All My Trials – A Mouse In The House

I have three dogs – Makea Fluffy Bear, Ama Mouse and Fynnie Puss. Makea is a Finnish Lapphund, Ama and Fynn are Finnish Spitz. The Finnish Lapphund was originally bred to herd reindeer and to guard the family, while the Finnish Spitz’s role was to hunt small game like grouse and squirrels. Each dog barks a lot but usually for different reasons, so between them they have all bases covered. Much of our evening is spent barking at the possums that walk the telecommunications cable or at rodents that may or may not be frequenting their domain.

Unfortunately rodent numbers are up again and food sources are down. So life is very exciting for the pooches. This is not our first rodeo with the rodents. Several years ago, backyard chooks were quite the vogue and at least four sets of neighbours had them. With so much grain in the offing, the rodent population exploded. That was fine while the rodents weren’t in our house, but during the depths of winter, they somehow breached the walls. They got into our wall cavity and roof space. We could hear them scritching in the wall beside our bed at night. Ama could also hear them. As we lay in bed, Ama would run back and forth over our faces, barking at the rodents on the other side of the wall.

The situation became impossible as the rodents were well fed and weren’t interested in the traps we set for them. So we reluctantly called in the pest exterminator and he put bait out in the roof space. I suspect a number of our neighbours also resorted to chemical extermination at the time. Despite advising us that our dogs would not be harmed if they ate a poisoned rat, Ama subsequently fell ill. Fluffy was a bit off too. I quickly jumped online and discovered that secondary poisoning of wildlife had been reported in several European countries due to the use of the same rodenticide. Both girls (Fynn had not yet joined the family) had a course of Vitamin K as a precaution against possible secondary poison. We also quickly removed the baits from the ceiling and consigned them to the bin.

Anyway, we discovered that the rats had gained access to the house via the air-conditioning pipes. They had chewed through the insulation foam. Crafty buggers. However, they only came inside when it rained. So we waited for a sunny day and replaced the sealant. Problem fixed.

I often wonder whether consuming baited rodents all those years ago may have caused Ama’s liver damage.

Some readers may be aware that there has been a huge mouse plague in eastern Australia. Mouse numbers in the cropping regions have recently declined due to widespread flooding. At the height of the plague, there was a shortage of Vitamin K, and a number of dogs died for lack of treatment.

In Canberra city, the rodents have been spared death by drowning. Instead hunger is a problem as backyard gardens have been hammered by storms.

It occurs to me that the mouse plague may have been the last straw for the Bogong moth. Each year, Bogon moths normally migrate in their millions from the cropping regions in western New South Wales to the Snowy mountains. However, their numbers, which have been declining, were decimated by the drought and then seemed to suffer a complete population collapse in the year of the mouse plague. To my knowledge, no one has mentioned the mouse plague as a contributing factor in what looks to be the year that the Bogan moth will be declared extinct, but it makes sense, don’t you think? What a disaster.

Anyway, back to the rats. They’re back. Inside.

To be continued.

Christmas Tale

The year that my sister, brother and I had our last Christmas together with our father, was probably the same year that my father bought a jet ski and a schmick new wetsuit to affirm his mid-life experiment. In keeping with the new purchases, he also rented a holiday house at the south coast over the Christmas/New Year holiday period. It was our first ever trip to, and holiday at, the south coast. Summer holidays at the coast are a Canberra tradition that was normally beyond our means. My father also paid for my brother and sister to fly down from Queensland for the festivities, the offer to pay the airfares alone being insufficient to bribe them to make the trip south.

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Another Toilet

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day and general ramble, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

My anxiety levels have been up this week. I haven’t been all that well so I’ve been fussing about getting old and needing another toilet in the house. We have only one toilet and when you have only one house toilet and you live with a house full of people, there’s often a clash of needs. The cost of housing has skyrocketed in Australia. It is now well beyond the reach of first-home buyers, unless, of course, mum and dad can help out. The cost of rent is also astronomical. Canberra (Australia) rents are the highest of any Australian capital city, and that’s saying something. So, the grown-up children will probably be living at home for a while longer.

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We Shall Decide When You Shall Return To The Office

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

Unfortunately, I’ve had a really shit week. I accidentally got my Covid booster shot during the week. I had a doctor’s appointment late one afternoon and they had vaccine doses left over so they offered me one and I accepted. Gee, the fizzer shot raises your blood glucose level, doesn’t it? My BG has been all over the shop. The day after my shot, I was high all day so I decided to walk that blood sugar down. I felt really good when I started out. That should have been a warning sign. With the pump cannula in my leg (I know, stupid), the intramuscular insulin and exercise slammed me down pretty fast. I started to stagger when I reached my street on my way home. I don’t know why I didn’t stop to drink my Lucozade when I felt the hypo symptoms. Too far gone and too stupid, I guess. But I only had a few hundred metres to go, so I pushed on. I made it to our bin when my legs started to collapse under me. I then somehow made it to the front steps. I don’t know how long I was outside, clutching on to the railing, but by the time I was discovered, I was covered in mosquito bites. I remember whispering, “Help me. Help me.” Very pathetic. My True Love has a sixth sense about these things and he found me on the stairs.

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Poor Bill

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

Clyde, the evil cat, is asleep on the job, the rodent hunting job that is. He much prefers prey of the feathered variety. I can’t help losing my cool because my neighbour’s open compost pile next to our shared back fence, is a cafe for rodents. Consequently, our life has been hell. This is because our dogs are hunting dogs. They are rodent hunting dogs. They are completely obsessed with catching rodents, and being Finnish spitz, they are not quiet about it. I sometimes hear a scittering when I am in my outdoor art studio and I see occasional rodent excrement resting delicately on my tile stash. Anyway, my dog, Fynn, decided he could also hear and smell the little beasties in my studio.

My True Love (TL) eventually investigated and much to his surprise found a rodent in an upside down self-watering pot. Crafty bugger, the rodent, not my TL. Anyway, the rat had taken up residence in the small, dry water well of the pot. Luxury accommodation. I was there to witness the mayhem at its discovery. I might have even contributed to some of the mayhem. My TL tried to contain the beastie in the pot but there was nothing on hand to trap it and I was frozen in fright so I was no help. Anyway, a rat the size of small Toyota sailed clear over the rim of the pot, whereupon I found my voice once again. Unfortunately, Fynnie dog can’t unsee what he saw. He will never forget the day he saw that rat run under my tile shelves. He will tell us about it. Every. Single. Day.

I reckon we need a song about an evil cat, a lazy cat. This cat’s name was Bill. Let’s listen to Ami Williamson sing Bill’s song. It is the stuff of cat lore. I bet Bill wished he had kept his legs crossed and his mouth shut.

Stay calm and safe, everyone.

Kind Regards.

RDP Akimbo


Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

Today I met up with friends for coffee. It was the first time we had coffeed for about six months due to Covid restrictions. It took me a while to engage my mouth again. It worked. 95.8% of Canberrans over 12 years of age are now double-vaxed so more and more restrictions are being removed. To our north, Sydneysiders are also achieving high vaccination levels. Hence, double-vaxed Sydneysiders can now travel to Canberra (Australia).

Anyway, my friends and I did some e-bike baby-sitting for a lady who had come down from Sydney. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask her name but I do know the name of her dog. It’s Evie and Evie is a miniature Schnauzer. The two of them decided to hire an e-bike and go for a ride. Evie rode pillion in her mum’s backpack. It was Evie’s first time riding pillion. She was a little champion. Naturally, I had to take a couple of photos.

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Landing It

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

To travel to my home town, the place of my birth, would take a number of days by car. For a family with small children that journey would likely stretch to over a week. When I was a child, the cost of plane fares was also exorbitant, hence our family rarely visited our relatives in Far North Queensland. I remember a special occasion when our family did make the trip by plane. Perhaps it was my first plane trip. It was very exciting.

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A Time For Everything

Welcome to my regular (and early) Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you. Today, I am going to get nostalgic.

I can’t remember a time when the house wasn’t dilapidated. The house sat upon tall timber pylons three storeys high, but there was nothing underneath it. The story goes that there were plans for a shop below the house but those plans never came to fruition. To the passerby, it might have looked like a giant birdhouse. This was fitting because two older ladies lived in that house. The younger was my grandmother, the elder was her mother, my great grandmother. My grandfather lived up the road. That was odd, but odd is normal for us.

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On Creating A Myth

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

For reasons that I am ashamed of now, I decided not to send my children to our local primary school. Instead, I decided to send them to a school out of area. Anyway, for entirely different reasons, it turned out to be a good decision. At first it seemed that we might not be able to get our eldest child into our chosen school. This was quite distressing for our son because he wanted to go to the school with the rocket in the playground. My husband and I also checked out the Catholic primary school in the same suburb as some of my child’s friends would also be attending that school. I was upfront with the principal of the Catholic school about our lack of religion. I explained to him that my child was interested in dinosaurs, planetary science and, you know, evolution. The principal was quick to reassure me that the religious education was only a small component of the curriculum and that the bible was not taught as some literal truth but more as guiding stories. I thought that was very enlightened. I can’t imagine getting that type of response these days. However, at that time, almost half the children who went to Catholic schools weren’t actually Catholic. In the end, a place came up at the rocket ship school and so a temper tantrum was avoided and I did not have to deal with my own internal conflict.

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Walking With Magpies

This article contains material of a satirical nature that may offend some readers. Please note the photos are awful, but the story is good/scary/funny.

For months now I have been in serious training. Magpie training. It’s full on magpie breeding season here in Canberra (Australia) and for the unlucky few, a walk, cycle or broomstick ride, may lead to being dive-bombed by a rampaging magpie. As of a few minutes ago, the count on the number of magpie attacks that have occurred in Australia this year is 3798, with 466 injuries (see Australia’s Magpie Swooping Map 2020). The number of attacks and injuries are likely significantly under-reported. But have no fear, ladies and gentlemen, there are a couple of ways to mitigate the risks.

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