Thursday, August 04, 2022

Afternoon Parade

 I'm sure we've all heard of the Dawn chorus when the sun is still below the horizon but the birds are up and asserting their territorial rights in song. If like me your wake up time is linked very much to sunrise this is a magical time of the day as the songbirds sing their hearts out. It's a joy to listen to but I confess in midsummer when dawn arrives at around 4:30 AM I tend to wake up, listen for a bit and then pull the sheet over my head and doze again for an hour or so. I'm usually up by around six wakened by the sun even with my curtains drawn.

In winter, of course, all this happens much later and I'm usually still tucked in until shortly before the light starts to appear at a little after seven. This means not much time to spend listening to the birds since the day's routine  has to get moving. This is when the alternative of the afternoon parade of birds visiting my birdbath becomes a delight as they vocalise as well as drinking and bathing. They are all so different and come in relays of different species.

The djitti djittis or willy wagtails (one has just rather bravely taken its afternoon bath despite the chilly weather), ravens and laughing doves come whenever they choose unlike the other smaller birds. The ravens are solitary and can appear at any time of day, often bringing some dry bread stolen from a rubbish bin to soak. The only ones prepared to try to dislodge them are the willy wagtails. These small birds smartly dressed in back and white - they remind me of a portly man in a dinner jacket - are convinced that they don't have to retreat for anything or anyone and will take on even bird as much bigger than itself as as a raven. After a few beak clips above the head even the bravest raven will decide it's not worth the discomfort. The doves don't so much bathe as just stand in the water to cool off in the summer and in the winter they've only interested in snatching a drink. They, too, are quickly sent on their way when an angry willy wagtail, less than a quarter the size, lands on the rim of the birdbath and bounces up and down chattering loudly.

The others come in quite distinct groups. 

The first to come are the wattle birds and they arrive from around 4:00 to 4:30. These are mostly red wattle birds but we sometimes get a little wattle bird.They come as singles or pairs and drink then bathe spraying water everywhere and accompanying it all with harsh, raucous cries. In summer they can get quite wet and then they move out to sit on the fence to fluff out their feathers and dry off a little. 

Next it's the smaller honeyeaters about half an hour later. We have several resident species - brown honeyeaters, singing honeyeaters and New Holland honeyeaters. These come in ones and twos, sometimes threes, and of them by far the most striking are the New Holland honeyeaters with their handsome vertically streaked black and white coats. The brown honeyeaters are, well, brown as are the singing honeyeaters but these sport a black patch over their eyes making my children call them bandit birds. They are unfortunately very fond of grapes so we lose a large part of our crop to them every year. These all drink then bathe quickly before flying up to the nearby banana palms to fluff and dry off.

Once the honeyeaters are done successive little chirping flocks of much smaller brown birds flutter in like so many tiny falling leaves. I've managed only to identify weebills which come from time to time. The others remain a mystery, what an ornithologist friend of mine calls LBBs - little brown birds. They don't stop only snatching a drink on the wing or skimming their bellies across the water's surface. 

And then we're done.  I have to confess this parade is very distracting because the bird bath is in clear view from my study window and when my attention wanders - and it does more than it should I'm afraid - I spend time when I should be doing other things watching the parade and listening to the birdsong chorus from high in the trees as daylight fades.

Monday, July 25, 2022

I've Been Sick

I suppose I should fill you in little although  I have mentioned before that I have chronic health problems. This means I need to be very care about how much I do because if I push myself too far my body decides I'm not listening to what it needs and takes its own action. This means I fall in a heap where all I can do is go to bed and sleep. 

I knew I was pushing things because since my hospital stay in December I've been battling the residual effects of my injury - the nerve damage may never heal fully  - and I should have realised that this meant I wouldn't be able to do what I was used to doing - but I didn't or maybe I was just ignoring the signs. Whatever the reason I fell in a heap and ended up barely able to get up let alone do anything.

The  problem was that we have a lot to do around here - there are some essential repairs which need attention and these won't wait.So I just kept pushing and pushing, ran out of spoons and paid the price. If you haven't heard of Spoon Theory with regard to chronic health problems I recommend you look at Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino where she explains the problems of living with chronic disease using spoons. Sounds bizarre but when you watch the video you'll see the logic. 

I'm out of spoons again today - we discovered a leak into my fabric stash cupboard so everything had to be pulled out, sorted to decide what was ruined and had to be discarded and what to keep and I'm less than halfway that process. Now after some repairs by Virgo's husband who is always kind enough to respond when we need help with such things, I have realised that I need to destash at least to some degree. If you've never heard of this term nor had I until I was talking with my artist niece who knows about such things. Destashing is when you let go (ideally to a good home) most or at least some of the accumulated collection of whatever you've collected to feed your craft/hobby - and if you've been knitting and quilting for as long as I have there's a lot. It turns out to my amazement that here are actual websites devoted to this!

I still have to decide on what to keep - I'm not finished quilting and  knitting yet  - but with the damage forcing me to sort things out it seems a good time to at least rationalise what I have and only keep those items I really need to. I'm pretty sure I won't have the spoons to tackle it quickly but it will get done if more slowly than I'd like it to.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

I'm Still Here

 despite multiple frustrations.

For a start I'm still only able to access my Blogger Dashboard on Firefox and I can't comment on anyone else's blog  with any other browser if they use Google for their comment section. Weird and irritating if hardly earth shaking.

Much more concerning is that my eyesight is worsening. I've known this was coming eventually - I just hoped eventually would be a lot further off. This change means I'm having to take some practical steps to make life easier and safer. As I think I've mentioned before I've been seeing an occupational therapist who specialises with vision impairment as well as back problems and she has been helping me with the equipment I'll need to be able to stay in this house in the long term. 

This is not a cheap exercise. So far I've got a new bed - and very comfortable it is, too. Why I didn't realise just how much a sagging old bed was affecting my back I don't know. I guess I'd just kept compensating by adding pillows, none of which was actually doing the job. So now I'm sleeping better - and Puss and I still have room to share. In a side note which is probably of no interest to anyone but me  my old bed was taken away by the local council this morning to wherever old beds go and the space it was taking up is now free.

Then there's my office where my old chair had just become unusable when I started this process. Virgo had left an old one of hers when she moved out and although I'd made vague attempts at giving it away no-one had been interested. This was just as well as it turned out as it filled the gap while I was waiting for a better replacement. The new one finally arrived a few days ago - where it's been since it was ordered nearly five months ago I have no idea - we've been joking that it must have required someone to make each component by hand - and it is so, so much more comfortable.

The next step is to sort out the lighting. My artist niece introduced me to daylight lamps and -  now there's a floor lamp for the family room where I have a new armchair which offers back support - and before anyone asks, yes, I should have realised long ago that trying to use an armchair with no back support and designed for someone with much longer legs than me was making my bad back worse. I guess until now when my back injury is affecting my ability to walk, there hadn't seemed any necessity. Well, there is now if I want to stay here living a relatively normal life. There's also a daylight desk lamp for my office about to come into my life - and there is to be under the cupboard bench top lighting in the kitchen. Swoon - as my vision has declined that whole area has become impossible for me to use except in bright sunlight. Since the last item is quite  cheap we're also going to invest in cupboard lights that come on when you open the door. Who knew such things existed!

The next thing to deal with is the garden. With my mobility somewhat impaired and unlikely to improve we need steps and rails and raised beds so I can continue to move around safely and work in the garden - we're on the side of a hill so there is more than one level to the yard - and we're busy getting quotses for these items. We do already have new rails for the existing steps so I can get to one of the lower parts of the garden safely - and safety is a crucial factor in much of the outside area. Some of the rest will have to wait for a while as will updating the rest of my office at least until we save up a bit. In the meantime things are already looking better and I foresee a brighter future - pun definitely intended.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Password Woes

 Yesterday I had occasion to download something from the App store - I've been working with an OT to make things a little easier around here since my back problems have  left me with some mobility problems and she had suggested an app that could help. She found it on my phone and I put in my email address and then my password - and nothing happened. I tried again - and again.  Still nothing. Did I have the right password? Did I have the right case? she helpfully asked Well, yes to all her suggestions, but by now I had the distinct feeling that she was beginning to think I was some sort of idiot and had just stupidly forgotten it. 

We moved on to some other things and when she left I went back to trying to get it to work. Nope, not happening. I checked and everything else on the computer was working as it should. I even tried turning the whole thing off and on again. No change, nada, zilch. So I decided to click on the "Forgotten your password?" tab and change my password. Good idea you might think? Well, it would have been if I could get it to accept any of the passwords I tried. I'd enter them, click on continue - and nothing would happen. I tried multiple different variations and then things moved up a notch. I began getting a message which read "An unidentified error has occurred." This did not fill me with much hope but I pressed on trying one password after another. 

Then I got an email saying my password had been changed. Well, that wasn't much help, was it. Which of the twenty or more passwords I'd tried had it now decided to accept? I hadn't a clue. By now I had been trying to get this to work for close to four hours and my patience was wearing extremely thin so I muttered a few words my mother would definitely not have approved of, gritted my teeth and tried again - and it worked. I had to update my other devices - and it worked there, too.

I have no idea what caused the problem - I guess I never will - but this whole debacle proves what I've always said about computers - they're wonderful when they work.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Decluttering - Again - Or Should It Be Still

 I've been decluttering for  - well, it seems like forever. We have to move all the furniture soon to get our new flooring down so it seemed a good opportunity to get rid of all the surplus "stuff" that has wound its way into the house so when we move the furniture it won't be such hard work. Ive been working through the house and have established an area where things go until they finally make their way out the door.  There are designated boxes for various charities - these are all ready to be taken out now - and as well there items to be put up on the local Buy Nothing website. We've ordered a skip for the weekend to take a load of broken and and other useless junk so I am under  some pressure to get everything that needs to go in it sorted but I'm not panicking too much as I do see yet another skip in the not too distant future.

Today's decluttering area was my office/craft room. I've been working through the house and this is the last big area I have to get into. While the office part is relatively organised - I tidied the shelves and cupboards a while back and got rid of a lot of what I no longer needed - the craft section was not in the same pristine condition. I had got as far as sorting my sewing bits and pieces and I have to say the drawers of my sewing table and sewing machine equipment are looking pretty good. 

I can't say the same about the rest of the are, though. This is partly due to my having lost momentum after when I hurt my back and was incapacitated for several months but if I'm honest it's also because I knew it would be a big job so I've been working through the rest of the house while building up - how shall I describe it since enthusiasm is definitely not the right word - maybe sufficient incentive to tackle it is closer to correct. 

In the end it was all that was left to be sorted so that's where I've been today. I hardly knew where to begin because I've always been keen on making things with my hands so I've collected quite a lot of materials. In the end I decided to attack the knitting because I thought it would be the easiest. My wool stash is already safely stored in a cedar wood chest so it should have been only knitting needles and other tools - or so I thought. So you can imagine my surprise when I found a half finished Aran jumper. I do remember starting this some years ago but why I never finished it is a complete mystery. I've always loved knitting complex patterns especially Arans - as anyone looking in the drawers where I store my woollens would know - so that I started it is no surprise, it's just why it's still sitting there unfinished that's a puzzle. For now it's set aside until I can fix the line I know will be visible where I left off too long ago.

That aside I've now got all the knitting paraphernalia sorted - and there's a lot. Assorted needles of all different sizes and types, row counters, stitch holders, wool sewing needles, crochet hooks and these are just some of them. So the next time the urge to knit strikes - and it will now winter is here and it's chilly - I have all my knitting needs at hand. I'm just hoping I don't find anything else that has been sitting there out of sight, unloved and unfinished for a long time. Tomorrow I'm moving on to the patchwork section.Wish me luck.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Australia Has Voted

 On Saturday we as a nation girded our loins, stood in the queues for our ballot papers and pencil all in a COVID safe social distancing way, filled them in and posted them in the ballot boxes. Then we went out to enjoy our Democracy sausages. Then all that was left to do was to wait for the counting to start which it did as soon as the polls closed at 6:00 PM. 

If you haven't heard of a Democracy sausage you're obviously not from Australia. To bring you up date with this very Australian custom I should explain that polling places here are largely placed at schools and other community buildings. Because we have compulsory voting and there are consequently crowds the school P & C  (Parents & Citizens) associations and others have been taking the opportunity to fund raise with stalls selling baked goods and other things probably since Federation.

This all went up a notch in the mid 1980s. That's when we noticed our local primary school adding a sausage sizzle - a freshly cooked sausage wrapped in slice of buttered bread with tomato sauce. They weren't the only ones with that idea, of course, and soon the sausage sizzle had spread across the country and morphed to cater for just about everyone by adding vegetarian sausages, buns with a choice of condiments - and sometimes fried onion.  Yum.

Somewhere around 2010 we started to hear the term Democracy sausage being used and soon everyone was calling it that. Well, why wouldn't we. Australians take their voting seriously but we also like a bit of fun along the way. It wasn't long before there were websites showing just where you could get your Democracy sausage and which places had the best menu. From then pretty much everyone I know was saying they were going to get their Democracy sausage instead of saying they were going to vote. 

I missed out on mine this year. Due to my inability to stand for long periods - at the busiest part of the day the queues can mean you are standing for quite some time - I did a pre-poll vote. This is an early voting option - they are open for about a fortnight prior to election day and cater for those who are disabled or who for whatever reason will be unable to attend a polling place on polling day. Alternatively you can cast a postal vote and as well this year there was the additional option of phone voting for those forced into isolation by COVID. We do like to make sure everyone who is eligible is enrolled and can vote here. 

As Pisces took me to the pre-polling place he was able to vote there as well but there was a problem. He was so conflicted at missing out on his Democracy sausage he actually considered going to our local primary school and buying one. Commonsense prevailed sort of because while he stayed home he decided he'd cook sausages for lunch.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Ear Worm Songs

 After I found the clip for Right Said Fred a couple of weeks ago I seem to have unleashed a lot of memories of songs and other silliness that were mostly complete nonsense but which were very popular for a while and have stuck in my memory. Some were way before my time in their first iteration but would be replayed for a new audience when some DJ would take a trip down memory lane. Not all such trips were well advised but some were gems. Here are a couple you may have heard and enjoyed or which may be new to you. Enjoy.

The Thing sung by Phil Harris

Then there was The Ball Bearing Bird by Frankie Davidson


And how could I forget Star Trekkin' by The Firm