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Looking for a new “hiking” venue within an hour of the city, we headed to Mount Macedon the day after Boxing Day (which was observed Christmas, or some otherwise sanctioned holiday).  Turns out, a lot of people had the same idea. 

Our little dachshund powered his way to the top, despite the constant clatter of “oh, a sausage dog!” from pretty much everyone we passed on the trail. 

It’s DACHSHUND people.

Steve could barely contain his audible teeth grinding by the time we descended.  Luck for us it was a short summit and there was not a soul on the base walk, so at least we enjoyed the second half of our walk without edible epithets.

Some days, I can’t possibly compete with others around me for content worthy of web-publishing.  Today’s guest post comes to you via Grace, who is fostering kittens this Christmas out of the goodness of her heart, and Leah, my cat-loving sister, whose reaction upon viewing pictures of said kittens is reproduced below.

<<<Why I Can Never Foster Kittens:

 The situation would go something like this: 

*adoptive kitten parents show up for kittens*

 Loving potential parents: “Hey! We’re here to see the kittens and bring them home and love them!”

Leah: “They’ve been eaten by wolves. Go away.” 

 *slams door and continues snuggling kittens in a fit of euphoric joy*

Then i would have to quit my job so i could stay home and take pictures of them all day, then i would have to resort to blogging about cats in order to raise funds so i could buy more kittens, then slowly my house would fill with small furry piles of addictive bliss until you found me one day, half nibbled by adorable tiny pink mouths with my hands wrapped in yarn.>>>

See, I told you.  Can’t possibly compete.

Leah maintains a food and beverage blog (not involving her love for cats, yet…) that is totally worth checking out.  Because not only does she love cats so much she would make yarn mittens of her hands just to bring them happiness, she also makes a mean martini. And as you can tell from the exchange above, is pretty freaking hilarious.

This fine Sunday, my husband took his wife and his dog for a walk.  We were both in great need of a little exercise and R&R.  So we took off for Airey’s Inlet, a quiet and remote coastal expanse only a short drive (<2 hrs)  from the city, at the beginning of the Great Ocean Road.

It felt human again to have the sun and wind on my face, and hear the calm crashing of waves.  And Bentley, oh Bentley was beside himself.  We walked up and down the coast for 3 hours, til our tired little pup nearly gave out (he slept the entire ride home, and is snoring next to me now).

Yep, it was a pretty great day. Full pics on the photos page.

As previously noted, I’ve been contemplating the meaning of time a lot in Australia.  This is partly because I find myself with more of it on my hands, and everyone is so darn far away there’s not too much to fill it up with.  It’s also partly because we live with the constant tick of a clock, marking the minutes, hours and days until we leave this great continent and return home.

As I’ve been trying to live more in the present, I’ve realized that my pets are an awesome guide to this kind of life.

Take my daily walks with Bentley.  No other time in the day do I get 20-30 minutes to just wander around outside and clear my mind.  Bentley’s walking habits are totally impulsive – he stops at street corners and mailbox posts to investigate interesting/offensive smells, he lunges at the birds in the park, he glances back at me occasionally (as if he couldn’t tell by the tug of the leash that I was still back there).  Without our walks, I would have never noticed a 30+ flock of white cockatoos swooping over the streets of Richmond and settling into an enormous pine for a morning snack.  Or the bright pink and red camelias in their defiant winter bloom, bursting to life in the thick of winter and brightening up otherwise dead and decayed home gardens.

And without Smokey, I might otherwise go about my weekend duties and not stop to enjoy a warm winter morning.  Cats are incredibly adept at enjoying the little moments in life (and well-known for their sun-basking abilities).  Here’s Smokey and me, enjoying a little apricity and relishing in the present.

The furry kids are finally home! It’s been 4 months exactly since we last held them, and it feels SO good!

Bentley is up to his old tricks wowing the neighbors. I talked to more people in Richmond yesterday than I did in the whole month of November. Plus dachshunds are apparently rare here, because people kept asking what kind if dog he is. And, when you explain the breed, they say, “OH a sausage dog!” (which Steve loves…)

Smokey spent the entire day checking out the new digs. She’s found a spot under the bathroom counter and on the cool tile floor that she loves (it was 90 yesterday!) And she slept in bed with us last night, which she pretty much hasn’t done since she was a kitten.

Life is good.

Bentley and Smokey have arrived safely in Oz! We went to visit them today at the Spotswood quarantine facility, their new home (pet import prison) for the next 30 days whilst the Australian government satisfies itself that they really, really don’t have rabies.

I knew full well it was likely to be a melancholy affair. What I didn’t expect was my cat to hiss at me. Seriously, open mouth elongated hiss. Then I tried to pet her, and she hissed again. With tears in eyes, I left her blanket I had brought her and went to meet Steve, who was already visiting with Bentley. Thankfully for my poor heart, Bentley was much more receptive and snuggled right up to momma. And, on second visit, Smokey smashed herself against my ankles (a true sign of cat affection) while still hissing and growling occasionally (which I convinced myself was more at the other cats in the room than me). Satisfied.

Visiting hours are over, and the 30 day count is on.

So it’s T-minus 1 week til our “furry kids” depart the U.S. and start their journey to Australia. It can’t come soon enough.

Our house is nearly settled, but it doesn’t really feel like home without Bentley and Smokey. We’ve got Bentley’s bed all set up at the end of ours in the bedroom, complete with a new stuffed toy for him to rip apart in excitement and scatter its fluffy innards all over the place as soon as he gets here. I’ve been trying to think of places Smokey will take her afternoon naps (we don’t have a bay window ledge like the old place, her resident spot), and setting up various areas with soft blankets for her.

It doesn’t help (at the moment) that our new ‘hood is extremely dog friendly. Our new fav place for brekky was selected by a combination of winning factors: terrific cappuccino; fresh baked pastries and breads; and a dog under every outdoor table on the sidewalk. It’s gotten so bad that (1) we’ve started fawning over seriously fuggly dogs (like Pomeranians, yorkies and pugs) and (2) we are bordering on stalking other peoples’ pets to get a pat of fur and an adoring appreciative look from a canine. Steve actually pretended to be tying his shoes (for like, 8 to 10 minutes) so that a reddish brown dachshund 2 blocks down the street he had spotted with big ears flapping in the wind and a sweet goofy smile could catch up to us, and get molested.

Only 1 more week to go til we can give them a good hug at least at the quarantine (before they’re locked up for a month in anti-rabies jail). Man, December can’t come soon enough.