Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Ballad of Intruder Kitty

In a suburb of Canberra there's a chilly little house
Full of Betty and her family and a sometimes midnight mouse
The heating's really basic, nothing central, nothing ducted
And in a place like Canberra that's pretty bloody fuckeded.

It's messy and it's freezing and it has a tiny telly
And recently it's started to become a little smelly
The cause of the aroma (I confess it is a pity)
Is a fluffy Oscar lookalike who's called Intruder Kitty.

I don't know where he comes from and I don't know where he goes
But every time he visits us, my house is on the nose.
He sneaks in through the cat flap at odd hours of night and day
And steals the food from Betty's cats, then slyly sneaks away.

This fluffy little felon, this feline furry thief
Takes great delight in purloining their chicken and their beef
He gobbles all their bickies up, then leaves without a trace,
This bold Intruder Kitty is the scourge of Betty's place.

The thought of an intruder has made Oscar rather cross
He's gone all territorial to prove that he's the boss
But spraying all around the house has been to no avail
It hasn't stopped Intruder Cat, (but it has made Betty pale).

So clever vengeful Oscar did devise a cunning plot
To scare Intruder Kitty without fighting him a lot.
And poor unwitting Betty was a pawn in Oscar's scheme
Which involved the bathroom heater, and which turned poor Betty green.

Now, Canberra is chilly as I've told you all before
So there's a little heater that's on Betty's bathroom floor.
It makes the mornings bearable when temperatures are low
And to this very heater Oscar EvilCat did go.

He lifted up a fluffy leg and sprayed the heater well
So when poor Betty switched it on it amplified the smell
The pong of fan-forced Oscar piss is really rather whiffy
So Betty ran out screaming, closely followed by poor Miffy.

If you look closely you can see where Brave Sir Oscar sprayed all over my heater

Oh Oscar dear, your efforts to protect us are commended
But killing off my heater wasn't quite what you intended
Intruder Kitty wasn't fazed and came right back last night
And I'm now fifty bucks worse off, you dopey little shite.

Having said that, the new heater (placed up high, beyond the reach of territorial sprayings), puts out quite a decent amount of heat. The problem of Intruder Kitty, however, remains. Gas Mask, anyone?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Nine Lives Minus One

This is Miffy. She's a cranky, feisty old lady of 15, adept at mouse-tennis and bed-stealing, nemesis of Oscar Bin Laden, and Grand Master of the Dirty Look. Last Thursday night I thought I was about to lose her.

At about 11pm she suddenly got up from the spot on my bed she'd been hogging, and her rear left leg gave way. She kept trying to walk and eventually jumped off the bed, only to keel over, smashing gracelessly into the furniture. She careered down the hallway, listing badly to the left and using the wall for support. She lost control of her bowels, and left a nasty trail of poo through the house. I chased after her with toilet paper, picking up the lumps, then sat with her as she hid under a stool. There was much pitiful howling – some of it even came from Miffy. Her head shook from side to side, trying to keep up with her eyes, which were totally out of control. A stroke.

I felt so helpless. Was she about to die? I patted her gently, and for the first time in 15 years she didn't react angrily when I touched her back (there's a sore spot there which is the legacy of a dog attack when she was a tiny kitten). I guessed she couldn't feel her back.

What to do? If Miffy was human it would've been easy – dial 000 and ask for an ambulance.

Oscar Bin Laden was distressed, too. He's used to whacking Miffy, tormenting Miffy, pouncing on Miffy – but not protecting Miffy. He sat close by, very quietly, and didn't take his eyes off her. He's a fiendish little so-and-so, and he was probably calculating how much more food he would get if Miffy kicked the bucket – but it looked for all the world as if he was worried about her. Of course, while he was a comfort, he was no help.

I called my friend Mark – he's resourceful and unflappable. I was bawling. 'I think Miffy's dying and I don't know what to do...'

He arrived on the doorstep half an hour later after phoning his vet-friend Peter and putting him on stand-by. Miffy yowled and wobbled, and I sobbed and sniffled, and we began what I thought would be Miffy's Last Ride.

Not so – she's a tough old thing. By the time we arrived at Peter's she already seemed to be rallying. Still wobbly, she had regained enough sense of self to hobble away and hide, and to hiss at helping hands. Peter thought that was a pretty good sign. Rather than the fatal injection he'd expected she would need, he gave her a shot of cortisone, and cautiously suggested she might recover.

The next morning she was her old self again, albeit somewhat subdued. No sign of so much as a little limp – and she even managed to jump into the bath for a drink, because evidently the best water in the house comes out of the bathroom tap. Unbelievable. Look at this:

She ate, she drank, she pooed in my flowerbed again. Grrr. Oh, and the final proof of her full recovery? This morning she and Oscar were back to their bickering selves again: he torments, she reacts. Situation normal.

Thanks so much, Mark and Peter. And welcome back, Miffy!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Big Bums and Hot Air

I'm back from Mallacoota after a lovely relaxing (but cold) week, filled with lyrebirds, sugar-gliders, cold weather, possums, schoolwork, cold weather, pot bellied stoves... did I mention it was cold down there?

This week, the south-eastern bit of Oz has been BLOODY cold (well, by our Aussie standards anyway). Yes, it's winter, and winter is supposed to be cold – but it's been colder than usual. Having seen footage of ice storms in North America's most recent winter, and of massive snow dumps in the UK and Europe, I shouldn't really be surprised – but I was anyway. Not to mention underdressed.

The plan was to leave Mallacoota this morning and go across country in the general direction of Melbourne. After a week of glorious (but cold) weather in Mallacoota, imagine my dismay when there was a massive black bank of very ugly cloud pressing down just before sunrise, and moving inland, rather than out to sea. Grrrr. More cold ahead - with wet stuff as a bonus. Last night on the news they said "morning showers, falling as snow above 900m." Uh-oh...

I froze on the way down here a week ago, so for today's trip I upped the ante – TWO sets of thermals, t-shirt, jumper, winter jacket with quilted liner, neck warmer, wet weather gear. Does my bum look big in this? You bet it does. It's the size of New Zealand, fer God's sake!

So me and my massive arse rode west, hitting really foul weather, and some spectacular rainbows, after only about 25kms. By the time I got to Cann River I was a little fat-arsed Betsicle – wet, frozen and miserable, waiting far too long for a watery hot chocolate in a beautifully warm cafe. All I wanted to do was go home to my fridge of a house and have a hot bath.

To get to Canberra you chuck a right at Cann River and head north. You'd think it'd get warmer as you headed away from Antarctica, wouldn't you? Not so. Holy crap, I was breathing pure white air into my helmet, and the bottom half of my face felt thick and rubbery – but at least I could feel it – my toes disappeared somewhere between Bombala and Cooma! The clouds were heavy and grey, and only about 20 feet above my head. Not sure what was in them, but I'll bet it wasn't sunshine or lollipops!

Staying warm in such dire weather demands dire action. The heated grips were on FULL and I was inside about fourteen thousand layers of clothes already, but was still feeling a little chilly. The old surfers' trick of peeing into your wetsuit only works if you're actually wearing a wetsuit, as opposed to a wet suit, and I knew that peeing in my gear would be a very short term solution, so I avoided it. That was difficult, especially when I actually arrived at Cooma, desperate to pee, and had to remove fourteen thousand layers in a BIG hurry before I could even contemplate putting fuel in the bike!

If you promise not to tell anybody, I'll share a secret, heh heh. While peeing in your gear is Simply Not On, you can probably get away with a lovely warming botty-burp or two on the road, as long as you haven't been eating curry or licorice allsorts. Make sure you use this supply of hot air judiciously, because, while renewable, it is not inexhaustible, and you run the risk of Following Through, which would be just plain icky.

Also, on the Monaro Highway - watch out for dickheads coming in the opposite direction and overtaking inappropriately. It's ski season, and everyone's in such a hurry to go to the cold places (weirdos!)

That's my advice for the day.

I'm sad that I changed my plans and came home three days early – but after a nice hot bath and a glass of red – I have to say that it's good to be home!