Tag Archives: ducks

10 things.

This is a chain-blog-post that I was inspired by from News With Nipples at  http://newswithnipples.com/
I
 tell you 10 things that I love, and all my legions, nay hordes of regular commenters may even tell me ten things, or one thing, or whatever, that YOU love.

1. Books. I just love books way too much. I read when I feed the kids – I read when I watch tv – I read while I mend things (I’m quite good at holding books open with my toes). I have a book on a bookstand in the kitchen, and look up and read a paragraph here and there while I’m doing something easy, or a sentence here and there in between chopping!
I get a massive buzz finding a book I like in an op-shop. My first date with my husband was to a second-hand bookshop. I cannot go anywhere without a book in my handbag. I don’t even buy handbags without making sure that they will take a trade-paperback or hardcover.

2. I love food. I love reading about it (natch) and cooking. I like mixing spices. I like the smell of frying onions. I like the slipperiness of roasted capsicum. I like punching down dough for pizzas. However I am stupidly picky, so I try to be adventurous in my limited range. I like feeding people and seeing them go back for seconds. (Or, you know, feeling perfectly satisfied with firsts.)
I like writing recipes in the most ridiculously verbose and purple way that I can.

3.*Warning – Self-Pity Alert*
I love silly in-jokes that go on way past their use-by date, although that partly comes from feelings of always being a tag-along and not ever part of a ‘gang’…so in-jokes kind of make me feel like part of one. *sigh*

4. I love looking at my kids when they are asleep, they look so sweet and calm, with their thick eyelashes fanning over their round cheeks, and their hands curled up. And they are so lovely and quiet then, and not making a mess. Does that make me sound as though my ideal kids would be ones in some sort of museum display?

5. I love listening to my kids singing and humming along to songs. Especially when they are singing along to things like Bruce Molsky or Mumford and Sons in the car. So cute! “Oh, Man is a Guinea-Pig’ is a superb example of their versions of songs.

6. I love telling people my brother was asked to do an audition for Circus Oz. It makes up for all the brothers and sisters who regularly get public service jobs. (Of COURSE I am proud of you all too. REALLY.)

7. I love compliments. I like being told I am a good cook, or a good singer, or a good writer, or like the one I got today…
“Don’t even try to come up against Rhiannon in a head-to-head piratical eloquence showdown.”
How good a compliment is THAT.
I like giving compliments too. People should be appreciated!

8.I love the fact that my husband can fix nearly everything. (As in, repair, not ‘I’ll fix YOU.” kind of fixing.) Him too. I mean, I love my husband too, not just his fixing abilities.

9. I love watching birds. I don’t go anywhere specifically to see them, but if I am in Woy Woy and I see some pelicans on lightposts, or cormorants and darters and egrets on the waterfront, or swarms of ducks –  (Yes – it may not be the correct collective noun, but you try eating a pie on the waterfront, and you will see what I mean) it makes me happy. I was pretty stoked once when I was crossing the footbridge on the road into Woy2 and I looked down to see a cormorant diving – I got to watch it swimming around and nosing into weeds and rocks, underwater, directly below me. Awesome!
I like hanging out clothes on my deck and seeing sea eagles soaring past. I like hearing whipbirds and butcher birds. I even love hearing Koels at 2 am on sultry summer nights.
I live visiting Canberra again and seeing crimson rosellas and grass parrots.
I don’t actually like birds indoors though – they smell funny and get tangled in people’s hair and poo everywhere.

10. I like houses, inside and out, and towns and cities in which not everything is new and shiny. I like seeing old painted ads, old sandstone churches reflected in giant shiny glass skyscrapers. I like cast iron lace and wide skirting boards. I like shabbiness. I like waterfronts that look a bit rough and tarry. I like furniture that looks as though a few generations have used it and battered it a bit in the process. I like verdigris’d copper roofs. I like lichened tiles.

What about you?

 

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Geese

I seem to be in a position in which I have to write a blopost about geese, because my brother Tom has been hassling me to. I really have no idea why – I think he decided it would be funny. Well, see how funny THIS is, Tom. Not at all, I’ll be bound.

I spent a lot of my school holidays as a child visiting my cousins who lived at an animal park. I spent a lot of time wandering about looking at the birds – they had emus, ostriches, a cassowary, pheasants, lots of different cockatoos and parrots, lots of different sorts of ducks  – domestic ones like Indian Runners and native ones like plumed whistling ducks. There were peacocks and enormous turkeys, which being horrible kids we used to yell at so that they would be enraged and gobble and hiss and puff up their wattles – like Barnaby Joyce or Alan Jones.

The ones we hated were this roaming gang of tough nasty geese – the greylags and white domestic geese which are descended from the original greylag type, and also brown Chinese geese with the big lumps on top of their bills. (Anyone noticed how serrated goose bills are? They look disturbingly like teeth. Angry toothy birds.) (Lamellae, in case anyone was wondering.)

We would be happily playing one of our endless wandering-about-the-place games that often involved being at war with each other, we would round a corner of a deer enclosure, or the area with the camels and barbary sheep and brahmin cattle and so on, and all of a sudden there would be this…this gaggle of big scary geese. Geese may not seem to be scary to an adult eye, but a child’s eye is nerve-wrackingly close to a goose’s bill. (Apropos of gaggle, apparently when they are flying – not that domestic geese are supposed to fly, and possibly can’t as they grow too fat, they are called a skein or a wedge.)
So these geese would waddle at us, craning their necks up and hissing, staring at us with their ice-blue, pinhole-pupilled eyes. And we would…well…we would back right off.

When we were older we learned that if you march right at them they would back off, but you know, sometimes geese will happily peck an adult, and they pack quite a peck.

My uncle also had Cape Barren Geese with their pink legs and odd, stubby little fluorescent-green beaks, and some Magpie geese, which I think are beautiful, and I would love to see them flocking in the wild. Magpie geese have very bony-looking beaks, and only partially-webbed feet. Apparently they are a Living Fossil and are in a unique order – arranged in a  family and genus separate from all other waterfowl. They both (Cape Barrens and Magpie Geese) make very distinctive calls which I can’t remember, but would know as soon as I heard them.

There is a park in Woy Woy I like to go to – along the edge of the tidal ‘river’ between Woy Woy and the large mangrove island which is a huge Ibis hatchery as well as hosting occasional large parties of Hemulens…oh sorry, I mean Royal Spoonbills.  Sometimes when I walk along there I see various kinds of cormorants, snakebirds, huge flocks of corellas and rainbow lorikeets, seagulls, pelicans and an enormous er…’sore’ apparently of ducks. (Introduced Mallards and native Black Ducks, and their hybrid offspring, as well as a few ex-domestic ones, some little Maned Ducks, and a Chestnut Teal.)

(Collective nouns for ducks are a bit odd – I get a ‘raft’ or a ‘paddle’ of ducks on water, and a ‘team’ a ‘string’ and a ‘skein’ of ducks in flight, but why a ‘sord or sore’ of ducks not-either-in-flight-or-on-water? What about, um…an ‘appetite’ of ducks, because if you have read my post ‘Freeloaders etc’ you will understand why I think that is appropriate. )

And as mentioned in that episode, there is also a large white domestic goose that lives around there. He paddles around people’s boats, lords it over the ducks and jostles to be fed by the park duck-feeders, and when he was attacked by a dog, a local resident took up a collection from the other residents to take him to the vet to have his badly-damaged leg looked after, which I found charming. He is back in action as healthy as ever now. And I still have a slight reaction of nervousness when he approaches, beak at the ready, as I sit at a table eating.

I have never eaten goose, and apparently they are a bitch to pluck (according to one of my food-writing-heroes, Clarissa Dickson Wright, who actually has one of the longest and most ridiculous names I have ever heard of – Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson-Wright.) but I do intend to try it one day. Anyone want to cook goose for me? Or go in with me at some point in buying one to cook and eat together?

Which brings to one of my favourite-ever quotes, also by a food writer –
‘A roast goose is like a magnum of claret – too much for one, but not quite enough for two.’ Of course by the writer-most-likely-to-need-a-magnum – Keith Floyd, who even wrote a book on hangover cookery.

So all up I would have to say I am pro-goose. I like the way they look, I think they add charm to any scene (as well as copious amounts of greasy dark-green shit), I like to call people after them, and I would like to eat one one day.

How’s that, Tom?

Freeloaders and commitment rings

Today after I dropped the boys off to their respective school and preschool, I decided to have a wander about Woy2.
I parked in the usual easy-to-park-with-no-impatient-shoppers place – further to walk to where I wanted to go, but less likely to back into a trolley.
I wandered about window-shopping and drooling over clothes and jewellery I can’t afford. I was specifically looking at rings, because a few years after I got married, my engagement ring broke. More accurately, the stone fell out. In case any of you are sad at the thought of a large sparkling diamond tumbling through the air in slow-motion and *clinking* against the drain in the shower, let me assure you that in fact, while I did lose said stone in shower (probably) it was in fact un-sparkling onyx. Set in silver.
In fact, when I found this ring, that I could see myself being able to live with indefinitely, I told C, “I have found my engagement ring. And you’re in luck. It’s going to cost you $14.”
He put his hand on his heart, looked deeply into my eyes, and working himself up to the very pitch of his generosity* said, “Rhiannon – I’d buy it for you if it were….twice as much.”
Anyway  so I tried it on again recently and it is really loose so I must have had fatter fingers when we bought it. Also, we have never got around to getting a new stone set in it.
So I am investigating rings so that Craig can give me a new ring next year for our 10 year anniversary.
Anyway I did a bit of that, and I also walked to K-Mart to check out their remaindered books and found a book I was looking for, for $4.  I then walked for about 10 minutes to a bakery I had not tried before, and bought a pie that turned out to be very good and a neenish tart that was rather disappointing. (It is my mission in life to sample neenish tarts from every conceivable bakery.)
I decided to walk for another 5 or 10 minutes to a nice park on the waterfront to sit in the sun (or shade should I want shade) with a nice view.
I could see the looks in the beady eyes as I approached a table…I knew I was going to be subtly and not-so-subtly pestered and harassed to share my food.
You might think  mean seagulls. But no.
First up I was approached by a large, slightly-scary looking white domestic goose. Its head was as high as the table top, and he had a calculating look in his ice-blue eye. He honked at me a lot. Next up was a large contingent of ducks. They sat around quacking hopefully and occasionally descended into bouts of inter-duckular biffo.
Then I was propositioned by a magpie  – I heard the distinctive magpie gurgle and looked around – it clearly was impatient that I wasn’t appreciated its good mannners in sitting on the bench opposite, so it hopped up onto the table and cocked its head at me.
Finally a willy wagtail jumped up onto the table and chirped at me. A lot. And at the magpie. And at the ducks.
The seagulls weren’t going to get a look in. So I continued to eat my pie and read my book, keeping a close watch on the surrounding duck population and making sure that the magpie didn’t get bold enough to make off my with neenish tart, which as it turned out would not have been much of a loss, but I wanted the opportunity to find that out for myself.

Because I didn’t throw chips this time, the ducks let me go with barely a glance, unlike last time when about 30 ducks purposefully waddled after me out of the park, which was funny. I felt like I should be capering with a penny-whistle and parti-coloured tights.

*paraphrased from a passage in Sense and Sensibility, about Edward Dashwood.