Monday, April 04, 2005

Goose? Geese!

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Saturday afternoon I spoke to Robin on the phone about the Thylacon convention and a quiz night that’s on at one of the pubs this month. At one point I had to break off the conversation to call out the back door “Keep quiet!”. Sorry about that, I said, the goose is a bit noisy. “Oh, it’s a goose is it?” he said, “I thought your dog just had a very funny bark....”

Later that night I actually turned off the television to look out the back and see what the peculiar noise was. It turned out she’d found a piece of styrofoam and was pecking at it.

It’s not easy to get used to living with a fully grown goose just outside your back door.

How we ended up with the goose is a story with a twist. At my sister’s house she has had very bad luck with her poultry in recent years. The casualty rate for goslings, ducklings and chicks has been appallingly high.

After some years of seeing goslings hatch only to die off one by one, last year when they got down to two goslings she decided to act. One evaded her, but she captured one female and brought it over to my house to hand-raise.

It thrived and finally had to be moved into the backyard after it got too big for its box. We still have it because firstly she has a problem with one of her wings, and secondly because we fear she may be so socialised to people she would have trouble acclimatising to the barnyard.

But the twist is what happened the following season.

The flock of geese are aging but still produce a few eggs each year. This year they hatched out five engagingly clumsy little goslings. After a couple of weeks, one of them disappeared and we thought “Oh oh, now they’ll all go.” We groaned and waited to see their numbers decline one by one, as usually happens.

But, to our great surprise, the remaining four not only survived but shot up at a great rate until you could hardly tell them from the adults. Julie now has a flock of eleven -- the first successful hatching she’s had in several years.

And I still have a goose in my backyard....

What a strange couple of weeks it’s been weather-wise. On the morning of Good Friday there was snow on Mount Wellington, but eight days later it was still 23 degrees at 11:30pm -- that’s about 74 degrees in the old scale! -- and I was sweating when I fed the animals at Julie’s house while she was away for the weekend.

It was 32 [=90] at Campania, the highest April temperature recorded there.

I wasn’t surprised when I woke up on Sunday morning and found it was raining lightly outside. With all that warm air, even the weakest cold change would produce some showers.

At church on Sunday morning it was good to see our minister Rob able to walk into the pulpit for the first time in months. He was still using a light cane after the service, but he’s walking a lot better than he was even last month. It’s been a long recuperation after his hip operation.

He returned to his series on the book of John that he last preached on a couple of years ago. This week his sermon looked at the story of Lazarus, and considered the whole business of death.

It was confronting stuff, but a topic that none of us can avoid.

Julie was re-united with her laptop on her return from Launceston. I picked it up for her at the weekend, and she spent a lot of Sunday night working on re-installing software and locating data files that had been pushed into the background by replacing Windows 98 with Windows XP.

Her “favourites” list on Internet Explorer, for example, was blank but some sleuthing around on the hard drive discovered the original list and she was able to copy it over onto the current folder. Mission accomplished.

Do you ever see something in print and mutter to yourself “That’s what I’ve always thought. Why isn’t it obvious to everyone?”

I was in a hi-fi shop the other day pricing CD Recorder units (how much? don’t ask!) and picked up a brochure for the upmarket Model Two radio made by Henry Kloss - famously the best mantle radio on the market.

The piece on their stereo AM/FM radio points out that “stereophonic reproduction requires the separation of the left and right audio channels, so why place two speakers in a single cabinet?” They provide a companion speaker with a five metre cable so you can move it anywhere in the room.

Perfectly logical. Why do so many so-called Stereo sets have the speakers mounted only a few inches away from each other? It makes no sense whatsoever.

If I won the lottery, I’d cerainly buy one of Mr Kloss’ radios.

On the BBC radio 2 website, listened with great enjoyment to the weekly Friday Night is Music Night concert. Not only were the BBC Concert Orchestra in fine form, but during interval they played a selection of Byne's light music and the guest stars were the quirky band Pink Martini.

They've been described by one British critic as a cross between Manhattan Transfer and the Buena Vista Social Club -- a sort of blend of calypso, big band and smoky night club sounds. China Forbes' voice and Robert Taylor's trumpet form a beautiful synergy.

I must see if I can get their album Sympathique

And if it's the start of the month, it must be time for another mouth-watering newsletter from those industrious folk at First Generation Radio Archives. Their special offer this month is a set of CDs of the famous comedy series The Great Gildersleeve and a "Round Robin" (a set made up of various programmes) which includes material as diverse as Bob & Ray and Fu Manchu.

So much of radio's history has been lost but some survived by a fluke. The Gildersleeve shows mentioned above were preserved by chance when the 16" lacquer discs fell into the hands of an engineer who had worked at NBC radio when it was located at the famous intersection of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood.

In Australia, alas, most of our archives were simply dumped in the 1960s when Top 40 programming became almost universal. Hard-hearted bean-counters could see no reason to retain warehouses full of drama, comedy and variety shows.

What does still exist at least has a home at the National Sound & Film Archive in Canberra, which recently reverted to its original name after being known for a few years by the more trendy designation of Screensound Australia.

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