Change is better than a holiday

The weather persists at being not-very-autumnal, but there is apparently still the instinct to prepare the burrow for winter. I’ve noticed among friends and family local to me that I’m not the only person going through the urge to rearrange and offload items no longer needed before the seasons change.

A common sight in Australia, or at least around the Perth metropolitan area, is roadside collection. Our normal weekly rubbish is removed by a truck with a big robotic arm rather than physically handled by the rubbish collecting people, so household goods like furniture and large items aren’t placed out on rubbish day. To account for this, many of the city councils announce they will be taking large items from the roadside at a designated time. This is, of course, a treasure trove of pre-loved furniture and other goodies, if you’re willing to browse through what some people have deemed rubbish.

That whole “one man’s trash” idiom at work.

I’d been looking at buying some new shelves and lamenting the high cost of such things – remember, the instinct to prepare for the coming winter had set in already, because I swear, the seasons will change and it will be glorious and rainy and gods, I can only hope this growing drought breaks in a big way. Then I saw roadside collection had started while driving through to work. Of course, I love recycling/upcycling, and generally finding ways to reuse valuable resources instead of seeing them sent to landfill. In the process, I also get a bunch of things I need for free? Awesome.

For a couple of days, the housemates and I set out to cruise around those neighbourhoods. We affectionately referred to the process as “scrubbing”. You know, the TLC song? Scrubs have no money? Well, maybe you had to be there to really get it, but the experience was both rewarding in terms of the many great pieces of furniture which were salvaged, plus we spent several hours entertaining ourselves.

We filled the front room with our acquisitions, and have spent the subsequent days clearing space, donating old goods of our own to the local charity shops, and rearranging half the house. It feels good. Change is better than a holiday, because it’s more permanent, and makes a difference every day.

~A

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The great birdscapade

We used to keep birds; Australian native Budgerigars and Cockatiels (or, as we call them, Weiros). It’s been a while, though, and since our last Budgie girl died, we haven’t had any pet birds, and her big old cage got stored into the garden shed.

I went to the store with a relative this morning and saw a small Weiro on the road. He kind of flung himself around, ending up in a nearby tree. It was instantly obvious he was very young, and likely an escaped domestic-bred bird. By the looks of his tired flapping, he’d been out in the very welcome summer thunder storms which have been lashing Perth.

I tried to coax the little fella out of the tree. He looked down at me and chirruped, but didn’t seem to know what to do. We decided to make our way to the store and grab some bird seed while we were there, in case he stayed in the tree.

Naturally, the poor young bird had remained in place, too cold and tired to bother trying to figure out what to do in the big, wide world. He seemed really interested in the handful of bird seed I held up to him, but when that didn’t achieve anything, I climbed on top of the car and used a long stick to try and lead him out of the tree.

He climbed right onto the stick, and with the quick reflexes of my relative, he was captured! He chittered and tried to nip with his beak, so we jumped back in the car and let him go. There was a little flying around the car, but the Weiro settled quickly and seemed to decide we weren’t all bad after all. Then came the hilarious drive home with a loose Weiro strutting up and down the dashboard. He didn’t seem to the journey back, and while I ran and collected the old bird cage from the backyard, he even took a quick doze on the dash.

For the time being, he’s living in the bathroom. Those storms are still charging through, and it’s the best room of the house to keep the bird away from my cat flock. On that note, one of the cats grew up around birds and is completely indifferent, one of them is ridiculously interested (to the point of hanging off the side of the cage if you’re not watching closely), and one of them is actually a little frightened. After all, the Weiro doesn’t much like the kitties, and he lowers his body and spreads his wings and tail feathers out to make himself look super big – for a little bird.

We’ll be looking to see if anyone’s lost him in the area; being a bird, he could’ve travelled some distance before the stormy weather tired him out. If we can’t find an owner, well, it looks like we’ll have a bird again.

~A

On being a relentless recluse

I just realised it’s after 9:00PM on Sunday night. There was a lot I intended on doing this weekend, and I suspect I only got a small fraction of it completed. Nothing new in that sense – I frequently find my plans disrupted by other activities, or in this case, repressive weather turning me incredibly lethargic.

Summer isn’t exactly my season, particularly here in Western Australia. In the general Perth region, we don’t get it too bad, but the older I am, the lower my temperature threshold creeps. Even this early, just a few days into official summer, I just want to sit in a cool, darkened room for most of the day.

Aside from reading a lot thanks to the awesome birthday gifts I received, I’ve still been busy. I can honestly say I’m more interested in my story, and the lengthy process of editing it, than I am in almost every other form of entertainment at my disposal. Considering the vast quantities and especially the new release video games I’ve been waiting for, that really says something. So if I’m not glued to the very nice screen of my Kindle, I’m on the computer, engrossed in ever more editing.

When two days pass without my notice, it suddenly hits me that I have been holed up in my room for almost that whole time. And days before, except for essential departures; work, groceries, and so on. If it weren’t for the internet and all my exceptional, multi-national buddies, I wouldn’t have had much contact with the outside world.

In the heat of my room, despite the valiant efforts of my freestanding air conditioner, I’m sleepy and just a little content with being away from the world for a while. It’s humid and even warmer outside. I’m too distracted and tired to pay attention to other people, and forgetful besides.

All that’s missing is another rain dance.

~A

It’s a cracked mud sky

The clouds which fill the sky are like a thin layer of silver-grey mud, laying dried and cracked over the dark blue expanse of night. Our waxing gibbous moon shines with such intensity that there is a rainbow halo pushing through the clouds. In the gaps between greyness you catch a twinkling of stars here and there. I miss being further away from the city, where the sky seems more starlight than darkness. The more alone you get, the more together and reachable the universe seems.

Somehow the air is clear and crisp, not a trace of mist or haze, and the lights across the river are reflecting brightly. A radio tower with a blinking red light at its peak is the silent sentry over the night. It stands upon a hill and casts its crimson glow into the air. Toward the middle of the river is where its reflection falls, and the water is ruffled, dancing for its own inconceivable reasons. If I had the time, and an inclination towards impish frivolity, I might even take one of the small boats tied by the water’s edge for a joyride. But no, I’m just too well-behaved for that.

There is a surprising lack of people around. It’s early enough that there should be someone still practicing sports on the playing field nearby, but the oval is empty and unlit. It’s too cold for the smell of grass to carry over to me, there is only the scent of chilled moisture. Even though the first whispers of spring show during the day, I still need a coat. Two trees in my yard are bursting with flowers, one covered in yellow, and the other ranging from white to purple, the petals changing colour as they age on the branch.

The six seasons of Australia are always most evident the harder I wish for winter to stay around. To the local native people, August and September is the time of Djilba, the warming season. No amount of European/English classification will change what Australia gives me. The cold rains have mostly passed until next year. There won’t be many more opportunities to lay by a fire and read while a freezing storm lashes from the west. Time goes on, and indeed, everything is changing.

~A

Of all the best intentions

I make plans to blog on Sunday, and that’s fine. I forget it’s Sunday when it is. I remember, and half-write a post. I get distracted and irritable, then watch anime for four hours (finally got around to watching Darker Than Black, and it’s all kinds of awesome). I forget it’s Sunday again, or forget I meant to blog, I’m not sure which happened anymore.

Monday morning, and I look back over the past week of taking a break from most major writing. I’m feeling the urge coming back, but I still have a handful of other responsibilities. I ignore half of them, and read the internet to see what other people were doing while I was asleep. Then I remember to blog, and come to write this post.

After walking beside the beach yesterday, I want to take a little more time. Relax, hang out. We’ve got something vacation-like booked in a week or thereabouts, but as with all organised holidays, it’s never really that chill for me. There are Things that we Will Be Doing. It’s planned. I enjoy going to new places, and it’s awesome that my husband gets so excited to be doing something different, but it won’t be the same as just sitting around outside.

Some people write long blogs, and I could do that. Keep going, talk more in-depth about my thoughts, my work, whatever comes to mind. But I write short, as just a window into my daydreams. As with all the best intentions, I’d like to go laze about under the rain, but I’ll probably get back to writing a story soon. I can feel it building.

~A

Dinner, and the weather

I guess some people have a problem with writers including observations of the weather in their stories? I don’t understand that. I love weather, and it’s always something I’m aware of. My favourite weather is the cold and rainy days that dim the sun and make me just want to curl up beside a fire, favourite book in hand and a tidy selection of Royal Gala apples available to eat throughout the day.

For me, including a small note about the weather or the season in my writing is just a natural thing. I don’t do it constantly, and I definitely don’t have any preconceptions about “dark and stormy nights”, because all my dark and stormy nights have been perfectly normal, or simply thrilling in the way lightning has filled the sky with wild blue and white bolts. Sure, it’s not essential, but there’s that degree of normalcy for me, and it can go a long way towards explaining character behaviours or putting additional conflicts in their path (the need for shelter from the elements, for a start).

On a vaguely unrelated note, I notice that fantasy works often discuss foods. Not only that, but the foods are frequently all of the “hunted a boar, roasting it now” variety, complete with mead, ale, or some wine or other. There might even be trenchers of bread! Dark bread, and rich gravy, and hard cheese. If you’ve read any more than a handful of fantasy novels, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I am personally a big fan of eating. Food is awesome, sharing meals with loved ones is a special thing, and it’s just damn tasty. So I have a similar preoccupation with food as I do with the weather, but I’m not as driven to write about banquets, feasts and other such typical meals. I lean toward just include foods as a part of another scene; maybe the characters are preparing a meal as they talk, or they are interrupted eating to attend to other matters.

I think my take on weather and food is part of my “style”, as it is intrinsic to me. Without those little additions, I don’t think my stories would have the same sense of life to them.

~A