School Daze–Teacher Training

[School’s back today in Australia. With that, a break from my travel missives and a journey back in time to my teaching days…]

The Trials and Tribulations of a Student Teacher

Part 1

[Note: Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.]

To Miss Without Much Love

They struck on Thursday afternoon. This was after the Year 9 English class had lulled me into a sense of security, which was false. Students do that, I learnt. They go easy on a new teacher for a week or two. Seasoned teachers call it “the honeymoon period”; usually the first two weeks of the new school year are the “honeymoon period”. And for the novice teacher, teaching looks like it’s going to be a breeze. How wrong they are. Come Week 3 and the students, having sussed out the chinks in the new teacher’s armour, strike with a vengeance of gale-force winds. So seasoned teachers such as my dad, advised that an educator must be tough, from Day 1, and remain tough for at least Term 1. Students need to learn who’s boss.

Coming from polite society, and not much older than the students who sat before me in their crooked rows of ratty desks, I failed to get my head around what exactly it means to be tough. Besides, up until that fateful Thursday, the students had been so docile.

‘Keep an eye on Luke,’ Mrs S, my supervising teacher had warned.

I clocked the so-called menace. Way back at the far left of the class room, he reclined on his plastic chair and sniggered with the girl, Maria who sat next to him. Her skin was so caked with make-up, she looked as if her face were made of pastry. And yes, in true 1980’s style, Luke sported a mullet-hairstyle and, when not leaning back on his chair at the back of the classroom acting the joker, he strutted about like a prize rooster, surrounded by three or four “chicks”.

Luke’s minions, Mick and Danny, as if rooks in the game of class-sized chess, guarded the right end of the back row. They sat silently presiding over this vantage point, waiting.

That Thursday, we moved to Room 18 for the video of “To Sir With Love”. Ironic, really, that I should be teaching on that particular novel and film. The 1960’s values put forward in that film didn’t work for me in the 1980’s.

Darkness, and the move, permitted Luke to slink out of hiding and band with his partners in “crime’, ready for the “kill”. Luke’s harem also emerged out of obscurity, surrounding him as they watched the video. Or should I say, rather than watching, this band of nasties, wriggled, squirmed and nattered.

As the film progressed, I shifted to stand near the clutch of unrest. The group giggled and shuffled. Chairs scraped.

I glared at Luke.

He curled his lip and leered at me. ‘Wot you lookin’ at miss?’

‘Silence!’ I snapped.

‘I woz doin’ nuthink.’

His chicks tittered.

‘Hey!’ Bill, turned his scrawny body. ‘Stop that!’

‘Stop jabbing me!’ Ben raised a skinny arm. ‘Miss, Danny’s jabbing me!’

Laughing, Luke rocked on his chair and shoved Bill with his foot. Bill catapulted onto the girls in front of him. They screamed and peeled away from the scrawny boy flailing on the floor.  Good boy George leapt out of his seat. Ben turned and slapped Danny. And the girls sitting at the front cried, ‘We can’t hear!’

All the while, as waves of chaos continued to roll, Luke lurked at the back, glancing at me and gloating. Had to be him who started this fiasco, I thought.

I pointed at Luke. ‘Right! Luke! Out!’

‘Oh, but, why? Wot did I do?’

‘You started it. So, out, you go!’

‘Oh, but…’

‘Don’t argue with me! Now, go!’ I pointed at the door. ‘Go to…to the principal’s office!’

Luke shrugged. ‘I dun nuthink wrong.’ And then slunk from Room 18. His minions narrowed their eyes at me. Chief chick, Maria snarled, ‘Not fair!’

[continued next week…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018; updated 2022

Feature Photo: Full of anticipation, hope and mischief; First Day of School—my brother looking bored already, and me with pigeon toes on purpose © M.E. Trudinger 1975


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Out of Time (12.3)

Time In-Between for the Queen

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…In this episode (12.3) While flat-sitting in Melbourne, this most unexpected and frustrating visitor wears out her welcome…]

Part 3

A Time to Rest?

Letitia revisited the radiogram. Still hissing. Twiddled the knob and watched the needle swing from left to right while the hissing, though louder then softer, remained infernal hissing. ‘Maybe it’s not on,’ she said. Her finger searched for the control panel, but was at a loss to find the on-off switch. ‘How did I switch it on? Did I switch it on?’ Her hand waved over the knob-challenged panel in search of a switch or knob. After removing the tapestry cover (German looking), and folk-art decorated box, she lifted the lid of the radiogram. Well, look at that, a record player. She lifted the arm and watched the table spin. ‘At least I can listen to some music. It must be on if the table spins.’ Next, before getting down to the business of cleaning, she resolved to put on some music. ‘Now, where would a Walter Wenke put records?’ she muttered.

Peace reigned for only a few seconds. While Letitia hunted for unscratched records, scratching started in the laundry. She ran there only to discover, Monica adding to the pile in the way she obviously knew best. And it stank! The baked beans had done their magic and the putrid mess was running down the sides of the litter tray as if the mountain had suffered a virtual volcanic eruption.

Letitia scrambled to the kitchen and grabbed some paper bags, and a wad of newspaper, before entering the room of suffocating stenches. She raked the rank rubble onto the newspapers, wrapped it briskly and crammed it into the paper bag. The bag, being paper, and for the purpose of carrying dry groceries, rent the inevitable hole at the bottom and Monica’s muck excreted through the gap oozing all over Letitia’s hands. Letitia dumped the useless bag on the fruit and vege section of the newspaper advertisements and with disgust ran her hands under the tap in the laundry basin. Monica joined in the excitement, trying to butt her head in above Letitia’s hands and take licks at the running water.

Even when Letitia had turned off the tap, Monica continued to catch the drips with her little pink tongue. She left the moggy to her amusement and wrapped the putrid disaster in more wads of The Sun News Pictorial. Then with resignation, and washed hands, and remembering that the backdoor was deadlocked, Letitia walked to the front door, and turned the handle. The door refused to budge. Also deadlocked. ‘Just my luck the keys are on the other side and Monica will decide to start a fire,’ she said.

Letitia was contemplating climbing out of the kitchen window when she trod on something cold and hard. She lifted her foot and found the clutch of keys on the green and white tiled floor. She plucked them up with renewed enthusiasm and began jabbing them, one by one into the deadlock. None obliged to work. She tried them repeatedly with no success. Attempted the lock on the back door. That lock too would not budge. With a sense of doom, she lifted the cat door open and squeezed the ball of putrid paper through and into the porch of darkness.

No sooner had she stood up from this almighty effort, than the mass of white fur vanished through the hole and into the night. She detected a faint rustle and squelch as paws landed briefly on the mess that she had created. Letitia gazed at the swinging door flap. Even after all Monica’s antics, she did not have the heart or fortitude to lock the cat out. So, left the door swinging, open to allow Monica to freely come and go as she pleased.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Oshin © L.M. Kling circa 1995


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T-Team Next Generation–Drive to Woomera


[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the past year, I have taken you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, with the trip coming to a close, the T-K Team continue their return to Adelaide heading for Woomera in the rain.]

Part 1

Cheeky Campers

So, out of toilet parole we escaped Coober Pedy, destination Woomera. I drove.

‘We’re running late,’ Anthony grumbled.

‘Ah, we’ll only arrive after dark,’ I replied. ‘Let’s get a cabin in the caravan park if we can.’

‘And, if we can’t?’

‘I don’t fancy camping in this weather. I guess we’ll sleep in the Ford, if we can’t.’

‘Hmmm. I doubt we’ll be able to get a cabin; we haven’t booked.’

‘We’ll take our chances.’

Drops of rain splattered our windscreen.

[Photo 1: Desert in the rain © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 2: Approaching rain clouds © L.M. Kling 2013]

A large lake loomed to the left of the highway.

‘What lake is that?’ I asked.

Anthony read the sign. ‘Lake Hart.’

We pulled into the rest area come viewpoint to have a break and take some photos. The sun had neared the horizon casting the salty waters of Lake Hart in hues of pink and lemon.

[Photo 3: Lake Hart and some rain in the distance © L.M. Kling 2013]

Some free campers had built fires beside their campervans. One couple had pitched their tent underneath the canopy of the Information Kiosk.

Anthony glanced at the tent and then muttered, ‘Not sure if you’re allowed to do that.’

‘Perhaps a ranger will come along and tell them off.’

‘Nah, probably not.’

‘I guess we’ll never know. We better get a move on to Woomera to try our luck.’ I adjusted my hold of the camera. ‘After I take a few more shots while there’s a break in the clouds.’

[Photos 4&5: Sunset on Lake Hart © L.M. Kling 2013]

By the time we reached Woomera, the town was shrouded in darkness and rain fell steadily. Light still shone from the Caravan Park manager’s cabin. We entered through the unlocked sliding door and rang the bell. The manager appeared with a smile on their face.

No trouble getting a cabin. They explained that normally cabins were filled with workers from the nearby Roxby mine. But this night there were a few vacant cabins. We were fortunate.

Ah! Luxury! After all, we needed some TLC after no sleep the night before. The simple one room cabin with queen-sized bed, kitchen facilities, an en suite bathroom and toilet to the side, and television would do just fine.

I cooked pasta with canned spaghetti sauce, corn and chopped up spam. For dessert, canned pears and custard.

Anthony was in his element as he propped himself up on the bed and watched the football.

[Photo 6: Aussie rules footy © L.M. Kling 1986]

10pm, I woke with a start. Beside me Anthony, head bowed snored while the football commentators bantered. ‘You’re snoring!’ I mumbled. Anthony smacked his lips and sank down into the bedding.

I switched off the TV and snuggled into the warmth of the quilt and Anthony. With the sound of rain pattering on the roof, once more, we fell into a deep and satisfying sleep.

[Continued, last chapter next week…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature photo: Last rays of the sun on Lake Hart © L.M. Kling 2013


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Out of Time (12.2)

Time In-Between for the Queen

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…In this episode (12.2) While flat-sitting in Melbourne, Letitia entertains a most unexpected and frustrating visitor…]

Part 2

Time Out

She arranged herself again to the tune of intermittent mournful mews that wafted from the depths of the laundry. Still, if Letitia had to choose between the meows of discontent and being kneaded to shreds, she would choose meows most days. She was persistent that puss, though. Letitia thought after a certain point, Monica the moggy would curl up in defeat. However, not this cat.

Letitia calmed herself and concentrated on listening to the radio. Was the radio incredibly soft? Or had the whining from the laundry escalated? She could hear the door being scratched. Letitia pulled herself up from the couch, shuffled to the radiogram and placed her ears by the carved-out section of timber with cloth behind it. She assumed that inbuilt part of the radio’s equipment was the speaker, but all she heard was hissing. Then beyond, in the laundry, crashing and smashing.

‘How much fuss can a cat make?’ Letitia said as she ran to the room.

She flung open the door. On the limited span of chipped and cracked tiles, an entire box of laundry powder was dumped. An insolent pool of methylated spirits lurked in the corner. Some other toxic powder, probably borax had landed neatly in the cat litter covering a pile of poo. Monica perched herself on the top shelf, her paw precipitously playing with a plastic bottle of turps.

Letitia shook her fist at the cat. ‘You would, wouldn’t you!’

‘Meow!’ the puss gazed at her, paw hovering behind the turps.

Letitia lunged, catching the toppling turpentine before it too was due to splatter on the unforgiving tiles. She placed the bottle in the sink and from the safety of the passage carpet, groped in the laundry sink cupboard for anything resembling a banister brush and pan. True to the absent Walter Wenke form there was nothing of the cleaning variety. Not in the laundry. Not in the kitchen. Nor the toilet. Not that she looked long enough to see in the loo of disgrace. The stink of months of neglect and lack of sanitation determined Letitia to hold on.

However, in her quest for the elusive cleaning equipment, she found a hoard of cat food. The sink cupboard was loaded with packets of dried food and can upon can of cat’s meat. The bottom cans were rusted, while the stash of the dry food was mouldy and soggy from recent assaults of a leaky sink drain.

Returning for a second look, Letitia stuck a tentative toe in the middle of the small room. Monica had not moved from her station. This menacing moggy crouched, peering down at her, ready to strike. There was a tall narrow cupboard with long slatted doors at the far end of the small square laundry room. The room so cluttered the doors had no space to open. She shoved the mop bucket with mop glued to one side and opened one slatted door. The banister brush tumbled out. Letitia then ferreted through the wads of plastic bags for a dustpan.

She found no dustpan but did find a tin of copper pennies. She collected the mess into one pile and began the search for the dustpan or anything that could pass for one. Along the way, she picked up several scratched records, a plate of dried spaghetti, a vacant can of spam (sharp edges still attached), a shrivelled-up slice of pizza, a homeless telephone receiver, an odd shoe, a mouldy sock, and a bagful of stamps. None of these items, even came close to being useful as a dustpan. Although, she did consider using a scratched LP record, but decided against it. Frank Sinatra? Nah, let him do it his way.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Show-off, Holly © L.M. Kling 2006


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K-Team Tassie Adventures–Tahune Airwalk

[Our Summer, here in Australia has continued to be filled with drama. This whole Covid-thing is like a bad relationship in which we are trapped. Pretty disturbing when game-set-and match of Dokevich verses Australian government is more entertaining news than the actual tennis. Let’s just say, as an Australian, I feel as if I’m stuck in the middle of the dystopian universe of Huxley’s Brave New World. So, where else can one escape, but virtually from all this mass psychosis to memories of Tahune Airwalk, in Southern Tasmania. Ah those were the days…]                                

Tree-Top Highlights

The K-men were up by 7am and already packing for the Tahune Tree-Top walk—a highlight all by itself as far as I was concerned. Usually, as the woman, I’m the one doing all that while the men lounge around looking stressed at the mere fact that they have to get up so early. But not this day. Brother P1 packed the lunches. My husband packed the bags. And Cousin P2 washed the dishes. All while I sat on the 3-seater-lounge and relaxed. Bonus!

[Photo 1: Memories of 2009 visit with K-Team, the Younger (K-T-Y). Airwalk through the trees © L.M. Kling 2009]

Besides, I felt tired and my throat itched. Not a good sign.

The road down south through the Huon Valley made me sleepy. Once past Geeveston, the speed limit slowed to a leisurely 60 kilometres per hour.

[Photo 2: Yes, I’d been to the Huon Valley before in 1981. Apple picking in Judbury. View of the Great Western Wilderness from the Huon River near Judbury © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981]
[Photo 3: Coffee Break on banks of Huon River with K-Team the Even younger and my mum in 1995 © L.M. Kling 1995]

‘I wonder why the speed’s so low,’ P1 remarked.

‘Must’ve had an accident,’ I said.

‘Yeah, they have one accident and they push for the speed to be reduced.’

I yawned. ‘Yep.’

As the way to Tahune became slower and wound around the Temperate Forest terrain, rain spattered on the windscreen and my eyes drooped and I fell asleep. After all, this was my third visit to the Tahune Air Walk.

[Photo 4: A sunny day in 2009—Tributary of the Huon in Tahune Rainforest © L.M. Kling 2009]

My husband’s voice woke me up. ‘We’ve come at a good time. They’re celebrating 100 years of National parks in Tasmania and we get to go into all the national parks for free during the Tasmanian school holidays.’

‘Well, your mum timed the planning of the trip very well,’ I replied as we rolled into the visitors’ carpark. ‘Good timing too, it’s 10.30am and the park opened at 10am.’

[Photo 5: Speaking of mums, visit to Tahune Treetop Walk with my mum in 2013. Also rainy that day. Glad we had our ponchos © L.M. Kling 2013]

Armed with our rain jackets, layers of clothing and boots for hiking, we trooped to the Information Centre and Souvenir Shop to pay for access to the Air Walk. The National Park Pass only covers entry to National parks, not the Tahune Air Walk which costs $28 per adult. The park manager explained that the fee includes the tree-top walkways, a counter-lever (an over-hanging construction) and two swinging bridges.

Now one thing one must know about the K-Team, they have to get their money’s worth. And true to form, that day, we did indeed receive value for our money.

[Photo 6: Value For Money and Money from the Counter-Lever © L.M. Kling 2016]

Right from the start, as we stepped out the centre door, the rain eased. First point of interest, how high the river rose during the floods in July. My husband pointed at the measuring post where the mark indicated the waters rose two metres above the height of the bridge. Then for the next twenty minutes, he repeated, ‘Two metres above the bridge, wow, that’s a flood.’

[Photo 7: Height of the flood © L.M. Kling 2016]

We trekked the paths of Tahune through the temperate rainforest, above the forest, and along the rushing tea-stained waters of the Huon.

[Photo 8: Tea-Stained Waters of the Huon© L.M. Kling 2016]

‘How come the water’s brown?’ P1 asked.

‘The highland button-grass colours the water,’ Hubby explained.

‘So there’s nothing wrong with the toilets back at the visitors’ centre,’ I said.

P1 nodded. ‘I wondered about that.’

P2 laughed.

[Photo 9: Temperate Rainforest from below© L.M. Kling 2016]

We hiked for two hours fascinated by the abundance and variety of plant-life in the forest. We pointed out the Huon pine tree, the river lapping at its roots.

‘The oldest Huon Pine is said to have lived for three thousand years,’ Hubby said. ‘This tree’s only a few hundred years old, so young in comparison. They grow only one millimetre in width a year.’

[Photo 10: Huon Pine By the River © L.M. Kling 2016]

Also in the forest we saw, King Billy Pines, Myrtle, Sassafras and Blackwood trees as well as a range of ferns and native laurel.

We viewed the forest from above on the air walk, a sturdy construction made of metal. We stepped, single-file along the counter-lever to obtain the best view of the meeting of two rivers. A man lingered behind. ‘I’m not going on that thing,’ he said, ‘It’s not safe.’

[Photo 11: Forest from Above © L.M. Kling 2016]

Two children pushed past us and raced to the end of the counter-lever. The metal clanged as they raced back while tussling with each other.

Their mother raised her hands and snapped, ‘Careful!’

[Photo 12: The Counter-lever © L.M. Kling 2016]

P1 peered up at the magnificent Stringy Bark eucalyptus tree towering above us, then he lifted his camera and snapped a shot. ‘I reckon that’s the tree I saw from the other side of the river,’ he said.

On solid earth again, the girth and height of another stringy bark tree dwarfed us. A deck had been constructed around the base of that tree so we could stand in front of it and have our photo taken without damaging the roots.

[Photo 13: How big is that Stringy Bark? © L.M. Kling 2016]

We lunched in a picnic hut near a clearing. My husband made a friend of a Currawong bird. As this black bird studied our food with its bright yellow eyes, he said, ‘It’s like our crow in South Australia, but a different species.’

I filmed Hubby hand-feeding the bird. ‘Look, a new friend for you,’ I remarked.

[Photo 14: More Rainforest © L.M. Kling 2016]

Once we’d packed up, P1 announced, ‘Right, now for the swinging bridges.’

We trekked about 45 minutes to the bridges. Seemed to take forever. A boy and girl in their tweens, jogged past us.

Finally, we reached the bridge and began to cross. On the other side the kids we’d seen jogging sat on a bench the other side licking ice-cream. When we reached the other side, they raced off, jogging again. Where do they get the energy?

[Photo 15: Swing Bridge © L.M. Kling 2016]

Checked the lookout where the Picton and Huon rivers meet. Then crossed the second swinging bridge. Husband rocked the bridge, but it didn’t worry me. Not good for taking photos, though.

[Photo 16: Where the Rivers Meet down below © L.M. Kling 2016]

He then stomped up to me. ‘Look, no hands.’

Well, good for him. ‘I need to hold on.’

As we completed our four-hour walk the rain plummeted to the silty path. The K-Team’s mission had succeeded. The Tahune Air Walk—well worth the cost and the effort. And an added blessing, my threatening head-cold had taken a hike and been lost in the forest of the Tahune.

[Photo 17: Calmer Waters, Huon River © L.M. Kling 2016]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2020; 2022

Feature Photo: View Where the Rivers Meet. Taken from the Tahune Air Walk © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016


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And escape in time and space to the Centre of Australia 1981…

Out of Time (12.1)

Time for the Queen

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…In this episode (12.1) While flat-sitting in Melbourne, Letitia has a most unexpected visitor…]

Part 1

Demanding Her Time

Ten Days Earlier…

Letitia should have realized, should have understood at the first hint of mission brown. She heard an odd, incessant clunking at the back of the unit and went to investigate. The door of peeling cream paint vibrated from its base. A shabby cat door, the metal flap held in place by a pair of hooks. Thumping emanated from this spot. She attacked the doorknob first in an attempt to open the door. Deadlocked, it refused to budge. The thumping escalated with intermittent howls. She groped for the keys. ‘Where are they? I can’t find them! Where did I put them?’

She took a deep breath and stood still. Meditating. ‘Ah! An idea.’

Letitia bent down and unhooked the flap. Howling, a monstrous ball of white fur and claws jettisoned through the hole and sprinted psychotically across the greasy brown carpet. Once the near-feral feline had stopped to manically sharpen its claws on the carpet, she noticed that certain burnt umbers and siennas of its tortoise-shell coat matched the colours of the carpet exactly. ‘I dare say, puss, your markings are much more complimentary, than this brown carpet,’ Letitia said.

After scratching, the cat nonchalantly evaporated around the corner. Letitia followed and found her in the laundry wailing over an empty bowl. She assumed that the puss was female as she vocalised at every given opportunity, much like females tend to do. This queen of the flat planted herself on the chipped tiles and emitted more pleading meows. Letitia crouched down to check her collar. On it was engraved a name. She stroked the puss under her chin and read the name. On the red shiny tag was the name “Monica”. Letitia had to laugh. ‘So, this is what you’ve been reduced to?’ she joked to the cat. ‘Come on, I will go and find some food for you.’

With tail held high, Monica followed her substitute mistress directly behind her left heel as she found the kitchen and hunted for elusive cat food. A few times as Letitia stepped back from another unsuccessful foray into a cat-food-challenged cupboard, she almost trod on a paw or tail. Finally, she wrenched open the corner cupboard by the sink.

Normally, any logical person such as Letitia would have reserved this cupboard for crockery. But not obviously this owner, whoever he was. Man obviously. And of the 1960’s variety. Almost Neanderthal, she thought. There was no rhyme or reason to where items were placed in this particular kitchen. The bench was loaded with stuff, mostly unopened letters addressed to one Walter Wenke.

Back to the corner cupboard. She opened it and there crammed full into the depths of cupboard oblivion, were stacks of cans of all shapes and sizes. This Walter Wenke must have lived on canned food, Letitia mused. But can I find just one tiny can of cat food? No! No, cat food to be found. And I’m not going to empty someone else’s can cupboard for cat food.

She grunted and grabbed the nearest tin of tempting tuna and hunted for the ring. No ring. That’s right, it’s the dark ages, she muttered. Now, I must find the can opener in this almighty man-made mess. The thought of hunting for a can opener did not thrill her at midnight.

With a sigh, she emptied several drawers until she found plan-B of can-opening ventures—a knife. With the knife, and Monica wailing at her feet, she wrenched open the can by jabbing a series of holes on the can’s top, then, carefully, so as to not cut herself, peeled the top enough to empty the fishy contents into a waiting bowl. Monica thought it was Christmas. She licked the bowl clean in seconds and looked up at Letitia, pleading for more.

‘Oh, okay! Now that I know where the cans are kept,’ Letitia yawned and produced another tuna tempter for her. Oops! Not tuna, baked beans. Oh, well. She wasn’t sure how a cat’s metabolism would handle baked beans, but she was too tired to care. Monica polished the bowl with gusto. She then wandered back to lounge room and contentedly licked her paws in front of the radiogram cabinet.

Exhausted, but too wound up to sleep, Letitia switched on the radiogram and settled herself on the divan. She shifted the detachable cushion to rest against the wall and put her feet up to maximise comfort and minimise the pain of her nagging confusion. No sooner had she settled, than Monica leapt upon her lap and began kneading knees and thighs. Her claws dug into her skin leaving gaping holes in the thin cotton material of Letitia’s dress. She gently detached the cat and expected to listen to the calming tones of music by radio.

Letitia had barely arranged herself in a reclining position when Monica was back again, digging her nails in as if she had a grudge to grind. She probably did if she’d been named after her future namesake. Letitia chuckled, How old would the human Monica be? Four? The human Monica had never forgiven Letitia on Mirror World. Permanently struck off her Christmas card list; not that being struck off Monica’s Christmas card list bothered Letitia. However, it had worried Letitia when she had heard vague rumours that Monica had been after her brother Gunter. Letitia with her family on Mirror had done their best to thwart those efforts.

She looked at the cat Monica. ‘You seem to be enjoying torturing me with your claws.’ The puss purred. Letitia lifted her off and placed her on the carpet. Then she placed a nearby cushion on her lap to deter the puss from making her knees a pincushion.

However, like the human version, this moggy Monica did not give up. She pounced on the cushion and began kneading Letitia’s chest and neck. This cat meant business. She was relentless. She was ruthless. She was plain stupid. This cat took no hints. As she began to gouge more holes in her dress, Letitia tore her off and dumped her on the floor. But Monica the cat sprang up on Letitia again. In went her claws, deeper, her purr louder, more menacing.

In exasperation, Letitia climbed off the couch, cat attached to her neck like a politically incorrect fashion accessory, and strode determinedly to the laundry. There she deposited the persistent puss in the over-flowing clothes basket. She spied the litter tray there, so she knew she was safe from nasty parcels of puss-processed tuna and baked bean surprise. Before Monica could unravel herself from the tangle of dirty washing, Letitia slammed the door shut and walked away to the lounge.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Lofty © L.M. Kling circa 1985


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K-T-Y Tassie Adventures–Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula

[ January 2009, and my turn to be the Team Leader of K-Team, the Younger (K-T-Y), who were teenagers; one, of whom was a certain 15-year-old son who would’ve preferred to be playing computer games rather than travelling around Tasmania. This time the K-T-Y team venture to Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula which is on the East Coast of Tasmania.]

We need an Aussie “Brat Camp, I thought as we trudged up the steep path. The best beach in the world, but did Son 2 care?

I turned and yelled, ‘Come on, son!’

My 15-year-old Son 2 shuffled up the slope, his head shrouded in emo black hair bent as he stared at the gravel. A cry sounding like a demented “Chewbacca” echoed through the valley, ‘It’s too hard!’

Son 1 and girlfriend had raced ahead.

‘Hurry up! We’re being left behind,’ I waved my arms about, ‘it’s getting late!’

‘Urgh! There’s flies!’ Son 2 batted the air around his face. ‘I need a rest! I’m tired!’

[Photo 1: Oyster Bay to the West with Maria Island © L.M. Kling 2001]

I stumped back to my son who then leaned against a rail. Oyster Bay glistened blue in the afternoon light and boats with white sails bobbed on the water. I was beginning to appreciate the effort and patience my Dad took to take my brother, cousins and me on safari all those years ago in 1981; our adventures documented in Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.

I waved a hand over the scene. ‘How can you not appreciate that view?’

Son 2 grunted.

‘It’s better on the other side,’ I said remembering our previous foray eight years earlier up and over the rise of the peninsula to Wineglass Bay.

[Photo 2: Memories of Wineglass Bay © L.M. Kling 2001]

Another grunt, then, ‘Okay, let’s go.’

We trod up the path.

I imagined Son 1 and girlfriend way ahead. But there, at the next lookout, Son 1 bent down, hands on knees, his girlfriend patting him on the back.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.

‘I don’t feel so well,’ Son 1 said. ‘I feel dizzy.’

Plan to hike to Wineglass Bay postponed until next morning, we trudged down to the car, and then drove the 20 minutes back to our cabin at Coles Bay Caravan Park. Son 2 grizzled all the way back. ‘Oh, why can’t we? I was just getting into it.’

[Photo 3: Compensation: Sunset on Coles Bay Beach © L.M. Kling 2009]


Bright and early next morning, the K-T-Y team made their second attempt to hike to Wineglass Bay. What a difference a good night’s sleep and early start make? So much easier; the air still cool from the night, and no mosquitos. In 2001, when a much younger K-T-Y team tackled the hike up and over the hummocks to Wineglass Bay, huge mosquitos, hovered around us. The route to the lookout over the bay seemed different, too; not as strenuous. Or was I just more fit?

[Photo 4: The seat of rest © L.M. Kling 2001]
[Photo 5: Umbrella Rock © L.M. Kling 2009]

Son 1 tried to catch tadpoles with his fingers while Son 2 rested on a crazy seat. I enjoyed photographing a cave nearby. After the umbrella rock, a narrow-slatted path lead to the lookout already crammed with other hikers.

Wineglass Bay in all its morning glory wooed us and once I had my turn to snap a few shots of the bay, we trod down the steep and slippery path to the beach. More amazing views through the trees and I unfurled my camera from its case. ‘O-oh,’ I checked the settings, ‘I must’ve had the camera set for the cave still.’ I realised that all the Wineglass Bay photos from up there would be over-exposed. Must take shots on way back.

[Photo 6, 7 & 8: Aspects of Wineglass Bay from Lookout © L.M. Kling 2009]

I remembered the time we enjoyed back in 2001, the boys playing pirates on the rocks, Mr. K and me relaxing on the shore of white sand watching clear cold waves crash to shore.

[Photos 9, 10 & 11: Memories of Wineglass Bay Play © L.M. Kling 2001]

This time, in 2009, we spent about 30 to 45 minutes at the beach, scrambling over the rocks, sitting and eating our nuts and chocolate, and taking oodles of photos. The kids hunted for fish, crabs and starfish. Son 1 chased fish with his camera, while Son 2 avoided the lens and disappeared.

[Photos 12, 13 & 14: Catching sea creatures with camera © W.A. Kling 2009]

12. Fishy
13. Spot the starfish
14. Spot the Crab

I wandered over the black rugged boulders in search of Son 2. There in the distance, he appeared, stepping awkwardly from rock to rock, and then, in slow motion tumbling over.

[Photos 15: If hiking over the steep hill is not your thing, you can take a sailboat cruise to Wineglass Bay © L.M. Kling 2009]

‘Are you alright?’ I called. I had visions of broken arms, legs, and face all smashed up.

Son 2 emerged, again awkwardly stepping from rock to rock. ‘I’m fine,’ he replied.

[Photo 16: Stitched together (not perfect as you can see): A wide-angle view of Wineglass Bay. A several-day hiking trek exists for those who are game © L.M. Kling 2009]

We battled the stiff return climb up the hill and then relaxed as we trotted down the slope. The early afternoon sun shone on Oyster Bay and speed boats tracked across the water. And, once again, Son 2 was glad he’d ventured to Wineglass Bay.

[Photo 17: Up and over, view of Oyster Bay © L.M. Kling 2009]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019; updated 2022

Feature Photo: Best Beach in the World © L.M. Kling 2009


Want more but too expensive to travel down under?

Take a virtual journey with the T-Team Adventures in Australia?

Click here on Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981…

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…

Out of Time (11.5)

Barbeque Battles

Part 5

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…In this episode (11.5) Meanwhile in Adelaide, all does not go according to plan at Maggie’s “Welcome Home” party…]

Party Time

The celebration day of Maggie’s return was one of those brilliant late summer days that Adelaide, in 1967 could be proud of. There was not a breath of wind, the skies were clear and deep blue, and parrots squabbled in the ancient gum tree that towered from the neighbour’s backyard. Maggie sat on a fold-out director’s chair under the pergola, where she savoured a glass of sparkling champagne.

While the Tails cooked sausages and lamb chops on the charcoal barbeque, Liam feasted his eyes on the latest “Wheels” magazine, dreaming of a car that would fly him out of this dreary world where he suspected he did not belong with parents he also suspected weren’t his.

Family friend, Boris Roach, bearing two bowls of salad stepped out onto the patio to lay his offerings on the old wooden table painted mission-brown. He sidled up to Liam. ‘Hello, there boy.’

Liam, eyes fixed on the latest Valiant, muttered, ‘Hi, there, Boris.’

The telephone trilled from within the house. Faintly he could hear Max’s voice. ‘Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?’

Instantly Liam froze. He sensed trouble.

‘Jemima? Oh, Jemima, I remember you from…’ Max said. Then the patter of Max’s sandshoes on the wooden floorboards. ‘Liam! Liam! Come quick! It’s J…’ The pattering slowed, as did the voice. ‘Oh, hi, there Mr. Roach.’

‘Ah, my lad, do I detect more visitors for our welcome home party?’

‘N-no, nobody…Prank call.’

Footsteps shuffled up the hallway and in a low voice that only Liam’s keen ears could hear, ‘Best not come…cockroach…’

Then click. Receiver once more resting in its cradle.

While his Aryan-born charges, Monica (4), and Wally (6) cavorted on the lawn under the sprinkler, Boris leant over the wooden table. Tucked in his collar, a large napkin. With two pincer-like claws he held the lamb chop and gnawed at it. ‘Delicious!’ Boris slurped the juices dribbling on his poor excuse of a chin. ‘A fine piece of meat. On par with some humans, I’ve…You know, Maggie, you can have these two chikadees if you like.’

Maggie blanched. ‘Nah, thanks, them two I’ve got’s enough.’

‘I’d hate to put them in Seaforth, or up there in the Orphanage.’

The phone’s bell shrilled again.

Maggie who was bustling past on her way to collect the tomato sauce, picked up the receiver. ‘Hello?’

‘Hello, I was wondering if I could speak to Maggie Taylor, or is it still Cowper?’

Maggie thinned her lips. ‘This is she. And who is this?’

Click! The receiver buzzed and crackled.

‘Hello? Hello?’ Maggie banged the receiver with her fist. ‘Hello?’ She stared at the receiver and then slammed it on the cradle.

Tails called from the kitchen. ‘Who was that, dear?’

‘Nobody,’ Maggie snapped.

‘Where’s the sauce? I can’t seem to find da sauce!’ Rustling and doors banging. ‘Mags where do you put tha sauce?’

Maggie sighed as she strode into the kitchen and opened the fridge door. ‘Here! Are you blind as well as deaf and dumb, dear?’

The afternoon lulled in pleasant sunshine. The boys entertained their mischievous minds and young guests, propelling plums with their sling shots onto the neighbour’s newly laid concrete driveway.

Max discussed upping the ante and ferreting out his dad’s slug gun to take pot shots at the pigeons perched on top of the stobie poles. But when old Mrs Plunket emerged from her home and growled at them, Max abandoned the idea.

Monica whined, ‘Oh, come on! Don’t let an old lady spoil your fun.’

Wally danced on the spot. ‘Slug gun. Slug gun. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.’

‘Maybe not the slug gun; the plum gun will have to do,’ Liam said and stretched the slingshot with plum and took aim. Mrs Plunket grew as purple as a ripe plum and roared at them over the fence. She threatened to have a word to their parents and have the boys clean up the mess. Then she chased them inside. In Liam’s room, they played trampolines on his bed while unstuffing his feather pillow with a robust battle of the pillow versus Liam’s head.

He fought their blows and screamed, ‘I’m hating you more with each minute! You ferals!’

Meanwhile, Tails, Maggie and Boris, full of food and wine, reclined on deck chairs in the balmy afternoon and drifted all three of them into a post-lunch coma.

Boris, still with napkin tucked under his collar; a napkin decorated with smatterings of tomato sauce, smacked his lips and dreamt of roasted human flesh. His latest quarry, August. In technicolour and smells combined, he fantasised how he would marinate his nemesis and then smoke his matured meat on the barbeque.

‘Sweet revenge,’ Boris mumbled. He still hadn’t recovered from August spoiling his fun during the last World War. ‘How dare August take the girl, Frieda from him.’ He had plans for Frieda. Once. ‘Oh, well, there’s always her children,’ he consoled his hurt pride, and then chuckled, ‘And grandchildren.’

The doorbell rang. A mournful “ding-dong”.

‘Yes, coming,’ Maggie, half-filled champagne glass in hand, shuffled through the house, corridor, lounge room and to the front door. ‘I hope it’s not the neighbours complaining that you boys are shooting pigeons again.’

Maggie opened the front door. She paled. The champagne glass dropped from her hand and smattered on the green-painted concrete porch.

‘What’s going on?’ Liam, who had escaped the battleground of his room, asked. He ignored the smashed glass and watched dispassionately as his mother and a blonde figure scrambled to mop up the glass shards and bubbly.

He turned to his brother. ‘Who’s that?’

‘Our salvation,’ Max whispered. ‘Now will you believe there is a God?’

‘If she sorts out the “ferals” in my room, I’m a convert.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Sky above the gum tree © L.M. Kling 2016


Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling