the many strangers I randomly strike up conversations with. Conversing with complete strangers is, I believe, one of life’s great joys – a joy that is not shared nor understood by the Viking. He’s used to it now but cannot believe how easily I’ll get into a d&m with a bank clerk, lifeguard or bus driver. In fact, when the Viking’s cousin was staying with us for a spell, I heard her say to him (in Norwegian) something along the lines of “Steph talks to anyone! She does it all the time!” after I’d spent 45 minutes talking to a woman I met in the kids’ pool at the aquatic centre. Although I can understand a bit of Norwegian I’m not 100% sure of what the Viking said in response to his cousin, it was either “I know, it’s one of the things I love most about my future wife.” or possibly: “I know – it kills me. You should see with a couple of wines under her belt – she sings acapella with strangers on the train.”

But today a rare thing happened, I bumped into a stranger I had met on the walkway a couple of months ago. We’d had a good chat when we first met about Alfie. She was in the market for a new pooch so I talked up Alfie’s talents until I had painted an image of a canine capable of childcare, personal training and menial household tasks. Of course had she looked down she would have seen a scruffy spoodle licking his own bollocks but I managed to keep her eyes upward. Well she came a runnin’ up to us today saying “do you remember me?” Of course I nodded emphatically and opened my arms for a hug in case she was somehow related when she explained who she was.

“Because of Alfie I went to the same breeders you got him from and bought a spoodle called Ginger! We love him so much!”

I tell you what, I was chuffed. We chatted for a while longer as she told me how well Ginger had settled in with her family and we now have loose plans for a puppy playdate on the walkway in a month or so, when Ginger is old enough to get out and about with other pooches.

I’m looking forward to the doggy-date already, Alfie can teach Ginger all the finer points of being a spoodle – the crotch-sniffing, the baby face-licking and how to find the most attention-grabbing location for your next bowel motion.

 

 

 

 

 

If Donnie Brasco was a suburban mum

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I think I have foiled another underworld crime in my seemingly sleepy neighbourhood. Whilst partaking in some self-appointed surveillance yesterday afternoon (‘surveillance’ is my own loose term for drinking green tea and watching The View during Bubba’s naptime) I witnessed yet another crime. Well I reckon it was probably a crime. There’s a fairly good chance anyway.

My faithful sidekick Alfie, like many young boys, loves a good motorbike. He has no shame about pressing his face against the car window to drool adoringly in their direction or in chasing them (in a far less speedy manner) along the perimeter of the property. If a motorbike goes by, and we happen to miss the rumbling engine, Alfie alerts us with his ecstatic yipping and racing in circles. Yesterday was no different. I extracted myself from my feet up on the couch position and walked a good six feet to peer out the window, both Alfie and I were wondering why the motorbike had stopped across the road instead of hoofing it around the corner.

And then our attention was turned to another vehicle racing around the corner towards the motorbike. It was a zippy little racergirl car driven by, well a zippy little racergirl. She had her window down and just pulled up beside the biker, they exchanged something and then she whizzed off again.

Nothing warms the cockles of a spoodle like a roaring engine

Nothing warms the cockles of a spoodle like a roaring engine

Clearly a drug deal, or possibly a drop-off of uni lecture notes, or the swapping of cake-in-a-cup recipes – I can’t be sure but I’ll tell you were my imagination led me – drugs. I could hardly wait for the Viking to get home to tell him about my latest investigation.

“You didn’t ring the police did you?”

Not the applause-ridden response I was expecting. I have to admit, over the last year I have probably been a little too quick to dial the thin blue line. I called them when there was a break-in down the road and I had spied what I considered to be obvious burglars parked in the street, I called them when I busted a high-school drug circle, and, somewhat embarrassingly, I called them when I didn’t realise that our front door was broken and had blown open in the night, and tried to play it cool with “nothing is missing but the perps may have been scared off by my spoodle.”

Prior to moving to the burbs and having a child I had only called the police once as a teenager when I witnessed a man urinating on a bowling green from my bedroom window (I witnessed it from my bedroom, he didn’t urinate all the way from there – although that definitely would have warranted a call). Being a relatively compact city I had the exhilaration of seeing two police cars pull up at the bowling green to apprehend the naughty, and very drunk, fellow within minutes. I think that gave me a taste for crime-fighting. It’s like the thrill of the chase without actually having to chase anything. Perfect.

And as for Donnie Brasco, great movie, undercover cop and a plausible excuse for me to put a picture of Johnny Depp on my blog.

So what should I do? Continue my investigation and perhaps build up a detailed log of suspected criminal transactions or call the cops? What about you? Ever been talked to in soothing tones by a police officer after appointing yourself ‘their woman on the street’ (in a non-prostitute way)?

Foul mood Tuesday

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I’m not going to sugarcoat it, today I am neck-deep in foul mood Tuesday and I can’t hide it. I intimated as much on Facebook today, updating with: Grumpy, teething baby, bored, underexercised dog, a ridiculous high of 37 degrees – yeah today’s got awesome written all over it.

And I got an interesting response, a friend wrote: Finally someone who is honest on facebook that life isn’t always perfect!!! Take the baby and the dog and some rusks and go to the beach.

Another friend from the Gold Coast wrote: Haa haaa me too!! Rainy windy day just like the entire last month…. bored under exercised dogs tore the cat door off and chewed it to pieces …… kids full of energy sick of being inside so pull every toy ever owned out of every box and leave littered over the entire house …. today is so AWESOME!

And I started feeling a bit better. So often people, and I’m lumping myself in here too, use social media as a kind of lookbook with the highlights of their lives. Smiling babies, check-ins at cool cafes and bars, wee maps with ‘every country I’ve ever visited’ pinned proudly. And sometimes, as I browse through my well-travelled, new-shoed, birthday-celebrating, freshly ‘in a relationship’ friends – this shits me to tears.

Imagine if all status updates, tweets and instagram pics were deadset honest. When Facebook asks “what’s on your mind?” responses would be: thanks for asking Facebook, I’m wondering if I can make a semi-edible dinner out of the bag of oats,  old tin of sardines and half an eggplant that make up my pantry at the moment. Or possibly: I’m wondering if I should go to the shop now or wait for my child to get her afternoon poo out of the way first.

Sure it would get a bit dull, but wouldn’t it make us all feel so much better to know we weren’t the only ones who went out to the front gate in her pjs to sign for a package because the delivery man is scared of being licked to death by Alfie – unsupported boobs lolling under a see-through sleeping t-shirt as I clambered down the steps?

Or that someone else had opened their novel and had a giant cockroach fall on their lap?

Or that, unlike all those people posting their nike-run times and calorie-devoid lunch photos – someone else ate a pesto sauce sandwich for lunch while doing their best to make a decent lunch for their daughter.

Am I alone here? If you were going to write an honest status update about your Tuesday – what would it be?

 

Inspired by my dog’s bare ass

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It’d be fair to say that I’ve been a little uninspired of late. I put this down to battling with my wedding RSVP excel spreadsheet and frittering my time away daydreaming about buying expensive jewellery with the wages from a job I made the shortlist for. Didn’t get the job however, but my mind was dripping with diamonds by then and I had little capacity for anything else.

Until today.

Alfie has been the fluffiest of fluffy dogs this summer. I watched him scratch his ear the other day and spray flufflballs the size of hamsters all over the couch with every thwack. A pumping social calendar of children’s birthday parties, headcolds and lawnmowing (I’m kidding about the lawnmowing – this is Melbourne, our lawn turned to straw weeks ago) has meant that we’ve put off Alfie’s grooming visit since about November.

Due to the ankle-deep spoodle hair around the lounge and the fact that the dustbuster audibly groans with fear every time it is hauled out of its cradle, we could put it off no longer. Normally, when requesting Alfie’s grooming ‘style’ from the above-our-station fancy French dog-groomery, we opt for a subtle style, retaining his fan like tail and chest ringlets and just thinning out his silhouette. Today we said “off with it all!”

“But ez tay-el?” exclaimed the groomer.

“Take it all!” I enforced while, I suspect, the Viking wiped away a manly tear.

Two hours and two brunches later (the Viking felt obliged to order the ‘Scandinavian breakfast’ so he could point out how very unScandinavian it was, although apparently delicious – I didn’t point out what this inferred) we went to pick up our much smaller, balder dog.

We had dropped off this:

Nobody does beach-hair like a spoodle

Nobody does beach-hair like a spoodle

a kind of excessively fluffy miniature golden retriever.

We picked up this:

Looking just like the short, tubby stand-in for the Downton Abbey lab

Looking just like the short, tubby stand-in for the Downton Abbey lab

a curvaceous labrador puppy, or, as I suggested to the Viking a blonde baby seal with a pointy nose. Alfie has very seal-like eyes. I shall never take him out on the ice in case there are cruel clubbers lurking behind the icebergs.

Extend the nose and you have a spoodle. Ears would also help complete the look.

Extend the nose and you have a spoodle. Ears and lolling tongue would also help complete the look.

 

Look deep into my baby seal eyes

Look deep into my baby seal eyes

Alfie is very proud of his new ‘do’, sensing he looks exactly like Archie, his Rhodesian Ridgeback man-crush. He is however a little bemused by sitting his bare ass on the floorboards and feeling the immediate cool relief. He also doesn’t seem to miss the ankle-thick dreadlocks that had formed in the lustrous tresses falling from his butt – although I’m sure they created a comfortable cushion for his extended periods of contemplation.

Anyone else taken a load off this weekend? Likened your loved one to an endangered animal?

Baby or puppy? Which is more work?

Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it. My dog is more work than my daughter. I know that might divide the room a little, and I’m not saying that ALL dogs are more work than ALL babies, just in my case – it’s true.

Now our dog, Alfie is what you’d call – needy. Our daughter, Bubba is what you’d call pretty chilled-out as far as babies go. Sure, she has a grizzle every now and then and day sleeps aren’t her best work, but on the whole – she’s pretty relaxed. She likes good music, good (and quite soft) food and good company and she’s pretty set. Alfie, on the other hand, needs a little more to keep him smiling. [Read more…]