A Budgie Story

Our first pets had names that were not very exciting:

The first rabbits were named ‘Mr and Mrs Rabbit’.

The first sheep were named ‘Mrs Baa One’, ‘Mrs Baa Two’ and ‘Mrs Baa Three’.

Our first budgie arrived when I was about six years old. He was green and my sister named him ‘Kermit’, a more interesting name.

We did not have Kermit for long. On a sunny day his cage was hung in the garden in a tree. The bottom fell out of the cage and he flew away.

After Kermit, we got two female budgies called ‘Pretty Girl Blue’ and ‘Pretty Girl Yellow’. Can you guess what colours they were?

Mum taught Pretty Girl Blue to shake hands. If one of us put our finger in the cage in front of her, and said ‘shake hands’ she would put one claw gently on that finger and let it be moved up and down.

Mum regularly let the budgies out of the cage to fly around the kitchen / dining room. She made little signs to go on the outside doors and drew pictures of budgies on them so anyone coming in knew to be careful to not leave the door open and let a budgie out.

One day our friend Mim visited and the budgies were in their cage and making a lot of noise.

“Why are they noisy?” She asked my sister.

“Oh, they want a fly.” My sister replied.

Mim pointed to a big blow fly that was crawling up the glass of a nearby window.

“Do they like their flies alive or do you kill them first?” She asked.

My sister explained to Mim that the budgies would like to go for a fly around the room, and we did not feed them flies. But first, she had to stop laughing.

Once out, the budgies would not go back inside their cage until they were hungry. It could be hours before they were safely inside and we could shut the cage door and take the signs down.

The budgies didn’t learn to talk, but they did like to tweet. If there was any noise, they would tweet along with it. One of their favourites was Mum’s very loud, old electric mixer. Before we got budgies, it was difficult to talk to each other when the mixer was going. With budgies tweeting and the mixer going, any conversation was impossible.

Pretty Girl Yellow started laying eggs. Mum would collect them and put them in the fridge and show them off to visitors. Mum used them to bake with and the baking tasted just fine.

Pretty Girl Yellow was also a grump with bad social skills. When there was any new food in the cage, she’d shove Pretty Girl Blue out of the way and get to it first.

Pretty Girl Blue was the calmest budgie I have ever known. She just Pretty Girl Yellow be the grumpy budgie and she just cruised along. She outlived Pretty Girl Yellow by years and died at a ripe old age (for a budgie).

Our next Budgie was grey and I got to name her. I was determined to call her something that was not boring, and after a lot of thought I shortlisted two options:

‘Tweetie Pie’

Or

‘Baxter’ (We thought she was a boy in the beginning)

I told Dad my two options and he said “What about ‘Tweetie Pie Baxter Pie’?”

I said “Hmmmmmm.”

Then Dad said “Or you could call him ‘Pie Tweetie Pie Baxter Pie.”

Dad’s suggestion was so un-boring that I decided that it would be the budgie’s name.

I wrote down the budgie’s name on the shallow box that the cage sat in, but I couldn’t spell Tweetie.

So the little (female) budgie ended up being named:

‘Pie Tweedy Pie Baxter Pie’

Conversations with the cat #1

Cat: Hi! I’ve jumped on the table! I’m clever!

Me: No cats on the table, but you can come here and sit on my knee.

Cat: Okay, will you pat me?

Me: Yes.

Cat: purrrrrrrr.

Me: Would you like me to pat your chin?

Cat: Yes! PURRRR!

Me: Now, please remember, no cats are allowed on the table.

Cat: Please pat the other side of my chin. Oh, PURRRRR!

Me: Are you going to be good today?

Cat: Can I have something to eat?

Me: No, you have had your breakfast.

Cat: I’m getting bored.

Me: Wild you like to jump down?

Cat: Can I bite you?

Me: No.

Cat: Can I pleeeeeease bite you? I will only use my teeth a little bit, like this!

Me: Okay, time to get off my lap!

Cat: Oh look! There’s a small tree blowing in the wind in the garden! I will look out the window and stare at it!

Me: Did you have to use the claws on all four feet when you jumped off my knee?

Cat: Can you bring me that tree?

Me: No.

Cat: MEOW! I want it! MEOW!

Me: Here, have a fluffy ball with a bell inside it.

Cat: OH WOW! I will chance it! It must die!

Me: Good Cat.

Cat: Okay, I have caught and mauled the ball. I’m going to have my nap inside the couch now. See you in a few hours.

Flying

A couple if days ago I flew in an aeroplane for the first time in years.

When I last flew, most people checked in at the airport with a human behind a desk. There were computers that could be used to check in, but most people didn’t know how to use them. Some of the airport staff stood around and invited people out of the queue to come over and check in with a computer instead!

This time the only option was to check in with a computer at the airport.

I typed in my booking reference.

The computer asked me if my hand bag was less than 7kg.

I pressed’ yes’ because it would be pretty silly to have a handbag that weighed more than 7kg. It would make my arm tired.

The computer asked me if I had any big bags to check in.

I pressed ‘no’ because I had already couriered my things up to my destination in advance, because I wanted to make sure they got there.

The computer showed me lots of pictures of prohibited items, fireworks and rats and things like that, and asked me if I had any in my checked-on baggage.

I pressed ‘no’ because I didn’t have any checked-on baggage, but the computer must have forgotten this already.

The computer showed me the seat I had chosen when I booked my ticket on the internet and asked me if I still wanted that seat.

I pressed ‘yes’ because I had picked a window seat in row 4 so I could see the propeller of the aeroplane.

So I sat in the airport watching planes and watching people until my boarding call was made.

I gave my husband a hug goodbye and boarded the plane.

During preparation for take off I watched the propeller start up, and it was exciting because it was still and then it moved! I love machinery!

Then we took off and I watched the scenery out of the window get smaller and smaller as the aeroplane got higher and higher!

Then the aeroplane just kept flying and I could see teeny tiny hills and roads and rivers.

Then we flew into clouds! It was so long since I had been in an aeroplane that I had forgotten that clouds are in layers. The aeroplane flew between two layers of clouds and being between two layers of clouds made me feel very special.

Then after we had been flying what seemed like forever (but it was actually only an hour) an announcement was made that we were descending and we were to put away our tray tables, fasten our seat belts and keep our seats upright.

My tray table was away and my seat was upright and so I just made sure my seatbelt was nice and tight.

Then the plane dropped a little bit in a hurry and it gave me a fright and I gripped the armrests and the I realised there was a button on one armrest that I had not noticed.

I looked at the button and wondered what it was for and then I realised that it must be the button to press to recline the seat.

Then the plane dropped a little bit more in a hurry and gave me another fright and I said to myself:
“Do NOT press the button! The voice told us not to recline our chairs! DO NOT PRESS THE BUTTON!”

The problem was, that if there is a button that I know I should not press, all I want to do is PRESS THE BUTTON!

I sat on my hands to stop myself pressing the button.

The plane dropped a couple more times in a hurry and I got a couple more frights and because I now could not grab the arm rests I pushed myself as far back into my (very upright) chair that I could.

Then we landed! Yay!

I looked out the window, which I had not done for a while and I saw the propeller of the plane, but because I was so far back in my chair I only saw the tip of the propeller and it looked different and I thought: “Wow, there is another aeroplane right next to this one, I didn’t think they were allowed get that close to each other.”

Then I leaned forward in my seat properly and I saw that I was looking at the propeller of the aeroplane I was in and then I wanted to laugh and I tried really hard not to laugh so I just ended up smiling a lot.

So, in theory, on my flight home next week I should be all prepared: as long as I don’t think about the button on my armrest and remember there is a propeller outside my window, it should be an uneventful flight!

How dare he interupt my breakfast! (Well…my post-breakfast snack, anyway….)

Every year our pet sheep had lambs. One year they had three between them. Dad noticed that the biggest one had a foot that looked funny.

“We better catch him and look at his foot” said Dad.

So we helped Dad catch the lamb, and the lamb had a funny growth on his foot.

“I don’t know what that is.” said Dad.

Fortunately, our friend Ray rode past our paddock on his bike at that moment. He stopped and looked at the lamb’s foot too.

Ray said: “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah you can fix that but you’ll need to keep him with you all the time!”

Then Ray named some stuff, which could be purchased from the vet, which we would need to soak the lamb’s foot in twice a day if we wanted to make his foot better.

Then Ray said “It’s a lot of trouble to do that!” and I think he was acually offering to help Dad…well…turn the lamb into lamb chops but he didn’t want to say that in front of my sister and me.

Dad and Mum said “Hmmmmmmm”

Then Mum said “Will he be okay of we take just him home? I mean, is he big enough to be okay if we don’t try and take his mother home too.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Ray, “Just take him home in the car, he’s old enough, he’ll be fine!”

So the lamb came home with us in the car, and we decided to keep him in the garden by Mum’s art studio. It had a fence all the way around it except for over the driveway.

Dad and Mum made a temporary piece of fence to go over the driveway out of wire netting. They tied it to the fence on either side and said that the lamb would never get through it.

The next morning, the lamb was looking straight through the netting, straight into our dining room window, going: “BAAAAAAAA! BAAAAAAAAAAA!”

“Hmmmmmmm.” said Dad.

“He’s just lonely” said Mum.

Mum promised us that as soon as Dad had gone to work and my sister and me had gone to school, she would go to see the vet and get what we needed to fix the lamb’s foot.

“Then he can go back to the paddock.” said Dad

“Yes, he’ll be much happier there.” said Mum.

“BAAAAAAAAAA!” said the lamb.

At 7:50, Dad said goodbye and drove to work.

My Mum and my sister and me sat at the dining room table, reading magazines, and munching on whatever snacks were handy, and just quielty filling in time until it was time for my sister and me to walk to school. (The school was one block from our house so it didn’t take long to get there.)

Then I realised that the lamb had gone quiet. I looked out the window and I saw the lamb slowly walking down the street.

“HE’S OUT!” I screamed.

The three of us sprang out of our chairs and ran outside.

The lamb continued to slowly wander down the road.

My Mum trurned to my sister and her exact words were:

“Go and get your bike and I’ll phone Dad!”

With that, my Mum and sister both turned and ran back inside. I was left outside, alone, and with the lamb wandering further and further away.

“I suppose I better follow it, or we won’t know where it is” I said to nobody, because nobody was there.

I started to walk briskly after the lamb.

When the lamb saw me walk briskly, he started to run!

So I started to run after the lamb!

So the lamb started to run faster!

So I started to run faster!

So he started to run faster!

This carried on until we were both running faster than I though a lamb could run!

I thought to myself : “Well, at least that growth on his foot’s not bothering him!”

The lamb ran to the corner, over the road and into the school with me in pursuit.

He ran past the music room, around the gym, beside the car park, and behind the science wing. I finally cornered him between the senior science room and the fence on the outside of the school gardens.

I got right up close to the lamb and quickly wrapped my arms tight around him and whispered: “I’m not letting go.” He didn’t try to run again. I think he was tired.

My next dilemma was: What to do next? I knew my family had no idea where I was, and they might be starting to get worried. It was getting closer and closer to the time of the morning that teachers and kids started arriving at school, so I knew that sooner or later SOMEBODY must walk past.

My concern was: What sort of person would walk past first? If it was a teacher or a sensible kid, they would likely offer to help or to find my family. But, if the first person to walk past was a non-sensible kid, I would likely be laughed at and described as: “so uselsss she can’t even get a lamb home” for the rest of the year.

Very quickly I decided that I would try to carry the lamb home by myself. I was not much bigger than the lamb, so it was not going to be easy. At first I thought of picking him up like we picked up our pet rabbits – one hand under the front feet, one hand under the rear end- but my arms refused to loosen their grip around the middle of the lamb. My brain was just not going to let my arms let go of that lamb!

My only option was to keep my arms around the lamb and try to stand up, which I managed to do.

The lambs four chubby, wooly legs pointed out infront of me and I started to stagger in the direction of home.

Very soon I was approaching the corner of the school that was closest to our house. My Mum and my sister were riding around in cricles on their bikes.

Dad was driving towards the us from the driection of town, he’d only just arrived from work to help us.

When my Mum and my sister saw me they dropped their bikes and ran over.

“Let us carry the lamb.” they said.

“NO, I’M FINE!” I replied.

The lamb was returned slowly (by me) to the garden by Mum’s studio. We stopped briefly on the way to talk to Mr W, who was a very kind teacher and just on his way to school.

“Our lamb got out!” I said
“Look at the growth on his foot!” said my sister.
“Have you seen anything like that before?” asked Mum.
“No, no, I teach physics,” said Mr W “but it does look interesting.”

With the lamb back in the garden, Dad and Mum re-tied the wire netting up with many more knots. They purchased a big gate to replace the netting later that week.

I told Mum that I understood why she had phoned Dad to ask him to come home and help catch the lamb. But, what I could not figure out is why she had asked my sister to get her bike, and then got her own bike.

“Well, said Mum “I thought it would be faster if we rounded up the lamb on our bikes.”

“Did you think the lamb would just stay on the road and not go anywhere that you could not ride a bike, Mum?”

“Well, yes dear. I had it all pictured in my head of just how smoohtly everything was going to go. I mean I once saw a horse walking down the road that had got out of it’s paddock, and the people trying to catch the horse just drove up to it in a car, and someone got out and the horse just stood there and let itself be caught.”

“Do you think that horse might have been a bit better behaved than our lamb, Mum?”

“Well, I just thought, and I had to think of this in a hurry, that if someone can catch a horse with a car, why couldn’t we catch our lamb with our bikes?”

We taught the lamb to drink milk while standing with his foot soaking in a bucket of the vet’s stuff. The growth eventually dissappeared from his foot.

Mum was worried that the neighbours would complain about how loud he was. When none of the neighbours complained, Mum went to visit them and ask them why they hadn’t complained. It turned out that our neighbours could hardly hear the lamb. When he went “BAAAAAAA!”, he was throwing his voice straight at our dining room window!

Accidental inspiration!

Miss G was my school teacher when I was about nine.

She inspired me and  gave me a confidence that helped me to survive the rest of my years at school. However, she has no idea that she did,  and i don’t think she would ever guess how it happened.

One day, she called me and three other kids up to her desk for a serious chat. She said “Okay, none of you have passed a spelling test all year! We need to fix this! You’re all going to have a spelling test in two weeks time, that’s plenty of time to get ready for the test, and I expect ALL of you to pass!”

I was really scared. I already practiced spelling words every afternoon after school with my Mum. We practiced ten different words every afternoon, which was what Miss G expected every kid in the class to do. I could not see how I could do any more than that.

I was quiet at school and loud at home. It did not occur to me to tell Miss G that I was scared.

However, at home after school the conversation with my Mum went a bit like this:

“Mum! Mum! I have a spelling test in two weeks and I HAVE to pass and I’m so scared that I want to move to Mars!”

“Oh!” said Mum “Have you got a list of the words you need learn for the test?”

“I coud start off by building a spaceship out of boxes in the garden, then I’ll just need to figure out how to build it out of metal instead and and invent a way to make oxygen! Then I can go to Mars! Oh yeah, here’s the list.”

Then my Mum suggested a plan that made more sense. Every afternoon we would sit down together and practice spelling EVERY word on the list. Continue reading “Accidental inspiration!”

Bash a Hole in Your TV! (Not literally!)

When I was very small, lollies were strictly rationed at home.

Liquorish allsorts were no exception.

Like all other lollies, whenever there was a packet of liquorish allsorts in the house, the packet stayed closed until after tea. Then, the packet was opened and everybody got two each.

I liked liquorish allsorts best because they enabled what I thought of as ‘cheating the lolly rationing system’.

One standard liquorish allsort is actually in five layers: three layers of white or coloured lolly, separated by two layers of liquorish (which are also lollies, although more boring looking.)

By separating the layers, I could turn my two standard liquorish allsorts into TEN different lollies.

Once in possession of my ten lollies, my next challenge was to eat them as slowly as possible.

As many children who desire to eat food slowly will tell you, a great way to do this is to play with the food first!

So I made up a game callled “Bash a Hole in Your TV”

To play this game I would hide with my ten lollies behind a chair in the lounge and pretend that I was an amazing host of a TV show called (insert drumroll here): ‘Bash a Hole in Your TV!’

Viewers tuning into this show could watch me with all my awesome skill and charm eating my lollies VERY slowly, while being narrated by the voice in my head.

Why on earth would anyone want to watch a show like this? To practice their patience skills!

The objective for the viewer would be to watch the entire programme without becoming so hungry that they bashed a Hole in their TV in an attempt to eat one of my lollies!

Their reward for being patient would be a fully functioning TV at the end of the programme!

One evening my sister looked over the back of the chair and asked “What are you doing?”

“Oh, I always eat liquorish allsorts like this.” I replied casually as I chewed on a piece number four while waving piece number five  infront of my imaginary viewers while thinking “What do you want more now? This lolly or your telly with no hole bashed in it????? It’s a tough choice isn’t it?!?!? Hahahahaha!”

Did I have a secret desire to own a television repair company? Did I just have a flair for inventing TV shows no one would ever watch? Hmmmmm…..I ponder this sometimes.

Now I am a grown up, when I go to the supermarket I often buy a packet of liquorish allsorts.

I put my groceries in my car. I take my shopping trolley back. I return to my car and before I drive home I get that packet of liquorish allsorts and I EAT THE LOT!

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Bash a Hole in Your TV! (Not literally!)”

My Hero

My Hero

In 1981, my hero was Mr K, my school teacher.

On the first day of the school year, I was sitting with my Mum in the school playground. We were waiting for the first school bell to ring and as we waited, Mr K walked past us and as he walked past us he said to me: “You’re in my class, Sarah.”

I was a shy, weird kid, and it was rare for any adult who was not my Mum or Dad to speak to me unless they had no other option, so he took me completely by surprise by saying anything.

All he said was “You’re in my class, Sarah.”

But, the message I felt in my nervous little heart was: “You matter, I see you, You belong in my class.”

I was instantly his devoted fan.

Mr K’s class was for kids aged between 5 to 7 years old. He often exaggerated things and our class size was no exception. He told us that there were 42  kids in the class and we all believed him. Years later I looked at our class photo and counted the kids and there were actually only 32 of us.

He told us amazing unpolitically correct stories that he made up out of his head. They could be about children who threatened mean teachers with violence, and monsters living in the trees behind the school who came out at night.

We painted a lot, we often did our handwriting practice with crayons, we did puzzles and listened to music and danced.

If we were getting restless, he’d say “Run to the end of the field and back!” Then the whole class would take off out of the classroom, and we’d run all the way to the end of the field and back, and come back inside puffing and happy and ready to do whatever amazing thing that Mr K had for us to do next.

He’d take us for walks, either around the school or into town. He once took us all to his house and his wife was there and she gave each of us a cupcake on a plate.

He told us that Prince Charles and Lady Diana were coming to visit us. He taught the boys to bow and the girls to crusty for the royal visitors. We were visited by a boy and girl from one of the big kids’ classes and they did a great job of pretending to be Prince Charles  and Lady Diana.

That whole year I was never criticised once by Mr K. He never said I could do better. He never said I did not try hard enough.

He noticed the things I was good at, and never mentioned the things I was not doing so well at.

One day Mr K told me that I had finished reading all the books with blue covers, it was time for me to start reading the (slightly harder) books with yellow covers. I told Mr K that didn’t want to. I think I was nervous. He took me very seriously. The first thing he did was have another look in the bookroom and find one last book with a blue cover for me to read. The next day he said to me: “Well, now you really have finished the blue books, so you are really ready for the yellow ones.” I totally believed him, and took my first yellow book home to read that day.

One of my big fears was going swimming. I was afaid of the water and of the pool. He never pressured me to go swimming  if I didn’t want to, and I hardly entered the school pool that year.

He noticed too, that when my Mum had to go to hospital for a couple of days, that I became very withdrawn. I am still astonished by this. How could he notice that out of 32 kids, the quietest one had gone even more quiet? But he did notice, and made sure my parents were informed, and told the class that everyone had to be extra nice to me.

There was gossip about Mr K: gossip that he was lazy, that he was a bad teacher, that students in his class didn’t achieve as well as they could. I once overheard the comment: “They’ve got him teaching  those little kids so the older kids can have the good teachers.”

 I don’t know if the amount of reading, spelling and maths I did learn that year in Mr K’s class was as much as I was supposed to learn. 

I don’t care if it was or not.

All I know is that I loved every day in Mr K’s class. I know that each night before I went to sleep I would imagine that I was back at school because I loved school so much.

Why did I love school so much that year?

Because I learnt the most important lesson I have ever learnt on my first day of school:

“YOU MATTER”

Thanks Mr K. You’re my hero.