Posted in Sparks in the wild, Sydney sparks

Hello, sunshine!

Hello there. It’s been a while. And I figured that there’s no time better than the present to get back into sharing everyday sparks. Maybe not quite every actual day, but if I notice things that you might also like. And that might take our minds off whatever we are going through for a minute or two. Whether you’re in lockdown, or enjoying the fresh taste of freedom on a European holiday (deep down I’m happy for you friends, really), or somewhere in between, it seems like the time to celebrate the little things.

The first day of a new month seems like a good place to start again, so here is the sunrise from Sydney’s northern beaches this morning. The sun is now rising around 6.45am and there have been some spectacular morning and evening sky shows over the past few weeks. Almost like nature knows that lockdown is no fun at all, so it’s throwing an amazing opening and closing ceremonies to make us feel a little bit better.

As backyards go, it’s a pretty lovely one and we’re very lucky to be stuck in this part of the world, although things do feel like they’re getting a bit out of control. People are getting very cranky and the divisive cracks seem to be widening. I’ve stopped watching the news and reading comments because they are not helpful and just make me mad or sad – both of which are bad.

You know what makes you feel glad? Sunrise. 10/10 would recommend.

Posted in Sparks in the wild, WWWhat?

Do you wanna see a mermaid?

I am not entirely sure how I found out about the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida. But it is now on my bucket list. Would that be because it is, “one of the deepest, naturally formed underwater caverns in the U.S.”? Maybe for some people. Or because of its super catchy name, which means, “little spring” or “winding river”? Not really, to be honest. It’s actually because it is, “THE ONLY CITY OF LIVE MERMAIDS!” (or so they say on their website).

Yesteryear Mermaids

Apparently it all started back in 1946, with a former Navy guy called Newton Perry, who trained SEALs (the Navy ones, not the ones who do tricks and catch fish) to swim underwater in World War II. No notes on whether he was a mermaid/merman, but apparently he, “scouted out Weeki Wachee as a good site for a new business”. And then he invented a method for humans to breathe underwater via oxygen hoses connected to an air compressor (so it could look like humans were, “thriving twenty feet underwater with no breathing apparatus”. Genius.

Then he built an 18 seat theatre into limestone, six feet below the water’s surface. And then? Well, I can’t paraphrase, as I won’t do it justice: “Newt scouted out pretty girls and trained them to swim with air hoses and smile at the same time. He taught them to drink Grapette, a non-carbonated beverage, eat bananas underwater and do aquatic ballets.” AMAZING.

And so the mermaid show drew large crowds and was quite the place to visit in the 1950s (even Elvis stopped by). And then in the 1980s they opened a water theme park and beach. Then in the 1990s they started the popular “Mermaids of Yesteryear” shows. Apparently, the former mermaids’ motto is, “Once a mermaid, always a mermaid”.

Not convinced? Then have a look at some of these amazing mermaids from the “Mermaid Roster” on the site (which is almost too good to be true)…

MermaidStayce
Don’t be surprised if Mermaid Stayce beats you in Candy Crush.”

MermaidCrystal
“Mermaid Crystal enjoys track & field and is always up for a game of Trivia Crack.” 

MermaidBrittany
“You can find Mermaid Brittany hunting when she’s not performing.”

I salute you, Newton Perry, for your fabulous vision. And you too, multi-talented mermaids. I very much hope to see the mermaid show for myself one day (they are open 365 days a year, fyi). [I did check out the ‘Careers’ section of the website – no current requirements for additional mermaids.] “Being a mermaid is a magical job. As the mermaids sing in The Little Mermaid show: 

We’re not like other women,
We don’t have to clean an oven
And we never will grow old,
We’ve got the world by the tail!”

Sing it, sisters. [You can check out the website here.]

Posted in Sparks in the wild

The Possum and the Parsley

Yes, it’s the name of book for children that I am currently writing – just need to find out how it ends…

When we last left our story, the possum(s) had breached my clever Parsley Defence System (TM) and helped themselves to many bunches of bright green goodness.

Last night, after consultation with my parents – fellow parsley farmers in the Hills – I decided to mess with the possum’s tiny head and bring the parsley inside for the night. (I was also going to leave a note saying GIVE UP NOW, OR ELSE…, alongside a single possum fur glove, but decided to keep that as an option if tensions escalate.)

Anyways, I had left the base/tray from under the pot (not sure of the technical farming name for this equipment) outside and when I looked out this morning, it appears that the possums had a little tantrum and kicked the base away.

IMG_7383.JPG
Now I am worried that this is their way of warning me. As in, PUT OUR PARSLEY BACK OR NEXT TIME, WE’LL THROW THE BASE OVER THE EDGE. Can possums pick locks? Will they learn to like spinach or lettuce instead? I’ll keep you posted…

Posted in Sparks in the wild

Battles with Nature

Please don’t get me wrong – I really do love Nature. Flora and fauna and all that good stuff. However, lately a couple of things have happened that make me question whether Nature really loves me. To be honest, I probably started wondering about that back on the Camino last year, during the festival of insect bites.

This week has seen two main conflicts between Nature and me. The battleground is my own home. And the local fauna has been the winner.

Let’s start with birds. We have a lot of very pretty, colourful and interesting birds around here. Delightful creatures. Except when it’s, say, 3.55am on a Tuesday and a gang of kookaburras are preparing for a talent show with repeated (very loud, very long-lasting) laughing sessions.

NOT SO FUNNY, FELLAS.

Don't be fooled by their cute looks. These guys are merciless torturers of happily sleeping humans.  NB, this image is from Pixabay, so I can't be sure that these two in particular are quite as evil. But I wouldn't be surprised.
Don’t be fooled by their cute looks. These guys are merciless torturers of happily sleeping humans.
NB, this image is from Pixabay, so I can’t be sure that these two in particular are quite as evil. But I wouldn’t be surprised.

Then there’s my small veggie and herb garden (where ‘garden’ means a few small pots on my balcony). I find it pretty exciting to plant things and watch them grow, and this farmer’s crop has been thriving with all of the rain that we’ve been having in Sydney lately. Lettuce, chives, spinach and parsley are on the grow.

I can't pick any lettuce because I don't want to disturb the pretty arrangement of leaves.
I can’t actually pick any lettuce because I don’t want to disturb the pretty arrangement of leaves.

Looking good, spinach.
Looking good, spinach.

Parsley. The scene of the crime.
Parsley. The scene of the crime.

The problem is with the parsley. Apparently, possums love parsley. The naked stalks in this pot seem to suggest that they’ve been helping themselves to quite the feast. It’s hard to see in the picture, but these possums meant business. Clearly not interested in any of the other crops, the bandits snuck in during the night and chomped away.

Problem is, I like parsley too. And I was actually growing it for me, not for the local possums. So I came up with a Macgyver-style solution: a strainer thingy from the kitchen fit perfectly over the pot.

Parsley prison.
Parsley prison.

HAHAHAHAHAHA, POSSUMS. That’s what I thought as I laughed (like a kookaburra) at my cleverness. Until I looked out this morning and saw that the strainer has been moved and more parsley has been stripped away. They’ve also found the other secret parsley stash next to the lettuce.

Back to the drawing board, Macgyver.

Posted in Sparks in the wild

Talk to the Animals

In case you haven’t seen this video, taken at an aquarium in the USA, here’s a Beluga whale trying to get his point across to some kids. I think their mother might be partly responsible for their shrieking – at the very start of the vid, she says “Ooooh, he’s coming for you!”, but I think he’s really just saying “Hey, guys!” and wondering what all the fuss is about.

Also, it’s a bit boring up to 45 seconds, so please stick with it (or fast forward if you’re in a hurry).

Happy Monday!