Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Baby, it's cold outside

Here, in our little corner of this vast, wide world, winter has been particularly bleak.

Now, I love winter, more so than high summer, however, we’ve had endlessly wet, grey days, with icy blasts from the south west that would make an Emperor Penguin feel perfectly at home.

Sadly though, the same can’t be said for so many animals that have to endure less than comfortable conditions in their short lives.
Hungry, abused and neglected, the winter extremes are miserable for them as they try to find whatever little nook they can – if they can – to avoid the bone deep chills that come up from the ground and air around them.

Man has “domesticated” once wild, yet trusting, creatures so that they formed strong bonds, and on whom they rely heavily for nourishment and comfort.
Many are very fortunate, and live well with their humans. But, too many aren’t.

Recently, I was snuggled up in bed with Jack beside me one frosty, foggy morning.

I watched him as he slept. His amber tinted paws and velvety black ears twitching in a doggy dream.

Daring not to disturb his deep slumber, I whispered, “you are one of the lucky ones, my baby”.

I mentally counted his “resting stations” throughout the house. Soft, comfy spots to ensure he has a place to ease his old bones.
There are six. Not including our bed. To a dog and a cat, this revered of all domains, is pride of place in the home.
The inner sanctum where the heads of their tribe sleeps.

When hubby gets up (usually around 4:30am), Jack leaves his plump bed by my dresser and comes to the side of our bed to be picked up, where he’ll curl contentedly next to me as I snooze for a little while longer.

A little after dawn that morning, I woke and stared through the window at the trees outside as heavy fog gripped their branches with misty tendrils. I thought about how animals are faring “out there” in the cold, while we lay toasty and warm.

A luxury often taken for granted.

I believe in synchronicity. And, on that day, I saw a plea for bedding donations on the Pet’s Haven Animal Shelter facebook page.

This spurred me to search online for doonas/duvets.
Even though markets have been few and far between in the winter, I decided that the pennies I’d been squirreling away for a rainy day (I was saving for some kitchen utensils), should be used for a better purpose instead.

And this, was that rainy day.

I saw Kmart was selling cosy and washable bedding at great prices. So, my son (home on term break) and I took a trip there, and came out with an armload of S/B doonas and a snuggly pet bed.

Score another point for synchronicity…

I very rarely go to shopping malls or chain stores like Kmart.  So, what were the chances that I would bump into a friend, who I hadn’t seen since Christmas – outside that very store that I rarely go to, at that very moment on that particular day?
My friend said that she herself rarely went to this store also.

It just so happens that she “owes” me twelve dollars. I was never interested in having it paid back. I told her all those months ago, that she could “buy me a coffee”, whenever we caught up again.

As my friend pulled the money from her purse, I said I’d be ever grateful if she would go back in and pick up a dog bed instead. I told her with a smile, “then, we’re square”.

And so, with cushiony billows of warmth, my son and I headed home.

 Are these all for me, mum?

No sweetie, they go to those less fortunate than you :)

Pet's Haven Animal Shelter is a non-government funded, “pro life” organization that rescues and re-homes cats and dogs of all ages that would otherwise have no future - or a very bleak one.
Volunteers and foster carers offer their time and love freely in the hope of giving these animals a better chance to live a long, and most importantly, happy life with loving families.
Their site regularly posts updates and “happy home tails” of cats and dogs in their new, forever homes.

Seeing as Pet’s Haven is a two hour drive from home, I considered taking our donated bedding to one of their “drop off points”.  But, when I told hubby of my plans that evening, he chipped in with, “I’ll take you to the shelter on the weekend. It’ll be a nice drive and we can get coffee after”. Sweet.

We set out for the country town of Woodend on Sunday.
When we dropped off our bundle of bedding, I asked one of the volunteers if it would be alright to say hello to the cats and dogs awaiting adoption, and asked for permission to take pictures.

Walking around the cages and enclosures, our hearts grew heavy.

To think these beautiful creatures were once malnourished, abused, neglected, or awaiting time on the pound’s death row, before being taken in by this generous shelter, fed and cared for, ready for adoption.

Staring out at us, there was a glimmer in their eyes - a soul's spark, with an unending capacity to please and to love.  Even now, after all they have been through.

Fighting the rising lump in his throat, hubby could take it no longer and told me he’d wait outside until I was ready to leave.

As it was the middle of the day, quite a few were snoozing and not interested in coming forward.
They looked so peaceful.

Some of the more energetic little dogs were being prepared for a walk.

I continued on. Then, I saw this gentle young lady named, Zoe.

Instantly, she captured my heart with an endearing look of hope that I might well be her new family.
And, it nearly killed me to know that I couldn’t bring her home.

I sat with her for the longest time. She would make such a lovely companion.
She has trust in her heart, regardless of the circumstances which led her to be rescued. 

The look in her eyes haunts me still.
I was awake at 1:30 this morning, crying. Thinking of her. There was a connection.
Turning my back and leaving was so very difficult.

I walked out into the grey winter light, blinking back tears.

Hubby and I drove in silence, as we searched for a place to sit and collect ourselves.
Coffee - good coffee - helps at times like these.

It was a rather solemn drive home.

Our “doona run to Woodend”, will become a ritual journey at the beginning of every winter from now on, along with donations to help out whenever I can.

If anyone has old quilts, blankets, pillows, cushions or towels - please, please consider gifting them to your local animal shelter.
There are many ways to support them.
I know most people who read my blog already do, I’m sure, and have opened their hearts to a lucky orphan or two.  Homeless no more.

Most shelters rely on the kindness of good folk to help, in any way they can.
Every little bit helps, as the costs of food, shelter, transport, advertising and veterinary bills continue to rise at an alarming rate.

Saving one animal will not change the world.
But for that one animal, the world will change forever.

Goodnight sweet Zoe  xxx

Friday, 11 July 2014

Extinction is forever

Photo credit: Ari S. Friedlaender/Oregon State University

On April 1st 2014, Australia (and the world) celebrated “an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean”.
I rejoiced at this news, but deep down, I felt uneasy.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), demanded Japan cease its whaling program "with immediate effect" as it didn't comply with the country's obligations under the international whaling convention.
Japan stated that it was "deeply disappointed" that the UN's top court ruled in favour of Australia by declaring its Southern Ocean whale hunt illegal, but nevertheless insisted it would abide by the decision.

However my heart is heavy. I find it hard to comprehend in the light of the not altogether surprising, but still depressing, confirmation by Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, during his current visit to Australia and New Zealand, that Japan would continue its whaling program in the Southern Ocean.

The whaling wars down under will continue, as Japan navigates the loophole and structures a new research program, despite the ICJ ruling calling the previous Jarpa II research program “a sham”, and simply a guise for commercial whaling.

Photo credit: Ho New/Reuters

Mr Abe said, “One of the objectives of the international convention for regulating whaling is indeed a sustainable use of resources. Based on this, Japan will engage in research of whaling in order to collect the indispensable scientific information in order to manage the whale resources”. 

What the fuck?

Makes no sense.

The fact that the Australian Antarctic Territory is a declared and established sanctuary, seems of no consequence.

And, despite pre-election promises to the contrary, whaling was not on this political agenda, as Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, chose to avoid the "thorny issue".

Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson has said, "I don't think Tony Abbott cares for the whales one bit."

Mr Abbott said this week, that the friendship between Japan and Australia was, "far, far bigger than our disagreement on one particular subject".
"Friends can disagree on subjects and that's in no way inconsistent with a strong and growing friendship."

What’s a few dead whales between friends, eh Tony?

Mr Abe said, "Our countries both love peace. We value freedom and democracy and we hold human rights and the rule of law dear," and called the relationship "special".

So, I suppose animals have no rights then, Mr Abe?
And, rules are meant to be bent or broken to suit.

I call bullshit on both of you.

It’s clearly obvious that trade agreements are far more important than the respect of conservationists worldwide.
Of course they are, what am I thinking?

Political power and economics rule.

The World Wildlife Fund has stated that the International Whaling Commission should reject any new proposal from Japan to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary near Antarctica.

In the meantime, it’s once again up to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and its valiant, unfailing volunteers and supporters, to defend the whales, harass the whalers and ensure no money is made from the Japanese commercial whaling expeditions in the Southern Ocean.
"Scientific" or otherwise.

Because, "the tables are turned, they're the ones who are the criminals".

The world will be watching.

Photo credit: Isabel Ender

Along with fighting the Western Australian government’s application to extend the shark drum line policy and continue the barbaric, controversial shark cull - which has been strongly opposed by hundreds of the world’s top marine scientists and researchers - Sea Shepherd continues to lead global campaigns to protect, defend and conserve the world’s oceans.

"We cannot live on this planet with a dead ocean. If our oceans die, we die."
~ Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd

 The best kind of pirate… fierce defender of the oceans.

I make NO apologies for including some of these images. They are the truth in pictures.  If they offend, click away.  If they anger and inflame your sense of justice for what is happening in our oceans, please consider supporting Sea Shepherd – International or Australia

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Dog Days: July


Whosoever loveth me, loveth my hound.
~ Sir Thomas More

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Happiness is...

Happy dogs!!

Found a few awesome videos this morning, and had to share this one.
'cos I'm happeeee...

Watch with the sound on, if you can, and bop along.

Wait, what?  Is that a cat among all those dogs??  Sure is! That's "Didga", the clever Aussie cat.

*If you have trouble accessing the video, you can click on this link...

There are fewer things better in life than happy animals... well, I think so anyway :D


*Credit to Robert Dollwet - awesome trainer and animal rescuer extraordinaire :)
You can check out his website here - Malibu Dog Training

Thursday, 19 June 2014


Had to chuckle.

Last night, while the youngsters - son and his girlfriend - were snuggled up on the couch at her place watching MasterChef, the oldies - hubby and I - were watching a zombie series at home  :)

Monday, 2 June 2014

Dog Days: June

A dog can express more with his tail in seconds than his owner can express with his tongue in hours.

~Author Unknown


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Pet therapy

I've been feeling a little blue and out of sorts lately.  And, as today is my birthday, my sweet son sent me this clip of, dogs reacting to cats sleeping in their beds.

I'm sure many of you have seen this video.   I hadn't, and got a kick out of it.  The desired result of smiles, giggles - and tears, made me feel much better.

For those who'd like to watch the often hilarious, and heartwarming, relationship between cats and dogs in a home, here it is. *Turn the sound on and watch in "fullscreen" if you can.

Just when you think cats have total dominion over their kingdom, the tables turn, and the dogs win out..... for now :)

Friday, 9 May 2014

Dog Days: May

My little old dog - a heartbeat at my feet.
~ Edith Wharton


Saturday, 26 April 2014

Illuminating the darkness when all other lights go out

My love of lighthouses goes a long way back.
Some of you might remember my post early this year about our trip down the peninsula, here.
Since I spied Cape Schanck Lighthouse in the far distance, I’ve often mentioned a special day trip to see it.
A month ago, hubby came home and surprised me with the news that he’d booked a night’s stay... at the lighthouse!

Well, we’re back from our unique and exciting visit.
This will be a self indulgent, lighthouse image heavy post. Some photos are a little grainy, as they were taken at dusk and dawn, and other times, the wind buffeted my attempts to keep my little camera as still as possible in my hands.

Hubby had the week following Easter off, and we were booked in for mid-week.
I’d been biding my time oh so patiently until, finally, the day arrived.
I was as giddy as a schoolgirl at a Bay City Rollers concert (circa 1975) – now, that dates me, doesn’t it?

Totally assured that Jack was in good hands – our son and his lovely girlfriend. And, after a very long, furry cuddle, we set off, leaving them with a list of care/food instructions and emergency phone numbers.

As the weather at Easter was overcast, I was a little worried that the grey would stay. But, as we drove further down the coast, the clouds cleared, and turned into a very pretty day.

Gotta love a road trip :)

Two hours later, my heart leapt and my stomach flipped, when I beheld the red-capped beacon as we drove onto the property.
There it stood.  Cape Schanck Lighthouse.

One of the oldest (still) active, and best maintained, lighthouses in Australia.

We would be staying in the cosy Inspector’s Room,

adjoining the old Head Keeper’s Cottage.

The grounds were bustling with visitors. Even a classic Jaguar club arrived in the afternoon, each owner vying to place their car in the best photographic position in front of the lighthouse.

Finding it hard to contain our excitement, we dropped our bags off at the cottage and made our way up to the star of the show -
the lighthouse.


 And, out to the viewing platform nearby, to marvel at the deep blue rocky view.

A tour of the ex-Assistant Keeper's Cottage, now museum, was included in the cost of accommodation.

We spent a good hour among old lighthouse machinery and equipment, viewing photographs and reading the history of the light station, its keepers and their families over the years.

By 4pm each day, visitors must leave. After that, only guests staying at the cottages remain, and the fenced property is then locked.
Should there be the need to go out for a drive or dinner after that time, a key to the securely padlocked gate is provided.

Apart from one other couple who were staying in the cottage behind the museum at the other end of the grounds, we had the place to ourselves!
Private. Isolated. Peaceful.
Just us, the ocean and the lighthouse.
Give me that over a noisy, busy, populated resort any day.

We explored the vast area and enjoyed the views from different vantage points until late into the afternoon.

Biding our time until sunset, we crossed our fingers that clouds wouldn’t obscure the sun, and hoped that we would be rewarded with a fiery spectacle.

Choosing to save our pennies for a hearty fireside breakfast at our favourite little café in Flinders the next morning,

Flinders Bakehouse Cafe

we decided to have an early dinner of instant cup of soup/noodles and a slice of bread.

Sitting at the little table outside our cottage, we ate in silence and listened to the sea in the near distance.  Calling.

Suitably rugged up, we stood in anticipation on the platform as time drew near.

The sun slowly dipped over the horizon, painting the lower sky in flame coloured hues, as a purple tinted dusk drew near.

We stayed for a while, exclaiming at the ever-changing glow.

Then, we took a long walk on a dirt track, past tangled trees,

to get a different perspective of the lighthouse.
Watching in awe, as the remnants of the day greeted the coming night.

In that very special liminal time and space.

With its light guiding our way in the darkness, we walked back to the lighthouse.

We stood, peering out over a now charcoal coast, lost in our own thoughts.
The handsome white-washed silent sentinel keeping us company.  Its tall thick walls ghostly pale in the torchlight.

Sending out reassuringly bright beams out into the inky blackness - just as it has for over 150 years - while the waves crashed ominously and relentlessly over the rugged rocks below. 

Finally, we said goodnight to our watcher of the dark, and retired to our old cottage.

After our busy day, sleep came quickly.
In the middle of the night, I awoke and adjusted my eyes to the ebony gloom of a strange room.
The wind had picked up and was playing a mournful tune around the windows, as it pulled at the old net curtains with unseen hands.
Deliciously eerie.

We got up before the light of dawn.
With our hands wrapped around mugs of hot tea, we glimpsed bush creatures snuffling in the shadows just beyond the cottage porch light.

Greeting the lighthouse, we welcomed the new day – blustery, drizzly and misty.

In the growing silver-grey light, we decided to follow the dirt track and head further onwards to the 350 metre long wooden staircase and boardwalk.

We’re nothing if not intrepid.  Standing at the top of the damp and slippery stairs, we debated as to whether we'd descend.
We did.
The biting wind clawed at our hair and threatened to rip away any apparel that wasn’t well secured.

But, there’s something that makes one feel, ALIVE, in such situations.
Every one of our senses was tingling.
And, just for a moment, it felt as though we were the only people left on earth. At that hour, in this strange, remote location.
Just we two, the elements and the distant lighthouse keeping vigil.

Looking back up the boardwalk, there it stood. The powerful lantern still shining in the dim, early morn light.

At the very end of the boardwalk is a tiny bay, or pebbled beach, with a most haunting atmosphere.

The dark basalt (volcanic) rock which makes up most of the rugged coastline around the cape, adds to the mysterious vibe.

Standing at the very tip of the cape, in the near distance, you can see the aptly named Pulpit Rock, which sits upon a large tidal platform known as The Devil’s Desk.

This coastal monolith is a photographer’s dream, and has been the subject of many stunning photographs in all light, and at all times of the day.
Best reached at low tide – which, at the time we were there, it was not.

Over millions of years, rocks have been pounded and tumbled by unrelenting waves to create a mass of smooth dark stones of varying shapes and sizes.
The sound of the pebbles rolling around as the water surges backwards is indescribable, and almost unnerving.

I have attempted a very short video of the beach here, and at 32 seconds in - after the second wave - you can almost hear the stones tumbling in the surf, just above the wind.

Rogue waves are known to sweep in suddenly and, threaten to sweep unwary spectators into the rolling surf.
This wild, unpredictable and treacherous stretch of coastline has seen many wrecked ships before the lighthouse was built in 1859.

Although, it is of course, far more hospitable to the marine residents that dwell within it's depths.
Seals, fairy penguins, whales, gulls, albatross, myriad fish, crustaceans, squid and octopus - to name just a very few.

We carefully made our way back up the long boardwalk and up the track to our now familiar limestone sentinel.

Its light dimming as the leaden clouds slowly gave way to a soft blue, and the promise of another cool, yet sunny day.

A few more lasting moments gazing across Bass Strait, and out to the Southern Ocean, as the wind began to die down, and the tide ebbed further away from shore.

Finding it very hard to tear myself away from the handsome landmark, I sadly made my way back to pack up and tidy the cottage room.

One more race up to the lighthouse.
Patting the cool, white exterior and stretching my eyes upwards, I whispered,

Driving home, the briny scent of the sea lingered in my nostrils and the kiss of salty ocean spray mingled with tears on my cheeks.

We will return.

He will always be here.  Standing at this place of history, mystery and magic.
Where stories are told. And, some un-told.

Just one more...