Sub tennants

We have the usual assortment of wildlife at our new place: all sorts of birds like magpies, peewees, kites, wagtails and more and of course various lizards and geckos and their prey, innumerable insects; but the first ones to greet us in the yard after we picked up the keys were kangaroos. Since then we have realized that our place has a whole family of sub tennants. Almost every morning and afternoon a mob of kangaroos wanders around the yard and paddocks and seems to look at us as the intruders. They are not shy and let me approach quite close, more curious than afraid. There is one very large one, presumably the male, a number of smaller females(?) and a few teenagers. All of them eating, playing and resting with apparently not a care in the world. 

This morning I was pulling down the weed vines from the last few mandarine trees when I noticed 2 of the youngsters watching me with mum lying in the grass nearby totally unconcerned.  It was not until I walked to the next tree about 3 or 4 metres away from the little ones and started working on that that mum raised her head and eventually said to her kids: that’s enough now, lets go.  And they slowly made their way to the next paddock. 

A unique store

The other day we took a day off and went to check out a local boat ramp (local being a relative term here). After an uneventful drive we came to a little fishing village with a nice boat ramp and not much else. As it was lunch time we decided to pay the local store a visit for some fish and chips. This was the most versatile store I have ever seen in such a small place. In a building the size of a 2 car garage there was the general store with bread and milk and other daily supplies, the post office (a number of parcels took up the already small area for the customers), a bait shop, a take-away, an espresso bar and a bottle shop and probably more tucked away in some corner. And to top it all of there was a veranda cum beer garden.  And our fish and chips were fantastic!

If you are looking for a new chapter in your life:  the shop is for sale.

Settling in – sort of.

I am starting to enjoy living in a small town – every business we go to seems to be run by a husband and wife team and they are all very helpful and friendly. You never have the feeling to be in a shop but just asking some friends for advice. And almost every government agency has an office here where you can talk to people face to face instead of over the phone with numerous repetitions of “your call is important to us..” Everything is within walking distance, parking never seems to be a problem, and, of course, everybody seems to know about everybody else 😉

It reminds me of the time when we first moved away from the big smoke many many years ago; sadly the place we moved to then has now grown so much that it is almost indistinguishable from the big city 20 years ago. And so we moved again, at a time of life when most people downsize,  we up-sized 😉

The house looks almost right now inside, only a few more boxes to unpack and perhaps we will find the missing phone handset that disappeared at the beginning of our packing. The paddocks are starting to appear from under the 10 years of unchecked growth and although there is still quite a bit to do, nothing is really urgent and we can take our time. Which means instead of rushing around every day from 7am to 5pm, we now just run around doing things from 9 to 3 – much more relaxing 😀

The continuing saga of the chicken shed

I mentioned our new chook shed last time: “the worlds easiest and fastest shed”. Yes, easiest to manufacture and fastest…

It took us about 4 days and numerous modifications to make things fit and to achieve a modicum of stability, but eventually the hen palace was finished – wow, what an achievement. I might add here that we have built a number of sheds over the years, including a 3 bay garage, so we are not complete novices but this one was a puzzle all the way through.

Our trusty little sunshine (tractor) lent a hand, ah bucket to move the shed from the garage where we built it around the house to its intended spot. All went well and it looked good in the corner, just have to put up the other 2 sides of the fence.

A couple of hours later I went out to check for a good place to put the rain gauge. As I was looking at the bottom of a post I saw movement out of the corner of my eye: a chicken shed lifted up by a gust of wind and sailing happily over the fence! So that’s what a ‘fast shed’ is 😉

We decided the shed might look better on this side of the fence and after a few repairs to the flimsy aluminium, the shed was up again – with four starposts at the corners pinning it down. Try and go flying now!

Needless to say, the rain gauge is still on the kitchen counter.

Uschi has left the building

well, this is it, I have left facebook and its infantile changes and suggestions. I tried some time ago but got lured back, and even now I still have to check in now and then as I am admin for our club page, but I am sure I can survive and keep contact with my friends without logging in all the time. Once a week sounds like a good time frame.

I am not sure what the deal is, but every time I look at my newsfeed, something that I liked has gone and 2 things that I don’t like have appeared. For those who are interested, I will make an effort to post updates on here, without the eternal sharing, and yes, as a concession I will link my posts here to facebook, but that is it. If you want to be kept up-to-date with my life you will just have to talk to me or drop in on the Primeval Nerd every now and then.

There will be some changes in my life over the next few months and I will endeavour to post about them here for those who are interested. You are welcome to comment on this or any other post or drop me a line from my About me page, I would love to hear from you.

Is family history dead and unimportant?

Recently I had the opportunity to translate some letters and a diary written by Germans in the late 1800s. Of course, they were written in the then common Old German Handwriting also known as Sütterlin. It was only then that I realised that there are now only a few scholars that are familiar with this script and that to the vast majority of people nowadays this script is nothing but scribbles. I learned this script at primary school, not as the main script but as exercise in writing. I believe that my class was probably one of the last ones to be taught the old script; I even found that a lot of my friends could not even read the old books printed in Fraktur, although they are quite similar to the Latin alphabet except for capitals.

How sad, that there is a wealth of letters, diaries, and other documents from not too long ago, that is completely undecipherable to most people. The problem is not that there are no lists of the alphabet to assist in transcribing these old documents; the problem is that these lists mainly show the ‘ideal’ way to form the character. And as in modern script there is a huge difference between how the letters are taught by your primary school teacher and how they are written by the adult many years later. Only practice allows you to read individual handwritings and recognise what letter the little scribbles and curlicues are supposed to be.

My special problem with the translations was not only the individual’s idiosyncrasies but also that these documents were written in the local dialect which I am only vaguely familiar with. The first few pages took a long time to decipher until I got used to the writer’s style, and even so there were words and passages that remained a mystery, but thankfully never enough to hide the general idea behind the writings. As one of the writers moved to South Africa, he interspersed his German with English and Afrikaans words and passages, at the same time he also mixed up his alphabets and included words and passages in Latin writing.

The more I read, the more I got engrossed in the story. It opened up a window into the past, listening directly to these men, and their daily thoughts and interests. No official writing can be so direct and intimate, I felt I knew them and in the case of the diary writer, I could see how he grew through his experiences.

When you think about it, it is quite amazing that I got to know these long dead people. First, they had to be letter and diary writers, second there had to be a number of persons over time that thought it worthwhile to keep these writings for over 100 years and then pass them on to other relatives who happen to find me to help them translate them into English. I doubt they will ever be published but they did help their descendants to know more about where they came from and what their ancestors were like, what their problems and hopes were, how they struggled and survived.

I am lucky in that my family did some research into their past and kept records of their findings and so I have a fair idea of my background, but how many especially young people don’t know anything about their family apart from some living relatives. What I find so amazing, is that certain character traits seem to reappear in the family line in almost every generation and not always in a direct line. It makes me wonder how many things might be passed on through our genes or other ways, as these things reappear without any direct outside influence. Things like a need for exploration, an artistic talent or affinity with nature, leadership qualities, a love of cooking; all these intangible traits that make us who we are – and they all seem to have been there in one or more of our ancestors. How much are our lives determined by ourselves and how much is given to us from our forebears?

Mein Achtel Lorbeerblatt

I recently looked through my collection of old vinyl records and came across one of my favourites from the seventies. Reinhard Mey was one of the first successful Liedermacher in Germany and his songs just resonated with me at the time. Some of the songs that got him into the limelight were “The murderer is always the gardener” and “The hot battle at the cold buffet”. One about murder mysteries and the way the most insignificant person turns out to be the perpetrator; the other about the loss of civilised behaviour when faced with an ‘all you can eat’ offer. He has a way of painting pictures with words, he brings humour into his songs, and always there is a little message hidden in them, sometimes right out there, sometimes more subtle.

Listening to them again did not only bring back memories but also showed the timelessness of his lyrics: I still identify with a lot of them. One in particular caught my ear: Mein Achtel Lorbeerblatt – my one-eighth of a laurel-leaf. I’d put a translation here but I am not a word smith like him and it would be only a dim shadow of the power of his words. Essentially, he is talking about how everyone around him has something to criticize and tries to change him to their ideals, but all he does is ignore them and quietly goes and sits on his ‘one-eighth of a laurel-leaf’ that he has achieved for himself and where he can do as he likes. And he goes on to say, that there are still a few people that accept him just the way he is, and those are the ones he writes his songs for, and he thanks them for his ‘one-eighth of a laurel-leaf’ where he can do what he wants.

We run ourselves ragged trying to please everyone; we change to be accepted by people that really, at the end of the day, do not matter. How about being yourself, surround yourself with friends and people that take you as you are, that have no agenda to use you for their own purposes. Yes, you might lose a few ‘friends’ but were they really worth having?

A lot of little inspirational quotes to this subject are posted and shared on social media, but the next post is flaming someone again – why? Does it only work one way? Thank you for my one-eighth of a laurel leaf, where I can do as I like!