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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

House-sitting again

This entry is coming to you from The Shire, Baulkham Hills Shire that is. I'm down here for a few days, minding my aunt's house again (well, probably more to keep the dog company if anything), and having something of a holiday. It is not very often that I get to go away for any great length of time, so, seeing her latest overseas trip commenced the day that would normally be the start of six days off, I couldn't refuse. Even better that I get paid for it as well. There's plenty to drink, I have quite a bit of food, I came prepared with two books, brought the notebook (which is connected to my aunt's wi-fi network), packed my football gear in case we have a training run, and even my blood bowl board (and a team) in case any of these Sydney-siders want to take me up on my offer of a game whilst I'm down here. Needless to say, I believe I packed way too much.

When I say trip, well, it does have a purpose. The middle child of her trio of offspring is getting married, in the Phillipines. (The youngest got married last year in Thailand, and the eldest has been married three years now I think.) They set off this morning around 8.30am, leaving me to my own devices, namely, laundry, catching up on some DVDs, and going for yet another photography stroll – more about that later.

So, apart from work, what else have I been up to? Well, last Monday (11 March), I did something completely different, and went to a classical music concert, the first one that I have ever attended I must say. Very conveniently, it was being held in the St Patrick's Catholic Church in East Gosford, which, from my place, I could hit with a good stone's throw. The tickets were $30, but it was worth it, to hear the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne work their way through Vivaldi's Four Seasons, some Tschaikovsky, Beethoven, Bach, Paganini, and for a little encore, Gounod. I must say, hearing the Four Seasons on a CD is one thing, but hearing a professional chamber orchestra playing it in a intimate setting was just divine. At times I just closed my eyes and listened to the music, savoring every note. The solo violinist was a master of his instrument, and it was so lovely to see performers so passionate about their music, and an audience that was very receptive, and appreciative of the gift that was being received.

There was also solo flautist as well. A pretty young lass who, though appearing nervous at first, demonstrated that she too knew how to handle her instrument. One wonders how much practice she was put through every day of her young life.

I really liked the double-bass performer though. The moustached gent, every time that I looked at him, was smiling, despite the effort he was putting in to each piece. At times the bow was being slapped hard on the instrument's body as the music flowed on.

I should've bought a CD. Perhaps I can get one from their website.

Then there was work. No random strangers providing me with water this time on my labor around town (although at the start of my first walk it did rain) but I was able to complete it without incident. Thursday was quite warm, but Friday took the cake, seeing it rained pretty much for the entire day that we were on the road. That, and there were a number of new drop-off points, all at The Entrance, which, thankfully, we managed to find without much difficulty.

Then there was work of a different sort on Friday night, my nephew came around again. He apparently wanted to come over, but within five minutes commented about how much he wanted to go home and play his X-Box. (Gees, thanks nephew number three for making your uncle really feel wanted.) He brought a DVD that he wanted to watch as well, The Dictator, which I stopped watching after five minutes because it was insulting my intelligence too much. Who finds these movies funny? Oh, nine year old boys. He liked it because the lead actor at one stage riding a camel down the middle of New York...

Sheesh. He also liked the funny noises the actor made when he was whipping his hand across his throat. I asked him why did he find that funny? Do you know what is going to happen to that person that's being dragged away after he did the hand signal and made the funny noise? Dear nephew, it means he is going to be killed, that is what the hand signal means.

He didn't find it funny after that. It was the same when he started singing a song about liking watching people die. The uncle didn't find that too amusing, considering he has watched people die, and he didn't like it one little bit. He didn't sing that song again when I was around...

Still, I haven't had much trouble with him on the Friday nights that he's been around. I only had to raise my voice at him twice last Friday (15 March), once for deciding to throw all three darts at the dart board at once (throw them one at a time or not at all nephew), and a second time for getting up every sixty seconds and going to the door to see if mum was home. (She's coming back from Woy Woy nephew, it'll take her at least twenty minutes to get here. The last car went past five minutes ago, and it is really annoying me that you're doing that. So sit down, watch the football, and she'll be here before you know it.)

I'm noticing a lot of common factors between my 9/10 year-old nephew, and my aunt's dog. It's been sitting on the top of the sofa sadly looking out the window waiting for his owner to come home. That, and annoying me when I'm cooking, looking for a hand-out. (Whereas the nephew just annoyed me by continually going to the fridge for a drink.)

Sigh. Perhaps I was never cut out to be a parent or a dog person. Just give me a cat any old day.

Football comes next. On the same day of the Mariners' home match against Brisbane Roar (Sunday, 17 March), we had a trial match scheduled, which, strangely enough, actually went ahead. Yours truly had a little training run of his own the day before, and tweaked something in his leg (as well as nearly ripping a fingernail out on Friday on a jagged piece of board in the van whilst working) which didn't feel good at the time. I was in goals for the first half, and told the team I was going to be kicking as little as possible. My throws though, were quite good, and I only had to clear the ball once with my feet, which initially aggravated whatever I did to it on the Saturday.

However, for the second half, I was switched to right back (seeing one of our other players was having problems keeping up), and it didn't seem to affect me too much, though, for some reason, my right hip started playing-up and I had problems accelerating. Still, I was able to get myself in the right position to deal with most attacks down that flank, and the end result was that we kept our opponent's scoreless in the second half.

But, we were already down by three at the break. All three were soft goals, which really annoyed me. The first one I could only say that I was beaten by a complete lack of speed. The second was a long range attempt, which I could only parry, and the dregs were stabbed in. The third, well, we were truly unlucky. The cross had come in from the left, two players went for it, both missed it, but it hit the back of the opposing players' head and just had enough on it to beat my dive to stop it from getting in. The sad thing being had it hit the opposing player on the front of the head, I would have stopped it easily.

Still, in the balance of things I was up 7-3, even though we were down 0-3. The final score was 2-3, and honestly, we could've won the game by four or five, seeing our opponent's tired in the second half for a lack of substitutions. Apart from my leg injury, my fitness was fine (all that lugging of newspapers around sure did help) and I played the full 70 minutes, which I was very pleased with.

Currently, my hip/thigh at the moment isn't too bad, and if I don't over exert myself over the next few days I should be fine. Mind you, going to bed Sunday night, and getting up on Monday morning was extremely difficult. As was getting in and out of the van...

The Mariners did one better, and managed to win their match by the solitary goal, ending a run of outs which saw them lose three matches in two weeks (both A-League and Asian Championship) and get a draw in a fourth. It was a tough game against the Roar, and it was a good afternoon to be at the stadium to see the game.

I must say I have gotten great value out of my pensioner membership. I have attended 11 home games and provided three free tickets for mates so far this season for the grand sum of $175. This works out to averaging to $12.50 per ticket, which means that I have saved in the vicinity of about $8 a game, plus $20 all up for the tickets for three ACL games, seeing I got a membership/pensioner discount for those. I definitely will be getting another membership for the next season, as it has turned out very beneficial for me, more so now that I'm a pensioner.

Photography. Well, I have been busy snapping away. There were a few occasions whilst at work, a few more over the weekend, and plenty today when I went for a wander to stretch my legs. I was very surprised to find a reserve a matter of minutes away from my aunt's place, and had a lovely couple of hours wandering about, snapping away. I discovered some large ants nests in the depths of the reserve (down a well used trail off the concrete path) as well as another thing that I have never seen before in the wild.

It was a red-bellied black snake. There was no mistaking it for anything else. The specimen, which I nearly trod on oblivious to it's presence, would have been 1 to 1.5 metres in length. The only times that I have ever seen one before, was in wildlife displays in shopping centres.

Strangely enough, I wasn't scared. I realized that it was there about two steps after I had passed it as it was sunning itself. I then stopped, remembering the experts' advice on not provoking said creature in any way, and watched it slither away.

I then counted to twenty, making sure it was well and truly gone, and proceeded to make an orderly retreat, walking as fast as my legs would let me back up to the concrete path, and to a nearby bench.

I had to admit, the heart was pounding, but I was very pleased with myself as to how I handled it. A couple of years ago, in my fragile psychological state, it may have turned out much differently. Today, I survived a distinct brush with danger, and got some great photographs.

But, unfortunately, not one of a red-bellied black snake. Ciao!

But, unfortunately, not one of the red-bellied black snake, more's the pity. Ciao!

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