Feathered Horde & Random Rambles

Road Rage

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I’m a bit like that big bunny in Alice In Wonderland I think, always zooming around, muttering, “Late, late, late!” I haven’t had a look at yesterday’s action on the great old world wide web yet. Epic monthly shops require epic monthly unpacks, and I didn’t do much of that when we got home last night. Button, the baby weaver bird (formerly known as Kewpie – weavers are a bit like Prince that way), had spent his first full day without his dear old mum (me), since he was blown or booted out of his nest when he was a tiny chick. When we got home, he refused to let me near him until I’d changed into shorts, scruffy T-shirt, and ruffled my hair a bit – not at all liking the look of my civilised town persona. Jelly (the not so baby weaver bird), was a tiny, yellow, quivering mass of rage at having to go without her favourite bouncy toy, perch, and supplier of chocolate and other various really healthy nibbles during the course of each day. So it took a while to stop her from trying to twist large chunks off my earlobes. The parrots had obviously had enough of weavers in general, so they headed off to the kitchen on their own to help with unpacking things, and helpfully chose to unpack, or should I say, chew holes in, a couple of bags of really hard to re-seal Almond flour and desiccated coconut. Obviously I gave up on the unpacking for the day at that point. My feathered guys have ways of getting what they want.

Yesterday went fairly well – apart from the roadblocks. Usually the return trip averages out at a minimum of eight roadblock stops. These are one of the very few things that actually really make me cross. Try as I might, and I really have tried, I can’t think of any justification for being so interfered with. Apart from the usual, “How are you? Where are you going? Have you got any cigarettes? You must give my three Aunties here a lift to Samora Machel Avenue. Give me that Coke?” questions, there are days when everyone’s on the same page, and you get harangued – and spot fined – for having a blue fire extinguisher instead of a red one, having apparently excessive amounts of mud on your wheel arches – regardless of the fact that you’ve just driven forty kilometres on four inches of slippery mud, or having more than three squished bugs on your windscreen. Having a “dirty” car here is punishable by a fine. Not cool.

It quickly became apparent that the topic of yesterday was Radio Licences. For once a legitimate request, but equally unusually, one that I found myself firmly in disagreement with. I’m with the wrong side of the law on this one. If they’d said, “Give me thirty bucks, just because… I want it.”, they’d have had a lot bigger chance of getting it. But I don’t see why I should buy a radio licence if I don’t listen to the radio. Ever. At all. I never, ever, do. Why would I listen to boring radio when I have all of Pink Floyd on CD anyway? I never installed the radio – it’s factory fitted, and came with the car – and I’ve never so much as attempted to figure out how to even switch it on. Normally we just hand over the fine so as to avoid around a total of two hours wasted at these stops, and I normally shut my beak to avoid the always real possibility of getting yourself into proper trouble. Yesterday I thought, “The hell with that!”, and was so adamant that both the radio and CD player were in fact vital parts of the GPS system, that I think we were let off because they really thought that I actually believed that, and felt a little sorry for me – being so obviously thick. On a couple of occasions, much nodding agreement ensued, and we were ushered forward with unusual vigour. This probably won’t be the end of this topic, but I think I’d rather pay hundreds to have the radio removed, and have a much less pretty console, than be forced to hand over any cash in this case, no matter how small the amount. The law is something I have the greatest respect for, but having dozens of people hanging around in the middle of the road, taking thirty bucks from every comer for something they don’t use is just wrong, and I won’t pay it willingly at all. Anyway. Other than joining the criminal community, the day was brilliant.

I descended on a most cool art shop, and relieved it of quite a lot of oil paint, water mixable oil paint, oil pastels, artists brushes, general arty stuff, and much more for my new cover and Lapillus painting project. Now to see if I can. I forgot to get anything to actually paint on though, so I’ve been wandering innocently around, and have eyeballed some nicely cut squares of hardboard, which I’ll appropriate later after an unsuspecting Angus has zoomed off on his bike. If you’re going to go to the dark side, you may as well go all the way. I’ve also semi-finished my first poem in my head, between radio licence altercations, which I might just be brave enough to share with my friends tomorrow. I imagine that all this extreme stretching of the truth – well OK – bald-faced lies then, and plans of grand theft hardboard, are probably worse for my general karma than eating a kilogram of onions – although I’m thinking that that might be offensive on more than the spiritual plane only, so I can see where the yogis of old were coming from, but right now I’m not caring a lot, and also thinking that sometimes trying to be good, turning the other cheek, and not nicking your husbands bits of lurking hardboard, is just downright boring. So, for today, I’ll just be bad. Why not?

Till next time friends. xxx


Sense And Sensibility

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December and January were pretty manic months for me. I slipped behind with the final polishing of Shadow People, and it was a terrible race to get it published on its publication date. Not really the way I like to do things, but what can you do?

Now that it’s stopped raining lemons, I have this week, with all the rushing to catch up, and in my own brilliant way, dropped the freezer lid on my noggin (lovely purple egg thing happening), walked into a spoon, and managed to totally delete over 4 000 notifications of things I needed to deal with. The spoon thing probably happens to everyone, and involves holding a large wooden spoon, pointy end naturally facing yourself, walking briskly forward, looking North instead of South, connecting with an unsuspecting wall, and driving said spoon into innocently lurking liver. Fortunately my liver has evolved into a pretty strong organ, what with one thing and another, so it’s hanging in there.

The 4 000 things To Do has me in a little bit of a panic though. People on social networks are much easier to offend than people in the flesh. I’m not sure if it has to do with the lack of eye contact, body language, or simply the fact that we’re all a little different in the sensitivity department. I used to get deeply injured if I remarked on anything, only to be completely ignored. Now I realise that people are busy. Things get overlooked or not seen. Possibly they’d had a spoon incident that week and also deleted their To Do folder. No matter really, it might take a little longer, but I’ll eventually track everyone down. They might be slightly baffled at getting replies to January comments in March, but then again, coming from me, maybe not.

In the meantime, I continue my hunt for typos, my quest for reasonable poetry, and begin to follow through with my newly formed desire to paint Lapillus and its beings for the coming covers of the Shadow People series. Right now though, I’m off to bake some gluten free Brownies. Tomorrow we’ll be venturing forth on our epic monthly shop, so I’ll see you all on Thursday lovely people, barring further incidents with kitchen implements.

Till next time friends. xxx


Let Them Eat Cake

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We’re off to a big birthday bash tonight. Apart from the torrential rain, and slippery mud roads, I’m quite looking forward to a party. With everyone living in their own far flung spot of the African bush, it’s great to get together and just have a blast. Because there are so many of us bush babies around it’s considered fair for everyone to bring along a dessert or salad. This is also brilliant for those sweet-toothed souls among us who could very easily end up with twenty different puds on their plates. Bliss!

For me though, things tend to be a little more complicated with my Celiac disease. This is a severe allergy to gluten in all of its forms. If someone with Celiac ingests gluten they get very sick. The body’s immune system attacks itself, and the damage to the gut each time you slip up takes about a year to repair. You could also find yourself pushing up daisies if your inner bits rupture. Always a possibility. Anyway. Enough of the internal organ talk.

People are always lovely about this odd illness, and go out of their way to ply you with gluten free goodies. Considering that this particular nasty lurks in everything from whisky, soy sauce, malt vinegar, to liquorice allsorts, the chances of the old belly getting away unscathed are pretty unlikely. After too many of these slips, I generally cart my own food to parties, unless I’m pretty sure that the hostess is properly clued up on the gluten front. Not eating meat in general doesn’t help matters. I don’t usually eat at all after three in the afternoon either, so the requisite salad is normally the way to go. A bit of interesting salad and lots of sweets, and I’ve done my duty, and can nibble on something so as to not make people uncomfortable with me not munching away with them. It really is true that people don’t like eating when someone’s lurking around not doing the same. So the salad scam usually works out fairly well.

Today though, I thought I would toss Nigella’s advice about sticking to what you know, and try something really original in the salad department. After a couple of hours of painstakingly preparing each element, I tossed everything together, safe in the knowledge that any sort of veg has to be great with a bit of olive oil and balsamic. Well. I have to encourage those more adventurous of my friends never to mix together beetroot, wilted spinach and frizzled baby aubergine. Unless you have people coming around that you really don’t want ever to return. The oil and vinegar only made it worse. As did the pile of pepper, and seven cloves of crushed garlic, that I was pretty sure would not only save it, but elevate it to Gordon Ramsay heights. It is a truly terrible thing. There’s no time now to start again now, so I’ll just take it along in a bowl I don’t mind losing, furtively place it somewhere out of the way, and waffle a lot about my gluten free almond cake, pineapple and coconut trifle. Another experiment, but not too bad at all. I just hope I can keep a straight face if some poor unsuspecting guy fancies a bit of the salad from hell.

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Till next time friends. xxx


Small Faces, Little Feet

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This morning I noticed that Jelly the weaver bird had learned a new trick. I’ve never seen a wild bird do anything like that, so I’m most impressed indeed. For new friends that don’t know, we have two weavers and two parrots. People tend to give me odd looks when I carry on about how incredibly clever Jelly is. People often give me odd looks in general actually. I very occasionally wonder why, but in this instance I get it. Mad woman jabbering on about a bird. Anyway. She zooms around all day long, busy with one thing or another. She ambushes me when I put the kitchen tap on, because she figures that bathing in the palms of my hands under cool running water is a lot nicer than bouncing around in a bowl. She pulls the wings off any innocent bug that happens to be passing through, and then I swear she chuckles. She sings non-stop, and terrorises all of us until she finally conks out exhausted, in her basket at night.
Both of the weavers really “take notice” of things. They stare very closely at any new activity. You’d be amazed at how threatening such a small eyeball can be when it’s an inch away from your own. The parrots don’t like it at all. She’s their nemesis, poor things. She definitely gives them the willies, and they don’t find her antics in any way cute. She closely monitors their every move, buzzes around their heads whenever they try go anywhere, pulls their tail-feathers as hard as she can, and swipes food right out of their beaks. And I’m sure you’re wondering now where all this long-winded waffle is headed. Well.
New Kid
I don’t think weaver bird legs are designed to bring food up to their faces with their feet. The parrots on the other hand easily hold their food in their claws and munch away. Their legs are different. It’s always been of great concern to Jelly that she couldn’t do that. So they have the little eyeball right in their faces every time they eat. She quickly figured out that the way forward was to bring what she wanted over to me, sing a small severe song, and shove the cornflake, or bit of bacon between my fingers. Having been thus instructed to hold it, I would, and she’d nibble bits off till it was finished. But now it looks like she’s moved on from there.
One of her games is swinging upside-down from door handles, so not something I’d normally take note of. This morning though, there was an unusual amount of zooming and yelling, so I went to have a look at what the little tyrant was up to. There she was, hanging upside down on to the door handle with one claw, holding half a peanut in the other, and leaning down to take bites out of it! Proving that this was no fluke was the little pile of half-munched items on the floor on the floor under her. Much cleverer than any old monkey I’m thinking.
I’ve always enjoyed watching what animals get up to, especially when they think nobody’s looking. They bustle around, busy with their tiny lives, and each one of those lives is important I think. To themselves at any rate. I see no reason for wild birds to be very different to ours, and from what I’ve learnt from them lately, I reckon there must be millions of little soap operas going on in the bush out there. They have totally different characters. They like totally different foods. They get happy, and sad, and cross. They love, and get jealous. Jelly’s rages are epic examples of this. Right now though, she’s trying really hard to put a bit of lettuce in my ear. I wonder what she’ll learn from that. Silly little thing.

Till next time friends. xxx


Where Aliens Fear To Tread

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It’s finally happened. I asked my computer a question it couldn’t answer. Rather, I googled a question that answered most unsatisfactorily. What I want to know is, what would actually happen if an alien-ish spacecraft landed on the Whitehouse lawn? I promise that I haven’t been relieved of my very last marble. It’s just that I’m writing a scene where that happens. I was about to Google and ask about the whole security setup there, as you do, then it occurred to me that that might upset people. To be honest, knowing the sorts of things us scribblers get up to, more than likely the Chief of Security for Alien Spaceships Landing in the Rosebushes would just say, “Aaah. Another one of those weird writer people again.” And ignore me completely. But on the off-chance that they might think I was trying to figure out a way to come for tea and crumpets with the big guy, I changed the wording. I’m thinking I should just make something up in this instance. Considering some of the aliens in my worlds, it’s probably better that I don’t give them the lay of the land. You never know who eyeballs your blog posts these days. I saw the video of that snake-eyed television presenter. I’ve probably said too much already. Anyway.

Apart from slowly catching up in general with various projects, I’m working harder than I knew I could getting Shadow People ready for its zero birthday on the 8th February. January was pretty much a write-off as far as work was concerned, so I’m pleased with myself right now. I’m actually really enjoying reading it as I check for typos, and thinking that one or two other people might too. Getting ignored for a few weeks seems to have made it easier to edit. When I read that Stephen King writes a story all the way through, and then puts it aside for seven months before editing and publishing, it didn’t really make sense to me. Surely it’s better to edit when the story is fresh in your mind? Looks like our Steve is right again. Right now though, I’d better get back to figuring out whether to wait politely for the aliens to exit their ship, or blast the little buggers for squishing the hydrangeas.

Till next time friends. xxx


Pink Elephants And Chickens

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Talk about a sucker punch! I really never saw that nasty bit of illness heading my way. I have heard around here lately that you should take antibiotics with anti-malarials these days. But living here, it’s easy to forget that this disease is a killer. Being all-knowing and obviously immortal, when I got stopped short by malaria last week, I never did that. After one fairly perky day after my course I was properly taken down. I’ve had quite a few days of fever, aches, and no logic to the fuzziness of my brain. I’m still far from being in any way perky, and quite nervous now of disease comebacks. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt worse in my life. But I believe I’ll change my stubborn ways now, and pop pills left, right and centre forevermore. The eight hour round trip to a new and unknown doctor isn’t going to happen either, unless I keel over and get carried out. I have my feathered flock to worry about. Who will they have to abuse if I’m not around? So I’d better just get better now, and that’s that really.

I’m pretty sure that delirious is the word for my frame of mind yesterday when I stumbled my way to the kitchen for some water. I peered out the window, as you do, and saw three distinctly chickeny looking things zooming across the lawn towards the enclosure where Jack and Diane (the turkeys) sleep. I fished my cellphone out of my pocket. I was fairly convinced that they weren’t real. These have been some strange fevers, and my eyeballs seemed to not be firing on all cylinders most of the time – they’re still not on top form really. Not trusting them at all. I took a few pictures to verify that these fowls were really real, and not the product of some gross little parasite munching away at my brain cells. I headed on out, and there they were, munching on turkey leftovers. Three funny looking bush chickens with standing up feathers on their heads. They glanced up at me, obviously feeling right at home, then carried on munching. I ran out of steam at that point and went back in to conk back out.

Anyway. It transpired that they were owned by a guy called Sunny Boy, who is in charge of the big generator here. I said to send a message to him, that his chickens were here, and when he came to get them, he eyeballed me sympathetically, and said that if I liked them, I could have them, no charge. I almost took my phone out to record him, again doubting my senses. The people here can’t afford to head on to town to buy chickens or anything else for that matter, and they have very little money. Their livestock is very important to them, and they don’t generally give it away. These three chickens would have been kept for his family’s special occasions, or sold to buy some other essential. I’m thinking that they are chicken, guinea fowl crosses, which would explain their interesting looks, and is quite a common mix here. As I was saying, I knew that he couldn’t afford to give them to me but I didn’t want to insult him by not taking his gift. My reputation for being ruled by all things feathered, my wild hair, and probably rolling eyeballs must have invoked his pity. “No, no,” said I, “I would love to buy them from you.” “No, no” said he, “They are my gift to you.” For once cultural niceties would have to be forgone though. Of course I absolutely refused accept his noble gesture. I insisted on paying, and I did, and I don’t think this upset him too much after all. I’m just really amazed at this weird little happening. Three odd little chickens moving in all on their lonesome, and settling down to stay.

As those of my friends who had the courage to read my previous terrible blog will know, I have had chickens on my mind of late. Not to mention my most cool Naka in Shadow People, chicken looking scientist guy of note, who gave me some trouble to begin with, as to the place of large clever chickens in science fiction novels. To be honest, the things that I’ve recently discovered about chicken “farming” have seriously depressed me, dented my belief that people don’t do cruel and terrible things unless it’s unavoidable, even though it’s for profit, and made me consider the facts of size and availability. Of course I love my big gorgeous elephants, and am right behind anyone lobbying to stop the shooting of them, but it seems to me that if you are small, and easy to breed you are insignificant. The smaller you are, and the more you breed, the less likely you are to feel pain apparently. There aren’t a lot of people fighting for the rights of the humble chicken. Although there will be one more from now. Me.

I am a little amazed that the universe gave me chickens, here and now. These three little guys, or girls, we shall have to wait and see what they turn out to be, have cheered me up no end. I have no clue how they got in, and Sunny Boy has no clue why they left, but that’s what they did. They headed on over, and moved right in, just when I couldn’t have done with anything better. Jack has been strutting around, showing them how gorgeous he is with his feathers fluffed out, and Diane is appalled at the very sight of them, so they’ve been given their own house to sleep in.

Before I get back to catching up on all that I’ve missed these last few days, I must mention that Kewpie the baby weaver has been practicing his flying, obviously because my older weaver bird has had more opportunities to assault him while I’ve been sick. She’s turned into the real Angry Bird with her jealous tantrums. To the tune of, “Ack, ack, ack,” Kewpie now zooms off quite nicely when she heads on over to bounce on his little head. Although he is still scared of her, as are we all. I’m starting to think I need a bird whisperer. How do you control two inches of screeching feathers that feels she can chase the dog away all by herself, and actually can? Here she is glaring from her grimy light fitting, which no one is allowed near to clean. Dear little Jelly the terror.

Till next time friends. xxx