I get the fire going early and Big Dog takes on his professional role as draft excluder by sealing the kitchen door with the length of his body.
While Sarah is at the gym I decide to sort out the wood in the old shed next to the house. Its contents are various and it also houses the deep freezer. Probably full of body parts from disagreeable guests. I notice an axe nearby, but no blood. The shed is a bit dark in places, but I think nothing of it … sort of.
I saunter closer into the shed and pull back sharply. I have seen a snake near the wall. Dark with stripes. Menacing, waiting to strike. I grab a piece of wood and check around my feet for its friend. At a safe distance I examined the reptile only to discover that it was the tail of an abandoned plastic toy leopard. You can’t be too careful. This is rough country! I sort out the good logs and potential kindling and place it all at the edge of the garage in the hope it will dry out a little in the sun.
Feeling like a false hero I wander down the terrace to the barn to feed Oliver and the doves. The horses gather in a different part of the field today, which is good as the fence is lower there. While I wait for them to munch through their feed I decide to gather the horse manure that is dotted unceremoniously around the field like small molehills. Jo said I could pick up some of the horse manure if I get time. There was a wheelbarrow and a pitchfork I could use and to just dump it by the stable. Not the sort of thing I had planned to do, I could sit by the empty pool, but having worked in the corporate world for many years I’ve dealt with my fair share of shit.
After collecting the wheelbarrow I returned in an arc around the field picking up the stuff and minimising my deep breaths. I now realise that there is an art to this as the small mountain of black apple size deposits crumble away unless they have been left to harden. However, I decided not to analyse the composition, depth or consistency of the shit, but to just pick it up as it comes. Proudly I filled a wheelbarrow full and maneuvered through the mud, back to the stable to … well …. dump it! To my surprise there wasn’t any other dumps from previous excursions that Jo may have made. It was another reminder that often a Host can be full of … you know what… themselves and Sarah and I are learning that what you are often told is the truth massaged, sometimes so disguised as to be unrecognisable. The trick, as in this instance, is that the Housesit Host tells you all about the jobs they do and describe the activity in such a convincing manner as to make us believe this is a regular and critical task that they perform. We soon realise that they hardly ever, or only occasionally perform this task themselves as it is a ruse to get some poor idiot to do it … like me. Another one is leaving enough gas in the heater bottle to show you how it works and when you come to use it that first cold night it flares into action and 2 minutes later goes “pop”as the gas runs out, leaving you to freeze.
When Sarah and I eventually get “To Senija” I will become a Housesit host and explain when people arrive that our regular domestic activities include checking the tiles on the roof and painting the house every week. If we had a lawn I would give them nail scissors and for the pool a teaspoon to refill from the kitchen tap. This of course I would not do and based on my experience would attempt to be the perfect Host and supplement the teaspoon with a bucket. The vast majority of Hosts are lovely and grateful … and so are we (I’m grateful and Sarah is lovely) …. but just saying. On this point there is a site called Workaway that offers accommodation and sometimes food (I have even seen a token wage offered) for a return of 4-5 hours work a day. We have come across some hosts who, based on the amount of work/responsibilities required, really should be listing on this site as it is more than just a housesit.
Where was I … oh yes. Smelling something akin to a buffaloes backside after collecting poo, I decided to take a shower. I remember Sarah saying that she mentioned to Jo that the water was very hot. Jo agreed and said she needed to turn the thermostat down … it would even save some money on the heating. The shower is in the corner of the bathroom and has 2 sliding doors that meet to seal it. I use the term seal lightly. The shower cubicle is of a certain age and obviously designed for very small french people with anorexia. Having entered the plastic tomb and navigated the controls I was ready to proceed. Lifting my arms as though wearing a straightjacket and with the hot water issue in my mind, I was cautious. I turned the cold on first after having turned the shower head away from me and gently introduced the hot water to a comfortable heat. Once I finished, as is my usual routine, I turn off the cold and spray down the shower of excess suds with just the hot water.
On this occasion I had underestimated the heat of the hot water by a factor of at least one million. The water wasn’t very hot it was f*ckin boiling hot and bubbling. It heated the neck of the showerhead so quickly that it almost melted … my hand along with it. I nearly dropped it, the water splashing on my hand burning my fingers. I fumbled with the head, but it was on full power so the cord became angry and twisted. I tried to reach the tap but the lava like water was spraying that way. The test tube size cubicle was restraining my movement. I turned to slide the doors open and the head bent down and burned my feet. I screamed like a raving lunatic and literally jumped out of the restraint into the bathroom. Holding the leathon weapon at arms length I reached inside to turn off the molten tap. Fortunately the tender parts that I burnt with my chili spiced fingers earlier in the week stayed out of the line of fire otherwise I would be still lying in a hospital bed with a bucket over my crutch. The shower cubicle should have a skull and cross bones blazoned across it! I still have the burn marks on my hands and feet.
The day was however still young as I rested from my wounds.
Buzz came through the front door making those sort of continuous mumbled meow sounds, like a siren. Having been the owner of cats you instinctively know what this means. Basically it is the warning sound of a gift being delivered to you proudly by your pet. It could be a bird, mouse, rat or anything else it can capture and taunt. In this instance it was a mouse. Having announced his entrance he scampered up to Jo’s room. I followed with pan and brush and as I peeped around the landing at the top of the stairs he was looking proudly at his prey. Dead. This is not always the case. Often a cat will take its prey alive and spend hours taunting it. Buzz was being defensive. I looked at the mouse and realised the head was missing. As the tiny little thing wasn’t going to run away I left them both for nature to take its course. There was nothing left by morning.
Wantan treated us to a traditional chinese meal and it was delicious. A selection of dishes, Tomato & egg, Garlic broccoli, Beef pot, Chicken wings, Shrimps and rice with ginger made in the rice machine she brought all the way from China with her. Bless her heart she even bought a bottle of bubbles to have before the meal and a red wine with the meal.
Later in the evening Sarah let one of the cats out ... it wasn’t in a bag (ha)… and sees a tail disappear. She thinks it’s a snake. Really? Yes! I rush outside… cautiously. Nothing. I move the wooden pig just outside the front door and there it is sliding and slithering. Coming from Australia, the most dangerous place on earth, we tend to be careful with these things. With Sarah, Wantan, myself, 2 cats and 2 fierce dogs starring the snake down the numbers were on our side. Wantan and Sarah stood twitching their feet and hovering by the door. The cats starred it down and then wandered off casually. Puppy barked, stamped his front paw and then looked at me in hope and Big Dog went down the lane for a piss leaving me to handle the situation. Thanks a bloody lot guys! I boldly shake the big wooden pig again and snakie appears shortly only to return again to its refuge. After this brief drama I decide to let sleeping snakes sleep and just leave it on the basis that I don’t know what to do anyway. Seems snakie isn’t actually bothering us apart from slithering around and he probably serves some purpose anyway to mitigate the vermin. Whether or not that was a good decision time will tell.
We shut all the doors and windows … for the rest of the day anyway.
I get up in the night to go to the loo. From our room we have to pass through the kitchen and the two doors that close it off at each end. Big Dog is old and lumbering. He has 3 brain cells, but only uses one of them. He lies down across the door and trying to move him is a challenge. I open the door and it just pushes against his back. He knows I want to get through. Just looks at me and gruffles. I pull harder and he just lumbers there. I resort to raising my voice. Nope. I then pull at his collar, but it is like trying to lift a baby elephant. Eventually I just grab his behind and pull him out of the way and continue on, my bladder straining. I have to shut the door so that he doesn’t go into the lounge. On my return he is back lying against the door and this time it is a similar exercise. It gets to the point where you just have to push the door until he gets so uncomfortable he has to move. He must have dog dementia and forget every time that this is not the best place to lie down. Or perhaps he enjoys being a pain in the arse.
This situation is not a one off. It happens throughout the day and every night.
Until next time 🌏