The Dog

Ever since her first appearance, The Dog has been an almost annual feature here. It’s hard to believe she’s eleven years old already. Her mortality was first brought home to us when our first chicken was killed:


OUR WRITER and his GODDESS stare at a freshly dug grave. Our Writer rapidly blinks away a dust mote.


(off Writer)

If we’re this upset over a chicken, imagine when The Dog goes.

The Dog was the first addition to Fortress Mamea in 2003. A family canine was something the adult family members wanted: we’d each had a dog in our childhood, though this time around we had requirements like

  • no begging at the dinner table,
  • no sleeping on the bed,
  • and some actual obedience.

We were largely successful: there’s no begging at mealtimes, The Dog knows not to jump onto our bed (the children’s beds are a different matter), and she returns on command.

She and I have clocked up some serious mileage over the years (not so much for a while), but this year she was retired from the exercise regime. Long gone are the days where she would shadow me as I 1). put on my running shoes, 2). ground through some stretching exercises, and 3). collected her lead and my stopwatch from the Wall Hook of Righteous Agony. In the last few months, she has had to be coaxed more and more: at first to leave her dog bed for the brisk morning air and, later, to leave the fortress altogether.

The Dog is getting old. She’s farting more freely, her snoring is louder and more insistent, and her daily ratio of resting versus all-out-physicality has changed markedly. The Goddess and I have been meaning to get a puppy these past few years, ostensibly to keep The Dog company when we’re not at home, but we haven’t even window-shopped. I suspect, deep down, we know that to begin looking for a puppy would be to acknowledge The Dog’s mortality.

The Kitten could be seen in hindsight as a transitional stage. It is heartening to see The Dog initiate playtime with The Kitten.

THE KITTEN -- fully grown now but always referred to as “The Kitten” -- climbs through her CAT FLAP when --

-- THE DOG leaps as if from nowhere --



You’re IT!

-- and lands a paw on the cat’s hindquarters, the dog’s mass and speed spinning the cat 360 degrees until she recovers, back arched and glaring at The Dog:



Step back or die, cur.

The Dog will forever be Fortress Mamea’s first hound. And until it’s time for her to go, we’ll continue to feed her, walk her, and love her.

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The Camry Sportswagon

The Sportswagon, circa 2008
The Sportswagon, circa 2008

Almost ten years ago, we acquired a second-hand, New Zealand-new stationwagon. The Boy, seven at the time, took one look at the Advanti Racing alloy-shod Camry 220 GL and declared it a sportswagon. I suppose when you’re seven and you’re a Holden V8 fan with a cap and jacket to prove it, you make do with what you get.

I grew up with a succession of Ford Falcon stationwagons. A lot of my childhood holiday memories include lying in the rear cargo area, in a cocoon of blankets and luggage, en route to some faraway destination; if I got bored, I played polite games of shoot-’em-up with the driver of the vehicle behind us.

I never thought I’d end up driving a Toyota as an adult. They’re so ubiquitous that… well, I thought Other People drove the damned things. Not me.

But the Camry grew on me. The 2.2-litre engine is a good compromise between around-town trips and our annual cross-country holidays. It’s wide enough to give each occupant room to move — on long trips, the kids would fill up the backseat and footwell with a myriad of items to keep them occupied. The rear cargo area can accommodate: luggage for five; film-making gear; a month’s grocery shopping; or firewood aplenty (with the backseat folded forward). It’s a workhorse, baby, and it can take on any job you throw at it.

I know that, alloys aside, we’ve got a stock Camry. But there’s something about our ‘wagon that makes it stand out from the rest of the ‘wagons out there.

And you know what it is? They’re not sportswagons.

(This post started out as a bit of a love-post in 2007. I thought I’d published it ages ago but obviously haven’t. So why now? The Camry is about to be retired. We added 200,000+kms to the odometer, traversed State Highway 1 innumerable times in it, and it has long been Fortress Mamea’s faithful and reliable war- and work-horse. A farewell ceremony involving fish ‘n’ chips and lipstick is scheduled in the very near future.)

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More —

animal pics: this wee fulla I came across whilst doing some research and just had to share.

And now for the usual suspects.

The Dog in Guccione repose.
The Cat after some under-the-house exploring.

We usually refrain from giving the animals’ actual names but our rooster’s handle is just too cool for school:

Ghost Dog, Esq.
Ghost Dog, Esq.

Some proper posting will follow.

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31 October

Ah crap: that day of the year again.

When The Goddess won’t allow trap-a-treaters —

— or a vaguely themed obstacle course —

— this evening’s roamers and their chaperones will get just one warning:


Yeah whatever.

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Health Warning: Pix to Follow

When in doubt – or experiencing a dearth of bloggable material – post pictures.

For starters – by special demand request: Fortress Mamea’s mounted element, The Kaimanawa Pony.

The Kaimanawa Pony

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Tessa 2000-2012

The Cat – actual handle Countessa de Kitty-Kat – was buried in the fortress pet cemetery late last week.

When I first met Tessa in 2002, she was a bit of a poor excuse for a feline – watching her climb a fence always made me flash on the unfortunate Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket. She wasn’t heavy or anything – just… out of practice with being a cat, or something like that. She was friendly enough (no random attacks received), well-mannered (when handled with care, she gave fair warning when enough was enough), and low maintenance (she always toileted outside).

In 2003, Tessa went through a number of major life-events. The aiga, numbering three humans at that time, moved westward to what was to become Fortress Mamea. The new abode had its own resident cat, Pablo (full handle Pablo Ninja Cat), a large and gregarious chap. The aiga swelled with the sudden arrival of a fourth human, The Boy. And then The Dog was acquired.

Each change was a challenge for Tessa. She sealed her place in the fortress hiearchy with the patient and successful stalking of a mouse under the oven. She shunned Pablo who enjoyed our company until the word ‘diet’ was mentioned, whereupon he adopted the lovely Gladys across the road (who feeds him – I shit you not – on a 24/7 basis). Tessa’s relationships with late arrivals The Boy and The Dog could easily have been the final straws… but both boy and canine soon found their place in the fortress hierarchy (below the cat).

The fortress grounds have ample trees and vegetation, and soon enough, Tessa learned how to scale fences and trees like a real cat.  The local fauna have provided other exercise, the past decade scattered with the remains of a mouse, bird or rat tastefully left outside the back door for the unsuspecting barefoot occupant.  In winter she loved the wood burner – curled whiskers a specialty – while in the summer she soaked in the sun like a four-legged black hole.

Tessa will be missed.  She was loved by The Girl and The Goddess.  And although The Boy and I dreaded the racket she would make at the back door to be let into the house for —

a). fuss,
b). food,
c). warmth,
d). company,
e). a). through to d).

— we have found ourselves waiting to hear it in the morning, curses on the tips of our barely awake tongues – only to realise Tessa is no longer with us.

May there be plentiful 1kg blocks of tasty cheddar cheese wherever she is now.

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Beethoven 2008-2011

There’s something I like about this pic of Beethoven: the speed blur, the beady-freaking eye -. I know: her hope that there’s food beside the camera.

Last Sunday, a dog – the same one as last time – breached Fortress Mamea and attacked Beethoven. I’ve tried to write up the circumstances of the discovery a few times now but they kept yanking the post – understandably – into righteous and incandescent Frank Castle revenge fantasies.

So. A dog got another of our chickens. This one I had to put out of her misery. I’m still quite angry at how avoidable it all could have been but what’s done is done.

Beethoven was the oldest of our current squadron and, although not the brightest or most interesting, was a big fan of The Goddess’ garden (it led, at times, to some stern heart-to-hearts between them) and never passed up the offer of crickets and worms found on the property.

She may have been just a chicken.

But she was one of The Goddess’ chickens.

She is missed.

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