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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Koalas Aren't Real

Flower Garden

Living on the mountain means it’s four degrees cooler than on the Gold Coast. It’s late November and at 5pm I’m sporting a cardigan; a very unattractive grey cardigan with balling and moth holes attached but the mountain folk don't care.

If I was in Townsville I’d probably still be able to fry an egg on the walls of my bedroom at 5pm. Not even joking.

I still work down on the coast though and this morning it was quite hot. We spent half an hour on the oval playing dodgeball with grade sixes and I almost fainted. I don’t know how people can be P.E teachers. They're bloody super humans if you ask me. I almost faint when I stand in a queue at Coles so I don't know how they do it all day in the sun.

But because it’s so cool up here in the afternoons, Scotto and I feel like doing various recreational activities after work. Get your minds out of the gutter, I mean stuff like hiking and gardening.

Scotto and I walk at least three times a week through the national park up here on the mountain and often whilst slipping along the treacherously muddy path, I hear a cat screaming. This cat screams at the top of its lungs as if a savage Bull Mastiff has accosted it up a tree or as if an illegal New South Wales Greyhound has it by the throat. Sometimes the cat hits a high C note with its terrifying shrieks. It’s quite disturbing; especially for the cat.

I keep asking Scotto if we should try to push through the snake-infested rainforest undergrowth to save the cat from imminent death but he just grunts at me and we continue puffing on our hike.

But I’ve recently been informed by my son, Thaddeus (who visited last weekend), that it isn’t a cat that’s screaming but merely a koala and that’s the normal sound koala bears make in the wild. 

Not that I’ve ever seen a koala in the wild. In fact I highly doubt any koalas even exist in the wild. I think it’s a myth. I’m bloody old and have lived in Australia all my life so why haven’t I ever seen one?

Clearly, koalas died out years ago and the whole koala thing is a conspiracy.

Oh yes, I cuddled one once for a photo… at a zoo… but perhaps it was just a robot koala. Who knows really?

So anyway, I do wonder why someone has placed a mechanical koala in the middle of the rainforest to alarm a middle-aged, cat aficionado, adventurous bush hiking woman but I suppose people get their kicks in strange ways.

I saw a dead deer in the middle of the road last week on my way to work. It was a proper Bambi with spots on its back and everything. What the actual??? A deer? If I’d seen a dead koala I might have just thought, “Eeergh! That poor Android koala. I hope the council workers come and scrape it away soon, or at least after their smoko break.”

But why was there a dead DEER in the middle of the road in sunny, hot Queensland? There are signs on the side of the road saying. “Beware of Deer Crossing!”

Naturally I thought it was a joke, an ironic Christmas joke or something.

Speaking of wildlife, we’ve begun taking our happy hour wines out in the backyard when we let the chickens enjoy a romp every arvo.

One of us had the stupid idea that I should buy some meat strips to feed the Kookaburras and Magpies and now our back yard resembles a scene from The Birds Vs Chicken Run. The carnivorous birds don’t fancy mince or cheap cuts though. Of course not, the pernickety buggers only partake of expensive gourmet beef strips.

We look out towards the back yard at 5:30pm and there are aggressive-looking Kookaburras squatting in the gum tree, perched ominously on the backs of our chairs or balanced on the bird bath with their mandibles clacking hungrily. Various Magpies and Butcher Birds hover, stalking us from the pool fence. Not to mention the King Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets and wild Budgerigars that come for the seed we put out for them.

It’s like a form of emotional flockmail.

P.S. Please don’t be a killjoy and tell me I shouldn’t be feeding wild birds. 

People who say that give me the shits.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nativity Insensitivity

Image Credit

I worked in a school today where I’ve worked quite a lot this year, mainly teaching drama to replace the music teacher.

It has been an experience teaching drama to Preps (under 6s in case you were wondering).

Today I was mandated to teach grade 3 and Prep and I manipulated my plan to encompass both age groups.

For the unfamiliar, teaching Preps is basically teaching illiterates… it’s a big bloody challenge.

Firstly, Preps can’t read.

Secondly, Preps only have the memory capacity of a scrub tick.

Thirdly, Preps cry a lot about pretty much nothing. Like even if they have a memory of a pet they never met that died, they just start with the old uncontrollable sobbing.

I’ll be like, “So Dusty was your parent's Blue Heeler that was put down because it savaged a sheep and died before you were born and you’re now crying?”

“Yes,” they sob. “But I still miss him. I lubbed him!”

My plan for the day was basically a shite load of warm up games and then a vastly modified re-enactment of the greatest story in history: The Nativity.
Well, it is nearly Christmas so I thought I was on theme.

When I arrived at sparrow’s fart, I scoured the music room for resources and discovered two moth eaten robes for Mary and Joseph, a star on a stick for the Angel (which I kept mistakenly referring to as “the fairy”) and an owl puppet wrapped in a purple veil which represented ”the baby Jesus’.

The problems which ensued were numerous.

The robes were far too long and the various six year old Marys kept catapulting into the Angel during the bit when she took offence at being informed she was ‘with child’. Mary consequently tripped, unceremoniously took down the various expensive guitars spaced out in the music room and landed splat down own her face and started... well... crying.

The response when the diminutive Joseph found out his betrothed was preggas with the Son of God was invariably a bit over the top for a six year old. 

He shouted, “Who’s the father then? Is it Colin from number 25? The bastard!”

I just made that up.

Or did I?

The amount of giggling over Mary as she was handed a purple veiled puppet owl in the guise of our Lord and Saviour took away from the credibility somewhat.

“Why is Jesus an owl?” they howled in laughter.

“It’s symbolic,” I countered. “Jesus was wise and so are owls!”

I don’t think they bought it. Even though Preps are clueless they can be quite canny.

I must comment that the fairy (I mean angel) who delivered the owl ( Baby Jesus) when Mary gave birth was a bit rough in her handling of the Son of God. 

Baby Jesus precariously dangled by one thumb and index finger and I thought the angel (fairy) might have been a bit more sensitive. 

I might add I didn’t encourage the re-enactment of labour pains or anything but I did expect a certain element of realism which was sadly lacking.

That’s just my review anyway.

I don’t think it would have passed muster at a BAFTA awards night anyway. But I still think I have a bit of a knack with children's theatre.

Any suggestions for improvement?

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Bucolic Alcoholic

Bucolic scene on Tambo Mountain

I was trying to explain to my father my desire to transform the “snake pit” in our backyard (which has been cleared of debris at great expense) into an English country garden.

We’d thought about designing a Japanese garden but seriously, the idea of pruning and cultivating miniature plants and all the origami involved did our heads in. Plus the fact that Buddha statues are a bit passé and dare I say, 'Bogan'.

Instead we’ve opted for a rambling, straggly, perambulating English type thing which has been passé for so long it’s now IN (or so I’m led to believe by that show on the telly about English stuff).

I was describing my erudite vision to my discerning father as we both perched on our back patio and shooed flies from our various orifices.

“I want chickens meandering around in the manure… and cascading vines,” I waffled as if I were a character from a Bronte novel.

He nodded sagely in agreement.

“And bird baths and verdant hedges,” I continued in a flurry of enthusiastic zeal. “ And a pond with goldfish and shrubbery and daisies and stepping stones and gnomes.”
He furrowed his brow. “You lost me at gnomes,” he interrupted tersely.

“But… but surely one gnome would be alright?” I pleaded. “One little terracotta gnome tucked half out of sight? No one would even notice it.”

“No,” he asserted with a death knell type tone in his voice. “Gnomes are kitsch, Pinky. Don't have a gnome.”

I shut up... but I’m still getting a gnome. I don’t care if they’re kitsch. 

My father is kitsch. 

We’ve ordered a custom made wooden carved sign from the local markets for the chicken coop (which houses our surviving Pekin chickens; Hodor, Ygritte and Jon Snow).

It’s in an Old English font and says, “Winterfowl”. 

My father will probably think that’s kitsch too.

The guy we ordered the sign from was quite disparaging.

“I hate Game of Thrones,” he scoffed. “I tried to watch it but it was boring, it was the same episode over and over.”

I almost immediately cancelled the order on the grounds that he surely must be an idiot but then realised that maybe I’m the idiot and also because I don’t know anyone else who is willing to make a silly, hand carved sign for a chicken coop for thirty-five dollars.

Dad, in a fit of unusual generosity, gifted us a rubbish cubby house he wanted to get rid of but which fits perfectly in our future country garden. 

What do you think?

I think it’s a perfect home for a gnome or two. Or maybe even a family of gnomes actually…

Are you a gnome racist or do you think they're charming?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

R.I.P. Khaleesi

The only chicken a Chihuahua should eat!

So there I was, staring vacantly out the kitchen window, waiting for the jug to boil for coffee, when I suddenly noticed one of our baby chickens was merrily pecking OUTSIDE the fudging coop!

“THE FUDGING CHICKENS ARE OUT!” I screamed to no-one in particular but very loudly and in an accusatory manner as if it was someone else’s fault.

Panic ensued.

Scotto and I, tore outside towards the coop. I was first there and swept little “Eejit” (the ginger chicken) from the ground and placed her back in the safety of the coop. Third on the scene was a puffing Scotto but he was beaten to the scene of massacre by the wily and expeditious Chihuahua, Pablo (who was in actual fact already in residence and had beaten us all to the genocide).

“Khaleesi” our whitey chick, lay strewn on the ground like it was asleep (but in a really bad, uncomfortable sleep). There was no blood but the Chihuahua sat with an incriminating white feather glued onto his diabolical muzzle.

I gasped and spun around trying to site the other two missing chicks. Somehow they had escaped the coop and the Chihuahua had sprinted down the garden and managed to throttle Khaleesi.

Nek minit, Pablo had our little black chick, Jon Snow, by the throat. It all happened in a flash. I screamed (out of some sort of primitive instinct) and Pablo dropped the black chick (as abruptly as Mariah Carey dropped James Packer) and I grasped the poor creature from the jaws of death into my hands and hoisted him to safety.

"Hodor", the weird-looking chick, was still missing. We searched high and low. We searched low and high. Eventually we decided to get a glass of wine and see if he would just… appear.

We are optimistic types.

Nek minit, who should arise from the ashes but Hodor! Shaking out his feathers from behind a rock where he’d been interred in undoubted terror he was suddenly alive. Meanwhile, Pablo the Chihuahua had been banished in disgrace to the kitchen.

Scotto went in search of a plastic bag for the recently passed Khaleesi in order to bury her in the wheelie bin.

When he returned to where I sat perched on a rock watching the chickens, he was a bit distraught.

“I gave her CPR but she didn’t respond,” he rasped.

“Did you do mouth to beak or just the compressions?”
I asked, slightly curious.

“Everything I could,” he answered, wiping the sweat from his brow.

“Did you do the compressions to the beat of ‘Staying Alive’ or the ‘Chicken Dance’?" I enquired gently.

“A mixture,” he answered inexplicably.

We sat for a while pondering on the loss of our beloved chicken and how and when we should punish our despicable, murderous Chihuahua.

“You know that sometimes chickens play dead,” 
I commented softly.

Scotto arose slowly and went back to the wheelie bin.

He said that he gently shook the plastic bag but there was no movement whatsoever. 

Then he went back a half hour later and the result was the same. 

I don’t think Khaleesi was playing dead.

Please don’t think I’m making fun of the death of my chicken because I’m not. Chickens have feelings. That’s why I don’t eat them.

I might start eating Chihuahuas though.