Monthly Archives: March 2013

Bird Rescue

I am trying to think like a pigeon…a mother pigeon.

My kids, bless their cheeky little souls, decided to “rescue” two baby native pigeons from the nest in their climbing tree and now we are trying to reunite them with their mum.  This all happened yesterday when Mister was home sick from school and I have been fighting off some kind of tummy ache for weeks. It’s amazing how a sick kid can still get up to mischief…even if it’s well-intentioned!

Miss with a baby bird

Miss with a baby bird

Anyway, we put the birds back in the nest yesterday afternoon and waited…and waited. By 10.00PM when there was still no sign of the parents, we brought them inside for the night and returned them to the nest this morning.

The nest is in my kids’ climbing tree and it’s probably only thanks to Minecraft that the kids had not found the nest sooner. My kids are budding naturalists and love anything that moves.

You could just imagine their excitement when they found two live baby birds in “their tree”!!!!

I was still in my PJs and barely walking but called out to them to leave the birds alone. Put them back!

Then Mister pipes up: “I’m rescuing them so they can go to the RSPCA. “

“What????” I’m thinking to myself. “They already have a Mum and Dad. They don’t need to be rescued!!” I said matter-of-factly.

By this stage, however, mother bird was flapping in the tree and flew away and each pair of little hands was carefully clutching their prized baby bird. They found containers for them and made them nests despite them already having a nest and their own bird parents where they had been quite happy and content before being supposedly “rescued”.

I also have to admit that as much as I was trying to be the responsible adult, I was drawn to the tiny, fluffy fledglings myself. They are the size of a chicken chick and fit perfectly into your hand. It was very tempting just to keep them but we can’t feed them. They are still crop fed and need their mum.

The bay birds sitting on their towel nest

The baby birds sitting on their towel nest

The tree is right next to Mister’s bedroom so I could get a good view of the nest from in there to see whether the parents had come back. Much to my horror, the nest had fallen over and I rushed to the base of the tree to find what had become of “my” baby birds. I scooped them up and returned them to our nest inside.

The Nest

The Nest

It was time to take more serious action. This is where things became more difficult. You see, if you are a native animal, WIRES will take care of you. If not, you’re off to the RSPCA and I’d have a longish drive to get them there, which is beyond me at the moment. The WIRES phone line specifically mentions that they do not help pigeons. I was feeling a bit down but also quietly confident that I’d be able to find someone around here with a big heart (other than our friends who have recently rescued about 5 cats. They have big hearts with room for way more animals but I sense a slight incompatibility issue here.)

I was feeling a bit sad about such I guess discrimination and how your fate can depend on where you were born or your type and it wouldn’t be so bad if these “rules” just applied to injured wildlife.

Anyway, our little pigeon chicks had a reprieve. Geoff mentioned that they’re a breed of native pigeon called a Crested Pigeon. They were fine.

I was just about to call WIRES when I heard a tell-tale pigeon noise near the tree and spotted mother pigeon. This is why I’m trying to think like a mother pigeon. How is she going to know that her babies are sitting in the box wrapped up in a towel? The babies are motionless and silent. How would she know they were in there? Could she smell them? Are they making sounds I can’t hear? I don’t know. I’m just trying to give them a bit of space so they can get reunited before I try to get the nest back up in the tree. Actually, I suspect I’m going to have to make a nest or at the very least find a container for their nest. The original is looking rather worse for wear.

As you could imagine, I didn’t need this bird drama. I have been quite unwell lately and I’ve actually arranged for some help getting the kids ready for school and friends are taking them to and from school while my tummy recovers. I haven’t eaten properly for almost a week. I’m not sure whether it’s stress or a virus and the way people keep implicating gluten, that’s also a possibility. I just want to feel better and get my energy back. I’m exhausted. The strange thing is that I perk up at night and then have had a bit of trouble sleeping.

Getting back to the birds, as bad as it was for the kids to take the birds out of the nest, I can understand it. Not just from a curiosity point of view. One of our favourite books used to be The Bird with the Broken Wing by Bob Graham. It is a beautiful book which tells the story of a pigeon which flies into one of those mirrored glass buildings, breaks its wing and falls to the ground. Everyone just walks passed it leaving it for dead until a little boy comes along. He picks the bird up with his mum and they take it home until it gets better and then they return it to the park. It is a beautiful story of hope and recovery, which is why I read it so often to the kids. Mummy could get better too!

WIRES rang me back and were very helpful. Turns out our pigeon isn’t a native after all but she told me how to make a nest out of an ice cream container to get the birds back in the tree. I’m going to put their original nest inside. Apparently, WIRES insurance prevents them from rescuing non-native animals but she said they’re always happy to offer advice. An animal lover is an animal lover, after all…as long as it’s not a pest!

Old nest...new nest

Old nest…new nest

So it’s starting to look like the bird drama is almost over. However, it seems like I’ve pulled a calf muscle climbing up the ladder. I know I’m not super human but sometimes I forget.

I’ll be watching those kids like a hawk this afternoon. Those little birds really are simply irresistible and I know that even though they’ve been told to stay away, they will be doing their utmost to have “a peek”.

As night falls, we have decided that our birds are actually Peaceful Doves and not pigeons after all.

If you enjoyed this bird story, you might enjoy a very different bird story about when a bird flew inside our house and became stuck. I totally freaked out!! https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/you-can-count-on-me-when-a-bird-flew-into-my-house-4/

By the way, I thought you might be interested to know what else the kids were up to on our sick day…making volcanoes on the back deck. I am starting to wonder how Mrs Einstein coped with an inquiring mind…

Making volcanoes using bi-carb and vinegar and my very special vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster bowl

Making volcanoes using bi-carb and vinegar and my very special vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster bowl.

xx Rowena

Birthday Cakes: Baking Your Own!

Rules are made to be broken but some rules are sacred.  Etched in stone. Set in concrete. Nonnegotiable. Beyond change.

For our family, that means baking our own birthday cakes.

That hasn’t changed but there has been what you might call “a deviation”.

The updated birthday cake book.

The updated birthday cake book.

As a little girl, Mum used to make cupcakes out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook along with a special cake out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes book.

I loved our old Sunbeam Mixmaster too and licking the beaters, scraping out the mixing bowl and stealing spoonfuls of mixture were also part of our cake baking ritual. That mixture was irresistible! As much as I thought cooking all that mixture was a crime, I used to love waking up on my birthday and seeing my cake. The cake was just as important as the presents…well, almost!

Miss licking the beaters  aged 2.

Miss licking the beaters aged 2.

I have always made my kid’s birthday cakes. It started out with a dreadful number 1 cake where the blue food colouring clashed with the melted white chocolate and the icing came out a revolting army green colour, instead of baby blue. More successfully, there was Humpty Dumpty (a chocolate Easter egg) sitting on a wall made out of chocolate sticks. There has also been an Alice in Wonderland cake. The most memorable cake of all probably had to be the Thomas the Tank Engine Cake where Geoff sculpted the cake with the electric carving knife and it was really tricky pulling that one off. Making these cakes has been fun, stressful and agonising but they were made by me with a bit of help from the kids and sometimes a lot of help from Geoff. They also had one very special, magic ingredient…Mummy’s love pouring straight from my heart. That’s what really made the cakes extra special…at least to me!

The Thomas Cake. I think I used sprinkles to cover up the cake crumbs in the icing.

The Thomas Cake. I think I used sprinkles to cover up the cake crumbs in the icing.

Well, this year I had to break with tradition. I ordered Mister a cake for his birthday party with my family on the weekend. When I first placed the order, I felt pretty dreadful about it although to be honest, I also felt a deep sense of relief. It was all taken care of and I didn’t need to get stressed, worry…nothing.

DSC_6799

I had met Cathy at one of my business networking meetings. I took her card never expecting to use it myself. After all, as I said before, I am the Cake Queen. I always make my own cakes and I never perceived a need. That said, I thought I’d probably pass her card on. I had seen one of her works of art and it was beautiful. As Mister’s birthday approached and I was busy and not feeling the best, that business card started to whisper in my ear. Mum and I started looking through Cathy’s web site and found a Lego Ninjaro Man Cake and showed it to Mister. He was beaming. He absolutely loved it! He really wanted that cake. It was special. He felt special and he felt loved. It didn’t bother him who made it. He was so happy that I became happy…even excited…looking forward to the grand arrival of our cake… a bit like the arrival of the Queen of Sheba!

At the same time, I still felt like a bit of a bad mother. I couldn’t even make a birthday cake for my boy. Shame! Shame ! Shame!

Mister aged 4 with an irresistible  chocolate smile.

Mister aged 4 with an irresistible chocolate smile.

But does my performance as a mother really depend on whether I actually bake the cake myself or is buying a cake really good enough or possibly even an improvement?

Moreover, when it comes to being a mum, should I really be talking about performance anyway? What do I have to do to prove my love for my son…or my daughter? Be some kind of performing seal? No, I’m human and a flawed human at that. We are all flawed but just like an opal, these supposed flaws are part of our intrinsic inner beauty and what makes us who we are…whether we like it or not. It’s how we we’ve been made. The way God intended us to be for some strange reason. I don’t know or understand why he didn’t make us all perfect so we didn’t have to battle these frustrating elements of imperfection. That’s just the way it is. The way we are. Perhaps, it’s to keep us humble. I don’t know.

You are possibly reading this and thinking back to my last post and my frustration with trying to get my pantry sorted out and how I had finally reached a state of acceptance. Although I was at least somewhat accepting of acceptance back then, I am now coming to appreciate that acceptance is more of a process. It’s like building up muscle. It takes time. You can’t just click your fingers and magically accept the way things are and stop fighting. It takes time for the warrior within to put down their spear and let go.

The Lego Ninja Man Cake made by Cathy.

The Lego Ninja Man Cake made by Cathy.

Cathy dropped the cake off at our place. The Lego Ninja Man was just fantastic and Cathy was beaming. She seemed really excited to meet the kids and be a part of our celebration. She also encouraged us to actually cut and eat the cake. The chocolate mud cake inside was beautifully moist and scrumptious and as she said, it was too good to waste. I should also mention that the cake was served up on a mirror tray, which created some fun effects for the photos.

DSC_6791

The birthday boy and his cake

The birthday boy and his cake

Everyone was really happy except the poor Lego man who was heard shouting: “My legs! My legs I can’t feel my legs!”

Perhaps, I should take a leaf out of Edith Piaf’s book: “No regrets”!

However…

As it turned out, I did actually manage to make the kids a joint birthday cake to take to Church on Friday night. Our kids’ birthdays are ten days apart and they ended up having a Happy 79th Birthday with their number 7 and 9 on the cake. This was a chocolate cake covered in lashings of chocolate butter icing and smothered in Smarties. It was a real success and was demolished very quickly. However, I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to make this cake when we ordered the birthday cake so I did go through a lot of mental hoops this week.

Happy Birthday Kids. The cake made by Mum.

Happy Birthday Kids. The cake made by Mum.

Some rules are just too hard to break!

A friend made this birthday cake for Mister's 2nd Birthday when Miss was only 10 days old.

A friend made this birthday cake for Mister’s 2nd Birthday when Miss was only 10 days old.

It was interesting going through my photos looking for images for this post because I found that despite my protests, this wasn’t the first birthday cake I’ve bought. Interesting how memory can spin a bit of fiction… A friend very kindly made this cake for Mister’s second birthday when we were juggling the new baby.

I’d love to hear your stories.

xx Rowena

My Light Bulb Moment

A few days ago a large, glass Moccona jar fell out of my kitchen pantry and landed on my foot. It made this awful loud thump as it hit and the pain was excruciating…a definite twenty out of ten. I was pretty convinced something was broken but these jars are tough. They might not bounce but they don’t shatter. I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have tiles!

My foot was sort of fine too eventually …after two Panadols and an ice pack!

Well you might ask why that jar fell out of the pantry but I’m sure you already know. After all, I’m only human! I was simply doing what most of us mere mortals do…struggling to squeeze just one more tiny little thing into an already over-stocked pantry. Hence I was doing some kind of juggling act holding back a row of Moccona jars while trying to quickly and very deftly slam the door shut before the avalanche hit.While using those big Moccona jars seemed like a great idea for storage, they don’t stack and they’re not square and they certainly don’t breathe in and squeeze into tight places. Instead, they jump out and do nasty, nasty things to your feet. Believe me! I would just love it if our pantry was all stacked and ordered like something out of a Tupperware catalogue but who am I kidding? I’m just not some domestic goddess. I’m somehow beyond the flow. That’s all. Sorting out the pantry just doesn’t seem to make it to the top of my to-do list. It’s one of those killer jobs I keep putting off.

A row of Moccona jars removed from the pantry for photographic purposes!

A row of Moccona jars. They have understandably removed from the pantry for photographic purposes!

Well, you would think that after that jar fell on my foot that I would suddenly find the motivation to get on with it. See it as a sign or perhaps an act of God? After all, what am I waiting for? A jar to land on my other foot or perhaps for all of those jars to jump off in unison like 10 green bottles standing on the wall? That would definitely be a trip to Emergency if not a ride in an ambulance.

As I said, I would dearly love my pantry to be neatly stacked and organised just like something out of a Tupperware catalogue so why don’t I just do it?

What will it take for me to act?

We all know this goes way beyond just sorting out my pantry.

That the pantry is a metaphor… a symbol. Or in my case, perhaps it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For some reason most of us are creatures of chronic inertia…even when it involves changing something which really matters.

You could quite possibly call it “Tomorrowitis”.  It’s a serious almost incurable disease and you can be assured that if you do actually manage to cross a few things off your “Gunnado List” (this lingo might be Australian but let me assure you it’s a universal disease!!!), you’ll never get to the end. That’s just the way it is.

Such light bulb moments have changed the world even if they haven’t changed me.

Archimedes who was a Greek mathematician, engineer, inventor, and astronomer had a legendary “Eureka!” moment some 2,200 years ago when he realised the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath. He was reportedly so excited that he immediately jumped out of the bath and ran onto the streets naked shouting ‘Eureka!’ ‘Eureka!’ (You can read the whole story here. It’s an awesome story http://www.itsnotmagicitsscience.com/science.asp?newsid=381)

Perhaps, you’ll be thankful I haven’t seen the light after all. The sight of me running through the streets naked isn’t what it used to be!

An apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head and he came up with the Principle of Universal Gravitation.

Meanwhile, a jar hits yours truly on the foot and what do I do?

Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all!

Well, I did do something. I wrote about it instead.

However, after writing about this all day, I have finally reached that elusive state of acceptance. You see, everybody has their own set of priorities and we can’t possibly get everything done. I went for my swim this morning… all 10 laps and it was a small pool but you can only do what you can do. That’s all. It’s taken me a long hard day slogging away on this post to reach this state of acceptance but I’m finally there and it feels like such a release.

I have finally accepted that I don’t have to conform to what someone else considers important or be able to do what they can do. I just need to be me. That is good enough.

Now, I finally “get” the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

What happens when all your light bulbs go on at once?

What happens when all your light bulbs go on at once?

PS: After I reached this lovely point of acceptance, I was flicking through Lao Tzu’s  Tao Te Ching and found this advice, which just turned all my acceptance on it’s head:

Keep filling your bowl

and it will spill over.

Keep sharpening your knife,

and it will blunt.

Keep hoarding gold in your house,

and you will be robbed.

Keep seeking approval

and you will be chained.

The great integrity leads to actualization

never overfulfillment.

I will get to the pantry. I will….

How have some of your light bulb moments turned out?

My son has an all systems light bulb moment. He received this lamp for his birthday today.

My son has an all systems light bulb moment. He received this lamp for his birthday today.

xx Rowena

Catching the Tim Tam Bus

I have never considered pursuing a life of crime before but everyone has their price. That thing that pushes them that bit too far and sends them over the mythical edge. That thing that drives even the likes of Carol Brady on a wild, criminal rampage and everyone knows she is the epitome of model behavior!!!

It’s called temptation.

“But you’re so nice!!” I hear you ponder. “How could YOU ever consider a life of crime? What’s got into you overnight?!!”

Before you invite me round for a nice, long cup of tea and an extended heart-to-heart, you’d better hear me out. I’m sure that 0nce you’ve heard my dastardly criminal plans, you’ll probably want to throw in your day jobs and join me. We can hit the highway together!

Anyway, I’m not actually contemplating a life of crime. It’s more of a one-off crime of passion and you know how it is with crimes of passion. They usually let you off with a slap on the wrist and a few hours of community service… even when you represent yourself in court!

Besides, you’ll never find a jury, at least not in Australia, which would send me to jail for hijacking the Tim Tam Bus. The jury, to put it simply, would “understand”. Some temptations are just way too strong to resist! You see, there isn’t much your typical Aussie battler won’t do to get hold of a Tim Tam…make that a packet. One Tim Tam is never enough!

This is an exceptionally rare packet of Tim Tams. The tray isn't empty!!

This is an exceptionally rare packet of Tim Tams. The tray isn’t empty!!

The thing about this particular crime is that I know someone who knows someone who knows someone on the bus. I’m not really sure how this helps but it certainly sounds like an inside job. That’s supposed to make things a bit easier but I’ve never even met this bloke so I’m not sure how’s that supposed to help?!!

As much as I love Tim Tams, I have to confess that I’m not much of a criminal mastermind. Although  I’m a writer with a half-decent imagination, I write motivational stuff and dog stories for kids. I also write poetry but that’s not going to be much help either.

I could possibly play my violin by the side of the road. They might actually throw a few Tim Tams in my case as they drove passed.  That would be nice but why be content with just a few Tim Tams when I could really pig out?!!

At this point I’m wondering just how many Tim Tams are actually on the bus? How many kilos of glorious, irresistible, yummy, scrumptious, amazing Tim Tams? Oh! Just the thought of it is making me salivate!

However…

Even though I know hijacking the Tim Tam Bus would be the perfect crime of passion and I would probably get myself off and even make millions selling my audacious tale of Tim Tam addiction on the talk show circuit, I have no idea how to actually hijack a bus especially when I’m “so nice”.

You see, it’s not always a case of where there’s a will there’s a way

Calvin Coolidge’s great quote about persistence doesn’t always hold true either: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Besides, most of the time they leave out the next line of Coolidge’s quote:

“ No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

Whoops!

Anyway, back to my dastardly plot.

Bilbo doesn't look very motivated after all!

Bilbo doesn’t look very motivated after all!

I could, of course, recruit the dog. He’d do anything for food and doesn’t understand that “chocolate is bad for dogs”. Perhaps, Bilbo could pretend to be a sort of black and white fluffy version of Red Dog and hitch a ride (see here for Red Dog http://www.scribd.com/doc/78108595/Red-Dog-Womans-Weekly) Something tells me Red Dog would have approved of such a mission. He was a bit of a character, after all!

However, sometimes I forget Bilbo is really a dog and not a person and he’d probably eat all the Tim Tams and die of chocolate poisoning before I’d even had a bite.

There are, of course, more traditional ways of ambushing buses but I’m not 21 anymore and as the song goes: “I’d do anything for love but I won’t do that!”

So I guess I’m back to the drawing board. Any ideas?

xx Rowena

PS I just told the kids about the Tim Tam Bus and Miss asked if she could eat it. Hmm. She’s definitely my daughter!

One of the worst crimes you could commit in Australia...taking the last Tim Tam.

One of the worst crimes you could commit in Australia…taking the last Tim Tam.