Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three years on...

I’m back to the house of mad parrot infamy that I first housesat three years ago. This is the first luxury house I sat and the first time I had to deal with dogs and birds. I can’t believe it’s that long! One of the dogs has died in the interim, the staffy is three years older and has had his balls cut off after they developed a tumour and the parrot is a bit quieter since its stroke – 3 years on. Nonetheless she does like attention and having her beak stroked and being given bits of veggies. She has a much bigger cage now – which is much better. The fish in the outside pond have long since fallen prey to visiting kingfishers so there is now a tank inside the house with a Siamese fighting fish called Fang. There is a mirror on the tank so the fish spends a lot of time beating itself up. So the pet situation is not quite as full on thank goodness! For all that it’s still a very labour intensive house.

The day I moved in I made the mistake of inviting somebody over who completely overexcited the dog and it ran itself into exhaustion and sore paws. One paw has some of the skin worn off it. On Monday the dog limped around stiffly and licked his front paws endlessly. He is a lot better today and although he is still licking one of his paws – it seems to be a bit better and I was able to take him out for a short walk. Last night the poor dog had another crisis when a big thunderstorm hit. The dog is thunderphobic and goes into a complete panic meltdown during storms. The owners had left me with some tranquillisers for these situations and I gave him one as soon as I saw the ominous clouds and heard the low rumblings. It didn’t seem to make a lot of difference and the dog hyperventilated and trembled for about 3 hours and stayed glued to me. It was a bit annoying as I enjoy thunderstorms and this house is on a hill overlooking the bush and the river with a fantastic view of proceedings.

The dog has a complex diet of kangaroo mince, rice, pasta and vegetables and dog biscuits. The owners decided to change vets after their previous vet scoffed at the rice and vegetable component which takes a bit of an effort to cook up. I cooked up a batch last time I was here but I think there are enough supplies there to last the distance this time.

I had to get rid of another serious chemical infestation when I moved in. A green thing attached to the loo bowel, an ‘airfreshener’ on a shelf in the loo. In the basin area outside the loo was a perfumed candle and a jar with some kind of toxic liquid and a set of sticks that looked like incense sticks soaking it up. There was another jar with sticks next to the television. There are also a number of perfumed candles in the dining room and sitting room but I have left these where they are as there are too many of them and I just keep the verandah door open while I am around and about. The house is absolutely spotless so there is no need for all this junk.

The sitting room has a huge plate glass wall overlooking the river and a lovely 50 inch Panasonic plasma TV with a top of the range Yamaha surround sound system under the television. When I was last here, there was a Rank Arena CRT TV and an array of speakers around the room. I remember the owners talking about their prospective purchase of the Yamaha system. Foxtel - almost the full package - is connected to the sound system so I can play the radio stations with the television switched off.

Back to the house. The pets aren’t the only things that are labour intensive. The owners feed the wild birds – so I have to put seed in a feeder tray for the rosellas and the sulphur crested cockatoos. They also mix up some kind of powdered milk concoction but I haven’t got around to doing this yet. They also throw kangaroo mince at the butcher birds, currawongs and magpies – so the birds are continually hassling you for food by hopping up and down outside the kitchen window and tapping on it with their beaks or if I have left the screen door open for the dog, some of them actually come into the kitchen.

I don’t really approve of feeding wild life. It means they are less able to find their own food and they become tame which is dangerous both for them and humans. Not to mention the mess of discarded birdseed and bird droppings which I will have to clean up.

I spent half an hour this morning cleaning the pool of bark and leaves and fixing up the kreepy krawly after last night’s storm. A simple cover on the pool would avoid these problems and save water.

There is a complicated and paranoid system of locks on everything – with the keys not working particularly well in the locks, so this is all a bit irritating along with the burglar alarm. I don’t like alarms much – I am always worried they might unexpectedly go off when I am setting them or turning them off.

There is a large garden. I’m so glad it rained last night! The owners are very active retirees – hence all the labour they create around the house.

The dog is currently sitting at my feet obsessively licking its paws. I have noticed in general that terriers seem to do this – it seems to be an anxiety thing in most cases.

For all its obessiveness and regimentation, the house is beautifully organised which makes it easy to live. It has a lovely kitchen and one of the best ovens I have cooked with. It’s a Miele. The benches are made of sandstone.

It’s the perfect spot for marking large numbers of essays!


Zimble: said...

The cockatoos were nice but that butcher bird should have been called 'Chopper'!

Jayne said...

Hi there,
I'm writing an article about housesitting and would love it if you could get in touch with me asap! jayne.darcy (at)