Wednesday, 28 February 2007

I walked all day...

I went for a walk today, with a friend and the kids. It was the PERFECT winter day in Canada, and I don't mean snow - I mean it had snowed in the mountains, but not where I was standing, and the sun was gleaming off the mountains exposing a panoramic sugar dusted picture-scape against blue sky - STUNNING.

The sun was out and the breeze must have been tucked up under a log somewhere I think, because on clear winter days like these, the wind-chill factor is normally enough to send anyone diving back under the bed clothes exclaiming - "let me know when it is spring".

We walked along the dike at Steveston in Richmond; old river houses, many of which had seen better days, creaked on water logged stilts, looking cramped, cold and uninviting. And yet, though in a largely dilapidated and abandoned looking state, surrounded by old logs, black and heavy, bobbing in the wake of a passing river barge, these old river houses had a beauty about them. I don't really know what it was, perhaps an energy that encapsulated and radiated a long and colourful history.

There were definitely a few stories in those dank walls and darkened windows, dull like dead eyes. In the windless air your could almost hear whisperings of the souls of departed tenants....houses seem to do that to me.

There was also something about the entire area'; the bare trees stretching for the seldom seen winter sun; a large letter box stuck high in a towering tree, acting as a makeshift bird house (I suspect); an abandoned train track leading to a modern day industrial building that had never in its life had a used for the old line; the lulling of the water lapping at the river bank. It was all so peaceful. I could have walked all day.

After that walk, we all went to a cafe, had coffee, and then went our separate ways.

The day was too lovely to spend indoors, so we took the dogs and walked around the block. My son rode his bike.

And to top it all off, the friend who I had walked with earlier, rang and urged me to go to my Nordic Walking group. I hadn't been since the flu and my slack old self was coming back to haunt. It is too easy for me to stay home. I feel so much better when I do venture out; so I was held accountable, and I am grateful for that.

The walking group was fantastic. I was dressed appropriately, unlike last time. I got so into it that I went into a zone. I could have run even (bit drastic).

I must have been a lot sicker last time than I thought, because I had none of the pinball kidney pain, like I experienced the last time and I could have walked longer. I am pumped for next week, and also for a repeat of today's weather.

My Island Home - Christine Anu Live at Sydney 2000 Olympics

Not the greatest quality version, but still the only one I could find on the net...
This is one of my favourite songs, Christine Anu's: Island Home - yes it is overly patriotic and emotional - blah - but I still LOVE IT .
About 18 months ago, Christmastime and home sick, I pulled my copy of Christine Anu's beautiful song out of my CD collection and stuck it in the CD player - I cried (roll your eyes with me).
I know I JUST posted about applying for permanent residency status in Canada; it is funny how the world shifts and creaks and plays out, but a bit of the proverbial shit hit the fan today. I won't go into detail about it just yet - early days and all- we'll wait and see how things pan out...but Australia is calling....

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Fashion tips for blokes

Bloke is Aussie for man....just so you know.

Last week we took my friend and her new bloke out for dinner at a local restaurant. For whatever reason, my friend and her new man starting talking amongst themselves. I wasn't paying any attention to what they were saying, until my friend turns to me and asks, in a tone that was pleading for support and reason. Her Question? What was my opinion about men wearing white socks with black dress pants.

The couple were definitely at odds with the answer to this befuddling of questions and conflict makers, as there appears to be a camp of blokes who seem to have passed down to their sons, the belief that it is the done thing to match your socks and least that was my husband's argument many years ago, when I was merely the girlfriend of my beloved.

So to answer my friend's burning man-socks etiquette question, I had only one thing to offer, and it was the same as I blurted to my beloved sixteen years ago:


Oh man, I could hardly contain myself. I turned into a pool of unrestrained giggling stupidity...I do apologise, but please.....unless you are planning on drawing attention to your moonwalking feet - don't wear white socks with black dress pants.

Monday, 26 February 2007

paper work

I don't think we are noted for being particularly disorganised, but we have kind of left our application for permanent residency in Canada, to the last minute.

It takes a good 12 months to get that sort of thing signed sealed and delivered, so with just over a month until our two years in Canada anniversary, we thought we had better get a move on.

It is not that we are umming and ahhhing about staying in Canada, it is just all that exhausting paper work.

Neither one of us likes doing paper work - yawnsville. We have already gone over the same million questions when we applied for our temporary status, so the thought of re-doing it all over again puts us into a state of near unconsciousness.

We have attempted to undertake the task several times before and have filled in bits and pieces of the book load of paper, but have never actually gotten around to completing it. It is all just so BORING.

Today it HAD to be done, so last night we sat down and supplied all the obscure and useless answers to all aspects of our thrilling personal life. Today we went Downtown to the International Fingerprinting Service of Canada to have a set of our prints taken off. Then it was down to get a set of immigration photos for the four of us. It was all relatively painless (except for the money dolled out for each service), so now I guess we must hand it over to the Gods and wait for the process to play out. Ho Hum.

Sunday, 25 February 2007


Of all the crazy-arsed ideas...Man!

When I was a child, I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere...well, actually it was in the middle of a tiny rural community in the Murray Mallee district of Southern Australia.

Our farm could be found along a highway bound for Sydney. Neighbours were generally a drive away, so the sounds of the day were largely our own, and reasonably predictable.

In those days I guess I was an early riser, because I remember the sun rising in the morning, casting a glow across the land, and warming the night cooled sand beneath my bare feet.

The puzzling thing about this scene was a particular sounds I would hear during the summer months at that time of day - sunrise. I later came to learn that this sound was in fact a freight train, snaking its way through the tiny township that sprawled in sporadic clusters just beyond the golden dunes and cereal crops, but at the time, I had concluded that the distant chugging of the steam train, was in fact the sound the sun made, when whomever it was, hoisted that tired and sleepy yellow orb begrudgingly into the darken sky, to light and herald in the new day.

To me, the "whats" of that sound were a no-brainer, since it seemed to occur around the same time of each day; just as the sun peaked over the dunes. Unfortunately my bubble burst on the whole idea, when I asked my Mum how the sun made that sound, to which she narrowed her confused eyes at me and told me it was the train. I argued with her about it, but alas, her argument seemed....mmm, saner!

Since that time, I have been searching for a reasonable description of the sound the sun makes when it rises, and I guess I would have to say that is warbles like a magpie, crows like a rooster, screeches like a parrot, laughs like a kookaburra, twitters like an orchestra of tiny birds, honks like the Canadian geese, thuds like the morning newspaper on my doorstep, sopranos like the creaky gate next to my house and rustles like drowsy children wrestling with the bed sheets. I love it.

Sunday Scriblings - Puzzled.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

wining, dining and SOME were pining

So, what HAVE I been doing all week?

Ok, I did manage to post once, albeit an overly depressing poem, which, if you must know, was in no way a reflection of the week I had been having. A poem needn't be about me, nor anyone I have seen in the past five years even. It may be an observation or even based on a memory. So never mind chaps, all is well over at The Brave; I seem to be better at tapping in to the depressing aspects of my feeble mind...YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Like I said in a previous blog - my best friend came to visit me last week, and indeed Lauraine, "to have a best friend" truly IS one of "the greatest things in the world". We had so much fun. And laugh! Oh how we laughed. Much of what was exchanged is unrepeatable, both through choice and perhaps censorship laws, but never mind, we had fun.

I don't have many friends in this universe, but those who consider me so....well, I wouldn't trade them for anything. But a best friend, now that is someone special. A best friend can not be announced, such a friendship is established over time and through trials.

One's best friend is someone with whom you can be yourself 100%; someone you can entrust with your deepest fears and secrets, your pains and emotions and your wacko ideas. One can tell, ask or share anything with a best friend, and know that there might be laughter (sometimes unwelcome), perhaps tears, sometimes worry and occasionally frustration and even momentary lapses of anger accompanying that which is divulged... but there is never judgement.

I have missed all my friends from Australia so very much, but to have my best friend visit me in my new land, to see how my children have grown since we last saw each other; where life has taken me and the new life our family has built, and for her to know what I am referring to when I talk about the local landscape, well that is pretty special, and I thank her for going out of her way to visit my family and I.

My best friend currently resides in the sweltering centre of outback Australia, but is US born, with most of her immediate family living in Washington State. This week, after a wonderful time showing her some local Canadian sights, I had the privilege of driving my friend back to her Mum's house in the US.

It was a bit surreal that we were in Canada and the US together, which also caused some major eyebrow knitting at the border. One of the immigration guys just couldn't seem to wrap his head around the idea that the American was the resident of Australia, but the Australian was the resident of Canada and....WHAT THE HELL WERE WE DOING HERE TOGETHER ANYWAY?

We were asked how we knew each other, where we met, did we have men in our lives. Now people, do these questions sound relevant to national security? At no point were we asked if we were hauling drugs over the border, in possession of guns or harboring a family of illegals in the trunk. So, judging by the mirthful faces among the observing male US immigration personnel, it appears it is far more amusing, and important, to take bets on whether the two 30-something women travelling men-less, are lesbians, as opposed to devious evil-doers plotting to take-over the world. Anyway.....

I spent the night at the home of my friend's Mum and Step-Dad. I have met them before and they are always so very nice to me - wonderful people really, and very talented, the both of them. My friends Mum is a fabulous quilter and seamstress and her cooking is so good. I certainly didn't knock back some of her cookies to take on the drive back to Canada - Boy were they good!

And you should see J's woodwork - stunning! He made his lovely wife a gorgeous heart shaped candy box for valentines day - how sweet is that! He also makes beautifully sculptured jewellery boxes, in all kinds of interesting woods....I really appreciate that kind of thing, as my Dad is also into wood work. He also made the heart shaped basket pictured here. It collapses flat, so you can use it for setting down hot dishes and the like. He told me he had seen one once and simply "worked out" how to make one like it, in his own style. It was such a cool piece, and I was lucky enough that my friend bought me this one - (there better have been an exchange of money). Some people have all the talent - sheesh!

The other wonderful thing that happened on the trip was my meeting, for the first time, a friend of my best friend's family. I guess I met her first through blogger. Kathleen is just as lovely in person as she is over the Internet - if not, lovelier. I remember the first time I read her blog and commenting that it would be so great to be part of her family, since they sounded so dear to her, and for a moment yesterday, she made me feel that I was. It was so great to meet her and I hope to see her warm and cheerful face again.

It started to snow just as I was preparing to say my goodbyes to everyone. My desert dwelling friend stood huddled and shivering in PJ's and an overcoat, with a shower of glittering diamonds falling about her and tiny, glistening stars in her hair, "let this be your last image of me", she said. And with that befitting image frozen in mind, I hugged her, stepped into my car and left; chased all the way back to Canada by a clenched fist of black sky.

After a week of chatting with a much loved friend, meeting and catching up with great people, driving around like a tourist, shopping, wining and dining...I guess it is back to reality for me. Man I sure needed that! No wonder I feel SOOOOO much better.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Poetry Thursday: three

The Unsuppressable

We try to hold it together;
a finely orchestrated deception.

Believing no one will ever learn our secret
or our pain.

But the body knows.
And soon enough
weeds force and intrude between the presenting cracks;
A pestilence of pain
nurtured by a well manured inner self.

We begin to resemble an untended garden;
choked with wild plants and tangle bush,
a mood of rotten fruit;
hardened and woody
like forgotten parsnips.

Even the birds avoid our slowly wilting selves,
preferring more joyful sanctuaries to linger
And we no longer care
....or notice.

So while we try to hold it all together,
to keep the secret of our discontent,
the body knows.
And screams it to the universe.

In the end,
though no words may depart our lips....
Everybody knows.

© Strauss
20th February 2007

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Leave a light on for me

The other night at the Nordic Walking group, a woman said to me, "Lovely evening for a walk. Don't you think?"

It had snowed the week prior. The snow was still evident on the ground, although it had been well trodden - packed and icy. The air, though crisp, swirled with the scent of burning wood, which conjured up all sorts of warming imagery; like couples cuddling beside open fires, sipping mulled wine, or families playing board games, a raging fire in the background and hot chocolate carried in on a tray with a plate of cookies.

The night was clear enough to reveal a net of stars overhead, while night noises seemed to be more pronounced. Indeed, it seemed a perfect evening for a winter walk, so I agreed with much enthusiasm.

"I love looking into the houses", the woman announced, motioning to the house we were passing. The curtains were open wide; a soft yellow glow beckoning into a navy night.

At the time, I thought her comment a little off - voyeuristic and nosey...and why the hell don't these people close the drapes! So I kind of looked over at house to acknowledge the woman's statement and muttered "yeah", before attempting to change the subject. I noticed a chandelier. It was a well to-do neighbourhood, consisting of reasonably new houses that lined the streets like veneered teeth; perfect, proud, clean and well tended.

During the past week, I decided to go for an evening walk in my own neighbourhood. I was feeling a bit down, and just needed to get out of the house. There was no snow on the ground that night. In fact, it was quite pleasant to be out, and I only required a light jacket to ensure my comfort.

As I walked, I noticed many lights on in the houses I passed, and remembered what the woman had said.

The street over from my own is very nice and is considered affluent (why the disparity from one street to another around here, I will never know). The houses are all large with manicured gardens, that now loom in the evening shadows. Many of the houses appeared empty and seldom frequented (if you know what I mean), just as they do in the daytime; the windows closest the street were all dark, like soulless eyes.

One house I passed, had every light on throughout its lower level. I noticed a winding wooden staircase reaching into the obscurity of an unlit second floor. The walls of a freakishly large sitting room were painted eucalyptus green - not my favourite colour - too much in such a large space, and it looked a bit drab. A middle-aged man was working on his computer. His back was turned to the road, as was his computer monitor. He seemed to be the only one home.

A little further down the road I came to a gorgeous little house; one in which I had actually the fortune of entering. The owner once told me it had been a heritage home that was relocated into town a number of years ago. The owner and his wife had bought it, and renovated it themselves.
The house is painted in a lovely periwinkle blue with white trim. Shining polished wooden floors greet visitors, along with stain-glass windows and antique lace curtains. The space inside is intimate, warm and tastefully decorated. From the road it appears a tiny home, especailly when compared with its neighbouring gaints, but it is a deceiver. For once inside, you'll find that it actually contains three levels. A black steel staircase spirals from the corner of the dining room, opening up to a darling attic that harbours two of the sweetest little girls rooms one is ever likely to see. I just LOVE that house.

On the evening I went walking, the lace curtains were drawn, but through the curtains the family could be seen sharing a meal under soft golden hues. I imagined the happy banter of the family, sharing news about their day. It seemed such an idyllic scene.

Further down the road, I spotted a woman standing in a sitting room. The TV was on, but her back was facing it. She folded a white blanket in half, then lent down out of view. I imagined a child that had fallen asleep on the sofa, the mother leaning down to wrap her child in the blanket before carrying her slumbering bundle up to bed.

The scene drew me back to my own children. I had been desperate for a break, but it was supper time, and I would be absent from our table that evening. If I did not return soon, I would also miss tucking them in and receiving the last bear hug for the day. Bedtime is probably my favourite time of day with them. a time when they tell me all their thoughts and secrets, in an attempt to avoid the inevitable separation, and falling asleep. I knew it was time for me to head home.

Saturday, 17 February 2007


One of my very best friends in the entire world is coming to visit tomorrow, and will be staying with us until Thursday. I am really excited about her visit. I just love her.

She will be my first visitor, from home, since we landed here in Canada, almost 2 years ago.

I really miss everyone back home, and I need a distraction from the S.A.D's - if you know what I am saying.... These northern winters can be tough for a sun-fool Aussie like me.

If I don't get the chance to blog much, or at all, this week, you'll know why.

An innocent Eff Word

My daughter is nearly three. Her speech is coming along quite well, but today an utterance emerged from her sweet little cherry mouth; one I didn't expect to hear - The Eff-word.

"WHAT did you say!" I spluttered as we were driving along.

"*uck", she repeated, without flinching, she was looking out the car window.

I followed her gaze. OHHHHHH! "Truck!" sigh of relief, "yes, a truck. Can you say truck?"




"Listen to me, T-R-uck. Can you say that?"

"T-R-*uck", she giggled, repeating it continuously.

"We really need to work on that word, Missy Mopps".


"Well, the way you say "truck" sounds like something else".


"A bad word"



"Lets stop saying that now. We'll work on it later."

"Ok, Mummy".

Then today, we were in Dairy Queen....

"Look! *uck!", she yells out pointing to a truck outside.

A whiplash of head turn our way.

Where can I hide?

"Missy Mopps, look at me", I whisper.

"Can you say T?"


"Good. Can you say R?"


Great. Can you say Uck?"


"Excellent. Now put 'em together. T-R- Uck"


"Now Truck"



Thank God for that.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Poetry Thursday: two. The prose poem

This weeks Poetry Thursday prompt was to tackle the prose poem. I must admit, I have never written one before, and I am not entirely convinced that I have even now, as I nervously extend my finger to press publish, but what the be the judge.

The Tulle Cloaked Bride - a Prose Poem
A ghostly apparition of I, drifting within the now familiar fog. Her gauzy veil silhouettes a softened landscape, leaving a world of vague shapes, lingering like enigmatic shadows.
Conifers spire toward the heavens, like renaissance towers shrouded in the lost world above.
Tiny birds bolt from nearby cedars; feathered darts shooting through her tranquil haze.
I breathe this crisp dawn enchantress, knowing her to disappear with the heat of the day. I know not when she might return, to slink across my lawn with dewy steps, lick my eaves and caress the naked branches with a thousand gentle tears.
Tomorrow the rains are set to lavish these whisper-soothed lands, like an insistent groom ravishing his tulle cloaked bride. The fog, she will succumb.

© Strauss
12th February 2007

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Love is....

Love is baking 75 little heart shaped ginger cookies for your child's pre-school Valentines Party and staying up until 11pm icing them, by hand.

He won't be attending due to his eyes, but I promised....

Happy Valentines everybody.

Oh, and check out Rarely At Home Mom's entry for Scribbit's Write Away contest. Her piece was the winner, and it sure is a goodun. You can read all the other entries here.

Monday, 12 February 2007


My son woke up this morning with pink eye.
It worsened rapidly; a thick repulsive display of green muck collecting in the corners of his eye and oozing henceforth down his cheeks - his eyes clouded by the aggressive infection.

I took him to the doctor. "Lots of open-eyed, warm water baths, followed by drops". The nightmare begins....

My son screams the neighbourhood down when a snow flake dares upon his face, so can you imagine the drama in attempting to syphon some water into those swollen, blood shot things? "Is it going to hurt?" he asks. Yes or no, doesn't matter which way I answered, he wasn't going to like it.

They say animals smell fear, well I guess he could detect my anxiety, as I lurched nearer with the first cup of H2O, for he tensed up and tempted to push me away.

I reasoned with him, talked about it being for his own good, that is would help clear the infection quicker, that he wouldn't be able to go to his pre-school valentines party if his eyes didn't heal in time. And when all else failed I used guilt..."you don't want your friends to get that infection do you"? I sank.

Yes he wanted to go to the party, no he didn't want his friends getting the infection, but no, he wasn't going to allow he near his eye, under any terms.

Force was the only recourse. I doused his eyes in the water and scraped away the pusy residue, now crusted all over the place. Gross!

He screamed. He wailed. He Howled. He attempted to run. He hated me. Now for the drops...are you KIDDING me!

I was instructed by the pharmacist that I was not allowed to have the tip of the medication to dip into his eye, or I would have to throw the entire bottle away.

I weighed the likelihoods of actually administering the precious medicine into the eyes of a violently resisting boy - it just wasn't gonna happen.

Exasperated I rang the doctor, requesting alternative healing methods... there were none.
I don't know what I am going to do.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

The Last Supper

This is my first submission for Sunday Scribblings. The prompt for this week was: Yummy or Yum. I actually wrote this post on Thursday, after reading a section in a book called Fruitflesh, by Gayle Brandelis; a book to inspire writing. It is actually really very good, even if I did happen upon it in a bookshop bargain bin.

The section I was just reading asked the reader to think about what one might request, should one know they were about to chance upon their final earthly meal. Boy, the thoughts that rained from that one.

My late father-in-law loved food. He was a big man and proclaimed to love REAL food, none of this quick fix dial-up pizza rubbish. “That’s not a meal, that’s a SNACK!”

In November 1999, it was discovered that he had a brain tumour. He died in September 2002, five weeks after my son was born.

He actually lived long after his original, dismal prognosis. He was a fighter. He had surgery to remove the tumour. The biopsy and MRI scan revealed that the brain tumour was a secondary form of cancer, and his body, even at that stage, was riddle with the disease.

Unfortunately for my father-in-law, the price he paid for a few more years, was the loss of his ability to swallow. Never again was this man, who loved food, able to eat as we do. Instead he consumed a liquid and vitamin enriched “meal” that entered directly to his stomach via a peg in his navel.

Sometimes my father-in-law would snatch a piece of food from the table he insisted upon sitting at, while others ate their meals. He would throw the food into his mouth and chew in a frenzied, angry fashion, while we all watched in horror, knowing he would inevitably choke, and could possibly even die, should he attempt to swallow it. But he just wanted to taste the food; enjoy the experience and social aspect of a family meal, like he used to. He wanted to sit at the head of his table, and he was frustrated that his body simply could not perform this seemingly simply function - swallowing, like it had previously been able.

And of course, he would choke whenever he did this, and panicked family members would scold him for attempting to eat. It was scary to witness the drama of it all, but I did not blame him. It was such a cruel fate, and food with the in-laws became a tense ride paved with guilt, after that. It seemed so unfair, that we sat eating a sumptuous meal, when he could not.

I wondered what he would have chosen as his last meal, if he had known his fate in advance.

In stark contrast, I attended a class with a woman who really appreciated food. At the end of our course, the class went out for a farewell dinner, at a local restaurant…nothing fancy, but still nice.

This particular woman was unabashedly sensory, which became evident as I sat, curious and enthralled, as she demonstrated her appreciation for the food presented before her.

I watched as she closed her eyes, and inhaled the curling aroma that exuded from the freshly cooked meal; and then her slow and contented exhale; a thankful breathing out like another might, in savouring the fragrance of a bunch of roses given by a new love.

I watched her pick up her utensils and contemplate the meal in its entirety, before she began to slice it up; her hesitation akin to a prayer. Mindfully… respectfully, she began to arrange small portions of food on her fork and as the food entered her yearning mouth, she closed her eyes again, only opening them once the empty fork was extracted from clutching lips. She chewed slowly, eyes in a meditative glaze as she pulled and dissected each tantalising ingredient, with her tongue.

She ooh’ed and arr’ed like she were making love to her meal. She appeared to be in gastronomic heaven, and the rest of us sat, feeling slightly uncomfortable by the enthusiastic display of her satisfaction.

This chorus of mindful feasting lasted her entire meal, and with every course, and when the wait staff appeared to remove her polished crockery, she made sure she told them how much she enjoyed the experience, insisting her compliments be extended to the chef.

I, along with others at our table, sat mesmerised by the concentrated appreciation she showed for her food, but she cared not and declared to us, unperturbed and unapologetically, “I love my food” – indeed she did. Her appreciation for food certainly made me think about how I mindlessly shovelled edible objects into my mouth – the contrast was glaringly obvious.

So, what would I choose as my final earthly meal?
Well, I think I might choose a basket of hot grainy bread to start off with, and a steaming bowl of New England clam chowder to go with it. I would indulge in a bottle of my favourite wine – Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV and a simple pan seared Atlantic salmon with a hint of lemon, served with a plate of steamed vegetables.

Now for dessert….hmmm the choices. Oh, the choices…
I think, above all else, I would choose my Mum’s homemade hot chocolate pudding; on its own, no ice-cream or cream to take away from the rich bitter-sweet chocolately goodness.

I would then pray to God I were not too full, but then again, it is my last earthly meal, so what the hell, because I would LOVE a latte to finish…with a side of peppermint chocolate truffles! Mmmm MMMMM!

What would you choose?

Poetry Thursday - one

This is my first Poetry Thursday entry.

Poetry Thursday unveiled their new website this week, and so, in keeping with the theme, this weeks "totally optional idea" was about changes.

Believe it or not, I like the idea of change. In fact I welcome it. Change has a transformative quality and that is exciting to me. I might not get the change I the previous post if you want an example, but I welcome change, because you just don't know where an abrupt change, or a seemingly subtle change is going to effect us, or where it is going to lead.

To me, change offers opportunity to reinvent oneself...learn and grow. This is what my poem is essentially about.

Furthermore, and if I may indulge in a little bit of self-promotion, if you liked this poem,or even if you are curious as what other stuff I write, my poetry blog is called Burnt Offerings, and you are invited to take a look.

Frozen Lake

You say I am a frozen lake, like its a bad thing.
Perhaps I am…..
On the surface I am strong and sturdy
While there remains an undercurrent
An unseen force, ebbing and flowing.
Change taking place slowly, away from prying eyes
Life stirs hidden, below an impenetrable icy crust.

My veneer would be so thick that I could not feel
Numbed to the sensations of an outer universe
Paralysed to respond

If you think I am like a frozen lake.
Then help me thaw.
Be there when the cracks appear.
And my hardened shell liquefies
Encourage the light to dance and play upon my glistening surface
Tell others to peer into the depths of my soul
They might even see themselves in my reflection
I do realise I might appear unstable.
It matters not.
I am alive.

© Strauss
5th February 2007

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

the nest

I have two kids, one is four and my daughter will be three next month.

My first pregnancy was not planned.

In fact, I hadn't planned on ever having kids.

The very thought of becoming a mother was an utterly terrifying concept to me, and one I hoped never to entertain. Harsh I know.

Until I became a mother, I had not one moment of prior experience. I had held one baby bosses, and the baby was kind of thrust into my inwardly refusing, quivering arms, with me awkwardly holding the baby at arms length and, no doubt, with an expression of complete and total fear, smeared across my horrified face.

It was not that I disliked children, I just felt that I lacked experience, was totally clueless and would probably be a screw up as a parent, and didn't want to be held responsible for my own child's misery; besides...I had plans, and a career to plunge into.

I graduated from university 7 months pregnant.

Only one person in my graduating class knew I was pregnant, which is a bit surprising, not to mention insulting, that no one happened to notice the protruding belly (ha ha), but I didn't want anyone to know. I thought I might be discriminated against, in my pursuit of a career. Yes, career, career, career...that was all I thought and dreamt about.

Once I had my baby boy, I was a nervous, unconfident, puddle of insecurity, but I coped, and I learnt - that is all you can do really - mothering is the ultimate, on-the-job-training experience. I lacked support, from extended family and friends. I really was alone, and though everyday I felt I had fallen short, as a parent (and mostly still do), I wasn't the total screw up I thought I might be.

I had a second baby straight away, deluded that I should get the reproductive phase of my life over with, so I can get on with that blessed career, that somehow kept eluding me.

The second baby was a dream child, and at the time, my husband was feeling rather disillusioned at work and so we were talking about doing a role reversal thing - he stay at home with the kids, and went after that career I had been longing didn't work out.

I went for the dream job. I got to the final cut...but I didn't get it. Then opportunities came up for my husband to work in Canada. He was successful in his bid, we moved, and ironically, I have visa restrictions preventing me from working in my field.

It is funny how fate works sometimes...(NOT funny "ha ha"), and I have spent many years coming to terms with the why's of all this....

My children are older now...still young, but older. My eldest will be starting kindergarten in the fall and my youngest will be starting pre-school. I have decided to put my sensitive, panicky and, at home, dominating son in an afternoon kindergarten class, so his sister gets as much focus and concentration from me, regarding her morning pre-school class. I could have placed them both in morning classes and took the 2 hour break - the first in 5 years- but I think it is more important that my youngest gets her needs met, as she commences this new level of independence.

If you allow me to digress just a little....I have gotten to know one family here in town. They have a son who attends pre-school with my son. They also have a daughter, who will be in pre-school with my daughter. The boys, along with the girls, both get along quite well. Although my daughter is still pretty shy with others and clings to me a bit, just for reassurance until she feels comfortable - its normal behaviour.

I have gotten to know the Dad a bit. He is a stay at home Dad, and like me -the foreigner, he doesn't really fit in with the clichey local mothers. He is nice, and I have gotten to know his lovely wife now, too.

My son has gone over to this family's house for play dates, and their son has come over to our house for the same. I even had the little girl over for a couple of hours while the boys were in pre-school.

Tonight however, I got a call from The Dad, asking if my son would like to go over on Friday, for a play date, and perhaps stay for dinner. My son would definitely love that, he did go over for dinner with the family once before and had a ball...I missed him though. Then The Dad extended the invitation to my daughter, who has never been to any one's house by herself. Man, I could feel the tension in the wholeness of my being. Every morsel of myself was screaming "NOOOOOO, don't take my baby".

I started spluttering and back peddling like I was on a moped careering toward a pack of sleeping lions. I told him I would have to "think about it" - boy, in hindsight that was really rude. It is not that I don't' trust the family, it is just that...I (pathetically) don't know what I am going to do with myself for all that time, by myself! I haven't allowed myself to think of my future beyond full time care, yet. There was no point. I have let my career aspirations drift away. I am no longer that same person. I am a changed person due to my parenting experience...for the better I think...And secondly, I am just not ready to let my baby go just yet...not for all that time, anyway.

So I think I am going to retract my acceptance of the invitation for Mister to stay for dinner, and suggest he and his sister play for a few hours, and I pick them both up at 5pm. It would make me feel more comfortable, and I will still have to find something to do with myself during those few hours, but it won't be for as long.

It is ironic that I had once thought the idea of me as a mother totally abhorrent, and now I can't let them go...I love them.

Tight Grip

I have always held my pen or pencil like it might try to escape from my hand.

So hard and firm is my grip that I literally develop a cramp if I write for too long; such as when I am writing a personal letter to a friend.

Not only is my grip firm, but I also tend to press the writing implement really hard into the page, as if I were trying to make certain that I made an impression, like I sub-consciously feared that my thoughts and words might evaporate or fly away if I didn't secure them tightly enough to the page.

I have a callous on the index finger of my right hand. It has been there forever; more evidence of a too firm grip. I have noticed, when I write, that the tip of my finger is usually white - white from the intense pressure I am applying.

I am mindfully trying not to squeeze the life from the pen I hold. Now-days, I attempt to dance across the page with my pen or pencil, considering it a babe in arms, rather than a knife welding intruder that I must overcome in order to protect myself.

It is hard...old habits die hard.

I constantly have to remind myself to release my grip...relax...allow the words to flow and glide.
Consequently, my writing is not neat. It is legible, but a spidery scrawl of words creeping across the page like a twisted vine, when normally my writing has loomed like a line of dark glum soldiers standing to attention; their boots are shiny, gloves starched, each letter erect, disciplined, obedient....but my well formed words lack character and energy, they have had too many stiffling years behind them.

It is a control thing I think, but this strangle hold takes so much energy, and yet it has yielded so few gains.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

computer stupid

I am not very computer smart. I don't know what I am doing MOST of the time. I even frustrate myself; I am that cyber-thick.

I love an easy program, easy software; computering that is so straight forward that an ape could figure it out, but sometimes even the programs For Dummies glitch...and then I am stuffed!

I wrote a new poem, and for the past couple of days I have been trying to link it under the Burnt Offerings title on my side bar here, but it won't save. I just keep getting an error message.

The effort involved is wasting my time and I don't know why this error message keeps obstructing the task at hand -it is doing my head in - hence the image to the left.

Well I am going to post the darn thing in long form for Poetry Thursday anyway. So you've been warned, and you can have a laugh at my expense, if nothing else.

If you write poetry or just enjoy reading poetry, check out Poetry Thursday. I have never submitted anything to it before, but have been watching and reading Poetry Thursday for a little while. It offers wirting ideas, promotes the love of poetry and enables poets and poetry lovers to connect- it is a good thing.


Ashley is in Halifax for a couple of days. Travel is one of the perks of his job.

He doesn't travel all that often these days - but that is largely his choice. Since the kids have been on the scene, he has felt less motivation to hit the road, and I appreciate his nightly support.

He used to work away two weeks on, two weeks off, which wasn't all that bad really. A few times he has worked away for 6 weeks at a time, and perhaps once or twice, he has been away for 8 weeks. At least he is not a soldier.

I must say, while I am stuck at home with the kids doing the same ole same ole, I find myself feeling somewhat envious at his fortune to escape from the everyday once in a while, and see the world. I am also often left feeling like a total ignoramus after one of his expeditions, for I wish to know of his accounts first hand; see with my own eyes, smell with my own nose, let my prsence linger in the place of exploration a little longer, while letting a country or a region's presence impress upon me, and change me from the experience I had with it, in it and through its culture, people and moments.

I know Halifax is only on the other side of Canada, but I haven't been there before. I would love to. I am told that Nova Scotia is beautiful, although the weather in Halifax was suppose to be minus 12 or something today.

I can't help feeling left behind when he announces a forth-coming adventure. I can become quite snippy about it all... like he is rubbing my face in it. He knows I love to travel.

He went to Brazil in October. Holland last November. Norway in February last year. He is going to Nigeria in March, and has the opportunity of going to France in May, and Scotland in December - and these are just the opportunties I know about.

I can't really complain, I have been here and there, but I would love to accompany him on some of his trips - not all the time, perhaps just once or twice a is a cost issue.

At least we all receive good gifts when he returns from a jaunt, but frankly, I would rather the experience....for that is what life is really all about....experience and memories.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

The unsquared debt

A couple of weekends ago, while at home, Ashley received a call from his boss, asking if he could do him a favour.

"Sure", said Ashley, and thought nothing of it.

The next day at work, the boss insisted that Ashley take me out for dinner, "somewhere nice", to say thank you and, it seemed, to apologise for interrupting our evening.

Ashley told the boss not the worry about it, thinking that he was just expressing his gratitude, and the dinner idea was really just a suggestion that would be forgotten about soon enough, so Ashley never really followed the dinner thing up.

As the week drew to a close, however, the boss urged Ashley once more, to take me out to dinner "on him - taxi, baby sitter, the works". Well, it didn't really work out that weekend, so we didn't take up the offer, and felt that the moment had now expired.

The boss then became more insistent, like he owed us this great debt and it was not sitting well with him. So we relented and booked into a restaurant that the boss had recommended. Unfortunately, the baby sitter couldn't make it, so yet another weekend went by the wayside; the boss's debt left unsquared.

Two Thursdays ago, we had it all set up - everyone was on board....I got the flu.

Monday....Missy Mopps got the flu.

....Restaurant was fully booked out.

...the baby sitter couldn't make it.

....Ashley going out of town next week.

It HAD to be Friday night or the boss would have kittens!

"Have you gone out for dinner YET?", the boss urged in an apparent exasperated sweat .

"We are going out tonight", Ashley was relieved to tell him.

"Good! It is easier to get an aircraft into Nigeria than getting you two out for dinner", was the bosses final frustrated word on the matter.

And so it seems the boss is correct. We don't get out much.

But we did go out last night and had a great evening. We went to La Belle Auberge, a fantastic culinary experience, that is practically on our door step.

Set in an old Victorian house and decorated in period furniture, the entire experience at La Belle Auberge is detailed, intimate and beautiful.

Chef Bruno Marti and his staff are award winners and the presentation of the food is pure art.

While you can order A La Carte, we decided to go all out try Table d'Hote; a "pre-set gastronomic 7-course menu".

Of everything I tried, I think my favourite was the Lobster Bisque - it was heavenly!

For dessert Ashley ordered this gorgeously presented chocolate terrine. It was wrapped in a chocolate and caramel chocolate "pear drop". It was almost too pretty to eat...I said almost.

Well, it was definitely a fine experience. We tend to love a great restaurant, such things are a bit of an interest to us, if "restauranting" could be considered "an interest".

So, thanks Boss. It wasn't that we didn't appreciate the offer, we just didn't expect it.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Ten years

I have decided to submit a lovey-dovey story into Scribbit's February "Write Away Contest".
I am not a very romantic person I am afraid. I once read some of my parents "love letters" that happened to be hidden away in the top of my cupboard, when I was a young girl. Believe me, there ain't NOTHIN' romantic about writing to your beloved about crutching sheep or crop sowing ...I was disappointed, and after a letter or two, I was almost asleep. My poor Mum! So no, I didn't miss out on the romance gene, it just never showed up on the offering table when my genetic make-up was being doled out.

So, without further adieu. This is about as romantic as she gets around here....but it is love none-the-less.

My husband (Ashley) and I, celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on the 21st September 2006– 10 years! Time sure does fly. While 10 years sounds like a long time, Ashley and I have actually been together for almost 17 years – over half our lives.

We are the proverbial “high school sweethearts”; an irksome phrase if you ask me, even if it is the case. We had attended the same high school for three years prior to being placed in the same year eleven home class. I had no recollection of having seen him prior to that first day of the new school year, and for him, the same applied – no prior recollection of me- to this day, we wonder how that could have been possible.

Something about him caught my eye – the mysterious energy called fate, I suppose. However, I had other issues at the time, like an unwillingness to let go of a lust-filled obsession for a hot, but totally unworthy loser. As for Ashley, year eleven was all about having a good time; whooping it up with the drongo mates and hooning around town in the wake of a new found sense of freedom, which just so happened to have four wheels. In any case I was shy and mostly silent, and Ashley was largely…well, absent.

If I could muster the courage, I would sometimes engage in a little bit of awkward small talk with him during home class time. We were teased for “liking each other” (“ooh arr, giggle, smirk, tee hee, hardy ha, you know, that sort of thing). I think I turned red and said to my accusers something dignified, original and witty like “Do not! Jerk!” Ashley, on the other hand, played the aloof card and told the class that he thought I was “a snob”; a remark that sent a dagger straight into my precious heart, leaving it to labour and heave amidst the agony of the gaping wound.

It wasn’t until our final year of high school, once it was long over with the tormenting presence that came to be the fore-mentioned "loser", that I actually told a friend of my feelings for Ashley.

I only divulged this furtive information to entice this friend to reveal the identity of a guy whom she had harboured secret feelings, since grade 8, and since the high school days were drawing to a close, it was now apparent that she should relinquish her burdensome secret, or risk a life-time of wanting and imagining the what-if.

So... my name for her name, that was the carrot I used to coerce my friend to surrender the name of her heart's desire, and send it soaring to my open ear like a dove from the hands of its captor. Of course, the risk in our information trade was that our secrets would be made known…and at that age, well….it was really only a matter of time, and I guess that was the sub-conscious reason for the reveal …too paralysed and fragile to take action ourselves.

So as expected, my friend told everyone else, including someone who happened to travel home on the same bus as Ashley. Predictably, without my knowledge or consent, these two friends of mine eventually set Ashley and I up.

I remember it clearly, at lunch one day, some poodle-type girls trotted over to my friends and I (you know the type - primped and fluffed; lots of make-up and hair). I knew them to hang out with Ashley’s group of friends. Grinning, they announced with exaggerated giggly enthusiasm “Ashley said YES !” Confused, I turned in the direction of my friends, who were fleeing the scene, with knitted eyebrows, grim faces and on tip-toes.... as fast as they could. I can’t remember what I yelled out to them, but I wasn’t impressed nor was I happy.

After lunch, Ashley approached me at school assembly, and I too considered doing a runner, but didn’t, I would have to face the music eventually. We sat down, and with the droning waffle of some teacher in the background, I told him that my friends had played a joke on me, and I had nothing to do with their devious plan.

We sat there, silent for a little while. It was awkward. We did not really know what to do or say next. I was still tender and reeling from the disastrous experience with that other guy, and wasn't planning on going through a potentially similar scenario any time soon, but Ashley, I have since discovered, has no idea how to take a hint; consequently he completely ignored the wall I put in front of him, and asked me out to a party instead. He made it sound casual, and suggested we go and see how things turned out. Hesitantly, and rather miraculously, I agreed.

The party was a bit of a fizzer; it basically entailed a bunch of yobbos standing around staring into a bon-fire, drinking beer and having very little to say. We left early and went to the bowling alley, caught up with some friends of mine and chatted together for the remainder of the evening.

As if nothing has changed since that moment, I yabbered on and on and on about serious things that were sincere to my heart, and I felt, for the first time ever, that someone was actually listening to what I had to say, without their eyes glazing over with boredom or confusion, and without the fear of being ridiculed.

The rest....well, lets just say that the details are filled pages in this book that has become our life together, while the rest remains unwritten.


Many don't know this about me, but I am a numerologist - please don't ask me to do a profile job for you. I have done a few here and there and have learnt to hate them - they take me ages to do and alot of energy- I don't enjoy them some much. I much prefer to analyse numbers based on single question or moment. I use the numbers as a theme and a guide. Each number has many meanings, I find that I have to get a feel for what is going on with a person, before I can interpret the correct meaning of any particular number - I am no psychic.

I did study numerology under a psychic however.
There was a small group of 6 devotees, with whom I studied. It was meant to be a little 6 week numerology course, but ended up extending for 6 months. I have found nothing like it since moving to BC - though I have tried.

It was great. I loved it, I became almost obsessed by it. I wanted to learn more and more and MORE. I couldn't get enough. I felt driven to undertake extra study during the week and practice practice practice.....but I got pretty good, even if I do say myself.

My passion for it has waned over the past 9 or so months, but I still take note of numerological connections.
It is funny that I have such a passion for numerology, because I am completely useless at Math, and I mean COMPLETELY useless at math. I have mentioned that my schooling was not ideal.
I actually grew up in a small rural town, it was the 70's and stuff was going down in the education department at the my Mum says anyway. Rural schools are often poorly staffed and resourced, as was the case with my school.
I was always in a mixed grade situation, the theory was, that lessons were taught to the older kids, but sometimes this didn't happen, and so what actually happened, was some years we were taught lessons of the grade above us, but some years not, the result for me, was an education with a lot of holes, my grasp on math being the most apparent.
And so, while I can be taught math, with a lot of hard work, I retain nothing of it. I simply don't have the basics to retain formula, my brain works best when I can pull out threads of meaning, to which I can apply it to other things. Math for me, is made up of single items that float around in my watery brain - I don't think that makes sense, but that is as good as I can explain it. My understanding of numbers through numerology, is completely different. The thread that I pull from my understanding of the numbers, is as though the numbers have a personality, they have character and react to certain things, in certain ways.
Anyway, I mention this, because I have two friends, who share a birthday today. Neither of these friends knows the other, and yet they have both been my best friends at particular stages in my life.
The first friend I have known for 23 years. We lived across the road from each other, and were best friends from the age of 10, until her family moved away when she was 15. We still keep in contact, though not as often as we should. She has two kids, her oldest, just so happens to be two days older than my oldest. When told her I was pregnant - she said, "hey, so am I!" It was weird to have shared so much of your awkward pre-teen/early teen years with someone, and to then to share the awkward fledgling motherhood status with that same person, it was...nice.
My other friend is my current best friend, born the exact same day as my childhood friend - same day, month and year.
We met at university as a couple of 22 year olds, in our first year. I was taking French 1A and medieval history with her. She was newly married and originally from The States. She was looking for a connection, and approached me for a chat after noticing I was wearing an engagement ring. I had just bought a house and was about to move into it, she was just about to sign off to buy a house, we were going to be a mere 10 minute drive from each other.
Our uni was about a 35 minute drive from our homes, so I offered to drive her to and from uni on the days that worked. We chatted a lot on those drives. I was often stunned at the personal probing her line of questioning would take, but we got to know each other well over that year, and we are now very close. She is coming to visit me in a couple of weeks, and I am VERY excited. She will be our first visitor since we have lived in Canada. I can't wait to show her around.
I thought it interesting that a pair of February 2nd 1974's had played such a strong presence in my life. I tend to have a lot of two's around me, I myself have a lot of two influence - two is the number of the feminine, the mother, the queen. She is the moon, she is intuitive, she is sensitive. Two is about balance and water. I also have noticed that I have many 7's around me. which, if you add up 2/2/1974 and break it down to a single digit, it becomes a 7. 7's are stubborn and so they are forced to gather their wisdom via personal experience (among other things). I must say this is true of the many 7's I know.
Anyway, to my two wonderful friends, you are both entering 4 personal years. It is going to be about hard work, laying foundations for the next phase in your lives, and cutting the dead wood from the past- the influences that are no longer important and that which has been out grown. Then you will have room enough and be ready to welcome in new growth and opportunity, and with that, I wish you both a very happy 33rd birthday.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

The high-jinx of Jack and Russell

We have two dogs. I guess we are gluttons for punishment - they are both Jack Russell Terriers. I can't tell you exactly how many smart arses have asked me, "which one is "Jack" ,and which one is "Russell". These people crack themselves up over their own lack of originality. I feign a laugh to the side of my mouth, for politeness sakes. The joke gets old after a while.

Their names are actually Angus and Cobie (as in coe-bee, not cob-ee as everyone assumes...we thought it a relatively simply name at the time). They are 10 and 8 years, respectively.

They are international travellers.

We packed them up a few days before we left Australia and hauled them onto a plane, bound for Canada.

It was such a frenzied week, where everything we weren't taking with us was sold off at a garage sale on the front yard. The rest was packaged up in a multitude of paper and plastic protective layers, loaded into a shipping container and trucked away to Port Melbourne, where the container sat awhile, before being loaded onto a ship bound for the Great North.

The dogs were next. A white van visited; unceremoniously shoved the dogs into kennels and motored away quickly to spare us, and the dogs, any additional trauma caused by prolonged and teary goodbyes.

Then we packed up our zillion bags, and stuffed them into the tight hotel room where we would spend our final two nights in Australia; in a hotel that just happened to be holding auditions for Australian Idol, the same weekend.

A league of would-be hopefuls were lined up for miles down the road. They sang and yakked and yelled all night long - mustn't be the best preparation for the honey toned voices of Australia's Next Singing Sensations, but never mind. The smart ones booked a hotel room and had Mum and Dad hold their place in the queue, while they got their beauty sleep.

Nevertheless, I digress....

On our first night in the hotel, I overheard Mister, who was two and a half at the time, talking to his beloved bear "Tippy". He was trying to make sense of the flurry of activity that had taken place like a whirl wind that week, the disappearance of a home...the not-so ordinary occurrences, the sudden lack of familiarity, the looming threat of change.

We had spoken to him about the big move, but it must have been awfully confusing for him. Anyway, I heard Mister explaining to his bear, in a barely audible voice, "don't worry, we'll get new puppies when we get to Canada".

Oh, it nearly broke my heart to hear that. I had to interrupt and set things straight. He told me he was very sad about sending the dogs away, and thought we had callously gotten rid of them - as if they were disposable objects that had become burdomsome, or items that no longer matched the couch and cushions.

I did reassure him that we would see them the day after we arrived in Vancouver, and why's about them being unable to travel with us. I even had a photograph of the dogs and let him have it while he was separated from his pups. This seemed to help, but Mister's distress made us anxious and wanting to be reunited with our dogs once more - there was a sudden need to reclaim and be reunited with something that connected the old life to the new - loved ones....

We didn't have a home to go to when we arrived in Canada. In fact, we spent our first two months living in a small hotel wasn't pleasant. Two adults, two kids and two yappy dogs, living in confined spaces on the 13th floor.

When we went to the airport to pick up the dogs from the animal cargo depot, we immediately recognised Cobie barking; he could be heard from the other end of the car park.

I waited in the car with the kids, who were asleep. It took my husband ages to fill in a phone book worth of forms, in order to collect them - actually we were just thankful that they didn't have to spend anytime in quarantine. Should we ever go back to Australia with them, they will have to spend 6 months in quarantine.

When my husband eventually emerged with the dogs, I was in utter shock at their appearance. They were completely soiled from their experience - and the stench - Oh they were putrid, PUTRID I tell you! They were so foul we were retching in the side on the road - I can't even describe what they smelled like, it was unnatural.

We decided that they needed to be cleaned up before they entered the hotel, it wasn't exactly clear, whether we were really allowed to have the dogs in the hotel with us. The staff seemed confused and surprised when we explained we would be staying WITH dogs, and most of the house keeping staff seemed to be petrified of dogs, almost like it was job requirement. I woudl have to leave with them or lock them out on the balcony while they collected the laundry.

Anyway, the dogs being in the state that they were, we were forced to employ a pet groomer; they were happy take on the spruce up job, and even suggested that they had encountered such a dilemma before. Now the next to get them there.

We had car rental for the first week, but only one of the cages could be squeezed into the back, the other cage would have to ride in front and it was unfit for the pristine interior of our brand new rental - seriously it was like a slushy, toxic bog...and rotten dog breathe would have been circulating all through the car.

We rang a taxi company, challenge them to the job. We were completely honest about the situation and the guy was cool. What a champ! The next time we saw the dogs, they were gleaming white and fluffed, with nails clipped an breath as fresh as it was ever gunna be.

Unfortunately, the areoplane had totally freaked Cobie out. He is a bit neurotic at the best of times - bit of a Nervous Nelly. On first morning after the dogs arrived, we attempted to leave them in the room while we went down for our "complimentary breakfast". Neither dog was going to have that, they barked continuously the entire time we were gone and we were nearly thrown out of the hotel. So for three months, two in the hotel and the third when we stayed in a friends apartment before moving into our own home, we had to take the dogs EVERYWHERE!

We got very good at exiting our car and sneaking away like it wasn't ours, and pretending those dogs snarling and barking like wild animals were in no way connected to us, if we had to wander back past the car for any particular reason. And when we got back into the car, we pretended that we coudln't hear the racquet in the back.

Once I HAD to leave the dogs in a doggy daycare while I away for the entire day trying to sort out our life. Cobie freaked. He apparently spent the entire time, shivering in terror of the other dogs, huddled under a chair. He was so traumatised by that experience that he vomitted adn pooped everywhere and woudl not stop. I had to put him in the vet hospital overnight on an IV drip to re-hydrate him, but the separation from us made it worse. We had to do the same thing when we first arrived in Canada, he was so traumatised by the air travel experience.

The same weekend as the doggy daycare episode, Angus, while Cobie was on the drip, found a block of rat poison in the basement of the place we were staying in. So while Cobie was in IV drip, I had to take Angus to the vet to have his stomach pumped. The entire weekend cost us $1200 in vet bills. Angus was fine, but had to be put on vitamin K for a month to help clot his blood.

Cobie didn't not fair very well with the drip experience, and I was requested to leave him on in the vet for another day. Since I couldn't afford the emergency vet bills, I opted to care for him at home - it broke my heart to make that decision, but I honestly had no money left.

Anyway, so here's Cobie and I spending the night sleeping on the kitchen floor. Every growl of his stomach saw my eyes flinging open and running with Cobie, at arms length to the lawn outside....we had already had one explosive dog shit hit the carpet of our unknowing friend's house - we didn't want another - then every 15 minutes I syringed 5 mils of water into Cobie's mouth. Basically he lay there the entire night barely able to move, when I took him outside to do his thing, he quivered on shaky legs like a new born giraffe - he had no strength, the poor little guy.

I thought he was going to die, the night before he just couldn't retain anything. But slowly, slowly...with that tiny, yet frequent amount of water, he managed to hold it. The IV did give him a good start and in the morning of the third day I offered him a small amount of food, and he took it and retained it.

We heaved a HUGE sigh of relief when we finally did move into our own house and unpacked everything. Unfortunately, we had to go back to Australia only three weeks later, to attend my brothers wedding. We had to place the dogs in the care of a friend, the same friend whose house we had been staying at only weeks before - it was a familiar environment, so we thought the dogs would be happiest there.

We were away for a week. Cobie ran away on the second day.

Of course our friends didn't phone us and tell us, thank God. They informed us when we got back and went over to pick the dogs up. We couldn't believe it. Apparently Cobie was a mess with us gone and bolted at the first available opportunity. I was so upset about our missing dog, but felt equally bad for our poor friends - how awful must they have felt about losing our dog.
They had contacted every organisation they could think of, and had rung everyday in the hope that he might have been turned in, but nothing....

I was in tears that first night knowing Cobie was missing. Mister didn't understand where Cobie was. I was truthful and told him that Cobie had run away, which lead to more questioning. It was just awful, all I could do was pray about it.

I had to wait until 11am the next morning to ring all the shelters. I did, nothing....I had one more place to ring and that was it. I rang the number and spoke to a woman, told her my dogs name, "have you seen him, he had a tag with his name on it "c.o.b.i.e." I spelled out to her. "Tan and White Jack Russell, lost in the Burnaby area". I had all but lost hope.

"Yes", came the voice on the end of the line.
"What, yes!", I could hardly believe it.
"Yes, a man just phone 20 minutes ago to say he found a little dog with "Cobie" written on his tag. Please hold and I will give you his details."

I was shaking with relief- if that makes sense. We immediately jumped into the car and headed down to where the man was holding Cobie, in his store.

When we saw him, he was so skinny. It was obvious he had been on the run and hadn't eaten much at all, during his ordeal. But other than that, he was just fine. We feared he might be a bit traumatised by his ordeal - he might have gone a bit nuts, but once he saw us he was so happy. He just wanted to be with us. He is a very loyal dog, a one owner dog and we are so happy to have him, and Angus.

We love them, and they have been 100% ever since. Although we haven't left them since.
We are planning to go to Disneyland for a week in October; our one dilemma is - What do we do with the dogs?