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Tuesday eve 26 July in the year of the Lord’s favour, 2016

It has been an usual week in some ways, although all weeks are different of course. This one was different in a couple of other ways, the happenings of which I will relate later.

First, we are well, I am pleased to relate, and which doubtless you are overjoyed to learn. (I can see you all in my mind’s eye, leaping about excitedly as you read that news). As I remarked at the beginning (was it only four lines ago?) that this past week has been an odd one on occasion, although I must admit that it frequently appears to be my lot that have odd incidents occurring; possibly the result of having my mother for a mother… well, partly that, I sometimes suspect – she was so gorgeous – just born a generation or so too early. Being given to clumsiness, you understand, is also partly to blame… not my fault at all!

Now – what has these past few days produced?

Saturday 16 July was not a happy one. Janet asked me to move the car out of the carport, for she said she wanted to wash the carport wall. I pointed out reasonably I thought, that the carport does not have a wall, so she had to change her story to say she meant the shed wall to which the carport is attached… I don’t think she was so pleased about that. (She can be difficult at times – claimed I was being pedantic!). As I pointed out however, imagine the captain of the Titanic berating the helmsman: “You fool! You should have known I meant ‘port!’ when I yelled ‘Hard to starboard – NOW look what you’ve done!”

By the way, on that topic, did you know that a Lang was a Titanic survivor? I didn’t until I checked on the list of passengers one day. All the same, I doubt whether he was ever a member of the Church of Scotland, although of course he could have been. is name was Fang – yes, Fang Lang! If you don’t believe me, check it for yourself!

Anyway, when I attempted to start the car, it refused to go.  The NRMA man was called but could not start it. His instruments told me it was the crankshaft sensor that was playing up. I had to wait until Monday to ring the Hyundai place where I bought the car seven years ago in November, but quickly learned they were not really interested. The workshop manager hummed and hahhed and said he was booked out until Thursday week – that will be NEXT Thursday 28 July. When I told him that we lived in a rather isolated little place and that I had a sick grandmother, and needed my car, he still was not helpful.

Then I remembered Pat Johnson, a certified mechanic who does many jobs around here including Terry our neighbour’s car. Terry is no fool and was a panel beater in his day. He and Pat go back a long way, so I rang him. Yes – he could do the job. I stood by and watched him. As soon as he lifted the engine cover off we both knew the problem… the bush rats had cheerfully chewed their way through the wires leading to the cam shaft sensor! Three hours and $390.00 later, we were back on the road. Pat had to solder the wires together but put in the new parts as well. I was told of one man whose new Jeep had all the wires eaten out. Cost? $8.000.  Terry told us later that a good preventative is Glen 20. There is a spray can full of the stuff which Janet uses and we squirted it everywhere. Janet also looked up other preventatives such as mothballs, peppermint oil etc.

The following day we drove to Bunnings at Morisset. We went to buy mothballs and Janet wanted a new broom. She’s been complaining of late that the old one has a fault in the landing gear…

As I waited, a quaint-looking fellow appeared in a clown’s hat and with a painted face beside a chocolate wheel.: “Gather around folks – this is a Bunnings promotion – join in the fun…!” etc. We all gathered about and he handed out two tickets to each of us. I had numbers 1 and 9. After much spruiking he wound ‘er up and let ‘er go…I watched the wheel trickle to a stop – and where should it stop but on 9!! I gave an excited shout and held up the ticket. The others clapped and looked happy for me. The clown handed me a Bunnings $20 gift voucher and spun the wheel again… As soon as it stopped I gave another excited shout and jumped forward, waving my next ticket. Now my fellow chocolatiers looked anything BUT pleased. The clown looked astonished and many of my former, short-lived friends wore faintly murderous expressions. I looked at the dropped jaws around me and grinned cheekily: “Only joking.” Much merriment. The other winner must have walked off before the wheel stopped for no one came forward, so they had another spin.

That’s THREE things I’ve won lately and didn’t spend a cent: an autographed copy of Stephen King’s The Shining; due to arrive from England in a few days; a powerful electric torch (delivered via my forehead, which it struck violently as it was thrown to me) and now this. It’s amazing. Normally I’d never get a kick in a stampede.

Janet appeared from some aisle where she had been testing the aerodynamics of brooms various, and I showed her the voucher. She too was amazed and commented on the lovely flowers she could buy with that, but I’m not quite ready to part with it. I want to look at it and gloat… (You have no idea just how patient and forgiving she is – or maybe you do!).

At the OAM morning teaThe rest of the week was not eventful in that we had no car, but on Wednesday our friend George drove us to Cardiff RSL for the annual OAM morning tea which is put on each year at this time for those locals newly awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. It was a very pleasant affair… all the cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches, cakes and goodies one could eat. We found ourselves sitting with two delightful couples; one formerly African, one formerly Chinese who have both served this country very well indeed and both the men wore OAM badges. They were very interesting to talk to so the time passed swiftly. Another friend drove us home.

Oh well, it is now 11.55pm so I’ll post this off.


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The Birds

Pose, Kids!
Pose, Kids!

I’m sure many are familiar with the music of Ottorino Respighi, a late 19th –early 20th century composer. One of my very favourite pieces of music is his The Birds and in fact I’m listening to it even now as I write, on this winter’s evening at ‘Puddleby Corner’ Wangi Wangi, in the year of grace, 2016.

I’ve always loved the music, and over the past five or so years, our little garden of Eden here at Puddleby Corner has brought special pleasure in the birds that frequent our garden. The rainbow lorikeets, Australian miners, kookaburras, magpies, topknot pigeons and galahs love Janet’s garden and the fountain where they drink, and I regularly feed them all, for they also feed on the many natives that Janet has planted. I keep birdseed for them in the shed, and every now and then the topknots organise a raiding party, looking for the birdseed, but they never find. Half the time they can’t find their way out and I have to capture them and take them out.  I love them all… the lorikeets and noisy miners are quarrelsome little creatures and squabble among themselves – and in fact so do the topknots, who chase one another around the lawn (on foot) if they think another topknot is getting more than his/her fair share. A couple of galahs, usually found en masse on the inland plains, in the wheat country, are here now, these gentle creatures, and waddle about, feeding among the rest.

Suddenly the two magpies swoop in to land – and everyone scatters! It is so funny, watching them. I am in hysterics sometimes at the antics of all these glorious creatures. The maggies rule the roost – no doubt about that. They are treated with great respect.They strut around, largely ignoring everybody else, and all give them a wide berth. Their propensity for sudden hissy fits is known to all. Every now and then, after staring at an innocently feeding topknot for a few moments, one will charge it, for reasons known only to itself. Pandemonium follows  – birds everywhere until everything settles down, and they all go back to feeding – until one of the magpies has yet another hissy fit! What is so marvellous is the fact that once it’s over, it’s over. There are no grudges held, all forgiven and forgotten… maggie is mollified and peace reigns…

This is a little Garden of Eden in which nothing is hurt or killed. Recently I had an unforgettable encounter of the third kind with a large hornet that came to drink at the fountain in our garden. I was alerted to its approach by what at first sounded like a small aircraft engine on final approach – the unmistakable, noisy hum of a large hornet. A short time later it joined me at the fountain, which I was filling at the time. The visitor was so close, we were practically cheek by jowl. It stood delicately at the water’s edge and thrust its fine head forward and down to drink, and I was reminded of the way a horse drinks.

At such close range I could observe every part of its superb, beautiful, streamlined body, all bright yellow and black, yet I felt no fear. As I watched it, it was watching me, but I sensed not even wariness on its part. It was a strangely companionable sort of feeling; as we, two strangers at the only coffee table left in the café, sat together in silence, enjoying a virtual cappuccino, each quite at home in the company of the other. My colourful companion slowly finished his virtual cappuccino (or maybe latte), gave me a friendly nod, then took to the air on beautifully crafted wings, making one brief little swoop towards me which I sensed as a farewell; certainly not a threat.

I still feel charmed by that remarkable encounter; also privileged to have had its trust. I’m reserving that story for a verse one day.

Speaking of birds, one day a few weeks ago I had occasion to visit the Wangi RSL, and on the way out, what should I behold but a gent at one of the outside tables, sipping a beer and looking for all the world like Long John Silver, with a parrot on his shoulder. I stopped to investigate and discovered the parrot was a lorikeet. We got into conversation and I learned that the visitor was the owner of one of the yachts curtseying in the bay. He pointed to a handsome craft which is his home. He told me he sails it up and down the coast with his wife and ‘Charlie’ the lorikeet. Charlie, he said, had been rescued by him when he saw her drowning in a river up north some years ago. She was very young and she has been with him ever since. He knows she’s a female because she once laid a couple of eggs.

Charlie was rescued some years after the yachty’s first wife died, and when he remarried, the bird saw the new wife as ‘the other woman’. For quite a while she gave her hell… biting her at every opportunity; doing everything she could to discourage her rival, but now all is well and they are a happy threesome.

He said that when he calls at places up and down the coast, people always want to see Charlie, who rewards their adulation by poohing on them… well, not always, but as Charlie was making her way up my nice, fairly new jacket which I’d had made in Thailand the previous year, her owner called her back. Sure enough a few minutes later she did it on his shirt.

I often think how blessed we are in this beautiful country of ours to be able to share our lives with the wild creatures. I am ‘minded of the lovely lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’:

He prayeth best who loveth best
all things, both great and small;
For the dear God Who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

Let’s treasure every creature, great and small, and our Creator God, Who ‘made and loveth all’.

(16 July, 2016)