Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Digging in the Dirt

What is it that's so satisfying about watering tomato plants? Is it the tangy scent that arises with the addition of water? – a mood-lifting 'thank you' from the plants themselves? Or is it the promise of mega-delicious, juicy tomatoes down the track? I have no idea. It's one of those ponderables that I like to, well, ponder, on a summer's evening when I'm too knackered to do anything else.

I spent almost all of today in my garden. It's been sadly neglected during term time.

A few years ago, I realised I'd become middle-aged, when I realised how much pleasure was to be had making a garden. Sure, I'd chucked in the odd tomato or pansy in my life, but actually trying to make a garden from scratch, with limited funds, limited time and shitty soil... A whole new exciting/frustrating/infuriating/rewarding world emerged.


The best (and worst) thing about it is that it's a perpetual Work In Progress. It's NEVER FINISHED! For someone who likes to have closure of a project this is, um, tricky. And yet somehow, it works.

I love how I can pick up my yoke (or spade) and continue the Good Fight, no matter what. Like today. Holy crap, I was out there before 7am. I was digging, mattocking, manuring, mulching, transplanting, planting.... all before lots of people had managed to have their first cuppa. Admittedly, I was making up for lost time.

Then, when I got tired, I went to the Mall. And when I came back, refreshed, I got back into the garden.

I FILLED the TRASH-PAK. Many times over. I squished and compressed and squished again. The Trash-Pak is probably 95% full now. I didn't call it a day until around 5.30 this arv. That's not a bad day's work.

When I started writing this post I thought I had a reasonable amount of residual energy stored somewhere (clearly not in my nose... after clearing all the ivy/dead leaves/leaf-litter from that bit of my yard this arv, I'm still blowing stuff out of my nose that scares me. I'm convinced it's full of earwig turds.) I was wrong. There is no residual energy. I'm all done in. Now that I've sat down and relaxed a bit, I realise 'done in' doesn't even begin to cover it. I'm knackered, stuffed, absolutely buggered - and I suspect I will ache all over tomorrow. Night night!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Life with Miffy - feline dementia

After another 3.30am wake-up, courtesy of Miffy the Geriatric Cat, and yet another toileting disaster - hers, not mine! - I'm running out of humour, bicarb of soda - and incense.

Things are getting difficult - and a bit smelly. I wonder whether Miffy finds it as distressing as I do? As her poor old brain deteriorates, she becomes increasingly stuck in weird behavioural loops, and is often confused.

Like this morning. At 3.30am. Picture this:

Loud yowling wakes me (and probably half the neighbourhood) again. The kitty body-clock is seriously out of whack. I get out of bed and turn on the light. Miffy is sitting in the bathroom, waiting to go through the routine. This is how it's supposed to go:

Human turns on tap in bath. Cat jumps into bath, drinks water from tap. Cat jumps out. Human turns off tap. Life goes on.

Holes are starting to form in even this simple and well-worn routine. I turn on the tap. Miffy hauls herself up and into the bath. She sits in front of the trickle of water and looks at it.

'Um, I know there's something I'm supposed to do now...' Sometimes she remembers, sometimes she doesn't.

We go through this at least ten times a day now. At least. It used to be a once or twice thing, back in the day.

It's starting to be the same with the feeding routine, which is supposed to work like this:

I rattle the bicky jar. Miffy comes running. I put food in the bowl and she eats it. Alternatively, Miffy yowls for food. I put food in the bowl. Miffy eats it. It's a simple process, right?

Not any more. Miffy instinctively initiates or responds to the first part of the process, but can't complete it. She looks at the bickies in the bowl, then wanders off – usually back to the bathroom, where she starts the 'Turn on the tap for me' loop again.

Her brain starts things that it can't remember how to complete. So she starts them again. She does the familiar bits that she can remember. Over and over. And over. Sometimes she just yowls.

I'm not sure what the yowls mean. Frustration? Fear? Simple selfish feline demands? I don't know, and I don't think Miffy does either. Half the time, I think that whatever it was she wanted when she started yowling has flown out of her head by the time I turn on the light. We look at each other.

'Um.'

She follows me around because. Just because. If there ever was a reason, she's forgotten it, but if she follows me around, she might remember it. Confusion radiates from her at these times.

And then there's the toilet thing. The hastily-bought litter tray, which lives behind the armchair, is only a partial success. For Miffy, it's a bit of a hit-and-miss thing. If her feet are in the litter, that's evidently close enough, and she pees with gay abandon. Her bum may well be hanging over the side of the tray, but her paws are in the litter, and as far as Miffy is concerned, that is the important thing. Wee finished, she gets out of the litter tray and poops about a foot away. On the carpet. She's also forgotten that peculiarly, fastidiously feline part of the process – you know, the bit where they bury their business? She just drops a few cat nuggets onto the carpet and wanders off.

I wonder whether she's happy, or content, or whether she's struggling through an unpleasant and impenetrable soup, in which jumbled fragments of a lifetime of routines float and bobble. Her increasingly loud vocalisations are carefully articulated, but in a language I don't understand, and I'm not sure what to do. Her mental deterioration has escalated quite markedly since (a) her stroke, in July of this year, and (b) Oscar's death in October.

I think my dear old cat and I are journeying towards a horrible inevitablility that I don't like thinking about - and if I'm honest, when I bring up the 'quality of life' argument, whose life am I talking about? Mine or Miffy's? Boomerang Boy accuses me of wanting to murder his cat whenever I bring up the possibility that euthanasia might be the kindest thing. Boomerang Boy, it must be said, sleeps through the worst of Miffy's weird behaviour.

As I write this, Miffy is curled up next to me, fast asleep. After the early start this morning, I think I'll put questions of life, death and feline dementia into the too-hard basket, and join her for a little nap.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Beanz - now with meatballs

The title of this post is a quote from Dave at Bruce's Motorcycle Repairs. He calls me Miss Beanz (coz Beanz Meanz Heinz, remember?) And those meatballs he's talking about? They're not just meatballs - they're red hot Cajun meatballs.

The boys at Bruce's gave the Crow his 1000km service today - and installed a Yoshimura muffler. Here's a before & after shot:
Before, with stock muffler

After, with carbon-fibre oval Yoshi slip-on

How hot does this look? (Hint: the correct answer is 'red hot Cajun hot').


And if you think it looks hot, you ought to hear it! It's not that it's loud, as such, because it isn't - it has its baffle securely bolted in. But the note of the exhaust has changed completely. The Yoshi grabs that lovely natural V-twin double-throb by the goolies and gives it a giant hit of testosterone. The Crow's voice dropped an octave today and turned into a deep, throaty growl. My new bike is now the two-wheeled equivalent of a full-on hairy-chested alpha male.

I'm in love.

A Journey of a Thousand kilometres...

The Old Hume Cafe, Gunning

Well, it took a while - four weeks, in fact! It was a struggle, but I managed to clock up that 1000kms – just. 1007, actually.

It finally stopped raining and snowing[1] long enough for me to get out on some of the local roads yesterday – Canberra to Sutton-Gundaroo-Gunning, for a start. I stopped at the Old Hume Cafe for a Gunning Lamb Burger, which was yummo. Your lamb patty is served on a bun with lettuce, tomato, Spanish onion, AND a big whack of mint jelly and Greek yoghurt! Seriously delicious!

I headed back towards Canberra via Murrumbateman and the Nanima Road. Nothing to report, apart from a cranky bird of prey whose roadkill bunny-feast I interrupted. It rose in the air with much cranky flapping, and hovered above its lunch at a respectable distance until I had passed.

Recent rain has made a bit of a mess of the roads – potholes everywhere - some of them big enough to lose your bike in - and plenty of gravel and assorted debris washed onto the roads. I'm seeing water where I've never seen water before – I had no idea there were so many ponds and dams on local properties – and now they're all full!

So anyway, after this very pleasant ride, I'd still only managed to crank up a bit over 900kms. I strapped a box of beer to the Ventura rack and ventured out to Dahlitz Motorcycles with it. They've always looked after me out there – and it is Christmas. Oh gawd – Christmas!

[1] Yes, snowing (not exactly in Canberra, but not far off.) In December. This has been the weirdest wettest coldest summer ever, and there was snow on the Brindabellas on Monday! Imagine that - a taste of winter, with soup and flannie jammies and everything!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Meet the Crow

Last time I bought a new bike, back in April 2008, I picked it up from Dahlitz Motorcycles on the Friday and booked it in for its 1000km service – for the following Monday.

It hasn't been so easy this time. Getting the all-important 1000km service next week is essential, before Bruce's Motorcycle Repairs closes down for a well-earned Christmas holiday.

I've been wanting to write about my NEW new bike, but it's been shut in the shed for the last three weeks, and has hardly come out. Record-breaking rain in the wettest December I've ever seen in Canberra, and the presence of the Yak (my car), have turned me into (I can hardly bring myself to say it) a fairweather rider! Nooooooooooo!

In more than three weeks I've only managed to put 700kms on it (and 200 of those were today). Last week I went from home (Marked A on the map) to the Kippax shops (marked E) via Gungahlin and Watson, turning an 8km round trip into a desperate 40km one, just to warm up the tyres and blow some cobwebs out of my head!


View Larger Map

It's no wonder my mood's been somewhere between “a bit down” and “subterranean”.

But – today – the Crow got a proper airing. Here he is.

He's a 2010 SV650S (the Bomber was the 2008 model). He's called the Crow, or Crowie, because of his glossy blackness. Also because when he goes fast, I will make one of the famous crow-calls that got Graham Kennedy taken off TV back in the 70s (remember those?)

F a a a a a a a a a a r k !

Handsome beastie, isn't he?

Today we (the Crow and I) went to Yass to get fuel, and continued to Boorowa before coming home – a little over 200kms altogether. I was very tempted to keep going to Wyangala Dam, to see what it looks like at 89% of capacity (wow! In the drought it got down to about 6%!) Note to self: that might be a nice ride between Christmas and New Year...

The Crow handles better than the poor old Bomber did. Maybe the Bomber had had too many mishaps. Maybe, after 68,000kms, his steering head bearings were tired. Who knows? The Crow, though, tips neatly and effortlessly into turns, and the front end seems to hug the road better. From the very beginning with the Bomber I thought he felt a bit strange, and put it down to the change in bikes from the trusty, solid GS500F to the nimbler, more waspish SV. After the Unaugural splat back in May of this year, though, I never felt particularly safe when cornering – but I put that down to me being a chickenshit, and having lost confidence... I'm starting to think it was the bike, because there's none of that feeling on the Crow. It's a nice bike!

I see adventures ahead! And now that the school holidays are here, what am I waiting for? Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Rise of the Tyrant Miffy

It's 4am. I am wide awake. Why am I awake, and why have I given up on the idea of getting back to sleep?

[Dramatic music]

The Tyrant Miffy is on the warpath. I am blogging in order to resist doing her evil bidding at this ungodly hour, and also to avoid strangling her.

I know now why the dear, late Oscar Bin Laden used to wallop her, every chance he got. And I always thought he was picking on her. (Sorry, Oscar I misunderstood. Mea culpa.) He was merely keeping her in line.

Miffy, it has emerged, doesn't have an OFF switch when it comes to food. And she can't tell the time. She also gets stuck in petulant, querulous geriatric mode, yowling at odd and unreasonable hours of the night, like 3.27am. Like this morning.

FEED ME.

No, Miffy, I will not feed you. You were fed at 5pm. You will be fed again at 5am. You already look like a small planet.

Besides, I know that after she has had a few nibbles of breakfast, she will stalk down the hallway and sit in the bathroom doorway. She will yowl loudly and angrily and repeatedly. And, being in the bathroom, it will have a bit of an echo.

GET ME A DRINK.

This means “Turn on the tap in the bath so I can haul my arthritic arse in there and drink the tastiest water in the house, even though there's a bowl of fresh water right next to my food bowl. Do it, and DO IT NOW, MINION!”

See, it isn't about water. It's about power. Miffy is absolutely relishing her 'only child' status since the demise of poor Oscar. She's loving it. After 16 years of 'Omega Cat' status, she is in the Power Seat. I am the new Omega Cat.

After the water will come the most humiliating (for me) flexing of her feline muscle. She will yowl in the middle of the hallway, loudly and querulously. And non-stop. Her pointy little nose will point meaningfully in the direction of the armchair in the corner of the living room. Behind that chair is the litter tray I hurriedly bought because a certain geriatric cat had decided it was a good place to pee, rather than outdoors where she had spent a lifetime peeing.

She will be saying, very clearly,

CLEAN OUT MY LITTER TRAY, BIATCH!

After I move the armchair out of the way and haul my arthritic arse into the small space behind it, and scratch about in the kitty litter with my trusty pooper scooper, she will mosey on over, inspect the tray, then smugly wander off.

It's no wonder Oscar used to bash her.

And it's why I'm blogging at 4am.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

It's happened! (Actually, it happened a couple of weeks ago, but I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to blog it, so let me try and drum up an air of spontaneity anyway, ok?)

It's happened – wheeeeeeeeeee! I have a new job! (It's not strictly a new job, coz it's where I worked for 8 years before I took a break from teaching – but it's sort of new, so let me pretend, ok?)

My return to teaching has been a bit of a mixed bag. The biggest change has been trying to get used to the ACT college system, and while it certainly has its good points, things like the BSSS website have done my head in.

Canberra is a Public Service city, and the BSSS is a kick-in-the-guts reminder of that. The bureaucracy that underpins the college system, and the website that is its government-to-teacher interface, is the most user-unfriendly, totally unintuitive, faceless, soulless juggernaut in the whole of the National Capital.

The school where I currently teach began as a small community school. It's now a lot bigger than that, but it still has a warm fuzzy small-community-school feel that is at odds with the hard-edged bureaucratic bullshit that it has to work within. (sorry – “within which it has to work”.) Its clientele isn't sure whether it wants to be 'small-town' or 'big city' – but, trust me, the two make uncomfortable bedfellows.

So I'm moving on. Or rather, moving back. Going back to the place where I taught for eight years. Back to a system I know and feel comfortable with (with which I feel comfortable. I know proper grammar lol).

Am I going round in circles? Is it ever really possible to 'go back'? Well - I'm about to find out, and I'm quite excited in a sort of bittersweet way. One of my lovely students gave me choccies and a card yesterday. It read "Thank you for being such an awesome, down to earth, friendly teacher. I will miss you heaps but I wish you the very best in your new school."

Watch this space.

Fifteen...

“A high school student who shot himself after taking his teacher and classmates hostage has died of his wounds at a Wisconsin hospital, authorities said.

“Samuel Hengel, 15, held 24 students and a teacher for nearly five hours at a high school in Marinette on Monday night (local time) before shooting himself as police were rushing into the classroom.”
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/01/3081754.htm

WTF? A 15 year-old kid? What on earth makes a 15 year old kid think that taking his class hostage is a sensible or viable thing to do? Why on earth would he do it? What was going through his head? At that age, with his life in front of him, what was awful enough to make him (a) create the hostage situation in the first place, and (b) decide that shooting himself was a good way out of it? Or what kind of weird-arse computer game, where nobody ever truly DIES, despite rivers of gore, did he think he was in the middle of?

I'm trying to come up with possible answers, and drawing a total blank. Obviously I'm thinking with a grown-up brain, and a relatively stable one at that.I keep asking myself the sort of questions that the news report hasn't answered:

Was he a good student? Was he failing? (because of course, most people would shoot up their school, their teacher, their classmates on the strength of a Fail grade, right?)
Was he bullied at school? At home?
What was his family like? (And how must they be suffering now?)
What did he do in his spare time?
What made him fucked up enough to do what he did? Because, make no mistake, he WAS fucked up. But so are lots of people. They don't all become potential mass-murderers though.

FIFTEEN years old... barely started on the Big Road of Life. Not old enough to vote, drink legally, have sex, have a driver's licence (well, not sure about Wisconsin...) but in any case - legally, still a child. A CHILD.

Jebus...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Marking Hell

Poor blog. I wanted to tell you all about my new bike, my new job, and the metamorphosis of Miffy – but it will all have to wait. I'm in marking hell.

This is a twice a year phenomenon. Exams must be written and marked, reports must be written, deadlines must be met, nervous breakdowns must be had. At the moment I'm still in the exam phase. Over the next two weeks the rest of the process will be gone through, by hook or by crook. Holy crap, there aren't enough hours in the day (or night!) and I'm sooo tired already. Remind me why I wanted to be a teacher again? Clearly I have a masochistic streak a mile wide.

This is the time of year when, theoretically, all my hard work comes to fruition and my lovely students prove what a wonderful teacher I've been. This is when they make me proud by doing so very well in their end of year exams, and I head into the holidays basking in the rosy glow of accomplishment. As I said, that's the theory.

Sadly, in reality, my fruit crop this year is a little bruised and full of fruit-fly. Sigh. Bad apples and too-cool bananas abound. Some are just immature and unripe by exam time. Peaches and star-fruits, bless 'em, are few and far between. My rosy glow is more of an embarrassed blush as I read some of the young scholars' answers ('Where did they pull THAT one from?')and I am more likely to limp into the holidays shattered, battered and broken.

And I'll go back for more of the same next year. What was that I said about masochism?

See you next time I surface!.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Hines Reunion 2010

Hineses Hineses everywhere, and what a lot to drink! (apologies, S T Coleridge!)

My family is a bit fragmented – small in number, we are spread across several cities – indeed, across a couple of countries. The latest Hines Reunion, following the successes of Brisbane 2002 and Christchurch 2006, took place in Canberra – in late October rather than at Christmas, for a change. There was mischief and mayhem, camping and chaos, hugs and hilarity and a cast of thousands! (OK, maybe not quite thousands – but there were three generations of us gathered...)

The Christchurch and Brisbane contingents joined Mick & Jayne for a camping extravaganza at Lake Burrinjuck while I spent the week banging my head against a brick wall. Erm, I mean, developing young minds (!) By all accounts, it was great fun (the camping, not the banging of the head).

Pater Peter, Jayne & Mick enjoying a barbie and a few bevvies

Jayne & Deirdre - champers and chat

Ingrid, the Bird Lady of Burrinjuck - with friendly locals

Did anybody else notice how many of these photos contained glasses of something that looks suspiciously alcoholic?

After returning to Canberra, Graham & Deirdre set up camp in my backyard, and Kylie and Felix arrived from Perth. There was much barbecuing and yes, more wine... My liver will never forgive me.

The Big Event, however, was on the following Saturday – a sort of Halloween/Christmas hybrid – Hallowhistmas, if you like – at Kate's place. Kate's wig got a workout:

The wig as she is supposed to look...

...appropriated by Boomerang Boy...

...and Felix...

...and Mickey...

...and Graham!

as did the stash of Lindauer Fraise and many bottles ofwine... and Graham's silly sunnies, bought in bulk and distributed with desperation:

Dad, Diana, Betty

Dad, Diana, Graham, Betty, Mickey, Jayne

There was a bit of mad hattery:

Ingrid, sans parrots

Senor Chris

Here's to your elf!

And from youngest to, erm, most mature (in vintage only!), the occasional reflective moment:

Kylie - the youngest (but apparently the most sensible) of the revellers

Diana & Dad ('The Patriarch')

A good time was had by all – rather too good, if the headaches on Sunday were any indication. Ow ow owwwww!

Mark the Miffy-Friend and sleepy Betty at the end of the HUGE day

Eventually, though, people had to return home. Home for Dad, Diana, Chris & Ingrid is in the rather wobbly city of Christchurch – so they had to go and make sure nothing had fallen down in their absence. Kylie and Felix had to return to their new house and dishwasher in Perth (bloody capitalists!) and Graham & Deirdre packed up the campervan and trundled back to Brisbane, to retrieve their lovely dog from doggy prison and go back to work.

And here in Canberra, life returned to normal – or rather, to whatever passes for normal in Hines households! Happy Reunion, folks - thanks to all for a great time!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Saying Goodbye - vale Oscar Bin Laden

I had to say goodbye to my little furry friend Oscar yesterday.

Oscar Bin Laden the Terrorkitty was only 10 years old. A fiendish kitten, he came to us after the death of Ollie the Wonder Cat in 2000.

Like Ollie, he was a Persian Himalayan cross – a lovely big grey and white cat – but the similarities ended there. He was, in fact, Ollie's Evil Twin, straight from the Dark Side. A leg-stalker par excellence, he was the bane of Miffy's existence, pouncing on her and tormenting her at every opportunity, right up until the day he died – yesterday, 25 October.

He wasn't all evil, though. Very much a people cat, Oscar would follow me around like a fluffy grey shadow. In the kitchen he had his little vantage point on top of the bread bin and loved to watch everything that went on (he was a terrible stickybeak!) from there. In the garden, he was never more than a foot away, batting at the evil weeds as I tried to pull them out (just helping, honest!) or simply just being a companionable presence. He sat beneath the washing line whenever I hung out the washing, and sat on my arms whenever I tried to use the computer. He sat on my chest if I tried to watch TV, and often sat on my head while I tried to sleep. He did a lot of sitting.

And he talked, Lord, did he talk, at all hours of the day and night! He was, in fact, quite a student of English, and could say “hello” with spooky clarity when he wanted to get your attention.

He could be naughty, annoying and utterly obnoxious at times – quite a lot, in fact – especially when I was tutoring. He would leap onto the table, sprawl over my students' books, and refuse to budge.

'Hey, kid, need help with your homework? You've come to the right place.'

As for keeping him neat and tidy – forget it! His luxurious coat was a nightmare. Go within three feet of him with a brush, and you risked losing an arm. So much easier (and safer!) to take him to the vet for a haircut every year when the warmer weather arrived. That cat simply would not be brushed. He could out-stubborn anyone I know, even as a kitten. He stood his ground against the dreaded 'get off the table' water-squirter from a young age, when the squirter bottle was twice his size. He just sat there with narrowed eyes, daring me to squirt him. One day he took a big swipe at the bottle, whacking it right out of my hand. Feisty little bugger.

But when I was going through some of the darkest days of my life, and couldn't get out of bed for days at a time, Oscar never left my side. He would curl up next to me, at neck level, and put his paw in the palm of my hand, or rest it on my cheek, and sit that way for hours. He loved human contact.

I'm going to miss him.

Friday, 1 October 2010

My Mallacoota Magpies

'Look sharp, Doris - here comes the Sausage Lady!'

They wait for me now, several times a day. They sit on the feeder box, peering through the window, and when I appear they shuffle about on the side of the box to attract my attention. Sometimes they sing. Occasionally Mrs Hoppy grooms her bloke's feathers. Yesterday's conversation was, I'm certain, something like this:

“Come on, Hoppy dear, you need to look your best.” (Doris picks affectionately at Hoppy's head, tidying an unruly feather).

“Leave me alone, Doris. Women find the ruffled look very attractive.” (Shakes head. Doris hops aside, a bit indignant).

“Well at least sing, dear. They like it when you sing.”


“I'm not singing, Doris. You can sing all you bloody like – I'm too hungry to sing. Ooh, ooh, look, here she comes. Look sharp, Doris.”

Mr & Mrs Hoppy are my greatest fans. I keep a stash of cooked sausages in the fridge, and they're big fans of that too. This morning, Hoppy was sitting wonkily on the feeder box, so I dutifully hacked off a few bits of sausage and went out. Doris, who must've been putting on her mascara or something, arrived late and almost flew into the back of my head in her hurry to take her place next to hubby and get her share of the goodies.

They happily take food from my hand, but they have very different ways of doing it. Hoppy is a bit rough, and stabs at my hand greedily. His missus is gentler, daintier and more precise. She also has far better table manners.

Hoppy stuffs the whole bit of sausage in his beak, almost choking himself in his hurry to get it down. Perhaps, disabled lad that he is, he's had to gobble his food quickly to stop others stealing it from him. Life can't be easy for a bird with a gammy leg.

Mrs Hoppy, on the other hand, takes her time with her sausage morsel. She bashes it on the ground to kill it properly, then rolls it in the dust to season it. She whittles away at it with her beak, taking small mouthfuls until it's all gone. Then she carefully, fastidiously even, wipes the sides of her beak. Meanwhile, Hoppy has managed to stab and scoff two or three more bits, and the pair of them fly away home until they get peckish again. And then - it's back to the Sausage Lady to do it all over again.

I have to head home tomorrow. I'll miss them.

Smooth operator Hoppy: 'So, babe, do you come here often? Love those sausages.'

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Betty's Wild Mallacoota Life

Try to imagine this post - the next bit of it, at least - spoken in a sort of David Attenborough whisper, if you can.

The tally of wild things continues to grow here in lovely Mallacoota. On another marathon walk into town yesterday with buddy Smack, who's passing through on his way from Tassie to Phillip Island – Aussies will get the joke there, but others will need a map) I identified a pair of Royal Spoonbills poking about in the shallows with something that may or may not have been a sandpiper, or perhaps a godwit (it was hard to tell). I also know the source of that funny 'chee chee chee wit' sound now (more high-pitched and twittery than an eastern whipbird) – it's this little fellow – a golden whistler. What a little beauty.

(downloaded from birdforum.net)

A kookaburra, complete with lifeless lizard dangling from its beak, stood its ground against a pair of very indignant brush wattlebirds. I don't know why they were so cross – unless the lizard was a close personal friend.

Then there was the Shag that appeared to be mud-puddling in a stormwater drain – a sudden movement caught my eye, and when I peered over the side of the board bridge, there it was, soaking wet and paddling about in the thick mud of the drain, and evidently having a lovely time. It looked at us unperturbed, then turned around and stomped back into the stormwater drain.

The lyrebirds have remained elusive so far this trip. This morning, though, I was sitting in the flat minding my own business when a lyrebird nonchalantly made its way across the pavers right in front of the window.

I've made friends with a crippled magpie – he and his Significant Other have begun peering through the window to look for me - they take small pieces of sausage out of my hand. The king parrots are also back, and a female satin bower bird has put in a few appearances.

On the wilder-than-wild (despite being domesticated) front – there are the geese. The bloody geese.

These Chinese geese are ok. It's the cranky Euro-Geese I have problems with. No pic coz I was too busy running for my life!

Peter & Margaret have had to go away for a day or two on family business, and in their absence I have been on goose patrol and possum detail. Possums I can handle. Geese are a whole different kettle of, um, things. They have hissy fits whenever I approach.

I've heard that the secret, if under attack by a goose, is to spread your arms wide and to look bigger and more threatening than they do. That's kind of hard when a homicidal goose is rushing at your vulnerable bits with murder on its tiny mind. If Peter & Margaret don't get back this afternoon I will have another go at it. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Killing Time? WHY???

Yesterday, after my ride down here, I was dreamily looking out the window at the gathering of birds, bush rats and so on that make up the whole Adobe Flats experience, and I saw something I've never seen before, which reduced me to tears of laughter.

This is a wonga pigeon:

They seem like gormless, ungainly birds, with a small head plonked onto a big plump body. They make an irritating 'woop woop woop' call for hours on end. If they were human they'd be a bit like Lenny in Of Mice & Men, I reckon.

This is an Australian native bush rat:

(downloaded from http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/bush-rat/ Source: Gary Lewis)

They are cute little things that move at the speed of lightning. Generally – well, at Adobe anyway – they coexist peacefully with the thuggish rainbow lorikeets, gentle king parrots, raucous galahs, tiny fire-browed finches etc etc. They nibble at the spent husks that the birds chuck out of the seed box and generally help to keep the place tidy.

Until yesterday.

Oh I wish I'd had my camera at the ready, set to capture a video! A dopey wonga pigeon clearly felt a bit threatened by a lone bush rat which was looking for food in the same general area. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, but the wonga pigeon puffed itself up to look as scary as possible – it fanned out its tail and raised its wings – and – this is true – bopped the bush rat hard on the head with one of its wings! The bush rat leaped away at lightning speed, of course, and then crept back to retrieve its seed husks. Wonga was ready – BOP! Ratty bolted again.

This was repeated three or four times, while tears of helpless laughter ran down my cheeks – it was like a cartoon! I do hope there'll be a repeat performance today – this time I have my camera ready.

Just imagine if I hadn't been 'killing time' after my lovely ride down here...

We talk about 'killing time' a lot. Today, on a gentle 10km stroll into Mallacoota and back (which nearly killed me, by the way) I realised that killing time is the last thing in the world that I want to do!

Yes, time is often my enemy. But I never have enough of it – why on earth would I want to kill it? If anything, I would want to multiply it, give myself gobs and gobs of it so I had plenty, and never had to feel as if it was running out.

The things you think about when your feet are killing you and your bursitis is doing that thing that bursitis does, and you're not sure that you're going to make it up the final bush track back to Adobe Flats...

When I don't kill time, but instead let it drift slowly past, I find the most fabulous things. Look.


This drift of flowers was growing beside the board walk.

This lizard was poking its head out of one of many holes in a dead tree.

These kangaroos were sitting in the grass, just behind a motel and across the road from the newsagents in town! Quite large, they were, too. One was at least as tall as me, so I didn't try to get too close. It being spring and all, I didn't know whether there might be a joey near by – protective roos can be pretty scary.

And there was birdsong. The incessant 'woop woop woop' of wonga pigeons could drive a person batty, but the call of the eastern whipbird, the cackle of the kookaburra, bellbird chimes and various other assorted (and to me, unidentifiable) tweets, chirps and whistles created a symphony as I wandered along the roadside, letting my mind wander while my eyes and ears tuned in.

I spotted birds I haven't seen before, and they were kind enough to stand still long enough for me to commit their features to memory so that I can now say, fairly confidently, that I saw some grey fantails and (I think) perhaps some New Holland honeyeaters – and some others I can't quite identify – maybe later in the week.

So anyway, it took me a bit over 2 hours to get there and back – rather than killing time, I embraced it; made the most of it and loved finding unexpected things - apart from sore feet! Silly me for walking into town on a Sunday – this is a small town and it's only spring, not the holiday high season, so not much was open – I had hoped to buy a hat, seeing as I'd forgotten to bring one, and the stunning spring weather probably demands one. Will have to do it all over again tomorrow – but I think I might ride my bike instead.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Right here, right now

School hols – hooray! Feels good to know that despite having a huge amount of work to do before next term, I have school-free time to do it. And I'm doing it in Mallacoota, my all-time favourite place to chill and de-stress.

A pile of marking is sitting on the table, next to a very fragrant jar of jasmine and daphne. Inside there is Jazz radio. Outside there is birdsong. In the flat next door, the occasional shriek of delight sounds – the AFL Grand Final is on, I think.

The light isn't yet failing, but it's that mild watery light, slightly misty. The inlet is a pale silvery blue, slightly darker than the sky, and the hills on the other side of it are two-tone. The humungous drift of African daisies that extends to the road is in the process of shutting down for the evening.

I'm in Heaven! I'm in my pjs, have a glass of red at hand, and I'm just blissing out here, watching the evening creep up on Mallacoota. It's so beautiful.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Intruder Kitty must GO!

Okay, I've been patient through the long winter. My house is Cat Pee Central. Miffy is a nervous wreck who pees on everything she sees. She's too scared to venture through the cat flap, and has made a pooing place behind one of the armchairs in the loungeroom (coincidentally next to – but not IN - the litter tray I was inspired to install there when she decided it was a safe and private peeing place. Omigod, my carpet will have to go... )

Oscar bin Laden is Intruder Kitty's best friend, apparently. He sat on the window sill one afternoon, blithely watching IK saunter past him up the back steps, in through the cat flap, back out through the cat flap in rather a hurry, and back down the steps, closely followed by Cranky Betty.

But my patience is at an end. A nasty, sleepless end.

There are no limits to the audacity of Intruder Kitty. He has begun toying with me – he has made me his mouse. He has more front than Dolly Parton, and I am over it.

After a 3am wake-up and a long day at school, followed by a long parent-teacher evening yesterday, I was falling over with tiredness by 9pm, and fast asleep by 9.30.

At 2.24am I was woken by the marauding monstrosity. It thundered through the cat flap, yowled loudly three times – a feline equivalent of “Nyah nyah, you can't catch me!” - and then thundered back out through the cat flap, to disappear into the night.

So much for my lovely deep sleep. My brain started ticking, whirring even – and I snatched a few brief moments of broken sleep filled with weird and tiring dreams that revolved around parent-teacher interviews and badly-behaved students, storms and wild weather, and a kindly giant. And then my alarm went off. Yay for caffeine – it's the only thing holding my eyes open, and I'm teaching a full day today with a playground duty chucked in just for fun – and tutoring after school.

Intruder Kitty is TOAST. Or at least, he will be if I can ever catch him.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Ragged Fringe Weekend


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Moto Guzzi is a marque that attracts fierce loyalty. And lots of giggles from non-Guzzi owners. The usual criticism is that the Italian electricals on Guzzis (particularly older ones) were always, um.... what's the Italian word for 'iffy'? Hmmm, apparently there isn't one (how convenient!)

This isn't about Moto Guzzis though – well, only tangentially... Mark the Miffy Friend is also Mark the Guzzi Man, and he rather fancied heading up to Gloucester on the weekend for the Moto Guzzi Owners' Ragged Fringe Rally. I agreed to it in a moment of weakness.

What was I thinking? It's about 600kms from Canberra – and on a weekend during term time as well!

We got away from Canberra a skerrick before 7am on Saturday. Cars in my street had a healthy layer of frost on them when we left. Erk.

Because we had to be there and back in a weekend, we took the boring short route up the highway – look, after being so bike-deprived all term in this wet winter, I didn't even feel bad about it – it was lovely to carve up the miles under a sunny sky – even if it was bloody cold!

The traffic in Sydney was bumper-to-bumper but the temperature wasn't too bad. I got us lost once after we got off the expressway, but we made it to the Bucketts Way and headed towards Stroud - such a picturesque town – far prettier than the occasionally abysmal surface of the Bucketts Way, I have to say. We made Gloucester by mid afternoon and found some other rally people there, then headed to Thunderbolt's Way (one of the Top 100 rides in Peter Thoeming's Australian Motorcycle Atlas).

Mark was a little way ahead of me, and by the time I realised he'd turned off to the campsite at Bretti Reserve it was too late for me to turn off because there was a silver van fair up my clacker – so I overshot the turnoff. The bastard in the silver van STAYED fair up my clacker, no matter how much I slowed down to find a place to turn around. Eventually, about 5kms later, I gave him a very – ahem – strong signal to overtake me and he got the hint. I was so rattled by that stage – I was starting to think I would have to ride all the way to bloody Walcha!

One of the best, and most important things for me about riding, is that it puts me IN CONTROL – and I was feeling very out of control at that point.

Mark had seen what was going on and had followed us. At the beautiful Pawlonia Grove - an uplifting sight at any time of year, but stunning in all its blossomy spring glory - he drew my attention to a possible turning point just a little way ahead, and we headed back to Bretti Reserve.

This pic doesn't give a true idea of just how steep the track down to the campsite is.

The gravel verge at the top of the huge hill down to the rally site almost became the repository for yet another lever bobble. I know when I'm a danger to myself, so that was it for me. 600kms from home, the last thing I needed was another broken foot or snapped ligament (not to mention clutch/gear/brake levers) – I was off the bike, leg shaking and feeling like the World's Biggest Loser. Ah, my knight in shining armour! Mark did this wonderful bike-shuffle routine - rode his Guzzi to the camp, dumped his stuff, rode back, dinked me to the camp, walked back up the HUGE hill, collected my bike, brought it to the camp (and on Sunday did the whole thing in reverse). Mark, you're a star!

The Bomber intact on the gravel verge

Nice people, those Guzzi folk. I got to meet the famous Peter Roper; saw some lovely Guzzis and quite a lot of Triumphs, BMWs and Nortons as well; the campfire gathering was friendly, and the music was the good stuff from my youth :-) The sausage sandwiches were well cooked, the tent was dry and the sleeping bags were warm – what more can you ask for?

Home sweet home - inside the tent

Sunday morning. Mark's Guzzi had been misbehaving terribly since Gloucester the day before, so he did some fiddling with it at the campsite. You know, just your basic 'off with the fuel tank, fiddle with the stuff underneath' stuff... and we were away by 9.15.

The road home seemed somehow shorter than the road there. An overcast sky meant there was no sun in our eyes, yay, and we made really good time. Home to sunny Canberra in a mere 7 hours!

We got home stiff and sore, but safe and sound – and that's the main thing. BUT – I lost count of the examples of stupid, rude, or just downright dangerous driving behaviour we saw on Sunday.

Of particular note was the idiotic pair of middle-aged women in the little red car coming out of Pheasants Nest servo. The driver was determined not to give way to me, even though she should have. She cut across the front of me – and wouldn't you know it, Instant Karma – her little car went down a 30cm pothole on the servo driveway and made a very satisfying crunching noise... heh heh. When I overtook her a kilometre or two down the road, I refrained from making rude signs, coz I'm just too nice for that sort of shit...

As for the P-plated ute-load of youngsters who were chucking stuff - bottles and so on - out of the window as we came into Canberra.... oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

Overall though – great weekend! By the time I got off my bike in the driveway at home, I almost couldn't get off my bike. I was so stiff, and had a badly cramping shoulder. Thank goodness for Nurofen, hot baths and red wine (not all at once!). 1205kms altogether, and the tiredness factor meant I missed seeing Casey Stoner get his first win of the season in motoGP!


Monday, 13 September 2010

Day ride to Dalton


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Spring has arrived. Almost overnight, fat buds have burst and become blossoms... the temperatures in Canberra have struggled to make 15C, and when the wind drops there's actually some warmth in the sun...there's a strange scent wafting on the air (at my house, it's Daphne Odora; crossing Commonwealth Avenue Bridge it's the hyacinths at Floriade – incredible!)

A dry weekend was forecast for a change, and all the fairweather riders appeared on the roads to make the most of the great weather. And those of us who ride at any time of year smiled, turned off the heated hand-grips and gave them The Nod as we passed them on the road. Great to see the number of bikes on the road increasing!

On Sunday I took the plunge and braved a ride with the VVCMCC ACT. That impressively Alphabet Soup-like name actually stands for something, but I get my Vs mixed up. It's the ACT Veteran, Vintage (or is it Vintage and Veteran?) and Classic Motorcycle Club - or something like that. I don't have any of those things (veteran, vintage OR classic motorbike) but they let me ride along anyway, because they're nice people.

We went to the Dalton Pub (officially the Royal Hotel). Dalton is a tiny tiny little town (population 100) – it's the hometown of my dear friend Mikey A, about 11kms on the other side of Gunning, which is a little NSW town sort of between Canberra and Crookwell. Have a look on the map. There's not much there apart from the pub and the post office.




I ride like such a nanna - I was overtaken by people riding hundred year-old bikes, for goodness' sake! (that's only a slight exaggeration, by the way!) By crikey I was enjoying myself, though. So nice to get out on the road – most of my recent riding has been the commute to school and back, and I always say that commuting is to riding as Macdonalds is to fine dining...

Good weather, nice company... the VVCMCC does things in style – the BBQ trailer was all set up for us at the other end (wow!) and people milled around, talking about bikes, admiring bikes, poking fun at Mark (who was immersed in a bit of Moto Guzzi maintenance) and eating sausage sandwiches. Mega relaxing stuff.
The road home took us – well, me and Mark, anyway!- through Jerrawa. What a piece-of-poo road THAT is! Yes, it's sealed, otherwise I wouldn't have ridden it - but it's an up and down, undulating one lane road most of the way (with a 100km speed limit!) and I was terrified of meeting a ute coming in the opposite direction on one of the many crests on the road.

Mark clearly doesn't know me very well. At the junction that is Jerrawa we had a roadsign and some confusion. And Mark did utter the incredible words “Which way do you think we should go?” And then, when I offered my opinion, he actually accepted it and that's the way we went! Amazingly, my sense of direction didn't take us to some god-forsaken gravel deathtrap, and we got back to Canberra without a glitch (or a map!) Amazing!

Wheeeeee – great day!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Sayonara Shoya-san


(image from www.hondaproracing.com)

It's so sad. Another beautiful young man, full of life, full of fun, highly spirited and chock-full of riding talent, has gone.

Shoya Tomizawa died tragically last weekend after a shocker of a crash in the Moto2 race at Misano. The guy was 19. That's several years younger than my own son. I can only imagine how his parents must feel. No parent ever expects they will outlive their children. I've found myself getting teary about it many times over the last week – maybe because I'm a mother and I'm feeling some sort of connection with Shoya-san's mother, or maybe because it's just so awfully sad to see such passion, such potential and such promise cut short.

Shoya Tomizawa - the young man with the oh-so-impish grin... By all accounts he was a lovely young bloke. And passionate about his sport.

Mr and Mrs Tomizawa, you must be so proud of what your son achieved at such a young age. I am so very very sorry for your loss.

Sayonara, Shoya-kun. You will be sadly missed.

My heart also goes out to Alex de Angelis and Scott Redding – unfortunate and unwilling players in this terrible tragedy. I can only imagine the impotent 'what-ifs' that may be torturing them, and I sincerely hope avenues are available to them, to enable them to talk about the incident; to let out the pain so that it doesn't fester...

Guys – sometimes, shit happens. And that is one of the most awful facts of life.

RIP Shoya Tomizawa.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Hijacked!

What has happened to my motorcycle blog? Eek! It's been hijacked by life, school and piddling cats. There hasn't been much mention of motorcycling lately. What a travesty. Have I really done so little motorcycling of late?

The answer, sadly, is YES, dammit. I know my mood has reflected the lack of bike therapy. Talk about miserable! I've been sadder than a snake on ice; more miserable than a microbe in a glass of Dettol; and more desperately despondent than a dieter in a chocolate factory.

You know, a lot of people seem to think that it's just a throwaway line when I say that I need to ride in order to stay sane. They just don't 'get' how deadly serious I am, coz they don't 'get' motorcycling in general, and what motorcycling has meant to me in particular. It was just about the only thing that kept me from going under at a very dark time in my life, and all it takes is a few days of bikelessness to push me into a mindset where I feel out of control and downright depressed. Hopping on the bike and heading out of town to far-flung destinations is the ultimate medicine.

The lack of bike time is in fact one of the reasons I've found the adjustment to school life so difficult.

A couple of weekends ago, on a glorious Sunday, in an attempt to regain some equilibrium I chased 6 Ducatis and an R1 around the Southern Tablelands, with absolutely no hope of catching any of them. I ride like a nanna, and they rode like - well, Ducati riders... A lovely day, but I was a little (read: a LOT!) outside my comfort zone, and my day began and ended at my house. I prefer rides that take me away from home.

So anyway - last weekend I was Desperate and Determined Betty: desperate to ride, and determined to get out of town.

After doing my democratic duty, and voting in Australia's most boring election, I saddled up the Bomber and headed to Cowra with my lovely friend Mark (Mark, friend of Miffy the Geriatric Cat, remember?) He's also had a long period of enforced bikelessness, and was suffering a bit of cabin fever.


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Cowra's a nice little town. I've stayed there before, and at only about 200kms from Canberra it's an easy ride over a weekend if you have a shitload of schoolwork to do (which, of course, I did)..

Saturday was cold, grey and showery. Did I care? Not a bit - I have heated hand grips on the Bomber, and quilted winter liners inside my jacket and pants. (Heated socks would've been nice though...) The Bomber was just glad to get out of the shed and to go somewhere besides the school car-park for a change!

Since the last time I was in Cowra, the main street seems to have shrunk. There are lots of empty shops. I don't know if it's the drought or the GFC, or perhaps a sign of the general malaise that afflicts so many small towns in Australia. Are the youngsters upping and leaving, seeing no future on the land? I don't know - but it was sad to see such a lovely little town struggling.

Cowra was the setting for the 'Cowra Breakout' in WWII, when a bunch of Japanese POWs staged a mass breakout. There was a bloodbath, and now the little township of Cowra (population 9,500) is an avid supporter of world peace. It's a nice town.

After exploring a bit, it was back to the motel to mark many many essays before dinner. We had the blandest fried rice in the universe, and drank lots of wine to make up for it while we watched the election results on the telly. Sigh.

Sunday dawned chilly but golden, and with a hung parliament likely. Boo hiss. At least the weather was good, and a great relief after the iron-grey bleakness of Saturday. Rather than riding straight home, I wanted to make my annual trip to Wyangala Dam to take a photo of the water levels. To check out the water levels over the last couple of years, have a look at a previous post - Spring Riding and Bug-Splats - from September 2009.

Here's what it all looks like now, after the wet wet winter we have had:



The condition of the Frogmore Road, after that very same wet winter, was atrocious! Pot-holes galore, bits of road surface missing, shockingly bad 'patch' jobs - and after having ridden that road about a dozen times, I was really surprised to ride through a couple of inches of water on the causeways - water! Amazing! The area's been a bloody dustbowl for the last gawd-knows how many years!

Last weekend I discovered a few things, the most important of which was this:
when it comes to motorcycling, you lose skills fast if you don't ride a lot. My recent riding has overwhelmingly been nothing more than commuting. I have developed a stiffness in my shoulders, and don't look far enough ahead at the moment. Too used to looking at traffic and side-streets, and traffic coming OUT of side streets, I suppose. Grrrrr.

Must get out on the open road more! Hurry up Spring!

The final verdict? Great weekend - shit weather, nice riding, great company! Wheeeeeeeeee!

Monday, 16 August 2010

After the Panic...

Something very strange happened today.

Last week was not a good week. It was, in fact, double-plus ungood, and then some. After Tuesday's panic attack I came home and let the poison out – all the crap that I'd bottled up came pouring out in a torrent of tears. On Wednesday morning I was wearing my Scare the Children face – big puffy froggy eyes – and felt as drained as one of Dracula's favourites, so I stayed home, exhausted. Same on Thursday.

By Friday I was physically, if not mentally, in a fit state to return to school. On playground duty I tried to stay close to the walls, so no-one could come up behind me. It was shithouse. No Year 10 on the timetable for that day, though, which was a plus. And then there was the weekend.

After lunch on Saturday with some ex-teaching colleagues, affectionately termed 'the coven', I went to school today, reassured, and armed with an arsenal of strategies, 'just in case'. (Thanks, ladies – you are wonderful!) Nice Mark took me out for dinner on Saturday night, and on Sunday I declared war on Cat Piddle in my house. Quite a productive weekend, it was...

And then... I taught Year 10 this morning. Yes, I was nervous – how would they behave after last week's disaster? How would I behave? Could we face each other, or would one/some of us run screaming from the room?

This is where the weird thing happened.

It's very hard to explain – there was nothing tangible – and yet I felt somehow closer to the class. It was as if a barrier of some sort had been removed, and they were more accepting of me. All I can think is that suddenly, after I explained to them what triggers my panic attacks, they saw me as a real person rather than an authority figure? Who knows...very very weird.

Here, I think, is one of the strengths of my school – a lot of the kids are not very academic; they struggle, and many of them actively resist the academic rigours of the place. BUT – amazingly, this group seems to have recognised that particular frailty of mine and decided that it makes me more real(?) human(?) or something. In many places that would be seen as an exploitable vulnerability. These kids didn't see it that way. There seemed to be a real 'connection' in our class discussion today. I'm not saying they were perfect little angels or anything like that – I still threatened them with Fatal Beatings and they still rolled their eyes – but it was different somehow. Hard to put my finger on it, but it was totally unexpected, and a huge relief.

Maybe I will survive my return to the classroom after all.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Uh-oh...

So much for my triumphant return to the classroom.

I think I have made a monumental mistake, and now I am rooted, not to put too fine a point on it.

What on earth made me think I was ready for a return to teaching? Teaching is not a job for anyone with fragilities. I've always known that – but I thought, after four and a half years since the attack, that I was over my fragilities. Evidently not.

I used to be a good teacher. Now I know that I'm not the teacher I used to be. Today clinched it. Today, a few of my Year 10 boys thought it would be funny if one of them jumped out behind me, shrieking, as I made my way to class.

Yep, hilarious stuff. The consequence? A panic attack (damn, and I thought I was better). To my credit, I held it off and held it off and held it bloody off for about 15 minutes (I'm clearly getting much better at this), and then I just had to leave the classroom because my heart was pounding fit to burst, I couldn't breathe and I couldn't stop the tears from coming. I spent the rest of the day battling episodes of breathlessness and panic.

Can you imagine how embarrassing it is for a 51 year old woman to be in that situation in front of a room full of 15-16 year olds?

Even worse – NOW WHAT??? I'm supposed to go back there tomorrow and fight the good fight, and all I want to do is crawl into a hole somewhere and hide. I'm mortified and I'm so fucking miserable I could die, and I've burned my bridges. I feel as if my back's to the wall, and I really am at a complete loss – what to do next? Clearly I am not fit to be in a classroom - yet? (if ever?)

Shit.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Ballad of Intruder Kitty

In a suburb of Canberra there's a chilly little house
Full of Betty and her family and a sometimes midnight mouse
The heating's really basic, nothing central, nothing ducted
And in a place like Canberra that's pretty bloody fuckeded.

It's messy and it's freezing and it has a tiny telly
And recently it's started to become a little smelly
The cause of the aroma (I confess it is a pity)
Is a fluffy Oscar lookalike who's called Intruder Kitty.

I don't know where he comes from and I don't know where he goes
But every time he visits us, my house is on the nose.
He sneaks in through the cat flap at odd hours of night and day
And steals the food from Betty's cats, then slyly sneaks away.

This fluffy little felon, this feline furry thief
Takes great delight in purloining their chicken and their beef
He gobbles all their bickies up, then leaves without a trace,
This bold Intruder Kitty is the scourge of Betty's place.

The thought of an intruder has made Oscar rather cross
He's gone all territorial to prove that he's the boss
But spraying all around the house has been to no avail
It hasn't stopped Intruder Cat, (but it has made Betty pale).

So clever vengeful Oscar did devise a cunning plot
To scare Intruder Kitty without fighting him a lot.
And poor unwitting Betty was a pawn in Oscar's scheme
Which involved the bathroom heater, and which turned poor Betty green.

Now, Canberra is chilly as I've told you all before
So there's a little heater that's on Betty's bathroom floor.
It makes the mornings bearable when temperatures are low
And to this very heater Oscar EvilCat did go.

He lifted up a fluffy leg and sprayed the heater well
So when poor Betty switched it on it amplified the smell
The pong of fan-forced Oscar piss is really rather whiffy
So Betty ran out screaming, closely followed by poor Miffy.

If you look closely you can see where Brave Sir Oscar sprayed all over my heater

Oh Oscar dear, your efforts to protect us are commended
But killing off my heater wasn't quite what you intended
Intruder Kitty wasn't fazed and came right back last night
And I'm now fifty bucks worse off, you dopey little shite.

Having said that, the new heater (placed up high, beyond the reach of territorial sprayings), puts out quite a decent amount of heat. The problem of Intruder Kitty, however, remains. Gas Mask, anyone?