eye to eye with the Flamingo Files

This is the Old Windmill is a heritage-listed tower located in Wickham Park, on Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  It is across the road from where my eye was crafted!

This is the Old Windmill It is a heritage-listed tower located in Wickham Park, on Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It is across the road from where my eye was crafted!

We brought the new eye home, and a very nice new eye it is too. It was a little too big at first and gave me a startled look even when I was trying to pretend my eyes were closed in a sleeping position, so a little grinding, polishing and buffing was called for. Well, it was called for three times, before the mirror in my hand told me I was the most glamorous in the land. So with old eye in my handbag, and new eye in its rightful place, and $2150 poorer ($500 to be repaid by medical insurance) I met Mr FD in the downstairs coffee shop where he had been waiting. I fluttered my eyelashes and rolled my beautiful green eyes at him, but he just thought I was having a brain conniption , so I gave up trying to impress and ordered coffee and apple pie instead.

I have the solution for America’s gun problem! Sticks. Give every man, woman and child a four foot long stick in place of guns and I am sure that very shortly the death and injury rate will fall. I mean, if you are going to the movie theatre and have to carry a 4ft stick with you, you are going to think twice aren’t you? Also, a 4ft stick can’t be concealed, so everyone is going to know that you are packing one.  As protection, no one will need a bullet proof vet, just a good quality helmut. These could come in a range of decorator colours, basic black for those sophisticated moments.  Sure an arm or leg might get cracked but no one is going to die, and everyone has an equal chance. Plus you can run away or make sure you stand a good six feet away and no harm can be done.  Geeze, I really should run the world.  Now, world peace…

Grade 8 students are so gullible. I was teaching them how to access their school email (many of them don’t even know what an email is! Does that make you feel old?) and I told them that once they had read an email and decided that they no longer needed it to delete it so that they didn’t end up with 4967 emails by the end of the year. I added that of course they should delete everything, except my emails as they were the best and most important. Instantly a look of terror flew across the face of one young student who confessed, “I just deleted one of your emails!” Oh the fun playing with young minds. I told her I forgave her… and then told her I was joking. Damn teacher honesty.

It is amazing how where you live shapes your life. Last week, I was driving through the Village when I felt something drop under my feet. It seemed to fall from under the dashboard. In the city I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but now that we live in the country, all those media stories of snakes crawling into cars and dropping onto drivers instantly came to mind, and so I hastily pulled over. Turns out it was my sunglasses case! It did make me aware of how much our life has changed in the last eighteen months.

The real thing, a snake, did eventuate though. Mr FD found a green tree snake had made its way through a hole in the screen door in the laundry and was slithering its way down the hall way today. It was a monumental battle as Augie Dog wanted a piece of the action, or rather snake as well. So Mr FD had to hold Augie with one hand and dispatch the snake with the other. Snakes are protected in Australia, but if they come into my house they are an endangered reptile in my opinion. Just to prove his bravery, Mr FD left the blood smear on the floor near the main bathroom. When I arrived home I handed him the antiseptic wipes to finish the job ( sometimes the fragile female act really is the only course of action!) New screen door being ordered tomorrow.

The Old Windmill, Brisbane http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Windmill,_Brisbane

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how to shoot yourself in the foot, while that foot is in your mouth

eye patch

Sunday breakfast at a nearby cafe was seducing us, and I elected to wear an eye patch over my infected eye. I was more than a little reluctant to do so, as I still harbour resentment for all the comments I had to exist through when I had my eye removed all those years ago.

“Which comment do you think we will be entertained with first?” I asked Mr FD. “Did you hit her, mate? What does the other bloke look like? Or where’s your parrot?”

Men usually  led with the did you hit her query, so Mr FD went with it for old times sake.

We entered the busy cafe, ordered, ate and lingered at our table near the front desk and no one said a word. The waitress hinted that she noticed my very obvious black eye patch (the only choice at the pharmacy when I sent Mr FD off to procure one, alas and alack no pearls)  by saying “here you are dear,” with a soft lingering dear, but not another word otherwise. She probably thought Mr FD hit me too…

Two little boys sent me long looks as they stood beside their grandmother as she paid the bill. The teacher and grandmother within me ( a lethal combination for creating niceness, sadly) shouldered forth and so I started to chat with them.

And of course the first thing I said?

“I look like a pirate, don’t I?”

Own goal.

A fashion leader of distinction.

Suzy Parker in Chanel, 1956.

In the first flush of my summer vacation, I culled some of the clothing in my closet and donated them to charity. There is a charity bin at a near by church and I dropped the bags off there.

Walking down the main street of our Village this week, I happened by the “Thrift Store” and there, as the front window display were many of the clothing items I had discarded!

It is one thing to donate one’s clothes, but to actually see them on display as the window draw card is a whole different experience!

 

I had a similar experience about fifteen years ago when I donated a very 1970s red polka dot blouse, only to see one of my co-workers wearing it a month or two later. She was so proud of her vintage find! I could never bring myself to inform her that she was wearing my cast off; but I did say that I thought it was a beautiful blouse!

Poor dears, the clothing will always look better on me

Ladies who lunch

lunch Jerry Schatzberg 3

“Table for three? Follow me.”

Three on a rectangle table; which seat to choose? Do I sit beside one of my friends, or do I sit on the solo side?

Slide to the table first and let it be someone else’s decision. Do not, DO NOT, analyse why number two sat opposite and not beside you.

“I knew we were coming to lunch so I haven’t eaten all morning. I am so hungry!” she says.

Instand relaxation. Me too. “I’ll have the oil soaked, high fat cream based pasta with extra cheese and thrown in both scollops and chicken; maybe some bacon as well.”

The so hungry one orders, “The salad with lemon dressing.”

So does the third wheel at the table.

“Drinks Ladies?”

The waiter is looking a me. I have to order first off the rank. Last luncheon they all ordered wine. “I’ll have the white wine”.

“I’ll just have water for now.”

So does the third wheel at the table.

“Coffee ladies?”

“Flat white” you say.

They both order cappuccino. At last some common ground; we all drink coffee. YAY.

“Mug or cup?”

He’s looking at me again. Brute, he knows this game too well.

You hesitate, waiting for one of them to make a decision first. They don’t. They all wait for you…

“Mug” you say surrendering to your fate, “Mug for me, thanks.”

“Cup” they both say.

Did that waiter just wink “gotcha!” at me? Damn, sometimes I wish Australian’s tipped, and then I could get my revenge.

“Oh and waiter,” says I,” the dessert menu too, please.” Smile is innocent and sweet. “And another glass of white.”

No one challenges Flamingo Dancer.

how horrors can become motivation, or what is that I see before me?

glasses 1

Woke up with the horrors due to the realisation that the RETURN TO SCHOOL looms closer every day, and all those things I was going to do, are as yet undone. I have had some lovely naps though!

So down to the village centre to choose new eye glasses. A couple of times I have bounded into optometrists for an eye examination, been handed a script for new glasses and then found that their range of glasses didn’t exactly thrill me, but out of a sense of, “oh you did my eye exam I should buy the glasses here too” settled for a pair.

This time I wised up - a bit of a slow learner as I have been wearing glasses since the age of 14! My first pair a John Lennon influenced pair  which I still have in a drawer somewhere. I digress.

This time I vowed that I would choose the glasses and only when I was satisfied they had the goods would I make an examination appointment. I went to the local, and only optometrist in the village, with a very faint belief that they would have what I imagined I wanted. We believe in buying local as much as possible, otherwise we won’t have the convenience of those stores when we are older and less inclined to drive to other towns.

I bowled in and told the assistant my nefarious plan, and that I was looking to be a face with glasses, not glasses with a face. Within minutes she had zeroed in on exactly when I imagined I wanted, and hark the angels!, they actually looked fantastic on me, even if I say so myself, and I do! The frames could also support graduated, transitional lenses as well! Then she showed me a pair of sunnies that could get similar treatment (I drive into the sun both to and from work each day) and my life was complete. I have an appointment for the eye test tomorrow.

glasses tinted

Then onto the local and only shoe store, and amongst all the return to school shoes I found two pairs of black shoes suitable for work. It was a good day to shop local.

Little over an hour later I had ticked glasses, shoes and groceries off the list and I was back in the garage “asking” Mr FD to “assist” in unloading groceries.

I still have the horrors at going back to work though. I was meant for a much more genteel life…

A day in a first world country

bucket

Nothing about Monday went quite as planned. I had to pull (nag) Mr FD out of bed early for him to contact a plumber. Now, I am not one of those women who think plumbing is a man’s area and therefore I can’t, or won’t phone a plumber. No. It is just that, as evidenced by yesterday’s post, Mr FD had his head down the grease trap and so had a vague idea of what needed to be discussed. So, I performed my role as wife, and promoted (nagged) the early morning phone call. Mr FD declared triumphantly that the plumber was named Red, and promised to be over in about an hour!

SON was standing on the patio when he saw the plumber drive up the neighbours’ drive way, and then leave again. People are always going up the neighbouring driveway despite our clear instructions as to where the drive entrance is located. It is because there is a shrub concealing the driveway, and I have “suggested” on more than one occasion that Mr FD needs to remove said tree, or at least prune it down low. (I know what I would like to prune down low!) His defence, of which he obviously has many, is that he likes the privacy! My reply is, “Remember that when the ambulance can’t find you!”

We convinced ourselves that the plumber was stupid and not being able to find us, ran away. Mr FD showed surprising initiative and rang Red the plumber to explain the issue. He promised to pass on the directions to his son who was to be our plumber for the day. Half an hour later he arrived, and first we were enlightened that “Red” was in fact “Greg” and never would be “Red” no matter how many times Mr FD insisted on calling him the wrong name! Also seems that our plumber was also doing a job for our neighbour who owned a rental property not far away and so had gone between both places. How to make a good first impression right?

Turns out the problem wasn’t the grease trap, but tree roots blocking the grey water system. The problem was soon solved, and the bill will follow in the mail.

Late afternoon, thunder storms rolled in, and after an incredible crack of lightning and thunder we lost power – for the next three hours. Loss of power for us, also means loss of water as our house is situated above a council water tank, that apparently uses an electric pump to get the water up the hill to the houses on our side of the hill.

We made a pact to only flush the toilet if we really had too (two, get it? number two! I know so witty). First time I went in, I kept repeating to myself “don’t flush, don’t flush”. A bit like Basil Fawlty and “don’t mention the war” – yes, I went to automatic pilot and flushed, even though it wasn’t absolutely required. Luckily, we have a second toilet! True to nature, Mr FD had to follow my lead but he really did have to flush, and so we were left with two empty cisterns.

After a drink (from the fridge) to consider his options, Mr FD and Augie Dog walked down the hill to fetch two pails of water from the tanks to refill. Oddly, no one needed to use the facilities after that!

Nothing much to do, except fill our wine glasses and sit on the patio in what was I tried to tell myself was cool air.

Mr FD has taken to watching TV with the volume down and the captions on, so as not to disturb me at night during his late viewing. This was not an issue with our previous two storey house, but now we are in a low set, and someone’s hearing is not as pristine as it once was, so after I “suggest” (yell) that the TV is too loud he goes to captions. Survival skills, they make marriage workable.

bubble tumblr_mxclosUBh31qaobbko1_500

Sitting on the patio, drink in hand, there was nothing more to do than listen to the birds… and the dogs…and the cars in the distance. You get it. Mr FD, who is quite taken with the caption idea, started verbalising the sounds as captions. A bird would tweet, and he would say, “A bird tweets”. Dog barks, “Dog barks in the distance”.  This went on for about twenty minutes after which I informed Mr FD that he should never join a meditation group, as they would not appreciate him narrating the background sounds as they tuned in, acknowledged and released their surroundings.

He continued.

I refilled my glass.

Would a rose smell as sweet?

Augie Dog discovered it first. He found something terribly interesting in the corner of his play yard, and a not too close inspection by SON and his nose revealed the smelly reality that the grease trap had overflowed.

We live on the outskirts of a county town, and though the high school is just a couple hundred metres down the hill, we are not connected to the town’s sewerage system. We have a grey water and a septic system. The grease trap flows into the grey water which in turn flows onto our lawns and gardens. It is a system that works well…usually.

The real estate agent suggested that we clean the grease trap out every month or so, and the septic a couple of times of year. Mr FD adheres to his own maintenance program, which is wait until something breaks and then pay someone to fix it!

Of course the grease trap chose the weekend to overflow. Luckily it wasn’t yesterday during the 44C heat. It only reached a high of 35C so out SON and Mr FD went to scope out the situation. Mr FD has some experience in these matters having lived in Brisbane as a child before the city was sewered.

SON and what appears to be a headless MR FD and their new favourite buddy, the grease trap!

SON and what appears to be a headless MR FD and their new favourite buddy, the grease trap!

After about 20 minutes, Mr FD came through the house on his way to retrieve a tool from the garage. From my air conditioned comfort in the living room I heard him muttering to himself, “Let’s move to the country. What a great idea!”

Not long afterwards I felt a slither of sympathy for them, and took out some cold drinks. Son was on his knees cleaning out the trap, while Mr FD provided his advice and opinions from the comfort of a wicker chair in the shade! His defence was that he was exhausted from sweating!

SON did the best he could with limited knowledge, and in intense heat, but we all decided that it is a job for the professionals. It is the original system from 1986 so I can hear the kerching! of the repair bill already.

I guess we should be grateful that it didn’t happen over Christmas when we had a house filled with family, but just occasionally it might be nice to have a moment or two with a couple dollars in the bank!

Now we have to keep Augie our of his yard as he goes straight for the overflow area. The smell is putrid, as expected, so the windows would be shut even if it wasn’t due to the heat! I bet the grass grows well in that area later though!

In the meantime, to stop more water overflowing, the dishwasher and the washing machine, which we found was also connected to the grey water system,  are banned.

I thought it might be a great excuse to order take out Chinese to save piling up pans and saucepans, but when I tried to phone through an order, I discovered they are closed for a couple days, which often happens around this time of year, when businesses assume everyone is at the beach on holiday. Bit tough though when it is the only take out in town, except for a greasy spoon that cooks everything in what must be a combinations of lard, beef fat and mutton oil that reappears through your pores within moments of digesting.

Tough times in the country!

Australia… the roasted side of life

temp

44 Celsius yesterday. 111.2 in the old language. Hot. Nothing to be done but to shut every window and door, crank the air conditioner down, down, down and keep any movement, or effort to a minimum.

Opening a door resulted in a rush of furnace hot air. 2013 was Australia’s hottest year since records commenced. 2014 is obviously a competitive little year and out to best that record.

For the past few days the nightly news has been filled with clips of people in outback areas of Queensland frying eggs on roadsides and footpaths. I suggested to Mr FD that he go outside and fry an egg or two on the driveway and I would film him for YouTube and he didn’t even reply, merely gave me a look that clearly expressed that he thought I was more than a little touched by the sun. You expect me to move?

Even Augie Dog refused to go out for even the quickest toilet break. His favourite position was lying belly side up on the couch, only raising his head if he though food was being moved in the kitchen. He scored an ice block or two for what effort he did exhibit – allowing me to lift his head and place the ice block next to his mouth.

Fruit bats were dropping dead out of trees in one country town. Recently the townspeople were calling for a cull because the town was besieged by bats, now they die of natural causes (?) and they complain that there are dead bats everywhere. Some people are never satisfied!

And summer is obviously an overachiever!

bath 1

Sound of my Australian summer – the cicada insect

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAc6sPDsp68

This video was taken in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, but it is exactly the sound track to our summer days here in Queensland. The hotter the day the louder they seem to be – all day!

The narration would go as follows:

“Oh listen the cicadas are singing!”

“Isn’t this wonderful! The sound of the cicada reminds me of all the summers of my childhood!”

“They are still singing! How many hours has it been now?”

“Another beautiful day – and the cicadas are singing again!”

“I wonder how many cicadas are out there?”

“They’ve been singing for a  week now!”

“Do they have a natural predator?”

“Now, that I think about it, I think my Dad used to spray them…”

“Shut those bloody things up!”

“I am going out to kill the cicadas, I may be some time…”

cicada

two days after Christmas with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas two days after Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a computer mouse;
The stockings were lying by the chimney abandoned,
For St. Nicholas was long gone;
And the children were nestled all snug in their own homes,
While visions of gift card purchases swirled in their heads,

And Mr FD in his loose waisted shorts, and I in my pearls,
Had just settled our brains for a long afternoon nap —
When out in the laundry there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the hall I flew like a flash,
Tore open the door, and threw up my gasp.
The sun on the breast of another 36C day,
Gave the heat of summer to everything inside;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a full basket of wet laundry,
Vibrated off the machine top, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Mr FD’s quandary.
More rapid than eagles his excuses they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and blamed them by name:
“Now! Daughter1, now! Daughter2, now! Mr Boy and Son,
“On! Augie, on! Petite Fille, on! Visitors and Relatives;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild cyclone fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the excuses they flew,
With the rooms full of  apologies — and accusations too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard the voice in my head
The prancing and pawing of each little truth.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the neurons inside words came with a bound.
My clothing may be all glamour, from my underthings  to my scarves,
But the laundry were now tarnish’d with dog hair and fluff ;
For a bundle of  wet clothing had been flung on the floor,
And I would look like a peddler who took no fuss:
Mr FD’s eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll bearded mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was white with the coconut flakes lingering there;
The stump of a sausage he held tight in his teeth,
And the aroma of garlic  it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a smug little face, and a giant round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right sodden old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had everything to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And text’d all the children; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up his laughter it rose.
He sprung to his ipad, to record such a moment,
And away flew my calm resolve, like the down of a thistle:
For I heard him exclaim, ere he dove out of sight —
This message to all, and to all - FD admits a fault!

washing sign