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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Exploration

Easter was not meant to be spent holed up in a writing cave. After two excellent days hanging out with our best buddies, I was dragged out of the house once again by the father and the husband to go trekking around the bush. We went to one of the many National Parks in Western Australia, surrounded by gorgeous forest, and scrambling up to the top of a granite mountain. Mountain, in this instance, is a relative term.

The part I love most about climbing up the granite in WA is how the alien lichens, mosses, and odd little rock plants sprout up and fill the depressions in the stone with a miniature forest of its own.

All throughout the bush and forest were giant orb weaver spiders. Their webs spanned several feet in some instances! We were graced by the company of an echidna, though he must’ve been pretty weirded out by us walking through his land, because he stuffed his snout under a rock and wouldn’t move.

Here’s an artistic rendition of the video the husband took, largely featuring me walking as we came down from the top of the mount.

~A

Previewing the portrait

There are a number of you who have already seen this picture through Facebook! But of course, for the rest, I’m happy to blog and show you the preview of my most excellent photo shoot last Friday. And yes, sate your curiosity about the hair colour I chose! What do you think?

This is, officially, me being an author. Here’s a larger version, too.

My photographer was simply amazing. Kylie showed what she wanted from me with clear direction and has a wonderful eye for location and setting. We tried a few places in the historical and scenic port town of Fremantle, though the best shots ended up down a random little alley in front of this awesome wooden loading door, complete with flaking paint and worn bricks behind me. I love the colours, texture, and lighting. We had so much fun!

If anyone is looking for a photographer in Perth, I give the highest recommendation for Kylie. You can find her through her website, Photography by Kylie, or the Facebook Page for her business.

~A

Boobook has a family!

I always keep an ear open for the call of the boobook owl who lives on the sprawling grounds of my workplace. Every so often, I get to see a flash of his grey wings as he zooms by, no doubt on the hunt for some delicious mouse or moth, but he is a reclusive fellow. I do hear him from afar, though, and sometimes call back to him with the sound that names his kind: “boo-book, boo-book”.

In this past week, I’ve been doing some different duties at work, and its taken me to other areas on the site which I don’t normally see. Since I work afternoon-evenings, it’s been dark by the time I get to these locations. There are plenty of large trees, and so many kinds of birds and even some microbats, that nights are filled with animals sounds and the constant movement of insects and creatures.

In one of the lovely great trees I’ve been walking under each night, I could hear an odd chittering sound from within the branches. It could have been any kind of bird, even one confused by the nearby lighting. I’d stopped and tried to get a peek of the animal before, but my eyes just aren’t made for night-vision, much to my disappointment.

This evening, on the final night of my other responsibilities, I look up again at the faint sounds. Where the branches spread out from the top of the trunk is a wide stump. I hadn’t seen it from this particular angle before. Watching with huge, glistening eyes are two small boobooks! My owl friend has a family of his own!

I was overcome with delight; they were so sweet and bobbed their heads and bodies in a perfectly owly way, watching me as I watched them. They knew I’d seen them, and I thanked them for letting me have such an awesome experience, then wished the family well and continued on my way.

I’m so happy that the boobooks are living in the area and have a lovely, secure nest to raise their young. I really do love animals, but these owls will always have a very special place in my heart.

~A

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

Cygnets!

We have enjoyed a breeding pair of black swans at the local lake for as long as I remember. They probably aren’t the same pair that were living there when I was a child, but it’s wonderful to still see these amazing birds having a healthy life in our area.

A few weeks ago, we realised only one swan was ever out and about on the water anymore. It wasn’t long before we spotted the mama swan on her nest, hidden away under the branches of a tree overhanging from one of the little islands. She was well protected and very hidden; only the flash of her red beak really gave her away as she carefully inspected her nest as she sat on it.

Every time we go to the lake, we make sure to choose the path that will take us passed the swan on her nest. She’s been diligent and dedicated to incubating her eggs. The black swan has an average nesting time of 40 days, so we knew the time was drawing near for a new batch of babies to arrive.

And they did! Cygnets are super fluffy grey bundles of delight. They are so cute and elegant for a baby bird, and watching the parent swans with their cygnets is very exciting. Mum and dad swan are protective and attentive to their fluffy children, paying mind of the brood at all times.

The last set of cygnets the swans had grew into beautiful black swans, who went on their way to find their own mates. I hope they’re doing well and have guarded their own nests at another body of water this year. And in time, the new babies will do the same thing, and hopefully, I’ll get to see the excitement all over again!

Promise, I’ll remember to take my camera with me next time I go for a walk, too.

~A