Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Moment

There we were all curled up in J's newly decorated Australian bedroom.  Stories were finished, songs were sung,  Little Murphy was being hugged to his chest.  It was those last few sweet innocent moments before sleep drooped his wee eyelids.  He looked at me all drowsy and adorable:

J: "Mummy what was your favorite toy as a little kid and as a grownup"

Me: "Hmm, probably the little plastic German Shepard I took everywhere since I wanted a real oneAnd as a grownup, ummmm, maybe my iPod Touch"

J: "My favorite toy is Little Murphy"

Me walking out of the room: "I know"  Reveling in the beauty of his childhood innocence, I am now out the door.

From his bed, I hear muttered wickedly.

J: "But my favorite toy when I'm grown up will be my credit card!"

He is his Grandmother's boy!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Welcome to Fall

It's March 24 in Melbourne and it has been Fall for two weeks now.  It feels odd, out-of-kilter; March should be warm breezes, snowdrops poking their heads through the ground, and the last few frantic weeks of skiing.    Fall here feels an awful lot like Summer anywhere else.

I have been told that Melbourne, more than any other city in Australia experiences the closest thing to four seasons (which can sometimes happen in a single day).  Most of the country is tropical or desert-like, but Melbourne, being slightly inland and on an ocean bay feels more temperate and less prone to extreme temperatures.  If this is Fall, I'm curious to experience Winter.  J's school only issues light jackets for warmth so I'm thinking Winter may be rather delightful to this Canadian-girl-still-recovering-six-years later-from-brutal-Calgary-winters.

We are out of boxes now and feeling more settled.  Murphy is doing well, J is enjoying school, C2 isn't travelling, I've figured my way around, and mum has booked her ticket to visit so all is well with my world at the moment.  If only I could figure out how to stop the bats from pooping all over my front terrace at night, things would be pretty perfect.  Though confronted with the horror of the tsunami in Japan, the growing violence in Libya, and a questionable western foreign policy where our leaders never seem to take heed of historical lessons, bat poop seems pretty inconsequential.

J's first school term ends in two weeks and I need to book a Murphy-friendly family holiday.  I'm thinking about a trip down the Great Ocean Road  stopping in Apollo Bay for a few days and visiting some of the world's great surf beaches.  Some hiking, some surf-watching, some beach exploring, and some good eating sounds pretty great to me.  I'll post details and pictures.

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Well-Travelled Dog

It has been five days and I have yet to find the words to describe how complete I feel now that Murphy is back with us.  It hasn't been the easiest of days, however, as she came out of quarantine clearly psychologically traumatized.  She was uneasy on walks, stiff and uncomfortable after short bouts of exercise, slightly aloof, and demonstrating moments of incontinence.  All things completely unlike her.
Murphy and baby J Calgary 2003

A quick trip to the vet, some meds, a lot of affection and TLC later, and a few days have put right most of her anxiety, but I still watch her with concern.  Why why why don't dogs live longer lives.  However, the fact that she has made it this far means that I will devote much energy to ensuring her a comfortable and happy life for how ever many years she has left.  Have I mentioned that I love this dog???

 With her two favorite guys Calgary 2004

Unless you are a dog person and I mean REALLY a dog person, I cannot explain the joy brought from her constant companionship.  Murphy follows me from room to room quietly, unobtrusively, content only in my presence.  She looks at every man passed on a walk to check for C2; her disappointment palpable when proven mistaken, her delight physical if she finds him.  I'm not sure that she will completely recover from her experience until C2 returns from his long trip to Western Australia.

Murphy in Stresa, Italy 2006

 C2, J, and Murphy Levanto, Italy 2006

Unlike Geneva, she is allowed into the schoolyard at J's new school in Melbourne.  She happily wiggles from child to child seeking pats and attention but always, always on the lookout for J.  The other day, I turned away to chat with my new Pilates friend, Magella, and Murphy wandered into the after-school care program looking for him.  Most embarressing...especially after she found the cookie stash.

J and Murphy Aix-en-Provence, France 2007

J and Murphy Puplinge, Switzerland 2007

Unless you are a dog person and I mean REALLY a dog person, you cannot feel the warmth and contentment from the trust and unconditional love of a dog, her unwavering gaze as you move about your business.  The sound of her happy sighs after a good walk, her dinner, or a treat of grilled salmon skin.  The frito smell of her feet as she rolls on her back during a good belly rub always brings a smile to my face.

Murphy Les Gets, France 2008

On the shores of Lake Geneva 2009

Murphy is a part of our family, a meaningful and real member.  We plan our vacations so that she can be included.  Living in Europe for the last five years meant that we drove on most holidays and we always chose places where she could join us.  Experience taught me that renting Provence and Tuscany villas meant sourcing places with stairs into the pool for her.  She has been to Lago Maggiore on both the Swiss and Italian sides; to Burgundy, France; the French Alps; Cinque Terre (five times); Tuscany; Provence, the French Ardeche, and throughout much of Switzerland.

Les Gets France with J  2010

Tuscany, Italy 2010 

Murphy is a well-travelled dog.  She was born in 1998 in Kingston, Ontario and at 8 weeks of age, we flew her to join us in Calgary.  She has been travelling ever since, from the foothills of Alberta, to the Rockies in eastern British Columbia, across the Atlantic Ocean to Switzerland, and now after the longest journey of her life, to Melbourne Australia.

On St. Kilda beach, Melbourne on the first day of freedom following her release from quarantine, 
March 2011

Unless you are a dog person and I mean REALLY a dog person, you will think I am waxing nonsense, but if you are, you get it.