Thursday, September 30

Reading time

Paddington is often described as a quiet leafy suburb - which I am sure it is - except when the builders and renovators are in action. The quiet is lost.   Fortunately their hammering and sawing with machines that make much more noise than the hand held non mechanical variety, is intermittent, and I am more likely to hear bird noises, or the occasional plane (big and small) overhead.  Much much quieter than the house at Wynnum West and the horrific traffic noises that used to keep me awake for hours on end in the night.

I'd only had one contact with a neighbour until yesterday.  Previously Sandra had visited to borrow the possum cage - there are so many of the furry creatures that some neighbours trap them and release them in the bush some distance from here.  I saw some 20 or more in the tree outside the bedroom window the other night, and could hear others doing the light fantastic on the roof so I know there are many here.

Anyway, as I said, only one neighbour had spoken to me.  Now, I don't mind.  I do love company but I have important things to do here - study and write - so I am not seeking visitors to come and go.  

On my list of people to call if there is any help needed was "Patty" - and I have had no need to call her, however, she phoned me the other night as my host (in China) was on Skype with Patty and I was not online so Patty phoned me to tell me to turn on.  Which I did and had a long chat with Lorraine in China.

I thought I'd better call and meet Patty so yesterday I phoned her, and shortly afterwards called in to meet her.  When I phoned and I heard her surname, I knew I had heard of her before, but I don't think we had met.

Patty is also a writer and much more.  Check out her website.  We had quite a chat for about an hour over coffee - and I can see we will be meeting from time to time.  We both like a glass of wine and a chat, and have quite a few things in common.  She is now my new best Paddington friend. 

I'm going to lunch today at Manly - Wilson's Boathouse overlooking Manly Harbour - wonderful place.  I remember having lunch with former Prime Minister John Howard there some years ago.

Tomorrow I am child minding - two of my granddaughters will be here for the day.  Not sure I know what to do with them, but I think we will spend some time in the antique shop.  I wonder what they will make of the things there?

Meanwhile, I am reading.  I've read quite a few books in the last few weks. One was Souad, Burned Alive, the story of a girl Souad, who was burned alive in the Middle East because she disgraced the family.  She survived and now lives in Europe but it is a terribly scary and moving story about the terrible way women are treated by their menfolk.  The other book that I am reading is called Parky, Michael Parkinson's autobiography which is a very funny story.

The famous people he met during his many years as a journalist and broadcaster provided many stories for his book.  I loved the one about James Stewart (on page 212 and 213), about his absentmindedness.  When his wife was pregnant he "worked out a routine of how to get her to hospital.  On the day, she told him the baby was coming and he said not to panic as he was fully prepared.  He drove to the hospital in record time only to find when he arrived that he had forgotten his wife.  As he raced back home he passed the ambulance taking her in." 

There are many hilarious stories in the book.  A great read.


Sunday, September 26

The Storm

Before the "Hire Engine" arrived I'd been on the deck with my camera, watching storm clouds approach.I took these photos.

The Arrival of the Hire Engine.

Yesterday there were signs of a party in the street.  Two men arrived at the house next door carrying heavy Eskies very early in the morning.  I knew it was the AFL Football Final so figured that the boys were lining up for a footy party.  Later I heard the girls giggling and when I saw them it looked like they were dressed to go to a fashion show!  Were they staying for the footy party, I wondered?  No way!

Then a fire engine made its way down the hill - down the road in the opposite direction to the party house. No siren.  Strange.  Why would a fire engine tackle the hill if there was no fire?  I could see no whisps of smoke through the bushes, and when the fire engine came to the dead end, it manouvered to get out and turned up beside "my" house, and stopped in front of the house next door.

Still no fire - so I was curious.  Then I read on the side of the "fire" engine that it was "hire" engine.  The girls came out of the house, so did the boys, there was much laughing and photo taking, before the girls (via a step that appeared out of the back of the vehicle) climbed on board.

There was a "fireman" - dressed appropriately, and later when I did a Google and found this site and learned that you could hire the fire engine for birthday parties.  A "chauffeur driven fire engine available for you to hire for your next special event."  How clever!

The party went on all day - men carrying bottles and boxes arrived all day.  Certainly many watched the football and we heard the voices and cheers when a goal was kicked.  I heard them still partying near midnight, though they weren't really noisy (at least they did not keep me awake!)  This morning most of the cars in the street had gone.  I hope they got someone who had not been drinking to take them home!

(I learned during the afternoon that the couple who moved into the house recently are getting married next week - hence the party!)

Tuesday, September 21

Turkey Territory

As well as the butcher birds, miner birds, lorikeets and kookaburras (I hear them in the high trees but have not seen one here yet) there are bush turkeys.

I've seen quite a lot of them - either running through the property or most likely in the street.  It is a one way street immediately in front of the house, and there is a strip of walled land between this street and the one above that is for traffic travelling the other way.

Bush turkeys are rather shy creatures - and they prefer to be in the business rather than out in the open, and you can hear them scuttling around in the business before you see them.  Often they will make a dash from one section of bush to another - even going up or down the stairs between the two roads.

We didn't have any living in the Wynnum area - or at least in 17 years I have not seen any though they are quite common in the western suburbs of Brisbane.

It asbeen raining for a few days and everything is wet.  Including the washing as it just sits on the line (under the deck) but there is no breeze and drying will take a long time.

Saturday, September 11

I Shoot Lorikeets

L was a bird lover and she has had many birds visiting on a regular basis for food.  Lorikeets, butcher birds, and magpies. Kookaburras are not welcome as apparently the fly into the house.  The lorikeets have outworn their welcome too - as they have plentiful and messy bowel motions that they deposit with gay abandon on the deck requiring frequent cleaning up.

My instructions are to use a water bottle and shoot water at them if they congregate in anticipation of food - which they are now banned from taking from the bird feeder.  And so I have on one or two occasions pulled out the water bottle and taking aim, shot a spray of water at the noisy lorikeets.  They look at me with a rather confused and quizzical look.  

The butcher birds are funny.  They line up on the deck and usually when they come, so do a couple of magpies.

There looks to me like the mother and father come, and some offspring.  The photo above was clearly taken from inside the house through the closed door - the bird to the right of the door frame is very cheeky, and he/she is the one that plays "Peepbo" with me.  If I move to the left and he/she cannot see me, he will scuttle along the rail to the left and with his head at a slight angle make eye contact again.  The two birds to the sides of the photo look to be the "baby" birds.  

They sit on the rail and sing.  Sing for their supper?  I've not been given instructions on how much food to give them - and at this point I'm not sure if I've not given them enough, or they have had too much. 

Last night there was only one possum making his presence felt - there was a mad scramble of I think only one, across the roof early in the night.  I slept all night and heard nothing more of the possum dancers.

Friday, September 10

The Possum Dance

It was night three, and I am settling into life here at Paddington.  I'm short on clothes - just didn't bring much with me, and I confess my wardrobe needs rebuilding.  I'd lost some weight, and I will lose more, so I plan to "make do" initially and as the weather warms up, add to the depleted collection of motley stuff that leaves me uninspired.  Now if I could lose another 10 kgs quickly I could do it.

I might just go for a short walk again, though the steep hills that I need to ascend before I find much level ground are a disincentive, but I will do.  Eating better and drinking (read "drinking wine") will assist and I will try and do some exercise daily - even if I have to drive to level ground somewhere.

I did work on my studies yesterday and did some shopping, and I was pretty weary when I went o bed around 10.30 pm.  I was almost finished my book "Marley and Me" - which I loved.  (As a doggy person I could relate to many of his stories, though with a very short legged dachshund we never had to deal with the4 high stepping dramas caused by Marley!)   I did finish it this morning.

I love the peace and quiet here - the occasional car passes by but with a dead end street to the side of the house, and the mountainous steep climb the other direction, there's not a lot of traffic.  I lay in bed and fell asleep to the tunes from FM 103.6.  That is until a dreadful loud noise interrupted my slumber.  I sat bolt upright and then after it stopped I checked the doors and windows.  There was nothing to see and it appeared I was alone in the house.

Then "the penny dropped."  The house owner, L I shall call her) had told me of her war on possums.  The cute little critters are everywhere here - plagues of them she said - and they like to chew on her garden.  She's had pots of herbs etc on the deck,but when the plants flourish the possums arrive and feast.  So there are bizarre cages around the herbs to keep the possums out.

It is illegal to harm a possum - but L has had a program of catch and release - with a huge wire trap and a piece of apple, she's manage to entice quite a few into the cage, and at night, she heads some distance away before releasing the traumatised animal into the wild with instructions not to return. 

Of course she has no way of knowing IF they return - but the breeding program (self imposed - they could well be native sex maniacs) they keep their numbers to excess which means that there is a shortage of good food from time to time and vegetable plots, gardens on balconies etc are fair game.

Well, it is Spring, so I guess the animals have procreation on their minds, so I lay in bed and listened to the possums dance across the roof - back and forth.  Were they doing a dance?  It sounded like a Rumba, and it went on for while until I eventually fell asleep.

Perhaps they moved to another dance hall (some one else's roof) but it didn't disturb me again and I woke at a goodly hour, just after 6 am.

Thursday, September 9

Here I am in Paddington, Qld.

What a good offer - and when I really needed it!!!  I've decided NOT to go to China teaching for this semester, but I'd spoken about it so often with another teacher that she has gone to China - to the same university that I have spent three fascinating semesters, and I have moved into her house.

It is at Paddington - not the area I would normally choose to house sit as it is some distance from my normal preference - by the sea.  But, it has other features.  If she likes it in China I can stay here for 5 months almost.  It is quiet.  It is in a rather strange area - I wonder if anyone ever comes here to rob a house - because the escape route is up steep hills.  I've walked up one and found it tough going.  I doubt any robber is really fit enough to scamper up hill with any loot - at least no heavy stuff.  And strange cars would be noticed in these parts.

The house is an "old Queenslander" with all that I need.  I love the huge kitchen - recently renovated and it has everything and more than I need.  The bedroom is at the back of the house and I can lie in bed and see trees, and hear the birds that come around for a feed or a chat with all the other birds.  Some are very early risers, but still - better than the roar of traffic every few minutes at Wynnum West.

I have wireless internet - plenty of study places - oh, did I mention that I am studying again??  This time online at Swinburne (Melbourne).  It is all a bit overwhelming, but so far I am coping - but it has been only one week!

There is a big garden to care for, some fish in ponds, but no dog or cat or any other critters, though the younger son lives in a cottage on the property - but we will keep well apart I think.

And the big bonus - is a car.  Yes, a car.  A small Holden something. A MANUAL!!!!  The last time I drove a manual car was around Ireland a few years ago - I do prefer an automatic. I drove it around the block yesterday but discovered I could not find how to get it into "reverse".  Today I sat with the instruction booklet that I found in the glovebox and worked out how to do it.  So off to the supermarket I travelled - which is only a short distance away.  I had to get a few things - notably two sorts of paper.  Yes, loo paper and paper for my printer.

I remember going to that shopping centre on a regular basis years ago as my very trendy hair dresser was there.  Not sure that he is any more.

I managed to master the steep hills here, and when I came home I made lunch and went for a walk.  There's a steep hill at the back of the property up to a road - I think there is a bus there.  I'm not sure I'll be happy with the hillside walk - might just choose to drive to places rather than use public transport.  The heart might give up on me!!

There is a lot of wildlife around here.  Birds yes, and today I came face to face with my first bush turkey - as I was walking up the road.  There are large skinks scuttling around the garden, and I hope no more of their reptilian friends.  You see there are no screens on the windows, and I have a fear of spiders and snakes.  I'm sure there are both lying in wait for me in the bushes and trees around the area.  I'll have to have a plan about that.  I wonder if the son will come to my aid if I shriek "spider" or "snake"?  He's a muso - at TAFE, and has a host of musical instruments in his little studio under the car port.  I quite like listening to his practice sessions.

There are two fish ponds and one has metal artworks - birds - on the edge.  Today the noisy miner birds were shrieking and carrying on and I crept into the garden to see what was causing it.  It seemed that one of the metal birds had done a nose dive into the pond - I had to get close to see what it was for it did look like the back end of a rather large bird poking out of the pond.  Later I crept down with my camera to take a shot of it but S (son) had clearly arrived home and righted the sorry artwork.  I wonder if it will happen again?

I even had a sleep this afternoon - not long - but it was a treat to lie on the bed and shut my eyes without the roar of traffic.

Then it was back to study.