I’ve Slept With A Hunstman

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I have no intention of telling you about any of my amorous adventures!
When I was young our family (5 children, 2 adults) went off on Caravanning holidays often. We didn’t have a fancy caravan, it was a heavy old “Furness”, I think they were made out of plywood. On one trip Dad pulled off the road and into a scrubby area for the night and we kids all went into the scrub looking for some fun. We were just running about investigating things when one of us peeled down some bark on a tree, under the bark were dozens of big spiders. I think we all yelled and ran, I know I did.

Back at the caravan we had some dinner and would have been early to bed since the only lighting was from a kerosene lantern. There were no Ipods or MP3 players, not even a transistor radio. Even in homes there was no TV in South Australia.

After breakfast in the morning I took off my pyjama top and there lying, legs tucked in, comfy and warm on my chest was a great big Huntsman. I have no idea what happened then, people talk about “blind panic” maybe that’s why I can’t visualise the following minutes.
These days I’m older, taller, rounder and probably a bit braver but Hunstmen still give me the heebie jeebies especially when they move. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell me they’re harmless, they eat flies and other annoying bugs just give me a good old Redback Spider anyday………… NOT on my skin though!

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

These are not lifesized but I think the comparative sizes are about right. You can find more info here: http://australianmuseum.net.au/Huntsman-Spiders

Huntsman

Huntsman

Redback Spider

The Redback might be poisonous but at least it’s not as CREEPY!!!!

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Oh No! It’s Time to Vote Again.

Across the world there are so many people clamouring, even being killed in their pursuit of democracy, how on earth can I make such a statement? I guess because I’m lucky enough to live in a country where I’m free to actually do it. I don’t have to worry about being arrested or being “disappeared”, I don’t have to worry that whoever gets into power will impose on me sanctions that will make my life difficult or even miserable. But why make the statement?

Our system of government has 3 tiers, local, State and Federal, the upcoming election is for the State Parliament. Most candidates belong to a political party and follow the “party line” when it comes to decision making. We have lived in this area for almost 30 years and the same party has “represented us” all that time, first it was the father then his son became the “anointed one”. I have never voted for either of them and I won’t this time. They don’t represent my views at all.

I wish there were no political parties and every voter just voted for the person whose judgement they trusted the most and those people supported legislation in accordance with their conscience. No “grandstanding”, no ego boosting and no decisions made for personal gain, psychological or financial.

The Year of the Letterbox

2014 is the 30th year we have lived in our house and throughout that time I’ve done letterbox maintenance when it was absolutely necessary, like the time a lovely lady left a gift for our first grandchild and lifted the lid to fit it in. The only problem with that was the lid wasn’t supposed to lift so the roof had to be securely nailed back on again. Another time I had to reattach it to the post as it was only held on by the very tips of the nails. Liquid nails came in handy that time. The door was another casualty but I managed to put a long nail through that so it could still swing open.

You might be imagining that this letterbox must have some special significance or I wouldn’t have bothered but the truth is there are people around who periodically think it’s a great lark to dislodge letterboxes and then dump them in a new location. I thought if we installed a nice new letterbox it would probably just fall victim whereas the daggy old letterbox in danger of falling off its perch unassisted had never been worth bothering about.

Recently I arrived home to see the box sitting shabbily in the middle of the driveway, not vandalised just the victim of a puff of wind. I decided the time had come for a new one so we bought and installed a nice new trendy letter box and the old one became another potential lizard home.

Tonight I put our rubbish bin out and noticed our neighbour across the road had updated her letterbox. The original one was handmade by her grandfather in about 1950 and was toughing it out in much the same way as ours had been. I suspect hers might have fallen victim to a tree branch falling during strong winds last week. Our son’s 1970s era letterbox fell off it’s post and broke its number plate when the landscape gardener came to do some work so his has also been replaced.

On Saturday night we were out to dinner with friends and the guy, who is more a brain man than a brawn man, was bemoaning the fact he had to install their new letter box the following day.

On the strength of all that I’ve decided this must be the Year of the Letterbox. I haven’t seen a single horse yet and no one has even talked about one, it’s time to update the calendar!

The ex-letterbox

The ex-letterbox

The Saboteur

After I resigned from my conventional, respectable-for-young-ladies job and before I left for overseas I worked in a fruit cannery. I did actually work there for a while before taking up my conventional, respectable-for-young-ladies job but that time I was an apricot cutter and this time I worked on the section of line where the fruit was inspected before it dropped into the cans. We stood for hours and hours picking out fruit which had been cut the wrong way, had marks on it or occasionally carried rude messages written by cutters further back up the line. That helped break the boredom.

The more reliable way to stop the relentless conveyor belt and give ourselves a few minutes break we discovered by accident. Back at the start of the line cutters sat with boxes of fruit at their sides and as they cut the fruit they dropped it onto a conveyor belt. The fruit continued on the belt down the line until it passed between two rows of workers who stood facing each other. The conveyor belt had a shuttered narrow section down the centre and that was where we dropped the damaged fruit which was diverted and sent to be made into jam.

Thousands of empty cans were fed along a wire channel which curved its way down from high above until it reached the end of the conveyor belt, from there it continued on to the steamers. After the fruit had passed by the “checkers” it dropped down into the cans, the last person in the line levelled the fruit in the cans before it continued on to where the syrup was added etc. Occasionally the line of cans feeding down would foul up and everything would have to stop until the maintenance man came along, scrambled up and used a wire hook to realign the offending can so the line would run freely again.

The little ploy we discovered was that by sneakily using a thumb to hold back one of the filling cans the smoothness of the can flow was interrupted and inevitably a jam would happen high up in the wire track. If we’d done it too often I’m sure the system would have been thoroughly investigated but as it was we managed an occasional break and a laugh with the very engaging maintenance man.

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

A slightly different setup but you can see how the cans feed into the system.

A slightly different setup but you can see how the cans feed into the system.

Bingo Wings and Tuckshop Arms

If you’ve never heard those terms you haven’t been around teenagers for a while. Why don’t I have Bingo Wings ……… yet? Maybe it’s because my dad liked going to the local Auction Rooms and one day he came home with a big, HEAVY, black, 120 bass piano accordian. I think it must have been from the estate of some Italian bodybuilder.

At the time our house was surrounded by market gardens and next door to us was an old house where newly arrived Italian immigrants boarded. There was one very handsome young man who played the accordion and perhaps that’s what inspired me to learn though at the time I attended a snobbish all girls school where the instruments of choice were strictly classical so more likely I was doing an “up yours”.

Dad paid the accordion teacher for a special strap which went across the hollow of my back, clipping to the shoulder straps and that lessened the strain on my back. But what does it take to move the bellows in and out on a very big, HEAVY, black, 120 bass piano accordian? Arm muscles! No need for any gym exercises when you’re practising your music on one of those things. I figure all the hours added up to a lifetime of arm exercises in the bank and I need to live to at least 115 before I run out. I hope so.

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

The big, heavy, black accordian ... or one very like it!

The big, heavy, black accordian … or one very like it!

Things You Learn About Mobile Phones

I don’t think I had to learn they were a damn impost, that seems to be one of the notions that came already installed with own personal software. My kids of course were the first to get them in our family and inevitably the original one was foisted upon me when my son upgraded for the first time! I didn’t take it with me but left it where it belonged on the Hallstand. With it I felt like a dog on a leash, always under the control of someone else but in my case someone who could remotely command my attention just by dialling their phone.

Then came the time my father was ill and I wanted to be within reach so the phone found it’s way into my pocket. One of the astonishing things I learnt after quite a lot of frustration was that to switch it on I had to use the same key that ends a conversation and incidentally switches it off. Nowhere in the book did it tell me that!

Now I have grandchildren in a “single parent situation” with their mum working full time & I want to be able to support her so the phone has actually allowed me a bit more freedom. I can go about my business knowing that if I’m really needed I can still be fetched. It does though leave me vulnerable to grandchildren with unrealistic ideas of how grandparents fill their days.

So far I’ve managed to shield all attempts to set me off on the “Smartphone” route, I think it’s like stepping into quicksand and the phone company is doing all the sucking!

Yesterday I made a new discovery about my mobile phone. Over the weekend suddenly I couldn’t send texts anymore, it would say “sending” for ages then politely ask if I’d like to retry. I have an identical phone sitting in a box (another story) so charged the battery and swapped the sim card but the result was the same. Repeated Google advice was to take it to the supplier.

The guy in the shop was very puzzled since I could still make calls. He went through all the settings etc, eventually asking if he could remove the battery but didn’t bother when I told him I’d already had the same result with another phone. Then, he checked my account online and discovered I only had 23c left on my Pre Paid account which wasn’t enough for a text message. I learnt that even when you have no money left for a few days you can still make phone calls just to cover the possibility that they might be emergency calls. An interesting little fact about that is, Deaf people who rely on text messages as a way of communicating would have no such access to emergency services.

My phone is now recharged and up and running again what a shame it’s not that easy to do the same for me!

Hitch-hiking in New Zealand

In 1968/70 a friend and I decided to go to New Zealand. We had 6 weeks holiday so planned to spend 4 weeks touring around the south island and 2 weeks around the north. We had to go from from Adelaide by train, I guess to Melbourne, there were very flew direct flights from here in 1969. We landed in Christchurch and stayed in the Youth Hostel. At that time they were very basic places, all dormitory accommodation, shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen. There were young people from all different places, no families or older people used the Youth Hostels then. I had a khaki canvas backpack, nothing like the fancy ripstop ones you can get now let alone a bag with wheels. I presume our sleeping bags were attached somehow because there wouldn’t have been room for clothes with the bags inside.

We had no transport of our own so when it was time to move on we found our way out to the main road south and stood with thumbs out. I don’t remember ever having to wait very long for a ride.
From our entire holiday the things I remember most are the gorgeous rainforest area of Stewart Island, the impressive mountain areas, the lush farms of the Canterbury region, soaking in the hot pools at Rotorua, the community there and hiking to Youth Hostels that always seem to be on top of hills. There is one more thing I’ll never forget, it was my friend meeting a boy she fancied in Timaru. I agreed to give her a week to enjoy his company and the Youth Hostel was where we spent Christmas Day. All the travellers chipped in to buy food for Christmas Dinner but I spent the day sick in bed.

After a week the love affair was still going strong so I made the decision to move off on my own. It was an uncomfortable feeling standing alone beside the road, thumb out. I hitch-hiked to Mt Cook and stayed a few days. While I was there I met a Tour Guide and was invited to join a group flight, landing on the Tasman Glacier which was lucky for me and also met an American “draft dodger” working at the resort.

My friend and I must have agreed to meet up again at Invercargill because there were no mobile phones and posting letters would have been impractical. When I arrived at the Youth Hostel in Invercargill a week after leaving Timaru my friend was there. She’d travelled by bus and had decided that if I didn’t arrive she was going to fly straight back home. Seeing the boy in an entirely new light when staying with his family she had decided he wasn’t worth staying around for.
Together we made it all the way up the west coast, across to the north island, right up to Kaitia at the tip then back down to Auckland and home again. If I see anyone hitch-hiking now I think they’re taking a big risk but for the young me that was just an appetiser that sent me off on a much longer journey.

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

Don't try this!

Don’t try this!


On the Tasman Glacier.

On the Tasman Glacier.