Category Archives: home & garden

Willy 2005-2017


We adopted Willy and his little pal Kuma from the Lost Dogs Home on 7 December 2007.

Our old dog Robbie had died in 2006 followed by our second dog Charlie in 2007. We got back from a holiday in December and I was looking at the Lost Dogs Home web site and found two Jack Russelly guys who they were looking to have adopted together. They were pretty sure they hadn’t grown up in the same home but had somehow found each other while roaming the streets and had become inseparable so they were being offered as a set. Perfect! We went straight down and brought them home. I let them out into the garden when we got back and Willy disgraced himself right away by jumping in the fish pond (he always loved water).

We never worked out their back story. Willy was about 2 to 3 years old, and Kuma probably a year younger, when we adopted them so we figure Willy was born in 2005.

They seemed healthy and well looked after but Willy was quite traumatized and it took several years for him to really become comfortable and feel safe. Kuma was relaxed at home but terrified out on the streets, and we took to walking them early in the morning so there were fewer things to be scared of. Over the years they gradually became less scared and more assured, even meeting a few doggy friends on their walks. We met a great dog trainer who helped us through those early couple of years and they even passed their obedience training — possibly because we were the only ones to turn up for the last lesson. Anyway, we have the certificates to prove it.

Everything seemed to happen to Willy. He spent a worrying night at the emergency vet after being poisoned, and then in 2012 he spent two weeks at another animal emergency hospital after eating a peach pip which got stuck and caused serious complications. We really thought he wouldn’t pull through from that, but he did, and in some ways it marked a new beginning. When he got home he seemed much more settled and it was as if he knew that he finally had a home where he was loved, a home forever. The years since then have been pure delight.

Sadly, in February 2016 we found out that Willy had a tumour in his nose. The first biopsy came back negative which was a great relief and he had surgery to remove it, but then further testing showed that it really was cancer and the prognosis wasn’t good. We decided to start on a chemotherapy treatment through 2016. Willy responded really well with mostly minor and occasional side effects. We wondered if he might make it to his adoption anniversary (he did) and then Christmas and New Year (yes and yes!) and then we started quietly wondering if he might magically live for another few months. Every extra day was very special.

Although the treatments were intense, there were only a few days when he wasn’t totally happy, running around, and barking at everything. He was the most talkative dog I’ve ever known, and took on the role of telling off everyone and everything while looking after his pack. Even on his last morning walk he was wagging his tail and full of beans, woofing at cyclists, joggers, other dogs, birds, and hot air balloons. It seemed like a normal day but by the evening he was looking a bit flat and then during the night started having seizures. So in the early morning of Friday last week we had to rush to the animal emergency and say goodbye.

Willy lived happily and well for one year and two months following his diagnosis and every one of those days was a joy. Our home is so quiet and sad with Willy not around to look after us.

Go well, little friend. xx


The last photo, Willy and Kuma together



Day 13 of #blogjune  – in which we indulge in some some winter garden planning

One of my wooden raised garden beds needs a bit of attention so I headed to the hardware store near work one day last week to look for some galvanised wood screws.


Unfortunately, or perhaps not, I got distracted by the garden department and some packs of dry-rooted asparagus crowns. Distraction seems to be something I’m prone to. I also went into the homewares store last week to get Wayne a glass bowl for his terrarium and came away with a frypan set.

(In my defence, the fypan set was half price, and I did also remember to get the terrarium. In my excitement over the thought of freshly picked asparagus from the garden I completely forgot about the wood screws.)

Anyway, the asparagus crowns at the hardware store looked pretty generic and the pack didn’t even list a cultivar so I passed on them and went to check the Diggers Club web site when I got home last night.

Diggers have several varieties including the wonderfully named Fat Bastard. I figured out that my 1200 by 1200 mm garden beds should be able to hold nine asparagus plants and Diggers also have a mixed pack of nine with three plants each of three different varieties: the old standard Mary Washington, a beautiful looking Purple, and our friend the Fat Bastard. I’ve just ordered them so they should be here in a week or so.

I was planning to plant the asparagus in one of the open beds but now I’ve read that strawberries and asparagus make excellent garden companions: the strawberries begin fruiting as the asparagus is finishing.

A mixed bed of asparagus and strawberries sounds heavenly, but Willy and Kuma also enjoy nibbling on a lot of our vegetables and strawberries would be quite tempting, so I think the asparagus and strawberries will need to go in one of the garden beds protected by the “Dog Proof Fence”.

The New York Christmas tree

wpid-2012-12-24-17.13.15.jpgFor day 1 of #blog12daysxmas

When we got down some of the Christmas trees (yes, plural) to put up this year I found this small beautiful 1960s silver tree that I have no memory of ever buying, but I somehow must have. I would have put it on a base of Christmas snow but it’s sitting on top of the Foxtel box so the snow would probably cause “technical issues”.

We’ve decorated this little tree mainly with souvenirs from our trip to New York a couple of years ago.

There are a couple of special ornaments picked up at the Jonathan Adler store in Soho. But, wait, there’s more… Pee Wee Herman Christmas decorations!


Being huge Pee wee fans we’d booked tickets to see the Pee Wee Herman Broadway show, actually a little off Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theater on West 43rd Street. It was amazing, and after the show we queued up at the gift shop for the souvenirs but we passed on the Christmas decorations. What were we thinking?

The very next night we had to plead with the doorman at the theatre to let us back in so we could buy them and, as you can see, we did.

The obligatory gratuitous pet photo post

for the last day of blogjune

Back in January Anne invited me to join the Friday photos group on Flickr. Every week there is a theme and we have until Friday to post at least one, and up to three, photos on that theme. It’s been a great challenge and really gets you looking for things you mightn’t otherwise have seen, plus I’ve met some lovely Flickr peeps.

Of course, some themes are easier than others, but the easiest was probably week 25 “Pets”. Here are my three photos for that week of our boys Willy and Kuma.

At the end of 2007, after our old dogs Robbie and Charlie had died, we headed off to Japan for a holiday and the day after we got home I spotted these two on the Lost Dogs Home web site. We went straight down and brought them home.

When we got home we took them out into the garden and Willy immediately disgraced himself by jumping in the fish pond.

Unlike Willy, Kuma doesn’t like the water. When they went to stay at their “pet resort” when we went to New York we paid for swimming sessions but only Willy would go in the pool. Apparently Kuma just ran around the edge.

(It’s probably worth pointing out that while the doggie holiday accommodation had a pool, our New York hotel didn’t.)

We still don’t know how they found each other. The people at the Lost Dogs Home thought they hadn’t come from the same house but had found each other while out roaming the streets and they became best buddies so they wanted to find someone to take them together.

And here they are.

a very small IKEA hack

blogjune day 3

I love IKEA, but I think I love IKEA Hack even more! Do you know it? People have come up with great ideas for repurposing IKEA stuff to make all sorts of wonderful things. So here is my very small one…

If you’re signed up as an IKEA Family member you get free cups of coffee. (I also got a voucher for a free slice of Princess Cake for my birthday but I forgot to redeem it. Anyway…) Avail yourself of some spare coffee stirrers from the coffee shop.

While wandering back through the store you might take one of the little pencils.

Keep your wooden sticks and pencil in a small IKEA bowl and you have your very own IKEA labelling station for planting seeds!

You can follow @ikeakacker on Twitter.


Day 1 of blogjune

It’s the first day of winter today but it was delightfully sunny so I went for a lunch time stroll to the community gardens behind Glenferrie Oval. There were just a few bare patches but most of the gardens were still bursting with vegetables.

Our vegetable garden, on the other hand, is looking a bit sad.

We do have some seedlings coming along for red and yellow leaf lettuce and two types of silverbeet, but the only plants we have to harvest are a couple of silverbeet plants still going strong from spring. This is a Digger’s Club variety simply called “Green Silverbeet” with deep green leaves and pale green stalks.

We’ve harvested a bunch for a cheese, walnut and silverbeet pie for tonight’s dinner.

Knitting through chaos

We’re in the middle of house renovations here at the Bonito Club and currently there is no bathroom, toilet or laundry. Best not to ask about the gory details.

Luckily Willy is making sure to keep a close eye on what the builders are up to.

Here is the bathroom a few days ago with no bath, no shower, no wash basin and no floor! We’re just trying to think about how wonderful it will be when it’s finished.

Through the worst of the chaos I started knitting a cardigan in Peace Fleece Worsted, a robust charcoal grey tweed with flecks of brown and green. It’s quite stiff when you’re knitting, but my swatch softened beautifully when I washed it.

Unfortunately, half way up the back of the cardigan I realised it was turning out just a bit small and I didn’t have enough yarn to go up a size. A cardigan really needs to be a little bit slouchy I think, so it wasn’t going to end up as the cardigan I wanted. On the other hand, I reckon a man’s vest looks better when it’s a bit snug, so I’ve started over on the “Textured Vest” from Erika Knight’s Men’s Knits.

The pattern — which has been in my queue for years — suggests Rowan Summer Tweed, which is lovely, but the cotton/silk blend makes it a bit difficult to get a neat finish in my experience and the vest design has columns of ribbing up the sides and around the neckline which would have been tricky. Peace Fleece comes out at the identical gauge on the same needle size and is turning out to be an excellent substitute.

I’ll keep knitting through the Eurovision final tonight… I snapped the pic below of the astonishing singer for Albania from the first semi final and we’re looking forward to seeing her again in the big show tonight, although it’s looking like Sweden is this year’s favourite. I hope I don’t get too excited and drop a stitch!

I have to say though, none of the 2012 Eurovision songs are a patch on Nina from Serbia’s Čaroban from last year – magical!