Wednesday, December 12, 2007


It's been a year since I wandered into an arbitrary bookshop and spotted the doleful face of a Lab puppy staring at me from the shelf. As is typical of me, I gave the back of the book a cursory glance and added it to the armful of Great Book Finds which I plonked on the counter. I pride myself in intuitively divining the best places to pick up book bargains. If this was an Olympic sport, I'd be a gold medalist. It's not the first time that I've bought and read a bestseller before it was discovered by the masses. Marley & Me is a case in point. This is the ultimate dog lovers' dog story. It has all the ingredients to make you wince in sympathy, howl with laughter and sob in anguish as the life of this loveable Lab unfolds across the pages of John Grogan's book. Newly married, the author and his wife decide, unwittingly, to get a dog as a bit of a test drive, before they have children. Marley's subsequent behaviour has spawned a website, bulletin board, gift book range and due, sometime in the future, a movie featuring Jen Aniston and Owen Wilson.
This dog's life story has inspired a community of animal lovers to come together and share their heartfelt tributes to the canines with whom they shared their lives. Only a great dog could trigger such an incredible response. Fortunately he was adopted by a journalist-dad who recognised a good story as he saw it unfold before his eyes; that and the fact that the author resisted the idea of re-homing the terrorist dog who unleashed his special brand of chaos wherever he went.
This book is a must-read, you'll never yell at your puppy again for destroying anything, because they simply cannot be as bad as Marley was!

Monday, December 10, 2007

December 10th is International Animal Rights Day

"Fries with that?"
Tagged onto the end of 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children , is, quite appropriately, International Animal Rights Day. I long for a time when this date is upheld in our country as one which garners the activism spirit and media attention that abused women and children do. Of course, this is not to suggest that animals are more important than people, or that women and children who suffer abuse are less important than animals who do. Just as slavery (in the "modern" world) was abolished; and women were eventually given the vote and children relived of their Dickensian workhouse roles... so too shall animals eventually be recognised and upheld as the sentient beings that they are. The difference between a Chimpanzee and a human being is only 1.23%. It's only a matter of time before that percentage forms the swing vote which will bring into question the cruelty and disregard with which animals are treated on our planet. Draconian laws and Descartes' machine-like mentality will see its demise as the consciousness of our world shifts to a higher vibration.

Consider though, that those who cannot speak for themselves, and who cannot protect themselves, depend on those of us who can, to be their voice and lend their plight the expression it so desperately deserves.

Press Release: 10 December 2007

Every year on December 10th, thousands of compassionate people around the world commemorate the animal victims of human tyranny and promote animal rights.

Human and Animal Rights
Millions of animals across the world are harmed and exploited by human beings. Yet humans and animals share the same basic senses, desires and emotions. All animals – not just humans - deserve the right not to be tortured and murdered. This historic international campaign aims to extend these basic human rights to all sentient creatures.

Intensive Farming
Billions of intensively farmed chickens, pigs, and cows are kept in appalling conditions. For example, chickens are reared so intensively that many suffer chronic pain for their entire 6 week life, prompting a professor of animal welfare to describe it as: “The single most severe, systematic example of man’s inhumanity to another sentient animal”. Furthermore, meat and dairy foods can increase the risk of lethal diseases, and livestock are a major contributor to global warming. Animals are also intensively farmed and killed for fur and leather.

Animal Experiments
Animal experimentation can be incredibly cruel and is an unreliable guide to human biology. Sadly, many of the major cosmetic and household cleaning companies still conduct animal tests to develop their products. Millions more animals are poisoned, mutilated, given diseases and killed in experiments conducted by universities, pharmaceutical companies, governments and armies.

Cruel ‘Sports’ & Circuses
Imagine the terror of being chased by a pack of dogs, blasted from the sky, or killed before a baying crowd. This is what animals face when humans decide that hunting, shooting and fighting animals is a fun pastime. Animals in circuses and captivity are frequently kept in cramped, unhealthy conditions, degraded and mistreated.

Defending Animals’ Rights
ARA is asking South Africans to:
• Become vegan – you can save tens of thousands of animals over your lifetime. It’s not as difficult as you may imagine, and there are millions of ‘veggies’ all over the world.
• Boycott animal testing companies.
• Use your vote at elections to support parties who support animal rights.
• Support the Universal Declaration on of Animal Rights which states that: “Inasmuch as there is ample evidence that many animal species are capable of feeling, we condemn totally the infliction of suffering upon our fellow creatures and the curtailment of their behavioural and other needs save where this is necessary for their own individual benefit. I do not accept that a difference in species alone (any more than a difference in race) can justify wanton exploitation or oppression in the name of science or sport, or for use as food, for commercial profit or for other human gain. I believe in the evolutionary and moral kinship of all animals and declare our belief that all sentient creatures have the rights to life, liberty and natural enjoyment. I therefore call for the protection of these rights.”

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ashes and Snow

This is the most beautiful and breathtaking internet experience you are ever likely to engage in. . .

“In exploring the shared language and poetic sensibilities of all animals, I am working towards rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people lived in harmony with animals. The images depict a world that is without beginning or end, here or there, past or present.”
—Gregory Colbert, Creator of Ashes and Snow

Photographer and film maker, Gregory Colbert,traveled throughout countries such as India, Egypt, Burma, Tonga, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Kenya, Antarctica, the Azores, and Borneo to capture "the extraordinary interactions between humans and animals."

The sentient nature of the animals with whom we share the earth, is unmistakable in this series of photos. . . hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Summer: Worth the wait

Each year as winter drags itself to a dry end, I get panicky as I wonder when the first rains will fall. By now my skin is like sandpaper, the air feels parched of moisture and the dust is suffocating. I will it to rain, with a desperation first experienced as a child. In the 80s, the worst drought imaginable left a path of desolation and desperation behind it. I was 12 years-old when I saw animals, so thin from hunger, get trucked off to the abattoir. I remember rain clouds gathering themselves up for afternoon thunderstorms which were dissipated by the El Niño effect. I saw the grass disappear, vegetables shrivelled and died as the borehole sucked the last drops from it's empty depths.

Now when it rains, it feels like an old part of me soaks it up, I'm greedy for it, and relish the sound, smell and sight of it. One of my favourite smells, apart from puppies, is the that of the Highveld's first summer rain. It's sheer luxury lying in bed hearing it fall outside in the dark. It's invigorating and thrilling to sense it's thunderous approach.

Knowing that farmers in our catchment area will have the jump start to the season that they need, to grow what is hopefully enough food to feed the four-leggeds who need it; eases my anxiety.

So imagine my anger when I see gardeners around town WATERING THE PAVING because they're too bloody lazy to sweep their driveways clean and nobody's told them to do otherwise. It drives me insane, to see water wasted. Burst water pipes gushing what might as well be gold, are enough to make me burst into tears. I am filled with a sense of trepidation for a summer without rain.

To quote Oprah: What I know for sure... is that I am eternally grateful for the rain which has turned my garden into a jungle, making poop-scooping impossible and the advantages of owning a lawn mower obvious.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Butterfly surprise

This is just a guess, but I'd probably be a better photographer if I took the time to read my camera's manual! A big part of me enjoys the delight and surprise of the 'happy accident,' as opposed the the 'happy snap.' Happy snaps are, to me, of the mindless point-and-shoot persuasion. I try to capture interesting angles and compositions; expressions and poses. When I'm called on to the the point and shoot thing, I try to make the pics look as interesting as possible.

I noticed this beautiful butterfly clinging to an old vegetable rack beneath the garden table. It snuck into the corner of my vision as I was on my way to the kitchen. I ran for my camera, got back, and it was still there. Gingerly, I pulled the rack out from under the table, hoping not to disturb this winged visitor. I'm guessing the poor butterfly felt threatened and exposed. Without calling too much attention to it, lest Jax or Jo decide to eat it, I zoomed in, closer and closer, until I got this shot. I love the juxtaposition of the grid's shadows superimposed over the velvety colours of the wings! And, the fact that I caught it, super sharp!

Such a delight, this butterfly was huge, biggest one I think I've ever seen.I pushed the rack back under the table and left him there. When I checked later, he was gone. What a lovely gift of spring. Lucky me!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

FORA=Friends of Rescued Animals

Today we visited FORA - Friends of Rescued Animals in Roodepoort. I'm not one for spending time at facilities which house unloved and unwanted dogs. I find it upsetting, and every time I close my eyes, I see pleading brown eyes branded on the inside of my eyelids. FORA is a breath of fresh air, thankfully. Cats and dogs, although many and housed closely together, seem at home, well fed and far from desperate. Probably because they have a NO KILL license, with a current one-in-eighty chance of being rehomed! Thats a brilliant rehoming rate! We are hoping to do some work at he FORA premises in future.

S P R I N G! at last!

Thank ye gods of pretty flowers! My favourite time of the year has arrived, and I'm hoping that'll be the end of the cold. Yes I know, there's usually a couple of cold snaps to get through before summer is well under way and I'm bitching about the horrendous heat.

I love driving through Jo'burg's oldest suburbs - seeing the trees turn, suddenly bursting into bright-green-bud. The sudden surprise of the blossoms languishing over a wall; grateful for the change in the sky, have you noticed how, as the seasons change, it deepens it's blue?

I love this crazy city in spring!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alwyn Hewson

Why I feel so compelled to dedicate a post to someone I didn't know very well, I'm not sure. I was shocked by the news that my former landlord, Alwyn Hewson, was tragically killed in a car accident last week.

I attended his memorial service, and it was only after I'd been sitting on that hard church bench for a few minutes, that I realised what I was hearing was not the usual hard-to-remember church hymns, but Johnny Clegg! It was surreal, and it's effects instantaneous. The tears I'd been hoping to keep at bay spouted, as the realisation hit me. The spirit of the great heart, under African skies. That was Alwyn.

I'd been so impressed when my folks told me about the Hewsons, the fact that they wanted to create a conservancy, had a small herd of cows and a horse-mad daughter were the reasons I chose to live in a cottage, on a farm in what might have been the middle of nowhere. People would gawk at me when I told them I lived in Muldersdrift, near Krugersdorp, and drove to Parktown every day. That's what one does when the desire to live in the country overrides common sense. The 'middle of nowhere' has a powerful pull.

My dogs and I had the run of their huge farm, they swam in the dam and we were able to walk where we wanted, undisturbed by traffic and other dogs. Al always asked if I was happy living there. That was his main concern, he always enquired after the welfare of the dogs and knew how paranoid I was about their safety. One Friday afternoon I got home to discover that Spike, my elderly Jack Russell, who was going deaf, had disappeared, probably due the to the thunder of that afternoon's storm. Together we took a walk, asking anyone on the farm if they'd seen him. Eventually, as darkness began to fall, Al said he'd have to call it a night, it was his daughter's birthday and they were waiting for him at home.

This was typical of him, as I discovered at the service. Always willing to help anyone, he lent me their car when mine was in the garage, offered me a daily supply of fresh milk and always insisted I stayed for a drink when I went up to the house, even if it was in the middle of cooking dinner and bathing the baby.

Al's brother, Roger, described him as having a love for cars, farm life, and...well, guns, saying how his brother lived a life like someone out of the wild west. This was true on the night of the robbery. He'd been finishing off the tax year-end, getting home after midnight every night that week. So on that Friday night, he fell in to a grateful sleep, only to wake to the sound of gunfire coming from my cottage. I still have this mental image of him, comically, clumbering down the stairs - as he told me later - trying to call me on the cell phone, pull on his jeans and load the rifle simultaneously. Nobody was hurt, but that was the night I was most grateful for his presence. He wielded his considerable influence and mustered what looked like the entire Muldersdrift police station and had them parked on the lawn in under an hour. It looked like a police convention, there were detectives, the sergeant, who had been pulled out of his warm bed, fingerprint okes; the lot. They never did catch anyone. Al managed to ferry me around, insisted I go to the house, drink hot tea, answer questions, put my dogs in the bakkie and then in the kitchen for what was left of the night, before insisting I get some sleep in the baby's room. I was helluva glad that it was him who was there when that all went down.

Apparently they referred to me as their best tenant, and without getting all mushy, the Hewson's were by far the best human beings I had ever rented from. I was devastated when I chose to leave the farm, deeming it unsafe to live in the country. I felt like I was leaving part of my family. It sounds like we all spent a lot of time together, but in reality, it was very little over the 18 months I lived there.

This is probably why I'm still so disbelieving that he's no longer with us. I wonder at how someone I spent such a little time with, managed to have such an impact on me. On my way to the service, I wondered what I could take from this experience, and it must be that spending time amongst those who add value to our lives is so important. Of course, I wish now that I'd taken up all those offers to stay for another drink.

You often hear that "the good die young." I don't think this means those of us left are NOT good, but perhaps we sit up and take notice of those who leave an indelible impression. Alwyn was such a person. His generous nature and inspiring character clearly touched many, many people. Perhaps such awesome and amazing people join us for a short time so that we can learn to maybe be a bit like them. If they didn't leave us so soon, we might not recognise what they have to teach.

Dr John Demartini teaches that gratitude leads to love. That we should learn to be grateful for what we have in our lives, and I'm grateful that I met Alwyn Hewson, that I spent some time in his sphere of influence, that I experienced his generosity and humour. That I was lucky enough to feel the warmth of strangers when my own life was falling apart.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Divine Justice

Imagine my astonishment, when the first words I heard as I woke related the fact that Phillip Matthysen had been killed in a car accident. I mean, what are the chances? There are days that I beg for this kind of justice. I think it comes from living in our country. You can't escape the brutal acts that are so pervasive all around us. When it involves your loved-ones, and for me, kids and animals, it releases an inner fury that is hard to swallow. This of course, goes against the good old belief system, which rears its ugly head - the one which suggests you shouldn't wish bad things for another, or god forbid, speak ill of the dead.

The Husky Justice campaign collected "over 100 000 signatures of people who want to make a difference and nearly 40 000 animal lovers have signed up to our mailing list - that in itself is a remarkable achievement!"

This leaves me wondering if that word 'justice' had any effect on the events which unfolded for the Husky killer. Failed by the law, as far as animal lovers were concerned, his paltry sentence did not reflect the horror of his revolting deed, made all the more laughable when the judge ruled that he would never be allowed to "own" a Husky again, when he allegedly had a backyard full of non-Husky dogs.

If this is what collective conscience looks like in action, then I'm glad we're finally seeing results. Karma has made it to the mainstream and the irony at this turn of events was not lost on the members of the Husky Justice group on Facebook. So what does all of this mean? It means if we put or heart and soul into something, we see results. It means, we should exercise our choice of words with caution. The first words that came to mind when I heard that news report were: Divine Justice. Certainly from one angle, this appears to be the case. The concept of the collective conscience suggests that, for example, if enough people want the same thing, that thought reaches a critical mass (also referred to as the Hundred Monkey Effect), and Bingo! You've got what you want*. I'm grasping at the straw which suggests that humanity is in fact, evolving for the greater good. That we are finally waking up and becoming conscious enough to realise that animal cruelty can't be ignored anymore.

This is by no means the first horrendous case of animal cruelty to make media headlines. Backed by an impressive viral campaign, Husky Justice roared around the Web like wildfire, igniting the anger and rage, of everyone and their dog. Sadly, you don't seem to see this kind of response too often when it comes to abducted children, and yet, you'd be forgiven for thinking this country was stuffed to capacity with animal loving citizens. Vociferous in their outrage against publicised animal abuse cases, I wonder if people think "animal abuse" begins and ends microwaves and chainsaws.

A week after Matthysen's sentence, a truck load of pigs ended up scattered across a road in King Williams Town. The Metro Police - the dahlings of the SA public - stood by and watched as the starving hordes and 'previously disadvantaged' took advantage of the 'free food.' Some of them even helped themselves. The problem with this picture is the status certain species are afforded. The South African animal lover's mindset seems to suggests that dogs aren't food, but pigs are.

Without causing a wave of bunny-hugger-protest, I'd like to challenge the average animal lover out there to acquaint themselves with what goes on at the intensive farming joints, from which their food comes. The cruelty, sweetly disguised as 'humane,' ensures our continued emotional disconnection from the animal's most basic rights; and it's packaged to be digestible. You simply cannot condemn Jacob Zuma and his mates when they slit the throat of their cultural sacrifice - and discuss it over chops and a boerrie roll at your weekend braai.

If we are going to consider cosmic law and order as an antidote to the atrocities we see around us every day, then we have to consider the fact that ALL animals - and people too - are sentient beings. This means that they deserve the right to a pain and cruelty-free life. They deserve to inhale fresh air, not the noxious fumes of a cramped feedlot, they deserve to eat a healthy diet, one which is not pumped full of antibiotics, which you ingest second-hand. They deserve to feel the sun on their backs and feel the wind ruffling their feathers; and once they've absorbed the energy of a healthy environment, surely they deserve a humane death sentence?

Just as we fervently wished for justice, in the hope that that Husky puppy did not die in vain, so do I hope that its sacrifice, in the face of cruelty, can be the beginning of a formidable wave which will result in visible and policed animal rights in our country. New laws which will finally allow our Democratic Constitution to be world class, as it lends its support to the escalating need for compassion on our planet.

*If this seems too simplistic, check out the principles in The Secret.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Maid & The Mutiny

So I've been abandoned by my maid. This is not something I want to get into here, suffice to say that it leaves me remembering why I have no grandiose ideas about being a domestic goddess.

Part of the reason I paid her to work for me twice a week was to keep the dogs company. Yes, I know you're wondering WTF? I'm what you'd call A Good Dog Mom. The desire to meet my canine's needs - lest they look like neglected, homeless waifs - has nearly left me bankrupt.

This is the same reason I bought the dogs a really expensive kennel, a solid (it needs 4 mean to pick it up), waterproof, cute-as-hell dog house. Needless to say, the ungrateful little thugs don't appear to actually SLEEP in their snug li'l hut. One of our (many) former homes included a treeless garden, with no shelter for the dogs, unless they stayed in the house - hence this exorbitant purchase.

The treeless garden was situated on an idyllic farm, south of Joburg. With riders milling about the stables, I was able to leave the door of the house open for the dogs, so they could decide if they wanted to be in or out. All this really meant was that it allowed Jo to decide, at his leisure, what he'd like to shred in my absence; he'd promptly chew it in the garden, in full view of the liveries on their way to the arena.

On one such occasion, I was away from home for the day, it was the middle of June, and raining. So, to assuage my guilt, I left the door open and off I went. Only to receive a phone call a few hours later from my friendly landlady, telling me that Jo (who else!) was carry carrots, by the mouthful, out into the garden to eat. In the rain! Once he'd eaten through the 5kg bag on the kitchen floor, he'd started on the toilet paper, at which point my phone rang.

So that's why I bought the world's heaviest kennel, to make me feel better. And that's why I sit at work now, and worry that the dogs are home, and bored. Especially since I banned all stuffed toys and bedding between the weekday hours of 8am-5pm. They were really into the special effects and it didn't bother them that we didn't get any snow in our suburb earlier this winter. Why? You might ask. Because they made their OWN! That's right. They shredded their bedding and spread it across the lawn, and not for the first time either.

Now they're just average suburban dogs, barking their heads off at any drive-by entertainment which passes their gate. That is until I get home, when they can watch my kak-handed attempt to clean the kitchen floor. Staring forlornly through the bars of the security gate, taking in my manic attempts to emulate the serene, smiling, floor-cleaning-women in those annoying tv ads; who looks smug and satisfied with her gleaming handiwork.

Pity I didn't think of putting the dogs inside BEFORE I swilled down the decks...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Charge Of The Dead Fish

Joe is the clown of the family. He has the sunniest disposition and his irrepressible sense of humour forces me to smile when I’m having a bad day. He is infamous for the Charge Of The Dead Fish. When we lived on the Klip River, the dogs were free-rangers and they thought it was heaven on earth.

The first of the summer rains always washed a timber shed of dead wood downstream (Velvette would retrieve logs four times her size!). However on this occasion, a factory’s pollutants had resulted in a lot of dead fish amongst the debris, floating on the water for days before they were washed away. I stood chatting with my landlord and several friends, some distance from the river bank, when a black dot burst from the Willow trees on the bank.

The smell hit us first. Joe was heading straight for us, doing his best racing-greyhound-impersonation, smiling, with a rotten fish clamped firmly between his jaws. Suddenly the air around me was filled with retching noises as people fled in all directions. Chunks of his rotten prize were breaking off as he ran. By the time he got to me the stench was overwhelming. As a kid we’d had a dog who had eaten an entire catfish - he stank for WEEKS afterwards. I knew that the consequences of this dead fish in Joe’s digestive system did not bode well for our household. I was the one who had to pry his jaws open, get him to drop the rotting thing, and then dispose of it!

His catch-me-if-you-can act included running circles around me, his ears flattened to the side of his head – a dead giveaway that he had illegal contraband in his mouth. Fortunately it wasn’t Velvette who had the fish – as a puppy, we’d inadvertently chased and tried catching her when she stole something. She’ll wait until your hand is within grasping distance before she bolts and you can never catch her. Ever! She'd have swallowed that thing whole!

The joys of being a dog lover... I suppose when it's a baby, at least you know what to expect in that nappy!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dog Walk Diaries

I have decided, that in the interest of getting at least some exercise, I really must walk my dogs. When we lived on the river, the dogs were able to run freely, swimming and retrieving logs from the water. There was no need for leads, nor were there wild, rabid looking canines, launching themselves at their gates, frantic to escape and eat any passerby unlucky enough to be caught.

Suburbia presents a whole new set of rules.It means, if we want to go anywhere, the dogs need to be on a lead. Nothing unusual about that, apart from the fact that they really don't see the point... and I sure as hell can't walk all three of them simultaneously, because I'd end up with a broken neck.

The last time I tried walking the intrepid trio, Velvette, the Lab, stopped dead in front of me. Which would have been fine, had I not been staring into space. My shins connected with the dog, who is solid, and my upper body just kept going. I baled over the top of her, onto the hot December tar - both hands being occupied by leads, I had nothing to break my fall. Chin first, I landed in a tangle of leads, cold, wet noses inquiring as to this new game - where mom struggles to get to her feet without letting anyone go.

Injuries included: tar embedded-chin, bruised elbow, scraped shoulder, tar embedded knee. I cursed that dog, who stared up into my face with her sweet, enquiring smile!

SO, now I've decided, in the interests of my stiffening anatomy, each dog will be walked on its own, in around our neigbourhood. Oh god, what a potential nightmare. Jo goes beserk, grabs the lead in his mouth and yodels like a banshee. He certainly does NOT behave like he has EVER been exposed to TTouch. Velvette pulls like a train and it sounds like shes being strangled. You'd be forgiven for thinking she's never gone to dog training.

So, I set off, being towed by Jo. We came barreling around a corner, Jo about to leap out of his skin in response to the enraged boer boels trying to eat him through their gate; when a car stops alongside us, the door next to the dog opens and a man gets out, the bloody dog tried to jump into the car! Fortunately he's quite a light weight, so I could pull him off. Mumbling an a apology under my breath, we carried on don the road.

The following day Velvette does THE SAME THING! I kid you not. Except this time, the guy who gets out of his car is all smiles. He comes over to greet the dog, and not wanting to be rude, I smile (apologetically) and try to stop Velvetter from jumping up - but alas, she has no manners. She launches herself at the guy, and nails him IN THE GROIN!! I see this, I'm eye level with his waist, trying to encourage my errant hound to SIT. Yeah right. He's folded over at the waist and smiling politely, tells us to enjoy our walk. I drag the dog unwillingly away. I refrain from looking back to see if he's walking upright.

I'm determined to eventually have dogs who are well behaved on the lead, and who don't bat an eyelid at their lunatic, barking counterparts.

What are the chances?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shlock Horror!

Yes! I know . . who'd have guessed. . . I'm currently reading Jilly Cooper's Wicked, her latest "rollicking jaunt through the Costwolds."

A hint of what's to come is the appearance of Rupert Campbell-Black's name on one of the 11 pages of characters listed, alphabetically. Thank heavens, lest you chuck it by page 66, when the 80th character is introduced as the 14th cousin of the main character, 7 times removed. . .

You're probably wondering at my motivation for buying it, second hand, of course . . . Being an animal lover herself, Jilly kindly included a list of the four-leggeds, and their intrepid humans. That did it, I'm afraid - I couldn't wait to meet Loofah the pony, or Bogotá, Xavier Campbell-Black's - dare I say it - black Labrador.

I love Jilly's books, although this is the first one I'm reading in YEARS, not since Riders, or Polo, back in the 80s, but I remember now, that I loved the journey into quaint English country cottages, and sprawling estates, their tapestried walls and comfy, over-stuffed couches with elegant hounds, snoozing, spilling over the sides. Not to mention the horses. Glorious horses! The obsessions of pony-mad girls, the possessions of arrogant antagonists, who are always shown up by a character who gets the reader's sympathy vote.

I'll let you know if and when I ever get to the end. Who knows when that'll be? I'm only on page 230. .. and this version has a total of 846 pages - a mission to hold upright in the bath for any length of time!

Jilly Cooper, gotta love her!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

All Harry-Pottered out

Yes, it's true, I'm a fan of the boy wizard, when he appears both in print and on celluloid. Today, my mom and I combined the two, we bought the final installment The Deathly Hallows; and caught the early movie - The Order Of the Phoenix. I must be honest, I'm pretty confused as to the order of events in this sprawling story. Only because I read the current movie's accompanying book last year, or was it the year before that, I keep forgetting that Im a book ahead of the movie. . . I think. Unlike my student-cousin, who religiously reads the last book (again) before he reads the new one, so that he knows what the hell's going on - I've only read each one once, and long for the luxury of time which would allow me to read my favourite tomes more than once!

Let it be known that I absolutely HATED going to school, and considered that time spent incacerated was the biggest waste of time in my life thus far. The only thing school had in it's favour, was a daily two hour bus trip and seemingly endless holidays, all of which ensured that fact that I had my nose stuck in a book for the best part of twelve years.

Although I don't envy my twenty-year-old cousin and his varsity timetable, I so wish I had THAT much time to read.

Where do YOU find the time to read? How do you steal precious minutes from your day? When was the last time you dropped your book in the bath?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ready to pounce

This is a pic of my 6yr old Lab, Velvette. She’s exhibiting her “Ready-To-Pounce” pose. It would have been a better photo if I hadn’t chopped her right paw off. You try holding the ball in one hand, camera in the other, and try mimicking some stricken, exotic animal (= intense facial expression) - and then press the shutter!

I love dogs.

Actually, if its got fur and a facial expression, it gets my attention.

This is an introduction to the dogs with whom I share my home and life. No doubt you'll be reading a lot about them. . .

Velvette, my 6yr-old Lab who has been with me since puppyhood. Things she loves most in life: Swimming and eating, not necessarily in that order.

Jo, 5yr-old lunatic LabXRidgeback who joined the pack at six months. He has a Greyhouns complex, and i the reason we have a huge garden out the back.

And Li'l Jackaroo (a.k.a Jackie) the Jack Russell whose family immigrated before she joined us, making us a 3DogHousehold!