Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Major Mitchell: my German shepherd turns 4

Today my German shepherd turns four years of age and I've told him that this milestone means that he's reached maturity and no longer needs the occasional outburst of delinquent behaviour.

Actually, I have very little to complain about. Most of the time he's consistently well mannered and behaved, a pleasure to live with, and a loyal companion. Add to that a keen intelligence and what more could you ask?

Health-wise, Major is a strong, well-built and very sound German shepherd. His only health problem is an allergic reaction to kikuya grass, and since the grass at both our Mitchell and Phillip Island homes is kikuya, this is a problem. The solution is a combination of medication and avoidance. The avoidance aspect is hard for Major as he loves to lie out on the grass and doesn't, of course, understand the link between grass and his itchy chest and feet.

Named after the Australian explorer Major Mitchell (and because he was born and bred in Mitchell, outback Queensland), Major is well named. He leads me along bush tracks and over rivers – and he loves to retrieve and carry huge pieces of timber.

Major's birthday party was shared with our neighbour Jade and her new puppy, Roxy.  It was a happy affair, with each of the dogs enjoying a piece of bun and Major getting quite excited when we lit the candles, sang Happy Birthday and cheered him!

I've always loved all of my dogs, and I've been privileged to have had many; however, Major is one of the very best!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A river and the bush: Outback QLD, Australia

One of my greatest pleasures is to walk along the banks of the Maranoa River, cross at the Old Crossing (yes, my feet get wet!), say "Hello" to my egret friend,

then wander through the bush of this semi-arid region.

At first glance all seems blue-grey in colour and the same. On closer inspection though, all sorts of different trees and shrubs emerge and I find myself learning new botanical names and recording the appearance of each specimen using water colour paints and brushes.

One of my favourite trees is the Bimble box (Eucalyptus populnea, also called poplar box because of the distinctive poplar shape of its leaves).  Bimble box leaves are round and glossy dark green on both sides. As sunshine catches their surface, they shine and shimmer.  Whenever a breeze plays in the treetops the leaves of the Bimble box play a soft subtle tune – the music of the bush. 

After rain, the combined smell of eucalyptus and warm red earth fill my nostrils.  Along along with Bimble box music, all my senses are activated.

I feel whole.

The third and fourth photos show the Maranoa River, over the road from our home.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Creative talent in Mitchell: Outback QLD

The first three things I noticed about Mitchell were the friendliness of the people; the strong community spirit; and the amazing amount of talent shown across a wide range of interests.

In Mitchell you get the feeling that anything is possible.

The opening of the annual quilt exhibition was held last Saturday at the Mitchell Gallery. A huge selection of locally created quilts gave the enthusiastic crowd a taste of the talent and creativity within this group of quilters.  Afternoon tea was served offering

a delicious spread of home-made cakes and savouries.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The good and the bad: that's life

This past week has included some good and some not so good situations. I'll deal with the negatives first. 

Doug had a trip to Toowoomba for a difficult wisdom tooth extraction. He arrived home two days later with a very painful, swollen face, as well as bruising to his neck. One week later and he's feeling a lot better but is still eating a liquid diet. He is longing for a salad!

Last week our 17 1/2 year old Siamese cat came down with a serious bladder and kidney infection. She got very sick very quickly. Fortunately we have excellent vets in Roma, who visit Mitchell twice-weekly. Katie ended up in their animal hospital for three days, but thankfully there was no kidney damage and she was given a clean bill of health. Apparently she was very talkative, which of course, is typical of Siamese. She was very pleased to to get home to all her various sun porches and routines. She is the most affectionate and loving animal friend we've ever had.

Now for the more pleasant

aspects to our week. Today we spent an hour or so exploring the area upstream from the bridge at a place called Sladdies. This is a place we haven't been to since the February 2012 flood, so we were astonished to see the quantity of sand that was deposited on the banks of the river and the debris caught high up in the branches of river red gums. The quantity of water that swept down the river, and the force it produced must have been incredible.