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Adjusting to a new era


Yesterday Adam retired Lenny (Leonard) his guide dog of eight years. I have to say this man inspires me as usual. He has this sort of Spock logic which can be astounding. I am the illogical one at times when it comes to all things emotional like giving up a pet but the whole thing is Lenny was not my pet.

Lenny was a very special kind of dog. His love of work never faded and he is still full of life but Adam wanted to do the right thing for Lenny and for Guide dogs so he decide he was ready to retire Lenny because frankly he wasn’t working him. He tried to give him back to Guide dogs about two years ago but someone told Adam Lenny was too old to retrain. Since neither one of us are working at the moment we can’t afford the medications that Lenny is on due to irritable bowel syndrome that he was diagnosed with not long after he turned 2 but Guide dogs helped with reimbursing us the cost of the medicines.

Another circumstance that affected Adam’s decision was the fact that Lenny was dog distracted. It didn’t matter if he was in or out of harness. If Lenny saw a dog, “George Bush” (He had to get them before they got him) came out in him. He had to show that he was the dominant one so that the other dog would be intimidated. Grady, the bane of Adam’s life, was also vying to be the dominant dog but Lenny always held his own. It was Mitch our eldest Labrador who acquiesced to other dogs.  He has gotten stitched in his ear from Grady but for the most part our pack was tight.

I didn’t want Lenny to go but I know in the long run it was the best decision for all of us. The house is certainly quieter. Adam got to sleep in to 6:30 this morning. Lenny would always want to be up at 5:30. The stress of walking the dogs and keeping an eye out for other dogs was pretty tolling on my nerves. I am pretty certain that I can let Mitch and Grady go at the beach and everything will be okay except when Mitch gets wanderlust in him.  Mitch is going to be 12 in July and getting arthritic but let him free run and you wouldn’t have any idea about his problems.

Lenny will be 10 in December but he still has lots of life in him. We want him to find a great home and are pretty certain he will get what we want for him. He is well loved in Glossodia (The Guide Dog Centre in NSW). I know everything will be ok for Lenny because he is very lovable and energetic. He is a great head thrust-er. He knows how to get attention but he could also be a tad clingy. He always had to be near you.

We had a good chat about Lenny with the instructor who picked him up in Coffs Harbour. She reassured us that everything would be fine and she would let the new owners know we would like to stay in contact. She also saw Lenny’s progression from puppy to trainee to full fledged guide dog. She has helped Adam and Lenny in their work together.

I feel very privileged to have seen for myself the potential of partnership between a guide dog user and guide dog. I have seen them grow and know what a wonderful team they became. It was sad letting go of Lenny for me but I can’t ever phantom how strong Adam has been about letting go. I guess its his Spock logic that comes through so strongly. I hope one day after I get my degree to go on to become an orientation and mobility specialist and perhaps even become a guide dog instructor.

Some people can’t let go of the past but Adam truly knows when to let go and when to hold on. His vision on what he wants in a partnership whether it be canine or human is breathtakingly extraordinary. Words can’t quite express the emotions coursing through me. I feel inadequate in translating this into words but I had to attempt to do it.

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Video Blog of Cabins Beach King Low Tide


We have been experiencing some king tides of late. Yesterday was especially a big one. I took the Kodak Sports Video Camera and the playlist below is the following montage of footage that I took. I hope you enjoy what I took!

Dreaming Of A White Christmas……..NOT!


Do you know how many years it has finally taken me to be comfortable with saying this? I would have to say a good 7. I never really had a white Christmas growing up in Louisiana but I eat white Christmas at Adam’s sister’s house when we go for Christmas celebrations.  I am pretty positive she will have a batch ready for us to take back home with us after our next visit which will be this weekend. Just encase you don’t know what White Christmas is, it is rice bubbles, glace cherries, and Copha mixed together sometimes with nuts if you like for texture. I know I am missing some other ingredients. It’s a lovely sweet treat. Oh Rice Bubbles is called Rice Krispies in the States because this cereal goes by other names. I never had this treat until I came to Australia.
White Christmas

Some people may think that what I am saying is a sacrilege. I know a majority of my readers are in the Northern Hemisphere and relish having a cold Christmas. Australia has a tendency to follow British tradition with a hot baked dinner but sometimes they do their own stuff. I love listening to Australian Christmas carols. I remember fondly my very first Christmas in Canberra with Adam’s family. I was so excited to be able to go swimming in the pool. I could never do that in the states it was too bloody cold. The pool wasn’t exactly warm but I was game to do it. It also helped I was tipsy too and determined to say I was in the pool on Christmas Day. Adam’s Dad got a great laugh when I came back in shivering and tipsy but ever so pleased with my dalliance in the pool. Adam refused after he put his toe in. He stood outside with me and listened to me while I splashed around. I didn’t stay in very long but I did boast to my sisters’ when I rang them on their Christmas day that I did swim on Christmas day.

This Christmas will be a quiet one. We are having our good friends the Jary’s come over for Christmas lunch. We’ll probably head down to the beach for the dogs to run on Mullaway beach. It’s suppose to be a very lovely day. It will be nice to be home for Christmas for a change. I have only had 3 Christmases in my own home since I moved to Australia. I am not complaining but there is just something special about being in your own house. 

I have never been one to really like cold weather. I know I was born in Alaska but we moved when I was 6 weeks old. I was then a southern raised lass. First two years were in San Antonio, Texas and then we moved to Leesville, Louisiana which I gladly call my hometown.  The majority of my life was in the South. Now I can really claim to be a Southern because I live in Australia which is in the Southern Hemisphere. All my seasons are opposite to what I was raised with and I can drive north to visit Adam’s sister but be reminded of Southwestern Louisiana where my dad grew up and we visited as a child as I pass the sugar cane fields heading up past Grafton.  I could almost imagine myself near New Iberia if it wasn’t for the dang mountains covered in Eucalyptus trees in the background.  It’s as if I was graced with everything I ever dreamed of since I discovered this great Southern Land which gave birth to my dream man and took me in with such love and compassion.

So no, I am not dreaming of a White Christmas that Bing Crosby sang about but I am dreaming of a White Christmas made with love for me and my darling by his beautiful youngest sister and her darling boy Jack. May you have a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

I leave you with this lovely Australian Christmas Carol I found on youtube!

Thanksgiving Yaussie Style


The majority of my life, I have lived it in the northern Hemisphere in the great state of Louisiana on the central west side. Thanksgiving Day always holds a very special place in my heart because it normally fell close to my mom’s birthday. I love my mom to bits. She was an amazing cook! Thanksgiving is a special time to be with family and friends. Any North American can identify with this wonderful holiday. It doesn’t matter if you are from Canada or the USA, you know what Thanksgiving is all about. The only difference is if you are Canadian you celebrate in October and if you are a native of America (USA), you celebrate it the 4th Thursday in November. Another special thing about Thanksgiving is that the two sisters I grew up with both married fellas whose birthdays also fall around this special day. Glenn was on the 25th of November and Eric is on the 28th which means this year is the actual day he shares it with the holiday.

When I first moved to Australia, I would still celebrate this holiday inviting friends over who didn’t quite get the special day. They didn’t really like the way I did the sweet potatoes with marshmallows but they ate politely. This year, I didn’t do a big Thanksgiving meal. I didn’t invite anyone over but I often think of my family across the world. As I type this blog, they are getting ready to get together and celebrate. They will watch the parades, eat turkey and football (not soccer or rugby but gridiron as the Aussie’s term American football). I will be with them in spirit and try to call.

It’s sort of strange trying to explain something that I grew up with to friends here. Adam gets it but we always seem to get each other. I always say I was made for him and vice versa. It is like trying to explain mate-ship or Anzac Day to Americans who would just have to experience it for themselves. Some people still might not get it which is what I found when I try explaining Thanksgivings Day to Australians. They get it but not quite.

Also, when I first started celebrating Thanksgiving in Australia, I would do it on Thanksgiving day Australia time but then I thought maybe I should do it on the actual day that Americans do because I would have the dinner on the same day as my family. I know this might seem strange to some that I was so wish-washy about it. It was also easy for people that I invited over to come over on the Friday instead of the Thursday.  It just made sense to me.

I am not feeling the best which is another excuse but I don’t see a point in doing a huge meal when it’s just me and Adam. We took our dogs to the beach and enjoyed our companionship.  I feel like I had an epiphany yesterday, which was my mom’s birthday (27th). I had been struggling with something for the longest time inside of me. I thought I had given it up long ago but I had a dream.

In this dream, I came to realize that I don’t need anyone’s approval to proclaim the Good News. I had felt the Lord had draw me towards Evanglisation when I was living in St. Marys. I went to classes to learn more and wanted to contribute more. I was well on my way to do this because I had finished a course on St Paul and it was as if the scales on my own eyes on my feeling of unworthiness fell away and I could see the greatest potential God wanted for me.  I just got side tracked is all. Someone asked me a question about something and I was honest with my answer.  This person was the one who I looked up to and felt mentored by. It was after my honest answer, that I was instructed that I could not teach for the School of Evangelisation because I needed to do something which I felt was unnecessary. She let me do more menial things. I could lead songs and write a piece for the newsletter but actually talk in front of people…. it just wasn’t allowed.  I wasn’t worthy enough in her eyes. My dream though had a mixture of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in it and my own mother and they told me that if I felt the need to speak the truth about Him there was nothing to stop me.  I didn’t need a sanction from the church to do God’s work. I just had to be lead by the Holy Spirit.

God has a way if you are open to Him. It may not be the way you may have ever imagined but if He wants you to do something, you will do it with His guidance on His time table not yours.

I am thankful for the opportunities the Lord has put my way. I know I am not perfect but I strive to love like He does, with acceptance and compassion. Lots of forgiveness and openhearted, with anticipation of what He has in store for me. He has given me a unique family and some very wonderful friends (Shauny G and Bishop Eddie Tatro, and Rachie from WordPress a huge hug too from me). I will try and give thanks not just because it’s Thanksgivings Day but because He has given me another day to simply BE!

Racquetball revisited!


I’ve always loved tennis and never really thought I was that athletic but I really enjoy goofing around with a racket and ball. This goes all the way back to the my youth. I begged my parents for a tennis racket and balls to bang on the barn my dad built with the help of my brother, Kevin and myself. It wasn’t a really huge barn; it was more like a wooden shed but it really fed my imagination into overdrive. I would ask my sisters to play tennis with me but when they would get bored or didn’t feel like playing I could be found banging the tennis ball against a wall of the barn before or after I did my chores. I would pretend I was competing in Wimbledon or the French Open. I was just mad about it.

When I went to Uni, I discovered racquetball. I always wanted to keep banging the ball against the wall, any wall that I could find but as I got older I just didn’t follow through like I used to do. In the numerous moves that I have done, I always wanted to go back to playing racquetball even by myself but of course, I never did do it.

Last week, I was talking with Adam and we decided it was time for me to get another racquet as well as balls so that I could pick up my favourite sport that I liked to do. Today we went to town because he had an appointment. He also booked me some time at a squash court. We both thought it best for me to start out with half an hour. Lenny was with us too and when we got to the squash court, I was given court 4 which had a glass wall. Adam sat outside the court I was in on a couch with Lenny in harnass sitting on the floor. I went inside and started banging the ball with my new racquet. I wish we had recorded Lenny’s reaction. He was actually making a crying sound. He was very excited in his harness trying to get to me so he could play as well. It actually got pretty distracting for me. Poor Adam couldn’t even listen to his podcasts that he had on his Iphone. I had to move them away so we both could be able to do what really wanted to do. When I came out to talk to Adam, he asked me why I was crying. I responded it was Lenny not me. I am having fun and laughing at your dog so I moved them to a table further down so that Lenny couldn’t be tormented by seeing me enjoying myself in the court.

I learned two things today. 1. Don’t take a guide dog with you when you want to play racquetball because the dog will create a racket because he can’t be in the court with you. 2. I really loved playing racquetball and was glad I only did it for 30 minutes. I think the last time I played it was 1989. I am looking forward to doing it again and building up my stamina so that I can play for an hour but I think that will take a little more time.

I am a little sore and tomorrow I may regret forgetting to warm up and cool down but I had a blast. I can’t wait to do it again.

Racquetball revisited: I loved every minute of it and hope to do it at least 3 times a week!

Life Is A Rollercoaster


Today Adam and I first took Mitch out for a walk today to scout for dogs. Grady was going to get to go too but he decided to get narky with Mitch resulting in him being left home with Lenny. We did a reverse route that we did with Lenny the other day. There were going to be dogs for us to follow-up on what we learned. It was good to know that for when we wanted to work with Lenny which we did once I returned Mitch to the back yard. I got Lenny on lead and handed him over to Adam to get ready for his walk.

I find at times when I try to put into practice what I learn from observation I often wish I had taken notes instead of relying on my memory. I had recorded the session with Doug but after listening to it, it wasn’t as clear as we wanted because it had been drizzly so my raincoat and foot steps pretty much drowned out the sound of Doug’s voice.

We decided to go ahead today to work Lenny. All was going well. We found two little dogs behind their fence but the owner came out all apologies for the behavior of his dogs. I explained to him that it was fine. We wanted that sort of behavior to work on Lenny’s problem. The owner continued to chastise the dogs. Adam and I pushed on. We took a left onto the next street. I could see a beagle further down the road. I told Adam about it. We continued on with me giving him prompts. When we needed to make another left, the beagle and two other dogs came after Lenny who was of course, quite tense. I was trying to block Lenny’s vision when the second dog came up behind Lenny. Finally the owner came out calling for his dogs to come back.  Everything was a bit hazy for me to recall clearly since I am trying to monitor Adam, Lenny, and the other dogs. I know the owner had to come forward to get the other dog because he was lunging towards Lenny whose fur was all hackles and had completely tried to turn around in harness. I felt out of my depths but we persevered. As soon as I knew we were safe enough from the dogs for Adam to get Lenny refocused on him. Adam then gave him a nice scratch to get rid of the energy he had from the encounter. I knew we were going to encounter at least 3 more dogs behind fences. The next dog we encountered, Lenny was a tad distracted. Dogs were barking all around us. Every time Lenny would look to Adam, I would have Adam stop to reward him for the behavior.  The next house we would pass had two retrievers in it. I was hoping we’d get to walk past but of course, the owner came out because of the ruckus the dogs were making, looked down the street where we were walking up from, and instructed her dogs back into the house. We were a tad disappointed but we persevered. Over all, I think the walk was pretty successful. I am still a tad unsure but I think with practice we’ll become a well oiled machine.

Life is a roller coaster in more than one way. I think it’s the way that we handle the ups and downs that help define who we are. I can see this metaphor in action with the working relationship between Adam and Lenny. I also see it in my life in general. The walk with Lenny felt like a roller coaster. Roller coasters can be fun and scary all at the same time. A lot like life which is why I love this song so much. Enjoy!

Morning Rituals


Everybody has a certain something that they like to do in the morning. As for me, I don’t really appreciate being woken up by a whining dog but it’s something that I am used to. I can easily go back to sleep. Poor Adam doesn’t have that sort of ability. He will lie in bed with me until he gets uncomfortable but always tries to get out quietly as not to disturb me. I love that about him. He’s such a sweety. If I try to attempt the same strategy, I epically fail 9 out 10 times. The man sleeps lightly. For once, I am not exaggerating.

After getting up, I usually head to the kitchen for breakfast. This morning, I had to grind more coffee for my coffee machine because I only had beans that needed to be ground. I like to have music on so I popped Pandora radio on my iPhone which I put into Adam’s high jacked  iPhone speaker because good music needs to be blasted. I danced around the house getting ready to eat. We had to put on our sweats because it was a cool 11 c (51.8 F) in the house. Summer has fled our part the world until probably December. I danced as the coffee grinder ground my delicious smelling coffee which was grown in Mullaway. There is a coffee plantation somewhere in our vicinity. I am so glad we learned of it. I put out our cereal and danced while waiting for Adam to join me at the dining table.

Sometimes I make my coffee after brekky as I did today. Adam went to go have his shower and I drink my coffee while deciding what I want to do next. The thing to do today was sit down and type out this blog. It feels like today is going to be a ripper of a day. I know my mom used to say not to sing before breakfast. I have, so let’s hope I prove that old wives’ tale wrong. I don’t want to cry before supper.

I need to go shower now myself but I really love my morning rituals. My mornings are normally spent waking up listening to Mitch whine at me to be let off so he can go have a pee around 6. I then hop back into to bed for a cuddle with Adam or chit-chat then fall back to sleep but hunger always gets me up. We then go to the kitchen and break our fast with cereal. The dogs then get fed by Adam or myself (usually Adam) and I work on doing my cappuccino in a mug. (Muggaccino) There is normally music playing via the iPhone. I know it’s not that earth shattering or exciting but there is something about it that I like doing.

Some people like to start their day with a run or walk but me, a cup of frothy coffee and cuddles always get my day off to the right start!

Do you have any morning rituals that you love?

Frothy Coffee for the Morning Win!

Frothy Coffee for the Morning Win!

No Pictures Please!


Adam, the dogs, and I walked one of our favorite routes this afternoon. It always seems that when I want to take pictures I never have my camera on me. I did have my iPhone but every time I retrieved my phone the birds or the wildlife would not cooperate with me.  I must remember to attach my Kodak to my dog bag so that I will never be in that situation again. Things happen though and sometimes even the best plans go awry.

There was a red and green parrot which I have checked in my bird book which appeared to be a king parrot. The kookaburras were out and about in the crowns of the eucalyptus trees. As we walked on top of Darkum Headland I kept a look out for kangaroos. Since there were none to be seen, I let the dogs off their leads. Normally they run down the side of the headland to jump into the water. Grady took off to fetch a stick. Lenny and Mitch were out of eye shot for a little while. Lenny normally comes bounding back to be loved on by Adam or myself.  The two labs had been gone quite a while as I sat throwing the stick that Grady was begging me to throw for him. I looked to the right to see what I thought was a seal in the water. I was calling for Lenny and Mitch like mad. The seal was in one of the dogs most favorite spots to swim. I felt panic rise inside me when Lenny returned to Adam. Grady was guarding his stick.  I noticed Mitch trying to swim out to the seal. I asked Adam to lead Lenny while I leaded Grady handing him Grady’s lead because I had to get to Mitch pronto before he tried to terrorize the seal. (I was having flashback to the kangaroo incident.) By the time I was heading down towards Mitch yelling for him to come, he was on top of a rock ledge trying to figure out the best way to get to the seal but he finally decided to come to me to my great relief as I was on the edge of the headland making slow progress to get to him. I put the lead back on him returning to Adam. I noticed that the seal was out ahead of us now straight on. I tried to get my iPhone to take a picture but it was like the seal was camera-shy. I couldn’t get the shot.

I am looking forward to being able to camp up top of Darkum Headland for whale watching. The season begins in June ending in November. I already have the perfect spot in which to set up the tripod with my camera as well as binoculars. I think to make my life easier though, I won’t be taking the dogs with us. It will make my life of eye spy with my lovely blue eyes totally enjoyable as well as stress free. Last year I really loved watching the whales.

We continued our walk to Cabins Beach with the dogs on lead. Once we got to the bottom of the stairs, we let the dogs free run for a bit. I normally want to get them back on lead as we head on the path to go to Mullaway Tourist Park because it’s just easier to get home that way instead of traipsing up the sandy side of the walkway that used to be very easy to go up and down with.  The beach was very pebbly. I also saw lots of shell washed up in bits and pieces but found a few little treasures to take home with me.

After we left the Tourist Park, we walked down the Boulevard to get home. I notice two eastern Rosella perched on a bush. I grabbed my iPhone only to discover they had disappeared.

This is why I have decided to call this blog no pictures please because the birds and seal were very elusive today. They didn’t want to be photographed. I do remember the snapshots in my head.  Better luck next time I hope! Thanks for reading!

Morning Walk With the Dogs and Adam


One of the most wonderful things about where I live is that the weather here is so good. I have heard that the Coffs Coast is one of the most habitable places climate wise. I happen to agree with that sentiment. I also like the fact that where I live is pretty rural but I can drive to two regional areas in less than an hour. I am close to the beach and can see beautiful mountains in the distance that aren’t snow-capped but full of eucalyptus trees. One day I am going to drive the Waterfall Way again in hopes of doing an audio blog on Dorrigo National Park. This is on Adam’s and my to do list but today we decided to do our usual walk of sorts.

Today’s adventure took us down to Mullaway beach. We walked the entirety of the beach. Along the way, Grady will forage for sticks for me to throw just for him. Mitch and Lenny will head in the surf or they will go bush bashing then run into surf with their treasure of decaying sponge or something foul-smelling. I am forever yelling furiously at them to drop it and leave it alone. The joys of owning labradors gives just disgust at times. Grady proceeded as usual to drop a stick which Adam trod on and I tripped on. Adam let go of me. I went forward spilling to the ground not taking him with me. Adam was not impressed with Grady. I wasn’t really either but that’s just the way it goes at times. It’s not like I am a clumsy sort of person. It can be a bit daunting though being the only eyes of the operation. I was thankful Adam had let me go because frankly if he had gone down with me, we both could have gotten hurt.  Other than that, the walk was really nice.

I decided to walk us up over Mullaway Headland and took a couple of pictures to share with you. View of Mullaway Beach on Mullaway Headland  This shows a view of Mullaway beach heading over towards cabins beach.  The name of the headland on the far side is Oceanview Headland. There is a walking path there that takes you to Mullawarra.

 

View of Cabins Beach on Mullaway HeadlandThis is a view of Cabins Beach which we often walk to as well. There are two set of rock pools. We normally like to go to Cabins Beach at low tide to wallow in the shallow water of the south rock pool. There is also a path that takes you to the top of Darkum Headland. We didn’t do that walk today because I wasn’t so happy about the fall that happened. Woolgoolga is the town that you can see in the left corner of the shot. There has been quite a bit of beach erosion on  most of the beaches.

Today as we were walking I noticed how the waves were making this really beautiful spray. I tried to take a shot to share with you. I didn’t think I had accomplished what I wanted to do but I actually did. I swear you could see rainbows but the camera didn’t capture it. I still think it’s quite lovely though.

Seaspray In this shot, you can see Woolgoolga better but I really was happy with the water spray. I was pretty pleased with myself. Next time we go out, I don’t think we will take the boys (dogs) with us because their  panting gets picked up when I am trying to capture the sound of the birds on our walks.

I don’t mean to brag about the wonderful place I call home but I do take pride in the beauty that I get to experience every day. I am truly one very blessed lady!

 

Grady, The Bane Of Adam’s Life