Sunday, 14 May 2017

Some Mothers Do 'Ave Them.

I have been blogging for a long time & for a good bit of that time I was a homeschooling mama with an elite sportsman & an elite musician still living @ home.  I ran.  If I wasn't @ a soccer game I was enroute to Brisbane for rehearsals or a concert. If I wasn't doing that I was scrabbling to finish school work before the end of term & there were never enough hours in any given day & I was fraught.  Brisbane is not my most favourite place.

Almost overnight that all changed.  My girls grew up.  Once ODD was fully licensed my services were no longer needed & my life became much quieter ~ much, much quieter than I ever expected while I was running. It revolves slowly around church & cats.  I am pretty sedentary because my work now involves a lot of study & while I don't miss the running & the time constraints & the angst I do miss the music & just being with my girls.

CG, of course, is not here, being in Chile & all that but ODD is only across the water on the mainland & she organised for me to come over on Friday so she could take DIL & I out for brunch to celebrate Mother's Day.

She chose the Arabica ~ which we know quite well having first discovered it when ODD was singing @ a local church & we needed a quick, light meal in between performances. It does really good cafe meals for a reasonable price & we have always been very happy with our meals there.  The service can be a bit dodgy as it is popular & when they are busy, as they were Saturday morning, they are definitely understaffed & our meals came in relays.  We didn't linger, as we otherwise might have done, as people were starting to queue up for a table & rain was threatening.

ODD & I have always been quite dreadful when we go out.  We generally eat reasonably healthily if @ home but out we can almost be guaranteed to choose the unhealthiest option on the menu ~ in this case freshly made waffles with icecream, cream & maple syrup.  Definitely yum!

 Bonus was spending some time with the Little Man, sort of crawling now & full of smiles. His hair is dark but it has a real ginger tinge to it & with big, dark blue eyes he is rather striking looking.
 My DIL had sent over a Mother's Day present early.  I suspect ODD helped choose as the socks have been very welcome as our days chill.  The cup is exquisite.  I love the colour, the shape & the feel but it is a little big for every day use. MOTH refers to it as *The Bucket*.

Meanwhile the girl added Googly to my surprise.  Seriously? Love the colour but not sure what to do with him.  I'm not a nick~nack person.  Dust collectors are way too much work.
 As just about everyone in our family is involved in some sort of ministry on Sundays everybody was celebrating Saturday.  ODD got left holding the baby ~ literally.  I had to get back to the island so I was on hand for Sunday & T1 was taking DIL out for dinner in Southbank.  Am wondering how that went as it rained & they were training.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

One boat, absent owner.

My sons have left home... so why was I paddling round our waterfront in pouring rain bailing out a *tinnie* I don't own before it submerged with someone else's motor attached?

I have instructions for the morrow too ~ because the deluge continues & the boat refuses to self~empty.  A mere 2" of freeboard had prompted a call to my son & that lovely panic when the tide has still to peak, he can't do anything & he's not sure his mother is competent.  Easy I was told:wait till the tide recedes, lift the right floor board; the bung has a string attached... Uh~huh...

First there is the mud to deal with ~ black, sticky mud that wraps lovingly around gumboots & seeks a death hold on them. Then there was getting out of the mud & into the boat.

What I wasn't told was the water was putrid.  Bits of old prawn & crab swirled in the bilge. Black mud had turned the water inky & it sloshed above the floorboards. I  fumbled reluctantly with the submerged floor ~ no string. I removed one partition @ the back.  No string.  The other side had all sorts of things attached but I had seen enough to know I would be operating by feel with goodness knows what so I began bailing... while the rain came down. Eventually the water cleared enough for me to see the string & undo the bung, whereupon I stood & watched the slow gurgle of water exit the bunghole. *sigh*

I grew up with boats.  I can manage most things if I have to but there is a reason I don't own a boat.  They are hard work ~ especially in the rain. I'm not sure why one has been left on my waterfront.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Down amongst the mangroves.

 Everywhere  you walk along the edge of the mangroves at a certain time of the year you will find the taffeta flowers of the wild hibiscus. The tallish, rather scraggly trees grow right on the landward edge of the mangroves, their branches hooping as they bow towards the water.
 The flowers are pretty enough if rather insipid & the trees themselves often a mess. For a while there was a rather splendid specimen on the next block but a gum has since crashed through the centre of it squashing it rather & spoiling its splendour.
 They really aren't much to look at but they have one undeniable attraction: for some reason mangrove honeyeaters like to nest in them.  I discovered this by chance one year because honeyeaters are fairly aggressive birds, even the tiny ones & they are hugely territorial.  Round here the males stake their territory by perching at the top of a Red Mangrove [one of our tall mangroves] & announcing himself with a series of bravo calls. These perches also make good watch perches & you will hear alarm calls if a predator is spotted.

In mating season you will hear mated pairs calling to each other & of course I always look around me to see if I can spot a nest.  Personally I think they are quite mad because what I found was particularly insane for a species not renowned for its smarts.

A foot or so above what would be high water the female had pulled together a bunch of hibiscus leaves live & still attached to the tree, all gummied together with spiderweb & a little cup nest of pine needles & twigs nestled in the middle with 2 of the tiniest eggs ever!

Apparently this is something they do & no~one seems to have any idea why.  However I thought it was fantastic & rounded up the kids with clear instructions as to being quiet, not disturbing the mother & only looking at the eggs if she left the nest & never, ever touch!  Nor do we ever share our finds.  Not everyone is as fascinated & careful.

We were able to monitor the eggs & saw the newly hatched chicks, & later just before they flew.  One day they just weren't there & the next season we had huge king tides so there has never been another nest in that particular spot.

However it is not breeding season at the moment so all I saw was the pale crepey flowers of the Wild Hibiscus.
Just above the tide mark I found several tiny downey feathers just touched with blue at the tips ~ breast feathers perhaps & the sort of blue that belongs to a rosella. It was odd.  Rosellas are flock birds & feathers like that aren't usually dropped casually about.  We've occasionally found corpses of sea birds that a large fish or turtle has had a chop on but even those are rare.  Bird bones dissolve fast.

Due to storm damage & someone's bright idea to build an eco~resort that never materialized there is now a huge amount of fallen timber all along the foreshore & places where you have to choose between scrambling up the bank or heading for the mud. Today I chose to go up the bank ~ & found a bird skeleton.  Nothing left to say what it had once been but we have plenty of raptors about like the Brahminy Kite I saw today.

Osprey, like the kites & sea eagles are mostly scavengers & prefer the easy pickings they can scrounge along the mud rather than actually hunting for a meal. Falcons are different.  They are fast & they are killers. One of the lads once got showered in blood & feathers while coming through the door as a raptor snavelled a pigeon right above his head! And when we first moved here a hawk shot under my moving car to snatch a kill on the other side.

Just the same I love having so many raptors about.  Like so many other animals they sometimes do things just for the sheer pleasure of it ~ because they can. The mangroves are almost always still.  The wind doesn't penetrate into their depths but you will hear the raptors scream & when you look up through a break in the mangroves they are riding the thermals for the sheer joy of flight. It gives me such pleasure.