The Grapes of Wrath

Greetings from sunny (and very hot) Ivanhoe!

efektoflyOne of the useful pieces of information that I’ve gleaned while living in the back country is that flies lose some of their aviational prowess when the wind is blowing, thus making it harder to land. This is quite important when setting fly traps (don’t ask) because they have to hang in a sheltered but sunny area. I say “I’ve gleaned” because once Nigel saw our first fly trap in full swing, he wanted nothing more to do with them.

Another useful piece of information is that when (if ever again) it rains, it’s not unusual for the foundations to shift and the house to move. Quite often doors, which used to open and close, won’t any more. We’ve already had a handyman (Yes, the town has a couple of fine handymen) out to re-hang some doors and apparently this is a totally normal occurrence.

As I water down the red dust (the plumbers have ‘stolen’ all the grass) from the walls and windows after yet another dust storm, I sometimes get a weird image of the house slowly sinking and then disappearing into the ground. As I speak/type I’m looking out the window at the dust bowl that was our backyard and I’m reminded of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Of course, they did warn me that none of the grass would be spared. But this warning might have been useful prior to my investing in lawn seed and spreading it around the backyard when we first arrived! Typically, the dust storm arrived just after the last blade of grass disappeared!

Still, the mounds of dirt and rocks and the huge deep holes in the ground (where Bear kept losing his tennis balls), were all worth it, just to be rid of the unpleasant odour that we and the neighbours had been experiencing.

Bear, for one, was delighted with the whole experience and spent a good deal of time patiently training the plumbers to throw the ball to him.

I, on the other hand, have spent quite a bit of time talking to our friendly Telco for the last couple of weeks (a big Cheerio to our new best friend, Jed the Technician Team Leader). Plus, when not engaged in said phone conversations, I’ve managed to finish off the Police Residence gardens with plants and cuttings from the locals.

It has to be said that there are projects I enjoy that go way beyond the average ‘let’s clean up the yard’ type of home improvement and one such venture began when Bear and I were out on our daily walk. I noticed the remains of a house that had burnt down – leaving a perfectly good concrete path leading up to where the front door once was. After a brief discussion (with mainly me talking and him listening) it was decided to recycle the path by applying a crow bar to separate and dig up the individual concrete slabs. Then it would be an easy job to manoeuvre them onto our trusty hand trolley and from there it would just be a hop, skip and a jump to walk them home.

Now Nigel has long since given up dissuading me from any weird and wacky projects as long as they don’t break any laws. So after a  phone call requesting permission from the local Aboriginal authority, I spent the next few days digging up concrete path sections and ‘walking’ them home. It was back breaking but fun (only a gardener would understand…. maybe) and, as often happens, my gorgeous hubby ended up feeling sorry for me, borrowed a trailer and loaded the rest of the slabs himself – On ya, Nige! Mind you, there were quite a few locals left scratching their heads.

In the mean time, Nigel has been busy too.  Does anyone remember the Induction Day that never eventuated? Well, strangely a couple of weeks ago a memo arrived to request that Ivanhoe police provide an update of the original (and as yet unseen) Package.

Now, Induction Packages are given to new officers at single and two-unit stations at the beginning of their tenure so that they have an idea as to what goes on. They are quite lengthy and contain useful information like how the police ‘back line’ works – saving us quite a bit of time and money in connecting, disconnecting and reconnecting! Interestingly, when Nigel asked for a previous copy to work off, there were none!! So if the search warrant hadn’t happened, you have to wonder what would have happened at the Induction ceremony.

In keeping with the “It all happens in Ivanhoe” theme of recent emails, the following have happened in Ivanhoe within the last week…………Nigel and I went to see the Sydney Male Choir at the Ivanhoe Community Hall. The “Summit2Salt’ bike riders came through town on a 2000 km trip to raise money for kids with Cystic Fibrosis. Plus yesterday, there was a field day at Kilfera, one of the local sheep stations (Yes! Who knew they actually existed ……….. I thought they were just a phrase like ‘You’re not playing for sheep stations”) to raise money for the Flying Doctor. BTW I bought the Bread/Spuds/Onions cupboard in the photo.

As well as that, the NSW Assistant Commissioner of Police stopped in for a chat – as it was his RDO, Nigel was dressed in a two-day-old tee shirt, three day old beard, shorts and socks!!! – and we all went to the local café for lunch. Lastly, there’s a Cobb and Co re-enactment due in town on the 10th of October  – featuring, amongst others,  Paul Kelly from the Sydney Swans.

So if you want a fast and furious social life, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, then Ivanhoe is definitely the place to be.

Or for that matter, if you need a job, there’s cleaning at Danson’s holiday cabins, pool attendant at the local pool, casual teaching at the Central School or Literacy and Numeracy teaching at the local gaol.

Speaking of the gaol, Max (the Central School’s Assistant Principal) and I had almost brokered a deal with the Governor for part-time teaching, when he was whisked away (the Governor, not Max) to deal with problems at Wellington Gaol. And it seems that the new warden knows nothing about any plans to employ either of us. So I figure that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. Besides, I still have permission to teach casually at the school and I’ve just been offered the OIC job for Polling Day…………. “So you’ve worked as a Declaration Vote Issuing Officer before? Well, in that case, you’ll be perfect to take on the polling place manager’s role at the Federal election in November. A bit of training up the (dirt) road at Willcannia (round trip 360 km) and you’ll be just fine”.

Nigel and I will be heading back to the coast on Monday for some maintenance on the house as well as some quality time with our wonderful neighbours. Then we’re off to Goulburn for staff development and then back to Ivanhoe for the long hot summer. All up, we’re looking at just over 2000 kms in twelve days.

The last photos are of Nigel and his boss puzzling over how to get caps into a cap gun for one of the children at the field day. Thank goodness for the 10-year old, who took over and worked it out straight away!














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