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‘Time’s Fun When You’re Havin’ Flies’ – Kermit The Frog.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

frog-under-leafMy garden is home to a number of frogs.  I know this because, although I don’t actually see them very often, I hear them all the time . . .  (although, maybe not quite so much lately.  This summer has been so hot perhaps they have been, literally, keeping their heads down and staying where it’s dark and cool . . . )

But the temperature dropped slightly over the weekend and we even had a bit of rain . . .

(. . .  by the way, commiserations to all those of you who have recently had ‘more than a bit’ of rain. A nice cleansing shower is one thing, but no-one needs the biblical deluges some places received . . . )  

frogandmegaphoneAnyway . . . back to the frogs.   The front door was open to catch the fresh breeze and the girls and I were enjoying a quiet moment.  I was reading (and enjoying the sound of the rain pattering softly outside) and the girls were dozing in their favourite doggie spots.  Suddenly, and totally unexpectedly, our peace was shattered by an almighty bellow which brought us all immediately to our feet.  (Poor Molly, woke up with such a fright she actually rolled off the sofa!)  It took me several minutes to realise (and several more minutes to calm the dogs down) that the sound was actually coming from a frog . . . and that frog was right outside my front door . . .

tinyfrogAlthough initially a bit wary about confronting any creature that could make a sound like that, I ‘manned up’ and went outside to look.  I was astonished (gobsmacked!) to find that the loudest frog I had ever heard also turned out to be one of the teeniest, tiniest, itty-bittiest creatures I have ever seen—a tiny green speck of a thing, perched contentedly on my front porch and happily telling everyone who would listen (like the whole neighbourhood) how much he was enjoying the rain.

I admit it.  I did spend some time ferreting around in the bushes close by searching for his godzilla-proportioned older brother (who was obviously also a practising ventriloquist) because . . .  well . . . no way!   I just could not get my head around that sound coming out of that frog . . .

But it did.  It really did.  And it kind of made my day . . .

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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody ever seems to do anything about it.’ Willard Scott.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . .

Before coming to work this morning I tuned in briefly to America’s ‘CBS This Morning’ and watched the reports of the massive winter storms that have been sweeping certain parts of that country.  People were being warned to stay inside, take extreme care when going out of doors, try to stay warm . . . .

too hotWe here in Australia received almost identical warnings last weekend, with one major exception—we were told to stay inside, take extreme care when going out of doors, and to try to stay cool . . .

Last Sunday the temperature in Port Macquarie reached 47 degrees Celsius (116.6F) which is extraordinarily hot for almost anywhere, but especially so for us here on the New South Wales mid-north coast.  We rarely get extremes of weather around here—hot or cold (one of its many attractions as far as I am concerned . . . )

dogwithfanAs you can imagine my little household took the warnings very much to heart and our weekend was spent doing as little as humanly (or doggily) possible. Mabel and Maude’s only discernible movements were in staggering back and forth to the waterbowl in the kitchen or occasionally re-aligning themselves in front of one of the several fans which were running at full capacity around the living room . . .

Molly did even less than that.  Not known for over-extending herself at the best of times, Molly made it perfectly clear from very early on in the day that she was literally going to die if she had to get up and walk all the way into the kitchen every time she needed a drink of water.  Eventually, after much puffing, panting, groaning and beseeching looks cast in my direction ( I am such a sucker) a water dish was obligingly laid at her poor hot little feet . . .

Thus ‘molly-fied’ (ha—couldn’t resist that) she then spent the rest of a very trying day ‘resting’ under a cool wet towel . . . reapplied at appropriate intervals by her favourite chump of a hand-maiden, of course.

It’s a hard knock life . . .

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I have made many mistakes in my life. Rescuing an animal is not one of them.’ Anon.

I have been forced to enact a couple of ‘wildlife rescues’ this week, albeit very small ones . . .

On Tuesday, during my usual opening-up-the-office-routine (doing the important stuff like turning on the coffee machine and the air-conditioners) I saw, from the corner of my eye, something scuttle quickly across the carpet near my desk.  My first thought was (as always) ‘Spider!’—those suckers can really move—but, of course, by the time I looked again it had vanished.

sneakyspiderThe sight of a spider in the office (or, in this case the mere possibility of one) would normally induce me to ‘down tools’ immediately and find someone to remove it (usually the boss—she’s weird—she actually likes spiders) but as I was on my own I had no choice but to go and find it myself (and, let’s face it, here was no earthly way I was going to be sitting at that desk without making sure I knew exactly what was moving around underneath it!)

Well it wasn’t a spider, but a lizard (Phew!)  A little water-dragon like the one pictured below.

waterdragonI think he was only a baby, and very cute, but he still glared at me quite crossly when I attempted to ‘shoo’ him out the front door.  He was having none of it.  It took me a full twenty minutes of chasing him up and down hallways, crawling under desks (banging my head twice) and several fits of giggles (from me, not him) before I eventually managed to drop a plastic container over him and halt him in his tracks.  I released him in the park across the street with a stern warning to ‘stay out of my office’.  He turned to give me one final angry glare before vanishing into the undergrowth . . . .

And then there was the little bird.  Sigh.  Poor little bird. . .

catbirdAbout two weeks ago I noticed a little injured bird in my front garden.  He had a broken wing but I couldn’t get anywhere near him, so decided it was probably best to let nature take its course.  A couple of days later I realised he had taken up residence in the bushes near my letterbox.  In spite of his broken wing he seemed quite perky so I decided to leave him be.  I honestly thought he would probably die of natural causes, but I left him some seed and a little tub of water and hoped for the best. A week later he was still there but then, overnight, he vanished.  I thought he must finally have succumbed to his injuries . . . or been eaten by the neighbour’s cat . . .

angrywomanUntil yesterday.  Hearing a huge ruckus outside my living room window I went out to find three huge magpies attacking the same little bird.  Two little rosellas were also screaming at the top of their lungs and darting in and out in front of the magpies, seemingly trying to distract them, but to no avail.  I, of course, ran out like a madwoman, waving my arms about and shouting, also to no avail.  I had to actually take off my shoe and whack one of the magpies with it before the others retreated. The little bird then staggered over to me and hid behind my foot (who said they had no brains?) The magpies weren’t giving up their prize with out a fight though and returned with a vengeance every time my back was turned.  It took a lot more flailing about with my shoe—and Mabel, Maude and Molly all howling insults from behind the screen door—before I managed to get the little bird safely away.

Long story short (sorry about that)—’little bird’ is now in a cage (actually it’s a metal dog crate because that’s all I had) up high on a table on my back verandah (not only do I have to protect him from murderous magpies, but I noticed Mabel and Maude were showing a rather ‘unhealthy’ interest in him too . . . )  So, bless, he now not only has the broken wing but also several nasty puncture wounds to contend with.  In spite of this, he lived through the night, and shouted angrily at me this morning when I went to check on him (there’s gratitude for you) so perhaps he is still not ready to die just yet . . .  Today I am going to hand him over to someone who will know how to properly look after him.  Now that he is ‘safe’ I don’t want to, in my ignorance, do him any more damage . . .

And, speaking of ignorance, I am thinking I should probably also brush up on my ‘rescue’ skills, or at least do a bit of reading on the best way to handle such situations should they happen again.  I am sure there are less stressful (for the animals and for me) ways of going about these things.watching tv

But, until then, I might try and confine any wildlife rescues to something a wee bit less fraught . . .  like watching them on the telly . . .

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Who needs snowflakes when you have seashells . . .’ Unknown.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

dogtellyI had the telly on a lot last weekend.  I admit, most of the time I wasn’t even watching it, it was just background noise. But every now and then, when I needed a break, I’d stop what I was doing, go make a cup of tea and settle myself onto the couch and ‘drop in’ to watching whatever was on at that moment.

christmassnoopyThis time of year, of course, it’s pretty much Christmas movie after Christmas movie.  Many of them I have seen before (some of them I can even recite the dialogue . . . )  and most are fun to watch again (although, even at this time of year I can only digest so much sugar . . . ) but it still strikes me every year how seriously weird it is to be watching Christmas movies where everything is all over ice and snow, everyone is rugged up in coats, scarves and boots—and I am dressed in a sun-frock and have all the doors and windows open hoping to catch even the slightest of breezes . . .

lucy-snowI am not complaining.  At all.  I spent a number of Christmasses in Europe (albeit many years ago now) and although I have very fond memories of them I honestly do not miss that kind of cold.  It looks all very lovely and romantic on chocolate boxes and yuletide cards and in Christmas movies, but the day to day getting about and living in it is a whole different story.  So, weird as it feels sometimes, I am quite content to watch those kind of Christmasses from afar.

But to my friends and family overseas who do enjoy a cold and frosty Christmasgo for it!  Eat, Drink and be Merry!  (You can fill me in on the details later . . . )  

The girls and I are thinking of you all . . . and sending warm (literally) and sandy hugs across the miles . . .

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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Which hand do you use to pick up a dangerous snake? Someone else’s . . . ‘

leaving home (2)Well, that’s it.  It’s decided.  We have to leave town.

OK.  Wait a minute though.  Big breaths.  Perhaps . . . just-perhaps-and-ever-so-slightly-possibly . . . leaving town might be somewhat of an over-reaction . . . maybe . . .

. . . but this week the girls and I had our very first encounter with a snake.  And I didn’t like it.  At all.

I know what you are going to say.  I live in Australia, so I should be used to seeing snakes and spiders and all manner of creepie-crawlies on a daily basis.  Right?  Well—yes—to a point (and you may remember from an earlier post my views on the Australian spider population)—but snakes?  Nope.  Nuh huh.  No.  Up until now I have never had a close-up real-life encounter with a snake, and quite honestly, I am absolutely, positively and most definitely sure I could have continued on and lived my life quite happily without the experience.

We all know that snakes are around, especially those of us living in country areas.  We are warned about them almost on a daily basis, and told to be on the lookout for them, especially in the summer months.  In spite of this I found myself totally unprepared.

snake waving (2)We were on our way home from our afternoon walk.  We’d been on a lovely wander along the sea wall, had cut through the bushy track and walked through the park (where there is so much leaf litter and long grass that you honestly wouldn’t be able to see a 100 snakes having a birthday party unless they stood up and waved to you) and were coming back along the busy footpath into our street.

screamingI was actually looking further down the road as I had just spotted Lenny patrolling his front yard.  (Lenny is a lovely big Boxer boy (hence ‘Lenny’—as in ‘Sugar Ray’) but he and Maudie like to give each other grief every time we go past his house so I was rallying myself for the confrontation.)  Suddenly there was a commotion at my feet and the girls all at once ran directly in front of me, tangling my legs in their leads and causing me to stumble and look down.  And there it was.  Clear as day.  It slithered right between all of our legs.  I am surprised you didn’t hear me from where you were.

Terriers are renowned for chasing down and killing snakes but interestingly (and thank you God) on their very first exposure to one my girls’ first reaction was to run away from it, dragging me with them (they are such good girls).  Just as well really, as I was pretty much rooted to the spot.  Happily, the snake seemed equally keen to escape and sped away from us across the road and into the park.

(The girls were immediately informed that we are never going to set foot into that park again.  In fact, they might be lucky to even get another walk outside this summer.)

4c9arLBcEThe snake was, I am reliably informed by a very nice man who came over to see what all the fuss was about, a young Eastern Brown Snake.  Lovely.  One of the most venomous snakes in the country.  Not that that counts for much in my mind.  Any snake in Australia that is non-venomous (so few and far between as to be not worth mentioning) is still more than likely to scare you to death anyway.

That wasn’t quite the end of it of course.  By the time I got us all home I had convinced myself that  any one of the dogs could have been bitten during all the kerfuffle without me realizing it.  I googled all the symptoms for snake bite in dogs (don’t ever do that by the way—it will give you nightmares) and then proceeded to completely freak the dogs out by following them obsessively around the house and garden for the next couple of hoursjust to make sure they weren’t vomiting or fitting or collapsing or swelling up or . . . Poor Mabel began to give me a haunted, stalked kind of look over her shoulder every time she got up to go outside for a pee . . .snake&person (2)

At the end of the day though it was all good.  No-one had been bitten and I only lost of a couple of years off my life through fright.  The snake also got away unscathed and is now free to spend the rest of its life growing to anaconda-size proportions in our local park ready to scare the life out of other unsuspecting walkers and their dogs.

Mmmmmm . . .  rethinking again . . . the possibility of leaving town is still on the table  . . .

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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