Monday, 14 November 2011

Lightening Strikes!

Wednesday was a crazy day. It was all over the place. We didn't get any calls for concrete till 11am so we spent the rest of the day moping about trying to look for things to do. When I finally decided to clean my truck, the boss pulls in and says I can knock off whenever I want. It was only 1:30pm! I had only had lunch half an hour ago. Whatever. 'At least if I leave work I will be occupied', I thought, so that's when I decided to make an impromptu trip to one of the stations I have day-worked on. When I pulled in no one was around. The purpose of this trip was to pick up a dog. In particular a dog for Damian. I decided long ago that part of his Christmas present this year will be a dog since he's always whinging and griping that all the dogs have all been mine. He won't be able to say that now! I brought a bag of working dog food with me in exchange for the pup which I then sat on for nearly an hour waiting for my friends to come back to the homestead after the days work had finished. I was just about to give up and organise an alternative means of transport for the pup when I heard a toyota rattling down the driveway. And didn't I scare the life out of Mal! Only Kylie was expecting me and that wasn't till tomorrow!
The initial pup I chose was sadly not available due to crossed wires but that's fine because the alternative is as sweet as pie. His name is Lightening! The couple loaned me one of their dog cages since they were a bit concerned the pup would go about his business on the backseat of Damian's rodeo. And too right they were because the moment Lightening went in the cage he relieved himself. Mal tied down the cage for me and pumped up my slowly leaking tyre. After chatting for a while I headed off to my old stomping ground.
Time was running out when I drove in to the town. I had a CWA meeting at 5:30pm and it was already 4:30pm. Me and my big ideas! I'd be pushing it to make it on time. I showed my friend, Sarah, the pup and her verdict went along the lines of "Awww, he's so cute!", no opinion on Damian's potential reaction. Next stop was the pub to show Warren. He just laughed in his less-than-sober state that Damian will now be regularly visiting him so that they can go pig hunting together. Not on my watch! But I hope that was all he was laughing at.
I lead-footed it all the way back to town at I don't know what speed because the speedo doesn't work in the rodeo. But I got there in about less than 45mins. It's 105km between the two towns so I'll leave the maths to someone else! Only 15mins late to CWA. I had one of my friends young daughter check on Lightening halfway through the meeting to make sure he was okay.
When the meeting ended I headed back to the town house where Lightening got an introduction to Yum Yum. It took a good half hour for the two to see eye to eye but soon they were lying on the tiles together like they had been friends forever. I tricked Lightening into being tied up since he'd previously only known cages and when he realised he was tied up, that's when the barking started after I had gone to bed. Afraid of keeping the whole neighbourhood awake I unclipped him and let him have the yard to himself since old Spencer was tied up due to the new addition and Yum Yum sleeps inside. I checked on him twice before I went to bed, just to make sure he was okay and he (as far as I could see because it was dark) was behaving beautifully, even when Spence did try and assert her authority. To this point, all signs have shown me he will be an intensely loyal dog especially since he has come up to me with a smile on his face.
The working week went by as slow as a snail on valium. Friday came and finally it was time to take Lightening to the vets for vaccinations. I had already had to re-book an appointment twice with the vet over the last two days to then be left to rock up near on closing time with the uncertainty of even being seen. Thankfully the vet was quite obliging and happy to see this sook-eyed pup. He behaved so beautifully as everything over the last three days has been quite a shock to him. After the vets it was another leadfooted drive home to the station with the dog in the cage.
When I pulled up at the house paddock gate I put a big red ribbon on Lightenings' collar and prepared myself to face the fact that I may have to spend the weekend standing between the dog and the gun. Lightening doesn't lead so I picked him up and when I got to the edge of the house, hidden by various bits of outdoor furniture, I asked Damian who was smoking on the verandah "Are you ready for the first half of your Christmas present?". I gingerly stepped up the stairs to reveal to Damian his new pup. I didn't receive anger, I didn't receive a guilt trip, I received a sigh of disbelief "A dog?".
"Well, you are always complaining that every dog has always been mine so now you have your own!"
It didn't take long for Damian to warm up to Lightening but it also didn't take long for me to warm down. Trying to learn his place in his new family, Lightening had a go at Lacey who had been placed on the top of the outdoor table for introductions. If he makes a habit of this it will be Damian standing between the dog and the gun! But punishment for his behaviour followed which momentarily divided Damian and I. Lightening had another two go's at Lacey on Saturday but by Sunday they were right as rain though Lacey was still reluctant to be around him and was cautious when she was.
Not only with the official arrival of Lightening, this weekend was the most happiest return to Providence I've had since I first begun my stint in town. I had many moments which brang a wide smile to my face from cuddling up to Capone whilst getting headbutted by him to riding my horse through a mob of soundly sleeping poddies to playing with Lacey and Lightening to shifting the chooks at midnight to their ignored enclosure for fear of Lightening making a meal out of them. The chooks in their pen did not last long and when the sun rose, so did they to the top of the shade cloth and free to the outside world after a bit of sea-sawing in between.
Saturday was spent mowing the lawn on the ride-on, waving at Damian who sat on the front verandah each lap because I'm a dag like that and going on a water run. It was so good seeing all the paddocks lush with fresh green grass, even around the troughs and seeing all the fat, rolly polly calves dance and buck about between drinks from their healthy mothers. Even a cow that had a year old weaner sucking off her looked like she was holding her weight well. This time of year is usually nasty on cattle and their condition so it was a welcome sight to see them all doing so well. A vast contrast from every other property I've been on over the last 7 years during the Build-Up. The early rains have been quite a blessing. The rest of Saturday was spent doing laundry including a desperate dash to pull all the dry clothes and linen off the line when the sound of rain hit the tin roof to only stop the moment I got inside with the laundry basket.
I started off Sunday gathering motivation to trim Charger's feet. My back was already killing me from driving trucks with seats that couldn't go all the way forward and shovelling aggragate. I prepared feeds for Charger and Diamond (the horse who wouldn't be found who is now finally found) and got down to trimming Charger's front, offside foot with the nippers. He didn't make things any easier for me by swishing his head around every ten seconds to shoo away buffalo flies. I was angry at myself that I didn't think to treat him before I got stuck into doing his feet. Nevertheless I got on with it. Nippers done, time for the rasp. I really need an old-man-stand for this part of the job so I gave up doing it the orthodox way and did it a way that I had to learn due to dealing with a very difficult horse. In this instance, instead of bring the foot forward, you kept the hoof between your knees with your back toward the front of the horse. Everything this way (my way) is done purely on feel and generally for me has come out with the same result and I also find it a little easier. But still, I want an old-man-stand. Hint! Hint!
After finishing Charger's front feet and letting him polish off his breakfast I put a bridle on him, lined him up alongside a feed trough and hoisted myself up onto his back. Halfway up he decided that I didn't require anymore patience from him and he started to walk off. Anyone who has seen me try and get on bareback knows how awkward it looks and due to my lack of coordination I can't pull him up when he walks off like that (something I need to improve on!) so I just hung in there with my right foot resting on his rump as he lumbered along with me wiggling around till I'm finally sitting correctly on his back. 200 metres later and I had got to my destination, the gate. I got off (not near as awkward for me) and let him go through the gates. And he just stood there. He wants pats? Gave him pats and cuddles. He wants the flies shood away? Shood the flies away. Still standing there. Maybe just my company? Nup. Hmmm. To be back with Diamond? Sook me opens the gate back up and he walks through it back into the house paddock. "He knows he'll get fed if he gets to stay in here," Damian-often-the-voice-of-reason. Whatever, your problem now! Hehehe!
The rest of my Sunday was spent relaxing, getting a start on my Secret Santa gift for a group I am part of on Facebook and reading my Stephen Fry novel. Oh, and of course sleeping. But four o' clock came round all too fast and after checking the car over and getting the usual grilling from Damian for NOT regularly checking the car over I made my unwanted journey back to town with less of a leadfoot.
At least when I arrived back at the townhouse I was greeted by four wonderful women who were celebrating two of their birthdays. Maybe this week won't be so bad? Maybe.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Morning Quiz

Last week on Hot100FM a discussion arose about a potential lion on the loose after someone in Darwin supposedly saw one crossing the road at Pinelands which made the paper. I decided to add my two cents to the discussion by texting in to the hotline "I'm Teagan. Maybe the lion escaped from Tipperary Station when Warren Anderson lost the place a few years ago". I got no response over the radio so thought nothing of it... Till this morning.
An incoming call from an unknown number came on my phone so I answered it "Teagan Speaking".
Voice: Hi, this is Joel from Hot100. You sent in a text last week?
Me: Holy S**t! Yeah, um, I did.
Joel: Awesome. Was just wondering, you know our morning quiz battle of the suburbs?
Oh my gosh! I'm going to be on the radio. I willingly accepted the challenge to represent Katherine against Anthony from Leanyer. After being put on hold a number of times finally we were on the air. This was Anthony's third day competing.
The first question asked was "How big is the croc on the front page of the NT News? We both sat there in deafening silence. "We're on live air here people!" prompted Joel so Anthony chipped in "Leanyer! 4.8 metres?" Wrong! My opportunity to get the answer right. "5.6 metres?" Wrong! Back to Anthony. "5 metres?" Ding ding!
Second question. Why was the coach of the Manly Sea Eagles sacked? How on earth am I supposed to know that! "Leanyer! Something, something, something along the lines of a right answer?" Ding ding! So at this point I've lost because it's the best out of three but Joel asked the third question regardless. "Who recently quit the Oscars?" and of course the response was "Leanyer! Eddie Murphy?" Ding ding! Well, there goes my 15 seconds of Australian fame!
Despite saying nothing more than a greeting and "5.6 metres" I still scored a Domino's Pizza voucher. I felt like an absolute knob but it gave me an opportunity to have a good laugh at myself and made my day a little bit more bearable. So for all Top Enders out there with radio service, don't be afraid to compete in the "Battle of the Suburbs" on Hot100. You can't make yourself look more like an idiot than I did!

Hot100 Darwin

Domino's Pizza

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Not Coming Home This Weekend, Too Busy Socialising

The working week was slow. Unbeleivably slow! Our average was 2 loads of concrete a day. But Friday I got to drive the new water truck to the weighbridge. Wasn't that scary! It was an automatic. Still had to put the clutch in to take off and stop but not to change gears. Every gear change could be felt and heard like someone was really changing the gears themself but it was all the trucks doing! It was like it had a ghost changing gears and I was sitting in HIS drivers seat steering. Even going down gears it gave that little rev to get the gears synchronised!
Friday evening was spent having dinner at the RSL with the woman I live with turning all heads in the bistro while showing off her new heels. I met some interesting new people one of which had the sorry job of welding concrete bowls together back in England before he migrated to Australia. The other an extremely tall Canadian that couldn't understand a word any of us said. I suppose the Territory Scrawl could be hard to understand sometimes! An old friend who I hadn't seen in two years also appeared and we had a good chat after his absence from the area. Our conversation regarding the gift of a dog got everyone thinking that we were talking about something pornographic and me having a massive giggling fit may have confirmed that. But no, the topic was of a dog. Just thought I might clear that up.
I tried to spend Saturday lazing around but no, it was time to get ready for the party. We shopped for food and arranged furniture in the backyard. I got creative and decorated the garage area with party lights. I made up little, colourful signs that each had a translation of the word 'toilet' and stuck them all over the outside bathroom door. And made a few more around the record player for the word 'music'. Well, it is International Night after all. Got to get into the spirit of things.
Mary arrived in the afternoon and while cooking her traditional dish of 'Sop Sop' from the Torres Straight Islands we sat chatting in the kitchen while smell of coconut permeated around the house. Velda had already made Spaghetti Bolognaise and when Kerrie arrived, she got started on Chocolate Fondue for dessert. By the time everyone arrived and sat down to eat we had mini meat party pies (Australia), fried rice and fried noodles (the Philipines), an Indian dip with Papadams, potato bake, salads, pork. Oh, if you went hungry you were an idiot! Dessert was of course Fondue, Scottish Mint Custard, Pavlova, Custard Ginger Pears, Fruit Salad. Time to undo the top button I think and bloat!
Rose brang round her karoke machine and a brave few stepped up to the mike. I sang 'Achy Breaky Heart' really badly with a giggling fit half way through because Mary made me hold the microphone. Yes, that's all it takes! I also sang 'Proud Mary' with her which didn't seem to go too badly but to get through it I needed a Pina Colada... so I stole Mary's... till I poured my own. Only a handful of others got up to sing, some very reluctantly. I guess that's what happens when the machine is set up right by the door. No passing till you've sung a song.
As the evening wore on and people began to leave we noticed something had gone horribly wrong. One of the dogs had at some point buggered off into the night. So we all went out there searching for her. Calling her name, checking the house again and again. I got in my car and drove around the corner into the next street up and there she was, scampering across the road in my headlights. I managed to catch her, the outside world making her wary of every object and everything that moved and chucked her in the back seat till I had her back home and the gates shut! Cheeky thing. She has never in her life done that before. But as much as I loved the party and the company, I almost couldn't wait for everyone to leave and go home so I could go to bed. I'm turning into a Nanna!
But my social weekend wasn't all met with happiness. Damian was ropable that I had decided due to lack of funds that I couldn't afford to come home as usual for the weekend. We broke out into an argument over the phone with me in the middle of the supermarket over the price of a brake caliper and my interest in knowing exactly how much rain we had out there. After swearing and carrying on at each other I hung up. A few hours later he rang to tell me one of my chooks had died from a feral cat attack and also that we had 4mm at home (I win). Another few hours later he rang to ask how to cook rib bones in the oven. All emotional war wounds healed. At least next weekend I will be home for its entirity but not sure how he is going to take the news about the weekend after...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Little Flutter

As only concrete could achieve my day started crap. The first job for the morning was to a concrete pump for a house that was being built. Houses that are built with Besa brick have concrete poured into the walls via a concrete pump to strengthen the walls. 'Score!' I thought as my job would be as detailed as sitting on my butt at the back of the truck keeping the concrete pump hopper full. No effort involved at all. Well this job required no effort either, just a patience for things that are really slow. First off, after being guided in and getting set up, the fins on the concrete pump wouldn't engage. This went on for at least 15 minutes. Over the course of the pour, every five minutes they were wanting me to add water to make the concrete more of a slurry. In the end I added 220 litres of water to the mix and it wasn't all that dry to start off with. By the way, my onboard water tank only holds 200 litres so for the extra 20 litres that they asked for had to be added with the dribble of a garden hose. After adding some water at one point, a gawky lad came up to me while I was accelerating the spin on the bowl to mix the water in to tell me not to spin it too much or it makes the concrete go off. Umm, hello? One, if I don't spin the bowl the concrete and water won't mix and in actual fact it WILL go off from sitting still and Two, the only 19 year old that can tell me what to do with concrete is a fat Italian boy who's been dealing with concrete since he was old enough to swing off a shovel and you don't look like no fat Italian boy! Then of course to make things take even longer their hose blocked up so I twiddled my thumbs till they cut the end of it off and got started again. When finally my truck ran out of concrete I went back to the yard and jumped in the next truck already batched and ready to go to return. Only 40 litres got added and straight off the bat this time. When they finished pouring into every wall I could finally go. In total, this pour took over 2 and a half hours. The last concrete pump job I went to we did four and a bit trucks in less time than this job.
On my way back to the yard the boss called to say there was a small load to take to one of the backpacker establishments. Batched it myself, checked the slump, lost a wheelbarrow load of it on the ground doing so and once all was good headed in to town. The owner of this little tucked away accomodation "guided" me in so well that he directed me into a wall (I had to reverse through a very narrow entranceway to get in) that pushed my passenger side mirror back so I could not see out of it and then directed me even further straight into a mango tree causing a nice big dent in the back passenger side of the cab. Oh me oh my! To even be able to get into the entranceway to start off with took ages because I had to wait for a decent break in the traffic so I could block off the street to reverse in and I swear that every other road user decided to drive even slower than normal because they could see a truck on the side of the road... an immobile truck with a very irate driver. The pour here didn't take very long. I got congratulated by the resident geriatric for being the first female truck driver he has ever seen. He mustn't get out much. Between wheelbarrow loads I texted the boss to let him know of my little disaster. He rang the second he got the message. It's fixable I tell you, calm down. I didn't wreck the cab but my desire to quit this job has increased!
Finally I could knock off for the day and get dolled up as only I could with limited nice clothes for it was Cup Time. The evening before I got a phone call from a friend, Lizzie. She had a spare ticket to a Cup luncheon at The Golfie (as it is affectionately known) and tells me I should ditch work and come and join her and Taryn, my colleagues daughter for the rest of the day. I told her I didn't think I would be able to but I'll text her when I know if I can or not the next day. Well good news at last rewarded me during the concrete pump pour when the boss rang to tell me if I wanted to knock off for the the Cup that I could. After washing the truck and locking the gates I screamed off back to the town house and put on clean new jeans and my new favourite blue and pink checked shirt. I had a shower in the form of a perfume bottle, no time for a real one as icky as I was feeling. I raced down to the shopping centre, dodged a salesman and headed to the sunglasses shop to buy a fascinator. The shop assistant pointed out the various displays of fascinators with me responding to each of them with a simple "Meh". The last one though had something that would actually match so I asked for him to open the case and I pulled out two identical headbands, one being light pink, the other purple, held them up against my shirt looked at him, looked at another female customer standing nearby. "Which one?" The shop assistant stood dumbfounded as the woman pointed to the purple and I put the pink one back. Done! "Gee, I wish all women could make up their mind that quickly when it comes to what to wear" the shop assistant reckoned. The power of knowing what you want before you even get to look at all options. Paid for it and raced back only to once again be bailed up by the salesman. "30 seconds of you time" he reckoned. I should have timed him! He was trying to plug a childrens charity called Plan, figure headed by Jamie Drurie. "But I already do Save the Children", it didn't matter, he still rabbited on so I shrugged my shoulders, filled in a form while he was still nattering on, randomly picked a child (Jemile from Ethiopia), he handed over some paperwork while still talking and eventually I made my escape. I hope I don't regret signing up down the track.
Finally, after being delayed to the luncheon by nearly two hours, I could sit down and enjoy myself. With Liz and Taryn were Bec and Claire. Liz also brang her stepson, Connor, who was very dapper and dressed better than nearly all of the men in the room in his pinstripe vest and pants. I'd like to add that he is only 10! But sitting at this table I felt like the odd one out. I was the only one without a baby. Liz had Harry, Taryn had Riley, Bec had Sophie and Claire had Caine and there's me feeling out of place while they talk of explosive poos and having baby food flung at them. But, then again, in a way it is kind of reassuring. They enjoy being mothers. The thought of me being a mother petrifies me. I'll stick to dogs...
During the approach to the race Liz and I placed our bets. I think she bet on a total of 6 horses and I bet on 2. Precedence and Manighar. Those two solely for their jockeys. Darren Beadman and Damien Oliver respectively. As the horses got loaded into the starting gates I started waving my betting cards around. It probably won't bring me good luck but what the hell. And they were off! The room fell eerily silent. I looked at the distance the horses had to cover, 3200 metres. "Someone let me know when we're getting close to the finishing post". At the last 200 metres I looked up at the television and witnessed the closest finish that I had ever seen. Not only placings for 1st and 2nd were photo finishes but for 3rd and 4th too. The entire crowd, including me, simultaneously gasped as slowed down footage of the horses crossing the finishing post aired. No one could have forseen that! It really is the race that stops the nation.
Not long after the race had finished, group photos were taken (I happily guarded purses and pushers) and the girls that did have a winning bet collected their cash we packed up our prams and baby bags (well, not me but they did) and headed off. Liz, who was wearing the most amazing dress, missed out on entering the best dressed competition because it was never announced. Connor was disappointed too as he also wanted to enter. None of the girls won the lucky door prize raffle but we did manage to score Connor a 'James Boag' top hat.
During the afternoon I waved hello to many people I knew. Didn't chat to any of them though except for the boss who was still worried about the dent in the cab of the truck. Can we worry about it tomorrow?
With good company and a good feed in my belly we all parted ways into the heat of the afternoon. Very appreciative that Liz invited me to escape the tedium of concrete for the remainder of the day and that the boss actually allowed us to knock off early. Thank God for the Melbourne Cup!