fbook icon 60Puppy-proof?

Angel 110613 


Everyone knows about the importance of making a house and garden puppy-proof, but has anyone ever mentioned the owner? Based on recent personal experience, here are seven suggestions for making yourself puppy-proof.

1. Don’t wear dangling ear-rings or long necklaces in the presence of a puppy – they’re an invitation to demonstrate her high-jumping skills and to make off with a shiny trinket to add to her collection of sticks, feathers, rocks, leaves and other collectables.

2. Scarves are also a no-no, unless you want them shredded.

3. Don’t wear fluffy slippers or shoes with bows, laces, trims or tassels. Far too tempting.

 4. Speaking of tassels, avoid them altogether. Tassels and fringes hold a mysterious fascination for puppies.

 5. Tie your hair in a ponytail; otherwise when you bend over to pat your pooch, she may leap up and take a nip at the dangling strands and you will find yourself screaming in pain and gazing sadly at a bunch of your own hair sticking out of a puppy’s mouth. (I’m not kidding!)

 6. Don’t wear your expensive new woollen jumper unless you are happy for puppy claws to create holes and pulled threads. Likewise for new tights and pantyhose.

 7. I’ve mentioned dressing gowns before, but this bears repeating. Those ties are irresistible to a curious canine who lives to chew.

And finally, keep in mind that there is no malicious intent behind your puppy’s errant behaviour. Just a little too much enthusiasm, combined with the misapprehension that you are wearing these things purely for her entertainment.


Angel PWK4227

Deborah O’Brien

July, 2013


fbook icon 60A World Without Books: ‘Fahrenheit 451’

 

I’m an inveterate movie buff. Whenever I pass Sanity or JB Hi-Fi and spot a sign saying ‘3 for $20’, I can’t resist riffling through the rows of DVD cases in the hope of finding a treasure. Last Friday I came across a gem – François Truffaut’s film of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’, wedged between a rather mundane rom-com and a very average thriller.

I was so shocked to find the classic film that I immediately clutched it to my heart, afraid some passerby might try to wrest it from me, like those rabid shoppers fighting over shoes at the Boxing Day sales. But nobody showed the slightest interest in my discovery. So I quickly chose another two, rushed up to the shop assistant and handed over twenty dollars.

I must have been fifteen or sixteen when I first read ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and I recall being mesmerised by the surreal world it posited, a place where books are illegal; where neighbours and work colleagues inform on those still harbouring the forbidden volumes; and teams of firemen are despatched to burn them.

It’s been my experience that the film of a book is rarely as good as the book itself, but this one is an exception. In the sure hands of director Truffaut the story transfers brilliantly from page to screen. For me, the most spine-chilling scenes feature the red fire truck with its crew in their black uniforms racing along the road to the accompaniment of a Hitchcockian musical soundtrack. Those images become an ominous refrain running through the film.

There are fine performances from quintessential Sixties actress, Julie Christie and wonderful Austrian actor, Oskar Werner, who made his name in Truffaut’s iconic ‘Jules et Jim’ a few years earlier. He plays fireman, Montag, while Christie has dual roles: as Montag’s Stepfordesque wife, Linda, whose happiness is predicated on tranquilisers and watching large screen TV; and as a young woman called Clarisse, who secretly reads books and encourages Montag to question the system.

Although the film was made in 1966, it hasn’t really dated. The locations are perfect – the firehouse is a monumental grey building that could have been designed by Albert Speer and there’s a Space Age suspended monorail speeding across a rural landscape. According to the Bonus Features the monorail scenes were filmed in France where a prototype had been built in 1959 and ran along a short track.

For those who aren’t familiar with Bradbury’s novel, the title refers to the temperature at which paper starts to burn. Why burn books? Because they introduce readers to fictional worlds and alternative ideas that can inspire them to question the lives they lead and the values of the society they live in. In a repressive society, that can only lead to dissent. And a totalitarian regime doesn’t tolerate dissent. Which is why the Nazis burned books in 1930s’ Germany.

If all this sounds rather bleak, let me assure you that Bradbury’s story isn’t without hope. There are those who flee the repression and establish a new society where books are both the focus and the raison d’être. I won’t spoil it for you by revealing exactly how this happens. But it’s something which will resonate with 21st century readers, who are witnessing the most dramatic changes in the production of books since Gutenberg invented the printing press.

We’ve all heard the doomsayers predicting the demise of the book. And although the days of print books may well be numbered, it doesn’t mean books as such are endangered. ‘Fahrenheit 451’ shows us that a book can take many forms, and ultimately it is the words and ideas that count, not the format in which they are presented.

 

Deborah O’Brien

June, 2013


fbook icon 60A Bonzer*Aussie Dog

Angel01a 


Those of you who’ve read my story, Puppy Love, will know that we’ve been looking for a new dog for quite some time now. Recently we heard about a litter of kelpie puppies. The 'boys' were already spoken for, but not the little girl. Last week her wonderful owner presented her to us. We called the puppy Angel in honour of her beautiful mum, Halo. And in the hope that the name will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s been eleven and a half years since I’ve had a puppy. Plenty of time in which to forget about the sharp little teeth and boundless energy.

Here are some other things I should have remembered:

  • Don’t wear a long dressing gown when greeting your puppy in the morning, or she’ll jump for the ties and hang off the hem.
  • Empty your water feature before you bring your puppy home or she’ll think it’s her own personal paddle pool.
  • Put the garden brooms away. Otherwise she’ll remove the brush end and make it her favourite toy.
  • And don’t expect your seventeen-year-old tabby cat to fall in love with the puppy just because you have!

More pics soon.


*For non-Australian visitors to this website, 'bonzer' is an old-fashioned Aussie adjective meaning great or fantastic.

Kelpies are Australian working dogs, much loved for their sturdiness, energy and intelligence. 

Deborah O’Brien

June, 2013


fbook icon 60Review: Hope’s Road

Hope's Road, Margareta Osborn

It’s a cold, windy day in my part of south-eastern Australia. In the paddock opposite us the horses are wearing their winter blankets, and what’s left of the grass has turned crisp and dry. I should be outside, cutting down a stand of dead thistles, but there are more tempting things to do. Inside our cottage, the fire is blazing and I curl up on the sofa to finish the book I bought several weeks ago as a reward to myself for having met a big deadline.

It’s ironic that as a full-time writer, I have very little time left for reading. So when I do choose a book, it had better be good! And I'm delighted to tell you that Margareta Osborn’s latest novel, HOPE’S ROAD is a really good read. It hooked me from the very first scene where a six-year-old girl tries to clamber through a barbed wire fence into the neighbouring property and is startled by an old man pointing a gun at her and telling her in no uncertain terms to ‘get the hell off’ his farm. Then we meet the girl years later, all grown-up – Tammy McCauley, or 'Tim Tam' as her best friend calls her. This feisty young woman makes up one of the triumvirate of characters around whom the story is woven. The other two are an old curmudgeon by the name of Joe McCauley and an intriguing loner called Travis Hunter (whose surname matches the man’s job – he’s a dog trapper).

But the star of the book has to be Travis Hunter's young son, Billy – a good-hearted boy caught up in the detritus of a marriage break-up. The cast of supporting characters is as strong as the main protagonists. My favourite is Mrs Beatrice Parker, who just happens to be the town’s own Nosy Parker and speaks in rhyming aphorisms.

The writing is lucid, lyrical and sometimes gritty. Although HOPE'S ROAD could be characterised as a rural romance, it's so much more than that. Fans of the genre will love it, and those looking for serious issues simmering below the surface will find them too. 

The backdrop of HOPE’S ROAD is the Gippsland landscape, described so lovingly you can almost hear the cry of the currawongs and smell the fragrance of the eucalypt forests. The setting will resonate with those of us who live in the country, while city dwellers, dreaming of a tree change, will find themselves totally beguiled.

HOPE’S ROAD is a great read that’s hard to put down.

 

Deborah O’Brien

June 2013


fbook icon 60Puppy Love

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It’s been eighteen months since my collie dog, Bindi, died of cancer. For a long time we couldn’t even think about getting another dog, not while we were grieving for our beautiful girl. Recently, however, we decided it was time to bring a new dog into our lives.

     So we began visiting local pounds and shelters, both in person and online, looking for a rescue dog. Although we love collies, we didn’t want another one. There would always be the temptation to compare the newcomer to Bindi and find her wanting. Besides, we didn’t come across any collies, not even a border collie. At the RSPCA I fell in love with an Alaskan Malamute. My husband (WGH*) wisely reminded me that we didn’t want an active dog, nor one quite so big.

Anyway, about six weeks ago, WGH was having his daily latte at the local café. He likes to sit outside - it’s a ritual he used to share with Bindi, who thought ‘latte’ was synonymous with ‘walk’. Hence, if we said the word, she would spin around in circles, anticipating a jaunt.

On this particular day, as WGH sipped his coffee and chatted with the other regulars, he spotted a Pomeranian running along the footpath in the direction of the café. The dog was about a block away. No owner in sight. When the Pom was almost level with the café, it jumped off the kerb and started to dash across the road. At the same time, an upmarket black SUV was approaching at rapid speed. To make things worse, the driver was chatting on her mobile phone. WGH rushed onto the road and raised his hand to stop the vehicle, while one of the café regulars scooped up the dog, only to discover she wasn't wearing a collar.

A visit to the vet revealed she wasn’t microchipped either. The vet, in turn, offered to keep the dog until the owner could be located. In the meantime, WGH came home, bearing pictures of the Pomeranian, taken on his mobile phone. ‘We’ll use them for the posters,’ he said. 

I wish I hadn’t seen those photos because I looked at that cute honey-coloured dog and instantly fell for her.

‘If the owner doesn’t claim her, do you think we could keep her?’ I asked WGH.

He didn’t say no.

Before long, I was busy coming up with a list of names for the Pomeranian (since she didn’t seem to have one of her own). After considerable deliberation I decided on ‘Pixelle’. Like an excited mother-to-be, I was already looking at baby merchandise – pink leads, fluffy blankets, cosy dog beds. By the third day I was sure the owner wasn’t going to turn up. Part of me railed against him for being so careless; another part prayed that he had gone away and would never return. On the fourth day I was emailing my friends, telling them about Pixelle, when WGH arrived home, a sombre expression on his face.

‘The owner turned up,’ he said.

My heart sank. I won’t repeat the swear word I used.

And so it was that Pixelle went back to her owner and we were still without a dog.

Then a very dear friend emailed me with the following words:

You know what will happen? Some odd circumstance will probably deliver the right dog to you.

It’ll be fate.

And that’s what happened. More next time.


*WGH – World’s Greatest Husband (it says so on his coffee mug)