Monthly Archives February 2017

Sarah’s Dog Fifi

Maybe some of you have seen my daughter Sarah’s beautiful dog Fifi. I must tell you the background about Sarah’s dog.

When we were in living in Hong Kong, Sarah was about ten years old. A friend of mine was leaving her job as an assistant at the Canadian Embassy. She had a much loved white miniature poodle called Kimberley. Her replacement was a macho guy who didn’t think a little white poodle would do much for his reputation so asked her to find it another home.


“Please Mum, please”, said the ten year old Sarah.


‘I’ve always wanted a dog”, she pleaded.

I am not really a dog person but with pleading and a back up from her sisters, I gave in.


Kimberley was a rather cute dog and soon adapted to our two story terrace house in Happy Valley. Our amah was not too happy as the dog tended to enjoy biting her ankles. The other person who wasn’t happy was Sarah’s father. When he came home late at night (a reasonably constant situation), the dog was extremely vocal and generally let the whole house know. Good dog.


The household soon got used to the dog and Kimberly was Sarah’s constant companion. One day on a walk to the shop a young Chinese boy came up to her and demanded the dog. I am not sure exactly what happened but he took the dog and Sarah came home in tears.


We called the local police. A couple of hours later two  policemen turned up. I explained the situation and the older one said he wanted to ask Sarah some questions.


“What did the boy look like”, he asked. Sarah hesitated. To be a little helpful, the policeman tried to help. ‘”Was he dark or fair – just roughly “ the policeman said.


Sarah looked at him earnestly “Yes. Roughly.” Rather put off by this, the policeman took another tack. “Did he say something.”


“Yes”, said Sarah “He said it was for his sister”.

Just then, two year old Lulu decided to join the conversation and came forward and managed to knock over the policeman’s Coca cola. A slight delay in the proceedings while we tried to clean up the policeman’s white trousers.


He left soon after and said he would investigate the matter.

A couple of days later there was a knock at the door. I answered it and there was a teenage boy with Kimberly. He handed me the dog and a note and quickly ran off.

I read his note which said – I’ll try and remember – “Ï wanted the dog for my sister who used to see it when the girl took it for a walk. I just wanted to please her but I think that it was wrong to take the dog. I am sorry”


He ran off quickly.


We left Hong Kong a year later and “loaned” Kimberley to a friend.

I promised Sarah I would get her another poodle “one of these days”.


Time went on and then one day at a fundraising lunch in Bali, poodle breeder, Lizzie Love, came up the dais and announced that she had donated one of her puppies for auction. Rusty coloured delightful dog called Fifi was brought up with her beautiful father – an elegant white poodle. Sarah ran off and  picked up Fifi. They looked like they belonged together. I kept my promise and Sarah got her poodle. Admittedly, it took me forty years to get it for her.


Thoughts on getting older

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I was reading an article recently on what one woman thought of being “older”. It made me think about what it meant to me and here is the outcome of my thoughts on getting older.


“Older” is a rather interesting word. When we get to a certain age, we might feel we are getting older. Or maybe we are older than someone else (and that could refer to someone eight is older than someone six).


The World Health Organization describes it as someone who is over 45 which in this day and age is almost young. At 45 I was starting a new life and a second career. I worked fulltime until I was 70.


Now in my late seventies, I am beginning to feel “older”. You know you fit into this category when people in their fifties start standing up for you in the bus or train. I have to say these are mostly of the older type. Younger men and women generally don’t notice you at all. It’s not being rude – you become invisible.


I find that it is getting a little harder to get out of deep lounge chair. In fact, I really think twice about taking a seat at all if I might need to get out of it in a hurry. You certainly feel it when you wonder just how you are going manage to get up. Is it a matter of moving your bottom closer to the edge of the chair and then, hands on the side of the chair and raise yourself up to a standing position or is it hands either side of the chair and use your legs to push yourself to a standing position?.


Occasionally your friend will offer a hand to help you. You mentally hope you can manage with her only use one hand and does not have to revert to the two hand pulling method. I mentally note to keep standing while waiting for someone next time.


Getting on the bus can be a bit of problem as you attempt to hold onto the rail and pull yourself up the step, at the same time note that next time you take the bus that lowers the step that used for wheelchair and strollers.



It also nice when the butcher smiles benevolently when you ask for one chop and two sausages. A fellow older stranger understands when you start up a conversation at the bus stop. They know you live alone and probably haven’t spoken to anyone all day.


There are lots of advantages being “older”. Your ten-year-old grandchild understands that you can’t run for the bus so they will valiantly run and plead with the driver to hold the vehicle until their grandma makes it.


Grandchildren are a pleasure and love hearing about the days when you couldn’t take the phone with you when you left home for a trip to a friends place. ,Your parents didn’t know where you actually went as there was no way to check on our whereabouts. They also love to hear your stories about what their mother or father did when they were young. I know my granddaughters, Mimi and Ava loved to hear stories about Sarah’s misadventures.


Another thing I have noticed since getting older is, I notice babies and toddlers. While I have had four children and six grandchildren, I never really liked them until they got to the stage that we could have a conversation. Now I watch with pleasure a small child in their pram. I watch them enjoying the single grape their mother feeds them or the way they play with their toy. It could be that I never had the time to enjoy my young children. I now just sit and watch them. I am sorry that I missed that time with my children.


At Christmas you can feel quite comfortable after lunch to put your feet up on the couch to rest and nobody gives you looks like “why aren’t you helping.” I look back to Christmas years ago when everyone sat around after lunch laughing and talking and then set off home. I was left alone with the mess and the dishes…and a little lonely.


Yes, there are plenty of things I miss but there are also plenty of things, I don’t miss.


I am not sure that I am happy getting older but there are lots of advantages to enjoy.

The Miracle of the Lights

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New York….We were off to New York. Paul, my husband, got a job on a newspaper in New York. He flew off within a week and I was left to pack up and rent out our home in Sydney. The children had to leave their schools and me my job. We took a large Greek ship to New York, a five week trip

When we arrived, Paul had found us a temporary apartment in Tarrytown a seventy minute train trip from Manhattan. Tarrytown was a very pretty suburban town in upstate New York. Like many suburban towns a car was a prerequisite. Public transport (except for a train to the city) was non existent. As our finances were pretty low and we were planning to buy a house close to the city in a place called Hoboken in New Jersey, we did not want to spend money on a car. A friend of Paul’s offered us an old and dilapidated Kombi van which he used for his annual shooting trip. He was more than happy having it used and garaged for the duration of our stay in suburbia.

I was rather hesitant at driving this large vehicle, especially as I was not used to driving on the wrong side of the road. I did manage to take us to Manhattan one day which certainly boosted my confidence.

One afternoon in midwinter, I took the children to the local township for some shopping and hot chocolate. As we left, I realised I was facing the wrong way to go home. The traffic was heavy as the workers were coming home so I thought I would make a turn at the next street and it would. bring me back to the main street facing the right direction. No, it didn’t. I found it went further and further out of town and I was in the middle of a traffic jam with a slow snake of traffic trying to make it to somewhere. I also realised that the darkness with coming in very quickly and I remembered that the lights didn’t work.

I tried to keep the children in a good spirit and not to have them start the usual “are we there yet?”. I didn’t like to tell them that I had no idea where “there” was and if we would ever get “there” I hopefully turned the lights on. Took a deep breath and nothing happened. It was still late dusk so I would see where we were going and hoped that I would notice something familiar and we would be home. The traffic was still creeping along.

All of a sudden I noticed the car in front was lit up. It couldn’t be, it was. The light had somehow turned on. I figured that I would somehow find our way home in time as long as we could see our way. We got home about fifteen minutes later and turned off the lights when we parked the car. The lights never came on again although I made sure we were never out at night. A miracle? I still wonder.