Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 23

It's a Dogs' Life

The hotel as three dogs … two Blue Heelers and one Roo dog. I consider the Blue Heelers my friends, but Tigger the Roo dog is too tall, jumps up and at the moment is trying for the 'top dog' position'. Whenever the boss is away for a few days there are growling matches that go well into the night, barking and yapping sessions that disturb our sleep and cause rumblings of discontent. Wombat, slow, fat and the undisputed leader of the pack, has to be on constant guard if he is to keep his leadership. At the moment he is winning, but unless a new home is found for Tigger his seniority may drop. We offer Tigger to anyone remarks upon his size, or in fact anyone who even notices him.

The third dog is Bear, also a Blue Heeler, but younger than Wombat, though older than Tigger. Bear had little confidence in his ability to be a pack member and whenever the fights began he would seek shelter from the warmongers in the corridor, or hide in the deep recess of a storeroom doorway. Bear dislikes the brawling and makes every effort to remain neutral.

Bear suffered from a skin irritation that had him scratching endlessly. From the far end of the kitchen I would hear the rattle of his collars [he wears two … it seems to be a fashion statement] as he tried in vain to vanquish the foe. Bathing did not help, powders designed to kill tics and fleas only added to his distress. There seemed to easy cure and a visit to the Vet was inevitable.

One Sunday morning Bear was taken to the surgery. A diagnosis was made … I never enquired as to the results. There was a cure! A plastic bag of blue pills to be taken twice daily for one week, once a day for the second week, and from then on, one every second day. As so often happens when there is a task to be done the boss is away. This time I was seconded to look after Bear. After all wasn't I the one who patted the dogs or talked to them, or both, every time I went out the back door. There was method in this … to be high on the resident dogs' list of friends is preferable to being high on their list of enemies. Our dogs have certain dislikes and to show that dislike a nip of ankles, or any other bare part of the body, gives their dislike a tangible meaning.

How to persuade Bear to take the pills posed a small problem, for a moment or two. While I think they are lovely and friendly I baulked at laying the little blue pill on my hand and offering it to him 'naked' [so to say]. We hear Oprah talking of a light bulb moment, and while she doesn't necessarily mean in the context of giving a dog a pill, the significance is similar. I had a light bulb moment. In the dim recesses of my mind a thought shone forth … hide the pill in a palatable treat! I determined the treat should remain the same for the entire course of blue pills, which of course cut down on the alternatives.

A piece of ham might serve the purpose. We buy ham in bulk and there is always plenty available as in reality I am the only one who uses it, and that is for the guys' lunches … that they call cribs, and I have no idea why. However, I digress.

In the first week I cut a hunk of ham … hardly a slice as it was reasonably thick … and with a sharp knife inserted a tiny pocket in the thickest part. Into that pocket I slipped the pill. If one was decorating, the colour scheme of a rather pretty blue almost the shade of a Jacaranda flower, alongside the delicate pink of fresh ham is interesting, though probably better suited for a nursery than a lounge. Because I had no desire to engender feelings of not being wanted and thus create neurotic dogs, I sliced slivers for Wombat and Tigger.

The first time I dosed Bear he ate it direct from my hand … but … the feel of his teeth on my palm made that the last time. Not that he would bite … it was just a risk I had no wish to take. One chomp and the ham containing the pill were gone. Wombat and Tigger looked in surprise at the small piece allocated to them, but taking it as it was meant … a treat … who were they to snub such an offering. The first week wore on. Bear was lethargic, lying around disinterested. Week two saw a minuscule improvement. We are now at the end of week three. Bear bounces towards the door the moment he hears me and sniffs eagerly for his medication. I am still being kind to Wombat and Tigger and tossing a tiny portion their way. Bear is a changed dog. He hasn't entered the seniority wars, being much too sensible for that, but he has vigour, verve and vitality. Whatever his affliction was, it is definitely well on the way to being cured. We still have enough blue pills for another week, and just yesterday another large piece of ham was delivered … more than enough to complete the course.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 22

Let's take a walk

Yesterday we went for a walk. Originally the idea was to explore what was the first gold mining area on the northern boundary of our town … but … it was fenced off … completely enclosed with a high mesh fence designed to keep animals and people from crossing the border.

We had barely left the main highway when I noticed a plant that resembled, at a distance, a lamb's ear. Upon closer inspection the resemblance faded. Spikes grew on the stem, spikes protected the underbelly of the delicate leaves, and random spikes showed their armour. The white ground must reflect all the summer sun and even on the cooler days of winter a certain amount of heat would stream their warm rays to this plant. Added to the charm of this mock lamb's ear were flowers of the same texture, but in a murky shade of purple, that curled inwards. Perhaps brave insects made their home in these bracts ignoring the prickles forming an impenetrable barricade.

Other plants new to me were pepper trees with delicate lacey fronds. These were scattered over a wide area of abandoned mine shafts that dotted the landscape. Some of these shafts may still be in use. It was difficult to ascertain which were in use and which were deserted because the rich findings had petered out. A few were fenced. These were deeper and a closer inspection failed to show a bottom. Stones tossed in clattered down into the bowels of the earth but resisted our efforts to judge the distance as they plummeted onto board floors that had been erected in the mining operation. Frankly I would have felt claustrophobic had I been the intrepid miner digging down, and down, and further down, in the search of gold. Today the use of detecting devices makes the search easier.

The morning warmed up and the flies gathered encircling us and landing on our backs. What to do? Make mad swipes in the hope the flies would disperse? It didn't work! They dispersed for all of half a second, only to once again settle on a warm back. The flies in this part of Western Australia are bush flies … smaller than the blowfly, and silent as they swarm in the morning sun. There is a way to keep them off one's clothing. Walk deep into the foliage of a pepper tree and the flies appear to take umbrage at the aroma emitted from the flowers. While not completely banishing them from one's clothing the pepper tree certainly reduced the numbers drastically. I wondered why some type of fly spray was not manufactured from this source.

A white jawbone with teeth intact lay on the ground. What was it? A dog? Or was it a fox? Only a few steps further gave us a definite answer … a leg bone belonging to a kangaroo. Bleached white by the heat it was impossible for amateurs to decide just how long this native animal had met its death. Death in the Outback is a hush-hush affair. Eagles, goannas, foxes, crows and ants make short work of any evidence.

As we wandered back towards the town we decided to explore a shed surrounded by tyres and bits and pieces of metal, and old machinery. Parts of drilling equipment littered the ground. A box of nuts and bolts stored in an open cardboard container looked as though it had been tossed onto the broken concrete floor, and while the original owner may have found no use for them, I am positive others would covet such useful odds and ends. Two large openings in the shed walls allowed the weather in, thus shortening the life of these stored, or abandoned items.

Mounds of tyres, large enough to fit a truck or machinery, sat … perished, in the blazing sun. Vehicles, rusty and unwanted, rested on exposed rims, the lining of their flat tyres showing through. It was not a pretty sight. It was not a pretty site. Whether this area had once been a workshop for a contractor, a farmer's shed, or simply a dump for unwanted machinery was not obvious.

The surrounding area, as far as the eye can see, would be unrecognisable to the people who walked this land over 100 years ago. In the insatiable search for gold and other valuable minerals the land has seen a bulldozer moving great swathes of soil from A to B in the hope that the earth will give up its riches. We are unable to gauge if the terrain was undulating, what plants clung to cracks in the rocks, or whether the riches that abound in this barren landscape were easily detected.

To spend a couple of hours wandering across a few acres of land, that must have held hopes and dreams of early explorers and modern day prospectors, gave some small insight into the arduous livings eked out in what can appear an inhospitable landscape. We were only minutes from town but when we reached the streets signifying town boundaries 'civilisation' clamored with the voices of children playing on the footpath. The utter peace and quietness surrounding us on that deserted piece of land left a pleasant feeling of two hours well spent on what was a public holiday, a day of rest.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 21


Working in the kitchen is conducive to thinking about other things. We buy biscuits by the box and the last order was for plain biscuits when normally we prefer cream filled biscuits for the lunches, which incidentally are called cribs here in Western Australia. The guys are not keen on plain biscuits and they tend to leave several varieties in the box … choosing to take the three varieties that are sweeter and less like what they may have consumed at home as children.

To use up these plain biscuits I make them into fudge balls, saving some for our afternoon tea at scrapbooking tomorrow. Fudge balls go down well … plain biscuits are not wasted …tactical economy prevails.

Making fudge balls is a simple task that allows the mind to wander. Today my mind wandered to rocks. Rocks are a far cry from fudge balls I admit, but better to think about rocks than say, maggots or worms or other inedible things. Though it could be relevant that rocks and fudge balls can be similar in shape, but never in texture!

The Outback is made up of red dirt, as are many of the ancient soils of the world. It wasn't until I moved to this remote part of Australia that this fact dawned upon me. More time to think perhaps? As I contemplated red dirt this morning [it comes through the smallest crack in the building, in fact I swear it stands at the doorways waiting for them to open so it can spread its clingingness across furniture, windows, skirting, and all surfaces thus necessitating ongoing cleaning] rocks were the next obvious train of thought.

I think I have a fascination with rocks. Not in a professional geological manner, simply a basic curiosity; how did a diverse bunch of different colours and textures finish up as near neighbours?

Earlier this week whilst touring some of the mining sites near to this town we came across some wonderful rocks … no doubt that is why the subject of rocks stayed high in my mind … and I was astounded at the variety and colours of them. Bright green rocks that looked as though they must be poisonous, striped rocks [strata rocks] that we later found edging an Indigenous grave in the local cemetery, soft rocks, brown rocks, rocks that may have once held gold, and no matter how long I looked at the rocks, and marveled at their structure and texture and colour, I came to the conclusion that this Earth is indeed a unique place.

When making sweetmeats in the kitchen letting the mind wander is definitely a wonderful way to fill in what could be a boring moment.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 20


People are the most interesting creatures on this planet. No matter where one lives it quickly becomes obvious everyone has a story.

The dining room of this hotel is a hotbed of interesting stories. Antics of staff provide daily, well weekly at least, entertainment. I eagerly await an early morning visit from some of my fellow workers, and the latest gossip makes for a fascinating start to the day.

Guests, who stay a night or two, tend to treat us as a willing ear to their life story. Knowing the possibilities of running across each other in the future allows a certain degree of confidence that would otherwise be dismissed with a closer friend. How long a couple have been together, not necessarily in a marital state, is divulged in confidence while the male of the couple is out of the room. This morning a lovely lady confided to me her man's previous relationship. If half of it was true there is a novel in it; if it was all true, and I suspect she had not exaggerated one iota, then it was a shocker!

There are some folks who never hear little confidences … they are too busy being the confider. Personally I find listening much more interesting than telling, especially if what one is hearing is eyebrow-raising material. To find out about other folks simply means one puts aside any thought of work, or essential commitments, and take a moment to sit down and, after uttering a few discreet queries, simply listen. Seldom does one have to divulge information about oneself, though I have found a few insignificant personal jewels do tend to open the flood gates of confidences given. It isn't as though these conversations can be called gossip, as frequently those doing the talking need a listening ear. They need someone who they can unload worries and problems on, and if the chosen confidant is unknown but sympathetic, then the result is probably considerably better than bottling up tensions.

Hearing such confidences brings a sense of fulfillment to the listener … understanding our fellow human beings allows us to understand ourselves, our personal foibles, and hopefully just by listening to some-one unburdening themselves, a two-way relationship between previously unknown people is established. Not necessarily a friendship, but an over-riding connection that adds joy to the warp and weft of life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 19


Thwack! It is an impressive sound is Thwack!

How do I know? We have watermelons growing here, and they have ripened, and they have been stored in an outside shed. I hate seeing them sitting on their sides in the shed with old bits of this and that for company, so I deem it my duty to bring them inside and cut them up for human consumption. Luscious pink flesh interspersed with black seeds all clad in a pale green coat begs to be consumed. The coat, or skin, is thick and needs a severe blow to split it open. [Momentarily I wonder if this is similar to smacking open a skull to expose grey matter, but that thought is a diversion only.]

Yesterday morning, while it was still dark outside, and the guys who breakfast at the hotel had either not arrived, or had already left the dining room, and I with time to spare … too early to start the dishes, too late to cook more eggs, I decided to cut up another melon. These melons make a popular addition to the lunches the workers take to their construction site.

I placed a medium size melon on the chopping board, and taking the second largest knife, I held it high and brought it down with a Thwack! Never before had I heard that sound. Thwack! Thwack! It makes a suitably impressive sound … thwack, an onomatopoeic sound that resonated throughout the kitchen. Again I lifted the knife and brought it down, just to hear that sound again … and again.

Slices of melon littered the stainless steel bench top asking to be cut into small pieces, to enable those of us who find the flesh refreshing on a hot day, to eat them without dripping too much juice onto our chin, or worse, onto our clothes. I have heard that some folks actually engage in a pastime of spitting the black seeds a distance … a winning spit being the aim. I can see exactly how that came about. Those black seeds are the right size to spit a distance; their weight would ensure one could aim them in a specific direction. However, as I am a terrible aim, having missed many stray cats with pieces of coal over a lifetime, spitting black melon seeds is something I will resist.

Carefully I cut the melon into quarters and placed them into a pale blue plastic container while a series of images spun through my mind.

Harvest Festival … Autumn; the two are synonymous. The church dressed with pumpkins, jars of jams and pickles, potatoes of many colours, and fruit and vegetables brought from parishioners gardens to be generously distributed to the needy. While the Harvest Festivals of my childhood did not feature watermelons [the climate was not conducive to a large crop], somehow the smell, the ripeness and the healthy Thwack as I sliced them brought the Harvest Festival directly to mind.

One of my favourite books is "The Magic Apple Tree", by Susan Hill, and this book crept into my thoughts as I cut the melon. Why? Well The Magic Apple Tree tells about the seasons in a village in England … very rural, very gentle, and somehow soothing to the soul. Susan Hill makes jams and pickles, she bakes, she gathers crops as they ripen from her garden and around the village. At the moment I thwacked into the melon I felt empathy to Susan Hill as she described simple important tasks in her book.

As a background song to my thoughts I heard, in my mind, Tom T Hall singing "Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine". I have no idea what water melon wine tastes like, whether it is sweet or dry, whether it is pink or a golden colour, indeed whether it is made by many. "Ever had a drink of watermelon wine? he asked. He told me all about it, though I didn’t answer back". The words reverberated in my mind and whisked me to that bar in Miami, while another segment stayed in Olde England with Susan Hill. Thwack … thwack … thwack. Water melon sliced and water melon placed into a container for our enjoyment. It may have been only 6.30am in the morning; it may still be dark outside, but in that moment of cutting the melon I was transported across the globe, and in my mind a sense of peace swept over. Yes, there is something satisfying about providing food especially if it is homegrown and abundant.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 18

Month of the Cook
It is official … the influence of El Nino is diminishing and we are told we can expect rainfall. The rainfall prediction has come true with thunder rolling across the heavens and lightning flickering like a fluorescent light ready to go on the blink, these pyrotechnics have been followed by the sound of rain on the tin roof and a warm earthy smell drifting up reminding one that life does indeed need water. Again this morning we had another significant rain shower, one that darkened the skies and sent us scurrying for shelter. Not only did the rainfall but also the wind blew that rain across the balcony, and had I not shut the door against it, onto the carpet of my room.

We have El Nino to thank … so we are frequently reliably informed. El Nino is an important weather factor. We hear El Nino, Global Warming, Droughts, Floods, Tempests … well perhaps tempests is a little exaggerated, but you get the picture … touted in newspapers, on television, and any other media that wishes to grab our attention.

It certainly is nice [and isn't nice one of those nice words … like sugar-sweet candies, overused and useless] to be able to cast the blame onto El Nino. We had a long hot summer. Some unfortunate folks lost their homes to bush fires; others lost their crops because of lack of irrigation or adequate rainfall, or indeed any rainfall. We sweltered in 40 degree plus temperatures and we wiped our sweaty brows with equally sweaty hands thus negating the effect.

OK … I have given space to El Nino.

But … I personally think that the rain this morning was simply heaven's way of cleansing us after an exhausting month of cooks. February, the month of the cook … it has a certain ring to it, one that is cheaper than a brass curtain ring bundled into 10's or 20's in a hardware department store. This February we have had two cooks at the hotel. Maybe the first one arrived in January as she was here for four whole weeks. Hardly a record, but the four weeks were certainly tumultuous. Her food was excellent. It was her personality that let her down. I spent many moments wondering how she ticked … like a 10cent child's watch or a time bomb? That was in the lap of the gods, or perhaps which side of the bed she got up from. She resigned. She did give us time to find and employ another cook, and on her last day she apologised to those she had offended. In fact her departure was amicable. She made her farewells in a manner strangely defying her actions whilst here. Not being a psychologist or a professional on matters of the personality I hesitate to say categorically that she was 'different'. She was!

Enter cook number two for February. The coach pulled in across the street. An attractive woman emerged from its darkened bowels and forged her way over the grass center verge towards the hotel. Alas … the boss was two or three minutes late in seeing the bus arrive and as he crossed the street she had walked down to the side gate. We have dogs … guard dogs, which to those they know are simply big loveable pets. To those who they have not been introduced, they can appear vicious. Thankfully the dogs behaved that evening.

Next morning I am made aware that bets have been placed as to the length of her stay. I was surprised! Short-term cooks are nothing but a nuisance. She blew into the kitchen like a tornado moving everything to another place. She had opinions that she relayed to the boss in a very outspoken manner. I made a vow to not let her behaviour rattle me, but to give her enough rope to hang herself. Within an hour she had a verbal dispute with the boss and failed to recognise his signs of anger … I recognised them even though I had never seen them before in the previous six months of my employment. The hanging rope suddenly seemed to have a tightening noose. I scrubbed, I defrosted, I donned gloves, and washed pots and pans in such numbers as to make me wonder how many she was cooking for. I remained outwardly calm!

The days wore on. The rest of the staff showed signs of restless anger. We trod our daily path like walking on eggshells. Monday, the fifth morning of her employment was her last. We won't go into the gruesome details but suffice to say she rubbed the boss up the wrong way by answering back. The result? She was on the coach south this morning.

Do not worry dear reader … there will be food for the starving guests this evening. You see The Family [those of us who live here, who help each other out, who actually like living here] have banded together to save the day. Maybe the meals might not be gourmet, but the atmosphere in the kitchen will be pleasant … a little bit of teasing, some laughter, and a lot of co-operation. The events of the past month lead me to ponder as to why middle aged women, seemingly of no fixed abode, who wander The Outback with a suitcase, or even a motor car, deem it essential to rule the roost of each and every place they stop off at, and end up feeling hurt and hard done by. I suspect they do not know many of the social tricks of life, I suspect they do not like other humans, and saddest of all I suspect they do not like themselves.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 17

Australia Day

Australia Day falls on the 26th January in commemoration of the arrival of the first fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, though it wasn't until 1808 that the first recorded celebrations took place. As a public holiday the fact that this year the 26th fell on a Friday, made it into a long weekend, which is immensely preferable to just one day off in the middle of the week.

Cities all over Australia celebrated with impressive displays … fireworks from barges, and the fact that in Perth the barges exploded along with the crackers and other fireworks was an added excitement, albeit unplanned. Crowds gathered at venues where cricket, or other sporting events, took place.

Cue’s Australia Day celebrations were laid back, and dare I say it, a real reflection of life where expense and a 'must have fun' attitude prevail. Our town had its own celebrations at The Oval, a patch of green … because it is watered regularly … on the edge of town. In my over five months here this is the second event to be staged at The Oval. Alongside is an impressive toilet block … locked for much of the time, as is so often the case when bureaucracy gets its priorities slightly out of kilter. For instance the toilet block could have been an important addition to the public amenities had it been erected on the main street, simply because passers’ through seldom take a cruise around the back streets. They should … the town does warrant a proper look, but in their urgency to cover as many miles as possible a main street stop, coupled with a few photos of the Post Office and the Police Station, is all that most have time for. That they fail to find the peacefulness and appreciate the slower pace of life is their loss.

The celebrations were scheduled to begin at 5.00pm. A few minutes earlier I wandered along the street to The Oval only to find a handful of people there. I was not deterred and sat to watch.

A water slide had been laid out on the grass. A huge sheet of what looked like black garden plastic had been doused with liquid soap and the fire brigade played hoses on it. As the children arrived they made a beeline for the water slide and soon they were running a few meters [some a lot more than essential], leaping onto the plastic and sliding in the foamy water. Their clothes dried within minutes. Shrieks of laughter were a clear indication it was a popular attraction.

One of the Shire employees set up a cricket game [Australians are obsessed with cricket] allowing the children to alternate their water slide activities with a hit of the cricket ball. The official ceremony commenced when a sizeable crowd had arrived and the sound system pronounced ready to go. A speech of welcome was followed by the presentation of framed certificates to folks who had worked hard for the Shire and the town in the public-spirited way that is the heart of small towns. That one councillor wore a suit was the subject of much hilarity.

A general knowledge quiz, with prizes, gave us an insight into who knew most about their country.

As the sun moved behind the "stadium" and the temperature dropped from 47.5 degrees to something in the 30's a BBQ got under way and within a short time free food, sausages and steak, salads and bread buns were available for everyone. The queue was long.

While we all need speeches and food, to me the entertainment provided by the local band … "Wadjarri Boys" … was the highlight of the evening. Often on a Sunday afternoon I have heard this band playing or practicing and had assumed that the music that drifted over the town was the work of some local teenagers. I was wrong in that. The band members were all past their teenage years, which may or may not explain why I knew most of the songs they presented. They are very good and I would be more than happy if they practiced every Sunday afternoon.

I suppose the spirit of Australia Day differs from place to place but as I wandered back to the hotel what remained uppermost in my thoughts was the wonderful sense of community this little event projected. Huge sums of money were not spent, time had been given, people had turned up, and laughter and fun was the order of the day. It wasn't hyped up but simply another warp in the cloth of life in The Outback. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Australia Day, and I left feeling just a little more part of this community where I have chosen to spend some of my life.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 16

In the back of my mind is a saying, how exact I recall it is uncertain, but it runs along the lines "from little acorns big oak trees grow". This was brought to the surface a few days ago as the miracle of nature gave an example of magical happenings.

In November I headed down to the City, catching the overnight coach that left our town at 10.15pm. Normally I am in bed at that hour [some of us have to rise extremely early to cook for the hungry multitudes!] and to while away the time, and stay alert, I sat poolside … swiping at bloodthirsty mosquitoes that found my life-giving fluids tasty … and passed the time with gossip of the moment with others who had time to sit and chat. Soon it was time to head to the bus stop, and because our town may have experienced problems that night it was arranged I have a male escort to deliver me safely to the depot and wait until I had boarded the coach.

Walking through the side gate the remark was made that some melon seeds had been planted in the garden. The garden is a loose term. Until that moment I had considered it a patch of red dirt that may or may not have been cultivated. I had wondered if any plans were in hand for it, or if it was simply a place for the dogs to wander and use for whatever wandering dogs need a patch of wasteland.

Last week we had a catering job … luncheon for ten. This is a monthly occurrence but this time the larder was almost bare of exotic fruits. We had apples and oranges, but apples and oranges are commonplace. There were a few Kiwi fruit, but hardly enough to make an impressive fruit platter. The boss had an idea.

He confidently remarked "The watermelons!"

Watermelons? I had completely forgotten about the plantings! Next morning as I headed out the back gate towards the clothesline I noticed a watermelon sitting on a beer barrel. Yes, he had raided the garden. We cut it up; we sampled the melon and pronounced it beautiful, if perhaps a little green. Frankly I prefer them not quite ripe, as the juice does not drip down the chin and onto one's clothes. The melon was cut into triangles and arranged artistically on the fruit platter. It added certain elegance to the dish.

Roll on a few days when the melon was slowly, but surely, cut off and eaten. As most of our guests had booked out and the necessity of making a pudding diminished, once again the melon was suggested as a suitable way of rounding off the evening meal. The boss brought in a large watermelon … quite impressive in size, bearing in mind they had only been growing for under three months. We decided to weigh it. Five point five kilos, or twelve pounds! This melon was sweeter and juicier than the first, and already a considerable part of it has been devoured.

When one looks at the arid red dirt of The Outback, where plants are stunted and grey in colour, it is so very easy to assume the land is infertile. How wrong that assumption is. From a few humble seeds seventeen watermelons have grown … watered regularly with a run off from another part of the complex, and it shows that this land is not infertile, it is simply dry.

Two watermelons down, fifteen to go … I suspect our liking for watermelon will become a little less enthusiastic as time goes by. I wonder how basil would grow, or tomatoes? The dishes we could prepare if he had a homegrown supply of cucumbers and zucchinis, tomatoes and basil could bring our hotel cuisine up to International class!

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Time in Cue ~ Part 15

Sunday Musings

The past several days have been hectic with hardly a moment that I could call my own. A cook in the kitchen whose cooking skills were below the level my children were capable of at age 10 put pressure in the workplace. It was with relief that I climbed the stairs last night to my room, to watch a little TV without watching the time, and to fall asleep knowing the alarm was not going to blast my eardrums at 4.15am.

The body is a creature of habit however. I did wake at 4.15am, but taking advantage of a day off, rolled over and dozed into a restful sleep. Twice more I wakened from dreams that were pleasant, and finally when the body and the mind decided to act in a coordinated manner, woke to face a new day at the time I normally have finished my first shift of the day. What utter bliss!

A long bath, a leisurely breakfast, a stroll across to the general store for the Sunday paper was followed by my housekeeping chores … I like to live in a clean room, sleep on clean sheets, and wear clean clothes, so a trip downstairs with my white plastic clothes basket full almost to the brim of washing was concluded when I stood in the blazing sun hanging out my personal wash. That wash is in, and I am positive this is the hottest day yet. It feels like an oven outside. I am not in the mood to make scones to test that.

What does one do on a lazy Sunday in Cue? One of my workmates set off on an expedition with a group of guests to view some Aborigine art sites. Other folks read the papers, and once the sun reaches it zenith … that blazing heat of midsummer in an almost desert environment … they stay indoors and do whatever folks do indoors on a day of rest.

I watch TV … for most of the day Sunday has some extraordinarily excellent programming. Of course that is a matter of opinion, but in my opinion Sunday far surpasses any other day. Songs of Praise: whether one has a particular religious belief or not this is one programme that I find extremely interesting … compiled in the UK, the presenter takes us to places of interest. Last week we were whisked around stately gardens, gardens that exuded peace and restfulness, gardens that create an environment where one can feed the soul. This week we went on a voyage exploring Celtic places. We saw the place where St David [of Wales … the presenter who had a strong Irish accent told us his view that St David was in reality Irish], we visited Ireland, and Lindisfarne … amongst other places.

A point offered up for consideration was the comment that the world has some 'thin places', places where mankind can come in touch with the spirit. She was not meaning a thin place on the earth's crust where the hot lava heated underground water to create hot pools as in the Rotorua area of New Zealand, nor was she inferring that zones earthquake prone were sacred places. Some of us go through life and never experience the mystique of these 'thin places'. The thin places exert their influence on different folks in varying ways. A 'thin place' experience is sometimes not recognised for what it is particularly in the fast paced times that are the 21st century.

Thin places are not necessarily places at all. Thin places can be objects, such as stones that one finds on the beach, or tucked away in obscure places, kept by their finder simply because they have felt the magical pull of the otherwise mundane object.

I once walked on Wave Rock at Hyden here in Western Australia. I was rooted to the spot by a knowing I should not be there. We were on a coach trip and no one else appeared to be so affected. Holiday makers were walking across the top of the rock, were laughing and joking taking photographs while the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I went into a cold sweat. A suggestion that I was scared of heights was utter rubbish. It was the rock that affected me so. To me that rock was a thin place.

Yesterday I was in conversation with a fellow workmate whom I felt confident would know exactly what I was talking about when I related to her my experiences on that rock. She too had the same experience, and she informed me she knew of others who were so affected. Then today when this commentator mentioned thin places I was struck by the synchronicity of the statement. Yesterday we were discussing just such an idea, and today it was mentioned as an aside on a TV programme.

As the old folks used to say "there is a lot of things of heaven and earth that we are unable to explain". Surely this is what we need? We should not need to know exactly what, when, how or why things occur. Perhaps we can ponder upon the mysteries of the Universe, of the world, and other things … ponder upon possibilities, but there away in the back of our mind is a little area that does not know. Isn't it that little bit of not knowing that keeps us alive … that keeps us searching for an answer that we will never find out?