Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Being 15 again - or where's the thermostat?

After spending Christmas in Queensland with my family, I found myself sitting in the backseat of my parents' car with Alfie, the dog, driving back to the farm in NSW. Suddenly I was fifteen again. The radio in the car was intermittent and when it worked, was permanently tuned in to the cricket with heavy dose of static. The only thing worse than cricket on TV is cricket on the radio. The CD player has given up the ghost. This may have been a blessing as the selection was likely to include Slim Dusty live in Wagga Wagga. I put my earphones in and listened to my ipod. I'm enjoying discovering the dark corners of my music collections by setting it to shuffle all songs; although with my eclectic taste in music there can be moments of surprise as I lurch from Miles Davis to Michael Nyman and everything in between. Most startling is the voice recordings of invoices to do for my brother that have made their way onto my ipod the last time I synced. The move from Mozart to "standard horse dental" is quite confusing - especially if it happens when I'm dozing.

Overall the trip was pretty good and I've been enjoying the garden at my parents' home. It is alive with birds and native wildlife.

On the first afternoon I spotted a large koala in one of the trees in the front yard. I marveled at its strength as it was able to rest on two twigs and happily sleep while the branches blew in the breeze. He looked down at me and stretched, giving me a good glimpse of his strong claws. At one point he growled, reminding me that he was a wild animal and not a cute cuddly toy.

At dusk every evening, a tiny rabbit and a family of kangaroos come in to graze on the green lawn. I've discovered that the kangaroos rest under the bushy row of oleanders that shield the house from the road. I'm trying to sneak out and capture them on film, but so far my efforts have resulted in lovely shots of grass with a dark smudge in a far corner as the kangaroo hops away.

Yesterday while Alfie and I were out for our evening stroll, he went one way and I went the other. Suddenly I heard a yelp and Alfie streaked past me. I couldn't see what he was chasing but wasn't concerned because he's slowing in his old age. When he was younger, he'd give everything in pursuit of hares and kangaroos, but now he's back to a more sedate pace and seems to run just for the enjoyment.

White cockatoos are noisy in the trees at any time of day. They chatter amongst themselves, sometimes amiably and at other times they sound like a cranky parent arguing with the children. Whenever I open the door to go out, the noise crescendos and dozens of birds fly overhead, a slight tinge of yellow visible in their white wingspans.

The other challenge I face while with my parents is temperature control. Anything higher than "polar" causes my mother to declare that she's hot. Constant questions about whether the temperature is right for me result in nothing, despite constant responses that I can't speak because I'm busy chipping away at the layer of ice that has formed all over my body. I blink my eyes and ask if she can hear that noise - it's the sound of ice cracking on my eyelashes. The thermostat on the car remains on 18 degrees Celsius. The thermostat in the house remains on 20 degrees Celsius. At one point my teeth were chattering and this too resulted in no further action except silent contemplation. As I was travelling during summer, I didn't think to pack my thermals, but clearly I should have. I'll have to remember for my next visit.

That's all I can manage to write today as I'm not wearing my fingerless gloves while I type. Knitting some is out of the question as my fingers would surely snap off while underway and the resulting trip to the hospital on New Year's Eve is too much to contemplate, especially since I'd be travelling in the car with that layer of ice forming. At least I won't bleed to death. I empathise with the people on the boat stranded in the Antarctic ice at the moment.

I don't understand what happens to mothers and temperature control. When I was younger my mother's sole mission was to ensure that I was warm enough. This quest resulted in me always being required to wear singlet and socks to ensure no loss of body heat. At one stage I defined a singlet as "something you wear when your mother's cold". What happened?

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