What To Say

Hey Zazzy I am posting this especially for you, please forgive the disjointed state of this post. It has been pretty full on here. I’ve been writing this post for a week – there is a before, and an after.

I want to say a big thank you to those who have reached out whether on their blog or privately by email – it is much appreciated. ;) I am feeling the love.

BEFORE – Tuesday February 4th 2020 –

My most prized possessions (pictured in the first three photos) are not presently in this house. They may return this week, if we get the predicted rain. I vowed they would not return to the house until we got 100mls of rain. We are at just under 65mm at the moment, so still some more work to do there weather.

There was a day in January that we evacuated. Do you know how much trouble I had picking out my most treasured possessions? And once I had done it, I was just emotionally unable to pack them up. The Other Half had to do it, and still I get emotional trying to even talk about it.

The day before we evacuted – a Friday from memory – we packed up the business and much of the shed stuff including our servers (which is why the site went offline the first time) and drove it up to a friends house near Shellharbour, about an hours drive north.

That night we went to get fuel in the van after dropping all the stuff off, and the fuel station was packed full of fire trucks. I don’t know why but the tears just started falling down my face and I couldn’t make it stop. Partly because I’d been listening to them on the scanner, partly because by this point three firefighters had been killed in the process of doing their volunteer job that they were not being paid for, partly because I was happy to see these folks had made it safely through their day that day..

I can’t explain it. This happened to me more than once. How do you even begin to say thank you? How do you even try to say how ashamed you are at how they have been treated by our own Prime Minister and politicians?

The following morning we took ourselves, the cats and chickens, my parents, a suitcase of clothes and the computers. I did not realise when we left that the predicted change would be coming through about 11pm that night – which meant we would not be returning home that day. I was unprepared for this event and ended up sleeping on a couch.

The Other Half had a camping mattress on the floor, my parents got the spare bed. The cats and chickens were accommodated for free at a vet up that way who had offered to take in displaced pets in their boarding facility. I do not think they expected chickens but they took them in and looked after them.

The chickens were entirely baffled by these events. First their coop door did not open that morning – deliberately programmed not to by us. They were placed into the Red Transport Carrier as a surprise, and loaded into the car. Most of them have been in the car before for a short trip but they were quite shocked by this hour long venture.

It reminded me of a video I have seen of pigs in a bathtub. The pigs make a bit of a fuss when placed into the water, then they relax and make some gentle oinking, then one of them moves and they all kind of freak out again. I can’t find the video or I’d post it.

The next day we returned home with cats and chickens to find the house still standing, though covered in ash and burnt leaves, even burnt twigs this time. We were physically and emotionally exhausted, but once the cats and chickens were re-installed to their correct places, we made the trek back up to pick up all our belongings we’d taken up on Friday. We unpacked the shed stuff and the business stuff, and tried to get back to normal.

But normal is a different thing now. Impossible to describe. Everyone is so much more friendly. There is a real sense of community which was mostly lacking before.

This is as far as I got writing the first part of this post before we got very busy with life and the business and also a new weather event, so now..

AFTER – Tuesday 11th February.

We’ve had rain. SO MUCH RAIN. Remember we were at 65mls?

That is 308mm in the space of a week. My belongings are back in the house. Would it surprise you to learn I’ve had just as much trouble unpacking them? The suitcase is still full. But this is more a lack of time thing than a lack of want to thing. The business has taken off this past few weeks and we have just been so flat out.

I went to the local show recently and met a couple of the firefighters I’d heard on the radio a lot in person. This time the sight of fire trucks did not make me cry, but I did have a chance to try and express my thank you in person. One of them I know for a fact much of their hard work prevented the fire getting any closer to where we live.

One of the reasons I do not post here so much anymore is something I am really struggling with – online anonymity. I can’t be anonymous with the business. It is at our house, where we live. I’ve had to put myself out there and it has been very scary for someone who carefully built their online alias.

When I’ve wanted to tell you about it, I know that anything I say could lead the intelligent folks who read this blog to my own doorstep – and some of them might not be friendly types. You know, those Nigerian scammers I got arrested, or those whose fake cheques I collected which cost them money. But I want to tell you what I am doing! So I will likely write a password protected post soon and you’ll have to email me for the password.

In the meantime, we are safe, the water has mostly drained away, while it is a bit soggy underfoot still and the chooks doing well but they are a muddy mess we’ve all survived this season of fire and water.

Our Cuckoo Kitten is now a Mini-Cat. This photo does not give you an accurate concept of her lankiness. She is delightful. She adores Happy. The feeling is not at all mutual. Happy is not a big fan, but she is tolerating her, and sometimes when we are not looking, she will play and actually enjoy it! But as soon as she sees us looking.. she is back to pretending not to like the Mini-cat.

There is so much more but it is getting late and I’m going to post this and head to bed.

country life, Home

We Are Ok.. For Now.

But who knows, it could all change on any upcoming day.

I do not remember the last time I took a breath and did not smell smoke.

For now, I do not remember the last time the sun was a normal colour. The light is a weird orange colour for much of the day. Those are not clouds in that photo – that is smoke.

I do not remember the last morning where I woke up and did not immediately turn on the scanner to find out what the fire people are up to. I am extremely grateful we are still allowed to hear them – the police went encrypted digital some time ago.

However today the local RFS scanner frequency has been offline for a lot of the day, and I have no idea what is happening out there. It is unsettling not to know. Facebook is full of incorrect information and we can’t be sure what is real and what is not real. We certainly can’t rely on the media. I’d rather hear it from the horses mouth.

For most of us we are living in some kind of suspended limbo – many of us feel that it is not necessarily a question of if but of when.

I know here that if we get ember attack we are likely going to lose everything. We’ve prepared our property as best we can, moving all the leaf litter to the chook pen yard – the chickens will be evacuated if required, along with the cats and ourselves. But we have neighbours who are elderly and who have an overgrown block – many of the plants on their block have died in the drought and it is just a tinderbox waiting to go up in flames. If that happens, I would expect we will lose our house.

So, we wait and hope.

Our cuckoo kitten is now a lanky teenager, so incredibly long. She is an oddity. Obsessed with the sink and water, a great jumper and very much an explorer cat. She is keeping Happy busy, they chase each other around the house, normally right after we head to bed. You haven’t lived until you’ve had two cats run over you at full pelt.

The chooks are doing well and greatly enjoying their leaf litter. They’ll mulch that down in pretty quick order, providing we water it regularly which attracts bugs which they then take great delight in digging for.

country life

Not Quite Over

I thought I had finished my Black Friday rant but turns out I am still ranty about it. I received the above in an email on Sunday. Friday cannot be on a Sunday, Kmart. That is not how days work!

According to my shopping emails, Black Friday began here on Friday the 22nd of November and it continued to Sunday the 1st of December. Black Friday involved a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, the actual Black Friday, second Saturday, and a second Sunday. What an amazing day to last 10 days. And then it was Cyber Monday, sure, fine, whatever, but now I wake up this morning to this email?

You are going to make cyber week out of cyber Monday? NO I MUST DECLINE THIS.

Bad enough that in the space of Cyber Monday, the retailers that I gave my email address sent me 59 emails. On a good day I get 12-14 and I don’t mind it, I like to keep in the loop of what is happening though I very rarely buy anything now. But no, just because you have my email address does not entitle you to send me multiple emails in one day. I expect one per day. Anything more, and we’re breaking up. So I have a few retailers to unsubscribe from now.

To add insult to this injury, in Australia Black Friday has a very different meaning – it refers to a terrible bushfire event in 1939 where 71 people died in the fires.

I’d accept this retail insanity IF we had the Thanksgiving to go with it as they do in the US. But we do not. So it is just an excuse for the shops to try and get us to spend $$, and we have more than enough of those already.

Annoyed Snoskred, shopping

Life In Snoskredland At The Moment

Hey everyone it is finally BLACK FRIDAY though you could be forgiven for thinking it was last Friday or any given day between now and then. Retailers, Black Friday is not a thing in Australia nor will we ever accept it being a thing, and we are all studiously ignoring your many many emails about it, kthx. And it is exceptionally bad taste given the bushfires raging at the moment. There, my annual Black Friday rant is over. NEXT!

Watching: Still stuck on NYPD Blue.. Sipowicz I just can’t quit you. But in between I watched The Crown (fantastic) – The Knight Before Christmas (cheesy but still funny and worth the watch) – we are watching the final season of Mr Robot – Take That released their most recent concert that I went to see in the cinema earlier in the year LOVED IT – can’t stop watching Below Deck – and some truly terrible television AKA 90 Day Fiancé.

Listening: to my art studio playlist and playing one Take That song over and over – Everlasting.

Mourning: The recent loss of Bob which reminded me very much of our loss of Grumpy. Despite the cuckoo kitten and Happy entertaining us greatly this loss is still very much felt by us.

Importing: All the brooches to sell at the markets. :)

Eating: Mini cupcakes. Greatly loving to bake at the moment.

Hanging: out in the delicate nirvana with the kitties. Yes there are two kitties in this photo, can you spot the second one?

Playing: soccer with Cuckoo who appears to be a natural.

Chilling: with Cuckoo and Carter.

kitties

The Cuckoo Kitten

Her Royal Highness descended upon our humble abode with a freshly shaved belly and small shaved spot on her front leg from her desexing operation. What an impression she has made here already. After a time of great sadness, she is making us laugh again. She is also helping us to remember all the happy times we had with Grumpy when she was a kitten many years ago.

She is mostly black, with one tiny white patch on her chest, and some white on her belly which is currently growing back. She does have some tabby-style stripes which you can see in certain lighting but they are just slightly different shades of black. Personality wise she is very patient and kind, she purrs constantly, she is determined, fearless and brave.

Her name here on the blog will officially be Cuckoo, and to be fair that is the word I most use to describe her regularly.

Happy is not such a fan. We were hopeful that given her 6 years of trying to make Grumpy accept her that she would be accepting and even eager to have a little one to play with. Thus far there is quite a bit of hissing, a lot of staring, and the occasional paw swat if Cuckoo gets too close. We have seen small signs of progress and the occasional bit of play together – it especially tends to happen when we are not watching – it is still early days and we have hope for the future.

Cuckoo has zero fear and like any child believes she is invincible and cannot be hurt. She is incredible at jumping – the nearest thing to the top of this room divider is a metre away. She just leaped and there she was, up on top of it.

She is a great sleeper and has two modes – awake and full pelt, or fast asleep. Sometimes when she wakes it takes her a short while to switch from one mode to the other. She already has several favourite places to sleep throughout the house and she and Happy are swapping sleeping spots which is a positive sign.

Keep a good thought for our kitties, that they will learn to love one another. :)

kitties

The Grumpyless Life

Losing a much loved pet is always hard on everyone in the house. On the one hand life must go on, we’ve had markets we’d committed to attending, we’ve had to keep the business going, The Other Half had to keep going to work and keep studying – the studying probably being the hardest part for him to push on with at this stage..

I’ve been able to throw myself into the business but there is at least one moment every day when it hits me fresh once again. Yesterday two weeks to the day I finally was able to bring myself to wash my lap rug. It was the favourite place for Grumpy to sleep. Washing that was the last piece of the letting her go puzzle for me. The healing can truly begin now that the holding on is complete.

The one it has been hardest on surprisingly is Happy. She’s lived with the tyrant of tortitude Grumpy for over 6 years adoring her from afar, never being allowed to love Grumpy like she wanted to, any advance met with the swipe of a paw. But every day she misses her and she is completely lost without the Big Kitty to keep her in line. Her routines – while we have kept them the same as much as possible – are not the same without Grumpy here.

Every morning when The Other Half would go to the shower, both the cats would go into the bathroom and await their tuna feast, often vocally telling The Other Half to hurry up. Once he was done with the shower, they would walk to the end of the hallway and perform a little play we liked to call Kitty Bookends, where they would sit exactly the same way on opposite corners of the mat there. Once he would appear there would be a lot of meowing and one if not both cats would jump up on the kitchen stools to watch the preparation of their tuna snack.

Now Happy stays on the bed with me for much of The Other Half’s morning shower before wandering in to see what he is up to in there. She still does kitty bookends but she does it alone and every time it breaks my heart.

Worst of all, during the day she is mopey cat now instead of happy cat. She still looks for Grumpy but never finds her. It is almost like she is expecting her to return home from the vet or some kind of kitty vacation. She spends a lot more time sleeping than she used to. We are spending a lot of time trying to encourage her to play – kibble catch is presently her favourite game and she will often get 3 or 4 20 minute sessions of that in the space of the day.

We’ve always been a two cat household and we want to continue to be a two cat household, so this week we will (hopefully) begin the process of introducing a new cat to the house. We did take Happy out to the shelter for a meet and greet but it did not go especially well, Happy was too freaked out by the new surroundings to get comfortable even though we stayed quite some time. But we were able to see which of the kitties was the most interested in Happy and which one reacted the best to her, so we made a choice.

I did not take even one photo while we were out there – we were too focused on Happy and the kitties. But you will certainly see some once the new kitty arrives here. We hope this will begin a new era of Happy Movement – she is definitely in need of exercise and a new cat in the house – one who will actually play with her – might be exactly what she needs.

Please keep a good thought that the introduction will go well, and that Happy will become Big Kitty to a new Little Kitty. A very little kitty – the staff felt the best chance for a good fit with Happy given the situation and her past experiences was a kitten. We usually would have chosen a slightly older cat but in this case we took their advice. We hope Happy will take her under her wing.

kitties

Vale Grumpy

Our Grumpy cat – formerly known on the blog as The Little Kitty, before she got so Grumpy – has joined her many friends waiting at Rainbow Bridge this morning.

She very nearly went there 6 years ago when a careless vet punctured her eardrum while trying to clean it, which made her quite ill and the antibiotics and painkillers she were given sent her into renal failure. Much love and syringe feeding for about two months got her back to a healthy place and we gained a lot of extra time. Though the food she needed was more expensive we didn’t mind that.

While we are so sad to lose her today, we are thankful for all those extra moments we got. Six years of extra moments, that is a lot of lap time and cuddles and many many tins of tuna she got to eat. Tuna was her favourite food.

There were some eye issues during those 6 years, in the end she had surgery to fix the folding in of the eye. While not a complete success, it worked well enough that we did not get any further ulcers developing.

In the last year we’ve felt that she began to lose a bit of her hearing and some of her eyesight particularly night eyesight. Happy could sit right next to her on the bed and Grumpy wouldn’t know unless we turned the lights on. She did not always hear us calling her. But these were small things, not very much of a problem for any of us.

Unfortunately the kidney issues – while they went away for most of those 6 years – returned a couple of months ago and while we’ve all been working hard to fight them, there does come a time when the kindest thing is to say no more. For us that time came this week. We’ve been supplementing with syringe feeding for a couple of weeks and she became unable to keep that down anymore, even with anti-nausea medication.

As Grumpy did not enjoy going to the vet, we organised a mobile vet to come out and assist her in crossing the bridge. It was the best thing we could have done for her, far less stressful. She was surrounded by those who loved her in her own home in her favourite cat bed while sitting on her favourite lounge.

Poor Happy cat is wandering the house meowing and looking for her, exactly as she did when Grumpy last went in for an overnight stay at the vets. While Happy was a big fan of Grumpy, those feelings were not mutual. Grumpy tolerated her up to a point then would give her a good paw swat but would never play with her. We will be trying to find a new cat friend for Happy, one who will like to play with her. We will not be rushing into anything though.

I know I always struggle to find words to say at a time like this, when these things happen to fellow bloggers who I follow and whose pets I feel like I know even though I have never met them.

Please don’t feel like you have to find words – a simple *hugs* as a comment to let us know you saw this post and are keeping a good thought for us is more than enough and will be deeply appreciated. :)

kitties, Vale Pets

I’m not normal, this we know already.

You would have thought after my post last week that Friday would have been a huge day of parcel arrivals here in Snoskredland. Rather sadly it was not. I can’t remember if anything did arrive at all, my feeling is that it didn’t. On Monday a couple of parcels dribbled in but luckily they contained much of what I had been waiting for.

I’ve been in customer service for much of my lifetime. In my experience, most people, when they lodge a complaint, are not especially nice about it. I’ve learned that if you can be polite, friendly, and even funny if possible, the customer service folks will appreciate that and tend to go the extra mile for you. Thus far anytime I have lodged a complaint the package arrives within 24-48 hours.

What does a complaint from me look like? Something like this –

Dear Post People,

Could you possibly extricate my package of 6 lions from wherever they are hiding out and send them home to me as I expect they are getting quite hungry by now.

Alternatively, let me know if they have escaped and eaten all the staff at your facility, though I suspect I would have seen something like that on the news but then again, the media these days a story like that could get ignored in favour of Aldi’s sale item that will change your life.

Thank you very much in advance!

Yes that was an actual article on the day I wrote it – checking back today I saw this article. It makes me wonder how much Aldi are paying for this – or alternatively whether the writers at news sites simply don’t bother to look for actual news anymore.

The customer service agent who received my note about the lions appreciated it so much that he actually called me. He said it made his day and he had to call and speak to the person who wrote it to update me personally. And he gave me bonus points for using the word extricate. We had a lovely chat, which made my day in return. I’d mostly spent it constructing tricky triangle boxes and rolling stuff up to go in them.

What is the point in getting angry and writing angry things when that rarely achieves anything? Much better to do a little creative writing and try to give those poor customer service folks a smile. They really need it, I can vouch for that.

My lions package should arrive today. Fingers crossed anyway. :)

work

Dropping It Off

Have you seen this Pakman letterbox out and about in your travels? Probably not because unlike me, you are probably not walking the local streets doing a letterbox drop. It is quite a marvel – allows your postie or couriers to drop in a parcel and only you can retrieve it. But it is an Up Money marvel selling for around $499.

You know it has been years since I did this kind of thing, 28 years to be approximate. I was a Christmas Postie for 2 years when I was 16/17 and only quit after a dog bite. I would have kept doing it because I enjoyed it, but I developed quite a fear of dogs after two attacks.

One was the dog of a friend when I visited which was much more a mauling than a bite. I ended up in hospital after that one and was on crutches for a week. I still have nerve damage and the scars from that attack. The second was while working as a postie and that was the last day I did that job. After that I did have a fear of dogs for a long time. Eventually I mostly got over it thanks to some wonderful dogs I made friends with.

I don’t enjoy letterbox dropping. The thing I really don’t comprehend is how can anyone put a No Junk Mail sticker on their letterbox.

First up I am never lucky enough to get junk mail – we never seem to have someone who delivers it here. Secondly, just how cut off from your local community do you want to be? How do you find out about new things happening if you won’t let any of the folks who take the time to make a flyer and bring it directly to your own house communicate with you? It is your loss.

There should be perhaps another sticker – no commercial catalogues, local flyers accepted. You can always make your own sticker!

We are making our own down money version of the Pakman. I am here most of the time to receive packages but when I have a day off I would like to be able to go out without worrying about possible package deliveries and things being stolen.

Speaking of receiving packages..

Looks like the package deities might be about to smile upon me. I mean some of those things now in Sydney have ONLY been stuck in Melbourne (AKA The Package Black Hole) for an entire week. And those things now in Melbourne will likely arrive around this time next week.

Annoyed Snoskred, work

The New Setup Part 2

Following on from the previous post – Above you see the Kitty Nirvana which has some of their toys and their kitty litter enclosure.

I can use this mobile screen above to block this area off, if I don’t want folks to see it. At the moment it is blocking off the drying area and my private lounge area –

The drying area is a suntrap for the kitties and they have cat towers to recline in and enjoy the sun here. Usually one or the other is in the round basking area – in the next photo you see Happy has made her way there.

My area is screened off from the bright sun area – too much light gives me a headache. I have my recliner, the other half has his Ikea chair, the treadmill is back behind me near the curtains out of the way.

My candle shelf has been moved here from the entryway. I got rid of all the DVD covers of movies, they have all been stored in special bulk dvd storage folios. I kept the DVDs that are series, at least for now. The DVD shelves moved into the studio where they hold arty things now. Looking at this photo I see I still have some cord hiding work to do here.

My much reduced books have a small bookshelf here in the corner – these are the ones I don’t have in digital format. Everything else which I do have in digital format has either been sold or donated.

And now a couple of studio pics. We did a lot of work in this room. There are four tables all of which are fabric covered and I will be getting plastic covering for those arty things we will want to do which are messy. For now the arty stuff we are doing is not messy. There are 14 chairs all of which were re-upholstered in a gorgeous teal and blue fabric.

One of the studio walls is devoted to kits I have in stock or photos of kits on the way, with a couple of posters in between.

This has been a huge effort and I couldn’t have done it without the awesome Other Half, of course. Now we’re all set up and things are going pretty well. I have some dedicated regular students already and the kits sell very fast, oftentimes even before they arrive here. If only Australia Post would get their act together I would have more stuff I could sell. :)

Home, work