Monday, January 21, 2013

I Love Lucy

We are a Two Dog House. 

However, with the necessary removal of our previous child-chasing, Archie-terrorising, Great Aunt-growling Panzer, we were missing a dog. 

Besides, Archie is nothing but a glorified canine throw pillow anyway.

And so.... 

(drumroll please, I promise she's worth it)'s Lucy! 

Half kelpie, half schipperke, all love.

I would show you a picture of her sitting up, but I'm not sure she's capable of it when we're home. Every time we look in her direction she collapses in a heap in the hope of a belly rub. She even sleeps on her back, legs akimbo, neck stretched long. But she's a streak at the park!

She's amazing with the kids. She's calm, she doesn't jump up, she doesn't steal their food, and she doesn't mind if they take her ball to throw it. And if Bug does throw the ball her very hardest, all of two metres? Lucy will leap on it enthusiastically, gallantly playing the game as best she can, with exact the same energy and enthusiasm she expends on a proper throw by Mr Accident. 

Here's Bug, using Lucy as a pillow. Both of them are extremely happy with the situation. 

Archie has settled down immensely. You can almost hear the relief in the tone of his ongoing snores. He has a friend for the park, company for the morning garden romp, and someone to spoon with at night. Lucy has even joined him in his stair sleeps, stacked like a doggy bunk bed. 

Here they are. Lucy's actually dozing here, her nose though the balustrade, halfway between where I was sitting upstairs, and Mr A downstairs. (Then I moved of course, causing a complicated rearrangement of sleeping locations. Very thoughtless on my behalf, I know.)

Lucy has started to heal my heart. I didn't want her. I was still in shock from Panzer. I didn't feel I could welcome another dog so soon. But Mr A found her from a rescue group, and she was so perfect we couldn't pass her up. She needed us. We needed her too. And she's been a balm for everyone.

So that's how we'll leave this post today. Lucy exhausted from her run at the beach and flat on her back at our feet, and Archie snuggled in the beanbag and snoring contentedly.

We are a two dog family.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Happy Ham Day!

There is a horrendous void in the celebratory calendar between New Years Eve and Australia Day.

A void that can only be filled with ham.

Enter the patented Accidental Household's Happy Ham Day.

Well... alright, so its not actually patented. Yet. Therefore, if you enjoy ham as much as we do, probably best to jump on the bandwagon now. To assist you, here are the Accidental Happy Ham Day social conventions:

1) there must be a hot, freshly roasted, generously basted ham.

2) only invite people whom the whole host family likes. No charity invitations are to be issued to annoying friends, no relatives are to be invited solely out of a sense of duty. If you wouldn't invite them to the pub, then Happy Ham Day is not the time for a catchup.

3) it's BYO sides. If guests want a sandwich, then they had better bring bread. And if they want roast veggies, then owning a car oven is advisable. (Do they exist? Perhaps they should.) The hosts of Happy Ham Day are obliged to provide ham, and ham only. Anything else that may be available is a delightful bonus.

And so, adhering to those fine rules, yesterday we warmed our new CityCottage with a delicious, clove studded ham, litres of cider and a boat load of friends. (A boat slightly larger than a dinghy, but smaller than a ferry. I suspect about a yacht's-worth.)

Oh, the ham! I'm quite sure the pig, had he known how amazing he was going to taste and how he would be fussed over and complimented, would have considered willingly donating his left leg to the cause. The basting made it glow, and the salads and breads our friends brought as sides complemented it perfectly. (For the record, I did do up some roast veggies. They were quite well received, but nothing compared to Mr Ham.)

We sat down to lunch at the table, and didn't move until far, far later that evening. We ate all the ham, the sides, and then ordered in pizza. We drank all the cider, the wine, then sent an envoy to the bottle shop. Four rowdy dogs played under the table, and four rowdy kids ran up and down the hall, all insisting they were not tired, and all sleeping the minute their heads hit their beds.

I sat at the laden table and finally spent time, after far too many years, with some of the people I love most in the world. The best friends of my youth burst from high school and scattered to the four winds - different careers, different states, different continents. But now, twelve years later, we all meandered back home at same time, and congregated around my dining table. Its a strange, wonderful old world.

I just wish I had some ham left over to eat in it!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Doomsday? I'm ready!

I have been watching far too much of "Doomsday Preppers".

I've been inculcated.

I bought a water filter.

I bought two way radios.

I bought solar and hand cranked torches.

I have dehydrated potatoes and peas.

I am ready for the zombie apocalypse.

Are you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

In which I stop eating cookies, and miss them terribly

I am firmly of the belief that the only thing more socially offensive than bragging about one's own weight loss is having a fit of the evangelicals and trying to talk everybody else into a fitness binge too.

So I won't be telling you that I finally returned to my pre-both-babies weight..... ahem. (Feel free insert some applause here. Not that I need it, I'm proud enough as it is.)

And I won't be telling you how I did it. Unless you keep reading, in which case I hold no responsibility for your impending boredom or a sudden urge to have a set of rock hard abdominals. (Your choice who the abs belong to. I prefer Mr A's myself.)

It all started when I saw my friend Leah, looking smoking hot and strong just a year after having her twins. Twins! And she was so healthy and vital and powerful! I wanted what she was having, so I did what she did. I ran home and signed up for the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. You've probably seen it around the place, heinously over-advertised in the odd one or two million places.

If you're good at following instructions, 12WBT is simple. Just chug along following the recipes and doing the exercises she gives you for every single day, and bam! Success. Well, with a few speed bumps. There was a random bean and legume week in there that was a struggle (for Mr A, too. But for different and more gaseously scented reasons.)

Of course, it probably would have been wiser of me to do the program at an easier time. Having a move and Christmas in the middle was a major derailment of the diet train. And the exercise train. It was a pretty big crash, actually. And there was ham involved. Succulent, delicious ham.

But by New Years all the ham was eaten and the brandy sauce had lost its lustre, so I decided to be delightfully conventional and start again. (Luckily, more recipes had been unlocked on the site by then too - no more beans for me!) I mixed in some Zumba and kettle bells too, because obviously fitness fads are only popular because they are extremely effective. (You're all just lucky this isn't an in depth review of Crossfit. I'm holding out on poor Mr A, he's a boots and all convert.)

Despite the enthusiastic exercising, I suspect my success was mostly due to counting calories. (Of course, there's an app for that. And in this case, it's free: MyFitnessPal) Now I have the hang of it, I'm actually shocked at how much I used to eat. My two daily, deliciously large, double-choc, post dinner cookies were the equivalent of what should have been half my day's food. Never mind the afternoon cake...and the huge meal servings...Mien gott! No wonder I couldn't shift the last few kilos! It's a wonder I wasn't the size of a house.

And so here we are. Goal weight: achieved. Next stop? Quite possibly super-fit. Or a relapse into cookie-queen. We shall see!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let them eat cake

We live in wedding-shop-central. There are about eleventy seven wedding stores within a minutes walk from our CityCottage. As a result, Peanut is currently mildly obsessed with weddings. Loves them. Plans her own. Intends to have a bright red floucy dress. Focuses on the provision of ample cake. (Of course, since she's three she doesn't actually like cake. Being an icing aficionado she sees cake as nothing but the slightly annoying but generally necessary delivery system.)  But this wedding has one caveat.

The bride, in her mind, will be marrying another bride. Why? Because she loves her best friend Victoria fourth most in the world, and of the higher ranking peeps, Mummy and Daddy are already taken and apparently marrying your own sister is taboo. So it will be a girl on girl wedding.

Besides, she considers boys of her age to be stinky, overly violent and insufficiently communicative. She wants someone who will build a house with her, not run in screaming, fly kick it over, then soil their own pants. I can see her point. (There were two... interesting boys at her last preschool, both with behavioural difficulties. It's unfortunate she's made a assessment of an entire gender based on these two squeaky wheels, as she knows some lovely, gentle, emotionally intelligent lads too. I'm trying to talk her round.)

But back to our well planned numptials.

Luckily, Peanut doesn't yet know that currently a lady marrying another lady is not recognised under our backwards, discriminatory laws. And that's completely my fault because because every time she mentions choosing a partner, I remind her that one day she will meet a nice boy or girl who she really loves, and if they love her back, then they might be the person she chooses to marry. Or chooses not marry. Because we are not the slightest bit religious, and it is her life, and her promise, so it follows it should be her choice.

She does know, however, that if I don't get grandkids, then I will be exceptionally cross. For some things, the things that really matter, it's worth taking a stand.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ignoring Stuff. A city skill.

I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of city living.

It was overwhelming at first. I felt like Country Mouse. There was far too much noise, far too much happening at once. Too many people, too many cars, too many routes to learn and new supermarkets to navigate. (Sounds petty? Not at all - hustling two small children back six aisles in a crowded supermarket, fighting against the flow like a determined salmon in spawning season, is no easy feat. But I really did need more Parmesan.)

City dwellers seem to have refined the ability to Ignore Stuff. They know what is relevant, and what is superfluous, and can move about the streets noticing only what they need. But me? I was ridiculously overstimulated. My head was on a swivel, watching everything from the lowliest cockroach to a speeding bus. I reached the end of each day emotionally exhausted.

And I am used to seeing people I know on every corner. I had become a little too used to living in an idyllic neighbourhood cross between the Desperate Housewives and Stepford, but thankfully with less crime and fewer creepy robots. Here? I know nobody. As I walk the streets, I automatically scan the faces approaching for anyone I recognise. Anyone. At all. But I know no one. And when I reflexively smile at people, nobody smiles back.

I am working on my Ignore Stuff reflex. It's developing, I know, because now I can come back from a run calm, not frantic. I think of the ancient gums that line the local streets, the wrought iron work on the terrace houses, and that nice little dog at number nine. I am wilfully blind of the stinky old man I couldn't manoeuvre past, the piles of rubbish, and the busy roads I run down. And I've stopped looking for friends on every corner. But I can't stop the smiling. I won't! That's my little ray of sunshine, and I'm bringing it to the big smoke.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


We suffered some casualties during the Great Accidental Move.

Those of you who read along regularly know that before our big shift we had two dogs of varying loveliness. (Archibald the delightful eternal puppy, and Panzer the hell-hound. You can read about Panzer's adventures here and here.) We also had two extremely large goldfish. I'm pretty sure that (if  he had entertained the thought) the enormous gold fish could have climbed clean out of the tank and strolled off, evolving, down the road.

However, we are now short two fish and a dog.

The fish first - we tried to move them, transferring them to an occasionally lidded bucket, stopping their food and generally following all and any directions we could find online about moving fish. It was a disaster. The black fish didn't last the night, and goldy wasn't far behind, splashing off our mortal coil soon after.

Of course I hoped that was the end of the losses, but the biggest was yet to come.

We're down a dog. Panzer to be precise.

She's not dead, just... relocated.

She was always a little different. As a puppy, she was abnormally psychotic, chewing and bouncing her bulk around with the best (or worst) of them. I was exceptionally glad when she started to outgrow her energetic ways, but unfortunately she then developed what can only be described as "violent tendencies". She was wonderful with the immediate family, but would chase and growl and bite at anybody and anything that came near us. Including my great aunt, an unsuspecting German backpacker, all children, and any dog smaller than her. She had issues.

We tried. Oh, how we tried. Endlessly. Exhaustingly. Expensively. Including professional training in home, then three weeks of residential training with one of the state's best trainers. He could fix police dogs, rescue dogs and other problem animals, but he was lost with our Pan.

It was becoming increasingly obvious we couldn't keep her. The new house had no spare backyard to hide her when little friends came over, and the dog park was full of small fluffy Pan-bait. We were 24 hours from a date with the RSPCA, and since she clearly going to fail the initial re-home-able personality test, she was 24 hours away from a date with death. We were beside ourselves. I even tried calling friends who might take her in the Northern Territory, hoping her particular brand of crazy would be more socially acceptable in the land of pig dogs and anarchy. No luck.

Finally, as a last ditch effort, I called the breeder. And even though Pan was desexed, that wonderful lady agreed to have her back. Panzer was heading off to a family that would love her as much as we did, full of her-kind-of-dog, back to her mum and dad, brothers and sisters, with plenty of space to run and play. It was an enormous relief. 

And now she's gone, our house is so much calmer. The children are confident running down the hall or playing on the floor without being blindsided by a boisterous, heavy playmate. Our visitors can move around the house as they please, without being trapped on the couch at Panzer's discretion. And we can take Archibald to the park without fear of bodily injury and a lawsuit.

In fact, Archie's life has improved considerably. Panzer dominated him terribly, to the point he barely ventured from his corner and knew if he asked for a pat, it would come with a side of dogfight. It's taken him a week to come back out of his shell, but he's clearly far more confident and happy. We all are.

But I do miss Pan.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Move - Chapter One (or How I Fell I Love With A Lady)

Well there I go again, announcing sweeping changes and then disappearing for weeks.

Why? Total lack of the interwebz!

Well, not entirely total. I did manage to wrangle myself my very own smart phone (finally!) and use ridiculously large chunks of bandwidth to feed my Facebook addiction. But any plans I had for blogging were shot down by the ruthless combination of teeny tiny keys and massive data costs. Besides, I needed all my spare bytes to navigate my way around the new city!

I had so many posts in my head, too. All mentally written, edited, and promptly forgotten. Drat!

Well, best I start at the beginning...

"How was the move?" I hear you ask, on tenterhooks for weeks waiting for our riveting removalling stories, keenly anticipating my return.

It went remarkably smoothly. Technically it was the quickest move we've ever pulled off, because this is the first time every box we own has been unpacked. All our last moves we never actually finished, dragging a box or two with us over several years per house.  We had to unpack every box this year, because this house is tiny. REALLY tiny. (And currently being made even more so by the additional of a hulking, man sized teenage boy, but that's another story.)

By the end of the move, we had ditched two skip bins and a medium sized truck's worth of junk, never mind all the still semi-useful stuff we managed to give away. It was a real wake up call on assessing the things we needed and really wanted. The downsize has been very cathartic, and do you know? I haven't missed a single thing I tossed. Not one.

We've found all sorts of ingenious places to stash the things we kept, too. All hale Ikea and underbed "storage". (Storage is a loose term I'm using here for the absolute cram-fest that is under every bed. I've put my childhood Tetris skills to excellent use. I'm pretty sure Peanut's bed legs are no longer actually touching the floor, but instead she's perched, floating on a morass of stashed Christmas decorations and excess crib parts.)

I'm in love with the house. Madly. She's a grand old dame with character. There are certain things I've always wanted in a house, and she ticks my boxes. Even the boxes I didn't know I had. Picket fence - tick! Hydrangea - tick! Wooden staircase - tick! Wooden floors.... shaker kitchen... dog door... formal dining... decorative arches... snug upstairs sleeping quarters that feel like we're tucked into the frankensteinian love child of a treehouse and a boat - tick!

And she's a house with history, who has obviously been loved for a long time. She's not just been cobbled together as strictly a rental concern. Everything from the hose fitted shower heads to the handy washing machine pipe hole in the laundry has been thoughtfully done. My friend Joel put it best: this is a house that was built (and recently delightfully practically renovated) to actually be lived in.

So, that's the end of The Move, Chapter One. I suspect the next chapter will cover the trials and tribulations of Moving With The Accidental Pets (we're down three, mien gott) or perhaps Ten Easy Lessons On How To Stow A Full Sized Christmas Tree In A Shoe Box. Who knows? See you tomorrow!