Friday, August 17, 2012

Incidents with Koala

Every morning we wake up and play "spot the koala" in the trees around Mum's house.  They are nocturnal but move in the day sometimes and seem to mysteriously hop from trees in the dawn and dusk.  We see one and then 10 minutes later it has vanished but I have never seen one on the ground.

Frost with a Koala in Mum's Garden

The Closest Koala to the house

A little Zoom goes a long way
On the second day we were in Adelaide, Mum found a dead koala on the road during her morning walk.  She said it was too big for her to move off the road.   She reported it to the council and it was taken away.

Despite signs to warn drivers to go slowly to avoid hitting koala's, especially at night, there are many koala killed on the roads.

At Cleland Wildlife Sanctuary we lined up for 20 minutes in the rain to have a chance to stroke a koala.  The fur is surprisingly soft and warm - not coarse as I had expected.  Whether or not you have them in the garden, they are iconic animals and tourists love to see and be seen with them.

The Cleland koala monument

Wren at Cleland with the captive koala whom he stroked.
Driving down from Cleland through the mist Mum spotted another wild koala in the top of a gum tree.  The tree was growing on a steep slope below the road so the koala was swaying the mist, not too high above eye level.  Mum is the master koala spotter and sees them all over the place.

Most Glorious Storms

Today we have been hunkered down with cake.  For breakfast I had a walk in the morning mist followed by chocolate raspberry muffin and french toast.  At lunch, we went down to the Adelaide Central Markets.  The Market on Gouger Street is one of my favorite places in all the world.  It is a combination of a farmers market, a European street market and a street of deli's, cafes and food specialists.  There is a mushroom store, a french baker, chocolatiers and an old fashioned candy store selling sour boiled sweets.

We ate in the Asian food court - I had some of the best Yum Cha (aka Dim sim) EVER... the softest dumplings, the most delicious green onion pancake and some other unknown food wrapped in fried tofu wrappers.  I was so enamored that I dunked them all in the chilli oil and loved the heat.  The stall was called Seng Kee Yum Cha... oh my goddess... I hope to try it again before we leave.

We had sweets - honeycomb and boiled sours - from the candy shop.  Frost, who had been feeling a bit unwell today, perked up considerably and asked to return before we leave Adelaide. 

Wren chose these fish

"This is my favorite place EVER"

The Blackebys Candy Shoppe

Sherbert Bombs
Turkish delight - my favorite
Later in the afternoon we had tea at Ruth, a friend of Mum's.  She and her husband Jim have a library of over 8000 books.  They use binoculars to read the titles on some on the high shelves.  The house is wonderful - exactly what I would like if I were a single woman.   A dream of antique cabinets, wide windows, high bookshelves and kilims.

And cake.

We were served 4 types of cake and sampled 3 of them.  Plus strawberries.

High tea at Ruth's with wattle blossom and strawberries.
We staggered home in time for dinner.  I made soup.  We ate that followed by blue cheese from the market and some quince jelly made by Mum and Mervyn.

The gale and clatters of hail now bluster against the house and I am going to have some rooibos, black, and plan a day of healthy food tomorrow.  Minus cake.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Now that we are home from the tropics we are doing our chores.  Today we did another walk removing feral plants with the pickaxe, draw a picture of a puffball and took the boys for haircuts.

Both were less than enthusiastic at the prospect but endured with grace.

Both said they would rather the stylist not cut the back much, the front much or the top much.  This did not leave a lot of room open for styling.  The stylist said "Well, I have to cut some off at the top or it will look like a big mushroom."

Wren insisted on keeping his bangs on the left side.

"You can have an asymmetrical style," said his stylist.

The haircuts were in a real true salon but cost only $20 each.  They took about half an hour.

Frost in Hazelwood Park on the way home

The Hunt for Clover and Crystals

From time to time the boys are captivated by something and hunt, seek and accumulate it with  ferocious urgency.  I think this has a neurological basis and has to do with survival.

Today, they became obsessed with yellow oxalis aka soursop (to Mum) or yellow shamrock or yellow sorrel or Oxalis Stricta in the scientific venacular.

It started on the walk from the house to the post-box when Mum mentioned that the stalks of the clover flowers were edible and tasted sour.  Wren loves to forage for plants and eats things that have not been sanctioned so he leapt upon the clover flowers and started sucking them and proclaiming on their sour squinty taste.  Frost followed.  They started competing to find 'soursop' flowers.  (I do not think these are soursop but Mum calls them that).

They wanted to climb down hills and not walk further in their increasingly urgent need to find more soursop flowers.

Frost thought they might juice them.

Mum showed them a large patch of clover near the house and they sat in it with a bucket and picked the yellow blossomed stalks.

I googled the plant and the leaves are edible with the caution not to eat too many dried as they contain lots of oxalic acid (which makes them taste sour) which can interfere with digestion.

Frost is waiting to juice the flowers in the kitchen shortly.

Mining Crystal
Another source of excitement has been Granny's pickaxe.  Since the advent of Minecraft, Frost and Wren are compelled by the idea of mining for things and when Mum came on a walk with a small pickaxe (which she uses to uproot seedlings of invasive olives and other feral plants) the boys have been keen on the idea of mining the seams of quartz (aka "CRYSTALS!") found in the banks above the road and path to the crest of the hill.

We hope to take them mining for fossils next week!

The boys chop out a chunk of crystal (quartz) in the path.

Frost helps by mining out an olive seedling with the pickaxe.
The large olive specimen behind him shows what happens if you
do not get them young.

Kangaroos are Cute (for Americans)

In Australia, Kangaroos are a barometer of otherness.  To locals, kangaroos are like cows.  Why on earth do people get excited about cows?

To tourists, kangaroos are unique, exceptional, rare, cute and photogenic.

To be fair, both views are valid.  When taken in a global context, marsupials - even big stupid common ones - are pretty 'rare', but in Australia they are as likely to take you out as a white-tailed deer on the interstate.  Why photograph a deer in the distance?

Still, this week Mum took her Australian-American tourist family to the Rainforest Habitat Center in Port Douglas to enjoy some bonding with local fauna and we found that we, along with the other tourists, love kangaroos - particularly the cute little reddish wallaroos and wallabies.

Aside from their general appeal as large furry mammals that eat from your hand, some of them bore a more-than-passing resemblance to our dog, Beezle.

Sweet baby kangaroo with sharp claws.

I told Frost not to rub his hair on the kangaroos but he
just wanted to snuggle them.  If we have some weird outbreak of
Kangaroo Flea in Seattle, you will know who to blame.

the Big One gulped an entire handful of kangaroo food
in one mouthful causing Wren some alarm.

This one was a perfect size for Wren to feed.  It was also

The boys fought over the chance to "feed the teeny one" while the ducks
fought to gather the scraps.

Pademelon or wallaby?  Not really sure.

Wren loves this Beezle wallaby and wants to kiss it.  Yes, really.  

We really MISS Beezle and have started seeing his face in shades on our toast, in patterns on the beach-sand, in the hanging faces of spectacled fruit bats and in the wallabies in the 'zoo'.

You will see what I mean.