Saturday, October 31, 2009

More about dog training

People seem interested in how Gem was trained, and I mentioned the clicker, so I thought I'd do more on that.

In fact, I thought I'd do a whole website on it.

At the moment I have the front page done and the page about clickers. I'll soon be adding the basic house training and household maners, and then basic tricks and advanced tricks. It will be, like this blog, a work in progress, as I don't think that Gem will ever stop learning.

The weather has been against me though. Every time I have the opertunity to take photos, it's overcast. But we need the rain, so it's all good. I'll just add more photos to the site as I get them. At the moment it's full of Gem's baby photos! And that's good too, because she was a cute puppy!

The URL is and here is a photo of Gem as a baby being as cute as only puppies can be!

And yes - she did grow into those ears!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vision in Voice

Ooops! Almost forgot!

You HAVE to see this!

It's a new choir for people who are visually impaired, started by my choir leader, Jane. Josh is a member of my choir who is visually impaired and Jane was so impressed by his ability to quickly memorise words and music, including some pretty complicated harmonies, she came up with the idea of Vision in Voice.

Staying on the topic of singing, but moving away from VIV for a moment, I'm performing with two choirs over Christmas. One of them, my usual choir, MorningSong ( has been asked to sing in Queen Street Mall in the centre of Brisbane - and we are being paid for it, which is a new concept for me. I'm use to paying to be IN choirs, not being paid to sing!

I kind of like the idea...

Clicker Training

I thought that since this blog is about bits and pieces I should talk a bit about one of the biggest bits of my life.

My dog, Gem.

Gem is a Papillon, and is my Medical Alert Dog.

As I was a dog trainer, back in another life (in my twenties, when I was young, fit and healthy) I trained her myself. Mostly I use the clicker method.

A clicker is a little box with a metal side that you press and it makes a click sound. You click at exactly the moment the dog does the "right" thing and then give them a treat. They associate the noise with "AH! THAT'S what is wanted!" and it imprints what they are doing in that exact moment in their minds.

It's incredible how quickly they can learn once they undersand the concept - and it's amazing how quickly a puppy (or dog) picks up the concept when food is involved!

At a recent talk to Life Line about Medical Assistance Dogs I gave a demonstration of clicker training, teaching Gem a new trick in less then 5 minutes while I talked to the audience. People were standing to see and there were gasps of amazment when, without any verbal communication between me and the dog at all, she was, in seconds, returning to the spot I had picked at random between clicks.

So, I think a series of articles about clicker training are probably on their way!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dust storms!

Recovering from the market, then had to have a root canal (URGH!) and today, when I'm finally feeling half alive again, I can't go turn wood because of DUST STORMS!

It's so bad out that they have said that anyone with respitory problems (I have asthma) should stay inside.

I hope it goes away soon! If this keeps up I'll have to do HOUSEWORK!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spinning tops

I'm seeing how many tops I can turn for the market tomorrow. So far I think I have about 40! I'm aiming for 100, but I don't know, I might run out of wood before then.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big weekend!!!!

This Sunday (20th September) they are closing off Racecourse Rd at Hamilton (Brisbane) for a huge street party. Last year they had in excess of 60,000 people through!

I'll be there with BrisStyle. Zoe's back is too bad to help, so she is staying home to look after Gem, and my mother is coming for the first half of the day, then my cousin Judith is coming in the afternoon.

I've been so busy making little cars, trucks, planes and trains, as well as magic wands, flying brooms and hobby horses that I haven't had time for my normal wood turning, and I miss it!

I'll also have other wooden things there, like the pens, and a few hair sticks.

And maybe my magic mushroom!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The birth of a hobby horse

I've drawn up two more of my hobby creatures. One is the more traditional horse, the other is a dragon.

Next I cut them out, then I sand them, then undercoat them, then the fun part - the painting!

Eagle Boy's Pizza

Totally sucks! Ordered online at 6.47, promised to deliver within 40 minutes. An hour and a half later I phone "Oh, the order didn't arrive, computer problem." Funny - it managed to take the credit card details and take the money out of the bank.

"I'd like my money back please"

"No, I don't think we can do that."

"Yes, you really can"

"The manager will phone you in 10 minutes."

20 minutes later Zoe gets in the car and drives down there.

I feel sorry for them right now.

But I won't be ordering pizza online from Eagle Boys again!

If you are wondering, it's the Cooperoo store. Can't fault them for customer service, because there isn't any.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Planes Trains and Automobiles

The train is coming, it's running a bit late (doesn't have it's wheels on yet)

But here are some examples of little cars and planes. I also have some tractors and trucks in the works.

Hair stick in REALLY HARD timber!

The timber is Solomon Ebony. It's dense and really hard to turn. Takes about 4 times as long as turning a hair stick in any other wood.

It comes from the Solomon Islands where it is harvested by the natives. I know the man who sells it here in Australia, he is from the Solomons and many of the villages there are related to him - keeping it in the family.

It's the hardest timber I've come across, making it perfect for hair sticks. It won't break, that's for sure!

Welcome to Bamboo Slice!

Why Bamboo Slice you ask? Because we had Chinese for tea last night and the bamboo slices were yummy!

No other reason is needed.

Like Chinese food, this blog will be a mishmash of favours and ingredient, all mixed together to make something delicious! (I hope!)

And, like Chinese food, I hope that you keep coming back for more!

Some of the subjects we are going to cover

  • Toys for Boys
  • Pens and how to make them (on a lathe!)
  • Hobby Horses, or, more correctly, Hobby Dragons
  • Markets
  • BrisStyle
  • Self Harm
  • Other Mental Health Issues
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • and anything else that pops up!
I hope you enjoy!