Housework (and running poodle)

Yeah, the title pretty much sums it up. Vacuum cleaning, washing up, laundry (my wife did that), changing bedsheets, cleaning the bath, cleaning Scully (haha – we gave her a bath). And for dinner I made risotto, which is 15 minutes of prep followed by a solid half hour slaving over the stove, constantly stirring.

It was pumpkin risotto, with toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pumpkin risotto

I make risotto a bit – it’s not hard, but it is time and effort intensive. Today’s one turned out very nice. We had a bottle of white wine open, so I added a splash, which you should do, but it’s rare that we have a bottle open, so I usually don’t. The real Reggiano cheese from Italy makes a difference too. I bought that recently to replace the Australian brand of parmesan that we usually buy.

Oh! One other thing I did today. I’ve been meaning for a while to try to take some photos of Scully running towards the camera, using my DSLR in AI Servo focus mode, so it tracks moving objects. So today I went out with my wife and Scully, and we found some grass where I could lie down and aim my camera at Scully while my wife tells her to sit and stay, and then walks over to where I was lying, and then calls Scully to come over. We used our special “cheese command word”. This is an emergency recall command, which we always reward with cheese, and it’s pretty much the only time she ever gets cheese, which she loves. So when she hears this word – “Schnell!” – we picked a German word so we never say it accidentally when talking – she comes absolutely running flat out towards us.

We repeated this exercise 4 times, and I took a bunch of photos rapid-fire. About half of them turned out blurry, but… we got a couple of very nice shots.

Scully running

Definitely going to try this again another day.

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5.4k run

It was about time for another 5k run today, and the weather was fine, so I set out early, leaving home before 9 am. Unfortunately I miscounted my laps again today, although this time instead of thinking I’d finished when I still had a lap to go, I accidentally ran an extra lap. Since I sprint for the last half lap or so, I didn’t have the advantage of having that faster half lap included in my 5k split time, so my time was a bit slower today, at 27:16, my fourth fastest.

After that I walked up to my dentist’s office and gave the receptionist a pack of photo prints for the dentist to look through – hoping to keep it in his mind to select one of my photos to redecorate his waiting room (as mentioned last week).

This afternoon I did some comic writing stuff, and then took Scully to the dog park for a walk and playing time with other dogs. The park we got to is 5 minutes drive away. Usually on the way there Scully just lies down in the passenger seat of the car, but on the way back she’s worked up and stands up, putting her paws on the centre console to get a view out the windows. Today she learnt a new trick… she stood on the radio button, turning it on and…

Well, let’s just say that Scully has learnt how to Rickroll me.

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Greenwich Baths and a new bakery

Scully and I went for a long walk together this morning, while my wife had some things to do. We walked all the way out to Greenwich Baths, which is about 3 km from home, and then back again. ON the way I took this photo of the harbour from Manns Point Park:

Sydney Harbour from Manns Point Park

As it happened, this is my 13,000th photo uploaded to Flickr. I’ve been a member for about 13 years, so that’s pretty close to 1000 photos a year.

This afternoon we all went for a drive, and we passed a nice looking bakery, which we decided to stop at and see what they had, on the way to my mother-in-law’s place for afternoon tea. It turned out to be a patisserie type bakery, as opposed to a boulangerie type bakery. The French have the right idea with two different words for these two things. Unfortunately here in English they’re both labelled as “bakeries”, and there’s no way to tell if a random bakery that you go to will sell bread, or cakes, or both, or one and not the other, or what.

Anyway, they had some lovely looking lemon meringue tarts and salted caramel tarts, and we got some to take over for the afternoon tea. We ended up spending most of the afternoon there. It was a lovely afternoon, sunny and warm in the sunshine, although slightly cool in the shade.

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August is the windy month

August is always the windy month in Sydney. There were some showers around today, but it was mostly dry – but it was very windy. I walked up to the supermarket to buy some milk and eggs first thing, then took Scully for a walk down to Berry Island. We didn’t stay there long though, because of the wind whipping straight across the Harbour and blowing off the water.

Windy day at Berry Island

So we walked back home along more sheltered streets. Scully is good at walking home, and we usually let her walk off leash along routes that she knows.

One thing I noticed while out today is that new green spring growth is starting to appear on some of the deciduous trees. In particular, a lot of magnolias are starting to finish their flowering run and produce lots of green leaves. The last few days have been cold, but there have already been a few spring-like days earlier, and we should be getting temperatures up to 22°C or so later this week.

Today I received a mail ordered book: the Star Wars: Age of Rebellion roleplaying game core book. I got the other two core books in the line—Edge of the Empire and Force and Destiny—cheaply at a closing down sale, and have really been enjoying reading them and looking forward to running some Star Wars games, so I decided I had to have the complete set. It’s always fun and exciting getting a new roleplaying game book!

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Last meal…

Today was a pretty routine day. I took Scully for a walk, lost a tennis ball in the Harbour… on my very first throw as well. There’s a park I take her to next to the water, and the grass just runs up to an edge and then drops off into the water. I try to avoid having the ball roll off but I must have lost half a dozen balls in that water. And once it’s in, there’s no way to get it back (without a fishing net on a pole or getting very wet). So rather than have her chase the ball, I just had to run around and have her chase me to get some exercise.

I spent much of the rest of the day writing Darths & Droids comics, chatting with co-authors on our Discord server.

And I had my last meal… until Thursday. I’m into the final day of fasting before a colonoscopy on Thursday. I can’t eat anything on Wednesday, though I need to have lots of water and stuff with sugars and salts in it to stay hydrated.

So tonight for a last meal I made something a bit special for dinner. Pancakes with mushrooms. It sounds weird, I know, but I got the idea from a vegetarian restaurant we went to some time back. They had a dish that was a small stack of savoury pancakes, topped with a medley of fried mushrooms in a delicious sauce. It was delicious, and I’ve copied it and made a similar dish at home a few times. It fit within my pre-colonoscopy-week dietary restrictions and I decided it would be a nice treat.

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Into August

This fine Saturday morning my wife and I took Scully on a long walk, dong a 5 kilometre loop from our place, past our favourite bakery where we got some sourdough bread. Scully got to meet a lot of dogs today, and we did some ball throwing and chasing down by the marina. A lot of people were out walking this morning, enjoying the sunshine.

It’s the first day of August and flowers are appearing all over the place. The magnolias started a few weeks ago, but now azaleas are coming out, and I expect cherry blossoms will be along soon. It really feels like the worst of winter is over and things are warming up for spring.

Back home, it was housework day, with vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom and shower to be done. I also checked on the car floor mats that I washed yesterday. They’ve been drying for over 24 hours now and they’re still noticeably wet. I’m hoping they’ll finally dry out overnight so we can put them back in the car tomorrow before my wife needs to use it.

This evening we watched another episode of the new Doctor Who‘s 9th season.It’s been so long that I only have vague memories of the episodes and can’t remember how the story unfolded, so it’s almost as good as watching it unspoiled.

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Scully bullied

Today was a bit of a blah day. I didn’t feel up to doing much, and there was a nasty incident this morning.

There’s a neighbour in our apartment block with a dog which hasn’t been socialised, and the owners usually keep it away from other dogs. The owners are very nice, and very careful about keeping their dog away from other dogs. But this morning I was taking Scully down to the grass for a toilet, and walked around a corner, and this other dog and the lady owner were right there, just a couple of metres away, and before either of us knew what was happening her dog launched itself at Scully and started attacking her!

After a second of shock I grabbed the other dog and pulled it away from Scully, gave it to the woman, and picked up Scully to check if she was okay. Fortunately the other dog is quite small too, not much bigger than Scully, and it appeared not to have actually bitten her, because there was no broken skin or blood anywhere, but obviously Scully was shaken and shocked. The owner was shocked too and extremely apologetic and asking if Scully was okay and if I was okay – I’m sure she was just as horrified as I was. She said she felt horrible and asked me to contact her later and let her know if Scully had been hurt.

Examining Scully back at home more carefully, I couldn’t find any damage at all. I guess the other dog, although it was behaving aggressively, didn’t actually bite her. Which is good. I called the vet to see if they recommended bringing her in for precautionary antibiotics or a more thorough examination, but they said if she’s not showing any signs of distress or injury then she’s most probably okay.

Apart from that, I spent some time baking a loaf of bread today. We still have one pack of bread mix from our COVID lockdown supplies to get through. I think I’ll get bread stuff occasionally still, since it’s nice having freshly baked bread at home.

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COVID haircut

I was overdue for a haircut, having had my last one before all this COVID-19 stuff became serious. So I went to my usual barber today. asked how long he’d had to shut down for, and he said that they were open the whole time – barbers and hairdressers were considered essential services here in Australia and never had to shut down – however he had almost no customers come in in April or May.

At lunchtime I took Scully out for a walk to the fish and chip shop and got my lunch there. I often get a “lunch box” combo, which is pieces of fish, calamari rings, a crab stick, and chips, but this time I asked if they could do a variation and replace the chips with potato scallops. They did for no extra cost, and that was good, because they make really really good potato scallops there, and I like them better than the chips.

And then this afternoon I took Scully to the dog park for a run around and play with some other dogs. Another small dog kept grabbing her small-sized tennis ball – Scully is not very fast when it comes to chasing a ball. She will fetch and return a ball, but she doesn’t tear after it like some dogs do, and always loses the race if another dog decides to chase the ball I’ve thrown. This one today wouldn’t let it go either, and its owner had to chase after it and get it to drop Scully’s ball. Three or four times! Ah, the fun never ends…!

I also wrote a few comics and made vege burgers for dinner. And with my wife we completed our retrospective run of watching every Roger Moore James Bond film that we started a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t watch them in order, starting with The Spy Who Loved Me and finishing tonight with The Man With the Golden Gun. Some bad ones in there, but some fun ones as well.

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Scully blech

I didn’t sleep well last night, due to Scully getting up at 2am and being sick. Fortunately I grabbed her in time and took her to a wooden floor so she didn’t vomit on the carpet. She hadn’t eaten any dinner either, so it was all just stomach fluid. Something must have upset her tummy yesterday, putting her off her food, and then causing the vomiting.

I didn’t really get back to sleep properly after that. But fortunately by morning she had her appetite back and seemed bright and cheerful all day today. Hopefully she’s got it out of her system. My wife and I took her for a nice long walk, doing our usual Sunday morning loop, which we’ve skipped for a few weeks because it’s been raining a fair bit lately. Today was dry, but overcast and very cold, quite possibly the coldest day of the year so far.

I just looked it up… close. Sydney recorded a maximum of 15.4°C today, but we had a maximum of just 15.1°C on 2 June. Today was actually the second coldest day of the year so far.

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Un-catching up on sleep

I was hoping for another good night’s sleep last night.

On the weekend I bought a small bottle of chocolate liqueur, to flavour interesting cocktails. I decided to try it last night, duplicating a drink that my wife had a while back at a restaurant, called a “winter negroni”. It’s a standard negroni (equal parts gin, Campari, and red vermouth), with a splash of chocolate liqueur, to give it a chocolate-orange flavour. My wife liked it, and so I thought it would be a good drink to try mixing at home. So last night I had one, and it was indeed delicious.

I went to bed a few hours later. I could not fall asleep. I laid there in bed, unable to switch off my mind, and tossed and turned… all night. Until the sun came up. I did not get a single minute’s sleep. I was trying to figure out why, and went through everything I ate and drank, and there was nothing out of the ordinary… except that chocolate liqueur. And I realised that it probably has some caffeine in it. That would explain it.

I gave up caffeine about 25 years ago. I used to enjoy black tea, and Coca-Cola, but I realised through struggling with disrupted sleep that any caffeine after about 10am would result in me being unable to fall asleep that night. So at one point I decided it wasn’t worth it any more and just quit completely.

Not having had caffeinated drinks for so long, I think I’ve become more sensitive to it. I’ve cut way back on chocolate as well, because some years ago I noticed a strong correlation between eating chocolate in the afternoon and sleeping poorly at night. I love chocolate, but I basically only have it in the mornings now, and much much less than I used to eat.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally accidentally eaten something with caffeine in it, and suffered a restless night. I think that’s what happened last night. I had a yummy chocolate flavoured drink, and lost an entire night’s sleep. So… I guess that’s no more chocolate negronis for me. At least my wife can drink them.

In other news, today I took Scully for a morning play and exercise in the park across the road. At one point she got interested in something in the grass, and I walked over to see what it was. She was sniffing… a huge piece of steak! I gave her the “Leave it!” command and she obediently turned away from it. Thank goodness for training her with that command. I got a poo bag and picked up the meat. It was about the size of a coaster, and a centimetre or two thick – a good cut of meat, like you’d cook for dinner.

Now… A chunk of steak is not the sort of thing that somebody accidentally and innocently drops in a grassy park where dogs hang out. There have been several incidents of people in Sydney laying poisoned baits for dogs over the past few years, with several dogs killed. So I took this suspicious chunk of meat home and called the local council to report it. I asked if they wanted me to bring the meat in for testing. They said as it’s so far an isolated incident, that I should just dispose of the meat, but if I see any more, to report it again and they will launch an investigation.

I contacted my apartment block owners’ corporation and they’re going to notify all residents with dogs. I also posted a warning on a local social media site. And I went back to the park later in the day (without Scully) to look around to see if I could find any more chunks of meat – I didn’t find any.

Anyway, on top of a no-sleep night, that was a pretty crummy day.

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