Solbit Wants to Know “Just How Dangerous Is Australia, Anyway?”

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

The moment I heard Nona say, “Oh, Papa, there goes a helmeted friarbird!,” I thought “Get me out of Australia!”  Hey, I don’t want to be in a country where birds have to wear helmets.  I mean, don’t you think that kind of a country has got to be too dangerous?

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Nona and Papa just take too many risks.  Sometimes they just don’t think.  When I pointed out that this country is so dangerous that friarbirds are wearing helmets, they insulted me by laughing.  They laugh in the face of danger. OK, if that’s what they want to do, but not me.

After we saw that bird in Port Douglas, they took me to the Great Barrier Reef.  We had a wonderful cruise ride to the far eastern side of the reef, a place named Agincourt Reef.  We went snorkeling.  Have you ever done that?  You wear a facemask, put your face down in the water, and breath through a little tube that sticks out above the water.  Suddenly, you see all kinds of sea creatures, wonderful colors, coral, sea plants.  Wow! I thought it was great, for about five minutes, and then this:

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You know how small I am, right? Well, this big boy’s mouth could have swallowed about five of me at once.  Did you ever try to yell under water?  Take my advice.  Don’t try it.  It doesn’t work.  I had to quickly swim under Nona’s armpit and hide from “Big Gulper” or whatever this fish is called. I call it, “Dangerous.”

I have to admit that the cruise back to Port Douglas was good, though. I even had time for a nap, while Papa drank a beer with some big, burly, bearded guy, Frank, and Nona chatted with his wife, Tina.  Nona and Papa had a good time with them.  So, Australia is not all bad.  But let me get back to my point.  Australia is dangerous!  Listen to this.

We get off the boat, walk back to our AirBnB place, and as we’re walking into our courtyard, I have to scream, “Look out! BIG SPIDER in your face!”

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Yeah,  I think it’s called a golden orb spider.  It’s big.  That thing might not eat me for lunch, but I don’t want it gnawing on my neck for some red blood cells.  Wait a minute, “Nona, do I have red blood cells or are dinosaur’s blood cells different?”  She doesn’t know, and Papa is taking a nap.  Let’s presume that my blood cells are red.

By now, Nona and Papa think I’m alarmist, overreacting, and a scaredy cat.  They tell me to calm down, and they will take me out to supper at The Surf Club.  Hey, I’m no scaredy cat and supper at The Surf Club sounds good, so, stupidly, I let my guard down. “Yes, let’s go to supper!” This is what happened.

As we’re walking up to The Surf Club, I see this sign:

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Even the sign says “danger!”  I say, “No way I’m going any farther. Take me home for supper, now!”  Nona and Papa have no choice.  Look at that sign. It confirms everything I’ve been saying. Australia is a dangerous place.  They say, “OK, Solbit, we’ll go home for supper, but we have to stop at the grocery on our way home, if we’re going to make supper.”  Fine by me.

We walk into the grocery.  Nona and Papa take me over to the seafood deli area.  They’re going to look for fish or something.  Nona leans over to see something and I’m looking down from her pocket right into these monsters.

 

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Oh, yeah.  Girl, you should have heard me scream.  I rattled the crushed ice, for sure.  I finally calmed down, after the nice fishmonger lady told me that these local lobsters were actually vegetarian just like us iguanodons.  (You remember that I’m an iguanodon, don’t you?).  So, these lobsters and I are sort of family.  Whew!

Well, maybe Australia isn’t as dangerous as I thought, but, take my advice, think twice about coming here.

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

May 2015

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Asks, “So Who Is Anish Kapoor and Why Are You Talking About Him on Four Mile Beach?”

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

Sunny, warm, fine sandy beaches!  Yeah!  Here’s a picture that Papa took (Nona forgot her camera):

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Isn’t that beautiful?  Nona, Papa, and I went for a long walk on Four Mile Beach here in Port Douglas. [Geography Lesson: that’s in Far North Queensland, a tropical part of Australia’s East Coast.]

After he took this photo, Nona and I started down the tropical beach for our walk and a place to play in the sand.  “Where’s Papa?” Nona asked me.  Papa was just standing back there staring.  Nona yelled back, “Papa, wake up! Let’s go.”  He started walking, but I don’t think he was looking where he was going. He stumbled on something. Had his eye on something else.

We walked a long way.  Maybe 1 1/2 kilometers (that’s about a mile) on this wide sandy beach, when Papa said to Nona, “Doesn’t that remind you of Anish Kapoor in Bilbao ?”  (NOTE TO READER: Click on the link to see what Papa is talking about.) Nona replied, “Yes, the extrusions!”  He pointed at this.

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Now, I’m thinking that Nona and Papa are getting old and their thinking is not too good, because, here we are on a beach, and they’re using words that have nothing at all to do with beaches.  “So, who are Anish Kapoor and Bilbao, and why are you talking about them on Four Mile Beach, please?” I asked.  Just then, Papa pointed in another direction and said, “Hey, here’s another one, just like in Bilbao! Beautiful, huh?”

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“Well, they are pretty, but you haven’t answered my question.  Why are you talking crazy on the beach every time you see one of these squiggly thingies?” I asked. Then Nona said, “Hey, there’s another.” We ran to the next one.  These things were all over this part of the beach.

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“Sorry, Solbit, we’ll tell you now.  Anish Kapoor is an artist.  Bilbao is a city in Spain.  A few years ago, when we were in Bilbao, we went to an art museum there.  It’s called the Guggenheim.  We saw an exhibit of Anish Kapoor’s works that were much bigger versions of these ‘squiggly thingies.’ Do you know what they look like?” Nona asked me.

“Oh, yeah, I know just what they look like, but it wouldn’t be polite of me to say what that is, would it?” I replied.  Papa said, “Solbit, it’s just the three of us out here, so you can say it.  What do these things look like?”  I whispered to them, “I think they look like …”  Nona said, “Solbit, it’s ok. Go ahead and say it.”  So, then I said it. “Poop!”  Nona and Papa laughed and said, “That’s right!”

[Biology Lesson:  Uncle Josh’s friend, a marine biologist, emailed Papa: “The piles are likely the castings from a marine worm like the lugworm. (Aranicola)… after they have stripped the organic matter from the sand.  Basically,…forms of poop.”  So, I don’t have to say “poop.” I can say “castings.”]

Papa said, “You know, Solbit, these ‘squiggly thingies’ — the poop — are beautiful, just as Anish Kapoor’s extrusions are beautiful. Sometimes poop is just poop, but sometimes poop is fine art.”  I said, “Papa, you’re making a joke.  I can tell.”  He just smiled. When he smiles at me like that, I know he’s saying, “Solbit, you are so clever.”  I like that.  You probably get that smile from your dad, too, huh?

The next day Nona said, “I’ve got my camera.  Let’s go back to take photos of that beach art that we saw yesterday.”  So, off we went.  Girl, were we ever disappointed.  The worms had stopped pooping — making art — on the beach.  Here’s all that was left of those pretty “extrusions.”

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Papa said, “Well, some of the best art is ephemeral, right?”  I replied, “Right! Hey, what’s ‘ephemeral’ mean?”  Papa said, “Look it up.”  Then Nona told me, “Solbit, it means temporary or only for a short time, fleeting.”  I said, “Oh, of course, that’s just like poop. Right?”

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

May 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Everyone Has A Favorite Saying, Right?

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

Nona has a favorite saying.  I can tell it’s her favorite because she says it often.  You know her as well or better than I do, so you might already know what the phrase is.

Nona, Papa, and I were driving in a rented car from Cairns (pronounce “cans”) to Kuranda, when Nona used that phrase again.  She said, “Papa, remember, we’re on a budget, so we’ll stop for groceries rather than go out for supper.”  She followed that with, “I have made a list what to buy.”

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You know what, “I have made a list” might be Nona’s favorite phrase.  She uses that one a lot too.  Still, I think the budget one is more a favorite. She really likes numbers, especially when she can “input” them into a spreadsheet!

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Well, after Nona said, “We’re on a budget” and “rather than go out for supper” and “I’ve made a list,” you know, Papa didn’t say anything. It was almost as if he hadn’t heard her.  I’m guessing that “we’re on a budget” is not his favorite phrase.  By the number of times he says it, I imagine that Papa’s favorite phrase is “do they have any apple pie here.”

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Of course, I might be mistaken.  Although, when Papa saw this sign on one of our walks, I could just see the spring go out of his step, cur plop.

IMG_9004nopiesWhat’s my favorite phrase, you ask?  Well, it’s not “Solbit, look over here and smile for the camera.” I can tell you that.  Nona says that one a lot, too.  No, I think my favorite phrase is, “I’m your friend.”  I say that one a lot.

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I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

May 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Asks, “When Is a Bottle Brush Not a Brush?”

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

Big news:  Nona says that today is the 500th day of our two-year around the world trip!  That’s not what’s on my mind though.

Don’t you wish people would name things right?  I get confused by names.  You’d think that names would tell you what something is, but, no, sometimes they trick you into thinking they’re something that they’re really not.  How’s a girl supposed to know what’s what?

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  Papa told me that we were going to see some “bottle brushes,” so I figured that we’d either be in a bar or someone’s kitchen.  OK, or maybe one of those stores that has everything you need for a kitchen. Wrong!  Off to the woods (I mean the bush), again! Here’s me with what he calls a “bottle brush.”

trip to Blue Mountains, National Pass Hike from Wentworth Falls

No, it’s not a bottle brush. It’s a tree, Papa!  Everybody knows that this is a Banksia TREE.  Even I know that, and I’m a plastic Jurassic. Banksia is not the bottle brush tree, although, I have to admit, its flower does look like a bottle brush.  Doesn’t it? So, I can see why Papa called it that, but he’s wrong.

The Australian “bottle brush” isn’t even banksia; it’s Callistemon. (I’ve been googling plants since our last trip to the woods and learning things Papa doesn’t even know.) See how confusing this can get.  Well, let’s not dwell on what Papa doesn’t know about plants.  Let’s switch to what he doesn’t know about birds.  OK?

So, we’re walking further down the trail (I mean down the track), when, he says, “Solbit, keep an eye out for rainbows.”

What?  The sky is clear, we haven’t had rain, and he thinks we’re going to see rainbows—plural?  Hey, we’re not even going to see one rainbow, today.  Then he points to a tree and says, “There, there in that bottle brush! See the rainbow!”  He meant in the banksia tree, and he meant a bird.  See.

Rainbow lorikeets

The bird is beautiful and is a lorikeet, a rainbow lorikeet.  Well, I have to admit that they do have all the colors to make me think of a rainbow.

Then, as we’re looking down on the ground, Papa says, “Hey, look at the sulphur crests!”  I’m thinking chemistry 101 and maybe the chemical has crystalized into crests or pyramids.  Nope.  Again, the old man is talking birds.  This time he should have said, “Look at the cockatoos!”  Here’s a picture of them.

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These cockatoos are big and mostly white.  They are loud and sassy, too.  They are not “sulphur crests;” they are “sulphur crested.”

I like their style, their assertiveness, but a lot of people say they’re a pest.  I can see why, because, when Papa yelled out “Hey, look at the sulphur crests!” they started to squawk and strut toward him.  They weren’t making friendly squawks either.  I imagine they prefer that he call them cockatoos, or at least get the name right, “sulphur crested cockatoo” not “sulphur crests.”  On the other hand, everybody else calls them sulphur crested cockatoos.  Maybe that’s why they’re so unfriendly? Well, you can see how this naming thing can be confusing.

Hey, Nona is calling me over to look at today’s pictures, so I have to go.  Bye! Remember, I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

May 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”