Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Wasted month

For several years we have watched as our resident tawny frog-mouth pair have successfully raised their young.
While these birds are not brightly coloured, and are nocturnal, they do appear to like living close to us.  Admittedly we have many gum trees with rough bark that mimics their colour.  From a distance it is difficult to see them perching on a branch as they blend so well.
This year I noted with great interest a next high above not far from the back door.  Aha, babies soon! 
Over the years it became apparent that eggs [one or two] were laid on an extremely basic nest on, or close to full moon, and the chicks hatched out on the next full moon.
We came home from shopping late last week to discover a bundle of white fluff lying on the ground below the nest.  Oh dear!  The chick hatched and ?  Not sure if it died upon contact with the outside world but there it was cold and unmoving on the ground with flies hovering.  I quickly buried it.
The parent stayed on the nest which was great news ... there must be another egg to hatch.
Full moon last night; the darkness of night lit up by a huge full moon.  At dusk the parent left the nest [they are nocturnal], and this morning I couldn't see the parent.  Why?
Then I looked down and a few metres from the nest another bundle of white fluff lay lifeless.  Another burial took place.
Hopefully this pair will try again and we will once again be enthralled watching as the little chick grows before it is sent out into the big wide world a few months later.
The photo is of a successful hatching a few years ago.
 
I do hope that by Christmas the parent will have a chick to feed and will not have another wasted month sitting on eggs that end in disaster.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Colourful birds

In this part of the world there is a saying 'You silly galah' uttered when someone is doing something that they have obviously given little thought to.  In actual fact the galah is a rather attractive bird, native to Australia.  Their lovely pink and grey plumage could form the basis of a  gorgeous d├ęcor for a lounge room; restful and easy on the eyes but still with a hint elegance.
 
We are privileged to see galahs every day as they move from tree to tree or from paddock to paddock as they 'graze' the seeding grasses.  I like them!  I love to see them perched in rows on the fence lines, or the power or telephone wires, and hold my breath as they suddenly swoop across the road as we drive by.  Trucks carrying grain from silos to port often leave a small trail of grain [not unlike the childhood story of Hansel and Gretel who trailed bread crumbs to enable them to find their way out of the forest] and galahs find these grains of wheat an unexpected treat.  They are daring!  It isn't until vehicles are almost upon them that they fly to the roadside verge escaping the turning wheels of their feeding wagon.
 
The above photo shows a flock of galahs busily feeding in the neighbour's paddock ... this year the vegetation is extremely short as we are not receiving our normal quota of rain.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Perfume

For more years than I care to remember I have read The People's Friend, a magazine for women, a magazine that some may think is suitable for the older lady, but in fact when I first met this magazine I was barely into my 30's.  There are advertisements, but not a lot; there are puzzles and crosswords [the cryptic crossword takes ages to work out with scribbles on pieces of paper and the dictionary close by], and there are letters by readers.
 
In the last magazine received, a regular piece, "The Farmer and his Wife", mentioned perfume ... 4711 perfume.  What a plethora of memories those four figures brought to mind! 
 
Way back in the days when country towns had a picture theatre and when young folk, and the not so young, attended the pictures at least once a week the cloakrooms would reek of perfumes as we tried our best to improve what nature had given us.  Eye shadows, often frowned upon by 'the parents' was stroked on liberally, perfume dabbed behind the ears, and hair back combed within an inch of its life.  Teenagers were ready for the world!
 
My favourite perfume was "Evening in Paris" that had its own special smell [Midnight in the Sewer catcalled the local boys].  The girls ignored the ignorant comments ... but smirked to each other ... 'they had noticed!' A few years ago I visited a museum of 'artefacts' from bygone eras and Evening in Paris deep blue/almost indigo bottles featured!  I only hope that had I been small enough I wouldn't have been popped up on a shelf and called an artefact!
 
4711 was another favourite.  4711 was more suitable for daytime wear [or for those not wishing to be quite so conspicuous].  And for the 'older woman' there was respectable "Tweed", which was a sure-fire winner if looking for a gift for a Mother or aunt.
 
Today many perfumes are cloying and many change their smell on different skins.  Funny isn't it how four little figures, 4711, bring back a glimpse of days long past.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A storm

It is normal in winter to have rain.  After an excellent fall of rain in March or was it April crops were sown and optimism was high.  The sun shone; day after day it shone.  The temperatures remained high and the rains did not fall again.  Except for a very occasional drop of rain; not enough to lay the dust.
The farming community began to worry.  Where were the winter rains?  Would they have a viable crop?  Optimism dropped off and pessimism began to rear its ugly head.
Earlier this week the weather forecasters were optimistic!  Rain, maybe up to 60ml would fall mid-week.  This morning the weather man predicted a 90% chance of rain.  Goody, goody! 
Mid morning the wind came up and dust began to spread its clinging coat all over; indoors and out.
The view down the road was blurry and the dust crept into eyes and up the nose.
 
Up the road the view was the same; blurry, and being outdoors was uncomfortable.
 

The electricity failed but thankfully it came on after an hour or so.  Time to hurry with lunch while there was power!  I happened to look outside as we could hear small branches falling onto the roof.  Sand crept in under the door which rattled with every gust of wind.  Then I noticed the damage ... a huge gum tree had been wrenched from the ground with the power of the wind.  It did not land on anything except the road.

After phoning the neighbour to inform her of the 'mishap' [the tree was outside her boundary fence on the verge of the road] I phoned the local Shire.  Help was on its way within half an hour!  This was indeed an excellent response.
A man in a truck and carrying a chain saw arrived.  The branches were cut off, the neighbour's fence which had been caught up in the upturned roots of the tree was righted, and later a loader arrived and pushed the tree branches onto the side of the road leaving the stump in its original position albeit with its roots exposed to the weather.
I was given to understand that the tree and other branches that had fallen nearby will be removed in the near future.
It isn't often that we have such excitement in the neighbourhood!  But still there has been no rain!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blancmange

In the height of summer we had a series of power outages the result of storms passing through.  Milk in the refrigerator does not keep if the electricity is off and the daytime temperature is the 40's.  So, I bought long-life milk ... to me coffee without milk is quite simply Y U K!
 
Months later there are still packets of long-life milk in the pantry cupboard.  Knowing that I wouldn't likely use it before its 'best by date' I decided to make blancmange, which to me is just another glorified word for custard.  Last night we had rhubarb and blancmange as dessert.
 
While stirring the mixture in the pot a recollection sprung to mind.  Long long ago when a child I read about girls going to boarding school, and I will confess that at the age of nine or ten attending boarding school and getting up to all the hi-jinx described in the pages of books I would have loved to spend school terms at boarding school.  [That desire did wear off ... before I was of boarding school age!]
 
The mention of blancmange for tea at boarding school sounded to me the height of luxury.  [I didn't realise it was only custard.]   The use of a 'foreign word' in the context of a school dinner resounded in my mind ... anything foreign must be great to a country girl who had travelled no further than 50 miles north to the nearest city, and that was a huge adventure.
 
As I dished up the rhubarb and blancmange my mind was still back in last century where girls had daring, and exciting, adventures attending boarding school, and where they ate blancmange for tea. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Smoke and its not cigarettes!

Far to the south of this state bushfires are raging, one had a boundary of over 200 kms.  Thankfully few homes have been burnt; but the devastation as tall karri trees are engulfed is an ecological tragedy.
 
Early in the week our area, the mid west of Western Australia, had power outages that totalled 50 hours, with a four hour relief when I re-charged the computer, and did a load of washing.  The following morning the power was off again, as were the phones.  Where the previous day neighbours were able to keep in touch via the phone, the day telecommunications failed we gathered on the road exchanging woes.
 
However, our woes were nothing when compared to the fires burning in the south.
 
This morning at sunrise the sun looked weird.  As the morning wore on it became apparent that smoke was beginning to affect our area ... and by 4.00pm when I took the photo, a smoke haze made a curtain between the earth and the sky ... it is impossible to see the sky; all around smoke clings to the land.
 
I feel for those folk who have respiratory problems; life will be more difficult for them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wipes brow!

Whew!!  Today was, still is, hot; very hot, too hot!
 
Thankfully after doing the ironing early in the morning household chores were minimal.  Beginning a 'secret challenge' meant that I could sit and stitch without feeling guilty.  Easier said than done in the sweltering heat, but I have managed to put into stitches the idea floating around in my mind. 
 
As the temperature rose the perspiration dripped from my brow; plenty of water was essential ... too often I have felt the effects of not drinking fluids ... lesson learned!
 
Two photos, taken indoors, show just how hot it was.
 
Woops, the clock is a little lopsided ... I must have held the camera sideways!  But the two dials tell the tale.
 
 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A New Year has begun

Our small town holds a Market Day the first Saturday of each month with a variety of interesting stalls.  Cakes, apple pie [a must!], pickles, plants, books, DVD's, jewellery, crystals, and many other bits and pieces that make for curious browsing.
 
We are regulars to visit the Markets, and I find the mix of stall holders fascinating.  Some sit at the back of their gazebo tent watching the passing parade, others wander amongst their product which makes me wonder if they are expecting the public to not only look, but to take when the stall holders eyes are turned.
 
Not far from where we park is Mr Toolman who has spades, drills and bits, screwdrivers, you name it he has it, while Mrs Toolman has interesting crockery and nick knacks.  I try to not look there too long as I have a perchance for crockery, buying teapots [and seldom drink tea] just because they are interesting. 
 
Mr and Mrs Toolman have a dog, a gorgeous big eyed King Charles Cavalier who enjoys do-nuts for breakfast, and who relishes the attention of passers-by.  Needless to say this stall is always my first port of call ... and the obligatory pat of the dog is all important.
 
After wishing Mr and Mrs Toolman Happy New Year I wandered close to the little dog who views the passing parade from the comfort of a deck chair.  Once I was close to the dog I wished him a Happy New Year [one must spread a little cheer if possible] and yesterday those three little words had a profound effect!
 
Little dog smiled at me, no, not smiled, he grinned.  Such a simple appreciation of a few words of greeting brought a smile to my face for the rest of the day.  I guess if there is any one thing to take from this posting it could be ... pay attention to the little things in life as they often bring the most joy.