31 October 2003

Playground Safety?

Remember last month’s picture of James leaping off the playground? This month he is again featured. He was climbing up the ladder, reached for a rope, slipped, banging his mouth on the rope, slipped and completed the bang onto the ladder and came running inside crying. “Come here, James,” I yelled. “I can’t!” he cried, so I went to see him, spitting blood in the bathroom hand basin. “What happened!?” “My teeth!” he replied. Both front teeth (which weren’t loose before) were knocked out. Luckily they were his baby teeth. The loose bottom tooth was still there.

James showing his new found gap.


October 31 is a very popular day in the US, and not just because it is Lana’s birthday. Halloween has been truly taken over by the pagan crowds, with pumpkins and horror costumes appearing all over the area. Our nearby towns and a few other small towns have a good idea to make it a more family friendly by having a special event in the Town Square (which is actually shaped like a circle). At 5:30 pm all the people gather in the square for some activities, there is a competition for costumes and the local shopkeepers provide candy (lollies). This saves the children from trooping around dark streets, learning how protection rackets work. It is called “Trick or Treat”, which is another way of saying, “Give me some candy or I will wreck the joint”. What a far cry from “Hallowed Eve” where the people would prepare for the feast of All Saints, followed by All Souls day.

Leaves – and Leaves – and Leaves ….

Ariel and Clare catching falling leaves.

Remember the photographs of our house in the midst of lovely green forest? Now we are in the midst of a sea of leaves and changing colours from green to yellow, red, orange and eventually brown. It isn’t just the occasional tree, as it is in Australia, it is virtually every tree. The ground has been covered in leaves, and whenever we go outside, it is to the accompaniment of the Crunch, Crunch, Crunch of leaves and small twigs. Also, at the start of autumn (Fall) the acorns started to drop. During a medium breeze, they hit the roof like a machine gun. It was definitely the time to wear a hat when walking in the woods.
Also, with the leaves going down, we are seeing more of the horizon and the sky. Mountains are becoming visible and there are more stars in a bigger patch in the night sky.

Singing in the Choir

Ariel and Eric are part of the church's Children’s Choir. They practice each Sunday after the 11:00am Mass and are doing very well. This all looked pretty interesting to Peter. He had memorised one of the songs they sang and so asked Miss Eloise (the choir mistress) if he could join. Despite our warnings that he may not be able to sit still for very long, he was too cute to say “No” to. In the first meeting he was proudly sitting there with the music in front of him (although he cannot yet read) and kept asking whether he was on the right page. The best moment was when Miss Eloise leaned over and turned his book the right way up and THEN put him on to the right page.
All Soul’s Day included the children’s choir and Peter was part of it, too, so he sat in front with the other children. Naturally enough he joined in when he did know the words, but the rest of the time he did what he normally did – made a telescope from his program and peered at the congregation, curled up on his chair, reached down to the ground and fell head first on to the floor, faced the wrong way and generally inhabited his own world. Miss Eloise gently corrected him (more gently than we would have) and it all went quite well. The choir sang beautifully and after a nervous start, sang very strongly.
However, Peter now has a place reserved for him in the choir next year. What was his reaction to being “dropped”? “OK”, he said and ran off to play.

Becoming part of the American Scene

Probably the most important news for the month is the announcement of another member of the our clan. We are expecting the birth of a new baby mid next year. That means the child will be a US citizen. So far the children have been born in Melbourne Victoria, Sydney NSW, Blue Mountains NSW, Southern Highlands NSW, and now, probably, Georgia USA.
So now, onto the new adventure of partaking of the US medical system. Perhaps our greatest challenge to date.

Woolly Caterpillars

Whilst watching James play soccer we discovered these interesting Woolly Caterpillars. For a change they don’t bite or sting or cause grievous bodily harm. According to local folklore, the colours indicate the severity of the winter. Black means hard and red means mild. So looking at the stretched out caterpillar in the picture, the winter should start pretty hard, be mild for the rest and end on a hard note. Is this true? We don’t know but we will find out.


David raking a lot of leaves - doing manual labour!

Even though leaves cover the landscape in a sea of brown, they make great jumping piles. For safety reasons David raked the leaves off the driveway into piles. The side benefit was piles of leave the children could jump in.

Woodpeckers and Squirrels

Now is the time for woodpeckers to appear. We have seen a few, but as it is only the beginning of the cooler weather they aren’t too loud. Later on, when the insects burrow further into the bark, the woodpeckers will begin their drilling into the trees.
Also, it is becoming easier to spot the squirrels as they leap from tree to tree. As they don’t hibernate, we should be seeing more of them as winter approaches.

Recipe of the month - Potato Soup

Ham (chunks)
Lots of Potatoes

Fill with water
Boil it away until potatoes are cooked (fall apart) and then add in cream and serve. This is a great cold day recipe that uses up all those potatoes lurking in that bag. Couldn’t be easier.
From the recipes of Vicky Floyd.