Thursday, August 28, 2008
Guarding Mum's Drink
One of the Prime Rules of the Universe. Never leave a bear to guard your drink. Honest, we just can't help it. Here's this nice, cool, tall drink of something with fruit and possibly unknown alcoholic stuff in it and no Oldie in sight. An open invitation to have a small sip, just to check out that it is OK, not been spiked or anything. Hmm, seems all right but you never know. Maybe another test. And before you know it the glass is empty. Note that Scruffy is on lookout duty. He gets his turn after I have finished testing. And you know what? Oldies do not believe that Aliens sneak into the room and take their drinks away for analysis. I need better excuses; do you have any that I could have?
Don't Say It!!
OK, I know that I look a bit silly, but I am warm. This has been a really cold winter here in Canberra and even small bears get cold feet. Mum, as always, has a solution. Buy the bear a pack of baby socks. Not just ordinary baby socks. These have reinforced soles with what looks like blunt soccer studs on them. So, not only warm but tough enough to save wear and tear on the paws as well. Great for kicking things around and a help in climbing up cupboards as well. So what do I care if they look a bit strange, they will be a real asset to one whose main occupation is mischief, and I have black ones for night operations.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The Ground Steams
This is something that you don't see very often. There is steam coming out of the ground at the edge of the water. This is one of the hot springs at Savusavu in Fiji. The harbour at Savusavu is in the crater of a huge volcano, hopefully now extinct. Way back, it blew up and the sea flooded the crater. It must still be very hot, deep down under the town, because there are several places where boiling hot water bubbles out of the ground. In fact the locals use these hot springs to cook in. The spring in the picture is a small one, but as we walked out on the jetty to get our boat back to the ship we could feel the hot, damp air from the spring. I don't think I would like to live on top of an old volcano that is still hot. Those things are too unpredictable for cautious small bears.
Private Island Again
This little island is Nanuyakoto. It belongs to a retired Japanese pearl diver and visitors are not allowed, except for passengers on Captain Cook boats. We had a great morning there, Mum got a special Mabe pearl and Scruffy and I hunted for Blackbear the Terrible's treasure. You can walk right around the island in about half an hour, or if you are a small bear you can be carried around in your Dad's pocket. The island has a huge reef around it and at low tide it is very difficult to get to the actual island. You can see some of the buildings. There a couple of houses and a big workshop. The best way to see them is on Google Earth. When we left Nanuyakoto the boat had to travel along a series of deep channels between big reefs. Scruff and I hadn't seen anything quite like this before so we went up to the sundeck and yelled instructions to the wheelhouse. I do love cruising.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A New Member of the Bear Clan
The Bear Clan has a new member. Mum arrived home from work yesterday with this cutesy little guy sitting in MY car seat. I was not amused and started to kick the stuffing out of him. Mum was not amused. She separated us and told me his story. Turns out that this is a special bear, almost as special as Scruffy and me. He is one of the family of bears made for Daffodil Day, and his job is to help get funds for cancer research. Cancer is a really horrible disease that attacks people and animals (but not small bears) and lots of money is needed to help scientists find cures. Daffodil Day is the biggest fund-raising event in the southern hemisphere. This year it is on Friday this week. You can find out more about it on the Cancer Council web at http://www.daffodilday.com.au/. Please support these guys. There is probably not a family in the world that hasn't lost somebody to cancer. Just by bringing one of these cute small bears into your home, or by buying any of the Daffodil Day stuff, or just by making a donation, you can help stop cancer. So what about the interloper in my house? Well, it turns out that he is really a nice little fellow and the clan like him. His name is Daffyd. Dad says that he probably has Welsh ancestry (the bear that is, not the Dad). I took him around and showed him all my special things; the Sphinx that lets me ride him sometimes, Mum's beading table where I showed him how to bend and cut things with pliers, Dad's aeroplane room where we spent hours clambering up the shelves while I showed him the ones that I helped make, and my computer where I typed this post for him. Maybe your home needs a Daffyd as well, cancer research sure needs the money.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Like lots of people and small bears I have been spending a lot of time in front of the TV watching the Olympics. I wonder why there aren't any events for small bears? Sometimes big bears make it as mascots, but surely us little ones could add something to the games. I would really like to be a swimmer. The Aussie team is pretty good but just imagine how they would be with me on the team. Failing that I would like to be a synchronized diver. When I dive down the stairwell without my parachute I am pretty well synchronized. Or water-polo perhaps, our team could use some help there. Trouble is that all of these involve getting wet and Mum just won't let me do that. So what can I do that doesn't involve water? I think gymnastics is the best bet. I like tumbling, jumping and climbing and have a good sense of balance (Dad says it is because of my wide posterior; he should look at himself). So Mum to the rescue. Two bits of ribbon and a couple of egg-rings and I have my own egg-selent set of gym rings. So far I have only mastered the art of hanging vertically, but it's early days yet so watch out for me next games. Then there's the bars, the horse and all that stuff. Should keep me busy for a while.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
A Relocated Lighthouse
This lighthouse is in the Maritime Museum at Port Adelaide. It hasn't always been there. It spent the first part of its life, from 1875 to 1901, on a platform near the entrance to the port river. It was then moved to South Neptune Island where it stayed until 1984. The lighthouse keepers at South Neptune had a really tough life, some of them went mad and a couple of them were washed away by big waves. Today it is a lighthouse that you can visit and see how the old lighthouses worked. I went through it before getting onto this boat, ready to cruise up the river to the mouth, looking for the special dolphins that live in the Adelaide river.
Fiji Bus Ride in the Rain
While we were in Fiji, cruising with Captain Cook, we did a couple of half-day trips on the big islands as well. For these trips we travelled in a bus. Now Fijian buses are a bit different to the ones you see in Australia. They are completely air-conditioned, that is they have no windows at all. That's usually no problem as the breeze keeps you nice and cool, but when it rains you do have problems. Well, here we are in a bus with rain absolutely pelting down, the way it only does in the tropics. You can see how the rain is supposed to be kept out. They roll down canvas screens. Only problem is that the clips that are supposed to hold the screens down are not up to the job so the screens flap about and let the rain in. The trick, if you are ever on one of these buses in the rain, is to sit near the aisle so you don't have to try to hold the flapping thing down, and NEVER sit near the window on the back seat. Dad did. All the water that hits the screen ends up being blown along the screen and down the sleeve of the poor coot who is trying to anchor the end. The buses have open luggage racks under them. Our bus had the water, picnic lunches and about a gazillion coconuts under there. However, the rain on this trip made such a mess of the roads and made some rivers flood so we didn't get to where we were going and I never did get a chance to crack one of the coconuts.
Friday, August 08, 2008
When we go travelling one of the things we have to be careful about is to keep special things like passports, tickets and spare money from getting lost or stolen. The best way of doing this is to put them into a thing called a safe. Most places have one of these in the room or cabin. This one was in one of the places we stayed in on our last Fiji trip, but you find them everywhere. Scruffy and I are always being told to play safe, so here was a chance to really do just that. It was fairly easy to climb up to the safe and it was just the right size for a small bear cave. There was plenty of room for us, even after Dad had put the special things into it and closed the thick door. I bet that any safe-cracker would have died of fright if they had opened the safe to be confronted by two small bears full of teeth and claws diving for their throat.
Buckets of Beads
Mum and I went to a craft show yesterday. We took Dad along because we needed a camel to carry the things we thought we might buy. There were lots of interesting things there, some of the quilts were real masterpieces. I don't have the patience to do quilting, but I sure like helping Mum do things with beads. There were lots of bead stalls and they had really great specials, so our camel ended up really loaded down. Dads do come in handy sometimes. When we got home the fun of unpacking began. The trouble with buying lots of beads is that they have to be sorted and stored. Here is where a small bear is really useful. First step, take the beads off the long strings they come on. This usually means that some of them escape and go skittering across the table and roll along the floor into hidey holes. My job is to catch them before they hit the floor. Mum, with help from me, then sorts them into piles of sizes and colours and I pack them away in containers. The camel then carries the containers upstairs to Mum's craft room, ready for us to turn into all sorts of pretty things. I like beading, it's great fun.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Aw Gee, Ain't They Cute
These Oldies of mine do go to the most interesting places. Here they are at a village called Naselesele on the island of Taveuni. Passengers from "Reef Escape" visited the village for a traditional Lovo (earth oven) feast and a Meke (dance and song) show. These nights are supposed to be something that is totally spectacular and unforgettable, but I wouldn't know about this one because the meanies left me back in the cabin. The flowers and things around their necks are called salusalu. These are traditional Fijian neck wreaths, made to wear on special occasions. They are made of strips of hibiscus bark with flowers, leaves and, sometimes, bows and streamers attached. They do make the Oldies look cute, don't they. Actually, Dad got hay fever from something in his salusalu, but being polite (sometimes) he wore it until they left the village, then sneezed and sniffled for a couple of days. Served him right for leaving me behind.
Bears at the Wheel
At last, Scruffy and I were given a go at the wheel of "Dro Ki Cakau" ("Reef Escape" for them as can't understand Fijian). Here we are in the wheelhouse, hard at work, steering through the channels in the reefs north of Viti Levu. I am watching the GPS and depth sounder on the screens while Scruff is keeping an eye on all the dials. Of course we would have steered a lot straighter if Scruffy hadn't kept trying to push the wheel the other way to what I was. The ship's wake looked a bit wiggly while we were at the wheel, but we didn't hit anything. Not bad for two small bears.