Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter weekend

My holidays overlapped Jonathan's for four days. Three years ago, we took about four days and went to Tasmania. But this year we took the four days and, at least three days in, we've had a lovely weekend at home.

So what did we do?

Friday we walked to Federation Square. Jonathan and I watched an Argentinian couple perform acrobatics, as part of the international comedy festival. That was pretty awesome.
 Tim met a friend at an Aussie rules football game instead.

Saturday Tim and I walked our favorite loop around the Botanic Gardens, from the lily pond to the fern gully, once around the lake and back past the volcano. It is the season for bunya-bunya pine cones again. Danger!
The cones are massive and will kill you if they fall out of the tree on your head. So every few years when one of the pines has cones, they rope off the area around the tree.

There are a few pine trees in the park behind our house that have been roped off for a while with no explanation. We walked over to see if we could spot massive cones in their canopy.
But no luck. I don't think they're the same kind of tree.

On Sunday we went to church in the morning. I played Easter hymns for the congregation on the organ. Easter hymns are hard. But lovely. That's because there are only a few of them in our hymn book, and those that exist were mostly written by professional organists in previous centuries, beloved by congregations for more than 200 years by now. Because they are hard to play, I was worried that I would ruin the Easter experience for the overfull chapel. But it went ok. I think my mistakes were subtle enough that not many people noticed.

What else have we done with our free days? Long walks in the park. Chores: Shower scrubbed. Bathmats clean. Floor mopped. Dirt wiped from the windows. Bathroom cleaned. Five loads of laundry washed, folded, or hung to dry. A little work: Paper draft finished. Another paper resubmitted after revisions. Chapter outlined. Notice sent to colleagues on research. A few video games. Ok, a few hours of screen time resulting in my hands aching. I can't do that with my breaks anymore, apparently. Boooo.......

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Lyre bird

Jonathan has been on school holidays for a week now, and still has a week to go. My semester break starts just at the very end of his break, and we overlap for a long weekend, and then he is back in school while I'm free from teaching. Because we don't overlap, we haven't made any big holiday plans. But it's kind of nice to have unscheduled days -- at least Jonathan thinks its nice. He's been walking around the neighborhood, reading books, and playing video games. Life is good. 

The weather has been very nice lately, with many warm autumn days that feel more like late summer. But many trees are turning gold in the park, and we set the clocks back an hour last weekend, so the trees and the early dark remind us that summer is long gone. We know we're moving into winter. But we're still enjoying the warm.

Until today. The weather report predicted a major storm moving in this weekend. Saturday was still supposed to be lovely, but Sunday was predicted to be wet and cold. So we decided to take advantage of what might be a last warm Saturday for a while and head out to the Dandenong ranges.

When my parents were visiting, we wanted to walk with them from the Belgrave train station to Sherbooke falls in the Dandenongs. However, the train line was damaged in a rainstorm, and so we didn't make it out that far. We checked yesterday, however, and the trains were back up and running with no problems, not even construction, all the way to the end of the line. So off we went. To Sherbrooke falls!

Nearly every time we spend an hour or two going outside the city we are amazed again at what a nice place we live in. The fact that we can get to the Dandenong ranges national park on public transit and on foot is a really great thing.

It was our first time walking to the falls, but it was a pretty short walk. We had to walk along the side of a road for a little while before turning off into the park. From there, it was really only a short walk to the falls.
The temperature cooled off a lot once we stepped into the fern tree forest. And then we heard a scratching on the side of the path, and looked carefully, and it was a lyre bird! A male lyre bird, just scratching around in the dirt right there on the side of the path!

Our readers may remember back in January we spent a long time in Tarra Bulga national park hoping to see a lyre bird. We heard them. They are not quiet birds, and when they are making their calls they are very loud. But we didn't see any. They were hiding under and around the thick ferns.

Yesterday in the Dandenongs we saw the lyre bird just scratching in the dirt. But it was not calling. So no audio. Even so, seeing a live lyre bird made the trip all the more exciting.

 And then we walked back, down through more fern trees and eucalyptus trees.
And all my photos are of Jonathan because he was either running ahead or walking behind. No photos of me. But I was there too. I show up in some of the pictures on Jonathan's phone camera.

It started to rain just as the train was pulling out of the station on its way back to the city, and it has been gray or rainy since. Actually, it has been quite a nice weekend. I wish my holidays started this week too. But I have to wait another week.

I will end by linking to David Attenborough, who will show you what a lyre bird looks like and sounds like.

Happy autumn!