Cell phone pics banished forever more

Last week over dinner one night, Christopher Robin said, “I think you need to take me out to get bacon for breakfast on Saturday morning.”   I said, “Sure, okay. Why?”  He said, “No reason,” in that sing-songy little voice that says there is a reason.  But I’m patient.

Well.  Turned out that he landed a bonus and knew I’d been wanting a little camera to stick in my pocket because my cell phone camera is so bad.   We picked out the most adorable little Nikon CoolPix, which ends up being about twice the camera we now have for 1/4 the size and 1/4 the price we paid three years ago.  So goes technology. 

There is a LOT to learn, so I’m going to shoot something new every day until Ifigure out all the features.  This is one from yesterday.   Jack was making snow angels.   (And remember, he wants you to know he has a STARRING role in Lost Recipe.  Not that he’s vain or anything.  Just beautiful.)

Really, if you had a dog that looked like this, wouldn’t you make him the star, too?   🙂

Anyone asking for a camera for Christmas? Buying one for someone else?

Heavenly day

Uluru is a place you have undoubtedly seen photos of.   That big red rock in the middle of the desert, where herds of wild camels roam through the outback, and the land isn’t even slightly barren, and our fair heroines rode a camel through the dawn.

(Only none of them will upload, so they’ll have to come later.   At last….here it is!)

It was a lark, rather foolishly expensive for what it was, a ride on a camel through the early morning, but worth every frivolous dime.  Jo and I were in the lead, on a gentle camel named Alice. Alice has very long eyelashes, which help keep the sand out of her eyes, but it really just makes them look pretty, too.  She wasn’t noisy, like Jack, who complained loudly when his people climbed on, or slightly shady, like the one right behind me who kept pretending he wanted to nuzzle but really wanted to get into my pockets.   The rocking motion, the very high view, the exotic pleasure of riding a camel! was worth every minute.

After breakfast, we headed out to the rock itself.  I walked around the base, a distance of about 11km, all told, and it took three hours because you really can’t stop yourself from pausing to shoot yet another angle of sage green against red against sky.   It was a long, quiet, meditative walk, and I’m genuinely sweaty for the first time in a month.  It was also the first time I’ve done a long walk on my own since the Avon walk, and  I realized that I missed it.  Maybe three hour solitary walks are not everyone else’s cup of tea, but the training this summer showed me that they really are mine.

Just now, it is raining, a heavenly thing in the desert, and I’m feeling quite mellow and delighted.   I’ll have a shower then nip out to see if I can find some supper.  Tomorrow we fly to Cairns, our next to the last stop.  Can I bear to leave this amazing country?


Darling little devils

One more note on Tassie: we saw the famed Tasmanian Devils.   Check out these adorable little faces:

They were waiting for lunch, which was hunks of wallabee (fur still attached) and furry little baby chickens.   Watching them eat, you suddenly understand the Walt Disney Tasmanian Devil, swirling around in that whirlwind, all flying spit and no brain to speak of.   Savage and not all that bright.   

But still.  Really cute.   And endangered, thanks to a virus that has infected 90% of the population. They’re working on keeping one section of population uninfected, and will repopulate when the infected Devils die out.   🙁

A strange and wondrous landscape

I have a scant half hour before they come to pick me up for a hiking trip to the top of Mt. Wellington, but I have had such trouble finding my way into internet that I’ll seize the minute.

I’m writing this from a hoIMG_4106 by you.tel room in Tasmania, just after breakfast on Saturday morning. Over the past few days, my attention has shifted from the whirl of book-related activities to the outdoors of this wildly beautiful and enchanting landscape. I will write more about cultural discoveries, but this morning a few notes about the natural world, because that angle is so very different from my own.

Renee took me hiking in the Dandenong mountains–and just in the nick of time. After so many days of inside activities and mental exercise, I was getting scattered and maybe a little grouchy. Renee swooped in and we escaped the city for a 7 km hike (some of it REALLY steep!) through the temperate rainforests north of Melbourne. It was like falling into a fairy tale to walk amid the towering trees, mountain ashes and gums, in the deep silence. The air smelled of what must be eucalyptus, a green and clarifying scent that washed the cobwebs out of my brain and gave my body the vigorous hike it most desperately needed. More on the trees in a little bit, but first, the birds.

The BIRDS!!! We saw white cockatoos and rosellas and galahs and parrots, flying free. For Australians, this elicits no reaction whatsoever, but when your local birds are robins and wrens and sparrows with the odd blue jay flashing through the world, a red and purple rosella is a stunning sight, and a tree filled with big noisy cockatoos makes you laugh aloud, and a cluster of parrots is almost worth a tear of wonder. Not to mention the sounds! Kookaburras laughing, really laughing, in a maniacal, echoey way. The cockatoos screeching. Fantastical. We even saw a lyrebird, who seemed unbothered by us, and dug around in the grass by the trail, swishing her long tail.

Running out of time….more later if I can get on. I will also post some photos at that point. It will take too much time just now. Musings about trees and food and the wonders of Tassie. For now, I’m off to hike the local mountain.

The goodness of strangers

My dog Sasha has been growing quite deaf over the past few months.  A few times recently, I’ve had a little trouble getting her attention when we’re walking, or when I want her to do something in the house.  She has also been a little snappy with Jack, which I attribute to her sense of confusion over auditory clues, but all things considered, she’s a very fit 15 year old terrier/shepherd mix.

Tuesday morning, we headed out for our usual morning walk, earlier than usual in an attempt to beat the heat, which exhausts both dogs.  Maybe that’s why we ran into the runner with his Airedale, a fit military looking guy, with a fit and nicely clipped dog.  They were running at an easy pace up the hill and I moved my dogs off to the side to wait for them to pass, as is our custom, since Sasha can’t hear me anymore at all.  Just easier and less confrontational to move off the main road and let the others pass. 

We do this at least two or three times every single day.  I have treats. They sit down.  We have a treat, the dogs and owners move on…no big deal.

But for some reason, this encounter went somewhat differently.  Sasha snagged a treat, and then saw the dog and wanted to get to him, and then–

A perfect storm. A dogwalker’s worst scenario.  Sasha started barking, riling herself up, then Jack joined in, as he does (it never occurs to him unless Sasha starts it) and the man was passing by with his (very well behaved) Airedale.   I noticed that Jack’s leash was a little bit too long and started to rein it in, and somehow, Sasha slipped her harness. 

I lunged for her, hanging on to Jack, and shouted a warning to the man, but the rest is all a big loud blur of shouts and crashes. Sasha went after the Airedale, who held his own and the runner man had a walking stick he used to beat her away, and I was lunging for her and then somehow, I was on the ground and holding on to Jack who thought he should be defending me and Sasha, and—

It was terrible.  Somehow, I got my hands into Jack’s fur and hauled him off and Sasha finally got tired of the whole thing and headed down the sidewalk toward two older women, and Jack sat down next to me like nothing ever happened.  The women huddled on the side of the path and I got up (somehow, I was on the ground, still not sure how that happened) and called to them, “Will you catch her? She won’t hurt you?”  And then I was looking at the Airedale, so beautiful and well behaved, who gave me a look like, “What riff-raff!” and I apologized profusely to the man, who was understandably very upset.

The two women brought Sasha to me and found my water bottle.  I gave the man my name and told him I’d pay for any vet bills he incurred (of course) and we all looked at the dogs, who all seemed to be out of breath but nobody damaged in any big way that was immediately evident.  No blood anywhere on the sidewalk, no ears or lips torn.    No gashes bleeding dramatically.  (Thank God!)

The man jogged on, and the two women, very concerned with me now, fetched my water bottle and asked me over and over again if I was okay.  I was shaky and freaked out, but fine, and I thanked them, madly.  They kept saying, “we saw it all. It wasn’t your fault, they were just doing what dogs do. Are you sure you’re okay?”

With Sasha firmly harnessed, we headed home, taking a shortcut because I was wrecked, and it did turn out Sasha had a big bleeding puncture on her hip.  It didn’t seem to hurt her at all, but it needed doctoring.  As we headed down the street toward home, I noticed I was spitting out dirt, and my lip felt funny, and it turned out my lip and chin were skinned and bleeding and covered with dirt, where I landed on my face at some point, though I have no memory of it at all.  (Could have been worse.  Lots of prickly pears in that field.)

I cleaned Sasha’s wound, got everyone settled and washed my face.  Bruises here and there–a skinned knee and the banged up face and, in the morning, a lot of sore muscles that must have come from lunging and twisting and being yanked.

But all day, I waited for the call from the Airedale’s owner.  I was so worried about him, and crushed that my dogs had been so bad and hurt another dog.  It broke my heart. 

The phone call never came.  I decided that must mean the dog was okay.  And I went out and found Sasha a different harness ( a sporn) so I can control her more certainly, but I’m also not going to walk them together anymore.   One dog at at time.  Which we tried this morning.

Jack and I headed out at seven, very early for us. He was an absolute angel, completely relaxed, even when dogs passed right beside us on the sidewalk.  He even moved off the path and sat down without being told.   He wanted to prove to me what an angelic and honorable dog he is, I suppose, and it was convincing. 

As we rounded a part of one park, I suddenly recognized the dark haired runner coming toward us.  We both stopped.  Jack sat down instantly, earnestly demonstrating how very well mannered he is, as if he was embarrassed, as if he’d had too many tequila shots that day and now…well.  Now he’s fine. 

I asked, “How is your dog? Is he okay?”  On rest, he said, limping a little.  Somebody got him on the leg, underneath.  Had to have a stitch.  

Again, I apologized profusely and asked him to send me the bill. 

And then he said, “Oh, no. I could see how emotional it was for you, too.  I’m not that guy,” he said. “What if we all just stop and don’t make things more traumatic or terrible than they have to be?”

Thank you, I said to him.  And thank you I say again to him now.  Runner guy with the Airedale, who took the high road.   I will never forget it, and I hope I have the grace and honor to extend forgiveness at that level when it is my turn.   I am also grateful to the two women who stopped, the good Samaritins, and helped me when I was so shaken.

Have you ever had an encounter of this nature, where strangers offered so much for nothing at all?

photo Wolf Dog by storm gal