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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Crickets are not at all like Jiminy

Crickets, I discover, have more than one way of annoying you. They hide themselves away in dark corners and sing. They gather in the sink, looking like cockroaches, and greet you as you fill the kettle, bleary-eyed, at six o’clock. They creep into bed with you and refuse to lie still. Or they sneak into your scrunched-up plastic laundry bag and spend the whole night scrabbling and fidgeting as they try to find a way out. I had no idea what it was that kept waking me up until five a.m. when I got my torch and made a systematic search of the bedroom.

I mentioned Matt’s duck-house the other day. It’s not exactly a thing of beauty, but if the birds can overcome the shock to their aesthetic sensibilities it could be the answer to their night-time security worries. Two of their number have mysteriously disappeared over the past few weeks. The idea is that the only access to the shelter will be through water, and that, according to Matt, should see off any coyotes, if that’s what’s attacking them. It’s also, of course, bullet-proof.

I would imagine that the problem is going to be the constant rise and fall in the water level, but if those ducks know what’s good for them they’ll investigate the possibilities.

The rain – and the irrigation – has brought on the millet crop under the CPI. I am  intrigued. I always through millet was a broad-leaved plant. Apparently not.

The weather seems to have settled down. It cools off nicely at night; the mornings are particularly pleasant, and it’s been getting into the upper 80s in the afternoon. Hot, but tolerable, and if I go up onto the tops there’s always a breeze. It’s occurred to me that the weather has consistently upset my plans over the past few months. I never got to go canoeing, due to those cold rainy spells when Phil was here – and A for that matter. My plans for camping out also suffered. However, I still have the whole of September. I’ll maybe wait for the temperatures to drop a little more, then get out my gear and have a few nights under the stars. There’s still the hike along Leander Creek to tackle.

For now, however, I am writing and doing things around the house. Kitty picked up a vacuum cleaner at a yard sale about three weeks ago and yesterday I finally got around to testing it. It’s the sort of thing you could probably persuade an eight-year-old boy to use, once or twice: it makes a great noise and has a bright light at the front, which certainly entertained me as I watched the unwary crickets and grasshoppers being sucked into its maw. With the place looking halfway clean, until this morning’s crop of invaders appeared, to be crunched underfoot, I turned my attention to the remains of the turkey I inherited back in April. Yes, that. I have made three large hot-pots. A hot-pot is pretty much like a pie but with layers of cooked potato on top rather than a pastry crust. They’ve turned out well, as has the gallon or so of vegetable and tomato soup I made from the boiled-up carcase. I suspect that a hoarding urge is overtaking me. Perhaps it’s a response to all this talk of imminent economic meltdown. I checked the contents of the freezer as I packed the soup away, and saw that I have enough prepared meals to feed me on thirty of the remaining fifty days I’ll be here.

My other job yesterday was editing something that the retired copper I write for sent me. It’s an article for the publisher’s website. Over the past week or so Mike has been shuttling between York, Leeds and London for live interviews. He’s been on national news, local news, magazine programmes, early morning and late night, answering questions about policing methods and Government policies after the spate of rioting around the UK. One of his fellow interviewees has been the Home Secretary. Although the books we produce are set in the quieter waters of rural Yorkshire, Mike spent ten years in London’s Metropolitan Police, several of those with the TSG, or ‘riot police’. He spent many an afternoon battling with football hooligans and political protesters, and has some lurid tales to tell. We’re planning to produce a series of books about those experiences, which will require a radical change of pace and style from the basically cosy Yorkshire series. Meanwhile he’s getting some great exposure.

With the editing completed, I took an evening stroll along the hilltops. As well as capturing one or two halfway decent images of the sunset I finally got a good clear picture of Mentzelia decapetala. Give up?  It’s the Tenpetal Blazingstar.

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