21 January 1985

Letter: Healing the Ducks

Letter 21 / 1 / 85

The ducks have stopped dying - the last sick one did recover after James faithfully prayed for it every night and Peter washed her eyes and squirted aspro down her throat.

Bye-bye baby turtles

Our turtles were pining for the ocean and we had to let them go. They would just float around in the tank, barely eat at all, and were just not interested in anything. But once we got them onto the beach they sure livened up - down the sandy slope and into the water, and off ... little heads bobbing up every few metres.

New School Principal

The new school teacher arrived - rather unexpectedly - about a week ago. He came on his own initiative, realising that if he waited for instructions it could be April before anyone realised that MI school had no principal.

He is the first of a new breed, being under the Education Department which is presently in the process of taking over the schools around here, and plans to stay for about four years.

Gary and his wife, Jane, have three kids: Belinda is 11, quite a pretty little miss. Terry (Theresa) is 6, chubby, bossy, noisy, tom-boy ... and friends with James, unfortunately. Adam has just turned 1 - roly-poly, a bit spoilt. very much your average countrified Australian family, quite easy to get along with.

They brought with them a friend for their first couple of weeks while its school holidays. But their boat (14' with 40hp motor) hasn't arrived yet, so Peter's been taking Gary and friend John out a few times - our fish stocks needed replenishing anyway. Today the tide is low so they are diving for crayfish - which will be a nice change if they get some. Gary is a non-swimmer (!) so he intends to be the shark-watch in the boat. I've got the "citizen's band transceiver" (walkie-talkie) switched on in front of me waiting for Peter to call and say how he's going.

Mr and Mrs Fixit

This morning we took our washing machine apart - not completely. The spinner wasn't emptying. We found two tiny twigs, that's all - and its going again. We wasted a whole morning working on it, but we've forgiven it because it does such a good job washing all our clothes.

Tadpole tally

Our tadpole population has reduced itself to two (which have apparently eaten the rest) in my clear pyrex bowl on our outside table. Today I drained the green sludge out and found them, both with back legs at last. We have been waiting so long that I think James had stopped believing us that it would happen.

Bread problem solved

I discovered why my bread wasn't good. I knew that the (white) flour had some weevils - all flour here does - but then i seived some and discovered more weevils than flour. Things have improved since I opened a fresh drum of flour.

11 January 1985

Letter: Keeping on top of it all

Letter 11 / 1 / 85

I am battling with the usual heap of correspondence to keep up with, and I am just about keeping on top of it as long as I ignore the call of my sewing machine and my eagerness to actually get some language work done.

Seawater fish tank

Jo is on the floor behind me - getting quite mobile these days, but also more demanding. James and Alison are "helping" Peter change the water in our (saltwater) fish tank. We've tried sea slugs (or "swea swugs" as James says!) and crabs, and sardines ... but everything dies. Some of the local kids caught us some beautiful little angel fish and they delighted us for about 4 days - but they wouldn't eat anything we offered them, and they died. (The ducks were happy to eat them though!) Then I saw some kids with a batch of newly-hatched turtles, and persuaded them to give us a couple. They are so perfect, like little clockwork toys! Of course, they can grow rather huge - we will let them go when they get bigger.

Dying ducks

Our ducks are dying off one by one - presumably its one of these respiratory diseases that we hear ducks are prone to. Its a shame for them to die so close to the age when thy'll produce eggs. Two black ones have died - we only have one black duck (female) left - and one of the two remaining original oldies died after a prolonged illness while we lovingly nursed her. Now one young white duck has been sick for a couple of days - we are very hopeful of her recovering. And this morning we noticed our young drake is staggery.

The first wheat-germ bread I made was really good - stayed fresh and extra tasty. But every loaf since has been horrible ... so I just don't know why. This last time I forgot the 'lecimax' - to my regret, as it seems to help considerably.

When I was a little boy ...

Alison's talking continues to increase. James chatters on ad nauseum. One of his favourite phrases which refers to any time in the past (even last week) is: "when I was a little boy ..." And our little mimic (Alison) came to me the other day with, "when I was a little boy ..." She speaks so clearly and copies all of James' mistakes very accurately!

All night dances

So I can see today's language helper arriving - I'd better finish this and concentrate on keeping the kids away from Peter. The night before last they danced all night, from 6pm to 6:15am - we live right next to the dance ground! Its a kind of competition (or battle) and both the dance itself and the practices leading up to it have made our language helpers rather irregular lately.