Tag: emerald

Escapees to the friendly trees

The word for the beginning of 2016 is SOCIAL. I have caught up with friends more often in the past three weeks than I did in all of last year. Really. A contributing factor is that we are living in a boat that is intolerable in hot weather, and that all of my friends have kids that are on Summer holiday. Thus, as Small DB and I took a nature walk this morning and the sun grew hotter and hotter, I took a punt and called E – who lives in the leafy cooler climes of Emerald in a house that is not a boat.

Countless times I have griped on this blog about my lack of car air conditioning. It seems silly to pay for it to be fixed all because of maybe 15 unbearably hot days each year. But every time the unbearably hot day comes to pass, I curse myself thoroughly. The only person more heat intolerant than myself is Small DB. She sits whimpering in the back seat splashing water over herself from her drink bottle, trying to keep her shit together as heat rash blooms on her back.

The drive felt long. LONG. But it was worthwhile 🙂 The Smalls spent the day playing with their friends – in the sandpit, on the deck, in the playroom, pillow fighting, patting Guinea-pigs and grazing on the food that E and I provided, even as we nattered like magpies. It has to be remarked upon – the coalition of the Curlies (Small DB and Small OR) – exactly the same age and stage – when they are together it is as if they give each other permission to unleash their special powers. They plot mischief, whisper secrets and have an occasional spat.

We stayed for dinner and then drove away, munching plums and grapes with tummies full of ginger cake and bolognese. At the top of the gravel road that leads to the driveway we stopped. I had been trying to get back before the sun went down because I wanted a photo of it. I left the car in neutral and we all got out – the wind had cooled and the sky was smeared with pastels. Small DB clutched an agapanthus flower that Small OR had given her just before we drove away.

019/365 • we had to stop at the top of the road and look at the sunset while rejoicing in the cool evening air • #019_2015 #8yo #5yo #sunset #agapanthus #paddocks #sky #Summer2016 #goodnight

Small Z drove the car, sitting on my lap, the one kilometre down the road to the gate. Small DB drove down the driveway. We found M sitting outside, looking at the sunset and the water that was lapping at the pontoon.

Animals and white goods. More housesitting!

We returned to the boat for Easter and M’s birthday and then the Smalls and I transplanted ourselves to E’s house in Emerald – the land of enormous trees, hydrated air and vintage steam engines. We are looking after Sunny the Dog, Samba the Cat (remember him?), Golden Glow – the Guinea pig and Starlight Princess – the other Guinea pig, two chickens and some fish. The Smalls are thrilled with the animals. I am in my happy place while running the dishwasher and washing machine simultaneously.

The Smalls were bathed on arrival…
Zoe. Bubbles.Having been commanded to wet the front of her head.

I am making friends with Sunny the Dog. When we have met on previous occasions I have belatedly realised that she was always a bit of an over-excited freak show because there were NEW PEOPLE mingling with her FAMILY PEOPLE and so many SMELLS and VOICES! With just the three of us here we have been able to be pretty chilled out with her – except in the morning when it seems that her love-o-meter has depleted. Seriously. She awakes DESPERATE for pats and affection and won’t settle until some have been doled out.

Walking her is excellent, while being slightly fraught. The Smalls take turns with her, but she is stronger than either of them and the first time we went out I was in mortal fear of them letting go of the leash and seeing her run into the distance, never to return. E reassured me over the phone that even if this did happen, she would always return home. Of course, it has happened, but I have managed to catch her each time…so far….

Daisy taking Sunny for a walk.

Sunny taking Daisy for a walk

Three blind mice…

After one day housesitting in Emerald I had to go to work. A similar distance from here than it is from the boat, but more things to have sorted before leaving. Feed the dog, check water, let out the chooks… I asked Small DB to fill the food bowl for the Guinea pigs, while I faffed around organising my lunch, my dreams of vacating by 8am rapidly fading.

“Mama!” DB comes running in, breathless. “There was a mouse in the Guinea pig food bag and it went into the cage when I gave them the food and now it’s stuck – it can’t get out!”

Of I go, anticipating that I will merely have to open the door of the cage, stand back graciously, and the mouse will run out and away. Wrong.

The mouse has panicked. It has not thought ahead. It has thrust itself through one of the half inch squares of wire mesh, fitting its whole body through…to the hips. Like Pooh, stuck in Rabbit’s hole.

Pooh. Stuck.

I am not good in such situations*, but I try and help the mouse. The mouse and I are similar in our inability to think forward. I should have realised that the first thing a panicked mouse is going to do when you attempt to help its front end is bite. Hard.

I jump up and down, blood dripping from my index finger. The mouse has narrowed its eyes. The Smalls are horrified. I attempt to pull the mouse backward by the tail, but this is also unhelpful and I am becoming more like the mouse than ever. Panicked and thwarted.

“Get in the car!” I bellow at the Smalls. “That’s it! I can’t help it. It got in there. It will have to get itself OUT.”

It takes me 20 minutes of deep breathing to stop freaking out about the mouse. My thought are diverted by Small Z’s insistence that she wants to come to my work, not to her nana’s house. I choose the path of least resistance, drop Small DB to my mum, and bring Small Z into work, where she plays solitaire and minecraft to her hearts content – while I make my apologies for being late and show my bitten finger as evidence.

“Tetanus?” Sal queries.
“Eucalyptus oil,” I tell her.

M calls me and I tell him about the mouse. He suggests something I’d already thought of. Wire cutters.
“But I couldn’t get them around the wire to cut it without almost certainly cutting the mouse?!”
“Well a little cut on the mouse is better than trapped mouse having its toes gnawed off by Guinea pigs…”
“Guinea pigs aren’t CARNIVOROUS!” I shriek.
“Wanna bet?”
I don’t want to bet. And I’m too scared to google it.

The rest of the day is consumed by work, by Small Z having a terrible stomachache, by dinner at my mum’s and then driving back to Emerald. We pull up out the front of the house just on dusk. What follows is not my finest parenting moment.

“Right. I want us all to walk to the front door with our eyes shut.”
“But I want to see the mouse…” Small DB starts bleating.
“I don’t!” Small Z is emphatic.
“Here’s the thing. If the mouse is still there, there is NOTHING I can do about it. I can’t help it, I don’t want to look. Dadda can deal with it when he comes to look after you in the morning. So KEEP YOUR EYES SHUT. Got it?”

We link hands and stumble our way to the front door.
Small Z is the dissenter.
“I looked! I looked!! The mouse is gone! It isn’t there!”

My relief is so much bigger than the mouse. I don’t even care if it has been devoured by Guinea pigs or has Houdini-ed itself to freedom. It is gone. I go looking for wine.

* this includes the time that my cat terrified a mouse which went into shock. I put it in a lunchbox with some greenery, but it remained silent, staring, and breathing fast. I did not know what to do. I called M, who was on a train travelling to Glen Waverley.
“I don’t know what to do! This poor mouse. It’s so still, but it’s ALIVE?!”
“Dsdlfjsldfj,” muttered M into his phone.
“Hold it under water in the fishpond – it will only take a minute…”
“DROWN IT…” His voice dropped. “Everyone on the train is looking at me now. In a bad way…”

There was no way I could drown the mouse. Instead I walked with it, five blocks down to the vet – they kindly gave it a life-ending injection and didn’t charge me.

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