the kitten


This is Spartacus. He’s the tiny kitten I found outside my place, covered in ringworm.

I got him treated. I got him vaccinated. I washed him in special shampoo. I fed and cared for him while keeping him in isolation in my tiny back enclosed yard.

He got better, but not before infecting Lainee with ringworm which she is only now getting over. As for my ‘spots’… a staph infection, I can’t totally blame Spartacus as I could have got that anywhere from scratching at a mosquito bite and infecting it.

Anyway, mom was dead set against a cat and more upset due to him spreading his ringworm to us. In her mind he’s a filthy animal and needs to go.

When I found him I thought for sure I’d keep him. He was so tiny and helpless and cute. Of course as he grew and got stronger and healthier he turned into hell on wheels… due mostly of course to having spent weeks in isolation without enough human interaction.

So, I thought it was a sign for me to get a cat… an indoor house cat at that. Then I realised that he’d have to be an outside cat cause I often go away for weeks or months at a time. I can’t leave him in the house or in the yard even if my neighbour is good enough to feed him for me. He needed to be a free cat. After neutering of course.

Then one day my mom told me a neighbour told her that his brother was looking for a cat. Theirs had died and they wanted another… I was wary at first… but it turned out to be the best home Spartacus could wish for!

He now lives on a farm with an older retired couple who adore their animals. They live on Paros all year round and Sparky will be an indoor/outdoor cat. He’s now got playmates in all shapes and sizes. There are sheep, goats, chickens, a dog, a donkey and 2 cows. And he’s already chasing mice. They are besotted with him.

I’m so pleased. And really incredibly lucky. There are so many abandoned cats and kittens on the island, they could have gotten one anywhere, but Sparky was the lucky one.

z

flowering plants and tiny feet

It took a while, and most of the seeds I planted either didn’t grow or died, but I finally got some flowers! Below is the lavatera my friend Ginny gave me in Tasmania a few years ago. They are by far the easiest seeds to grow and I got quite a few plants going. I gave most of them to friends to put in their gardens to ensure at least some of them make it. One of the ones I kept is now flowering on my porch.

The sweet peas I ordered from England (unfortunately I didn’t bring any from mine in Tassie) are doing well and starting to bloom. First came pink and purple, now I have one white flower as well.

As for the rest of the million and one seeds I planted, I have ONE foxglove and 4 snap dragons. Colours to be seen. And not a single granny’s bonnet. sigh.

I mentioned tiny feet though, didn’t I?

A couple of days ago I heard a tiny kitten miaowing loudly outside. So I checked it out, as I would. There was a tiny little orange and white kitten on the wall outside my neighbour’s place.

So, here’s the story so far… I picked him up and was blown away by his bright blue eyes. But he looked like he’d been injured, he had a couple of spots which looked like he’d been rubbed in the dirt… and the end of his tail was completely bald with a black tip which looked necrotic. Plus his tiny little paws were swollen and looked sore in a way that reminded me of my darling Billybear who had auto-immune issues.

I did what I do: I rushed him to the vet to be checked over. The vet said he had a fungal infection and the sores MIGHT be an injury but they MIGHT be caused by him chewing on himself. He said the swollen paws were probably from the same thing: licking them too much. And that he was about 2 months old.

He prescribed shampoo – said to wash him every second day. Said that it wasn’t toooo contagious, that Lainee would probably not get it, that I would probably not get it, we’d have to have open sores or a compromised immune system to get it. Just to wash him and feed him and that he’s playful and feisty so there isn’t much wrong with him other than that. It will clear up with time…

I then proceeded to spend 80+ euros on the shampoo, kitten food, a litter tray, kitty litter and a scoop. Cause how on earth was I going to look after a kitten without that stuff?

I know, I know… Why spend so much money on a kitten I wasn’t going to keep? Well… two answers really.

One (the sensible Zefi one) is that I should have kept the stuff I bought last time I cared for a kitten cause I know who I am.

Second (the not so sensible Zefi one) is saying ‘But he’s SOOOO cute!’ and ‘I’ve been thinking about getting a kitten’ and ‘he was meant for me’ and other such guff.

I can’t tell you which one is winning.

Yet.

I can tell you I’ve given him 3 baths in 3 days to kick start the healing cause I’m currently on the way to Athens to do some stuff and take mom to the doctor etc. I clipped his nails.* I’ve made him a little home in the back ‘yard’ where he can play and sleep and eat safely while I’m away. I’ve organised for my neighbour (the poor guy who always has to water my plants when I go) to feed and wash him.

*Nails. Clipped. Yep. Why? Have you ever tried to wash a kitten? Scratches. No open sores, right? sigh. I lathered myself with soap and pure alcohol and am keeping my fingers crossed. I’m pretty paranoid about skin infections and other little organisms that live on the skin. eeek.

But he’s so darn cute! And he purrs so loud! And Lainee won’t lie in my lap and watch TV…

Meanwhile Lainee isn’t too impressed. He’s not scared of her but she’s choosing to ignore him. So far he can’t jump on the couch (plus I’m not really allowing him the run of the house till his infection clears up) so she’s safe up there. She does think his food is pretty good though. Thankfully she’s shown no interest in ‘kitty crunchies’ yet.

He has no name yet. Maybe its cause I’m still not sure I should keep him.

I don’t NEED a cat. I don’t NEED another pet. I sure as hell don’t need cat hair on the couch.

But he purrs so loud and Lainee won’t cuddle while I watch TV…

z

Time flies…

Or drags. It really depends on where you are and what you’re doing.

Lately it just feels like there isnt enough time in the day to get anything done. Partly its cause I’ve been working the 1-7-but-more-like-7.30pm+-shift at work.

It sucks. I always have things to do in the mornings and even though Lainee makes sure I’m up by 8am every day, I never seem to have time to just relax… let alone do the stuff on my to do list.

I really have no idea where time goes, but it just goes.

There are pills to take (for both us girls), then errands to run, not to mention walks to take. If I can squeeze in a quick swim I do it. I’m on greek island for petes sake! I’ve taken to wearing my swim suit when I leave home cause you never know… there’s nothing worse than finding yourself near a great beach on a gorgeous day without swimmers. In fact being on Paros and not being able to swim is my worst nightmare…

After work its rush home to walk the girlie, grab something to eat before its too late according to my stomach’s schedule, then its socialize and chat and drinks till at least 11pm… cause I’m on a greek island for petes sake!

So what keeps me so busy you ask? Well, there are always things that need doing, you know, normal living things like washing, grocery shopping, chasing up lawyers regarding buying my own place, stopping to chat with every person I meet, pat every dog I see… and dog grooming.

The middle of the day work thing is kinda annoying. But its only for this month apparently… then I go to morning shift.

I’m eager to get to the 9am start so I can have an uninterrupted afternoon to myself.

And as if that wasn’t enough I found a sick little kitten on the road and picked him up. No one could take him on for 3 days. The animal welfare societies on the island are volunteer run and everyone is already up to their armpits in kittens. Its that time of year when kittens are born to stray cats or are dumped in dumpsters by uncaring cat owners.

So I had this tiny little man who needs antibiotics once a day and eye drops twice a day for a while. And he’s so cute… and he and Lainee were ok together… but I DO NOT WANT A CAT.

I love all animals but I don’t necessarily want to live with or care for them all. And cats are too sheddy. And they jump on surfaces I’d rather not have decorated with cat hair. And I don’t need another pet to feed or vet. Right now its still a toss up as to whether I can afford to support myself, let alone a pet or two.

When a dinner out costs as much or more than you earn in a day… well… it doesn’t look promising.

z

photo display and more pet sagas

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Wayne likes to get me little presents now and then. Usually rusty old things. Like a couple of rusty old chests he brought home a few weeks ago. And then this toast rack, hand held steak grill thingy he found somewhere.

I love rusty things (in case you hadn’t realised), and old things, and things which just look interesting. This covered all bases.

So, what did I do with it? Well, first I drilled a hole in the handle so I could hang it in the kitchen to go with my ever so slowly growing and encroaching collection of old and rusty stuff…

Then I put one of my favourite photos of mom and her brother on it to display. I really love this photo. Aren’t they both so gorgeous?

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I added a few bits and pieces to it to add interest…

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Take a step back and have a look at the things around it. The beautiful black and white plate is something I bought at an auction. I think I paid $20 for a box of junk just for the plate. The sieve on the right is something I brought back from Greece. The Mickey and Mini I bought years ago when I lived in Melbourne. The Flintstone characters I’ve had since I was a kid. The black mammy notebook is so politically incorrect but so gorgeous. She was a gift. And the charging station is something I upcycled from an old drawer.

You can read about that adventure here and here.

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Take another step back and you can see what I mean about encroaching stuff taking over the kitchen.

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I started with the two vintage food covers. Then I found some vintage strainers… then I needed another wall…

I’m loving it.

So, where are we with the animal situation? Well, Montana seems fine. She ate another nappy last night (ok, don’t get your knickers in a knot, she didn’t eat it, she chewed a hole big enough to counter any pee soaking effect it might have had). I washed and dried her bedding so its ready for tonight.

This morning I fashioned a funnel out of aluminium foil and chased her when she went out to pee and collected a small plastic container full of pee which I took to the vet. I’m now waiting to hear from them and take her in when they ask me to.

But the adventures don’t end there.

Yesterday morning when feeding the poultry (we have a few chickens, a lot of geese and we feed a fluctuating flock of ducks which aren’t really ours but they live around or visit our dam) I noticed one of the hens was wobbly on her feet. She seemed to cross her feet over as she walked and she’d overbalance like she was drunk.

This morning she was falling all over the place and I know she hadn’t been drinking.

I picked her up and checked her over. I think her feet are a bit swollen, but I’m not really sure. I asked on a FB poultry group (as you do) and got suggestions, advice, sympathy and well wishes. I also asked Dr Google. I still have no idea what’s wrong with her but now I have a whole lot of things I can worry about.

I’ve got her in a dog crate for the night, in the shed where she’ll be warm. I’ll have another look at her tomorrow.

Ah the joys of owning animals. I swear, if this is a fatal infectious disease that kills our chickens I am NOT getting any more.

z

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its been four days!

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I just realised its been four days since my last post. I had planned to post three days ago. Then two days ago. Then yesterday. You get the picture.

It totally illustrates my point about planning.

Anyway, I may not have posted, but I’ve been busy.

I’ve finished a few small projects which had been mouldering in the casita (aka my shed), cleaned the house (mainly cause we had visitors), taken part in a scheme to take over the world (or just created a Women’s Shed in the Derwent Valley), and discovered that one of our dogs is having continence issues.

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While cleaning the house today I did the usual changing of dog bedding, something that I do on a regular basis. This time I found some wet spots, which I sniffed (as you do) cause, you know, one of the dogs could have spilled his/her tea in bed… It was pee.

Not good.

I’m thinking Montana. She’d been unwell about 3 weeks ago, waking me up multiple times through the night to let her out. Not only did the poor girlie have diarrhea, she had a urinary tract infection too. Perhaps she needs another course of antibiotics… But she normally wakes me up to go out – so maybe its not her…

That’s not a welcome thought. I mean, I brought a huge crate up to the house and set it up in the living room  (as you do) for Montana to sleep in tonight. Then I thought ‘but what if its not her? I get up and find a dry crate but a wet couch!’

So I did what any sensible person would do: I went to the supermarket in search of nappies (diapers to Americans) or pull up pants.

I stood in the aisle staring at all the baby, toddler and small (and not so small) child continence products and went ‘Whoah!’. There’s so many of them! And naturally they come in boxes of 5000.

What size diaper would a standard poodle wear? When I bred poodles I used to put undies on my girls to stop them staining everywhere when they were in season, but that was a while ago and I can’t remember what size I bought.

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This is not Montana, but its a good illustration of the look I was going for.

The supermarket didn’t have undies, but they have lots of choice in the nappy department.

After standing there looking stupid for a while I asked a nice young lady who was buying little people juice what size she thought a poodle would wear.

She was very helpful, once she figured out I wasn’t a nut. She had no idea what size I would need but she was buying a box for her son so she gave me one to try. As it happened I had a poodle in the car so I went out and tried it on. That was fun. Luckily I hadn’t parked too close to the store so no one saw me wrestling in the back seat with Romeo who thought his mom had developed some really kinky interests.

It was way too small.

I ended up buying 14-25kg nappies in a box of 30. The good news is that if one (or more) of the dogs have bed wetting issues I have plenty of nappies.

What fun I’m having!

z

 

renovating the chickens’ home (already)

Turned out the ladder I made for the chickens’ new home was too steep. Well, even if it wasn’t, they refused to use the perch. I’d sneak in every night and grab them and put them on it. The hen would stay but the rooster would just jump off and sleep in the corner on the bottom of the box.
I wondered whether it was the width of the branch that the rooster had an issue with. Maybe something wider would make it easier for him?
Someone in a FB poultry group suggested the box was too open, they needed more protection from the weather…. So, I revisited the whole thing.
This is what it looks like now:
First, I removed the trellis door and cut it down, cutting out a section to make a small door for the hen to get in to the nesting box.
I replaced the branch perch with a piece of timber, sanding the edges off so there were no sharp bits to hurt feet.
I used a large piece of plywood to make the upper door and cut a door into it as an entrance.
Lastly, I used a long piece of barn wood as a ramp. I used offcuts to make little steps on it to make climbing easier. I added a hook to the back of the ramp to hold it securely to the door, and hinged on a walkway leading to the perch.
I mean, what more can I do?
I even sprinkled feed on the ramp to encourage them to explore.
They’re totally ignoring it. They prefer to sleep on the bottom in the corner.
I mean, does it matter? No. They’re safe in their little yard either way, but what ungrateful little sods! I worked my fingers to the bone for this new improved housing and they prefer to roost on the floor!
Sheesh.
I hope the other chickens are more appreciative of my efforts when I redecorate their pen!
z

the new chicken box

What do you call it? A roost? A home? A box? I have no idea. But I’ve made our segregated couple a new home. These two live in Stalag 13 – a dog run converted to a chook pen.

Why are they segregated you may ask. Well, basically the rooster needed to be put in a safe place or his son was going to kill him. Then I couldn’t leave him lonely, so I got him a hen from the feed store. I didn’t want to pen one of our free range hens as I thought it’d be cruel to cage a girl who’s known freedom. This little girl was born and bred in cages so I figure that she’s happy not having to share her space with a lot of other girls.
So here are the steps to making this wonderful creation. In case you were wondering. If not just skip this post.
Believe it or not, I started by making a nesting box. I was dreaming of the day I’d open a lid and reach in to a clean poop-free box and remove fresh, clean eggs, without having to get down on creaky knees and grope through chicken droppings to get them.
Here is my box. I’m so proud. Don’t ask me for a tutorial on this. You really don’t want to make anything the way I do… But let me just say I only cut one piece of timber wrong! Honestly. That’s a new one for me. Especially working on angles ..I failed geometry. And the teacher was right… I did need it…
NOTE: This nesting box and roost is made up entirely of offcuts of wood I had in my workshop.
Let me try to walk you through it, I cut a base the size I thought the hen would appreciate. Then I put a front and a back on it, the front high enough to hold in bedding, the back high enough to give the hen head space. Since I really suck at putting sides on things I used brackets to put the back on. I’m a cheat. I’m comfortable with that.
To make the sloping sides, I held a piece of plywood up and kind of drew where I thought the sides would meet the back and front. Then I used a ruler to draw a line between them and cut along those lines. Once I was happy with side #1, I traced it onto another piece of plywood and cut that too. I used screws to join them together. 
I added a piece of pine to the top and to the front for the lid to swing off. This is how the box was looking at that stage.
I used some offcut pieces of cedar cladding for the roof. I had to add a thin strip of pine at the top in order to hold the screws. Turns out cedar is really soft and breaks easy. Who knew?
Result, a stylish nesting box. I hope the hen is pleased. I gave it couple of coats of the same self priming exterior paint that I used on the house, except for the roof which I simply gave a coat of polyurethane. 
So there I was, nice nesting box, nowhere to put it. I was trying to think of how to make a home for the chickens in Stalag 13 when I had a revelation. In the middle of the night of course. Lying in bed, not able to sleep cause of nesting boxes and angles going through my mind, when suddenly it was KAPOW.
The wood box!
We’ve been using this as our wood box for the last 7 years. I think it may have been a feed bin in a previous life. I’d given it a coat of paint and Wayne cut half the front out so we could reach in for our wood and put it on the back porch. We used to keep the smaller, kindling type of wood in there. But we now have air conditioning. And a broken wood heater… so… we don’t need the wood box! 
In my sleep deprived state I knew it was the answer to my prayers. I didn’t have to make a home from scratch!
First step, I took the front off. I had planned to just turn it upside down, leaving the opening on the bottom. 
Then I thought, why leave the ‘wings’ at the bottom? I cut it straight across and down the middle, creating doors. Which I had all kinds of trouble hanging on my own. Those suckers were heavy and its hard to hold the drill, screws, hinges and doors all at the same time. The lost screws under the deck are proof of that.
Plus, I was thinking it might be too enclosed. So I took them off again.
Meanwhile inside the box I put in a long branch as a roost. I sure hope its thick enough… I did this by drilling out two large holes with the hole saw (yes, I own a set of those!), pushing the branch through and then putting a screw through to hold it in place. You don’t want it spinning when the chickens get on it!
I also cut a hole out for the nesting box and attached it to the outside with screws. I admit, I googled how to make nesting boxes and chicken homes. The nesting box has to be lower than the roost or the hens will sleep in the nesting boxes. Since chickens poop in their sleep, if they roost in the nesting box, they’ll poop in the nesting box. YUCK.
Now I was thinking, can they get up onto the roost? Is the box too small? Is the roost too high? I have no idea.
So to be safe, I made a little ladder. A friend thinks its too steep. Maybe it is. I’m hoping they’ll use it. They’ve been living on the ground for so long…
Oh, and I added more cedar to the roof to make it match. Looking good!

Since the outside of the box had already been painted, I just gave it one coat of house paint to freshen it up. Then I decided the inside needed painting too.

In the end I decided to use a piece of trellis I found and make a single door. A bit of privacy, and more air circulation. Remember, these chickens have been sleeping in an old dog kennel till now. This has got to be a step up in the world!
Here is the other side. Pretty plain huh? I thought a little porch would look nice, balance it out, you know. I’m all about curb appeal. 
I used some brackets and some timber wedges to achieve an angle, added more cladding and voila! An undercover area for eating.
Ok, the reason behind the porch is that I had planned on demolishing the dog kennel. I hated that thing, it was stinky and hard to clean out. And I was over reaching into it for eggs.
Well, when I started pulling it apart I had another idea. I pulled off the cladding on 2 sides, making it into a kind of summer house. How many chooks have a summer house? huh?
Its actually a great place for the food dish too. You can see the hen is having a peck at the shell grit while the rooster is having a snack of grain under the porch.
I didn’t think I was going to be able to get the new home into Stalag 13 till next week as there was no way I could move that thing off the porch on my own. However a nice man gave me a hand today and its done! I’m not above playing the weak female card. 
I cleaned out old bedding and put down some new stuff, put some hay in the bottom of their new roost and in the nesting box, and here they are…
Stalag 13 has never looked so good!
I’m so pleased. I love the new look. Now, if they would only use the roost…
Next job – the chicken coop. Ugh. Don’t remind me.
z

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birds not so welcome

Its summer. We have a house with all sorts of nooks and crannies which birds find perfect for raising their young. Every spring and summer our roof is full of bird families being raised. 
Its not as nice as it sounds. Our deck and everything on it gets covered in bird poop, there is constant rustling in the roof and the birds nests are a fire hazard and attract rodents. Yuck.
This is one example of the easiest to reach spots. The light fittings on the back porch. Pretty huh?
Here are three of the many nests I removed from above these lights this spring. 

I actually had to remove them every couple of days. It took weeks for the birds who were nesting there to get tired of rebuilding and go elsewhere.

The story was not without casualties. One of the nests had two eggs in it.

Pretty little speckled blue eggs. And one of them broke when I pulled out the nest. sigh. Barney helped clean it up. He likes eggs.

I love the bird songs and I love watching them hop around the place. We have swallows and sparrows and blackbirds and many spotted pardalotes and my favourite, wrens.
I do not love the bird poop or the rustling overhead or the fact that they’re a fire hazard.
Better go patrol the lights again. Its been a week of quiet on that front and I bet someone else has moved in.
z

where we’re at

Literally or philosophically? Maybe a bit of both!

Whatever.

Either way, I thought it was time to catch you up on stuff around here.

Everyone is well – dogs, horses, geese, ducks, chickens… us. Although one chicken is looking half plucked. Its autumn… I know they go through a molting phase, but she’s a step above being in a roasting pan by the looks of her.

Meanwhile, we’re down one rooster. We did have two – one was a home bred boy. He’s disappeared. Either he was run off by his dad or he met a sticky end. I haven’t found any evidence to suggest which.

Without rain there’s no grass so we’ve been hard feeding the horses a few months now. There’s no hay to be found anywhere and, if you can find it, it costs more than gold.

Here’s Waldo, sharing his breakfast with the chickens. I give Wally a wide berth… after the time he bit me I’m very wary of his teeth.

Dancer, on the other hand, is a real smoocher. We love that girl! 

We have a new female goose. She arrived one day and paired up with one of the boys. That now makes us the proud owners of 3 couples. I really am afraid of what will happen when they decide to have more babies. We got lucky last year. One of the girls lay 20 or so eggs but didn’t sit on them long enough to hatch them.

Next year when they lay eggs I think I’ll skulk around stealing them!

Our dam has never been so low. Its spring fed and it’s always been full. This summer its more mud puddle than dam. I think we either stuffed up the spring when we had it dug out or the spring has dried up. The dam never seemed to bounce back from being dug out, the water has been like brown soup since… then again, with the lack of rain around here, maybe the spring has just packed it in.

If the situation doesn’t improve I think the geese might move out. Not sure if that’ll make me sad or glad. I love them, but they’re pretty deadly on any plants I try to get growing where they can reach.

I mean the horses are bad enough, but now I had to rethink all the fencing. Not just tall and strong for the horses, also shorter and closer for the geese!

Wayne built a cute bonfire pile in the middle paddock. Won’t be long now and he’ll be out there roasting marshmallows. If he liked them. And if people actually roasted marshmallows in Australia.

It looks like a forest fairy home, complete with a door. I suggested we could do a rain dance one night under a full moon. The neighbours would enjoy that.

Providing we keep our clothes on.

Meanwhile, Wayne and I are doing a regular radio show at our local community radio station. It was my idea, I have a ton of cds and some vinyl from my rockabilly/rock’n’roll days and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to listen to and share my music. So far we’re really enjoying it.

Turns out Wayne is a closet radio announcer! Who knew? He’s a natural.

You can stream it online if you’re out of range, so look us up – TYGA FM 98.9 – 12-2pm on Sundays.

Other than that, I think I may have mentioned I’ve lost my mojo in terms of creativity lately. I just don’t have the motivation. Or energy. Or desire.

My get up and go has got up and gone.

One of the only things I dragged myself out to do last weekend was put up three old mirrors in the mud room. We now have someplace to check ourselves before we walk out the door. Surely that’s a good thing.

When I feel flat like this I have to remember – we’ve done so much to this place since we moved in. All I have to do is look at the old photos to appreciate that.

And darn… I have to remove the Xmas bow from the front door.

I told you I’ve been ‘off’ lately.

Sometimes its ok to just watch TV, read books and rest. Its ok to do nothing for a while.
At least that’s what I tell myself. I’m almost convinced.
z

poodle playdate

Today was a busy day. And a fun day. Our friends Mary and Zephyr came over for a visit (and grooming session). Usually when Zephyr comes over to play we all go out for a walk in the top paddock which has the best view on our property. Then, once the poodles are nice and dirty, we go back and they all get a groom.

Its actually quite handy, cause by the time Zeph is ready for a groom so are Montana and Romeo. Mary comes up and together we groom all three poodles in a production line kind of arrangement. That way they’re all clean at the same time.

I love clean poodles.

And the weather wasn’t too bad either. Overcast but not really cold, and the forecast rain didn’t turn up either. Good weather for playing with crazy dogs.

Its been pretty cold lately, often below zero overnight and lots of frost in the morning.

The garden is struggling a bit with all the frost lately and I’m already sick of drying our clothes in the living room in front of the heater. I can’t wait for more sun and longer days…

I’m now working 5 days a week at my ‘day job’ which means less time for playing at home. I have no idea how I managed to work full time, 5 days a week, for so many years and still managed to get things done!

z