Run rabbit run…

We’re seriously considering moving the dogs to a BARF (bones and raw food) diet. I’m currently reading Give Your Dog a Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life by Dr Ian Billinghurst.

Give your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billinghurst

Our dogs get quite a few raw meaty bones already, though not as many as recommended. They are fed primarily dry, kibble type dog food with some pre-packaged meatballs and some veggies and fruit – oh, they do love their fruit.

I went out and bought some of Dr B’s patties and some chicken wings today. I also thought I might see if the butcher had any rabbits. Boy, was I in for a shock! When did rabbits become gourmet game meat? $32 for a rabbit! Am I really showing my age by remembering when you couldn’t even find rabbits because the butchers couldn’t give them away? I think the pups can skip the rabbit for now.

For more info on Dr Billinghurst and the BARF diet: BARF Australia

Walking with dogs…

This morning we had a great walk along the Burns Beach track. Anzac, Jet and I always enjoy the walk but today was extra special. We left home a bit later (after we dropped Stephen at the station) so we weren’t under any time pressure and could walk further than usual. For the first half of our walk there was good cloud cover so that helped as well.

Jet was especially good this morning. Because we were later there were none of her normal little antagonists – those pups who make snuffly noises as they walk and try to rush towards her, which literally gets her hackles up (you should see that; I must try to get a photo). She reacts badly to dogs who approach her too enthusiastically and has a specific couple she’s really developed a dislike for. She ignored all dogs this morning and just enjoyed her walk. I was careful not to put pressure on her lead and, by doing that, give her a signal that she might need to be worried about an approaching dog. I’m afraid I might have been sending her the wrong signals with some dogs.

Jet was also particularly good with the bikes this morning. She really dislike bikes, or should I say spinning bike wheels, which she knows are coming when she sees a bike approaching. It’s only the moving ones that need to be snapped at and need rounding up. I’ve been noticing a positive improvement with bikes coming from behind for a while now, ‘specially those whose riders ring their warning bell. On Friday Jet ignored all bikes from behind. Today, while she didn’t ignore them, she also left all oncoming bikes to go past without being snapped at. With each bike she saw she moved off the path beside me and looked up at me, waiting. I’ve been rewarding her with a treat after the bike goes past and it seems she’s finally put two and two together.

Thanks go to the Haltie collar (which has given me so much more control and made our walks pleasant again), Kim at DoggieWould Training for her great training tips and advice and to the obviously yummy ZiwiPeak Good Dog Treats from AYM Pet Supplies and More that were in our prize bags from the DoggieWould Christmas party. I’ll definitely be getting more of those!

Now, if only I could stop Anzac from wanting to sniff every post, bush and mark on the path along the way! And where did he get the idea that it’s acceptable to lift his leg on so many of those posts and bushes? I know he doesn’t need to wee that often. Boy dogs! Hrmph!

Anzac and Jet resting

Anzac and Jet resting after this morning’s walk

Drinking green…

After seeing a link to, and then reading, this blog: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2012/04/green-smoothie-challenge.html I’ve been inspired to have a green smoothie every day (except one) for lunch for over a week now. I’ve never been able to bring myself to drink veggie juices (believe me, I’ve tried) but I haven’t had any trouble drinking green smoothies. I use a few leaves of either rainbow chard or tuscan kale from the garden and add either frozen berries or fresh pineapple. I usually also add some unsweetened almond milk and water, and sometimes a small spoonful of almond, cashew and brazil nut butter. I also sometimes add a small banana – bananas make the smoothies nice and creamy. Today we bought some frozen coconut meat and I added that to kale and pineapple. It was very disappointing; coconut milk is a tastier alternative though I might try coconut juice/water. Some combinations I’ve tried have tasted a bit grassy, and the only ones that aren’t a green colour are the ones with berries.

All in all I’ve decided that green smoothies are a yummy, healthy lunch option -even if they do break my ‘no drinking anything green coloured’ rule.

The job…

Back in February I interviewed for a job that I really wanted. It quite excited me and I was pretty disappointed to be pipped at the post by someone with experience in a similar role.

On Moday this week I got a call from the ‘headhunter’ who originally found me for the job. He told me that the company had contacted him and asked for me specifically to fill another opening. They didn’t want to advertise the job if I was available and interested. I said yes, I’d like to talk with them about it again. Wasn’t entirely certain that I would want to get back into the commute routine (I know I don’t like it at all) but thought I’d probably regret it if I said no. After all, it’s exactly the job I’ve been wanting to get for the past few years. Even turned one, with a different company, down a couple of years ago because it involved too much travel.

So I met with the manager yesterday. All went very well. He emphasised how difficult they found it to make the decision last time. The job is mine, they just have to make the formal offer. I told them I can start on Aug 1st. Walking in there yesterday and talking to the manager again just confirmed in my mind that this is the job (and the type of company) I’ve been aiming towards for the past few years. I won’t like the commute, I know that (the job is in Nedlands so it will mean a train ride then a short bus ride), but hey – you can’t have everything!

So…you ask, “what is this job?”

Support and Training Consultant for a mining software company. Job responsibilities include:

  • Client support (phone, email, face-to-face)
  • Training to current and new software users and in-house training for new staff (in-house, onsite, and at 3rd party venues – but not a huge amount of onsite training). This includes organising everything related to conducting the training.
  • Product development – Liaise with the product development team and software users during the software design cycle.
  • Assist the Sales and Marketing teams by providing technical support during sales demos, etc.
  • Development and update of course materials. Their current course books are fabulous. The layout is great – great templates, and their development process is a good one.

It might not excite all of you out there, but it excites me enough to draw me back out of my cosy existence of doing a little bit of work when I want to, walking dogs, doing tai chi and whatever else I feel like doing on any given day.

World Tai Chi Day 2011

On 30th April at 10am everywhere around the world where Tai Chi is practiced people took part in World Tai Chi Day.

This year Tai Chi @ The Beach did something a little different. We had a fantastic morning at Sorrento Quays, north of Perth in Western Australia, starting with a Tai Chi flash mob and then continuing with an hour of free classes for the public.

Here’s the official video:

Tai Chi @ The Beach World Tai Chi Day 2011

To find out more about Tai Chi @ The Beach click here.

To learn about World Tai Chi Day click here.

As Tai Chi was practiced around the world yesterday, please feel free to send this video around the world.

Swancon

Some time ago Mary Victoria was sending me some lovely signed bookplates, discovered I live in Perth and asked if she’d be meeting me at Swancon. I’d never considered going – up until then. For pretty much the same reasons Glenda Larke quoted in this post on her blog. My first thought was: what am I going to do at something like that? After all, I’m not an author, I’m just a fan. A reader. Not a fan who gets involved in that type of thing. Just an enthusiastic reader.

I’ve been to other types of conventions before and had a great time but they’ve been conferences for industries I’ve worked in.

I mumbled an excuse to Mary along the lines that we’ll have visitors at the time. But the truth is that the visitor at that time will be my mum and she wouldn’t mind at all if I went off for a day and did my own thing. After all, I won’t have had a day to myself ‘doing my own thing’ for a month at that stage due to her visit and an overlapping visit by my mother-in-law prior to that.

I mentioned Mary’s question to my husband and his response was, “you should go, you know you’ll enjoy meeting the people.” Wonderful husband that I have 🙂

So, the thought has been there brewing and bubbling in the back of my mind. The bubbling became quite rapid when Glenda first made her post, but still I’ve done nothing about it. Now here I am with my thoughts and my conversations turning to Swancon; on full boil. It’s time I did something about it. So I ask you this: on which day should I plan to go?

Painting and other things…

It’s been a little over three weeks since my last post and so much has happened.

I had a call from a recruiter who found me via my LinkedIn profile. He wanted to know if I was interested in a full time permanent job. It turns out that the job was exactly what I’d love to be doing and definitely exciting enough for me to get back into the full time commute routine. The job was software support and training for some mining software. I had a great interview and then had to wait two weeks until they interviewed their other candidate before I had any news. Unfortunately I didn’t get the job. The feedback from the companty was great but I was pipped at the post by a geologist with experience in a similar role with a competitor company. I’ll always lose out to a geologist in this type of role. Oh well, yes, I was disappointed but I’ve moved on. I have too much else to do right now.

We got the new garage door. It’s great. So quiet and it doesn’t make a racket in the wind, either. Looks so much better than the old rusty cracked door.

We also chose some floor tiles that will (hopefully) look good with the existing tiles. They are different, but should be complementary . I got a tiler to come and have a look at the sample that I brought home and to give me a quote. He liked the tile and we liked the quote so we have him scheduled to do the work later this month. It should be finished a week before Stephen’s mum arrives. The only problem with that plan is that Stephen left for two weeks in South Africa (for work) on Friday night. He arrives home the day before the tiler comes in. That means we had to get the carpet pulled up before Stephen left. To pull up the carpet we had to move the heavy furnitue out of the rooms e.g. unstacking bookcases, moving them and restacking. We left most of the furniture in the rooms and just moved it around, cutting and pulling up the carpet in stages. Pulling up the tack board was a real pain with all the nails into the slab, but we got it all done. We’ll do the final emptying of the rooms on the day Stephen gets home. Things will be really cramped in the other rooms when that happens but it should only be for a few days.

Some before photos of the lounge room:

Early lounge room

Early lounge room

Lounge room before

Lounge room before

Lounge room before

Lounge room before

There was an incredible amount of beach sand under the carpet. We don’t know how long it had been down, but obviously some of that sand came out of our dogs – even though we always rinse and brush them after we’ve been to the beach and before they are allowed back inside. Since the carpet has gone I’ve really realised how much hair Anzac sheds and how much the carpet caught. I’m having to vacuum billowing clouds of grey and white dog hair every day. I know how much dust we get in the house and all that settles on the furniture must also settle on the carpet, so it’s definitely a good move to get rid of it.

The carpet removed

The carpet removed

I’ve been flat out painting since the carpet started to come up and I’m taking as much advantage as possible of Stephen’s absence and of having less furniture and no floor coverings in the lounge and main bedroom to get as much painting done as possible. Choosing paint colours is painful – even choosing white. There are so many different whites! I finally found one that we’re happy with for all the internal doors. They were painted in a high gloss white that had yellowed with age. I chose to use a semi-gloss. The trim is fiddly and getting a smooth, even finish on the door surfaces isn’t easy. Our doors are just cheap, hollow core doors with the flat untextured surface. They’d be easier to spray paint and even easier if painted before they were hung. I used a gloss roller, which was easier and looks better than my first attempt which was with a brush, but I’m not really happy with them. They will have to do, though; they’ve all had two coats and I’ve had enough of painting doors! I’ve moved on to the walls in the loungeroom. I’ve been filling cracks and chips, sanding back repairs that were poorly patched by the previous owners, and washing down.  We knew about the cracks and chips and the jerry-built repairs (including an unbelievable TV cabling job), but after a while you don’t see them any more – until you start trying to fix them. That’s when you realise just how much there is to do. There was also a wallpaper dado border that I had to remove. That was much easier than the vinyl borders that I had to remove from the bathroom and toilet when I painted them.

The previous owner told us he was an electrician. This is cabling for Foxtel

The previous owner told us he was an electrician. This is cabling for Foxtel

Choosing the wall colours was a real pain as well. We wanted something with a touch of colour, but not something too bright; and it has to match the tiles. I tried six different colour samples before we found one that we think we’re happy with. The wall was starting to look like we were painting it in camoflage pattern. Just what the paint will look like when the whole room is covered it is another thing. Experience tells me that paint never quite looks the way you expect it to when it’s on the walls. Hopefully two coats will be enough. Currently the bottom half of the walls is an apricot colour and the top half a lighter pink with yellow undertones. I should be ready to start cutting in tomorrow.

I’ve also chosen the paint for the family room/kitchen/hallway area – just an off-white shade for that area – but I don’t think I’ll get that done before the mothers visit. Stephen’s mum will be here for two weeks and then mine for four. They’ll overlap for a few days. On one of the days that they are both here we’ve booked a Swan Valley vineyard tour. Our neighbours run a business called Perth Luxury Tours. A couple of weeks ago they took us and two other of our neighbour couples out for the day on a Swan Valley tour. We had a great time and decided to do a similar tour with Maggie and Mirella.  I highly recommend one of their tours to anyone visiting Perth, or to anyone who wants to see more of the Perth area. They conduct a variety of personalised tours.

While I’m busy advertising I’ll mention my hairdresser. He’s now working from his salon in his home in Tapping. If you live close enough to give him a try I doubt you’ll regret it. He’s a great hairdresser (for both men and women) and is very reasonably priced.  Hair by Ben Williams 0416 019 922.

In between all of my painting and prep work I’m required to throw the ball for Anzac every few seconds for about half an hour to an hour at a time; then he sleeps for a while – or lays looking out the front door, watching the world go by – then we start again. Without the carpet on the floor the ball does tend to roll under the sofa. Anzac tries his best to get it out, but can never quite get to it, so I have that job as well. We’ve also been getting up early and walking down to the park each morning. We do a few circuits of the park; Kaz just wanders and sniffs and says hello to the other dogs. Anzac wanders and sniffs and says hello to the other dogs, and chases the ball. He doesn’t often bring it back because there are too many distractions so I always throw it in the direction that we’re walking and he gets planty of exercise chasing it.

Speaking of Anzac, it was his first birthday on Friday. I bought them a couple of new toys, a cockatoo and a pelican; of course I had to give them a toy each, but they do share.  The toys are very popular, they honk when they are squeezed and the have plastic in the wings which makes crinkly, scrunchy noises when its chewed or tossed around.

Birthday Toys

Birthday Toys

We also went down to the beach on his birthday. It was a hot day so we all went into the water. Kaz is funny, though. She doesn’t trust us not to take her right in for a swim. She wanders back and forth along the shallows, but turns her back on us if we turn to look at her. If we call her or move towards her she heads off in the opposite direction. She won’t let us get close enough to get hold of her.

Beach fun

Beach fun

Anzac is absolutely loving the water. He swims out to Stephen without any hesitation and isn’t phased by waves splashing over him. Luckily he doesn’t feel the need to swim out on his own. He likes to keep checking on Kaz  and us and any other dogs that go past.

Swimming fun

Swimming fun

Snoozing in the car on the way home from the beach

Snoozing in the car on the way home from the beach

All in all he had lots of fun on his birthday.

Comings, goings and doings…

There’s plenty going on here at the moment.

I got back from spending a week in Nambucca Heads with mum on Tuesday night. Nambucca was hot and sticky. I did an inspection of our house in Woolgoolga and we had a very yummy lunch at the Beachouse Cafe afterwards. We’ve got great tenants at the moment; hopefully they’ll stay a few years, as they originally planned. We didn’t do much else while I was there, just had a nice relaxing time taken up with visiting family and friends. It went by very quickly.

We’re getting a new clothes line on Monday afternoon. I’m going for another rotary Hills Hoist. We’re sticking with some of the classics of the Aussie backyard! I do like a rotary clothesline that catches the wind; even if the amount of wind we have here makes it a challenge to get the clothes off the line!

I’m in the process of getting quotes for a new garage door. Ours is probably as old as the house  – over fifteen years and is looking the worse for wear. It has cracks in it, thanks to the almost continuous strong winds it’s subjected to, and there’s a lot of very unattractive rust as well.

We’ve decided to pull up the carpet in the lounge and in our bedroom and lay tiles. We were going to lay new carpet but have decided that tiling will be better. We’ve done the rounds of a few of the tile shops, though, and discovered, not unexpectedly, that we can’t match our current tiles. Not only can’t we match them but we can’t get anything that’s the same size and finish. Our tiles are as old as the house as well, so we’re not so surprised. It wouldn’t be such an issue except that there’s a strip about a metre wide (three tiles wide) along the side of the lounge room, running from the family room to the entry.

The tiled area that's causing the problem

The tiled area that's causing the problem

If we can’t get a suitable match, or matching contrast, we have to pull up about eight square metres of tiles and replace those as well. The rest of the house (family room, kitchen, etc.) is separated by a wall and doors so a change of tiles isn’t a problem from that point of view.

It’s that mulch time of year again so I put an order yesterday afternoon in with MulchNet.com. This is a fantastic website that hooks you up with local tree contractors. We’ve used the site to order our mulch for that past three years. I ordered 5 cubic metres of mulch for $140. The same volume of mulch from the local landscaping supplier is over $400 and is more compost than mulch; it looks like a rich black soil and breaks down into a soil-type compound very quickly – doesn’t stop the grass and weeds for long at all. What we get from MulchNet is tree mulch. It does it’s job fantastically and doesn’t beak down too quickly – we usually top up at this time each year.  We got a call first thing this morning from Whitfords Tree Services and Paul delivered some beautiful mulch – nicely sized and smelling wonderful.

“Do you mind if it’s a bit more than five metres?” says he, “There’s about 12 metres on the truck and you can have the lot if you want. It’ll still only cost $140.”

“We’ll have as much as you want to give us,” says we. “We’ll be happy to take the lot.”

So we now have about 12 cubic metres of mulch to move and spread around the garden.

Beautiful Tree Mulch

Beautiful Tree Mulch

Tomorrow we’re off to tour the Swan Valley winery area with three of our neighbour couples. One of our neighbours runs Perth Luxury Tours and we’ll be going with them. We’ll be having morning tea and lunch along the way.

Oh, and I almost forgot…the ants have started to show up again around the yard and in the bathrooms so I’ll have to add ‘organise spraying for ants and spiders, etc.’ to my to do list.

The King’s Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells – Book 1 of King Rolen’s Kin

I’ve just realised that this review has been sitting in my drafts for a week. I forgot to hit the ‘publish’ button.

Rowena Cory Daniells lives in Brisbane with her family. She’s been involved in speculative fiction since 1976.

I found this review quite difficult to write. This is quite a complex tale for only my second review, though it’s an easy read.

The King's Bastard - Book 1 King Rolen's Kin

The King's Bastard - Book 1 King Rolen's Kin


Rolencia has been at peace for thirty years – since the current King married the Merofynian princess. They have four children, twins Lence and Byren, younger son Fyn and their youngest child, daughter Piro.  Lence is just 7 minutes older than Byren and is kingsheir. Lence is listening to a new and influential advisor and is growing more discontent with Byren’s popularity; he’s sure that Byren wants to be king. Lence feels that Byren is purposefully showing him up when he saves his life. Byren comes across an old seer, a renegade power worker but refuses to believe her prophesy. He doesn’t trust Lence’s advisor and doesn’t want to be king. He can’t believe that his twin no longer trusts him.

There is magic in Rolencia; it is seeping up through the ground and drawing strange and dangerous magical beasts to it. Any Rolencians who have magic are sent to the abbeys to be trained to control their magic. Untamed magic is dangerous and can easily turn evil. Kingson Fyn has weak magic and was sent to the monks at eight years of age. He’s desperately homesick and has a hard time at the Abbey because of his royal blood. Now young Piro is displaying strong magic. She doesn’t want to be sent away and plans to hide her magic.

The warlords of the provinces are stirring, they are unhappy and seem to be loath to swear fealty to the king. There are attempts on the kingsheir’s life. There is trouble once more in Merofynia and they appear to be getting ready for war with Rolencia. There are rumours that an evil sect is rising again. Trouble is definitely brewing.

This is a terrific and fast-paced read. So much is happening and there are questions that you want answered. But this is only book one and it seems to ask more questions than it answers. There are obviously more things going on than the reader knows about yet; things that leave you hanging out for the next book.

Byren has an amazing amount of good fortune and escapes almost certain death several times.

Just what is the motivation of Lence’s  new advisor? Can he be trusted at all? Is he manipulating corrupt magic or is someone manipulating him? The king is also listening to him and trusting him more than he trusts members of his own family.

There are plots and factions and dirty deeds afoot at the Abbey.

The more I think about the happenings in this book the more tangled the web seems and the less sure I am of the main characters. Oh, but I’ve been drawn right into their lives. Some I like, others I don’t and there are a couple that I’m really not sure about at all. The ending was quite a surprise, but even that I’m not entirely sure of.

I can’t wait for the next instalment.