Outing #20 – Days 1-4: Alice, Broeski & Shrooms

(Friday 6-February-2015)

Day 1

THE WEEK IN TOWN

One of two young Currawong, on the way out here, who made little begging squeaky sounds until I gave them some oats.

One of two young Currawong, on the way out here, who made little begging squeaky sounds until I have them some oats.

Today, the walk out here was the usual bitter-sweet, whatever deal; half of me wished to stay in town, the other half wanted to come back out to my animal brothers and sisters but, having spent the last four days being nothing more than a pair of ears to one woman, the animals were looking pretty good, however now I’m down here I wish didn’t have to leave her up there.

Felt a bit like I’d left her behind.

As you might have guessed, Alice was back this week; having sworn she wouldn’t stay at the same place – if she came back to Katoomba again – the last time she was here, which was only a few weeks ago. It puzzled me a bit why she came back so soon, I must say, though being myself, the only logical conclusion I could procure is that she is in love with me, naturally.

Still, I was surprised to see her as I walked down the hall to check-in on Tuesday, the initial welcome went like this:

Alice:“Jason! You’re back!”
Me:“What’re *you* doin’ here?”
Alice:“Just what I’d expect a white Australian to say to a foreigner.”
Me:“Whatever.”

The Boss – who was with me, on his way back to the office to get my room key – smirked then made some sly remark about how the double he’d just given me should serve it’s purpose, I sighed at him and we went out to the office and got the key.

For the next few days, I spent my daytimes doing shit I had to do, and gave my nights to her.

She cooked, I ate. she talked and talked and talked, and talked and talked and talked and I listened to it all. One night, she got so angry she stood-up and leaned over me, then started pointing her finger at me, and – with her voice continuously raised – starts asking me how I’d like it if someone came and took all the things I had, and left me with nothing; “Just tell me how would you like it Jason? How would you like it? Fuck!”. She was rapidly approaching shouting-volume when I calmly told her to sit down.

She ignored me and kept right on yelling. On and on it went, me telling her to sit and relax, her doing the opposite until finally I started losing my patience and growled at her, “You’re fucken pissing me off! Sit. Down.”

She casually kneels – in a gesture of partial submission – on the edge of the chair, pauses a moment, then continues the tirade.

I rolled my eyes, I scratched my head. I told her to stop but she just wouldn’t until, sick of her going non-stop at me I cut her off, telling her, “Good night Alice, just go to bed. GOOD NIGHT, I’ve had enough.”

She kept quiet while walking across the room to remove her ipod from the dock, and then – having paused a moment to think about who knows what – slowly started again, much quieter this time. I walk over and tell her, “Shhhh. Shut up. I’ll see you in the morning.”

She pauses a moment, looks at me, then at the ground.

“Goodnight Jason.”

“Goodnight Babe.”

And that was that, she went to bed.

Adorable!

What can possibly be extrapolated from such encounters – other than what a great listener I’ve become – I have absolutely no idea, but she is certainly an interesting specimen.

Just like last time, other guests in the dining room looked at me like I was a fucking idiot for listening to her all night long, and just like last time I couldn’t give a rats dick what anyone there thought; it’s my time, I’ll spend it how I like, and every time we talk, we hold one anothers attention entirely, to the point there may as well be nobody else in the room but her and I.

Unlike the last time she was there though, I didn’t extend my stay by a single night. Would there be any point? Maybe so. Probably not, but I had no idea she’d be back so soon when I checked-in, I paid for three nights and three nights I stayed; I stuck with the program.

Anyway, Alice is Alice, and that’s about all I can say on the matter really. Well, almost all I can say. Well, really there’s plenty I can say; pages, thousands of words, a novella even, but I won’t.

She probably needs me more than the animals do.

She told me bits and peices more about herself this time, but nothing that would explain her current state. Though she did show me photos of her Mum, who – dare I say – didn’t look at all happy in any of the three photos I saw. Granted though, the photos looked very much like some of the communist-party photos I’ve seen on SBS; none of the leaders ever smile at all, so maybe that’s just how photos are taken.

She also cooked me heaps of excellent fried rice to bring down here – it being dinner Wednesday night – and even after eating full bowls of it before leaving there’s still about four kilos left. I’ll have to eat it before it spoils because she cooked it.

I *do* regret not hanging around to help stir the rice or whatever else she might’ve needed help with, but I *did* clean-up the full woks-worth she spilt on the floor, and the last time I tried to stick around and help with the eye fillet steak dinner she told me to get out; that she’d call me when it was ready.

I got to sit in the lounge that night – feet on the coffee table – and talk shit with Eric while my dinner was being cooked for me. Just awesome 🙂

MEANWHILE BACK IN THE FOREST

Back in the forest, mushrooms have started popping up everywhere out here, and I really wish I knew enough to know which ones were edible; some are almost the size of saucers, and would be just awesome in my pasta. There are all different ones though, many are standard/supermarket mushroom size but vary in color from pink through orange and bluish-tinted. All the mushrooms that’re that size, I stem-split to check for the infamous blue of the psilocybe species, but none oxidized blue on contact with air, so I left them all there to rot.

Near flawless mushroom. Horse mushroom? I have no idea.

Near flawless mushroom. Horse mushroom? I have no idea.

Some kind of Oyster-type thing?

Some kind of Oyster-type thing?

And an assortment of smaller shrooms. See, if I only knew which ones I could eat I'd be laughing right now; the forest is full of em.

And an assortment of smaller shrooms. See, if I only knew which ones I could eat I’d be laughing right now; the forest is full of em.

NIGHT

Just one of the sneaky little bastards.

Just one of the sneaky little bastards.

The Rats have begun fighting around the tent. I’ve seen three at the same time tonight – while watching them fight or front where the food is – and even managed a photo of one rat just before he bites anothers tail. The squeaking you hear with all their fighting is quite regular, nonstop even: as long as the Rats are close enough to hear, you’ll hear them fighting and squeaking the whole time.

Here, Rattus #1 can be seen just as he's about to bite the tail of the smaller Rattus #2.

Here, Rattus #1 can be seen just as he’s about to bite the tail of the smaller Rattus #2.

I’m performing an experiment that might abolish or at least reduce the need to use violence to keep the Rats from chewing at the tent: oats are not my favorite food, but they’re a grain, which vermin like, and aren’t too heavy. I figure to trial tossing a handful or two outside each night (the Possums won’t eat them; they’re not tasty enough) and last night at least, it worked. I didn’t have a solitary rat gnawing at the tent.

The darker flip-side of this arrangement though,  is that I’m actually feeding the Rats specifically; something I’ve not done so far, and this may ultimately backfire with more Rats, more gnawing and more holes in the tent – once they get accustomed to the food.

Time will tell.

Only one single Possum had come to the tent tonight. Very strange indeed. Maybe Guido still has the shits about me punting him of the tent, and Bobby because I pissed on his head, but I highly doubt it. They usually come on the first night I’m back here though, so it’s odd. I’m sure they’ll show up sooner or later.

(Saturday 7-February-2015)

Day 2

BROESKI’S INNER ‘SAURIAN EMERGES

Broeski has himself a bask on a warm rock outside the tent, having been feed pretty well.

Broeski has himself a bask on a warm rock outside the tent, having been feed pretty well.

Well, Broeski’s been here a while and continues to make his presence known to all present; ‘all’ being Junior and myself.

Junior of course, has been hanging around the last two outings – for cheese – and although he’s proven himself to be quite the piglet; throwing cheese down his throat – slice after slice – until he’s eaten while packets, he’s always been a jumpy reptile and I assessed him as being a young, underling of the local Lace Monitor population long ago: hence his nickname.

I was, of course, correct in the aforementioned assessment and, as if to prove me right, he has submitted to and been chased out of the area by Broeski several times in just the few days the big man has been back.

Broeski rocks-up first now in the mornings, and twice – in the space of just today – I’ve heard Junior sneaking in from the other side of the camp. The moment Broeski realizes, he chases Junior around a few trees then clean out of the area, evicting him in very short order.

But today, the lizard in question – who’s already perfectly comfortable outside the tent; no doubt owing in no small part, to the chicken-necks and other bags of meat I used to bring him way back in Spring – has not only taken to hanging his head inside the tent all day today, he has shown far more interest in my fingers than I would like; The ones that hang idly off the edge of the camera or phone while I’m taking macros of him.

Broeski: Alpha-male Lace Monitor of the area.

Broeski: Alpha-male Lace Monitor of the area.

In fact, every time he’s started climbing inside the tent, I lift the camera to take a photo and, upon seeing my fingers, instantly shifts his attention to them. A moment later I feel a soft patter as his forked tongue hits my fingertip, then he quickly moves a few inches forward; all this time never losing his focus on my pink, juicy fingers. The photos illustrate that his tongue never hits the camera – but my hand – and I only realized yesterday that he’s most likely *not* just tasting the camera, and almost certainly *not* tasting my fingers to be friendly.

The following images are *all* taken from inches away, and in every one of them his tongue is not tasting the camera, but what’s around the outside of it.

.. Always the edge of the camera; where my fingers are.

.. Always the edge of the camera; where my fingers are.

This suspicion was confirmed when, laying here with the tent door open, I first saw his scaly head in the gap, followed by a whole lot of flickyflicky, and finally I watched him press his nose against my knee – then sniff loud and clear – before opening his mouth around it while tilting his head; ready to bite-in. I’ve seen him eat often enough to know how he bites into his food, and he sure as hell wasn’t yawning.

We’re not talking about defensive or aggressive biting here, but slow, sneaky, biting to eat some of me.

The moment after pressing the shutter-button to take this photo, he opened his mouth wide around my knee and I had to give him a scare; to snap him out of it. Pity though: a photo of a Monitor taking a bite from my leg would've been priceless.

The moment after pressing the shutter-button to take this photo, he opened his mouth wide around my knee and I had to give him a scare; to snap him out of it.

The above photo was taken right before he opened his mouth. Of course I hissed as I lunged toward him and he quickly scurried backwards out the tent, but I almost wish I had’ve waited a few moments longer; on the one hand, the photo would’ve been priceless, but on the other; even though the pants would probably have stopped him actually pulling meat from my knee, the bite and subsequent envenomation could’ve made for an uncomfortable ten remaining days down here. On my knee especially; being a rather important body-part for walking.

I have to say though, I’m a little shocked to discover he’d be bold enough to even try sneaking a bite out of something as large as myself – while I’m alive and well – simply because I’m motionless for a few short seconds.

THE NOCTURNALS

Later – way after sunset – at about midnight, the Possums snuck around and Guido is not his usual self. The whole time I observed him he acted very timid. Very defensive, jumpy and quick to launch himself up the nearest tree and into one of his grunting fits.

Bobby didn’t look so nervous, and he was the only one to paw the tent at all. I heard a lot of fighting and grunting, and – as it turns out – they did eat the rolled oats I tossed around for the Rats but I didn’t give them anywhere near the amount I’d usually give them at night, and they didn’t pester me all night long. Come to think of it either did the Rats. They were very well-behaved Rattus both the last two nights, so I’ve slept like I usually do out here; remarkably well.

No photos from tonights nocturnal quality time though.

(Sunday 8-February-2015)

Day 3

AQUISITION OF WATER

*shrug* ..I figured I might as well take a snap while I'm at the creek.

*shrug* ..I figured I might as well take a snap while I’m at the creek.

Well, this morning saw the end of the four litres of water I walked-in with, and with that the unavoidable task of walking for the full ten-litre refill. Unlike other days however, I had an issue that caused me some concern about leaving the camp along with the ten days of food in the tent; an increasingly aggressive, five-foot long, scaly issue.

They're just eating-machines these lizards.

They’re just eating-machines these lizards.

"Yeah it's great rice aye? ...my thoughts exactly Bro. Thank Alice though, not me. "

“Yeah it’s great rice aye? …my thoughts exactly Bro. Thank Alice though, not me. “

The best I figured I could do was give him a bit of fried rice to distract him while I’m gone, but it has to be said that – having witnessed his constant attempting to break into the tent yesterday; while I was still in it – I sure didn’t hang around at the creek for very long before heading back. Just the visions of whole bags of powdered milk, sugar, cheese and buttery fried rice ripped to shreds all over the inside of the tent, yeah that got me back pretty fucking quick.

Upon arriving back I noticed he hadn’t eaten the peas, corn or capsicum; he picked through the rice and ate only the egg and hammy bits, along with whatever rice was inadvertently stuck to the stuff he wanted. Honestly, I would’ve thought the fat content would’ve made him less picky but, nope.

EAT YOUR VEGES BRO!

Much to my relief however, he hadn’t chewed or torn shreds out of the tent so all the food inside remained as I left it. Good lizard.

REPTILIAN FUN & GAMES

So having returned to camp, unpacked the water and made a coffee, I’ve spent the rest of the day catching up on this and stopping periodically to interact with Broeski just to see how reactive and/or aggressively he responds to things he perceives to be food.

Turns out, he’s extremely reactive, and very aggressively runs at almost anything that’s dangled within his line of sight. He’s just tried to take off with one of my boots, in fact. Even just biting it for a second or two before I scared him off, then dropping it, he’s sliced through the leather easily enough to make me glad I fought-back the urge to reach out and pat the nice-looking Lace Monitors who’ve been visiting me all these months now.

If a quick nip can slice boot leather like butter, imagine what teeth like this would do to human flesh.

If a quick nip can slice boot leather like butter, imagine what teeth like this would do to soft human flesh.

All afternoon, everytime I wiggle my fingers he charges them like they’re meaty worms being dangled at him, but now; just dropping cheese outside the tent illicits a response to charge my hand, until he smells the cheese and turns his attention to that; swallowing it in one gulp of course.

The very fact he smelled my skin through my pants yesterday, then opened his mouth to take a bite says it all really. I sure as shit won’t be kneeling out the tent to hang a piss while he’s outside the door.

EVENING

Quiet night tonight. It’s now mm 9:31pm and not one nocturnal has stirred within the tent’s perimeter.

Several hours later and the Possums have indeed begun to stir, though not in the pushy, “we own the place” manner that became typical the entire last outing. This’s now three nights running they’ve been not just well behaved, but sheepish.

I’m not sure what’s up with them, maybe.. yeah I don’t know I’m not a Possum.

No photos from robots nocturnal inhabitants.

(Monday 9-February-2015)

Day 4

WOW THE DAYS GO FAST OUT HERE

Quiet day though, with Broeski hanging around a while, but since I didn’t give him anything to eat today he didn’t harass the tent or me much at all.

The clouds have moved-in this afternoon and is started spitting here and there. I’ve finished reading The Cellar and am now deciding which one to read next. That will most likely be The Stand though – or book one of it at least – since I’ve read Papillon

Oh, I almost forgot completely. For the first time on Saturday night I got a look at one of the macropods that crash around the area every night – starting around sunset; and managed a quick, though blurry, photo of him/her before it bounced-off into the brush.

A Wallaby, though I'm unsure whether it be male or female, the small head and shoulders make me think female is most probable.

A Wallaby, though I’m unsure whether it be male or female, the small head and shoulders make me think female is most probable.

Outing #20 – Days 1-4: Alice, Broeski & Shrooms
Rate in Guidos

Jason
Animal-loving cleaner with a parrot.

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