Trish's Boring Stories 3

Some of these posts were edited down from longer posts made to RCTN.

There are more stories available at Trish's Boring Stories and Trish's Boring Stories 2.

From: Trish Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT: Question for Australia.
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 10:04:15 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Oo! Don't you get big spiders over your way? Our Huntsman Spiders are pretty big (some species could well and truly cover a small saucer with their legs fully extended), but they're harmless! Mind you, they *do* look very threatening in spite of that and it very much *isn't* nice to have one emerge from your dashboard while you are driving! They live in rotting logs and cool, dark places and only come inside when things outside get too fraught. That's why their other name is 'Rain Spider'.

LOL! When I was a kid, I used to put on a bit of bravado by picking them up in my bare hands. All the other kids thought I was a hero (or mental, I'm not sure which...)! When I was in high school, the Nuns used to send a runner for 'the girl who picks up spiders' whenever a Huntsman appeared in a classroom (Imagine it! Forty shrieking little girls!)

When I became old and wise (ROTFLMAO) and an undergraduate in Entomology, I found out from one of my professors that 'all spiders can and will bite you if you provoke them sufficiently'. He also told us that a significant percentage of the population could go into anaphylactic shock in response to a spider bite if they happened to be allergic to the particular venom. That was the day I stopped picking up Huntsmen!

Today, I happily shriek along with the best of 'em. It makes for that warm, fuzzy *included* feeling, y'know?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Oooh I'm back!!!
Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2002 00:56:24 +1000

Silly girl! Of course we remember you! Welcome back!

Sorry, I haven't had any really boring boring stories lately. Life's been to darned boring for that! My DN, Teasie, is about to give birth to my first Great Niece at any moment and so the Ugly Sister and I sat and ate Cadbury's Creme Eggs in companionable silence today. Unfortunately, I now have a migraine that measures 10.9 on the Richter Scale and still growing (the lights are starting to wiggle a bit at the moment and I keep seeing mice running across the floor when there *are* no mice!) Bugger! I think I'll have just one (1) more Creme Egg before retiring to make this filthy migraine worth having. DH is being completely unsympathetic and I feel I will hit him very shortly!

I do actually have a short boring story to tell about my front fence. I shall try to make sense out of it through the flashing lights...

See, our house is really old. Not Posh-old, but decrepit-old. The One Good Thing about it was the verandah, which had an entire frontage of genuine Victorian iron lace (wrought iron). One day, DS was weeding the rose garden and DD came to give him a sweetie (which she had gotten from a birthday party). She reached her fingers through the iron lace to do this and the gentle push she gave it caused it to wibble... and then wobble... and then fall ~<<**CRASH**>>~ over on top of her. She was somewhat taken aback by all this and let out an almighty bellow 'Mum! *Mum*! Maffew has pushed the pwetty fence on top of me!'

It looked worse than it really was, but DD has been very wary of wrought iron ever since. Anyway, now our front verandah was entirely exposed and the iron lace was lying on the floor. We had to ring up Terry (mate of my dearly departed Dad's who has a severely cleft lip and palate). Terry said (rough approximation) 'Hnyhit!' when he saw the extent of the damage. He was great and only charged us a minimal amount to repair the damage. We couldn't afford to completely re-seat the iron lace, so we opted for a white picket verandah rail with just two panels of the lace inserted on either side of the steps. The whole thing would be painted white with the upper rails and the posts painted in a lovely ox-blood colour called 'Indian Red'. Hooray!

Terry worked like a navvy and had the whole thing ready for painting inside two days. Next, Mr Smith (another mate of Dad's) came to paint it for us (the verandah was actually a Christmas gift from Mum and it included 'Painting by Mr Smith'). Dear old Mr Smith puffed and blew and painted away until the whole thing was done. He opined that the steps and the decorative stone sidings needed a touch-up and he painted everything in 'Indian Red'. Next, he advised us that the paving paint required to do the steps was not available in 'Indian Red' but only in 'Little Lucifer', which was scarlet and not at all The Thing to tone with our dignified cream house. We would have to choose 'a good contrast' instead of the poor match provided by 'Little Lucifer' (think: 'DMC 666' here...)

After a small brawl which threatened to take us to the lower step of the Divorce Courts, DH and I *finally decided on a nice mid-green ('Killarney'). Great! Green is my favourite colour! Mr Smith finished the steps and the place looked absolutely *lovely*!

Only, we didn't have a front fence. Just down the road from our place is an establishment called 'The RSL'. It's a licensed club and on a Friday night it's not uncommon to find all sorts of lost and intoxicated souls lolling about in one's herbaceous border! These folk generally occur in various stages of consciousness and seem to suffer from a universally upset stomach. Not The Thing at all! Also, I wanted a fence to keep out whoever's dog it is that comes specifically to my freshly-mown lawn and deposits droppings big enough to make a hippo feel relieved!

DH and I discussed the kind of fence which might best decorate the front of our humble dwelling and oddly (LOL! ROTFLMAO!) we couldn't agree. I wanted something about five foot high, preferably with something Very Sharp at the top and maybe even an electric current running through it. DH wanted something terribly arty, perhaps in stone or stucco, upon which he might apply a decoratively coloured scheme... I couldn't countenance *that*, now, could I?

In the end, Mum offered one day to give us a fence for the following Christmas. DH thought this was a capital idea and agreed that Terry could indeed start work ASAP. So, one day when DH was far from home, Terry arrived and knocked up a lovely picket fence with a cute little swinging garden gate. He liked my idea of placing two more panels of the left-over iron lace on either side of the gate to match the verandah rail, so they were promptly inserted. Now, we had to decide on a colour to paint the raw wood.

HAH!!! DH and me agree on a subjective thing like that? NEVER!!!!

Our house is a very small, simple weatherboard cottage which is painted a nice, rich cream. The trim on the door jamb and windows is a brownish red and this is virtually the same colour as the 'Indian Red' of the verandah trim. Indistinguishable, in fact. DH felt that a lovely *British Racing Green* fence would be the go! Good grief!

When I pointed out that there is no green anywhere else on the house, he pointed triumphantly at the steps, which are nowhere *near* BR Green in colour! Then, he said 'Oh well, we can paint the window casements in green'. Hnnnh! *I* wanted to continue the theme of the verandah in the fence and paint it white with 'Indian Red' fenceposts. Mum said she would buy us some decorative 'balls' for our birthdays. (You know: round ball-things that sit on top of your fenceposts and stop cats from sitting there - Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!)

On no account would DH see the sense in my colour scheme! He absolutely *would* have his dark green fence and he insisted on driving me around town, seeking out all manner of dark green fences in order to prove how alluring they can look on Other People's Houses. None of these houses, I might add, was cream with white and burgundy verandah! This argument has been percolating along for six months now and we were virtually at the top landing of the Divorce Courts' steps...

This evening, we found some cheap paint on sale for only $25 a four-litre tin. It's cream.

We're painting the fence tomorrow, all things being equal and weather permitting. DD is sleeping with her tiny paintbrush and DS was serious when he asked me which of his brushes (he's an artist!) he should use for doing the pickets!

Please, those of you who do, pray for me on Saturday morning! I hope I last the day without suffering an apoplexy: I *will* get some 'Indian Red' on the fence-posts at least, even if I have to do it in the Dead of Night! (At least it's not going to be *green* - Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!)
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Midnight barbie boring story
Date: Sun, 05 May 2002 18:20:17 +1000

No, it has nothing to do with arcane practices involving 11.5" fashion dolls in the middle of the night. It was DH's birthday, so his best mate, Geoff, rang up and suggested we 'do' an evening barbecue on Mt Sugarloaf last night.

What a wonderful idea!

So, we gathered together all of our collective children, barbecue tools, various clumps of newspaper and lots and lots of outdoor candles and torches and we set off in three cars for the picnic spot at Mt Sugarloaf. (Mind you, all this couldn't even *begin* until after the kids and I had gotten home from Mass, which didn't come out until 7.30pm!)

It was dark and getting quite cold. Nevertheless, we jacked up the car radio to 'bellowing' and sang along to 'Midnight Oil' ('How can we sleep while our beds are burning?') as we drove farther and farther into the tarry darkness of the bush. There were lots of insects and hence bats floating about in the headlights and I hoped I might see an owl who could be hunting for the scavengers at the picnic spot after dark.

We arrived to find Geoff and Robertalready there and hunting for a decent barbecue spot that had a table close by. No luck. So, we had to set up half our candles and torches about 50 yards away round the table, with the other half at the fireplace. We had to shuttle between the table and the 'fire'. There were many trippings-over and shriekings in the chilly night!

I say 'fire' because it took roughly an hour to make a humble 'fire' in the rather excellent grate that was provided there. The *men* stuck in bucketsful of kindling with a modicum of twisted newspaper and then choked the tenuous little flame by smothering it with large logs too soon. Jacquie and I just *looked* at each other over their heads and walked away, whistling. At 9.30pm, the kids were beginning to whine that they were hungry. The *men* were on the point of driving off to the nearest Fast Food outlet and *buying* food, but I sneakily prevailed, emptied the grate, started again with paper and small kindling and had a jolly little fire burbling away within ten minutes. Jacquie and I smiled broadly as we handed over the sausages etc to be cooked by the *men*!

Darling DH had been busily making shish kebabs while the rest of us had been at Mass. He marinated cubed steak in soy sauce, sherry, ginger and honey. Then he threaded them onto skewers with capsicum, onion, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and pineapple bits. While doing this, he cooked small potatoes in the microwave and then wrapped them in foil, ready to be thrown in the 'fire' when we arrived at Mt Sugarloaf. DD was beside herself. She liked the idea of having a 'campfire' and couldn't wait to poke in a stick and cook some cheese on it, as I had told her we did when *I* was seven. Poor old DD had a long wait!

I had purchased a naked slab of sponge cake for DH's birthday cake. I iced it with lurid blue icing and then sprinkled on 100s and 1000s (Nonpareils), according to DD's order. DS had drawn a Rickenbacker and a Fender Stratocaster as a card for DH and my stepkids had bought him the book about Billy Connolly by his wife (Pam Stephenson). How exciting! (FYI, I hadn't bought anything for DH, but had contracted to allow him to purchase a jobbie called 'a Dremel Supertool'. I want one of these too, so it's quite expedient to let him have one! LOL!) I redeemed myself in the rather yummy Carrot Cake I made for him today: lashings and lashings of cream cheese icing and more calories than you can shake a stick at!

Anyway, we all stood around shivering and DS was being unusually affectionate, snuggling up close to me. I realised the poor bloke was cold and asked 'Where is your green coat?'

'Er... I didn't think it would be as cold as this and so I left it at home' said the terminally gormless boy!

As a result, DS spent the evening in his Auntie Jacquie's lovely pink jacquard sweater! LOL! He looked *so* pretty!

Anyway, we were all infected by the magic of the evening. The trunks of the spotted gums were ghostly grey in the moonlight (there was a half-moon shining last night). The cloud cover was intermittent and the Milky Way, stretching off across the sky into infinity, was unspoiled by city lights. The spectacle of all those stars was humbling to put it mildly and we all spent rather a long while staring silently at the sky. At one point, the clouds separated to reveal the Southern Cross and the two Pointers and we all went 'Aaaaaaahhhhh...' Lovely!

Soon, DH had his luscious kebabs sizzling away on the barbie and Uncle Geoffery had applied some of his driftwood (collected from the beach last week) to the 'fire'. The idea was that we would all sit around and stare at the coloured flames. And so we did. The 'fire' settled into a very satisfactory blaze which afforded a good heat to cook our dinner (and my green tupperware tomato storer :-( unfortunately) and lovely hot coals to roast our potatoes to a turn.

First, we told ghost stories. Remember the one about the young couple parking in the car? The bloke goes off to get help for a flat tyre and the girl stays behind. Then she hears a 'bang..., bang..., bang...' on the roof of the car...

Well, none of the kids had heard that one and so they were all shrieking by the end of it! LOL! I had a ball telling it while all the adults kept groaning at me! Kids are such an unspoiled audience, are they not?

Next, I told them the one recounted to me by Sister Mary James. She was visiting the Mother House in Singleton and had run up to her room to change for dinner. An elderly Nun dropped in to ask her to stop by the chapel and pray before going down to the Refectory. Sr James did that and was surprised to find a number of Sisters already in the Chapel... PRAYING FOR THE REPOSE OF THE SOUL OF THE ELDERLY NUN, WHO HAD DIED THAT MORNING!!!!

Another one: my friend, Mark, had boarded in an old convent building in Denman while he spent some months teaching at the parochial school there. (Denman is way up country from Newcastle). Anyway, he was unpacking his things when an elderly Nun in a very old-fashioned habit came into his room and told him to make sure he had the central heating mended before winter began. It was dangerous and needed looking at.

Mark replied 'Oh, of course, Sister!' and went out to take a look. A circuit had been shorted and the smell of smoke indicated that the unit needed immediate attention to avoid burning down the heritage-listed building! Grateful that he had the chance to prevent disaster, Mark went back inside: there was no trace of the old Nun! When next he saw the parish priest, he asked the name of the elderly Sister who had called in to warn him of the dangerous electrical fault. The priest was very surprised and told him there had been no Nuns in Denman for over twelve years!

(I do love a spooky story!)

Well, we all sat down and devoured our kebabs and our sausages (which DH had considerately cooked on skewers to avoid greasy fingers). There was silence as we ate, but then DS pulled out his flute and played some nice, mellow music for us. Everyone thought it was very special, having haunting music to veg out to, and so we just enjoyed the atmosphere. Next, Auntie Jacquie pulled out a packet of chocolate and vanilla marshmallows and did we have a wonderful time toasting those on long sticks? Poor old DH had killed his barbecue fork and so it was now bereft of its tines. He toasted his marshmallows on the remaining metal prong. I must say, my DH looks *exceedingly* funny, hopping around with his mouth all pursed up like a chimpanzee! (Or, Carolyn B., a 'Cat's bum, eh?) He burned his lips by popping in a surprisingly hot marshallow prematurely! LOL!

Suddenly, DD whispered that she needed the dunny. Oh no! The public dunnies were *miles* away and in complete darkness!

'Come with me!' I advised. 'We'll sneak over in the dark and go behind a tree!'

'Not on your life!' opined DD. '*I'm* not going to the dunny where anyone can see me!'

I tried to convince the inconvenient child that only God could see her, all these miles out in the bush, but that made it worse!

'Absolutely NOT!' said DD, 'I absolutely *must* go to the proper dunny!'

'Hnnnnnnnnh!' I said...

Just then, DSD came and confided that she also had been busting for over an hour and if we were going to the dunny, she would come with us. Looking up the dimly-lit road toward the utter blackness ahead, I felt my spirits sink as I realised there was no way *I* was walking up that mysterious track to find the dunny!

DH came to the rescue and drove us up the road in the car. He turned the headlights onto the doorway and, armed with a box of tissues and a torch (flashlight), we marched into the ladies' loo.

There were *bats*!!! I was overjoyed! Tiny little mouselike creatures they were, hardly bigger than a moth. They fluttered out into the light of DH's headlights and were gone in a trice. Of course, the two silly twittery girls had to screech and carry on like idiots, but *I* thought it was just wonderful! We drove back down to our barbie site and spent about half an hour singing 'Happy Birthday' to DH and chomping up the rather leathery sponge cake with the lurid blue icing. Then we headed for home. It was about 2am!

So, today, we all arose at about midday! (Well, except for me, of course, as I'm the Mother. I was up at 8am and reading rctn!)

If ever anyone suggests going for a barbecue at night, I would say 'Go for it!' We had a lovely, magical experience and it made an excellent birthday for DH (who is now dismayed to be 'a man in his mid-forties'! LOL!)
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT Answer to Pat was peace ribbon
Date: Mon, 06 May 2002 16:30:08 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

LOL! Now, this conversation reminds me of the time the Ugly Sister was having her first Really Truly dinner party. Ugly was married (the First Time) at sixteen, roughly sixteen years before I was, and so she had a lot of experience at doing Married sorts of things before I did. Like dinner parties.

Ugly had determined to ask her boss (Perry) and his wife (Carol) to dinner. I was only along as a conversation piece or something, although I *did* come in handy when it came to tying the bundles of stringbeans with strands of lemongrass... Dear Ugly turned herself into a nervous wreck making a dish that involved lamb (dunno what it was, but the lamb was floating in orange stuff and it had 'Tamarind' in the title) and artful little piles of vegetables which had had 'things' done to them to make them look interesting (viz. the lemongrass-tied bean bundles). It was all terribly arty-pharty! Oh yes! And there was plums poached in red wine and accompanied by a raspberry coulis for dessert (ie. nasty stewed plums floating in uncongealed fruit juice!)

*Any*way, I digress!

As we ate, we conversed about various erudite topics. Ugly, being only sixteen, didn't have much to say. However, Perry (who was very nice and so was his wife) had just taken up archery as a sport. He wanted to tell us all about the Antient Art of Killing Things With Sporting Bows. Now *this* I could take part in! During an earlier chapter of my life, I had kept company with another gentleman who enjoyed exactly this pasttime. I even had the white scar inside my right forearm whence I had flayed the skin with a too-hastily-released bowstring! Owwww! Don't *ever* do that! It smarts like mad!!!!

This conversation went from 'Oh, how interesting!' to 'Well, is it more humane to kill a beast with a bow and arrow or a rifle and hollow-point bullet?' Perry gave us a graphic lesson on the effects of somatic shock resulting from each type of impact and then Carol felt the need to join in, describing to us the smashed-pumpkin-like effect of motorcycle helmets on the human brain as it undergoes a collision! We had a wonderful argument, estimating the length of time it would take, say, a deer versus a kangaroo to bleed to death or die of organ failure from an arrow wound or a bullet wound. We estimated the likelihood of a successful head-shot as opposed to a shot through the heart or liver. We diagnosed the incidence of 'Weekend Warriors' versus careful, trained bowmen or marksmen. We assessed the impact of kangaroo culling and argued the effectiveness of a bow-shot from a helicopter versus a motorcycle or a horse. We had a *great* time!

Hardly anyone ate his Orange Floating Lamb! Perry and I were too humid (vastly differing opinions); Carol was on the second day of her reducing diet, DBIL was positively sick to his stomach listening to the dinner conversation and Ugly was virtually in tears, watching the little islets of fat slowly congealing on the surface of her Orange Floaty Stuff.

The plums were nice, though.

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

NB. This is one of the very few times I felt sorry for poor Ugly! She really did spend an awfully long time making her lamb float for our dinner! Still, though, she got her own back some weeks later by playing frisbee with my birthday cake. I needn't have been *that* sorry!!!

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: What did I do to deserve this???
Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 23:35:48 +1000

Well. It happened like this:

The kids and I were getting ready for Mass. I had sent DS for his shower and was on the point of jumping in myself (he'd finished!) when a friend called in to show us his new DVD of 'Harry Potter'.

I sat and was polite to Darren, but then had to leap in and wash my hair (which takes ages). So, DH had to get the tea ready for me as I had no time left to muck around.

This is what I instructed him to do:
Cut all the fat off the meat (*all* the fat, mind!) and cut it into bite-sized chunks. Chuck it in the pot.
Chop up three carrots and a heap of celery. Chuck it in the pot.
Put in some salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauce.
Barely cover it all with water and put it on to boil.
*Watch the pot* in spite of all your misgivings! When it boils, *turn it down* to 'low' and wait for me to come home. I will add the potatoes and thickening.

So, DH (who had been up all night doing a stint on our local help line) did *most* of the above. But not all. He rather lost it when it came to the part where I said 'Turn it down'. Instead of doing that, Old Dozo nodded off on the couch. There he stayed, snoring away like the Cannonball Express while my lovely hearty beef stew turned into six inches of activated charcoal!

We arrived home, cold and wet (it was raining) to ring the doorbell. No answer.

'Ring! Rring! RRRrrrringgggg!!!!'

No answer.

Eventually, DS was persuaded to go down the side lane (he *hates* doing that in the dark: it's pretty spooky and there are two Thuja trees that reach out and grab you as you pass by) and open the back door. Miss Alice (who had been rolling in something unspeakable and who was anointed all over her back with it) rubbed herself companionably all over DS' legs. He was cross. Also, stinky!

DS let us in and the first thing I noticed was the overriding aroma of Burnt Dinner! I ran to see if I could save the stew and managed to scrape off about one and a half strata of it (the meat and carrots). The remainder had been rendered into elemental carbon and would not relinquish its hold on the bottom of my very best saucepan (the big one!) The steam was almost impenetrable and DH was *still* snortling away on the couch! I was (putting it mildly here) quite ropable!

DH finally arose from his bed of exhaustion and fatigue and said 'OK, OK, OK! There's no need to get hostile!'

Hostile! *HOSTILE*?

'Hostile' was a pale imitation of the emotion coursing through my veins at that moment! I prepared to smite DH with the second-best saucepan but instead began scraping the ashes into the garbage.

'Not to worry!' said DH brightly, 'It's perfectly OK. We can have it on toast! It'll be yummy!'

I fed him some of the awful blackened mess and he quickly changed his tune. He went out and got a cooked chook, which, by the time he had also purchased 'just a few necessaries' was stone-motherless cold!

So, here I sit, griping over an awful case of indi-bl**dy-gestion (brought on by wolfing down a cold meal in a hurry) and still snuffling at the horrible odour of Burnt Dinner mingled with Unspeakable Wet Dog Stench.

Why me? *Why* me?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Mus musculus boring story...
Date: Sat, 18 May 2002 00:49:15 +1000



We had a mouse.

(*Have* a mouse, actually... name of 'Arthur' - that was DD's idea, even though she hasn't seen him yet). He's been hanging around for a while now and it was clear that he needed relocating.

In spite of having dissected *numerous* rodents during my undergrad. days, I simply can't bring myself to catch them in mousetraps! I've asked DH repeatedly to set some traps for this little fellow (who had become so bold as to sit up on his haunches and whiffle at us of an evening while we were watching TV!!!). Sadly, DH suffers from acutely jumpy fingers when he's setting mousetraps. He can't bring himself to balance the little tripper-thingie finely on the piece of wire to make it sensitive enough to go off. Hence, Little Arthur has grown fat on many nights' worth of burnt cheese! DH kept whinging about how much he hated setting mousetraps and couldn't I find a more scientific one-step mousetrap that didn't eat human flesh? I told him I could and set to work fashioning 'Patricia's Acme Humane Mousetrap' out of a 2 litre milk bottle and a piece of string.

See, you have to be able to tie the string to the handle of the milk bottle and then run it straight up to something directly above. The idea is: you put bait in the neck of the bottle and more bait in the bottom of the bottle. Do this for a few evenings until your Arthur learns to dine at La Cafe au Lait and then, when Arthur has shown himself mooching around the trap you get ready to pull the string and catch your Arthur in one fell swoop!

DH scoffed his cynical head off!

'Paugh!' he said, 'You'll *never* catch a mouse in *that* contraption! Mice are smarter than that!'

No matter how earnestly I assured him I had done this before, he refused to believe!

So, DS and I laid our trap, stocked up La Cafe au Lait, threaded the string through the bracket beneath the mantelpiece and waited... and waited... and waited...

In the meantime, DD suddenly caught the 'flu! And I do mean *suddenly*! One minute, she was snuggling up to me, watching 'Star Wars' on video and the next she had her poor little head in the toilet (metaphorically speaking, of course) and was losing last week's lunch! Poor kid! She had a ferocious temperature, so I had to take some time off from The Hunt to sponge her and get her temp. down. During this time, Little Arthur had had *two* courses of Jatz Cracker and cheese at La Cafe! He was *begging* to be caught in my trap! DS and DH were agog, stage-whispering at me 'He's in! He's *in*! Come and see! He's in the bottle!'

When DD finally fell asleep, I came back and sat down between the boys. It took about three minutes before dear Little Arthur was back, scuttling into my bottle and suddenly being swung aloft as I pulled on the string! I had him! Poor Arthur was leaping and squeaking in the bottle, trying to escape. I whacked on the lid and set about untying the string from the handle, wondering where would be the safest place to release him on this chilly night...

DH's mouth was wide open and he said 'I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it!'

'Yes', I said with studied nonchalance, 'It's elegant in its simplicity really, isn't it?'

As I spoke, Little Arthur gave an almighty leap and pushed off the too-loosely-placed lid of the milk bottle, flying out to freedom and scuttling under the couch!

DH is still splitting his sides with facetious laughter.

DS and I have vowed we will prevail and have already planned Little Arthur's menu for tonight and the next few nights. He will be back and he *will* be ours! ;->

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT. Knickers of a Teacher
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 00:20:43 +1000

OK. Since you mention the Knickers of a Teacher, I have to tell this boring story. I *suspect* I've told it before, but since I can't remember, I'll tell it again anyway! I'm in the mood!

When I went to kindergarten, I was a very advanced child. I had had the concentrated attentions of every member of my family lavished upon me and I thought I was pretty darned good! Until, that is, the day when I had lingered too long on Lines in order to sit next to the delightful Michael O'Brien (mentioned in another boring story regarding Barbles id be Doze). Since I lingered too long in Love's Fond Thrall, I had neglected to go to the dunny before Playtime ended.

Got my drift?

It wasn't very long before I found myself doing the Dance of 'I Have to Attend the Dunny *Right Now*'!

The class was in the middle of saying 'Prayers on returning to class after Playtime' and I was mortified! I *knew* the teacher wouldn't let me out to the Dunny so soon after Playtime and I *knew* that Awful Consequences were about to run down my leg and puddle in my nearly-new school shoes!

... and lo, they did.

I began to cry (because that's the first thing you do in order to deflect adult ire off of yourself and it usually works). The teacher looked at me as though I'd grown an extra leg or something and guided me straight out to the Infant Girls' Dunny (which was pretty pointless, really, since the Damage had already been done and was creeping insidiously across the floor with the rest of Kindergarten going 'Eeeeuuuwwww' in a loud voice.

Great was my discomfiture!!!!

Anyway, we happened upon the Second Class teacher, Sister Luke (who was an infamous disciplinarian and who fried little children with the Death Rays that emanated from her ice-blue eyes!) My own teacher (a lovely soul called Miss Lucas, who had been all of about seventeen when she taught my Kindergarten class) had no idea what to do when faced with the incontinence of one of her charges and so she was clearly glad when Sister Luke offered to take me off her hands (so to speak). Sister led me into the Convent and allowed me to wash in the Nuns' Holy Bathroom (which was ancient, with yellowed tiles and squeaky plumbing which made me believe that all the Souls in Purgatory lived in the Nuns' hot water heater!)

Next, Sister handed me a pair of genuine Nuns' Knickers! These were gigantonormous and *far* too large to fit my dainty little baby bottom! Not to worry! Sister Luke had a Nun's Pocket (which contained everything imaginable and then some) and she reached in and withdrew a large quantity of safety pins. She used these to pin the Humungo-Knickers onto me, rolling up the long legs and pinning them in great rolls of fabric. I suddenly felt *much* better and more cheerful and thanked Sister nicely as she led me back to the playground. She told me I should come back at the end of Lunch to get my own socks and knickers, which she would wash and hang out on the Nuns' Holy Clothesline.

Off I romped without a care in the world. I had cleverly missed a morning's lessons and everyone was out for Morning Break. I found my friend, Julie Meighan, and we played 'Silver Brumby' until eventually the bell rang and we lined up, ready to troop back into school. I noticed with a smug sense of satisfaction that the evidence of my earlier mortification was now gone and replaced with the strong smell of carbolic soap: Miss Lucas had clearly worked through her break to achieve this and my gratitude knew no bounds!

As we walked into class and around the Circle painted on our wooden floor, the Unthinkable happened!

All of Sister Luke's safety pins gave up the ghost together, simultaneously and at the same time! My Nun's Knickers dropped to my ankles and I literally *fell* out of them! The whole, entire class stopped dead and shook its finger at me, saying 'Oooooaaahhhhhhh!' Miss Lucas sent me off a second time to Sister Luke, who had fortunately managed to dry my knickers and gave them back to me.

Upon returning to Kindergarten classroom, I made a small vow to myself. I said: 'As G*d is my witness, I will never forget to go to the Dunny at Playtime again!'

And I never did!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: "Trish & Kim Brown" <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: About the Oreo cows...
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 14:44:15 +1000

Maybe you mean a Belted Galloway? The Ugly Sister's DMIL has one called Marigold. She's very beautiful with curly forelock, deep DMC 801 coloured coat and a broad white belt round her middle. Ugly's DMIL reckons she looks like she's wearing a truss, but *I* think it's very suave and urbane!

There's an older European breed from which the gene for the white belt originates, but I can't remember what its name is or the country of origin. Maybe Britain or France?

The technique for milking a cow is never lost! I bet you could still do it, even if it took you a while to get going. It's like riding a bike! :-)

NB. I appear to be sort of back, BTW. DH has built me a new computer out of parts and it fair *herbs* along at 200MHz!!! Old Pinko (my red-tinged monitor) finally offered up his spirit and so DH was able to swap some network cards with a friend for this nice, normal one at which I'm looking. It's *so* good to be able to read rctn without the rose-coloured glasses and I'm afraid I bid Old Pinko a happy farewell!

The keyboard leaves a bit to be desired because it has weird keys called 'Power' and 'Sleep' and 'Wake Up' which do most peculiar things if you drop your ruler on them. In addition, there's a [\] key where the [shift] key ought to be and it has a touch like an antique Remington so it makes typing nigh-on impossible without tearing my hair out! Nevertheless, I'm online again and that feels great. I had withdrawal symptoms for the first week but after that I got a whole lot of necessary sewing done (ie four winter school blouses, lined school pants, fleecy trackpants for school sport and two pinafores). One of the pinnies was made from navy narrow-wale cord printed in teensy yellow daisies with red centres. I found some yellow daisy buttons and DH whipped out his aircraft modelling paint and painted red centres in them. The pinny looks very de rigeur with its matching buttons at the front!

Today, I hope to get Netscape reinstalled because I find MIE to be utterly *loathsome* (doesn't suit my very personal cerebral algorithm). I have to wait until the weekend before I can install 'Age of Kings' because my friend is borrowing it. Snif! It ought to be fun setting up a nice clean, tidy hard drive (hopefully one that won't go 'grunge grunge grunge PING' before its time!)

We had a great weekend this past week. We went on a day trip with our computer friends to a place called 'The Watagan Mountains'. (Pron.: 'What-a-gan'). Since Oz is so old, our mountains are really just hills, having been worn down inexorably over time. Still, we had a great day gawping at Satin Bower Birds and Regent Bower Birds and a little Lyrebird that crossed the track. Late in the afternoon, a flock of White-Tailed Black Cockatoos flew over and Geoff got some great pics with his digital camera. He was also kind enough to photograph the Snake Tongue ground orchid (Pterostylis ophioglossa) I found near the public dunny (of all places). You don't see these every day and so I was quite stoked!

The view from the bluff at the lookout is quite startling and I was overjoyed to gaze down onto the paddocks below and see that the cattle looked like ants and the people even smaller. At one point, a Wedge-Tailed Eagle stooped to collect something off the ground and it felt quite weird to be looking *down* onto such a thing as if it were on the stage of a microscope! I mean, really! How often do you get to look *down* on a working eagle?

DD made herself into quite a nuisance by utterly *refusing* to use the public dunny (pit-type Sin Bin, inhabited by large flesh-eating Daddy Long Legses and lots of rather interesting graffiti about the pedigree and social status of an unfortunate girl called Cheryl). I found myself forced to take DD by the hand and make our way quite a distance down the narrow bush track, pushing away branches of wattle and banksia and stepping over fallen, mossy logs. Eventually we arrived at a suitable clearing and DD could *finally* be persuaded to go, which (after much checking and listening for intruders) she did. Just at that moment, a hiker from Manitoba pushed his way into the clearing and DD nearly leapt off the mountain in her horror! I'm afraid that (in the way of all dysfunctional Mums) I laughed my head off! (Much to DD's affrontery, I might add! LOL!)

The hiker turned out to be an intrepid bushwalker called Malcolm who had walked The Great North Walk all the way from Sydney!!! He had a tiny pup-tent, a water bottle and a small skillet in his pack and he was planning to make a fire and cook bacon for his tea. We shared our barbecue with him and I think the feed did him good: he was a very skinny hiker! We left him half a packet of Jatz Crackers and most of a tub of French Onion dip. He walked off into the scrub, following the challenging, half-obscured path which was the final leg of the Great North Walk...

The following day, DH and I had volunteered to help supervise DD's class on a visit to the Shortland Wetlands Centre. Wow! I'd completely forgotten how Ìnteresting it can be to keep a large group of children gainfully occupied for a day! There were seventy six screaming little darlings and DH and I had charge of twenty two of them! It was great fun and we had a fine old time dip-netting for pollywogs in the swamp and counting Black Swans, Magpie Geese and Dusky Moorhens. As if on cue, first a Whistling Kite (bird of prey) and then a Swamp Harrier (another bird of prey) soared overhead and the kids went wild shrieking and pointing at them. Sadly, poor little Gianni Bennedetti (a 'challenging' child, to put it mildly) slipped in a huge green goose-poo and fell into the liquid cr@p which was the pond! (LOL! ROTFLMAO! Guffaw!) DH got the honour of fishing him out and I noticed with quiet satisfaction that a number of the kids whom Gianni had been bullying took a lot of pleasure in explaining precisely how badly he stank!

As a birdwatcher from 'way back, I took especial interest in the breeding program they have for Freckled Ducks. These ducks are an evolutionary oddity, being (possibly) more closely related to swans than they are to other waterfowl. They are quite rare and a seriously threatened species, hence the breeding program. It felt pretty special to be able to see these unsual birds up close when I'd spent many long hours lying in swamp hides, hoping to get even a glimpse of one in the wild! I hope the program does well, because (as you might guess) I hate to think of us losing yet another important species to 'progress'! I was saddened to hear that a Black-Necked Stork (Jabiru - only member of the Stork family found in Oz) had been seen at the centre the previous week. I've only seen one Jabiru in my lifetime (they're not common here in coastal NSW) and would have given a lot to have seen that one! :-(

Anyway, that's what's been happening in the Brown House while I've been offline. The boring story has taken me over an hour to type on this farnarckling keyboard and I think I shall hurl it at DH's head when he gets home! He's at a job interview and it would be much appreciated if you could send some prayers and good vibes in the hope that he lands the job!


From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: boring story about Pony Club Jamboree
Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2002 02:40:08 +1000

I was conversing with an email friend the other day when something triggered a memory of the weekend Ugly and I spent at Pony Club Jamboree. It occurred to me that it was quite an action-packed weekend and would make a good boring story. DH is thrashing around in my marital bed, groaning with all the earnestness of one afflicted by a 5mm renal calculus (the CT scan finally found the offending stone and DH is now charged with the responsibility of passing it) - so I don't really feel like going to bed just yet... Might as well write the boring story about Pony Club Jamboree at Gloucester, NSW.

We had about fifty assorted riders (with ponies attached) in our Pony Club and it was Quite a Job getting them up the Buckett's Way to Gloucester Showground for the September Jamboree! Gloucester is quite a good distance above sea level and the road (aforementioned 'Buckett's Way') was notoriously winding and climbing and narrow and dangerous. Ugly's DH was good-natured enough to make the hour-long drive several times in order to take eight ponies at a time in the truck. Some of our members had floats (ie horse boxes in the UK, horse trailers in the US) and so they made their own way to the Showground on the Friday evening.

We (ie Ugly and me) arrived by battered station wagon at around 7pm on the Friday night. We had tents for our kids to sleep in and we pulled the small blue float which contained two of our four ponies: Dylan was Teasie's fat old fleabitten grey and Ranya was Jacquie's highly-sexed and flirtatious young Arab mare, chestnut in colour and permanently in season! Ranya was a nuisance to take anywhere, especially to a large event like this where a stallion might be lurking. As soon as she got a whiff of a bloke's presence, up would go her tail and she would begin to scream! This was extremely unnerving for anyone within coo-ee and was not a very nice way for Jacqueline to win events (Ranya's screaming would almost certainly put off any competition and daunted the most stolid riders in a most unfair way!) Luckily, there was only one very small, young stallion present and we made an Arrangement with his rider's Dad to keep the pair separated at all times. This worked well for most of the weekend: Ranya had only occasion to scream twice, but Other Events overshadowed this and so it all went unnoticed!

Timmy's Willie was my DNephew's pony and he came in the truck, parked sideways with three Sh!tland ponies and two Quarterhorses. 'Timmy's Willie' was infamous in Zone 25 as 'that bugger of a white pony that kicks the sh*t out of anything and everything'. Timmy's Willie kicked and plunged for the whole drive and by the time my DBIL had arrived at the Showground, he was ready to give Timmy's Willie a lead sandwich! Anyway, we also had Jacquie's second pony, another white one incongruously named 'Blackie' because that had been his colour when he was foaled. Blackie was the envy of every child in the Zone because, in spite of being only thirteen hands tall (that's 4'4" at the shoulder), he could and would jump *anything*, even an angora-twinsetted judge with a cup of tea in her hand!

Ugly and I got out of the car and stretched mightily. The old station wagon had hardly any suspension and we both had floating kidneys after the bumpy ride. Next, we offloaded the two ponies and set up our portable electric fence so they could graze. The little pulse-generator was *so* handy: you could rig up your own small paddock in minutes and it afforded endless hours of entertainment as one sat, sucking on a nice cold tinnie of VB and watching as horrible little Pony Clubbers came and got shocked by our pale pink wire fence! Ah, fond memories...

As soon as DBIL arrived with the truck, work began in earnest. We had to find the yards which had been allotted to our Club (thirteen clubs belong to Zone 25 and all were represented). The yards turned out to be exceedingly awful, made from ancient pit props which were hopelessly split and weathered from years of exposure. Most of the ponies had got out in the late afternoon and the first Bonding Exercise was to find and herd them back again. We mended the yards with rope and settled down to cook tea on Mum's portable barbecue. Mum had failed to fill up the gas bottle, so DBIL lighted a fire and we waited while it heated up enough to cook our snags (that's Oz for 'sausages'). Everyone else was washing up as we *finally* got to eat! Next, we pitched our tents and without realising it made a Very Good Decision Indeed by pitching them right next to our electric fence. More on that later...

The kids were tired and cranky and so we put them to bed. Teasie, the eldest at eleven, was hoping to excel in dressage (her forte) and Jacqueline (whose nose is aquiline), aged ten, was the favourite for show-jumping and cross-country. Timmy was only five but we were hoping like mad that he would beat the horrendously toffee-nosed rich kid, Christopher Finch, who rode a pony that had cost his Dad four figures and which went like clockwork. Christopher Finch was petrified of his clockwork pony, but it nearly always won things, so long as Christopher Finch could stay put in his German leather saddle. Timmy was quite a respectable little rider at only five but Timmy's Willie was a very naughty pony and prone to chucking in the odd unexpected buck and sending Timmy flying at most inopportune moments. The commentators always took great pleasure in exclaiming: 'Oh dear! And there goes Timmy flying off of Timmy's Willie again! Would anyone mind taking hold of Timmy's Willie and minding it for him until he can take charge?' and so on.

Anyway, I digress. My DS, Matt, has never wanted to ride competitively so he had his faithful sketchbook with him. He hoped to get some nice studies of the goings-on and was looking forward to enjoying a horsey weekend in the country. DH (to whom I had not yet been married) came along for the ride and was somewhat daunted by the proximity of so many iron-shod hooves. He has always entertained a healthy respect for that noble animal, the horse, and had read somewhere that one ought to keep one's distance from the 'business end'. He spent an awful lot of time trying to avoid three hundred 'business ends' that weekend! LOL!

Once the kids were bedded down, we adults spent some time wandering round renewing old acquaintanceships and sussing out our competition. There was a huge bonfire raging in the middle of the camping ground and so we took our tinnies and our bottle of Bundy (excellent Australian rum) to join the crowd. The first thing we found out was that the Zone President had been having an affaire d'amour with the Chief Instructor! Well! *Who* would've guessed!? The company was postively humming with this snippet just as the aforementioned couple arrived at the bonfire from opposite ends of the showground. The silence was abrupt! The pair took their places in the bosoms of their respective Clubs and conversation gradually resumed. We learned that Teasie's main competition was an older girl whose pony was nowhere near as good as Dylan at dressage. Jacquie had to beat an extremely good and widely experienced rider called Melanie. Melanie had won State Championships and so it was going to be tough on Jack (who went on to win several State championships of her own, but not until a few years after that). Timmy's nemesis would be the redoubtable Christopher Finch...

Eventually, everyone filed off to bed in the pleasant haze of bonfire smoke and far too much alcohol. The first thing that happened was a very large, very loud and very embarrassing brawl. Apparently, the Chief Instructor's hubby had finally heard the rumour about his missus and the Zone President! He had gone to seek them out and found them locked in love's fond embrace by the municipal dunnies. I must say, it was quite exciting to see two grown men taking roundhouse punches at each other while the woman in question squeaked in horror! This little menage percolated away for the whole weekend and is probably the most enduring memory most of us brought away with us... The Zone President goes by the name of Shane and some bright spark began singing over the PA 'Bonk with Shane' to the tune of 'Danke Schoen'. While Ugly and I thought all this was quite disgraceful, we joined in. We're only human!

DH and I and DS nodded off in our tent, snuggling up under a pile of horse rugs and saddle cloths. At around 5am, there was great noise and shouting amidst the sound of frenzied mooing!!! Apparently, the champion herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle which normally lived in the Showground and was accustomed to breakfasting on the lawn in the main arena had broken the sliprails and made its way to the breakfast table. Sadly, the herd had trampled nearly every tent along the way, tripping over guy ropes and stepping on various and sundry bits of humanity enclosed within. People were rushing everywhere, shouting and trying to shoo off the cattle (who were, by now, quite stirred up). We were admirably protected by the electric fence, which prevented the cows from coming anywhere near us. We looked on with great amusement as the cattle were eventually shooed into the collecting ring and given some hay to shut them up! LOL!

Well, 5am is a good time to get up and feed if you have a Big Jamboree to attend! We blearily handed out hay biscuits to the frostily whinnying ponies and Ugly began boiling the billy to make some tea. It took hours, so I got to work plaiting manes and tails and painting hooves with tyre blacking. Manes have to be sectioned into thirteen, fifteen or seventeen bits, each one plaited and then wound into a little nubbin, which you then secure with a small rubber band. It takes quite a bit of skill to get all the plaits even and I'm proud to say I'm very good at it! Tails are a fair pain to do: you take alternate strands of hair from either side of the tailbone and make a braid like the French braid you would do in your hair. After braiding about eight inches along the tailbone, you make a longish plait and turn it back up under the braid. It's safest to stitch this in place, but you can use rubber bands if you're clever. Timmy's Willie was a fair *pain* to plait, because he kept trying to kick one. The only solution was to press oneself up against his round white bottom and do it at very close quarters. At odd intervals, Timmy's Willie would lash out with his hindlegs, pushing one back with disconcerting accuracy into the next yard. Once an old pony learns tricks like this, he never forgets and Timmy's Willie had always to wear a red ribbon bow on his tail: this warns other riders that the pony is a kicker and they know then to keep their distance. Timmy's Willie was only twelve hands, but he packed a fair wallop when he got going! By the end of plaiting roughly twenty ponies apiece, Ugly and I found our hands simply refused to work any more and so we retired to cup our tin mugs of coffee with our stiffened fingers.

During the morning, there was Gear Check. This is where accredited instructors check every rider's gear for safety. Tack must fit well and comfortably, all leathers must be well-oiled, supple and in good repair. Buckles must work properly and be easy to adjust and safety bars must be in working order on all saddles (these allow the stirrups to slide off in case of accident - being dragged by a bolting horse is probably the most fearsome accident of all!).

While the Gear Check was going on, DH and I went for a romantic walk along the creek. Hand in hand, we savoured the crisp morning air and smiled gormlessly at each other as the little tree martins busily hunted for gnats in the shafts of early sunshine. DH picked a bunch of dandelions for me (Dandelions! I ask you!!!) and so I stank like a dandelion for the rest of the day. (Don't you think dandelions smell just like tomcat piddle?) We finally arrived at a barbed wire fence, but warmed by the spring sun we simply climbed through, in too good a mood to retrace our steps just yet. After a minute or two, I heard a sound which always turns my innards to water: it was a bull roaring! Sure enough, a large and extremely well-favoured Red Devon bull was mooching toward us making that horrificating sound as he came. We immmediately made our way back through the wire and left The Humungous staring after us over the fence. What a close shave!

We came to a little clearing and looking up, I saw a remarkable sight! There was a very big Eastern Water Dragon parked high up on a branch of Brush Box tree. I'd never seen one in the wild and pointed him out excitedly to DH. DH took several photos of the big (a metre or so) lizard and we admired him (the lizard) at length before walking on. As we stood at the edge of the creek (which by now was just a trickle on a bed of rounded, tumbled pebbles), I spotted a Double-Banded Dotterel running furiously alongside us. It probably had eggs and was trying to draw us away. Here was another photo opportunity for DH and he clicked happily away, telling me how useful I was at pointing out these interesting natural history studies for him to photograph. I glowed quietly to myself.

Next, I saw a thing which nearly took my breath away! It was a very large Brown Snake (our most deadly) stretched out along the grassy bank on the 'far' side of the creek! It was *easily* two metres long and as I watched in fascination, a second snake approached from the left and the pair began to entwine themselves together: clearly they were indulging in courtship behaviour and I was about to witness something that few people ever get to see!!! I pointed silently to the pair of snakes so that DH could see it too! We (or so I thought) stood watching the incredible scene for a good fifteen minutes before I could finally drag my gaze away and turn to DH. He wasn't there! The gormless great big-girls-blouse had run away!!! Terminally afraid of snakes, DH had made himself scarce as soon as he had registered what I was pointing to! And so he never did see the snakes mating and we *didn't* get to share the most incredible moment of my biological life! I was *phuming*!!!

I stomped back to the showground to find the Jamboree was in full swing. All the clubs were lined up in formation and we had a Ride Past which was filmed by the local TV station. When the announcer said 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you - the Pony Club!' I found myself standing there like an idiot with tears filling my eyes. They were gorgeous, all these excellent young kids and their raggletaggle ponies, dressed to kill and lined up as if they were the King's Cavalry! As the announcer gave the signal, the Ride stepped off to circle the ground and provide countless doting Mums and Dads with a magnificent photo-opportunity of their own.

The moment of epiphany was suddenly gone as Jessica Morley's *evil* black Sh!tland came barrelling out of formation and nearly flattened the TV crew! Faithful to a fault, at least seventeen *other* evil Sh!tlands joined the phray in support of Jessie's Vegemite and soon we had a glorious melee of phrantic horses pounding round and round and round the arena. Above the din, Ranya could be heard screaming deliciously at the young colt from Paterson River Club! *How* embarrassing! It took about an hour to calm everyone down and separate the littlies (who had the most tenuous control over their mounts) from those kids who could actually stop their ponies of their own volition. *What* a shemozzle!

Events proceeded apace for the remainder of the day and our Club was running a respectable fourth after the dressage and campdrafting. Campdrafting is a fascinating sport in which a rider selects a 'beast' (ie young cow) from a group held in a collecting pen. The rider must use his and his horse's skills to herd the beast away from its mates and out round a precise course described by two barrels. Finally, the beast is herded back to into the yard through a narrow gate. Points are awarded for time, accuracy and obedience of the horse. Our club, being a 'city' one, did not teach campdrafting, but several of our older girls had a go at it. They might've done OK if they hadn't all been so scared of the bawling cows!

We bedded down for the night after yet another bonfire and pleasant beery haze. Yes, another brawl ensued between the Zone President and Mr Chief Instructor and by the next day, even the youngest rider was humming 'Bonk with Shane'. Ugly and I later wrote a very articulate letter of protest about all these sordid goings-on and the Zone President was voted out of office at the very next AGM! The events of the Sunday were very exciting to us, since Teasie won the championship dressage award and Jacquie won the Cross Country on Blackie. I thought it was rather good that Melanie won the Show Jumping, because she *is* an exceedingly good rider and even though she doesn't belong to our Club, she's a really nice girl! Sadly for Timmy, Christopher Finch's Ngarla was in a great mood and carted him off to victory in the Under Sevens. Timmy went on to flatten Christopher Finch at later events, but he (Timmy) eventually discovered Rugby League and has given up riding. Christopher Finch is now doing very well on the Show Jumping Circuit and will probably go on to ride for Australia at the Olympics if he keeps it up. Christopher Finch's Dad is now paying *six* figures for his mounts...

By the end of Sunday, everyone was utterly exhausted! The ponies were heartily sick of living away from home and most of the kids were getting fractious and cranky. There's no better place than the Pony Club to see children at their very best and their very worst, all on the same day! Ugly and I always think it quite hiliarious when a child calls 'Mum!'and forty voices answer 'Yes?' By 3pm on Sunday arvo, all the gear had been packed away for another five years and all the camps broken. We had only to attend the prize-giving and then we could all look forward to the long, dusty drive home. Everyone was mounted outside the arena when a call came over the PA: 'A child has been bitten by a Black Snake! Would the Ambulance Officer please attend the Paterson River Club's camp immediately?' After a huge kerfuffle in which a ten-year-old boy was brought to the ringside on a stretcher, we gleaned that a kid had indeed been bitten. We couldn't imagine why they were bringing him to the ring, though? Why hadn't the ambulance taken him straight to Maitland hospital???

Our answer came in the distant sound of chopper blades: the rescue helicopter had been called and was imminently going to land in the central arena of the Showground! Ugly realised before anyone else and she began screaming: 'Get the ponies away from the ring! Move, *move*, *MOVE*!!!' Only our Club heard her, though, and so most of our riders had quickly cantered off to the far end of the compound. They were far enough away that their ponies didn't get to enjoy the exquisite horror of seeing and hearing a helicopter land under their noses. Every other pony did and so we had yet another stampede in which several riders fell off and three kids, not one, were taken off to hospital that afternoon. Honestly, you haven't lived if you haven't seen three hundred-odd ponies take simultaneous fright in a confined space! It was mayhem and Ranya screamed into the fray yet again!

In the final event, the kid who had been bitten did not pass away. No-one was *seriously* injured, but we did hold a rather searching inquiry into the reason for the stupidity of exposing three hundred ponies to a working helicopter that fine Sunday arvo...

-- Trish {|:-} Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT Marmite was: peculiar culinary tastes
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 08:57:02 +1000

Really? How odd! I don't like sickly sweet chocolate. I prefer nice, dark, slightly bitter choco - exactly the sort that gives me ripping migraines that last for days! LOL! Isn't it amazing> I haven't *had* a migraine since I last ate chocolate!

NB. No, I tell a lie! Long story, but will try to truncate it...

DH went shopping. (This was the day after the doctor had told us both we desperately need to lose weight - duh - as if we hadn't already gotten the message from the mirror!)

Anyway, he came home sheepishly bearing two *huge* gift boxes of Cadbury's chocolates (about two pounds each). 'Oh Hunn!' he said, 'They were only four dollars each! I *couldn't* pass them up!' I growled at him just as the Ugly Sister and co. arrived for a visit. DH happily handed around a box of his chocs and they were gone almost instantly (our mob really *likes* its chocolate!) I frostily declined any choco on the principle of the thing. Had to keep up appearances, y'know!? I did note that DH *sneakily* grabbed the two coffee creams without a moment's hesitation! He *knows* I like them too!!!! The toad!

Well, some weeks later (just the other night, in fact), I felt a slight stirring in the bottom of me medulla oblongata...

'Find chocolate. Eat chocolate' it seemed to say.

So, I snuck off to the topmost shelf in the pantry (the one where only DS and DH can reach) and I wiggled and jiggled at the remaining box of chocolates with the handle of the feather duster until it fell into my hands. For a brief moment. Sadly, I failed to grasp the blessed thing and it hit the kitchen floor with a splatter! There were chocolate-coated peanuts, strawberry creams and turkish delights *everywhere*! (Lucky none of them ended up in the cat's dish!) DH was in the shower, fortunately, and hadn't heard the noise (or detected my guilt on his telepathic sonar-thingy that always knows when I'm about to do something illicit).

I scrabbled to collect up all the chocolates and tried hard to remove the cat hairs and bits of dust bunny that were sticking to them. Yerk! Having scraped everything into the box, I retired to the computer room to wipe each of the chocs lovingly with a tissue and put it back in its little frilly paper cup (useless bloody things!), assuaging my chagrin by gobbling up a fair handful in the process.

DH *is* going to catch me out as soon as he reaches for a caramello cream and finds a hazelnut praline or something else in its place. The stupid diagram on the lid didn't demonstrate the varieties of chocs by the patterns on their tops, but by their positions in the stupid box! So now they're all crazy and mixed-up! Bugger it!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT Trish's picturetrail
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 16:10:57 +1000

Well, now, Karen's comments regarding the necessity of 'bearding' palm trees of their spent leaves reminds me of the time I trespassed illicitly on a Nature Reserve while out birdwatching one day...

We (the Hunter Bird Observer's Group) had determined that we absolutely, utterly *had* to get a look at a Gould's Petrel! So, one day, we hired a cabin cruiser (ie game fishing boat) and got the nice man to drop us off on an island called 'Cabbage Tree'. This island is little more than a rock off the coast of NSW, but it's the only place in the whole wide world where Gould's Petrels make their nesting burrows. It's also covered thickly with nothing but Cabbagetree Palms and Gould's Petrel poo!

Having alighted on a tiny shell beach (when I say 'tiny', I mean about six feet square), we had to clamber over some rather unfriendly sharp rocks to get up onto the island. It's very steep, sloping sharply up to a mound at the top and of course there's no sunlight to speak of, because the canopy of the palm trees is just about impenetrable. Cabbagetree Palms (_Livistonia australis_) are sort of like Coconut Palms in that they have long, straight trunks with a 'cabbage' of fronds at the top. The fronds have a long (10ft or so) stem with razor sharp edges and nasty little spicules along the rachis that tear holes in human flesh! On Cabbage Tree Island, the trees grow cheek by jowl and so they make a nice little wet temperate rainforesty sort of effect.

The understorey consists almost entirely of spent palm fronds and so we bird observers ended up with pretty cruelly scratched leggies by the end of the day. Oh and there were also lots and lots and lots of leeches! We found out pretty early on that spray insect repellent will deter them a bit, but we were worried about whether a Gould's Petrel chick might get a tummyache from eating sprayed leeches. So, instead we just tried to be vigilant. (Geez, you bleed like a stuck pig when you've been leeched a few times!)

We spent the whole day and part of the evening on the island. What happens is, the adult birds leave the nestlings in their burrows at sunrise and forage all day at sea. They return in the evenings with full crops, plummetting through the Cabbagetree leaves and landing <<Thud>> on the understorey. Somehow, each bird knows exactly where its own chick is and in any case, all the chicks are waiting expectantly at the mouths of their burrows making a perfectly *awful* sound designed to entice the parent to come clean with the tucker.

What we did was to spend the day reaching intrepidly into the burrows and withdrawing the chicks, weighing and measuring them, applying bands (registered with the Royal Australiasian Ornithologists' Union) and then releasing them. On one occasion, one of our members withdrew not a Petrel chick but a very angry Fairy Penguin, who made a noise like a jackass and who bit through an asbestos glove with its razor sharp bill!

Just on sunset, the adult birds began returning and plummetting on top of the Hunter Bird Observers' Group, so we repaired to the unfriendly rock which had been our stepping-off point for the adventure. It was Very Strange, being pelted with large birds, bits of phish and the odd poo in the dark, I can tell you! After about an hour and a half, our fishing boat turned up to take us home. All the fishermen were drinking steadily (having caught fewer fish that day than the Gould's Petrels had) and so we tried hard to stay out of their way. Some of them were already heaving over the sides of the boat and the Hunter Bird Observers' Group is not famed for its cast-iron constitution (cf. boring story about the other bird-banding trip to Broughton Island).

Anyway, I can say that I have indeed observed Gould's Petrels at close hand! I *can't* say I'd recommend a trip to Cabbage Tree Island if you were thinking of going: it's *not* hospitable in the least!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: boring story about our day out today
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 08:22:37 +1000

DSS will be eighteen on Tuesday!

In line with this, we decided we ought to have a celebration this weekend, since we won't see him again until next fortnight. DH rang DSS's godparents (our computer friends, Geoff and Jackie) and we arranged to have a barbecue at Mount Sugarloaf (same hill masquerading as a mountain that we visited in honour of DH's birthday a few months ago).

*Any*way, I've had a headache for nearly the whole week. It started with a stiff neck and has just hung around, waxing and waning for days and days and days... I've been in an *evil* mood and certainly wasn't looking forward to romping about on Mt Sugarloaf with nasty, smelly barbecues wafting into my hair and gumleaves falling into DSS's purchased birthday cake. I was *cross*!!! Nevertheless, I said (in my very best wan, martyred voice) 'No... I won't stay at home... I'll come along... for Aaron's sake!'

So off we toddled.

We were expected to meet at midday at our favourite barbecue spot. We never made it there, because people were *every* where, barbecueing, playing cricket, playing infernally loud music on their portable ghetto-blasters (*why* do people go into the quietness of the bush and then turn those blasted things on full-bore?????) and even riding up and down on souped-up motorcross bikes. The noise was *astounding*! Uncle Geoffery had managed to secure us a barbecue right near the main road, so we set up our picnic there and DH began to cook lunch. (DH is a really wonderful barbecue cook and his sausages are beyond compare!)

Of course, I was feeling PB seedy at that time, so I took DD off for a little walk in the bush. We had been walking for approximately thirty seconds when I fell upon a _Kennedya rubicunda_ in full flower! This was fine! You don't see _K. rubicunda every day. Even though it's not uncommon, it's still not easy to see! The next thing that we found was a dear little fairy ring of Nodding Greenhoods. These are a ground orchid, only about six inches tall with translucent green flowers. Lovely! And then we found some interesting wattles with strange, round phyllodes (pseudo-leaves). As far as I can tell, these don't have a name yet - my plant key for the area is very old and so this one will have to go down as just '_Acacia_sp'.

Well, next we ate our barbecue and all I could manage was a sausage with a slice of bread. Everyone else ate a hearty meal and DSS enjoyed being made a fuss of. Our friends had both had an awful dose of 'flu, so they coughed and spluttered a great deal. Poor Jackie was especially stricken and so conversation became a bit difficult.

*Nevertheless*, it didn't stop us from chatting about our opinions on corporal punishment and both my DSKs agreed that nothing else would have penetrated their consciousnesses when they were little. My DSD said that she had been particularly rebellious as a little girl (she's sixteen now) and felt that nothing *short* of a smack from her Mum would have made any impression on her when she was intending to wreak havoc. She also laughed at the idea of 'time out' and parental explanations. 'That's just silly!' she said, 'The only thing about being talked to as a naughty kid is that it's *so* annoying, being made to wait for the adult to shut up! Most times, you never listen to them anyway'. DSS agreed with this and went on to say that *some* kids can respond to that (he can and still does), but others simply get more and more resentful of being 'spoken at'. That would be his sister. Both DSKs agreed that a small amount of corporal punishment did them a world of good and helped them respect their mother's position as head of their household and the one who calls the shots.

That was all just bye-the-bye, though, as the sun was now beginning to sink and we had spied a GOAT being led by the horns up the road by two kids (erm - human ones, not the ovine kind!) Everyone laughed at the idea of a large angora goat being loose in what's *supposed* to be a Nature Reserve (there are signs everywhere saying 'No Domestic Animals'), but we forgot about it as DH tried hard to light DSS's candle. The wind was high today! LOL! We sang 'Happy Birthday' in very fast-forward (ie chipmunx) because of the wind and then we bid goodbye to Geoff and poor Jackie, who clearly needed to go back to bed!

Now, at the lookout area of this Nature Reserve, there's a big lily pond with lots and lots of _Nympheaea_ waterlilies in it. On several occasions, we've thrown bread into this pond and some kind of leviathan has *leapt* from the depths to seize the food and depart with it to the murky depths of the pond. Last time we were there, DSD identified the leviathan as some kind of catfish: it has 'tentacles' all around its mouth and it'd be about as big as a dinnerplate. DD has christed this leviathan 'Evgeny' in honour of the figure skater, Evgeny Plushenko. He took her fancy during the Sydney Olympics...

Anyway, we had brought a whole loaf of stale bread for dear Evgeny and all his offspring and so we piled into the car and drove up to the Evgeny-pond. On alighting, the first thing we noticed was this gigantic angora GOAT, still being led around by the horns by two or three little girls. They were telling him goodbye' and getting into their rather smashing Mercedes Benz (white with navy leather upholstery, in case you were wondering...). Next thing, the GOAT was mooching around us and so we offered him some of Evgeny's bread.

'Naaaaaaaaahhhhh!' said the goat. As the little girl and their Mercedes left, their Dad hung out the window and said 'He's been eating *all day* - he won't be a bit hungry!'

... and we found this to be true as the goat sidled up to us, still refusing to eat the Evgeny-bread. Suddenly, Evgeny and all his ilk paled into insignificance as we all made much of someone a *lot* larger and more fussable! The goat was lovely. He had large yellow eyes and about three years' worth of coat (he was badly in need of shearing, considering the hot summer's in its throes). While I'm sure the goat has a varied spectrum of intestinal parasite, I couldn't find any fleas or lice on it and it seemed in reasonably good nick for a 'feral'. It had clearly been someone's pet and used to attention. I felt sad that it was roaming here, uncared for and unshorn, so we rang up the Ugly Sister and asked if she'd come and pick it up in the horse truck.

'Sorry!' replied Ugly, 'but DH has taken some cows to Maitland. He won't be back until much later tonight.'

DH eventually got onto the Lake Macquarie City Council and related the story of the poor, roaming goat. The woman on the phone sounded very bored and said 'There are many feral goats in the reserve. Just leave it there. It's not alone!' and rang off. I plan to *do* something about this because the goats could be a real danger harbouring disease and/or parasites, physically attacking members of the public (*I've* been on the wrong end of an angora billy in my lifetime and it was no fun!) and doing the normal goaty sorts of damage to the vegetation and fences. Aside from that, *this* goat was in great need of having its feet trimmed (they were growing out almost vertically and were about 2" too long - which is a lot for a goat!) and clearly needed to be shorn. And probably wormed thoroughly as well. And probably castrated, because an entire male goat can be a bit of a handful!

Since the goat wouldn't eat our bread, everyone sort of lost interest and commenced sliding down a grassy slope on bits of cardboard (left there by generations of kids who have done it before). DH and I stood watching on and suddenly we heard the goat making a slurping noise. It was licking the car! Yerk! DH nearly had a coronary, but I explained that animals will often do that when they need a bit of salt. As if to prove my point, the poor thing began scraping at the bitumen (road surface) with his hoof and licking the resultant gravel up! We got the salt-shaker out of the picnic basket and I held out a handful of salt. The poor, poor goat nearly went mad, gobbling up the salt! Next, we offered him a drink out of our water bottle and again, he nearly knocked us over in an effort to drink! We realised that, aside from Evgeny's pond which was fenced off, there was nowhere a goat could get a drink around the reserve! It was *so* thirsty, it drank about thirteen litres of water! Then, it absolutely horrified poor DH by trying to jump up on him and get more water out of the large blue bottle! LOL! Everyone got hurriedly into the car and the poor goat subsided, morosely eating the plastic fast-food container the water had been in.

So, some time today, I plan to do some ringing around to see what can be done about these poor creatures loose in the Mt Sugarloaf reserve. I'd say that back when angoras were all the rage, some bored housewife had them to spin from. When they got out, the owners were probably greatly relieved and simply let them go... So now, the wool is about fifteen inches long and would be greatly prized by anyone who does spin, I'd imagine!

That's what we did yesterday (I've been to bed and back since I started writing this - LOL!)
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: boring story about our day out today
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2002 09:17:26 +1000

Have you ever tried sucking on a salt-lick, Beth? They taste *wonderful*!

When I was a horrible pony-mad little girl at Uncle George's Riding Academy, we used to sit around the stables, each with a small hunk of rock-salt, licking away as we chatted over the lunch hour. Ahhhhh... fond memories...

Once, we were all sitting in the tack-room, licking our salt, when the Ugly Sister tasted a vitamin supplement, which Uncle George used to put in the horses' feed. It was some kind of Vitamin B additive and tasted rather like Vegemite. All being happy little Vegemites (we ate it every day), we each had a fair gollop of the stuff, finding it most pleasant to the taste. Then, we had a drink of water.

Well! The stuff was obviously designed to expand when wet! We all thought we were going to die of ruptured guts! Uncle George came back to find eight of us rolling around on the tack-room floor, groaning and 'dying'! He laughed for about ten minutes in Hungarian (Uncle George had been in the Hungarian cavalry as a young man - which is why a) he laughed in Hungarian and b) he rode so well) and then made us all visit the dunny. We felt better after that.

Uncle George would then offer us a 'nice biscuit of hay' for morning tea each day, thinking it remarkable that a normal, well-educated child would want to eat horse food for lunch instead of her nice Vegemite sandwiches! LOL!

I actually have tears in my eyes as I remember this event! It was *so* funny, especially the look on the Ugly Sister's face as her belly blew up to the size of a football before my eyes. And me without a camera!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. When I encourage people to taste a salt-lick, I mean the natural rock-salt ones, *not* the man-made compressed brick-shaped things that contain trace elements and all sorts of vile substances (including sea-weed). Do *not* lick one of those: I couldn't be held responsible for the consequences! :-#

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Speakin' of cats...
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2002 09:59:20 +1000

Very wise thought! I got a holiday job at the loca Vet's when I was fifteen. I worked for The Boss for nearly five years, on and off, but the Ugly Sister took over from me when I went to University and worked there on a permanent basis for over twelve years. Between us, we had an enormous number of cats and dogs (and even a pony!) find their ways into our hearts.

Mum and I fondly recall doing the grocery shopping together during those days. Mum would push the trolley with the people food and I would push the one with the animal food. At that time (I was about seventeen and Ugly about nine), we had two dogs, eight cats, two budgies in a cage, about twenty assorted parrots and quail in an aviary, a tortoise and two horses. When I think about it, there aren't many Mums and Dads who would allow their kids to turn an ordinary suburban block into a menagerie, but ours did! Most of our animals were unwanted strays and I wish I had a dollar for every hour I've spent, trying to entice a starving creature into my car so I could rescue it!

Y'know, I think I've told this one before, but I was telling it to my DSD on the weekend, so here it is again.

The Ugly Sister was finishing high school at the local tech college. One day, she was walking to her car when she overheard two women discussing an awful case of a neglected pony in the next street. Enquiring where the pony could be found, Ugly drove up to find a *darling* little thing, tethered to a fence. He was only about eighteen months old, 11 hands high, chocolate brown with flaxen mane and tail and he was seriously emaciated. The poor little creature had been eating sand (warning bells ought to have gone off at that) because there was no longer any grass within his reach and he had been long without water.

Ugly did what anyone would do: she stole the pony! At that time, she had a people-mover kind of minibus, so she simply lifted the pony in and drove home! When she got there, we all fussed around over the emaciated colt, hugging him and feeding him nice hay (which he gobbled up like there was no tomorrow). Anyone else still hearing the warning bells?

The first thing that happened was that we all got a terrible case of lice. The pony was completely lousy! So, the second thing that happened was that we had to wash him in sheep-dip. The third thing that happened was that my DNephew, Timmy, got sheep-dip poisoning, but that's another boring story. Anyway, by the end of the first day, the pony was looking much more hale and hearty and he was eating like Henry the Eighth. We called him Chocolate Buddy, after the sweet by that name. He was gorgeous!

Of course, horsey people out there will know about sand colic. The pony went down with it the following afternoon. Some horses will eat sand for various reasons and if they eat enough of it, they get a sort of bloat, where gas builds up in their gut. Horses can't burp or vomit, so they can only wait until the food (and gas) passes out the other end. During the waiting period, they experience intense pain to which they respond by rolling around desperately trying to shift the gas. This can cause a torsion of the gut, which may then become gangrenous and kill the beast very quickly. Hence, it's vital that a colicky horse should not be allowed to lie down and commence to roll. The Ugly Sister and I spent an horrendous forty-eight hours, walking Buddy around the streets and trying to stop him from rolling. He was in such pain (they go into shock, which can also be dangerous) that he was drenched in sweat and his eyes were rolling white in his head. Poor little thing. The only good part was that the pony was so small and skinny, Ugly and I were able to physically lift him up when he buckled at the knees and sank to the ground. DH (whom I had not known for long at that stage) was mystified that we would stay awake for that long, walking the cold, wintery streets and shrieking at the disreputable-looking pony to get up. We cried and cried at each other because he looked so poorly we were sure he would die!

But he didn't!

At about 4am on the second morning, he pharted long and loud into the pre-dawn darkness! We did a happy dance and started massaging his tummy and before long we were enveloped in a wonderful cloud of foetid green pony-phart! That was marvellous and my XDBIL went to make coffee for us. When Buddy had done a lovely steaming manure (thus proving that he was going to pass whatever was ailing his innard) on Mum's front lawn, we left him to eat his breakfast and went to have ours. Hooray!

The *next* thing that happened was that Ugly recieved a phone call from Buddy's perpetrator. He had been given Ugly's car registration from someone who had seen her rustling the pony and he had thus tracked her down. He threatened Ugly with charges of stealing, but when she explained exactly what the monetary penalties are for tethering an animal within our town council zone, neglect, extended cruelty and refusal to provide reasonable shelter and sustenance, he became somewhat abashed. He demanded that if Ugly intended to keep the pony she should pay for it: he hadn't reallly wanted it anyway. Ugly looked in her purse and announced that it contained $17.50. The bloke said 'That'll do. I'll be over in a minute'. Ugly gave him his money (having taken back $5 for the bale of hay Buddy was eating) and so little Chocolate Buddy became the cheapest horse we ever bought!

Buddy was so gentle, he needed hardly any breaking-in (which wasn't begun until he was nearly three). From the very first, he was quite happy for the kids to sit on him quietly and he never resisted once. He had the sweetest, most kindly nature! Only thing was, at only 11.2hh he had no future as a ridden pony. His back was very straight and his shoulders and pasterns had hardly any slope (this meant that his action or way of stepping was very upright and high). He was just 'wrong' for riding!

Not a problem! Ugly's future-DFIL had a mate who did mini-trots. Buddy went on to become a star at the mini-trots and the favourite pet of the elderly gentleman who bought him for his grandchildren to drive. I often wonder where he is now and whether he is still happy and well: he'd be about twelve, which is not that old for a pony.

The Ugly Sister has made some unfortunate decisions in her lifetime (and I was there during most of them!), but rustling that pony was one of her better ones!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Happy Birthday, Seanette!
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 23:36:08 +1000

Trish Brown wrote: > > Pffft! Bl**dy cats! Hopeless creatures! Last night, DH informed me we > had a mouse. DH is phobic about mice and even more phobic about > mousetraps (they bite his widdle fingers!) As an expedient measure, he > cleverly thought of letting Miss Barfy inside for the evening in the > hope that she might weed out the offending mouse. > > Well, no, she didn't! Instead, she went to sleep in DH's lap (what > little there is of it) while the mouse (a tiny baby one about two inches > long, including tail) went romping about the floor *right in front of > us*, munching up morsels it found in the carpet and generally having a > ball! > > I suggested putting Patricia's Humane Mousetrap in place, but DH just > laughed at me. > > Miss Barfy just snored on: *useless* creature! > > Now that I've actually *seen* the mouse, it's far too adorable to kill. > I shall dust off Patricia's Humane Mousetrap and try for him this > evening. > > -- > Trish {|:-} > Newcastle, NSW, Australia

I am shamelessly answering my own post. Tonight, I had to sit up with my head supported by a bag of frozen peas while I waited for yet another headache to run its course. As I sat there, alone in the quiet room, Little Aloysius (the mouse) came out to play!

He's *so* beautiful! His fur is dove grey, sleek and shiny (no doubt owing to all the toast crumbs DD drops on the floor) and his eyes are like tiny glass seed beads, darting here and there, checking out everything. He has a neat little habit of standing like a miniature pointer with one foot poised in mid-air and his nose aloft, sniffing for danger. His little silky pink ears are never still: they turn around and about listening for I-dunno-what (the TV's not exactly quiet...) and telegraphing his mood as he plays. His tail is going to be quite a magnificent one when he grows up: it's at least an inch long and trails behind him as he goes. In fact, it looks like an ort! What a *charming* little creature he is!

So, I set up a plastic saucer with bits of pumpkin, carrot, boiled rice, cheese and biscuit. Mum would have a fit if she knew! DH would *spank* me! But it's a baby animal and in the face of that, I'm powerless! I sat there for over an hour, just watching this little bloke darting underneath my floor stand and pausing every few seconds to sniff and then galloping across the middle of the floor, chucking in a leap of at least five inches (no mean feat for a bloke this tiny!) as he went.

Miraculously, my headache is gone!
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. I am a biologist by nature. I *know* that baby mice are rarely born alone! I *will* do something about it, but I must catch Aloysius humanely: he's family now - we've broken bread together!!!

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Looking for magpies
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 2002 10:48:25 +1000

Wow! What an *excellent* story! And what a lovely DH you have to care that much about a crow! I've always wanted to tame a crow/raven and teach it to say 'Nevermore' after the poem! I have actually kept an Australian magpie for a while and I still have the long scar on my forearm to prove it!

Our magpies are tribal. That means that a given territory will support a magical number of magpies (determined by the alpha male and his wives) and not a sausage more. If any excess children are hatched, the tribe will drive them off (by very violent means) when they are independent. One day, Mum and I were driving out on the Black Hill road when we saw this happening in a cattle crush. A tribe of magpies was pecking and hitting a youngster (with wings) to make it go away. The poor little thing was almost exhausted and I was afraid it would be blinded or worse by the infuriated adult magpies. So, I picked it up and took it home. (Mum didn't mind - she never minded when I brought stuff home!)

Well, this maggie absolutely refused to fly for me, so I had to put him in a cage to guard against cats. Each morning, he'd wake us up with his gorgeous carolling and I would take him out for a flying lesson. I made a little harness for him out of seam-binding tape and would 'fly' him in our back paddock, just like a big black and white kite. It took ages for him to take wing and he really didn't do it in response to anything I did for him. He waited until he saw a clutch of young maggies that belonged to our local tribe and I think he actually copied them. As soon as he learnt to fly, his temperament changed overnight! He stopped being as happy and biddable and began flapping angrily with his wings against the cage. One day, when I was changing his water, he drove his bill into my forearm and scraped a great gouge out of me with it.

I released him out at Black Hill that afternoon!

The Australian Magpie is probably more closely related to the Old World Shrikes than anything. They're quite different from everyone else's magpies, but they were called that because of the colours. Here's a great site for birdos:

There are pics and sound bytes from lots of birds worldwide. If you scroll down to 'Bellmagpies and Allies', then click on 'Australasian Magpie', you can see and hear what they look like. It's worth listening to the Butcher Birds and Currawongs too!

When DD was a baby, we had a fairly tame magpie called 'Audacious' who used to come into the kitchen for meat scraps. One day, DD was kicking her fat little leggies in her bouncer and Audacious felt that she was waving ten little grubs at him. I had to stop him from coming inside after that!

FWIW, feeding carnivorous birds on stuff like bread and meat scraps can be dangerous. There's not enough calcium to prevent bone disease and shell-formation in their eggs. It's much better to feed dog pellets which have been soaked in water - these are much closer to such birds' nutritional requirements and you don't feel guilty in feeding something unnatural to them.

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: What happened to DH last night...
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 05:10:09 +1000

Hmmm... Background: DH has an awful habit of accosting persons not fully in charge of themselves and saying nice, soothing things like 'Come on, mate! Wake up to yerself and quiet down a bit, eh?' He does this to rowdy teenagers, drunken gentlemen and generally anyone disturbing the peace. I've *asked* him not to do it, but he persists!


Last night, DH had dropped us at home and gone down to get fish'n'chips for tea. He put in his order at Hatzinikolou's fish'n'chip shop and went out to tinker with his hand brake cable while waiting. Sure enough, a company of Disreputable Youths, drunk and disorderly, happened along. Though he *swears* he never said a word, only *looking* at the Disreputable Youths (who were spitting and jumping up to try and knock Mr Hatzinikolou's sign down) and raising his eyebrows halfway into his hairline, DH got mugged!

One of the three youths leapt upon him, shouting obscenities and punching DH in the tummy. Another was bellowing rude words at the top of his lungs (effenseeneffenseeneffensee) and the third was standing back pretending to be a carp with his mouth opening and closing all the while. Poor DH was so shocked that he forgot to drop the pair of pliers he had in his hand. Fortunately. By now, DH was on his back and 'making like a cockeroach' in his own words, with his arms and legs flailing. I can fondly picture this little vignette and it's not a pretty one!

DH managed to get up and saw Disreputable Youth #1 kicking the living tripes out of Elvis (our car, named for Elvis Cridlington and not the one of the Presley persuasion). Anyway, Disreputable Youths #2 and #3 were backing away by now, still shouting 'effeneffeneff' at DH, who had got out his mobile phone from his pocket and dialled 000.

'Nelson Street, Wallsend!' puffed DH 'I am currently being attacked by three Disreputable Youths outside Hatzinikolou's fish'n'chips shop!' and he threw his mobilphone into Elvis, whose window was broken.

At this, Disreputable Youth #1 came at poor DH yet again, but this time he (DH) was ready with his pliers to the fore. He struck at DY#1 and missed his target completely! He'd hoped to dong him in the nose and cause him enough pain to think again.

Oddly, DH's pliers went straight into the *mouth* of DY#1 and 'ripped out 'alf 'is gums and prob'ly some of 'is teeth!' said a triumphant DH, who came home covered in blood and asking for a bandaid to put on is poor, skinned knee! 'An' 'e bled like a stuck pig', he added in satisfied tones as an afterthought.

DH had waited forty five minutes for the coppers (police) to arrive and they never did! After we ate our stone-motherless-cold fish'n'chips, DH rang the coppers again and asked where they were. They had attended the scene of the crime approximately two hours after the event, failed to find anyone about and gone back to the station.

'Would you like to file a complaint against the Disreputable Youths?' asked the desk constable.

'Bl**dy oath!' swore DH. 'I'd also like to file one against your blokes who failed to come and save my life as I lay, mugged, in the street!'

'That is your privilege, sir' said the smarmy copper and took DH's details. Two young constables knocked on our door at 12.30 that night and interviewed DH about his ordeal. They believe they know the bloke who was the ringleader (the one with bloody gingivitis) and they will press charges on DH's account *if* they can catch him and *if* DH can get a witness. He can't. Not one of the people in Hatzi's Fish'n'Chips would stand up and speak on DH's behalf!

Isn't that awful?!

Now, Elvis is all dinted and has a broken window and tail-light and his handbrake cable *still* isn't fixed. And DH's shorts and T-shirt are all bloody with Disreputable Youth Blood!
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: boring story from the Ugly Sister!
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 05:52:36 +1000

The Ugly Sister had me in stitches with this the other day, so I thought I might as well write it down for you. It's about my DN, Teasie's friends, Shane, Razzle and Jodie.

Shane is a plumber and a ratbag! 'Anything for a laugh' is Shane's motto! So, he's always up to his neck in practical jokes and silly schemes. He has a mate called Razzle (Russell) and they like to drink beer and watch the footy together. Shane's wife is Teasie's best friend, Jodie. She's very proud of her new marriage and her nice little cottage up on the hill. It has two (2) dunnies: one inside (owing to Shane being a plumber) and one outside (owing to the house being very old).

Last weekend, Jodie was at Teasie's place having arvo tea and playing with my DGN, Breanna. Shane and Razzle had stuffed their faces with hot pies and then gotten stuck into the beer and the footy. At some point, Razzle said 'I'm goin' out to the dunny, Shane! Don't drink all the beers while I'm gone: I'll be a while!'

*Needless* to say, Shane was alerted to the possibility of a joke and so he snuck off and got out his small but effective fireworks collection. He selected a small bunger, lit the wick and tossed it into the dunny through the broken louvre window. Razzle saw the firework coming in, seized it and was quick enough to toss it back out again, causing it to explode right above Shane's head!

'Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!' said Razzle, deliriously happy that he had outwitted the infamous Shane! Silence told him Shane had gone, probably back to suck up more beer. Razzle settled down and relaxed...

Shane had, in fact, gone back to his little fireworks collection and selected a humungous commercial firework of the sort that they let off of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the eve of the new millenium! It was four inches across and ten inches tall and was packed with far more gunpowder than ought to be chucked into any domestic dunny!

This is the incredible part:


*Then* he chucked it into the dunny, where it plummetted, improbably, straight between Razzle's legs and into the bowl! Razzle had just enough time to jump up off the dunny and cower down against the door with his jeans round his ankles and his hands covering his ears!

'<<BBOOOMMMMM>>' said the firework - and the earth moved!

Apparently, a huge hole was blown in the bowl of Jodie's nice porcelain toilet. And - ah - the walls and ceiling of the outdoor dunny were - ah - befouled somewhat. The only bit that *wasn't* befouled was the outline on the door of poor, horrified Razzle! Jodie says he's not allowed to come over and play with Shane *any* more! Shane can't understand Jodie's wrath - after all, he can easily get a new dunny and install it!

'It was worth it,' he said, 'to see Razzle come tottering out of the dunny with **** hanging off him and that *look* on his face !'

(- and in a befouled condition and gibbering that he would never go to the dunny again, ever in this lifetime!) --
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: We *finally* got to the Zoo!!!
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 22:56:34 +1000

Well! We've been saving up for quite a while for this and DD had an Inservice Day yesterday (school staff has a day off for professional development and kids get to stay home). The time was ripe for the trip to Sydney to see Taronga Park Zoo!

I've been to the Zoo many times and so has DS. DH had only been once (with me, on our honeymoon) and DD had never. I couldn't *wait* to show her all the animals and see the look on her face as she rounded each bend to spot something new and exciting. I wasn't disappointed! :-)

We were late leaving (by the time the Browns have done all their phluffing around, time has a way of passing one by...) and there was a thick fog yesterday, which gave me the creeps. Many of the accidents on the freeway are because of fog and there actually was one this morning, due to fog on the Mooney Mooney Bridge! Anyway, I expected a bright sunny day after the fog lifted, but that didn't happen. The fire department was doing back-burning around the Zoo and so the smoke got added to the morning temperature-inversion, which didn't lift until the late afternoon. We had a very dull, oppressive day with lots of UV to worry about, but none of that spoiled our enthusiasm!

Speaking of UV, I'd insisted that everyone had hats to wear (I got *ferociously* sunburnt on my honeymoon and both kids have red hair!), so we looked like Right Yokels! DD had her pretty little straw hat with the pale blue hatband and bow-and-flowers trim, so she looked OK (although sullen because she wanted to wear her school hat, which is 'trendy-looking' - now *that* has to be a first!!!!) DH looked like a *thug* with his precious-darling-beloved Sopranos cap on (thank you, Rita!) and DS looked like a Trappist monk with his battered old gardening hat pulled right down over his ears. I locked that in the boot (trunk) and made him wear DD's school hat, which is dark green 'cowboy' style. Me, I had me Boston Celtics cap, which DH had brought back from his trip to MacWorld in 1989. It looks *exactly* as though it's thirteen years old and I was no oil painting. I didn't give a toss, though, because we expected to be two hours on he road and I was more worried about DD getting car-sick and throwing up over her father, behind whom she sits (have experienced this with the Ugly Sister - see other boring story about it on Kath Dyer's site).

The trip down the freeway was uneventful until I became seized by an overriding desire to attend the dunny as we approached Wahroonga (outer outskirts of Sydney). Owing to *heavy* traffic and a completely masculine desire to forge ahead, DH found himself unable to pull over until St Leonards (inner outskirts of Sydney). This meant approximately half an hour of acute discomfort for poor little moi and a somewhat moderate Domestic going on in the front seat between me and my beloved.

As it turned out, DD did not get car-sick, but now knows what 'vehicular nausea' means. (DH and I had been animatedly discussing our concerns about her tummy and we can't spell at her any more - she spells as well as we do!) We got to the dunny at a gas station and stocked up on mints for DD. Then we made our way down through our old stomping ground (DH and I lived and worked in North Sydney about ten years ago). Boy! Has Sydney changed! The AppleCentre where I worked is now a Police Station and the lovely old Art Deco flat where we lived has been 'renovated' and looks awful!

We arrived at Taronga Park at 11am and then wasted precious time making and eating chicken sandwiches (to save carrying them about in DD's plastic backpack). A number of Kookaburras approached as soon as they saw our Esky (portable cooler fridge) and so we wasted more precious time feeding them bits of chicken. It was only when DS came and said '*Please* Mum! Can we go in! I can hear a peacock calling me!' DD made a pain of herself by insisting that her two precious beanie teddies (Teddy and Tickle-me-pink) should come too - she had secreted them in her hat, knowing I would make her leave them at home otherwise! So *more* precious time was wasted as I repacked her backpack and placed the two blasted bears facing backward so they could see out. Hnnnnh!

We marched through the turnstile and were confronted immediately by every birdwatcher's dream! Not one, but *two* stately Jabirus!!!!! There they were, standing in a little corner of a pond, blinking their yellow eyes at me and projecting a very clear 'Good morning, Patricia - we're so glad you came!' DH took photos of me being deliriously happy and raving on about them being _Xenorhynchus asiaticus_ and the only true stork to occur on the Australian continent and so on and so forth. He went on to mutter something about spanking my inner child, but I didn't hear it. I was romping off down the path to find DS' peacock. It was in full display plumage and the reason it kept calling so earnestly was that seagulls were flocking around the food kiosk which was there. The mad peacock seemed to think they were albino peacocks moving in on his territory, so he spent the whole day calling and displaying at the nonchalantly scavenging seagulls! Not only that, but Mr Peacock wasn't alone: there were zillions of other peacocks all over the Zoo and they were *all* displaying like mad! Yet, we didn't see a single peahen! They must've been so embarrassed they were secreting themselves out of the public eye.

I was particularly impressed by the bird exhibits (no prizes for working that out!) and the others got sick of me pointing out obscure little winged things when there were Monkeys to be seen! They went off and spent a great half-hour at the Chimpanzee exhibit while I got to mutter 'white-winged chough, stone curlew, forest kingfisher, crimson firetail, spice finch, purple-crowned pigeon, regent bower bird' etc to myself. I was in Heaven! The collection of Oz birds at Taronga Park is very good indeed and I saw zillions of species represented. The free-flight aviary is particularly excellent, because the birds are completely tame and you find yourself being strafed by things like Sacred Kingfishers, which are normally quite difficult to see up close! DD excelled herself in there (the aviary) by spotting a colony of electic blue yabbies (freshwater crayfish) in the running water. I was *so* proud of her observational skills!

As we left the huge aviary, I was *astounded* to be confronted by three (3!) Wollemi Pine trees!!!!! These were only discovered in 1994 and they are a living fossil. I've been dreaming of the day when I would clap eyes on one (knowing they're being carefully tissue-cultured and made ready for extensive distribution a couple of years hence). Can you imagine my surprise and very great pleasure at having seen (and touched, but don't tell anyone!!!) a Wollemi Pine just yesterday??? Here's the site of the bloke who discovered them:

Maybe Dave's story is only of interest to Botanists, but some of you might find it engaging to read his tale of how this ancient colony of pine trees was found lurking in a canyon! The trees are immediately identifiable as a Very Ancient species. The bark is reminiscent of the Bunya Pine (_Araucaria bidwillii_) and the leaves too, although they're unusually long and extremely primitive-lookin, being pinnate with a tendency to form an extra (third) row of leaflets along the rachis. (This is for Monique, who was the first person I thought of when I recovered from the shock of seeing my trees!) The saplings were about six feet tall, planted closely together (they're going to have to transplant eventually, because these trees will be *big*) and were a lovely spring green colour. The bark is chocolate brown and is also primitive-looking like all 'Araucariaceae' bark. It felt awesome to be standing in the presence of something so Old! DH restrained me from taking a cutting, but he couldn't restrain me from climbing up and touching a tree ('Do Not Touch the Trees' said the sign...)

Well, DD most particularly wanted to see Large Animals of African origin. Her current fetish is for the Cape Buffalo (she read about it on the CDROM, 'Dangerous Creatures' and she is totally enthralled by them). She was mightily disappointed when I had to tell her that Taronga Park has no Cape Buffaloes, nor even any American Bisons for her to look at. So, she decided immediately that a Wildebeest or Elephant would do instead. Guess what? No Wildebeests and the Elephants are Indian ones. Poor DD. Still, though, I did get my wish to see the look on her face as she rounded a bend and shrieked '*Mu-u-uuum*! Look! There are giraffes in there!' She was utterly entranced and it took us ages to drag her away from staring at these unutterably beautiful creatures. I secretly agreed with her that giraffes really are the most spectacularly gorgeous and unique animals - it's something about the way they move and the look in their eyes...

DS was quite chuffed with the Gorillas and he greatly enjoyed watching them being fed with branches of mulberry and piles of *leeks and onions*! Whew! Imagine *living* on leeks and onions? I'd hate to the keeper who had to sweep up the gorilla-poo! Oh, and the tribe of Chimpanzees had two little babies among them, a boy and a girl. The girl's Mummy and Daddy were completely besotted with her and they were lying together with the tiny baby between them, playing with her ever-so gently. The male seemed especially human-like as he sofly picked up the baby's hand and counted her fingers, placing each one on his lips! He looked exactly like any Daddy, falling in love with his new baby girl and when she fell over backward, he leapt to his feet and gently took her little hands to pull her upright again. Then, he cradled her against his breast and *smiled* at her mother! I kid you not! The crowd of people around us went 'Awwwwwwww' and there wasn't a dry eye among us! DS really enjoyed this and DD piped up and said 'Daddy loves *me* that much, doesn't he?'

Well, we walked back and forth and back and forth for several hours (Taronga Park Zoo is on a hilly site overlooking Sydney Harbour) and by mid-afternoon we were absolutely cactussed! DH and I were supporting one another as we hobbled along on burning soles, but the kids were still romping along and forging ahead to find the Snow Leopards and the Lions. We had a short respite when we sat down to watch the Bird Show, in which various birds were exhibited in free flight. Let's see, there was a flock of white pigeons which wheeled above the crowd, following the trainer's directions and then dropping to the ground as one and *disappearing into a hole under a rock* which led back to their cage. This was *so* effective and the crowd went 'Ohhhhhhhhh!' as the fifty or so birds suddenly 'dissolved' into the ground!

Next, a fully-grown Brolga (looks exactly like a Sandhill or Whooping Crane - well, almost...) came flying into the arena. He performed a few simple tasks, like walking into and out of water on command and then he flew off among the bamboo backdrop to a hidden trainer. A Barn Owl came next and then a Barking Owl who was asked to fly at low level over the heads of the crowd so they could hear that his flight made no sound. I *want* that bird!!!! He was the epitome of owldom and he *looked* at me with his great orange eyes, saying 'Yes! I love you, Patricia! Take me home with you!' But DH said 'No' and that was the end of that.

After that, a Galah came out and flew up to remove a dollar coin from a gentleman's hand. You should've seen the look on his face when the trainer pocketted his dollar! But later on, the Galah took the coin back to him and he was very impressed indeed! I think the most impressive appearance, though, was that of the White Breasted Sea Eagle (has a wingspan of two metres)! She had lost two toes in a rabbit trap and so can never be released because with only one working foot, she can no longer hunt. This bird was just the most stunning creature! Huge and pristine white with a pearl grey mantle (back and wings), Minka (that was her name) seemed to realise that she was on an important mission - to demonstrate that creatures need to be protected from the activities of Man. She sat quite calmly on her trainer's hand as a series of Hooded Rats ran along the pipe fence behind them. LOL! The trainer was rabbitting on about once having a rat problem at the Zoo, but now, with Minka and the Owls around, there aren't any rats around. The kids, of course, were squealing 'Look behind you!' but each time she did, the rats would stop coming. Then, as she turned back, another Hooded Rat would scurry along the fence! It was really funny and the great bird just sat there, with no interest in the rats at all!

The clever one was the Black Breasted Buzzard which took a stone and used it to break open an emu's egg. In fact, the egg had already been broken and resealed for the show, but buzzards can easily break eggs like this in real life and so it didn't spoil the effect. When the show was over, all the performers and then some came flying in to sit on the trees behind the stage. There were Major Mitchell cockatoos, White-Tailed Black cockatoos, pigeons, birds of prey and Billy the Brolga. I cried.

Well, after that, we realised how late it was and how *far* and *steep* the walk would be back to Elvis (the car). So, DH determined that we would catch the Sky Safari. Bl**dy h*ll! I really didn't enjoy the Sky Safari on my honeymoon and I really wasn't expecting to enjoy it now! We began to walk the long and winding road down to the bottom of the hill and I suddenly conceived yet another uncannily intense desire to attend the dunny. Oh no! And I was going to have to sit in this blasted ski-lift thing which would doubtless crash at its highest point, thus turning me and mine into pizza and probably rendering dead any number of endangered Zoo animals below us! Hnnnnnnh!

As soon as they seated us in the ridiculously swinging little gondola-affair, I *knew* we were too heavy for it! Between DH and me, who each weigh enough for two, we had exceeded the legal capacity by two grown adults! I was *pet*rified! I have to add, this has only come upon me in recent years. As a youngster, I used to love being in high places and relished things like high towers and ferris wheels. Today, even the smallest ferris wheel at Newcastle Show gives me the heebiejeebies and so this Sky Safari thing was very bad for my health! I never said a word, though! DS takes all his cues from me and if I'd let on that I was terrified, he would've been too. So I sat there with my lips compressed into a very thin line and looked straight ahead at the extremely flimsy connection of the gondola ahead of us with the wire holding us both up. We were roughly four hundred feet above the ground. Dear G*d!

Having reached the top (and gone immediately and extensively to the dunny), we shopped in the souvenir shop for a while. I hate these places! They offer utter rubbish for sale at inflated prices and anything remotely attractive to a child is completely beyond the purse of all but the filthy rich! DD wanted a stuffed tiger, but was not allowed to have one (at $17.95 for a nasty, poorly put together thing that would sell for $2 up home!) so she was very sad. We ended up getting her a nice progressing pencil and a matching progressing eraser with a plastic ruler showing animal pictures from the Zoo. She was sorry at having to settle for 'school things', so DH managed to secrete a small stuffed tiger beanie-thingummy in the shopping without her seeing it. She was overjoyed when we pulled it out later and immmediately christend him 'Rajah'. The poor thing met a sorry fate later on...

Well, we bundled into the car and headed across the Harbour Bridge. DD is also fixated on it and thinks it the most beautiful and clever thing imaginable. She was so excited to actually be *on* the Bridge, and so we had then to go back across it, didn't we? But not before visiting Waverton (where DH and I had lived) and all our old haunts from the Olden Days. By then it was dark and the vista of the Bridge in lights and the lights of Sydney surrounding the Harbour was almost too much for DD. She kept exclaiming 'It's so pretty! It's so pretty!' and we felt so good that we'd been able to give her such a lovely day out. DS excited too, of course, but he's much older now. He was smilingly remembering the time we'd taken him to the Emperor's Garden and made him eat a hand towel! Of course, then we had to tell the story to DD and she was in stitches! Laughter is very good for one, isn't it? So, we left Sydney City at about 7pm in a great good humour!

We decided to search about for somewhere cheap to eat, but then decided that a celebration was in order so I brought forth the Rainy Day money (which lives in my wallet for emergencies). We found a nice little Pizza Place in Chatswood where the kids had ham'n'pineapple and DH and I had Tiger Prawns and Moroccan Spicy Sauce. Yum! It was so good to eat food that was not McDonald's! I will treasure last nights' pizza for a very long time! The waiter had a clever trick up his sleeve: when he saw that DD was eight, he came back with a knob of pizza dough for her to play with while waiting! DD is one of those kids who just sits quietly and waits (well, maybe not *quietly* - she's never lost for a word), but she really appreciated her dough and has brought it home with her. Isn't that a good idea? The lump of dough would've cost the restaurant about ten cents, but the gainful occupation of a child is beyond price to any parent!

Well, after we ate, I took DD to the dunny. We went into adjoining cubicles and I was just about to emerge from mine when a great wail came from DD's.

'Mu-u-uum! I dropped poor little Rajah in the toilet AND I HAVEN'T PULLED THE CHAIN!!!! HELP!!!!!'

Of course, a chorus of giggles emerged from the remaining cubicles and I had to go and withdraw the noisome and dripping Rajah and wash him in the pink gooey stuff they call soap. He turned out OK, but I think his brief stint under the blow-jobber (hand dryer thing) did him ill. He's a bit flat today, so I think I may have to unpick a seam and add to his intestinal fortitude with some extra stuffing...

After all that, we proceeded home up the freeway without incident except that DD was unable to go to sleep in the car because of being so excited. She reckoned she kept replaying the day 'like a video in my head' and couldn't stop watching it! LOL! On our arrival home, Miss Alice was yodelling *madly* owing to being very hungry and not knowing we'd been at the Zoo. DS shot in to feed her and DH and I lugubriously unpacked the remains of the day. Poor old DD had to have a bath and her hair washed owing to school today, but in the final event, her father assassinated the alarm clock when it spoke out of turn this morning and we all slept in.

Except for poor DS, who had to go to work. I'm making him some chocolate muffins today to make up for that!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: I went a-rambling in the shed...
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 00:20:33 +1000

... and found a pile of crewel embroideries I'd done when I was in my late teens and early twenties!

I'd completely forgotten ever doing them, but there they were: a horse's head worked on linen (and framed completely in book-covering plastic!) and a scene depicting Australian Fairy Wrens on a stalk of Cumbungi and another showing Eastern Yellow Robins in a Grevillea bush and one of kittens (IAP!) and another of puppies (equally IAP!). They were all ancient Semco kits, which I'd purchased for the princely sum of $5AUS all those years ago. The same kits would probably bring closer to $30AUS today!

The thing I noticed most particularly was that my stitching wasn't all that bad! Most of the work was done in long and short stitch (I *hate* l&s stitch) or split stitch (I also hate s'stitch) with the odd bits of stem stitch for outlining and - well - stems. The horse was a bit lurid in shades of burnt sienna (very sixties) and beige, but the birdie ones were quite nice. I might give 'em a wash and see how they come up.

One of these days, I'm going to go rummaging in the shed again and find all the zillions of macrame plant hangers and wall-hangings I made when I was in my macrame phase! Eeeeuuuwwwww! There's an enormous wall-hanging in there somewhere which was made out of thick olive-green jute twine with gigantic (ie golf-ball-sized) lacquered wooden beads for embellishment. It was a sort of sampler of the ways in which you could build up textured 'fabric' using macrame knots. At a rough size of four foot by four foot, it was an utter *apostasy*.

Oh, and there's the hanger that used to hold a pink-and-green-leaved coleus in Mum's bathroom. It was lolly pink and consisted of a bazillion short bits of acrylic yarn tied onto a wire basket and then *fluffed up* with a brush. It looked like nothing more than a gigantic pink powder puff with a triffid issuing forth from the top! LOL! Dad used to call it 'Athenasius' after a particularly red-faced nun who taught him in fifth class and I do believe he would empty the contents of his shaving mug into it from time to time. Eventually, the coleus passed away, but the hanger, being acrylic, will never die and is still buried in our shed somewhere...

I was also subject to making many, many owlish flavoured wall-hangings. I would construct these out of various shades of brown and grey twine hanging from artfully gnarled tree branches and use wooden 'O' rings and uncannily eerie yellow plastic eyeballs purchased from the craft shoppe to lend authenticity to the owlish stare. Nearly all of them were presented as gifts to Mum, who would promptly give them back to me, saying 'Oh, Patricia, you *love* owls! Find somewhere nice (and, presumably, out of the way) to hang it for me, won't you?' All these are in the shed, along with the fluffy yellow lion and the rather apoplectic green frog.

Did anyone else get sucked into macrame during the sixties and seventies, or was it just me?

Did anyone else *keep* all their macramatising efforts, or was it just me?

Could anyone else pick it up again tomorrow without missing a beat? I *think* I could, but I can't remember how to turks' heads knots for the life of me! LOL! --
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Wedding From Hell--kitty prints on cake
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 13:20:50 +1000


I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "from hell" story, but it did involve a Christmas time wedding.

A few years ago my DGD decided she wanted to be married on Dec 27, and wanted G'ma to make her wedding cake. I baked all the layers and made all the flowers needed at home, then packed up and went to my #1DD's (bride's aunt) for Christmas, and to ice and assemble the cake. In order for the icing to have time to set up so it wouldn't all fall apart when we took it to the wedding site, another 100 miles, I wanted to get it completely done by Christmas Day. I was diligently working away on Christmas Eve and realized I was running out of confectioners sugar, with the bottom tier done and just the first layer of icing on the middle tier.

Since my #1DD wanted to go the grocery store anyway, and we knew nothing would be open on Christmas Day, we put the cake and all its accessories in the back bedroom and carefully closed the door, to keep it safe from Belle, the "sugarholic" kitty. My two DD's and I made our trip to the store and when we got back we found the bedroom door standing open. Lo and behold, there were kitty footprints in the icing on the top of that middle tier of the cake!!

At first, we were in shock, then it became hysterically funny! My dear SIL, Bill, the guilty party, never did see the joke, but the rest of us still laugh about it.

Since all the cake pans were at home, 300 miles away, and there was no place available there to buy wedding cake pans, I scraped off that first layer of icing down to bare cake and started over. We took photos to remind us.

chris c

When I lived in College, I (and DS) had a pet starling called Daniel. He'd fallen out of his nest on top of the Rural Science building and my friend rescued him and gave him to me to raise. We simply parked him next to our budgie, Kipper, and they became firm friends. Since Daniel had been only a fledgling when we got him, he became much tamer than Kipper and apparently believed he was a person. He would hop into the shower with me and sit on my shoulder, raising his wings to let the shower wash his 'armpits'!! He would walk after you along the corridor, screeching for food (even after he'd become a lovely sooty black adult with the tiny white 'stars' in his plumage). Eventually, when a tearful DS and I let him go in the nearby bush, he decided that living on the outside of our window was almost as good as living inside of it!

Anyway, once, we had a huge party down in the quadrangle. There was a sheep on a spit, two huge kegs of beer and gobbets of food, including two (2) chocolate cakes of my own fashioning (I can say modestly that my choccy cakes were well-known and greatly favoured in College).

I had made the two cakes and iced them with whipped chocolate frosting. I picked up first one, then the other with a hand under each plate and proceeded downstairs to the quad. As I reached the stairwell, a squawking Daniel came flurrying in through the common room window and landed right on top of Cake #1. He walked all over it in spite of my continued shouting 'Geddorf!!!' at him and then he hopped onto Cake #2 and decorated it in like fashion (ie the unmistakable footprints of a starling). There was nothing to be done except march into the middle of the throng with Daniel atop the cake and wait for responses!

I'm happy to report that most of my friends were happy enough to pretend Daniel had never been on the cakes and they (the cakes, not the friends) disappeared in due course.

NB. The year we got Daniel (1982) was the year of the Big Eucalypt Dieback. For reasons mostly unknown, all the gum trees on the New England Tableland (northern NSW) began to die! There was a freakishly large psyllid (leaf-sucking bug) infestation and also a plague of Christmas beetles that year, so neither situation helped the Dieback! Anyway, with all those Christmas beetles around, it was easy enough to hand-raise our baby starling. Only thing was, at first, he didn't want to eat *anything*!!!

My friend, Ian, solved the problem by daubing all over a pair of lab forceps with a felt-tipped pen. Then, he stuck his hand into a black sock and fed the starling with this 'pseudo Mummy starling'. It worked like a charm! Ian figured that the trigger required to make the baby open his bill was a long black 'beak' - and he was right! Daniel lived with us for a year until someone trod on him at a Volleyball game in the quad! The whole College mourned his passing, as he'd been very well-known and loved! --
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Removing lipstick stains??
Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 09:35:41 +1000

Euuuwww! Dunno, Dawne... but if you find something that works, please post it! Lippie is awful in the wrong place, isn't it?

DD's ballet concert was held on Sunday. Oh, my poor bum! We sat for *six* hours, watching endless bumping and grinding and arabesquing until my precious-darling-love came wiggling onto the stage in her nasty orange hairy Pocahontas costume and her pantyhose-plait dangling behind her. She was WONDERFUL!!!! See, DD is usually a rather solemn child - has a wicked and rather sophisticated sense of humour, but feels 'silly' smiling while she dances. I asked her particularly to smile at me while she was onstage and she *did*. She had such a lovely time and her taps were perfect! (Yeah, I know: 'rave on, Brown...')

Anyway, I went backstage to help her change into her long, flowing tutu and found poor little Jessie Wetzler in floods of tears. She had helpfully tried to put on her own lipstick and dropped it on the front of her pale green leotard!!!! Her Mummy was in full flight, giving her a fair dose of invective! Miss Wendy appeared from no-where, packed the stain with bicarb soda (why would she have a huge packet of bicarb. backstage...? Unless it was for Major Indigestion...?) and added a few drops of hot water. Bingo! No more lippie! Jessie was greatly relieved, her Mum finally shut up screeching and the dressing room toned down to a dull roar. DD's little solo spot went off perfectly and she looked like a stout baby Pavlova (with a red bun). Her father and I nearly *burst* with pride! (You know how it is when you realise how much work your kid is capable of and you see that they're actually learning what they've been taught?)

It's very sobering when you sit back and realise how much stomach acid went into the production of the costumes and headpieces, the lay-by of new shoes, the doing of the hair (ever tried to brush bum-length hair up into a ballet bun?) the hole in the fishnets (which I darned with *hair* just minutes before she went onstage) - and then, suddenly, it's all over! Sigh... ah well, we have Next Year to look forward to! --
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Removing lipstick stains??
Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 22:24:48 +1000

Sorry! I did promise to report back, didn't I? Well, first, Miss Wendy felt the long plaits (ie length of the pantyhose) was *too* long: they whipped around and hit the girls in their faces as they danced. Instead, my friend, Trish, figured out that we should fold a single plait in half, attach a circle of the cut-off waistband (from the pantyhose) and tie that round the bun. Tightly. Securing with hairpins. That worked well and so it's what we did. No-one's bun or plait or feathers fell off, so that was fine!

Each nasty, orange, hairy costume was edged at the hem with a most *unlikely* vibrant green brocade ribbon *encrusted with gold beads and sequins*!!!! This added *nothing* to the costume beyond a major headache, because (owing to the pointy front and back hems) the corners had to be mitred. This entailed unpicking legions of gold beads and then re-sewing some after the mitring had been done. In addition, a headband of the same stuff was meant to go around each girlie head and two bunches of lurid orange and green feathers attached at the back.

Sadly, Miss Wendy failed to purchase enough of the awful ribbon and so I only had a piece about six inches long to go around DD's fat head (well - it's not actually *fat*, but it *is* exceptionally large!) I had to ring up all the other Mums and beg for their offcuts. *Then* I had to piece all these together, unpicking the filthy, loathsome, disgusting gold beads and then stitching them back on again once the piecing had been done. I was VERY BL**DY ANGRY!!!!!

Miss Wendy did OK on the day. She was pretty nervous, but did a great job of inspiring all the kids and keeping them calm (although I saw her swallowing headache pills apparently by the handful!) DD is taking her costumes to school tomorrow and hopes her friends are impressed by her fabulous tutu! She's still getting over it! LOL! --
Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Very unfortunate thing that happened to DD (and me)
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 10:05:58 +1000

When I was a child, I was very scared of spiders. I would carry on like a mad thing if one happened to cross my path and I'm sure this grew very wearing on my long-suffering parents. Eventually, my Nanna, who was a wise old bird, showed me a Daddy Longlegs and demonstrated that he was soft and gentle and wouldn't hurt me. I learned to relax a bit... (it was still some years till I heard of the deadly Sydney Funnel Web).

By the time I got to school, I was an animal *maniac*! I had the most profound interest in anything that crept or crawled across G*d's green earth and I had 'interesting' little hobbies like collecting ants in a large glass coffee jar or catching the tiny green frogs out of the hydrangea bushes in the side lane. If anything as interesting as a *lizard* came by - well! It had to be mine forthwith! It didn't take long for my kindergarten class to realise there was a nutter in its midst and my friends would bring me all sorts of amazing creatures for my collection (usually in a fairly terminal or exceedingly depressed state...)

One day, the obvious happened and someone brought me a spider. I nearly died! I hated spiders and this one had *hair* on its legs ( - and 'what's wrong with hairy legs?' I hear you ask - ). Owing to my need to preserve my fearless reputation, I picked it up and cuddled it, holding my breath and trying to stop my teeth from making that awful noise. I rationalised that one of two things would happen: the spider would either realise my benign demeanour and love me or it would be an Evil Spider and bite me and I would pass away. Since I clearly didn't pass away, I realised that spiders really *don't* hurt you!

After a few such episodes (*always* accompanied by a chorus of 'How can she stand to *do* that? It's a *hairy spider*!'), I became quite inured to the idea of handling spiders and my status was sealed the day I picked up the biggest-mother huntsman you ever did see from underneath of Sister Marie Grignon's desk! Even the *nun* was aghast at my temerity!

Years and years later, I was sitting in a second year Entomology lecture when my life changed forever. Professor Watters announced that 'every spider can and will bite you, given enough provocation'. He went on to remark that spider venom is one of the commonest causes of unexplained anaphylactic shock syndrome and hypothesised that most people are probably seriously allergic to one or two spider venoms, give or take. It's just that they won't *know* this until the particular spider bites them and they're imminently about to pass away!

Cold chills racked my body and the irrational fear of my toddlerhood rose up in my gorge like so much unchewed broccoli! I had been handling, cuddling, transporting and generally disporting myself with spiders for years and years and years! I had clearly been living on Borrowed Time! It must have been the Divine Intervention of the Creator Himself that conspired to keep me alive all this time (like Daniel in the Lions' Den or Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom...). I resolved that as G*d was my witness, I would never pick up a spider again!

As the years passed, I am ashamed to say that I did many a vicious little tap-dance upon the innocent heads of many spiders and I wreaked absolute *havoc* up at Mum's place as I systematically went about destroying the hordes of spiders that lived in her Condominium Arachnida (bougainvillea growing over her pergola). I believe this was the First Ever boring story: Patricia's Spider Relocation Method (at Kath Dyer's site)!

When DD was very little, she showed an immediate and primitive reaction to all things 'spider'! She has been petrified around spiders for as long as she's been alive and even the *hint* of spiderism (eg. a tangle of black sewing thread on the floor) will send her, shrieking from the room. Now, DH and I don't like to pander to this: it's not rational! I no longer handle spiders but I've gotten over most of my fear of them. I can easily catch one in a glass jar, for example, to put it outside. DD, however, goes hysterical and it's quite a sight to see! She goes first red and then white, her pupils dilate and she sweats profusely all over her body. Then she runs. She might run up a wall or over a vipers' nest, but her main objective is put as much distance as humanly possible between herself and the spi-spi-spider!

So! All that is the background. Here, at last, is what happened yesterday.

DD was tired. She'd had a big week and a long day out in the sun on Friday (sports day). She usually likes to stay up late on a Friday night, but was happy enough to creep into my bed with me and read to me from Harry Potter (she's just finishing Book IV). I was very tired as well and found it hard to stop from nodding off as DD read to me. Anyway, the inevitable happened and I *did* nod off. I'd been drifting away on a coral atoll for quite some while when suddenly my dream was shattered by the piercing shrillness of DD's shriek.

'MUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!! It's a spi-spi-spider! And it's HUGE!!!!!'

She was clambering over the top of me in her effort to get away when I had eyeball-to-eyeball contact with a humungoloid black hairy spider on the pillow! It had walked up over the edge of the bed and onto DD's pillow as she lay on it, looking toward the bed lamp. It was about three inches in diameter (including legs, which were of the long, skinny, dangerous sort) and it had a yellow hour-glass sort of mark on its back (maybe it was a reincarnation of Macdonald Carey?).

My first response was 'Omig*d! Please deliver us from this ravening beast!' but next, I went to flick at the spider in an attempt to remove it from the bed (and from the vicinity of DD, who was by now dancing on my kidneys in her agitation!) Having fluck (past participle of the verb: 'to flick') not wisely but too well, I found that being without my glasses makes a huge difference to my depth perception and I'd only succeeded in giving the spider the sh*ts! It reared up at me and waved its forelegs menacingly in my direction. I responded to the menacing waving by chucking the pillow out the window, but we have flyscreens and it only bounced and hit the floor.

'Never mind,' I said soothingly to a wailing DD, 'He's gone now!'

'But he was hu*nor*mous,' sobbed DD, 'and he was coming right *at* me!' and she went on to ululate in that charming way demonstrated only by prepubescent girls in moments of great emotional excitement. Splits yer eardrums!

The inconvenient bl**dy spider chose *exactly* that moment to arise over the edge of the bed yet *again*, still waving his forelegs and still majorly p*ssed off at his unexpected flight toward the window!

I think that was the bit where DD grew wings and levitated up off the bed, thus initiating her flight out to her father, who was blissfully attached to the TV by his headphones and utterly unaware that his gene pool was in danger of draining! The first *he* knew of all this was the abrupt and ballistic arrival in his lap of one hot, sobbing daughter!

Meanwhile, DS had woken up and come blearily enquiring what was the matter. I told him there was a huge and angry spider somewhere on the floor (I had fluck again, more successfully this time) and left promptly to do my motherly duty by my DD. I felt a bit guilty afterward, because DS could've been attacked by Mr P*ssed Off spider, but he's a Man and so I felt confident that he wouldn't pass away or anything. In the event, DS simply picked up the spider in DH's shoe and gently placed him in the polygala bush by the letterbox.

Meanwhile, DH was trying to comfort an hysterically inconsolable DD! She was quite beside herself and incoherent in her sobbing and fear! It took us nearly an hour to finally quiet her enough to say 'How about we put you to bed now?' Of course, by then, DD needed to go to the dunny, didn't she?

LOL! ROTFLMAO!! I hate to be predictable, but yep! Sure enough! You got it! (People who have outdoor dunnies ought *not* to have arachnophobic family members). As poor old DD approached the dunny door and put on the light, a gigantic huntsman, big-as-a-saucer, came scuttling down from the light fitting and near as anything jumped onto DD's dressing gown! Well! Lights went on all over the neighbourhood as she stood there and screamed her blessed little lungs out! She must've screamed for fully a minute (which is ages at midnight in the dark) before I finally got hold of her and guided her back inside. It took another age for DH to gently convince Mr Gigantic Huntsman that he needed to go outside (using a sponge mop, which wasn't as effective as the broom would've been, but hey! Do I sound like I'm complainin'?)

By now, the expected had happened and poor DD had had an accident. I gave her a quick shower and put her to bed in her own bed, but not before we'd inspected every crack and cranny for spiders and/or their offspring. It was 2am before I finally got to bed myself and then all I could see in my mind's eye was gigantic spiders rising up over the edge of the bed! I didn't sleep very well!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Very unfortunate thing that happened to DD (and me)
Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 11:16:22 +1000

LOL! It seems that spiders follow us wherever we go, doesn't it?

Years ago, when DH and I were first setting up house, he was at work and I was unpacking some of the boxes of our joint stuff that had been stored in the spare room. I plunged my hand into a boxful of old Mac peripherals and withdrew it again, sporting a large, hairy grey-brown spider with eight golden eyes in a row and some very Art Deco yellow markings on its back. As I eyeballed the thing with horror in my heart (you know that moment of paralysis you experience, just before you bellow HEEEEEEEELLLLLPPPPPP!!!!), it sank its large, chitinous fangs into the back of my hand!

Now, to be honest, I don't think it hurt all *that* much, although it was painful. However, I was sensitised to the pain by the idea of having been assaulted by an arachnid right under my nose, as it were! Having jumped repeatedly on the poor, depressed spider, I rang the Poisons Information Centre and asked about spider bite. The floozy on the other end of the phone had about as much sympathy as an ex-mother-in-law and was actually mad at me because I had flattened the spider beyond recognition. She told me to ring her back if I fainted or had any cardiac symptoms.

Did you catch that? 'Ring me back if you faint', she said!

So, instead, I rang right into the middle of DH's sales meeting and told him 'I've just been bitten by a Very Dangerous-Looking Spider. I want you to ring me every ten minutes and if I don't answer the phone, call an ambulance!'

DH scoffed and rang me only once, an hour later. By then, I had a very sore hand but a *much* nastier demeanour happenin'! When DH got home, he'd earned himself a serve and half from me, I can tell you!

BTW, I did not pass away from that spider bite...

The other Really Bad Experience happened at Mum's. One day, Mum'n'Dad were at work, DS was at school and I was home alone. I decided to transplant some of our older roses and had dug a lovely hole with a view to putting dear Queen Elizabeth into it. I had poured in a wallop of water from my dear little green watering can when the unthinkable happened: an awful shiny black Sydney Funnel Web jumped onto my hand and began marching up my arm!!!

Now, this was *really* serious! The bite of a Sydney Funnel Web can be very quickly fatal - so much so that the anti-venom has to be given within a specific period to be effective (ie to save you from passing away). I stood, again paralysed, and watched in horrified fascination as this spider made its precise way up to my elbow. I spied Mr Urwin, our neighbour, hosing his yard a few doors down. I yelled out 'HEEEEELLLLPPPP!', but he didn't hear me: he wasn't wearing his hearing-aid! So, in a do-or-die effort, I flipped Mr FW off my arm with my little garden trowel (also green, matching the watering can...). Acting quickly (in order to stop from thinking about what had just happened), I caught the spider in a jar of gibberellic acid powder which I happened to have with me and drove it up to the local hospital. There, it was positively identified as a Sydney Funnel Web and I nearly passed away from the shock!

We actually had a plague of SFWs that year and found quite a few more in the shadier parts of Mum's garden, but only the one actually came and sat down on anyone.

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Missing Persons!!!
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 19:23:51 +1100

Hooray! That'll be three of us! Any more takers for forty seven???/

NB. We've just gotten home from Piano. (Interesting interlude where DH snores at the wheel of the - stationery - car and I chat with my friend, Toni, while our kids have their music lessons). *This* afternoon, I spent making tiny grey mice out of felt with hands and feet made of kangaroo hide thonging and facial features made of black beads. For DD and her little friends...

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is, we were listening to the news on the car radio and it said 'Wildfires around Wallsend' (W'end is where I live). So, needless to say, we fled home (after having packed up kids) to see what was going on!

Since we live in a fairly built-up, suburban sort of area with no real fuel around us, there was no danger to our place. However, we have friends who live out farther off the Freeway and the fires were indeed creeping toward their back fence. Luckily, the local brigades had contained the blaze by the time we drove by (I hate 'spectating' at bushfires and other disasters, but I did want to see that Trish and her family were safe). Everyone else on the road was gawping at the fire, but I had me head stickin' out of the window looking at all the birds of prey in the air!!!!

This afternoon, I saw: Nankeen Kestrels, Black-Shouldered Kites, Little Falcon, Peregrine Falcons, a *Brown* Falcon (not seen in our immediate are in quite a while!) and what I think was a Whistling Kite. All of these birds seemed to be hangin' around the periphery of the fire, waiting to see what ran out of the undergrowth (eg. rabbits or snakes or bandicoots etc). It was amazing! I've heard of this phenomenon before and even seen it once or twice, but to see such a variety of Serious Raptors in sleepy old Wallsend - well, it was *great*! Apparently, the major worry about the fire is over now, but nearly all of our local bushland has been completely burnt out! It's going to be a few years till we have green bush again! Snif!

My friend, Trish, is relieved, because most of the bush reserve behind her house is now blackened and smoking - there won't be anything to burn again this summer, so she's happy about that! Oh and one other happy occurrence: we actually heard bellbirds a few streets behind St Patrick's (our church). They must've been shushed along by the fire and now they're only a mile away from my place! Hooray!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Trish Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Sweet Maggot update (grossness warning!)
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 21:42:31 +1100


Backatcha, Kim dear! ;->

When I was very young and at University The First Time (I had two shots at it: once *before* DS and once *after* DS), I met a wonderful young man who would turn out eventually to be DS' father. Name of Jack.

We had been going out for quite some time (about a year), when he begged me to come home with him to meet his parents. This suited me fine and so we set out to drive all the way to Victoria (where he lived) from northern NSW (where our Uni is). Having arrived at Jack's parents' property, it didn't take long for me to discover that his parents disliked me *intensely* and couldn't wait for the moment when I would leave. This was awful, but was made even more so by the worst flood in living memory and also the coldest winter: the lambs were dying before the ewes had even fully delivered them! We were flooded in, the trains were cut and I was totally unable to make my way home! Yuck!

Well, lots of stock passed away during this awful flood. Considering that Jack's parents' place had a long boundary on the Goulburn River, they came in for quite a bit of stock loss along with everyone else. One morning, Jack's Dad muttered something about a job he wanted doing and 'don't take *her* - she'll probably faint!' I was so embarrassed, but I certainly wasn't going to stay trapped in the farmhouse with Jack's parents while he went and did something faint-worthy! I was out the back and waiting with my boots on before he'd even reached for his!

I tagged along, riding Jack's old gelding, Magpie, and Jack was on his father's horse, Polo. Strawbs (Jack's mate) was on the little ag. bike. We arrived at a huge lucerne paddock and proceeded to ride along the riverbank, looking out for something - 'you'll know when you smell it' said Jack. Soon enough, we came upon the body of a gigantic AIS cow (Australian Illawarra Shorthorn - very large beast indeed - as big as a Holstein or even bigger!) She was dead. Had been for a good while. *And*, as bloated as anything! She stank like the winds from the d*vil's bottom! Phew! Really bad!

Anyway, the task was to hook her onto the tractor and drag her over to the midden pit at the back of the property. Jack cantered back to the tools shed to get the small tractor and a tow-chain while Strawbs and I played a hand of Gin Rummy on a fallen log. Jack returned, puttering along on the little white tractor and the boys chained the cow's hindleg.

'Ready?' called Jack

'Let 'er rip!' shouted Strawbs.

Jack put down his foot and took off at a reasonably slow pace.

Unfortunately, only the top half of the carcase came with him! The bottom half had liquefied and was left behind, 'shimmering' in a most unusual way because it was totally alive with maggots (and I'm darned sure there was nothin' 'sweet' about these ones! LOL!) Poor old cow! So, while Jack dumped the top half of Old Bessie, Strawbs went and got a drum of diesel and swamped her bottom half in it. He threw in a match and we stood well back and upwind while half of Bessie was cremated and filled the air with greasy, dieselly black smoke!

Needless to say, I *didn't* faint at all of this, although the aroma of Burning Bessie was quite something to experience. The only time I have ever fainted was at the prospect of attending the dentist - which is exactly as it ought to be! Dentists are *fearsome* blokes!

Trish {|:-}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

There are more stories available at Trish's Boring Stories and Trish's Boring Stories 2.

Copyright ©2002 Trish Brown.
All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the author.

Copyright © 1994-2005 Kathleen Dyer
All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: Sun, Mar 20, 2005