And so the waitress puts down the coffee in front of me “Barista says this is your dog”. You’d never suspect he was named after a coffee shop.
Oh yeah, and today marks 6 months since we arrived in Australia.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I dropped Gustav at work before 9am. On the way back home, I was making my last right turn at Enmore Road when I found myself looking into the underbelly of a large pink spider stretched out across my driver side window.
It was still riding on the roof when I exited the car a few blocks later, from where it scuttled back down the door and across to the windshield. I suspect a break-out from our Australian Reptile Park visit on Sunday.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Sunday, September 22, 2013
|Sunday is the first – and sometimes only – day of the week that Gustav and I get to spend together if our work schedules are out of sync, so we generally try to plan at least one special outing. After recent trips west and south, it was time time to turn north again. |
When we visited Pierre and Scott in the Hunter Valley some months ago we passed the Australian Reptile Park, and I made a mental note to take Gustav there some day. When I was about 4 years old I lived in the nearby town of Gosford, and the “dinosaur park” – so named because of the giant statue out the front – was one of the bestest places I could be taken. The dinosaur is gone, and the museum has moved to a new site, but seems to have gone from strength to strength.
One of the museum’s noted activities is collecting snake and funnel-web spider venom for anti-venom serums. Today’s spider milking was before 10am, so I made sure we were on the road at 8am to make it in time. Most of the travel time is taken in getting out of Sydney – if you’re near the “centre” then there’s just no quick way north. Munson would be staying home today – while he would love the day out, there wouldn’t be anywhere we could leave him during our hours at the museum.
After surveying the museum’s collection of spiders, frogs and reptiles Gustav is now even more confirmed in his “keep well away from them all” stance – well, except the frogs of course. He loves frogs. I can sense how much he misses our froggy French pond.
|The park is not just home to cold-blooded creatures – there’s a colony of lazy kangaroos, some flying foxes and some quite interesting birds ranged around the outdoor areas of the park. |
|After a couple of hours at the museum we drove on to Gosford to coffee. One day I’ll remember which street I lived in then and see if my old house is still there. I remember playing hide and seek under the house during my 4th birthday party and running face first into a spider web. *four year old screams* |
I also distinctly remember large blue-tongue lizards around the yard. I wonder if they still venture into populated areas here.
From there it was on to Avoca Beach where Sunday markets were drawing a lot of traffic to the area. We wandered down to the water’s edge but it was too cold to do anything but enjoy the waves and surrounding scenery. There were plenty of dogs enjoying the water, so perhaps we will get Munson up here one day soon.
Monday, September 09, 2013
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Tuesday was Munson's "stitches-out" day, and an opportunity for a face to face discussion with his oncologist Veronika.
The immediately good news is that he's now free to run, swim and otherwise join canine society. The next day I took him down to Sydney Park for some very energetic play and reunions.
Going forward I have to assess how best to use the treatment choices, in what is really a numbers game. One route is to use pain medication that has a cancer -protective effect, and the other is to use the metronomic chemotherapy I've mentioned before to target blood-supply to any prospective tumour-lets.
Neither are cheap options, and there's no magic end date at which one can be satisfied that the present danger has been averted. Some opt for an arbitrary 3 or 12 months, and others continue for the rest of their furry friend's life.
Which ever route we take, the experience from Munson's treatment contributes to information used to attack cancer in both dogs and humans. Comparative studies may dramatically shorten the time between clinical studies and available drugs or vaccines.
The first dog that Munson encountered at the park was a young ridgeback/mastiff (?) cross who was both keen to play and over-awed by Munson’s size. Munson quickly latched onto his pull-toy and raced off with it in an attempt to lure his new friend into a chase.
After that he settled down with the regular “crowd on the hill” who were very impressed by Munson’s shaven “chicken leg” and his quick recovery after surgery.
Monday, September 02, 2013
As the days lengthen, I’m introducing Gustav to some of my favourite Sydney walks and neighbourhoods. There are plenty of headlands and small bays on the harbour west of the Bridge, but few with such expansive views and with so few people around. After walking up Louisa Road (“why don’t we live here?” asks Gustav) towards the little ferry terminal, we find only a trio of fisherman, and a number of geckos basking in the sun.
I brought Munson here at this time of year when he was only a few months’ old to dance on the sand at Snails Bay. I hope his dancing days are back with us quickly after he has his stitches out tomorrow.
Next time we’ll have to bring a picnic lunch, and savour a few hours with only the lizards and the light off the water to distract us.
Sunday, September 01, 2013
Spring is here, let winter’s icy grip release its hold. So went a radio commentator as we drove west into the mountains today. I imagine they lived in Australian Antarctic Territory as we’ve had little interruption to clear skies and warm days for weeks.
I haven’t been through the Blue Mountains for about a decade. They sit on Sydney’s western flanks, oh-so-tantalizing, and indeed quicker to reach from the centre than many of Sydney’s northern beach suburbs. As we cruised along the M4 motorway, Munson became a little more alert as we passed under Wallgrove Road, marking the location of the quarantine station that he left four months ago. That placed us more than half way to the Nepean River at Penrith, after which the road rises immediately on a single twisting route following a line of ridges across the mountains.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the first European crossing of the mountains, which opened the land-starved drought-stricken colony to the pasture lands on the Bathurst plains and beyond. The explorers’ names are commemorated in a line of towns along the path they identified: Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth Falls.
Some day I’ll stop in at the Norman Lindsay Gallery at Springwood to see some of the great artist’s legacy. His vast body of work is somewhat overshadowed by his children’s book The Magic Pudding. I got to know him better with his later work The Flyaway Highway which is now barely known and it seems, rarely in print. Today I’m targetting Leura, adjacent to the mountains’ principal township Katoomba, not coincidentally because that’s where the best coffee is to be found.
Munson sits in the back of the Scenic, feet planted between our seats, head attentive to all the new scenery. He’s been really happy over recent days, with scarcely any attention paid to his stitched and denuded leg, which is now coated in a fine layer of down like a new snowfall. He wants to run and frolic; interesting low-energy activity is the best I can substitute. New sights and smells will feed his dreams.
We wander the Mall in Leura for a while, browsing in shops and galleries while Munson said hello to all and sundry. Gustav’s attention was taken by all the new flowering trees, only some of which I could name.
I was particularly impressed by one of the large landscape oil paintings of Warwick Fuller that I saw at Lost Bear Gallery. It’s not a genre that I embrace, but he has a formidable technique and a way of making gum trees look voluptuous that’s almost overpowering, particularly when seen at full 150cm x 150cm scale.
|Minutes from the Mall is a long escarpment where Katoomba, Leura and other towns break with the beautiful Jamison Valley. Our first view is from the Honeymoon lookout, and then from the larger viewing Katoomba platform overlooking the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary and the heavily forested valley floor 500m below. |
We lunched on great pies at Katoomba’s Hominery Bakery - thank you Atalya for the recommendation – before returning to Leura and the walks around Gordon’s Falls. As we' enter national park on any of the bushwalks here we can’t bring Munson, so he has to be left in a cool shaded place. Even without these prohibitions I wouldn’t want him over-working his leg on the steep stairs down to rainforest glades like that at the Pool of Siloam (not to be confused with this one) below.
Munson would have gone crazy with joy in a swimming hole like this. I’d love to find a pet friendly spot like this for him to make up for the loss of our beloved lake at Lupiac.
Our final visit was to the lookouts at Wentworth Falls, but we didn’t attempt any of the tracks down to the water or around the cliff edges. Put it down to heat, tiredness, not wanting to leave Munson too long, and my extreme aversion to heights.