Sunday, August 29, 2010

What More Can I Say But Billy!!!!

As those who have followed my blog for a while will know, I have a problem when visiting the toilet here - Billy. He sleeps in the laundry where our only toilet lives and as the laundry isn't very big and Billy is, there isn't a lot of floor space left over for essential toilet visiting things like feet and legs (mine, not Billy's).  When Billy is really up close and personal with the porcelain it usually takes a couple of gentle, or sometimes not so gentle, digs in his ribs to get him to shuffle out a bit.  Usually if find it a lot easier and quicker to do my best to arrange my self around him. This of course is fraught with danger, but at least if I'm ever unsuccessful in my arrangements I'll have a soft place to land on Billy's ample belly.

This morning there just wasn't anywhere to put my feet.  Billy was almost wrapped around the base of the toilet.  It's in a corner of the laundry so that was quite a feat for a large dog.  Billy is stone deaf these days so unless I can get him to look at me, and when he knows I want him to do something he doesn't want to do, he'll look anywhere but at me, I can't get him to do a thing.  If I can get him to look at me, hand and arm flailing, serious facial expressions and lots of pointing usually result in Billy heaving a sigh and going wherever it is I'm pointing.  This time he just kept his eyes closed, sleep being the best excuse ever.  I proceeded to perform the digs in the ribs routine only to me met with absolutely nothing from Billy.  He didn't grunt, shuffle to the side or even give a hint that he'd felt my prodding.  I moved my foot and prodded his head.   Billy's response was to open one eye, look at me and then close that eye again.  My back was in a bad way already so there was no way I could bend and grab his collar and forcibly remove him.  Graeme was out in a paddock somewhere so calling for his help was no use and I really needed to move that dog!!!

I resorted to bribery - quite a common theme with my dealings with Billy I'm afraid.  Billy is a sucker for dry cat food.  He will do almost anything for a little scoop of cat food, including take his attention off the ferrets in the middle of an exchange of insults between he and them, so waking up and moving a few inches should have been a cinch.  I opened the bin containing the food and took out a small scoop.  At the sound of the cat kibble crunching as I scooped it up Billy's eyebrow twitched.  I waved the scoop under his nose.  Billy's nose twitched.  I then moved the scoop away but Billy didn't follow.  I brought the scoop back under his nose and once again that nose twitched.  I might add that twitching nose was the only thing that did move on Billy's body though.  I moved the scoop away with no dog removing success yet again.  I decided to leave a little trail of cat foot from Billy's nose to his dish in the hope that he'd jump up and scoop up each kibble, thus creating a free space around the toilet.  No such luck.

Billy lay there, nose twitching, trying to locate the spot where the kibble lay.  Then, before my disbelieving eyes a huge pink tongue came out, moved across the floor and scooped in the little line of kibble closest to his head.   Crunch, crunch crunch and the tongue came out again, explored as far as it could reach and scooped in the last of the kibble he could reach.  I waited for Billy to get up to get the rest but he obviously thought that the little snack he'd had (all of about six pieces of kibble) would last him for a while and went back to sleep with a satisfied smile on his face.

I had no alternative than to perform acrobatics that a woman of my age and injuries shouldn't even contemplate.  My mission was successfully completed and more acrobatics performed to get me back on my feet while Billy slept on.

The left over cat food?  As soon as I opened the door Juno, the red kelpie type, raced in and scooped it up as quickly as she could (the kelpie types love cat food as much as Billy does) while keeping one eye on Billy's prone form.  I expected Billy to jump up and defend his stash.  Nope.  Billy gently snored and left Juno to it.

Just what was Billy up to last night?!!!!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bird World

Last week we had to drive to Melbourne for a car service and, as it was going to take a day and a half to get done, we had to spend the night down there.  We decided to take this opportunity to have a mini holiday and stay at Ballarat for the night and spend Friday being tourists.

We drove down to Melbourne on Thursday and dropped the car off at the dealers for its service.  We then took off in the loan car (a very sporty looking Volvo) and visited with OzJane for a few hours.  Jane made us a very scrumptious lunch and her friend Sue came around to show me how to make a very intriguing needle holder that opens from either side and turns the opposite side into the hinge.  Very hard to explain without a video to show what I mean, but it looks like magic!!!  I am now addicted to making these and will give them as gifts to the quilting group ladies who visit here each month and for all the girls in my family for Christmas as well as anyone else I can think of.  I made my first one that night in our motel room and it was a success!!!

After being thoroughly spoilt buy Jane we drove to Ballarat and went to Bird World   on Friday morning.  It's about a 1km round walk through the sanctuary and aviary but on a board walk, so I decided to brave it.  I'm so glad I did.  The birds were wonderful.  We started off looking at the birds in the cages, a long line of quite roomy cages and plaques with information about each species.  When we got to the black cockatoos I found bits of stick to give the inhabitants because I know cockies love nothing better than to chew a stick to sawdust.  They all came to the wire and appreciated my efforts and were all so gentle.  A few of them were talkers. 

One Major Mitchell parrot went through a whole repertoire of words and sounds - hello, wolf whistle, even a meow and the hackneyed, Cocky wants a cracker.  I told him how disappointed I was in him for being so trite and he hung his head in shame, then went back to wolf whistling at me to try and win my favour again.  It's been so long since anyone has whistled at me that this ploy was a complete success.  While we were talking to the Major Mitchell and tickling the foot of a very big black cockatoo next door - he held the soft underpart of his foot up to the cage for us to stroke -, the owner of the sanctuary came out of his back door and spotted us.  He stopped to talk about his birds and ended up taking us into the cage of the black cockatoo, who's name is Jessie.  I never did figure out if Jessie was a boy or a girl.  The owner referred to him as both he and she while talking to us, and I'm not expert enough to tell by the colour of the white spot under Jessie's tail.

Jessie fell in love with Graeme and hopped on his arm while Graeme was paying attention to the owner.  Jessie then travelled up Graeme's arm, settled on his shoulder close to Graeme's face and lowered his/her head near Graeme's obviously asking for a snuggle (we'd seen the owner snuggle with her when we first entered the cage).  Well, Graeme, might scratch a parrot and even offer his finger for the parrot to hold hands, but there's no way he'll snuggle with a parrot so he pretended not to understand what Jessie wanted, even after I patiently explained the bird's intentions to Graeme!  Jessie had to make do with what Graeme would do, and lots of pats and kind words from me of course.  I introduced Jessie to the delights of having under his/her wing scratched.  I don't think anyone had done that before because at first he/she was reluctant to raise her/his wing, but once I started scratching Jessie's wing stayed up for the rest of the visit and more requests for such scratches were made.  That's my galah Hedwig's favourite scratching site so I thought other birds would most likely would appreciate it too.

All the time we were in Jessie's cage the Major Mitchell was doing everything he could to get my attention, so I divided my time between the two.  I couldn't offer him a scratch of any sort though because he was a biter.

We then said a sad goodbye to Jessie and walked the rest of the aviary.  Through the free flight section we were stalked by a gorgeous red and green parrot who met us when we first approached the aviary by landing on the wire and talking to us.  Once we'd gone in he dive bombed us from time to time, not threateningly, just playing, he came nowhere near us and was so obviously having fun that we weren't at all worried about him.  We didn't realise he was hatching an escape plan. Just before we reached the end of the aviary he left us.  When we got the gate there he was sitting on the post near the exit.  We stopped and chatted to him and he made it plain he didn't want to be touched, so I contented myself with just passing the time of day with him.  While we were chatting he climbed onto Graeme's arm and sat there with an expectant look on his face.  That's when I realised he was hoping to be sprung!  He wanted Graeme to carry him out of the cage and into freedom!!!  When he realised that this wasn't going to happen, he took off in a huff and we left the cage quickly in case he returned to fly through with us.

We had a great time.  Jessie is welcome to come and live here at Spring Rock any time he/she feels the need for a change of scenery.  The Major Michell is welcome too, even though he is a biter.  With his wolf whistles to stroke my ego he'd be a wonderful addition to the menagerie.