Monday, November 5, 2012

Introducing ...

Over the last five years a pair of tawny frogmouths have lived and bred around our home, giving much pleasure by their continuing to stay close by.
 
One year I feared one of the pair had died as one was on its lonesome for several weeks, then a mate joined, and the baby rearing started, though only one chick hatched that first year. 
 
Last year the first laying of an egg [or was it two; the nest perched high in the old gum tree was too distant to check out] was disastrous.  The egg did not hatch.  The bird laid another with the result that Bambino came into this world.  [I have written about Bambino previously] 
 
On 3rd September this year 'Eggsitter' had made a flimsy nest and began the task of sitting and keeping the egg warm.  Not being completely sure of how long the sitting was it was with interest that I checked that nest daily;  Eggsitter did not mind, peering down from the safety of the high branch at me staring upwards.  To show my interest, I ran a short conversation each day ... just to prove I was a friend, not a foe.
 
Five weeks later on 10th October a tiny ball of white fluff peeped out from beneath Eggsitter's wing.  Baby birds need a name!  Not difficult!  What better than Ten10 for a chick hatching on 10th day of the 10th month. 
 
For some reason I didn't check the following two days, but on the third day another ball of white fluff emerged from hiding under Eggsitter's warm wing.  These little birds are only white for the first few days of their lives; as they grow the colours similar to the parents takes the place of the white feathers, yet to this day I have not noticed any tiny white feathers on the ground.
 
With one bird having a name, it would be churlish to allow this one to grow up nameless.  Mmmm .... suddenly a name sprung to mind ... 2winny.  Both birds were named, and continued to grow and grow, until they fledged on 30th October.
 
Each day the parents move the chicks around seeking shelter from the unseasonable rain we are having, but they are never far from the house.
 
Earlier was I hung out a little washing, hoping to beat the occasional showers, I heard a tawny frog mouth 'humming' and looked up.  There directly above the clothes-line the frogmouth family looked down at me.  A camera opportunity!!
 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cars everywhere

Last weekend, which I know is almost a week ago, we travelled north to a Shine 'n Show exhibition.

This year the event was held at Maitland Park, a sloping grassy area with side shows set up at one end ... to keep children occupied I guess; a speaker system that must have been able to be heard for miles so loud was the music.  Perhaps my elderly ears are more sensitive to loud music [?? noise?] but I do wonder how younger ears will fare in 40 or 50 years.

There were Mustangs, vehicles with motors almost larger than the body, and cars that we remembered from our younger days, and cars that were polished until reflections were easily visible.
The day was hot, reaching the low 30's, which at this time of year is hot, though I must add the following day the temperature reached 38 degrees, dropping the following day to a high of 23.  I did seek shelter at one stage as Significant Other chatted to owners of these 'dream vehicles'.  The palm tree where I sought shade was a bad choice, as it wasn't for a few minutes before I noted a column of ants parading across the grass and climbing up the trunk.  I moved quickly!

I think my favourite was an elderly Holden towing a caravan of the same vintage.  Oh how caravans have expanded over the decades! 
Another fascinating vehicle was a decorated hearse.  The owner informed us that today people are demanding something different for their final journey.  I informed him his vehicle will not be carrying me on my last journey! 
In the back he had an open coffin, which seemed very narrow, in which 'rested' a skeleton, and along the top edge were two rats.  Very off putting! 
I probably sound a prude now, but in my mind it was disrespectful.

There were a few motor bikes;
and some racing machines; a ferris wheel reached for the sun, and many bare arms and shoulders turned lobster red.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trip north

August has been productive in my many crafting facets ... not so productive in Blogging.

Earlier in August we headed north for a day trip to Kalbarri, which is about 200kms away ... a day trip that began early [for me]. 

After passing through Geraldton we headed north, with the Atlantic Ocean shining blue in the sunlight, on the left, to Northampton where we left the main highway to detour via Horrocks, a small fishing village that is quickly becoming a haven for city folks at the weekends.  We stopped for a coffee ... it was a while since breakfast ... and a muffin, munching and sipping whilst leaning over the fence that may have been built expressly to balance a coffee cup on.
But the day doesn't stand still while we sit and watch, so it was ever onward.  Luckily what appeared to be a new road, albeit not sealed and still rather unformed in places, though many of those potholes could be blamed on recent rain, gave us a shortcut to Port Gregory, another seaside village. 
Beyond the reef that enclosed a peaceful harbour we could see a fishing boat busily moving along the breakers.  Many smaller fishing craft are towed to the water's edge.

Hutt Lagoon, a pink lake, as one  entered Port Gregory is spectacular.  Reflections of clouds and the hills gave a sense of tranquility. 
Further north we detoured along a small road to the coast [again], discovering another gem.  Pancake type rocks with signs warning of danger leaned precariously over the ocean.  One could easily imagine storm surges cutting into the overhang even more.  But it was gloriously spectacular!  There was a narrow track down the steep cliff to a sheltered hollow where a fisherman was throwing the line.
But ... the road called again.  Soon we arrived in Kalbarri, which is a delicious holiday resort town with boats of several types for hire.  The camping ground had palm trees growing amongst the caravans ... this place was not a one-night stop-off!  Several days to unwind would be the order of the day for the Grey Nomads [those senior citizens who in their new [looking] 4 x wheel drive vehicles and towing caravans that any traveler of yesteryear would be more than proud. 
We came home 'the other way', traveling through bush clad countryside before the land opened up to cropping country.  A few kilometers out of Kalbarri we had to slow our journey momentarily, as six or seven emus leisurely crossed the road in front of us.  In my excitement I forgot to take a photo!

It was a weary couple who returned home after a Saturday drive north.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Sign of Spring?

Today is sunny with cloudy periods, warmer outside than indoors, but still a day when a few layers of clothing are essential.

When walking on the grass a tiny movement caught my eye.  Quietly I moved closer, and there amongst the long grass crept a tiny blue-tongue lizard; quite the tiniest blue-tongue I have seen!  [some folk call these lizards 'bob-tail lizards'.  These lizards hibernate during winter, and in all honesty I was surprised to see one out and about today ... I didn't consider it warm enough.  This baby looking as though it is a new arrival this spring had parents that frequented our place in the summer, often coming inside for an exploratory daily excursion.  Now we have an offspring! 
Of course this was a momentous camera opportunity; in fact I took two photos.  One just after I had carefully and as quietly as possible spooned some fruit nearby [blue-tongue lizards love strawberries, but sadly I have none on hand; fruit salad was the next best!] 

Within ten minutes two pieces had disappeared. 
You can tell just how tiny this lizard is against the pieces of peach and pear.  It will grow quickly!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Where? Why?

Today the newspaper published some results from what must have been a questionaire to school pupils.  The question?  Where is your favourite capital city?  Five comments were published; two opted for Paris, one for Washington, one for Honolulu [though I was under the impression Honolulu was in Hawaii, and therefore part of the USA ... as is Washington], and one for Vienna.  All had differing reasons for their choice. Interesting results!

After reading the article I set myself the same question.  I am still thinking!  If I became suddenly rich and had a choice of what capital city to visit the time taken to resolve the question might be days, as at this particular moment I cannot decide.  Indeed, I am not certain I would even choose a city, though that would then void the question.

Perhaps London to see the Queen?  Ah, I have seen the Queen twice, and both times in New Zealand.  You see the Queen travels a lot, and no doubt has visited most capital cities in the world.

Vienna holds a certain charm.  Memories of the Vienna Boys' Choir singing or perhaps a freshly baked Vienna load of my childhood can evoke positive vibes. 

Washington?  Not particularly interested ... but if I could visit a place that was not a city, then Martha's Vineyard would figure highly.  Why?  I have read several books set on that island and each time have found it extremely easy to transport myself into the story.  Perhaps I lived there in another life?  Certainly tales of the eastern seaboard of the USA have that same evocative hold. 

Paris?  Mmmm, doesn't hold that much appeal.  Rome?  I think I would prefer Venice.

So you see that after careful consideration I cannot make up my mind.  Now perhaps that is because I am a woman, or perhaps it is because the choice is just too difficult.

Where would you choose?  And why?

P.S.  I actually prefer a deserted beach with the wind whistling across the sand and the waves crashing against the rocks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday is wash day

My Mum did the family wash on a Monday, and I followed in her footsteps.  Beds are stripped, sheets changed, and all manner of unlikely objects scooped up and deposited in the wash ... such as socks, socks and more socks.

In this part of Australia it is usual to hang out the washing in the morning and bring it in later in the day; dry and ready for ironing.

Not today.  The weather forecast was for showers late in the afternoon.  With that in mind I stripped the bed before having breakfast, set the machine on Go, and left it to do its duty.  Less than half an hour later, and before the load was washed, a 'mizzle' drifted across the land; not enough to be wetting, but wet enough to dampen.  A decision was made by Significant Other ... we would take the washed clothes into the laundromat to be dried. 

That is done; I have a bundle of folded clothes ready for ironing ... however, Tuesday is ironing day!!

As I sat in the laundromat talking to another lady drying her washing, the conversation turned round to habit.  She too washed on a Monday.  And my mind slipped back to wash day for my Mum.  The copper was filled, a fire lit underneath, and the water boiled.  I am not sure of the exact process as I was banned from the wash house.  But there was always a smell of steamy soapy water.  She used a washboard [the same appliance that was later utilised by skiffle groups!], tubs of rinsing water, and a blue bag, that doubled as an aid to ease the pain of a beesting. 

How times have changed!  Now we have water running into the washing machine which in turn slips into whatever mode we have set on the dials, lights flash, water spins out, the machine refills, rinses, spins etc, and at the end the machine [well mine anyway] plays a little tune and the lights fade into oblivion.

I wonder when the day will come that an 'automatic' iron is invented?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who are we?

I suppose that with the 'discovery' of the Higgs Boson particle there was some reason for a wandering mind.  I have little knowledge of this mysterious particle and listen, half in awe, and half in wonderment [how did they do this?] as we are assured 'we' can use this knowledge to advantage!!  Reminds me of the old saying, trust me, usually uttered by a politican offering platitudes.

My mind is sometimes perverse and travels it's own little route.  This time instead of casting forward into the far distant future, the past crept up on me ... no doubt helped by seeing, in a magazine, photos of long ago.

Most of us have a collection of photos.  I know I do, and many have been in the family for a few generations.  Some I have absolutely no idea who the models are.  I am loathe to turf them out as they might be important, a link to a past of which I am as yet unaware. 

But there is one photo that I do know about.  The elderly gentleman, with a long white beard, and piercing blue eyes, is my paternal g.g.grandfather, and thereby hangs a tale.

We were led to believe that this gentleman, who was one of the early whalers and sealers [an occupation considered a great No No today, but way back then whale oil kept the lights of the world glowing] on the South Island's southern coast of  New Zealand, came from a military family in Australia.  We even learned about him at school!!!  Now that was one moment I could proudly put up my hand and inform the class that he was my ancestor!

But the military family was but a cover ... his parents were convicts sent to Australia for petty theft.  Australia was a new colony of the British Empire and citizens were required to build infrastructure.  He had older siblings, but by the time he was born the 'powers that be' had allowed his parents to marry.  Being a convict had certain disadvantages, of which marriage was one.  The convict had to have served their time first!  Even history books on New Zealand schools were wrong.  

One day, a few years ago, another descendant of this gentleman was bitten by the ancestry bug.  The bite itched and itched, until she decided to look for a cure.  Documents were examined and facts were discovered.  He was not a 'son of the military', but a son of convicts.

Way back then shame blanketed such parentage, but today those of us who have such ancestry, can proudly claim our heritage.  Still, it is such a shame [in my today thinking] that the mammoth task performed by those convicts in building roads and bridges, towns and cities in a far off land so different from their home, and sure in the knowledge that they would have one change in a million of seeing their family again, has not gained acceptance until today. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

At last ... rain

For the several months of summer, and autumn, we dream of rain.  Sadly it seldom falls during those months, unless a storm passes through breaking branches from trees, or worse, uprooting trees, and tossing any item not tied down across the landscape.

The rain has taken longer to arrive in the west this year, although it appears to have taken up permanent residence 'over east'. 

The flower plants that had come to a complete standstill spurted ahead after an overhead shower ... not so gentle rain falling from the heavens.  The first couple of days saw them drink and grow, now flowers have appeared and the show of colour was worth waiting for.  I tried, unsuccessfully to grow salvia in New Zealand; it was too cold.  The bright cheery colour adds a certain something to a winters day.

The word cacophony I know in a intellectual manner; since the rains have arrived I know that word in its entirety.  Frogs!  All day and all night there is a chorus of frog noises.  I have no idea how many species of frogs there are in the vicinity, but from the sounds echoing around the neighbourhood I would guess at least four.  Some are high pitched, some almost musical, some raucous, and mixed together they sound like a brass band warming up their instruments and all reading from a different page of music.

We have an electric pump to pump water from the bore up to the house tank.  Each wash day I wander down the avenue, switch on the pump, and once the washing is completed [if the timing is correct] the house tank will over-flow and I will hurry back down to switch the pump off.

It was on such an occasion that the noise of frogs alerted me to their immediacy.  Two, I swear were talking to each other ... were they arranging a rendevous?  As I approached my footsteps must have alerted them for there was a sudden silence.  I stood quietly.  The conversation began.

These frogs must live in the dry soil during summer and after the first rains become active.  No matter how close I looked I could not see them ... a disappointment!  

In small depressions water lies and it is these spots that the frogs take up residence.  
Thankfully the snakes are asleep ... 'tis too cold for them!  Perhaps the frog population may increase while they have the opportunity? 

Only the ants make attempts to keep the damp out building high walls around their 'castles'.  Their labours are a certain sign of impending rain.
If you look closely you will spy an ant heading 'downstairs'.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Historical moments

The Queen, who is also Queen of New Zeland and Australia as we are part of the Commonwealth, celebrated 60 years on the throne.  How special is that! 

While there are spasmodic rumblings about a republic, momentous occasions such as the Diamond Jubilee do in most cases push those rumblings into the background.  Where else could one find such pomp and ceremony?  A boat ride on the Thames in the pouring rain and still Subjects turn out to witness the moment.  People from New Zealand and Australia would have been in that throng.

Yet there was another momentous occasion that occured yesterday.  The Transit of Venus!  Living in today we are lucky to observe this transit, though sadly the overcast skies in this part of Australia made that impossible, as the next one is not scheduled until 11th Decemver 2117, which even for the most optimistic of us, is a tad after our lifetime.

While many would think there is absolutely no connection between the Queen and the Transit, let me assure you there is an important link, a link that had it not happened would have left those of us now residing in the 'colonies' not speaking English.  Indeed, we probably would not be living here at all.

In 1769 the great English explorer, James Cook, set sale from Plymouth to observe the Transit of Venus in the South Seas, whereupon reaching Tahiti on 13th April 1759, making observations of, the once in over 100 years, Transit of Venus on 3rd June.  He sailed west charting first of all much of New Zealand, and then a large part  of the east of the vast continent of Australia, raising the English flag and claiming both countries as British territories.

As a remarkable coincidence, on this particular Transit of Venus, the Queen of England and the Commonwealth celebrated 60 years on the throne ... two moments in history intertwined with the past.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Native Wolves and Market Day

The month of May disappeared in a flurry of ?  I have no idea, though we did have visitors for a few days and the need to have a 'general tidy up' before their arrival accounted for a couple of days.  Why I persist in having a general tidy up for visitors escapes my Significant Other ... but then again women and men think differently! 

This morning, the first Saturday of the month, was once again Market Day for our nearest town.  We arrived almost too early as several of the stalls were still in the process of being set up.  Down the far end of the Town Park our favourite stall was ready for business.  There the most delicious, and reasonably priced, home baking and jams are sold.  While there is no standing order, we always buy an apple pie, with little pastry leaves for decoration, and a carrot cake iced and decorated with generous walnut halves.  Significant Other prefers what I dub 'Men's Stalls', you know the ones that sell metal things ... gardening tools, tools for fixing cars and other, to me, uninteresting pieces of metal.

While I browsed the DVD's for sale the dog tied to the table-leg barked as he dared another small dog, in a handmade coat, to enter his territory.  Laughingly the dog, named Mr Alfred, mistress said he was jealous of the handmade coat.  Mr Alfred is a rather rotund King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, and did not object at all to a pat from me. 

A trip to the chemist left me sitting in the vehicle waiting.  The local owner of several Native Wolves, also known as Dingoes, pulled in alongside and he entered the Chemist.  Within two minutes one of the Native Wolves set up a strange eerie howling, such as one would expect to hear in the wilds of Canada or Alaska!  The other soon joined in!  It felt like being on a movie set making it not difficult to imagine a brown bear crashing through the Bougainvillea growing on the verandah posts of the shopping complex.

The owner of the Native Wolves returned, and, laughingly, I called out that he had been gone too long and the dogs were missing him.

That small comment began a fascinating conversation about Dingoes ... this chap is writing a book about his 30-years experience with these Native Wolves. 

As is the case Significant Other returned and the conversation switched to more mundane male topics.  Even the dogs became disinterested and began their howling again.  Seeing an opportunity to become better acquainted with these animals I asked permission to pat them.  Permission was given to pat one ... what an amazing experience!!  After initially sniffing me [I had forgotten that Mr Alfred and I had become friends earlier, and no doubt that smell was still on my hands], this friendly Native Wolf almost drooled as I patted his long nose and smooth head, sitting down to allow me to touch more of him.

Dingoes have no doggy smell, and while there are too many bad stories in circulation about their destructive behaviour to farm animals, in reality it is the half-breed [half dog/half dingo] that cause many of the problems.

My morning was more rewarding that I could have imagined!!  I look forward to the book that is being written being published and for sale.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Take a chance

At some stage in life we need to take a chance.  OK, I will admit I was a shy child, and not that outgoing until my mature years when I moved to another country ... perhaps it was then that the expectations others had of me dissipated?

Moving from New Zealand to Australia was probably an exercise in taking a chance.

This morning I took another chance!  The weather forecast was for showers and/or rain, though with meteorology speak one is left wondering the difference.  A habit I cannot throw away is the need to wash clothes on a Monday ... change the bed [though if I were a rich person I would employ a maid to change the bed each day, wash the sheets and hang them over lavender bushes to dry ... I am not rich, so once a week has to suffice], and wash any item of clothing or towels that dared look slightly needy.

I peered at the sky as daylight broke.  The signs were not good, but the dark clouds seemed high. 

Greatly daring [!!!] I took a chance.  Only last week a new purchase was undertaken ... a washing machine to replace the elderly model that needed a lot of hand assistance.  In all honesty I have only used it once, and really needed to test its efficiency with sheets.

Washing on the line we headed into town as there were parcels to post, mail to collect, and the newspaper and milk to purchase.

Oh dear!  On the outskirts of town huge plops of water splattered on the windscreen.  The umbrella was at home, and more importantly, the washing was still on the line.  Please do not let the rain parade on my washing!!  When coming out of the Post Office the heavens opened; rain poured down like a housewife straining the potatoes. 

In a small town everyone is friendly and the one topic of conversation appeared to be, "I have washing on the line!"

There is nothing that I could do.  We headed home.  The road was wet, trickles of water running like syrup over a piece of sponge showed just how much rain had come down.  Then, less than half a kilometer from home the road showed dry ... no rain had fallen. We were protected by the hills.

Maybe my chance shouldn't have been taken, but at least the washing is in ... tomorrow will be an ironing morning.  And yes, the washing machine coped well, as it should.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Then the rain came down

After months of searing heat followed by blustery wind Autumn has arrived.  The break [a period of rain] that farmers pray for to allow them to successfully sow their crops usually arrives sometime between end of April and mid-May.  We had 8mm of rain last weekend but still the dust rose. 

Yesterday the normally brighter than bright blue skies were a dull grey, and this morning thunder rumbled around the hills.  We headed into town early ... the 'first Saturday of the month' Market Day was being held, and who could miss purchasing a scrumptious carrot cake and apple pie from Marg's stall!?  I refilled my olive oil bottle from the growers of olives ... fresh and pure olive oil.

A heavy shower slowed our trip into town, though there appeared to be more rain at home than there.  The electricity was off!  Again!  For three hours ... I didn't care; washing was done, ironing was completed, the floors vacuumed last night ... a break in electricity supply didn't worry.

As the trees tossed in the 'fresh' wind, fresh being a 'scientific' word for not quite strong and used frequently by those who predict the weather, and huge droplets of water fell from the sky, and lightning rent the air I wondered about My Birds, the Tawny Frogmouth pair.  They were in the tree when I checked after breakfast.

Later I wandered over to check on My Birds ... one had moved to better shelter under a branch, and peered dow at me with curiousity, although they are well aware of who I am, and the other still where it was earlier. 

The grass is beginning to grow!  A patchy green carpet is pushing upwards from the earth.
Autumn has arrived!  The garden will not need watering today!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back to the Past

Each year Geraldton hosts a Heritage Week, culminating with a 'day out' where items of yesteryear are on display.

This year we once again headed north on a lovely autumn morning.  The venue was slightly different from previous years, this time being held in Queen's Park adjacent to the Queen's Park Theatre.  We parked in our usual shopping day carpark where date palms help provide shade from the blazing sun.
Old cars, trucks and tractors were parked up on the grass; their windows wound down to allow the curious [mainly males] to peer in at the dashboard, and the bonnet put up to allow those same males to peer into the workings of the engine.  [Me?  I just take photos and admire the colour schemes!]
Rides were available for all.  An oil-fired 'steam' engine chuffed around the ground pulling open wagons filled with eager children.  Two skewbald ponies pulled a little covered cart, here it wasn't only children participating in the rides, as several elderly folks took up the offer. [As an aside, a lady trailed around the grounds carrying a bucket and shovel ... just in case!  I hope they sold the droppings for garden manure!] For the small children a ride-on mower offered a quick trip around the grounds.
A dress parade of cloths from the 1950's onwards brought back a lot of memories, but to my dismay not one of those stiff petticoats that we used to wear to hold out our full skirted dresses was shown ... perhaps none survived!?  Remember crimpolene?  A white crimpolene trouser skirt attracted attention, although it had a different style to my cream crimpolene trouser suit that I wore when Peter Cook and Dudley Moore performed on stage in Dunedin.

A large room housed exhibits of various types, though all of the crafty persuasion.  Old dolls, beautiful satin roses, The Shoemaker and the Elves, a gorgeous crochet rug with pink roses adorning the corners of the squares, embroidered doilies as in days gone by, a finely knitted tea cosy, a collection of tins, some of which I happen to have, a group of elderly sewing machines that many of us remember quite well, but what took my eye at this exhibition was a collection of miniature sewing machines, eminently suitable for a small child to learn the intracies of sewing on.  I pictured a small girl concentrating on sewing a dress for her doll.
While wandering around it did cross my mind that many of the young attendees would have no idea what the exhibits were, little alone how to use them.  Aha, times they are a changing, but old skills are being lost to the detriment of our sense of calm and peace and creativity.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Book Bonanza

Each Easter Sunday our local town, 17kms away, holds its annual book sale.  The Fishermen's Hall, a modern building with a significant floor space is cleared of the usual furniture; trestle tables covered with boxes of books replacing them. 

The books are donations from folks, like us, who have a perchant for buying books and running out of space in which to store them.  Already we are the proud, if slightly embarrassed owners of four bookcases , all of which are overflowing purchased over a three year period.   This year I forgot to sort out any spares, perhaps because I really do not want to lose any? 

The doors open at 9.00am.  We arrived ten minutes before the designated opening time to find several people, all armed with large bags, sorting through the offering. 

It is on such occasions that a people watcher finds much enjoyment!  There are the considerate folk who do not stand chattering to their neighbour about what is for lunch; there are others who start up a random conversation [about a particular book] adding a delicious piece of  'information' about the author, or when they first read the book.  Then there are the bulldozers; those who take up too much space, hog the boxes, give anyone who dares to peek into the box that is their considered prize at least until a choice is made.  Most of us peer into the boxes wondering if perhaps that particular book has been read sometime in the distant past.  

The payment of $1 per book is cheap!  And if a mistake has been made in the choice, that book can easily be recycled next Easter! 
We came home with 30 books between us; many hours and days of reading through the winter months.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Moon

We hear of a Blue Moon once in a while, we hear of new moons, and full moons every month.  The moon dances in the sky every night, though with a cloud cover its actions remain unnoticed.

Last night, with radio switched off [football!!] there was time to listen to the evening sounds, and envelope myself in the sights of dusk. 

One tawny frog-mouth had perched on a sliver of a branch of the old gum tree that shelters the back door through the hours of daylight.  His/her mate found another place, not far away as they appear to be a pair who like each other's close proximity.  On dusk the humming sound of their conversation began.  I watched.  Back-door bird fluttered from the branch to a stronger one a few feet away and started the process of awakening ablutions.  The feathers were preened; the wings stretched showing a remarkable width, and the tail swished as preparation for a night's flight were made.

I listened.  Soon the mate, silently as a dark shadow, landed nearby.  They took off into the night.

As I stood spellbound at the intimacy I was privileged to view [this pair of birds are unafraid of my presence], I glanced upwards.
Many stars were shining brightly, some peeping between an ocean of cloud whose chosen path appeared to surround the moon, which peering out yonder like a small child waking from a deep sleep and unsure of it's position.  Hurrying indoors I grabbed the camera and snapped a photo of the moon surrounded by cloud, though some of the magic of the moment is lost on film.  Moments like these do not last; photos help retain the memory of that dark and mysterious sight.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hot Cross Buns

Early January 2011 I was waiting to have a new battery placed in my watch when the person behind the counter made an off the cuff remark ... a trolley load of goods were being pushed into the supermarket.

"Next week that trolley will carry hot cross buns."

I stared!  Pardon?  Why we hadn't had Valentine's Day yet, and surely chocolates and roses rated highly on the year's sales!

He was adamant, and sure enough, two weeks later when we did our grocery shopping, Hot Cross buns held pride of place just beyond the shopping trolleys.  

I refuse to purchase Hot Cross Buns until Easter.  Is Easter not the correct time to eat Hot Cross buns?  To me having a Hot Cross bun months before Easter is like eating Christmas cake in September.  

Yesterday happened to be our regular grocery shopping day, and yes, I did buy Hot Cross buns.  Two half-dozen lots in fact!  One packet from the supermarket and another from a small bakery.  Mmm, just by smelling I already know which ones will be the tastier!

Most of us know the meaning of the cross on the bun; we learn that from our parents, the Church or its junior partner, Sunday School, or from friends in the playground.  

What about today?  In this multicultural society that is Australia 'things religious' are skirted around.  Other religions must not be offended.  

The sad result is that many children today think that Easter is chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate; chocolate eggs, chocolate chickens, chocolate rabbits, chocolate anything!

Don't get me wrong, I like chocolate eggs, especially Turkish Delight ones that my daughter has kindly posted north ... and yes, I am holding off on opening them!
But isn't Easter worth remembering as a sacred time, a time to reflect upon things spiritual, a time to remember that Jesus gave his life on the cross?  And rose!
The photo is the Hot Cross buns from the small bakery ... they are glazed and smell delicious.  Tomorrow!!! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ahh Tissue

Before anyone wonders, no I do not have a cold ... thank goodness. 

Recently while doing the washing my attention was drawn to little pieces of paper wafting around in the bowl of the washing machine!  Tissues!!  And no, I do not use tissues, much preferring to use the good old fashioned, though according to those who know, full of germ handkerchiefs.

Significant Other prefers tissues, and I prefer not to go through his pockets before starting a wash day; hence tissues floating amongst the soap suds.

Of course there is a quick remedy, and living in the country where water soaks away quickly [we live on sand ... but not of the beach variety], and where creatures and the elements dispose of waste paper, all I need do is whisk the now soaked tissues out of the water and throw them out the back door, which is always open on wash day.  That little pieces hang onto clothes is but another distraction, but at ironing time I have a special little contraption that neatly brushes lint etc and it adheres to the 'brush'.

That my patience becomes a little frayed is another tale!

However, such disturbances give one time to contemplate the advent of the tissue as a replacement to the handkerchief.  I am not sure when the changeover began; I have an idea there was no specific date as in GST, or going digital.  It kinda evolved!

I do recall having a handkerchief safety-pinned to my jumper in my early school days, but after noticing how 'gross' it was, soon insisted I was a big girl, and big girls wore their handkerchief tucked up their cardigan sleeve ... out of sight until needed.  Some poor girls [where did boys carry handerchiefs?  did they not have them at all!?] didn't even have a handkerchief; instead a large piece of rag adorned their front.

Over the years I have owned, and used, many many handkerchiefs.  Some were floral, most were colourful, some were utilitarian in plain colours; some, and these were for Sunday Best were white lawn delicately embroidered.  They were always ironed ... killed any germs after washing, though back in the olden days a hot water wash, or even a dip in the copper, managed to attack unwanted germs.

When heavy colds were 'on the rounds' and school too exciting to miss, which was most of the time, a man's handkerchief was pushed up a sleeve.  Oh yes, it was bulky, but the advantages of using a dry corner.

Handkerchiefs were a handy present; pretty boxes to keep them in were in great demand.

Now tissues float in the washing machine; tissues are thrown away, with their encumbent germs; and yes no doubt tissues are more hygenic ... if only they didn't mess up the rest of the washing!! 

And in case you are left wondering ... I do use handkerchiefs, though if a heavy cold has managed to catch me, a tissue is the preferred option.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where is Joy?

We made a trip into town this morning ... milk and mail being the main reasons, but also the freezer compartment was becoming depleted of meat. 

I don't know if you are fortunate to have a butcher shop in your area?  While our local butcher does not have a chopping block for cutting up sides of beef, or lamb, we are fortunate to have a butcher.  Somehow Supermarket meat doesn't taste the same; whether it is the prepackaging in plastic, or the lack of chat [or gossip] that is part and parcel of a real butchery.

I waltz in, cheery as always.  Mr Butcher wasn't in sight.  I called out a goodmorning and from the depths of 'out the back' came a "Won't be a tick."  I know some folks wouldn't call out and slowly become impatient if their presence isn't noticed.  But, at the moment, our butcher is the only one there, and if we want sausages made 'out the back', or tasty rissoles that are not available anywhere else as they are made to a special recipe, then we find it easier to call out. 

As I wandered along the front of the counter I pointed out what I wanted ... two of this, three of that, 500g of the next.  My Significant Other refuses to come into the butchery with me as he is of the opinion that one should ask for a quantity of this or that.  I prefer to have a variety.  Open the freezer compartment and grab a parcel ... each meal depends on where the fingers land.

And as is the case with a real butcher, the state of the nation is discussed, as is the state of most other unimportant topics ... weather etc.  You know, all those things we have no say in.  But today we did manage to find a discussion that is apt to everyone everywhere. 

The topic?  Why is it that newspapers, TV, and most other media are glass half-empty people?  Moans about this, groans about that!  And as this discussion was important, some important 'facts' we put forward.  We discussed and came to a conclusion ... they, those faceless people behind the headlines, like to keep us in a state of fear! 

Oh, and you wonder what began this serious, state of the nation discussion?  The fact, as reported in large headlines on the front page of the newspaper that drinking is as bad as asbestos, and smoking was in the mix as well.  Of course anything done in other than moderation can be injurious to health; but scary headlines are every bit as hard to take.  We wondered if perhaps someone, somewhere might consider printing a newspaper full of good news; joyous news! 

Is that really too much to ask?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oh no, not a rat!

In my childhood I read, or had read to me, the story by Kenneth Grahame, 'Wind in the Willows', in which book creatures that we normally would have little to do with featured as the main characters.  Remnants of the story remain in my mind as a haze in the annals of time.  Mole, Badger and Ratty played out their lead roles in 'Wind in the Willows', and a charming tale it was.

Around 4.00am this morning another Ratty played a major role in a non-welcome event.  I awoke to a strange sound; the splashing of water.  Alerted to the unaccustomed sound I concentrated to discern its whereabouts.  Water running indoors should not occur, especially at that hour of the morning.  The noise appeared to  be coming from the bathroom.

Being of an extremely brave disposition I nudged Significant Other, silently wishing I didn't have to resort to screaming.  In his half awake state I whispered, "There is something in the toilet." 

A mumble was the reply, but not to be put off I persisted; his sleep broken I guess he decided he might as well waken properly and listen.  I repeated my statement.  For some reason the only reply I received was a half-hearted grunt that could have meant, 'I hear you', or even 'what to you expect me to do at this hour of the morning?'

More whispered consultation followed and he, being a big brave man, scrambled out of bed and grabbed a huge torch ... to see what was what?  Or a weapon?

Moments later I heard the lid of the toilet being put down.  He returned to bed, commenting, "There is a rat in the toilet". 

I do not like rats, outside, inside, and specificially not in the toilet bowl.  But at least the lid was down!  As I lay awake planning murder Significant Other rolled over and slept.   Sun-up at the moment is around 6.00am.  Significant Other rose, made a coffee and allowed me a blissful [? how much longer can that rat swim in a toilet bowl?] few moments before I decided I may as well get up, as that way the sloshing of Ratty in the toilet bowl was less evident.

We breakfasted.  I suggested a couple of rather barbarian ways to disuade Ratty [or to send him to a watery grave].  S.O. headed for the bathroom, armed with weapons.  He wasn't gone long; each swipe made at Ratty allowed Ratty the opportunity to attempt an escape up the handle of the 'drowning tool'.  S.O. was not amused and rallied the troops [me].  Well, in the interests of animal safety I will not divulge my method, suffice to say there is more than enough Scottish blood in my veins and memories of blood thirsty tales of pouring boiling oil on the 'invaders' of Scottish granite sanctums rose to the forefront.

Poor Ratty.  A big flush sent him on his way.  It is fervently wished that he, or his relatives, never return, though they are welcome to wander around the great outdoors [out of my sight] to their hearts content.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Goodbye Summer!

I wonder if I say it often enough Summer will take the hint and fade into the sunset?  Autumn would be a most welcome visitor this March.

According to pundits a heatwave consists of three consecutive days when the temperature rises above 35°; what would one call three consecutive days, or more, registering above 40°?  Because this is what we have been handed, whether we like it or not. 

I remember not long after my daughter married an Aussie when she reported, during a long telephone conversation, that her Mother-in-law had handed her a piece of advice ... 'in summer complete all your essential chores early in the morning, and let the rest of the day look after itself.'  She wasn't sure of that information, for in New Zealand most days, even in the height of summer, one could tackle chores anytime throughout the day.

Well, we have had at least four days where the temperature reached above 40°; before that we had a two or three just above 30°, and before that three or four above 40°.  I guess that were we the possessors of air conditioning we could have sat in the cool just above 20°.  We haven't air conditioning, and while I consider anything under 35° OK, once the thermometer hits 38 or 39 my get up and go, gets up and goes.

Autumn, you are most welcome!  Goodbye Summer, take the hint, and just go away!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Shopping and Memories

As I wander around the shops today I wonder how today's children will remember their youthful experiences 'at the shops'?

Last century, when life was less rushed [who was it that said, Life will be full of leisure with the advent of computers?] a day shopping with my mother was a day of excitement, especially if that shopping trip was to the distant city.

Up early, breakfast, a careful wash to disperse any sign of food on face, a taxi ride to the railway station, a hour and a half on a steam train when we managed to lower the windows ever so slightly [against rules] passing through the two tunnels, and the excitement of arriving in the bustling city with shops stretching as far as the eye could see, and beyond, on both sides of the street; tram cars rattling down the middle of the road hitched to electric wires above.  We kept careful watch for my uncle who drove a tram.

My favourite shops were McKenzies or Woolworths, not the modern supermarket shops of today, but shops where goods on show were placed in rickedy wooden trays just high enough for a small child to have to stretch up on tippy toes.  Money didn't grow on trees, or cards, nor was it pulled from an electronic device; money was made to go round, and just, at that.  Looking gave more than enough excitement!  Toys were beyond my price range, balloons and pop guns were viable if careful budgeting was in place ... first to check there were no other temptations.

Often I bought a ball of wool to improve my knitting skills.  Needles were not essential; Mum had plenty at home.

Yesterday while at the local shops I noticed a young Mum carrying her child in a front harness; the baby's legs dangled loosely as Mum struggled with shopping at the same time trying to keep a toddler safe.  

I wondered what memories those children will carry with them of shopping days?  Would they remember the scary thrill of trying to make a shilling or two stretch to enable the purchase of a coveted prize?

Or will they be happier shopping on line?  A confession; while not usually an on-line shopper recently I made a purchase that will give daily pleasure for many months, and years, to come. 

A cute mouse mat emblazoned with ancient, well old-fashioned, cotton reels.  It is colourful, useful, and inspirational ... reminding me that time spent 'surfing the 'net' is really time wasted when one could be creating crafty delights.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Smoky sunset

A bush fire is burning in the south west of Western Australia ... not that unusual at this time of year, and thankfully at the moment no homes nor structure have been affected.  Tall karri forest and coastal heath are burning.

While the fire is quite some distance from Perth, the city is enveloped in a smoky blanket.  The sun was blood red, as seen in this photo.
The photo is cropped, bringing the sun closer and cutting out most of the neighbouring homes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Adulthood and bush fire

Last week, as the dregs of a cyclone didn't deliver much weather, apart from a cooling and welcome light drizzle, we headed south.

Before leaving I did my usual early morning rounds, checking on the state of affairs.  The tawny frog mouths had been amongst the missing for two days, but as they have another place that I am unaware of, I hadn't taken much notice.  There they were, in the old gum tree that is slowly disinterating through age and strong winds that whistle through its boughs shaking old branches within an inch of their life.  But ... only two birds! 

Where was Bambino?

It took half a moment for the realisation to sink in.  Bambino had matured.  He was now an adult.  Once that status is reached the parents take the young to another place to make their own place in the world.  Goodbye Bambino!  I feel certain that should I happen upon him at some time in the future he will recognise me and peer forwards almost to the state of over-balancing in his curiousity.

Gear was packed into the land cruiser and before 8.00am we were on the road; a four hour trip south to the city for a two week sojourn.  Our area, apart from a fizzer of a cyclone, had bush fires, though thankfully not close to home.  The roads had been closed for four days, which must have been a real nuisance for travellers who had to make a 70km detour on their usual journey.

Soon we were driving through the burned area ... devastation on a grand scale.  I took a photo out the window as we drove along ... and captured the essence of a bush fire.   

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Family

The days following the storm showed no sign of the tawny-owl family.  Had the storm tossed them from their precarious perch, or were they elsewhere?  Each day I did a tour of the places one could expect to find the family.  No luck! 

Then, this morning after a search of the usual places, I found the tawny-owl family, perched low on a branch behind the laundry.  This place was popular last year, and only once ... two weeks ago, had they spent their day there.  At that time I captured a lovely photo.  Mum and Dad guard their offpspring who I have named Bambino.  Bambino is still learning to be a bird; he often forgets he is supposed to look like a piece of stick; he is just a child, curious as any child.

I raced indoors, grabbed the camera and took a photo.  Bambino was very curious!  He leaned forward that much I worried he would topple over and fall flat on his face to the ground.  Bambino's curiousity was rewarded ... I took a second photo!  He appeared fascinated with the blue/green camera held up in front of me pointing at the bird family. 
Today I didn't bother with another photo; I had a lovely one. 

When Significant Other came back from turning off the water pump, detouring past the gum tree where the tawny owl family sat.  Bambino knew that another was there; remembered he was a bird and sat like a piece of stick.  When I wandered over and began speaking to him curiousity once again overcame him ... he peered downwards, his eyes wide open.  This little 'play' brought home just how much these birds take in ... I, who speak to them daily, am safe, S.O. who seldom goes to speak to them, is a stranger.  There is so much to learn by observation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Storm Force

The weather is an ever changing topic of conversation.  Summer can be hot and sunny, or hot and stormy.

Last evening a storm raged through this area.  The skies darkened, clouds in the distance held a peculiar glow, and the wind picked up.  I closed vehicle windows, hurriedly filled the wheelie bin and parked it across the street for emptying today.

Just after 5.00pm lightning crackled, and thunder echoed around.  The storm was approaching.  Then it hit!  The gum trees bent and twirled in a frantic dance as the wind whipped branches tossing them some distance from whence they came.  A large branch crashed to the ground, silently, near the bedroom wall.  Would the electricity wires hold?  They did, but the electricity went off. 

I dished up tea, washing dishes as we ate as I had no desire to leave dirty dishes to be washed by the light of a light powered from a car battery.  [Significant Other has the battery and the tube handy for these occasions.  Candles have their own place should the power go off unexpectedly in the night.] 

Frightning noises of bits of tree falling onto the roof proved to be nothing more than dry twigs breaking under the force.  Thankfully the house escaped, not so a tree trunk in what I call 'the park'. 

Almost as quickly as it began the storm subsided, thunder moving further away.  We decided to take a quick look at what damage had occurred.  A large tree branch lay over the railway line at the bottom of the property; we dragged it off, but within the hour the railway powers that be had a scout driving along the line looking for fallen debris.

Significant Other has a radio telephone and from that it became obvious that a tree had fallen on the power lines not far away and traffic needed to drive on one side of the road.

It is difficult to read by a dim light; it is equally difficult to stitch by a dim light; bed seemed the obvious option.  Spiders do not appear to like storms!  One huge spider was despatched!!  This morning another equally large spider was found on the floor of the bedroom doorway.  It joined its mate!

After breakfast [we have gas!] we headed out for a look around.  Trees were uprooted, a shed collapsed its roof ending up across the road.  The tree over the power line still had a diversion around it, and everywhere branches lay tossed like match sticks along the roadside, and in the bush lining the roadway.

Finally, at 1.30pm today, the electricity came back on, food in the freezer should be OK;  and now the water cooler is working to cool the 40 degree heat.   About 30kms away a bush fire that had its beginnings in a lightning strike burns;  sending dark palls of smoke into the sky. 

This is summer in Australia!