Murphy’s Law No 147(b)

If you have a puncture while cycling, it will be in the proximity of the furthest point from home.          

Being  a disciplined thinker, I didn’t invoke any special inference the last time I had a puncture just after I turned to go home and had to walk 2 miles to get there. However, it seemed more than coincidence when I had a puncture yesterday, just 100 metres from where I turned to go home. This time it was a 4 mile walk.

Maybe next time it will be 8 miles from home… except that I am going to carry one of those puncture fix kits from now on!

black schnauzerJust as well for that bit of reverse fortune, as the black dog had slunk in for a sombre lurk and the enforced march cleared the air; black dogs don’t like competition, so it slunk off!

I think it slipped in with my tax return. This is my 4th year of involuntary unemployment, so I have little to distract the taxman with. That doesn’t make completion of the form any easier! One would think that by now the Revenue dudes would have worked out an idiot proof format so that any dummy could complete a return…

But… wait… maybe they did … and my brain has atrophied to super-idiot size…!  See how easily the black dog slinks in? Its the government’s fault and I don’t have a vote even though I do pay tax…. rage can get the endorphins flowing nearly as well as exercise!

My consolation is that I have time to enjoy the birds making their nests and write mimosawonderful books about myself and sniff the subtle anisescent of the spring flowering mimosa on the wattle trees.

photoOf great joy right now is the bright colours of my nasturtiums, which are nearly my favourite flowers now, especially as they are entirely edible: flowers, leaves and seeds

Hmmm… maybe I should be finding a new project to distract me – this design by IKEA caught my eye:

ikea-flat-pack-garden.jpg

It’s a flat-pack garden farm of the future – I have the plans if anyone wants to build one: all you need is a saw, hammer and a screwdriver.

Or maybe this is more your style? ikea garden

Whatever – the point is that we all need to start growing our own vegetables…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We don’t know how lucky we are!

Here in the Redlands Shire of Queensland, we probably have the best living conditions in the world!redlands survey2017 p1 2017-07-06 001

Take a look at the major issues of the shire! Wow! Drugs are the major threat – a modern day Nirvana affliction.

Traffic is a problem because we have too many cars!  There is horror when the two coincide:

  • Driving along a main road recently we nearly got taken out by a spaced out punk in a hot rod spinning out doing a wheelie at an intersection. He lost control doing a 360⁰ spin which missed our car on the other side of the road by inches!

And you think living in Syria is dangerous, or Paris, Brussels, London or New York..!

But our rural roots come through in the swing to the right that is evident in the attitudes below.

surv p2

But look at the support for euthanasia and medical marijuana! And the sugar tax!

So we rich people want to get skinnier, die when we choose and do so happily!

We see China as a big threat but are happy to take their money for our exports, sell them our property and encourage their tourists.

What are the questions not asked?

Do you support increased Police powers including:

  • invasion of privacy of communications
  • shoot to kill if there is a  threat to life
  • preventative arrest and detention of terror suspects…?

We are not back to the death penalty yet, but it may come back to that…!

Another touchy political subject is student loan debts … perhaps no more loans unless a 75% pass rate is achieved? And don’t leave the country until you have paid what you owe?

Lucky I am not standing for election! In a social welfare funded state, clawing back what has been granted in the past is a political nightmare.

Therein lies the root of the failure of liberalism – if you swing too far and maktrump-fingere too many allowances, the return swing becomes very lumpy – ask the US Democrats!

 

Not only do we need to count our blessings, we also need to ensure we don’t give them away!!

 

never-let-society

Early morning Spring song

I let Lulu out this morning

And walked on the dewy lawn

While she sniffed and wee’d.

morning star

The morning star still guarded the departing night

Bright and clear, defying its extinction.

Grey pink clouds foretold the arrival of big brother Sun.

 

Butcher birds are singing choruses to each other;

The honey eater is twitter-chattering,

mimosa

Yellow mimosa is breaking out;

Nasturtiums are overflowing –

the bright orange and yellow petals promising joy.

purple bauhiniaBauhinia, the purple herald is in flower.

 

The air is soft and the breeze gentle.

Time again to awake and welcome the new year.

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba,

Early morning singing song*

*Chorus from Good Morning Starshine by Oliver – sing it out aloud, it’s quite easy!

I knew I was going to die/ Bike rides in the ‘burbs II

Yesterday was a lovely cool morning and I set off for a quick ride. Up the hill to the cycle track, down the hill to the river. There is a curve around and on to the bridge.

I havecycle crash had an accident here before

(see: https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2016/09/18/bike-rides-in-the-burbs ) when it was dark and I narrowly missed a man and his dog and his other dog, but hit the third one, (thereby hangs a tail). Consequently, I always have a good scan of the wooden bridge which is visible through the trees.

 

The reason for this is I love speeding down the hill and swooping round the curve onto the bridge. The planks rattle and the occasional moorhen squawks and flees – exhilarating for a 65 year old!

All clear -no sign of movement – down I went, grinning with joy! I swooped round the corner and looked ahead…

What the…! You are going to die! At least it will be quick! WHUMP!!

I came round on the bridge planks under a tree and just wanted to lie thetree on bridgere…

A tree which grew next to the bridge had fallen onto the bridge, lying lengthways along the walkway. That’s what I hit, like a parachutist hurtling into a forest, sideways.

After I realised I was too sore to be in heaven, I checked if I could move and got up with some difficulty from under the tree and on top of my bike. My head felt very thick and my back ribs were talking in very spiky language.

I managed to disentangle myself and the bike, replaced my helmet and set off back up the hill to home, which was about 600 yards away.

The resident nurse suggested I should go to hospital for a check-up and kindly drove me there.

X-rays showed no fracture and head scan no concussion (over 65  and loss of consciousness requires scan).

They prescribed painkillers (thank you thank you) and said I would be very sore, which was spot –on.

Strange – I had a bleeding scratch on my leg which they totally ignored.

Reasonably pleasant and efficient experience. Even the nurse who asked me which arm I wanted the tetanus injection in and I suggested hers.

Quite sore as bruised ribs can be but otherwise all well, if a bit older and wiser.

Talk about karma or serendipity or whatever … I hit the tree at the exact spot I had hit the third dog, three years before. And on my shamble back home who should I see in the park with his three dogs? You guessed it!

Lessons:

  • I really thought I was going to die and was relieved it would be quick
  • Bicycle helmets are fit for purpose – I have “tested” mine four times; flying over handlebars into solid items and not even been concussed!
  • Never accelerate unless you can see the road ahead clearly
  • It’s good to be alive!

 

Fishcakes

Even though I say it myself, I regard my culinary talents as adventurous, even challenging!

I only married in my 30’s, so had a fair bit of cooking experience in my bachelor days, despite living in Africa where cooks were often employed for most meals. Of course being an African male, I am an experienced vleis braaier, which is Afrikaans for ‘meat guerrilla’.

braai-vleisThe braaivleis, known as barbeque in many parts of the world, is a cultural practice which involves the cooking of piles of meat. The cooking often takes place after a few drinks and is not really that important; the meat just has to look cooked. It often does in the evening twilight, after a few beers…

But I am not here to talk about meat, of which, I have realised, I eat too much. Accordingly, I have resolved to give up meat for Lent in accordance with older traditions and instead of beer.

My wife is perturbed as I said that I would eat more fish, which she is not fond of. So I have set out to show her that there is no need to fear, by cooking some fishcakes as a surprise.

In order to ensure a special dish, I used my pilchards in chili sauce, which I had been saving pilchards-chilifor a treat. I combined it with some bread crumbs of the nutty, seedy bread she prefers. To make the mixture more special and because she doesn’t like raw onion, I used sliced pickled onion, which I thought was quite innovative. To add some colour, I added a couple of sliced pepperdews, small red capsicums in a sweet syrup. I mixed in an egg for binding, salt and pepper seasoning and some finely chopped parsley from the garden. Simple!

Please note, this was my own recipe!

The mixture made six and a half cakes, which I fried in olive oil. Even though I say it myself, they were delicious! (A couple fell apart, so I had to eat them for lunch).

To my consternation, my wife turned down the fishcakes without hesitation – she doesn’t like tuna, chili or my cooking, especially when I try different ingredients…

Looks like I’ll be cooking for myself for the 40 days of Lent.

P.S. I had a nibble of half a cake before I went to bed. I must confess I had a very weird dream about riding a brown ox which was chased by a lion past a lion reserve full of identical lions following each other, holding the tail of the foremost one in their mouths…

afrikaner-ox

If I was King of Australia

… I would decree that all homeowners would be required to have rainwater tanks, solar energy, groparsley sage.jpgw vegetables and fruit in their garden and keep chickens.

In this little garden, we have a few basic herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (I feel a song coming on)  as well as chives, lavender, garlic and turmeric.

We will soon have a sufficiency of lemons and the yellow guava tree has a score of fruit. I cut down my first paw-paws for not producing enough fruit, but one has re-sprouted and the sprout has two fruit. Hopefully, it will be a lesson for my two new-fangled, self-pollinating red papayas, which are really shooting up. Our fig tree should bear next summer and our solitary pineapple is nearing fruition.

Our raised-from-seed granadillas gave us a score of fruit in their first year; if we are lucky we will get a second harvest.

The chubby maroon cherry guava looks likguava-cherrye it’s perfect for harvest. Sadly, it’s too late – it is already over-ripe and will have a rotten, fermented fruit taste and smell and likely a number of lively fat grubs.

I have never seen such a bountiful crop. I munch one or two green-yellow skin ones which are at the safely edible stage of ripeness; I don’t see any worms, but then I don’t look.

The rainbow lorikeets add their greens, reds and yellows to the tree and at night the flying foxes squabble over them. I bet they can smell the fruit from a mile away.

I think of my grandmother, who we called Gogo (pr: gawkaw) in the Swazi way. She would boil them up and strain them through muslin to make guava jelly – the perfect accompaniment for the impala roasts of the winter to come. We got to lick the wooden spoon and the bowl.

Now that I have become old and fat, I have become an anti-sugar Nazi, so can’t make the jelly which requires pounds of the sweet poison. But it saddens me. I am happy when my friend Grant comes and noshes a few of the fruit, recalling his childhood too.

tamarillosWould you like some tree tomatoes! Called tamarillos here, they are bountiful on my tree and I can’t eat them all. Flying foxes and possums find their smooth waxy skin too difficult, so I have to dispose of the whole crop. Lots of giveaways, to protect me from gout, caused by too much tomato. (Definitely not beer!). What will I do when the second tree comes into fruit? – I may have to go commercial!

Our bountiful garden gives me great joy. A hydroponic system is under consideration but may be too finicky; chickens have been vetoed. I am not yet King of Australia.

Nevertheless, go forth and cultivate!

Toned down

'I think I'm going deaf - I can't hear the horse whisperer.'My deafness began 35 odd years ago when I parted my hair with a rifle bullet. Not deliberately of course, but carelessly, following the dictates of my empty belly and breakfast waiting on the table.

During the Rhodesian bush war, it was the norm on farms to carry weapons in case of terrorist attack. In my haste I had left my loaded G3 rifle next to my bed, then remembered, so went to make it safe.

Sitting on the bed, I followed the usual process:  unlatching the magazine, I cleared the round in the breech, released the safety catch and leaning forward with the barrel next to my head, pulled the trigger to ease the tension on the spring.

The magazine had not properly detached and a second round had fed into the breech, unnoticed.

The detonation was very loud and I looked up to see a hole in the roof, then down as the farmer’s wife came screeching along the passage from her bath, thinking it was an attack!

I had felt the bullet blast through the hair on the left of my head and could only hear a loud ringing, which continued for some time. We had a nervous laugh and finished breakfast. The farmer’s lady got dressed.

My hearing returned gradually and I was a star turn at the club that day, demonstrating my ability to whistle through my ears. That was the beginning of my gradual deafness.

Being hard of hearing made Ursula every pharmacy customer's worst nightmare.In about 2002, my children and wife’s complaints sent me to an audiologist and a set of hearing aids, which I used desultorily. They rusted up and were useless by 2010.

When we moved to Australia, I sought work in a call centre, so felt the need to get new aids – very expensive. But I lost the job and didn’t get another one, so petulantly ignored my hearing aids.

My friends with characteristic kindness speak up when addressing me, but I miss a lot of the asides and others’ chats; I also turn the TV sound way up. So I have started to use my hearing aids again.

They are not perfect despite 2 settings, and some 'I'm really beginning to feel my age, Lou. Irene used the can opener today and I didn't even hear it.'sounds are piercingly sharp, while others remain indistinct. One of my children and two of my daughters’ partners mumble, another lisps, my wife and the other two children are soft spoken.

A much more serious aspect is that I am an easy sleeper, my wife is not. We have a new puppy who wails in the night. Sometimes our blue ring neck parakeet shrieks for seeds and I miss that too. It’s all tinnitus to me, but my wife gets up. I would if I heard, but I don’t. I have asked her to wake me to attend to our little princess.

I have tended to withdraw a wee bit of late, which has alarmed my children as I usually have plenty to say. It’s just that I am uncomfortable continuously seeking repetition.

Quite naturally people forget or find coherent conversation difficult … and so it goes.

As John Milton put it, it’s a mild yoke.free-state-drakensberg-evening

In compensation, I find that my appreciation of colour has increased immensely: sunrise, sunset, plumage, flowers and autumn leaves all make me gush – that really makes people smile at my foibles.

So that is why I am a wee bit quieter these days.