Monday, December 9, 2013

Birds and Lizards

Living in the countryside of Western Australia [the bush to many] gives us a 'hands on' look at the wild life. 
Sadly the tawny frog mouth's that frequented our closer environs have disappeared.  They probably have more babies, but even though I have searched I can see no trace of where the nest was, nor do I hear them calling at dawn and dusk. 
I blame the willy wagtails!  These small black and white birds are cute, except when their young have hatched.  Then they become aggressive!  A pair had built a nest in the tree near to where the tawny frog mouth's spent their days sleeping.  The day the chicks hatched the owls disappeared.  Co-incidence?  I think not.  Not once, but several times these black and white aggressors with a fan-like tail have chosen to dive-bomb me as I walked past, so frequently in fact I stopped taking my regular route. 
Weeks after the babies hatched another wag tail nest appeared; this time within meters of the house.  All went well.  Until a week ago ... three babies hatched, and the aggression began.  Not only were the parent birds content with chasing away humans, but they tackled old man crow as well.  Swooping and circling Mr Crow's head was funny to watch; the first time.  The amusement wore off when it became obvious Mr Crow was doing nothing wrong ... Wagtail just didn't want him near his family.  [both photos were taken last year]

This morning the wagtail nest was no longer in the tree.  Parent birds circle anxiously, obviously annoyed at a close inspection of the site by Other Half and Me.  We became curious.  O.H. looked closer and found remnants of the nest on the ground near the shed, not far from the tree where it had nestled.  So what happened to the babies?  Yesterday they didn't look big enough to fledge, and how did the nest fall to the ground.  We will wonder, but the answer may not be forthcoming. 
On a lighter note ... a very juvenile Blue Tongue lizard appears in the kitchen daily.  We began feeding him a piece of a peach [canned] and a habit has formed. 
We have no need to visit the Zoo [though we will at Christmas] or a wild life reserve; we have them at our back/front door.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This and That

The weather is wrecking havoc across the world with a typhoon of never-before-seen strength buffeting the Philippines and now heading north.  It almost beggars belief at the destruction wrought.
Closer to home I am beginning to feel human again after a few days laid low with flu, which visited uninvited and is slow to take its final leave.  However one can be thankful that this isn't Christmas week when time is of the essence.
Over the last two or three weeks we have observed a mudlark building its nest high in the gum tree above the house.  I was a little concerned that once the chicks hatched we may be subjected to dive-bombing as the once-friendly willy-wagtails turned nasty after their chicks hatched.  I need not have worried.  The baby mudlarks are growing, the parents spend endless hours feeding their brood and last evening I am sure one of the babies tested its flying powers flitting, haltingly, from branch to branch. 
The photo was taken before the flight.  I must admit the best part of living in the country is the closeness of nature; one cannot possibly be bored when watching the life cycles of the creatures we share this space with.  [Must admit spiders do not fall into that category!]
When one reads of parents driving their offspring to school and giving them mobile phones to keep in touch I do wonder how the youth of today will cope when they finally are given their freedom.  Yesterday, the newspaper featured an article about a girl who at the age of nine, and after a 'run through' was allowed to go to school on the train carrying no phone.  She did take the wrong train, but it was her common sense that sorted that problem, and she learned from the mistake.
I recall allowing our children [from age 10] to travel to Dunedin [50 miles away] by bus with enough money in their pockets to go to the movies, buy a lunch, and a small amount left over for spending.  They always arrived home on the bus and were rather perplexed when their classmates admitted they would not be allowed to do the same.  Our children grew up knowing how to use public transport, and be in charge of their decisions.  To me it is sad that so many children are not presented with the same trust today. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

October? Lost!

I made no postings in October!!  I have been busy, which is really a reason, not an excuse.
November blew in with a rush of heat; the temperature rose to 40°C on Sunday, the day I celebrated one of those birthdays others think must be celebrated but which I could have forgot about.  There were many pluses for the day however.  My daughter came up for the weekend and took us out for lunch on 'the day'; distant family phoned, sent cards and presents, and I ate too much.  Have you ever tasted chocolate coated ginger?  Glorious, absolutely glorious!! 
Normally my chocolate treat of choice is Turkish Delight.  Were I to be confronted with the choice between the two, and only allowed one, I do not know which would win.  I can think of more difficult dilemmas. 
This year the Melbourne Cup, a horse race that slows down the work ethic of many Australians as the hotels, TAB [betting agency], and work parties took over the day.  I did choose a horse; did not put money on it as invariably I choose a horse that runs towards the end of the field, as this one did.  There were sweepstakes in workplaces and generally a mood of geniality prevailed.
It was also Guy Fawkes day; a day not celebrated in Australia any more.  The very dry climate at this time of year is part reason and I suspect political correctness plays a larger part.
Having spent most of my life in New Zealand where Guy Fawkes was celebrated I find the absence of sky rockets and bonfires, toffee and part roasted potatoes, hedges on fire and crackers in mail boxes strange, but somehow comforting. 
Christmas is fast approaching and the sewing machine has been busy ... sorry to say the sewing machine will not be getting a break for a few weeks yet.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Day Out

Last week we motored down the road to visit the Mingenew Expo; this is the fourth Expo I have attended and the first one where the weather was iffy.  However during our visit the sun shone and the moment dark clouds appeared over the horizon we headed home as I had washing to rescue!
A cattle hide ... new handbag?
Inside the entrance a transportable caught my eye [I forgot to take a photo this early in the visit] and upon being invited to enter and look around I became more impressed.  One large room with a kitchen in one corner, and a huge bathroom through the only door.  I quickly imagined how eminently suitable such a building would be for a sewing room.  Alas ... we only looked.
Elderly tractor
The huge tent held the usual treasures.  The CWA [Country Women's Association] stand was my first stop ... who can resist home baked cakes, especially when I don't have an oven.  An iced banana cake [yet to be cut into] and a scrummy date loaf that has already been eaten were hurriedly paid for and transferred into the bag I always carry ... just in case of a purchase.
Hat anyone?
Schools from near and far advertised their curriculum in the hope to entice country students for next year; several wine stands, at least two massage tables touting for business [too early in the morning I suspect for clients], industries showing what they are about, and the nut stand.  Significant Other splashed out on a bag of mixed nuts all coated in caramel ... they are eaten!
Children's farmyard
Outside displays of new cars and trucks, new tractors, and vintage tractors, old bicycles and new bicycles, clothing, hats, animals, and food stalls were laid out in an enticing manner.  The trick is to go with a certain sum of money and when it is spent looking is the only option. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Nesting time

The days are warming; the birds are tweeting and if one looks carefully tiny bird's nests are visible hidden under the gum leaves. 
I know that the resident tawny frog-mouths have a nest some where, but so far I have been unable to locate it.  Father bird spends his day sleeping on a branch where he often is, but there is no sign of his mate.  This is nesting time for the tawny frog-mouth ... in years gone by I have managed to find the nest; there are at least three weeks for me to locate this one!
While scanning the branches, I noticed the extra activity of the little willy wagtails as they flit from branch to branch.  I was suspicious.  It looked as though they were trying to lead me a merry dance, away from a nest.  Then I became aware of a tiny nest.  Did it belong to the wagtails?  The nest was just above my head height.  I needed a taller spy.  Other Half is tall.  I requested assistance.  Sure enough, there were three eggs in the nest and all the time the wagtails kept vigilance, darting hither and thither in an effort to distract our attention.
We have not looked closely since.
The willy wagtail is a small bird, about the size of a sparrow, and is determined to keep sightseers at bay.  Once the eggs hatch it will not be safe to be nowhere near the nest as they dive bomb intruders.  The sharp beak is more than enough to deter any 'quick looks'.   Even now the birds work hard at chasing away kookaburras which like to steal eggs and baby birds.  I have watched with amusement the persistent harassing of the kookaburra and old lazy Mr Crow with the wagtail on the winning side.
I did manage to take a photo of the nest and one of the parent wagtails.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Leaves ... be gone!

While folks in the northern hemisphere collect leaves and other rubbish accumulated over the summer, bonfires are banned here in western Australia except for the winter months. 
This year the surrounding countryside is showing the strain of an extremely dry June with the prospect of July following in June's footsteps I decided to take the window of opportunity and have a bonfire.  This is not the first of the winter, but this is the product of all my own hard work.  We are surrounded by gum trees that drop leaves all the year round.  Dry crinkly wizened gum leaves are not attractive in winter, and in summer can be a danger if a bushfire should creep close [heaven forbid!]  Over the last few days I have raked, wheelbarrowed and tossed onto an ever increasing sized bonfire all those leaves, along with twigs and pieces of bark that had fallen.
I didn't keep count of the number of wheelbarrow loads, but it must have surpassed 18, which in anyone's language [apart from a forester] shows on the arm muscles that are slowly returning.  Whew!  I am not as fit as I used to be!
Earlier when the wind was a mere zephyr I pushed sheets of newspaper into the heap of leaves, twigs and bark, and using the gas fire-lighter set the whole alight.  The flames danced with wispy smoke drifting into the sky.  I hasten to add I did use the watering can to spray the perimeter.  Even though the grass, such as it is, was green I could not risk the fire escaping from it's ashy setting. 
Oh, dash ... I forgot to put some potatoes in ... the embers would make a wonderful cooking facility!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

You've got mail!

The phrase, 'You've got mail' takes on a new meaning in this modern age.  Today it tends to mean an email has dropped into the inbox, and often that mail is only glanced at before being 'pinged' off into space.  Why?  Because invariably it is trivia.
Last week I received 'real mail'.  A little girl in my extended family sent a pink envelope with her 'writing' in blue, on the front.  Her Mum had carefully put my name and address in the spaces left by my junior correspondent.  The glitzy pinkish-purplish butterfly held pride of place near the stamp.  Inside the envelope I discovered more writing, once again deciphered by the mother, and some family photos that I will treasure.
Today I posted a reply to this little three-year old, and fervently hope her efforts at letter writing carry over into adulthood.  What a little treasure she is!
Today I received more 'real mail'; this time an impressive missive from my senior cousin with whom I keep in regular 'snail mail' contact.  [She has no computer, nor indeed no computer skills.]  We write several pages [confession ... I type and print them out.  My excuse reason is that my handwriting skills are disgusting, probably due to lack of exercise, but as I learned to type when a tender 13 year old my keyboard skills are more commendable] to each other fortnightly, catching up with family news, things that have happened or things that may, or may not, happen, the weather, the garden and all those seemingly small items that make up the tapestry of our daily lives. 
Real letters I keep [for a long time, maybe not forever]; real letters I read more than once, real letters I would never dream of tossing into the fire before reading the last line several times, which is completely opposite to 'pinging off' an email.
I recall setting aside letter writing time; usually an afternoon when I replied to all my mail, and there were often several requiring my attention each week; elderly aunts and uncles with whom I religiously kept in touch relating small items of my daily existence and the tales of a growing family, but in doing so those older family members, often single, or widowed, felt they belonged.
I look with sadness the numbers of folk who prefer to txt text, or send a joke via email.  Slowly but surely the bonds of family life weaken; it is my fervent wish they do not disappear into the shroud of time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

mid winter sunrise

Almost mid-winter; only a few hours later, and the most magnificent red sunrise greeted the new day.  The old saying, 'Red sky at night, shepherds delight, red sky in morning, shepherds warning' armed us mere mortals for a not so lovely day.
The wood box is full, the day has offered a few showers, but rain is warmer than some other weather conditions, and the fire remains unlit, though as darkness falls over the land the fire will warm our room.
I noticed the red sky and knowing that those red skies do not last, it was a matter of grabbing the camera, rushing outdoors in my dressing gown, and taking a photo.  Wow!  What a red sky!
Sadly the huge full moon will not be visible ... due to heavy cloud cover.  To have been able to see that, and such a red morning sky would have been unusual.  Oh well, there will be another time to see the moon in all its full moon glory close as it gets to Earth!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Throwing hat in

The old saying, 'throw your hat in the door' has relevance today.  I haven't posted here for over a month!
Last year I purchased a new washing machine and early in May found out that the particular brand, and model, had a problem.  Some were going on fire!  Needless to say I hurriedly emailed the makers, and am now awaiting a repairman to visit to fix the problem.  In the meantime instead of just putting the washing in and flicking a few buttons I need to check for the smell of heat or the presence of smoke!  Certainly puts a new complexion on washday.  Next week the problem will be solved and I will no longer need to keep a careful watch on the machine.
Instead of dry wizened wide outdoors we now look out on verdant green, and oh, how easy it is on the eyes.  Other Half is sawing wood for the fire, and we no longer swelter in sticky heat.  Winter is a much preferable season in this part of Western Australia.
With the cooler weather my crafting enthusiasm increases ... perhaps I am less frazzled!  Over the past few days I have made some glove puppets for my littlest grandson.  There is a picture on my other blog here .
Now to cast my mind around for another project; I have a plant in a pot that needs breaking up and planting out.  You may have guessed that gardening is not something that I have a talent for, but I do like a little colour in the garden during winter.  The nasturtium seeds I planted have 'taken' though there are some misses ... one wonders what creature lives in the ground the fancies nasturtium seeds to supplement its diet?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bus Stop

We all know bus stops; some offer little shelter, others are havens to while away the moments until the bus trundles along.  I have waited for a bus, or should I call it a coach, where no shelter prevails, and have stood waiting in a shelter wondering if the driver, or captain if it is a coach, will actually see me waiting.
Our nearest town has two coach stops; one outside the Information Centre which is where tickets can be purchased, and the other two or three kilometers along the route. 
This second stop is in the busy marina precinct and has a shelter blending into the landscape, that at first I hadn't realised what it represented.
The shelter is the shape of an upturned dinghy and draped along the uprights that separate the dinghy from the seat are various crustaceans that provide a distinctive seaside flavour.  When I cast my mind back I don't believe I have spied a potential coach rider sitting on that seat; perhaps the octupus and lobsters are a deterrent?


This bus stop must be unique?


Sunday, April 7, 2013

hot or cross?

Easter has been and gone.  It is rather sad that the meaning of Easter has been lost in the great egg/rabbit/chocolate 'buy-up'.  Our radio station had some lovely coverage at Easter; many folk phoned in with their version of some Easter traditions. 
Of course hot cross buns were mentioned.  Now I love hot cross buns ... at Easter, not from Boxing Day until Easter.  I got to thinking [it has been known to happen] as to how hot cross buns came about.  I know about the cross, but ... is it a 'hot cross' bun, or a hot 'cross bun'?  We had quite a discussion about that little conundrum, and as happens when folk have time on their hands, the discussion enlarged to the emphasis put on phrases, and how the meaning is altered.
Over the years my old adversary, Meniere's, visits without invitation; and recently decided to invade my head space.  I place some blame onto the air flight in February, but when suddenly, on Thursday, my head did a flip, dizzily dancing around to the stage where I thought I would fall to the ground, Significant Other took me to outpatients.  A girl of wisdom years cannot be too careful!  Blood pressure = OK, ECG = OK, pulse = still working, so the concensus was 'Meniere's, and medication prescribed. 
A couple of days of lethargy and sleep leave me feeling slightly improved today, but while the symptons resembled previous attacks, I have a feeling that somewhere along the way I may have been in contact with a viral infection as well.  Once one is on the mend, there is only one way to travel ... up!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Having only lived in Australia a short time I have not yet become enamoured with snakes.  This morning a radio interview with a 'snake catcher' proved fascinating listening.  This gentleman captures snakes from homes, sheds and other places where they are not welcomed by human habitation. 
As I noticed a small snake wriggling quickly over the paddock just two days ago I pricked up my ears.  What if that snake came indoors?  I think I could bang pots and pans loud enough to frighten it outdoors again; that is if it hadn't time to hide under the furniture.
There was one glimmer of hope.  Evidently if blue tongue lizards, or bobtail lizards if you live in another State, love snake eggs.  We have blue tongue lizards!  They spend a lot of time around the house in spring.  After hearing the radio talk I am assuming [and I do know that when one assumes he, or she, makes an ass out of u and me ... but that is pushed to the back of my mind in this instance] that our friendly blue tongue lizards hang around solely to keep the snake population down in numbers.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Holiday over

For the month of February, when Australian summers are at their hottest, I journey back to my home country, New Zealand, where it seemed that their summers were cold!  I must have acclimatised more than I thought.
Flying from Perth to Auckland overnight is not too bad as NZ is 5 hours ahead of Perth, making my arrival time less daunting that it sounded.  Customs in Auckland; a mad dash to the shuttle bus to the Domestic Terminal, and an hour flight south took me to Christchuch where second eldest son was waiting.  Needless to say my first request was a coffee followed quickly by a short sleep in an effort to get into the new time zone.
Christchurch is still a mess; empty blocks of land where once tall proud buildings stood, buildings in the process of demolition, or repair if not too badly damaged, and roads that had more ups and downs than would be considered safe under normal circumstances.  My son took me for a tour of some suburbs and his driving, usually circumspect, is now 'for the circumstances'.  He swung all over the street [if no traffic was approaching], and assured me that no action is taken as driving on the correct side can result in accidents.  Needless to say I took no photos!  Poor Christchurch, one a beautiful garden city is now in a state of improving chaos.
Next a bus trip south where I spent a few days at my favourite place, Hampden, a small seaside village where life tootles along, where I read and relaxed, and wandered the beach to make a visit to the Moeraki Boulders, a natural phenonomen that attracts tourists from across the world.  I placed my shoes on top of one.
While wandering along a lane at Hampden I discovered a yellow cherry-plum tree with branches laden to almost the ground.  This brought back pleasant memories of the cherry plum jam my Mum made [last century], and the slow laborious task that picking out the stones became.
Another bus trip south, this time to my old home town where several shop fronts were only that ... shop fronts.  Empty shops ... another sign of the times for a rural town.  I caught up with my youngest son, his 'other half' and their 2-year old son, who is now a character in his own right.  I last saw him when he was about 6-weeks old! 
Then a short journey north to a cousin who lives closer to the airport gave me a few days of wandering around the area where my parents spent their youth.  We did go for a walk to a nature reserve where I managed to capture a photo of a Fernbird, a photo of which my cousin assures me, is not common. 
The trip home was uneventful, and now I am once again home ... and pottering around, which is what home offers best.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back home

After spending three weeks in Perth we are once again back home ... thunder storm with impressive sheet lightning and tremendous claps of thunder that echoed around the landscape, followed by 9mm of rain did nothing to cool the air.  Today it is hot, and humid ... one drips incessantly!  Roll on Autumn.
Unfortunately several states of Australia are experiencing a heatwave of the bush fire variety, with Tasmania being extremely hard hit.  It is difficult to visualise a fire roaring across the terrain leaving a trail of destruction, but that is what is happening.
A trip into town this morning produced a pile of mail ... Christmas all over, but as we were not home, this was in fact part of Christmas.  Rather nice in fact to come home to parcels to unwrap, presents to ooh and aah over, and cards to open.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 ... here I come

The beginning of another year sees me working along the lines of more regular blogging.
We are not at home, but in Perth, house and dog sitting while eldest son and his partner, and his daughter, visit NZ, where I am certain a lot of catching up is going on.  Meanwhile Cassie is assured of a morning walk!
A quiet night; I didn't see the new year in.  By the almost silent neighbourhood it would seem that neighbours went elsewhere, that mysterious place that simply does not appear on any map, though the weather forecasters reliably inform us daily that there is rain or excessive heat there.
Summer in Perth is hot, we have the air conditioning running all day, and whilst staying away over night at the weekend witnessed the utter stupidity of some senseless souls ... a bush fire raged a few blocks away, homes were threatened, and the freeway was closed for several hours due to smoke.
This morning another bushfire [once again seemingly deliberately lit] is making its destructive way through a nearby suburb, albeit in the bushland surrounding a lake.  Senseless indeed!
Dog is resting in her bed, other half is resting on the bed, and I have dishes to attend ... a light lunch and a mini pavlova topped with cream and fresh raspberries for desert.