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Cat Wrangling

I saw this on FaceBook and it made me laugh. I don’t know how many pills I’ve given cats — but it’s lots! My first ever job was in a cat and dog boarding kennels. I looked after all the cats and a kennel of dogs.  This was before the days of compulsory cat vaccinations, and that year cat ‘flu hit the cats. (Scroll down for the rest of the story.)

I had to give all the cats a tablet twice a day and the sick ones more and different pills and plenty of water, using a squeeze injection thingy  (technical term) to squirt water into their mouths.

I got right into the swing of giving cats pills. The vet showed me how. I tucked the cat into my armpit, gently pulled its head back by the scruff of its neck until its mouth opened, tossed in the pill, and massaged the cat’s throat until it swallowed the pill. (Or not, in which case I retrieved the spat-out pill and repeated the process.) And it was all done and dusted quicker that the time it took to read this.

I was sixteen and as it turned out, I was doing two people’s work. They’d sacked one kennel-maid, and I was given her work in addition to my own. Plus there was the cat-flu. I got no extra help from the people who owned and ran the kennels. It was also high summer, and while they and their two daughters spent their lunch and tea breaks in air-conditioned comfort inside, I was never invited. 

I did the work because I loved the animals, and I cared about the sick ones so took good care of them. The fact that I was exploited didn’t occur to me until much later. I guess it was a life lesson. A lot of us start our working life being exploited, don’t we? 

BookBub Special

My book, MARRY IN HASTE, the first in the “marriage of convenience” series is on special for a short time at $1.99. Mainly in the USA but there is a reduced price also in Australia and the UK by the look of it, so check your local e-book seller.  
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MARRY IN HASTE was given a coveted starred review from Library Journal  who said: ” With deep character insight, subtle humor matched with rapier wit, and brilliant repartee, Gracie puts a refreshing spin on a classic romance trope and delivers another knockout Regency that will keep fans enthralled.
It was also given a Desert Island Keeper rating from All About Romance. You can read it here.
Scroll down below the image for a short excerpt.

My hero in this book is Major Calbourne Rutherford, who’s been a soldier most of his life. Returning briefly to England on the trail of an assassin, he discovers he’s now Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives — in particular his wild young half-sisters. 

Poor Cal, he’s used to having men jump to his every command. Now he’s discovering sisters — in fact every woman he comes across — are quite a different matter. As he tells his old army friend, Galbraith:

“Remember that time when I was still wet behind the ears and they gave me that troop to command—most of them from the stews of London and only in the army as an alternative to being locked up in prison for God knows how long.”

“Lord, yes. Thugs and villains to a man. Scum of the earth.”

Cal nodded. “Trying to control my young sisters is harder than that.”

“Harder than commanding that riff-raff?” Galbraith gave a snort of amusement. “Pull the other one, Cal. I’ve seen grown men—hard nuts they were too—shaking in their boots when called up before you for some infraction or other.”

“Yes, but they knew I could have them flogged.”

Galbraith shook his head emphatically. “Don’t remember when you ever resorted to flogging.”

“I did once or twice—extreme circumstances.” Cal stared into his brandy glass. “But you can’t flog girls or even threaten it.”

Galbraith nodded. “Quite right, too.  Delicate creatures, females.”

“And soldiers don’t burst into tears at a—very mild—reprimand, or flounce from the room, or sulk, or look at you with big wounded eyes! Or ignore my—very reasonable—orders and go their own merry way!” 

There was a muffled sound from the chair opposite. Cal narrowed his eyes. “Are you laughing at me, Galbraith?”

His friend pulled a large handkerchief from his pocket, blew noisily into it and said with an unnaturally straight face, “No, no. Wouldn’t dream of it.” 

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It’s ANZAC day here, which is a big day in Australia and New Zealand — commemorating soldiers fallen in all wars, though the ANZAC tradition began after WW1. ANZAC stands for the Australia New Zealand Army Corps which fought in WW1 and were used by the British Army more or less as cannon fodder. These were untested troops from far flung colonies and the British had no good opinion of them.

The result was utterly tragic. The campaign (the real purpose of which was to draw enemy fire, allowing British troops to land elsewhere) was a success in tactical terms, but a defeat in real terms. The ANZACs held their position under constant fire for long after they were expected to. The casualties were appalling but the bravery, individually and collectively, of the ANZAC troops was outstanding. (This photo is of my grandparents. He was not one of those original ANZACs. He fought in Flanders, was badly gassed and died while my 19 year old father was off at war.

There are few (if any) of those original WW1 soldiers left, but the wastage of life and the courage of these boys under impossible conditions made such an impact on two young countries (Australia, like most of these soldiers, was not yet 20 years old) that it became a national day of mourning.

In the cities and country towns there’s a march to the local war memorial and a dawn service. And instead of the significance of the day fading over time, it seems to have grown.
Now it’s a day of commemoration of all people fallen in war. It’s a public holiday on Monday in most states, though not Victoria, where we stick to the actual date of 25th April.


Last year, with CoVid hitting and much of the country in Lockdown, a “Light up the Dawn” campaign was begun, and the dawn service was held all over the country, in small country towns and in the streets of suburbia. 

In the hour before the dawn, people gathered outside their homes, in driveways or on balconies, lighting the night with candles and lanterns, waiting for the breaking of dawn. The ANZAC service was streamed live on ipads and mobiles. There was even a lone young woman playing the last post on her violin in a cow paddock in Queensland.

It was very moving, people in small family groups, some with kids in slippers and dressing gowns, some former soldiers wearing their medals, others wearing their father’s/grandfather’s/husband’s medals, all standing outside, separately-but-together,  in the chilly, silent streets, holding candles , waiting as the sun slowly rose.

There was an underlying symbolism, too, to this event happening across the country — we might be unable to leave our homes, we might be waging this silent war against CoVid, but we will still remember the fallen. And in a strange way, this street-side scattered, very personal ceremony that was happening all over the country brought us all closer.

Now it’s back to sort-of-normal  with CoVid more or less undercontrol in some areas, but not in others — for instance  Western Australis is currently under Lockdown, and so “Light up the Dawn” will continue there — and, I suspect, at many other places, simply because it felt so special out in the street, commemorating the day with your neighbors.

I will be baking ANZAC biscuits (cookies if you’re American)  which, apart from being traditional, were the biscuits women sent to their men at war, as they were:
a) delicious
b) kept really well (important as it often took months for the care packages to arrive)
and c) were made of ingredients most people had in their pantries anyway.

They’re very easy and yummy. I make the mix in one pot, melting the butter and golden syrup in a large saucepan then mixing the dry ingredients in. (Anything to lessen the washing up) Recipe here.

Some like them crispy and some prefer them softer and chewier. Either way is fine by me. And if you bake them crispy then leave them out, they’ll soften anyway, so it’s not hard to get whatever  biscuit  style you prefer.
Do you prefer your biscuits crispy or chewy?