Jess picked the flowers, Tom did the braai. We had chops, ribs and wors with garlic bread, plus some fried beans and mushrooms. I had beer and vino. We raised a glass to Mom!
Woken this morning by the ringing call of an African Fish Eagle in the Palmiet Valley. Well, a Palmiet Right Bank Undershrub Minnow Eagle really, giving a beautiful rendition of the fish eagle cry from under a bush just outside my window. Five forty four ay emm.
To claim ownership of the talented mimicry, this was followed by the Natal Robin’s signature descending preep-proop preep-proop, immediately followed by a medley of crowned eagle-fish eagle repeated three times, both calls done really well, just like the originals, but quiet and close. So you might say more a ‘Ground Eagle-Minnow Eagle’ piano diminuendo medley.
Here’s a robin recorded by Mick Jackson at Bazley doing the crowned eagle and more:
This was rudely interrupted by a squadron of nasal flautists – Westville Pterodactyls launching themselves off my roof and receding down into the valley. No piano here; this was forte crescendo. All except one with a fear of heights who was rooted to the roof apex going Ma! WHY!!?
A herd of gumbooted elephants then thumped onto the roof right above my head, leaping off the strelitzias and the Aussie camelfoots and gallumphing across as only vervets do, causing the pterodactyl straggler to lose its fear of heights and baleka.
Now all that was left was a different, ascending proop-preep proop-preep. The softer chirp of a bladder cricket or katydid in the shrubbery.
Natal Robin – Red-capped Robin-Chat
piano diminuendo – soft and getting softer
forte crescendo – loud and getting louder
Westville Pterodactyls – Hadeda Ibis
baleka – bugger off; fly away; fluck, as in ‘where’s that bird?’ ‘It flucked’
bladder cricket – bladder grasshopper really, but maybe a katydid?
The recording is from Xeno-Canto – sharing bird sounds from around the world.
Another twelve-year-old has gone west. Flaky the snaky that TomTom got when he was five has shuffled off this mortal coil. Expired. She was fine and ate her last supper – the usual whole rare mouse – with hungry focus a few days before. Then I saw her uncharacteristically out of her shelter and exposed. A day later I opened up, no movement, prodded her and thought damn! She’s gone!
Before he could get her five-year-old Tom had to do his homework, learn about care and feeding and commit to checking her daily and cleaning out her cage weekly. He did for years, but then interest faded, new interests blossomed and Dad took over the feeding and watering chores. Not cleaning, though. Cleaning remained TomTom’s job:
‘Flaky’ was a beautiful and gentle American Corn Snake, glowing orange and black above and checkerboard black and white below. As she grew from about 250mm to over 1.1m long we added an extension to her metal-and-glass terrarium – a home-made wood-and-mesh upstairs to treble the size.
I got my only snake bite ever when I inexplicably held my left hand closer to her than the mouse I was offering her in tongs in my right hand. I’d never done that before – for good reason! She got me on my left forefinger knuckle with her tiny sharp teeth and drew pinpricks of blood. I was too big for her to get a good grip on and constrict me and swallow me, so she immediately withdrew.
Twelve-year-old Sambucca the Labrador went this year, now twelve-year-old Flaky the Corn Snake. Is it coincidence that my twelve-year-old Ford Ranger is currently in bakkie hospital with something about the valves and the head and the gearbox needing transplant surgery!? Hope it’s not terminal!
When we got to River Drive in 1989 we were warned it was a fertile zone and if you weren’t careful babies would start popping out all over. This was from the Lellos who had produced three offspring there; the Greenbergs, two; The Hockeys, a few, Donna was the only one around then; the Howard-and-Dofs, three boys, and there were others. We were blissfully child-free and at least half of us were determined to remain that way.
We stood firm, determinedly child-free ’til 1999. When we left that river in 2003 the Naudes had produced two boys but we had stood firm; We only had two children, having managed to sell three others after fattening them up and putting a smile on their faces.
In Elston Place there was a swarm of children; The pool was always overflowing. They all soon learned the gate code and the place was like a railway station. And nothing has changed in the thirteen years we’ve been here. Here’s the latest crop with Jess who went down the road to visit this evening:
Three of these are kids of the kids who used to swim in the pool when we first arrived!
Here are some of the early-days kids with a young Jessie leaning back:
Egg, bacon, tomato, black coffee and binoculars. Thanks, Cecelia!
The flying ants were trying to pair up and scurry off and mate after shrugging off their wings, but the ants were nabbing them. The ants, in turn were being robbed by the birds and a skink. They’d grab the juicy termite, flick hard, separating the ant, then peck up and gobble down the termite. Termites taste like butter, ants taste like acid.
Indoors there was also some wildlife to be seen:
Made me late for work!
More this week:
Westville Kookaburra – Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Westville Pteradactyl – Hadeda Ibis
When you’re trying with little success to rid your place of stuff and when the stuff fills a double garage and at least one room, with other rooms a bit crowded, you should not accumulate any more stuff, but I can explain.
There was a damsel in distress. I was on my horse. She asked ‘would you?’ What was a gallant knight errant to say? There’s only one thing a gallant knight errant can say in such circumstances:
Actually quite chuffed: Check those armrests as drinks platforms:
This is made worse as just the day before I was rolling my eyes at my Dad (96) who in one breath was stating his absolute determination – ‘this time’ – to get rid of stuff; and in the next breath was mulling over buying two new armchairs for the room he wants to add on to his house ‘for her (that’s Mom Mary) to sit in the sun as the room will have big windows.’
Right. Alone in a three bedroom house with Mom now in a home, he thinks he needs an extra room.
Tom and I were off to the Palmiet. Mom and Jess were out, so I asked Tom to leave them a note so they’d know wassup when they got back. Sure thing Dad!
I see it on my way out. It says “we have gone.”
I say, Tom, tell them a bit more than that, my fella. Sure thing, Dad! And we trundle off to go fossicking:
When we get back, there it is on the kitchen table, complete with the seven year old’s additional information: