Christmas Week with Riggs

Christmas Eve

It’s the afternoon [3.40pm] before Christmas and it is unpleasantly hot. The Kookaburras are laughing in the tree tops predicting rain – bring it on I say may it cool us down. It won’t though; it will make it steamy and we’ll wish for a cool breeze – we live in hope. I could switch on the aircon but the way the electricity prices are at present I don’t wish to add to the bills. Besides, I’m not home. I’m at Brad’s place on the Central Coast looking after Riggs, his two-year old German shepherd. He’s sitting by my feet at present panting like a steam train.

Brad had planned to drive to Melbourne with Riggs yesterday, but as luck would have it, his 20-year-old Toyota Seca decided it was time to play up a week ago. So he very sensibly decided to leave the dog at home and fly down instead. As yet his plane which was expected in Melbourne at 15.35 is yet to land and it’s already 15.53 – I’m keeping an eye on arrivals at Tullamarine airport.

As my arm is in plaster [has been for the past 6 weeks due to a stupid fall] Sandra drove us up this morning. Mother and son set off at 11am so he could catch his 14.00 flight from Sydney Domestic terminal.

Sandra phoned me about 30 minutes ago having just got back home to our place at Berowra. She will be coming up tomorrow. The traffic was horrific as everyone is driving exceptionally slow because of the vast amount of police on the roads.

Hallelujah the plane’s just landed!!

Christmas Day

The Kookaburras must be feeling smug. Have woken up to stormy conditions – it’s pelting down outside. Riggs wasn’t too impressed as I wasn’t playing with him – if you can call it “play” I stand or sit nearby whilst he chews on his favourite ball. If, and only if, he makes a mistake or isn’t quick enough [a very rare occurrence] he “loses” the ball from his jaws do I get a chance to throw it for him. Then the pattern recommences. Another favourite game of his when he is stretched out on his tummy and he will push the ball towards you with his nose allowing you to gently tap the ball back to him with your foot or hand, which he will “catch” in his mouth and resume chewing it with a passion. He will repeat this process until either you or he gets bored and walks away. Usually it’s me who walks away to get on with some chore or other; and Riggs will then sit behind the screen door patiently awaiting my return.

However, Christmas Day he wasn’t getting too much attention because of the wet. Feeling sorry for him, you let him into the house to sit by your feet, to open his gifts and enjoy a few treats, but it doesn’t take too long before that restless spirit wants to be released back out onto the deck.

Xmas 2012 009 Xmas 2012 007

Sandra arrived with bottles of champagne, nibbles, dips, etc. Fortunately as she arrived the weather had let up a bit, but it didn’t last long. I can honestly say this was the worse Christmas ever because of the weather. The gifts were nice, as was the food, but our moods were positively depressing. It was an early night for all. Even Riggs didn’t put up any argument when he was put to bed at 7.30pm.

Boxing Day

A little better – at least the sun showed its face. Having played with the dog for a little while, Sandra and I headed off to the movies at Erina Fair. Talk about pandemonium! It was as though it was the end of the world and everyone was out to stock up with any useless item they didn’t really need anyway. Trying to find a parking space was a nightmare as everyone else was doing the same. Fortunately a space appeared by chance at the Coles parking station.

We saw “The Quartet”. A wonderful film starring stars Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, and Billy Connolly. Based on the play by Ronald Harwood and directed by Dustin Hoffman, it is an amusing, although sometimes sad, drama centred on the residence occupied by retired musicians and opera singers. All actors are marvellous in the roles they portrayed, and I personally loved Billy Connolly performance.

On our return home, Riggs was pleased to see us, and fortunately the evening was lovely so we were able to sit on the deck enjoying a glass of wine or two, and playing with Riggs.

Thursday

Sandra, having done a machine load of washing, nipped down to the shops to get a few groceries, whilst I stayed home and did some cleaning. We then set off to Bunning’s to have a look at the prices of patio hoses as we want to buy a garden hose for our front garden [saves the hassle of disconnecting the one in the back every time we want to water the front – besides Sandra finds it hard to disconnect the hose, and at present due to the cast on my right arm, so do I].

Having made a note of a favourable model, we departed. Sandra dropped me off at Gosford town centre, and then she headed home to Berowra. I met up with my “long lost but now re-found” step-daughter [from my previous marriage] and her husband. We sat on the Roof Terrace Café at The Gosford Leagues Club and enjoyed a nice meal, a glass of wine and endless conversation catching up on each other’s lives.

By 4pm they announced it was time to go, as they were heading off to the beach at Terrigal/Wamberal.  After we said our ‘goodbyes’, I returned to a happy dog who was also glad to see me. Davina and her husband, Al will be returning home to England on New Year’s Eve. I certainly hope I will not have to wait too long to see them again. The last time I met up with her was almost thirteen years ago. She is now 32 years old, and neither of us is getting any younger.

Let me tell you a bit about Riggs. He is 27 months old black German shepherd with only a little bit of tan on his legs. He has beautiful brown eyes which look at you with a mixture of fun, love, sadness and mischief. He lives for play and company; and it’s the joy he emits that makes you want to spend time with him. Although, of course, you can’t “play” all the time, and in those instances he’ll sit by the patio screen door either looking at you or taking a nap.

Xmas 2012 003

The ritual of ‘bedtime’ is amusing and it’s at this time that his intelligence shines. It becomes a mastery of who can outwit the other first. Brad’s house is built on a sloping block, so even though it is all on one level, the deck at the back of the house is at least ten feet above the ground. There are stairs which go down to the garden and a gate at the top of the stairs on the deck.

At around 8pm most evenings, Riggs is allowed in to sit on his futon bed and enjoy a treat or two and a play. As ever though he wants to be let out; I follow watch him cock his leg and wait for him to come back up, ball in mouth to resume play. After a few “throws” the gate is slammed shut behind him, and then given a bowl of puppy milk – his favourite of all treats – he is ushered into his room to bed.

Last night however, he wasn’t going to have a bar of it and he stayed down in the garden despite all my efforts to get him upstairs. I even went as far as confiscating his ball, but to no avail. I hid out of sight a couple of times and got him upstairs; but Riggs is a lot faster than me, and as soon as I am spotted he races back down before I have even reacted. In the end I went inside and prepared his milk. He came up and stared at me through the screen. I approached cautiously, holding his bowl low so he could pick up the scent of the milk. I opened the door and stepped out; Riggs backed away looking to the gate, then hesitating – the thought of the milk too strong. I placed the bowl down and stood between it at the gate. As Riggs’ nose went in the bowl the gate was slammed shut, trapping him upstairs. Victory or so I thought. Milk drunk he spent the next 20 minutes running around the deck avoiding my grip. As I prepared to abandon him and go inside for a well-deserved rest, Riggs casually walked into his room – did I see a smile on his cheeky face? Surely it was a play of the evening light?

Friday

Brad’s due back home today; Sandra will be picking him up at the airport at about 12.30pm. I woke at around 7.30am and let the dog out. I had a little play with him as I put the sheets in the washing machine. He didn’t eat his breakfast – a mix of dry food and a couple of chicken necks. I then went back into the house and after showering, cleaned the bathroom. I started to remake the bed with what I thought were clean sheets only to find they were all covered in dog hair. Promptly removing them off the bed I hunted in the linen closet for dog-hair free sheets and made Brad’s bed. I then placed the “clean sheets” in the wash, having first taken the previous load out to hang outside – a beautiful day in Wyoming. Then it was back into the house to have my own breakfast and vacuum the house.

Riggs has still not eaten his breakfast. I threw out the chicken necks and left him the dry food – he’ll eat when he gets hungry. It is exactly Midday as I finish this post on my blog; I will be resuming my playtime with Riggs shortly whilst we await Brad’s return home.

RLB – Tomewriter

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