Zesty Mumma's Words

A life lived without passion is a life half lived

Archive for the category “Thursday Thoughtful”

Stepford Wives to Kim Kardashian -The pressure on Young Women

Long ago in the dark ages, the 1950’s that is, poise and the ability to dress attractively were desired attributes for the cultured young woman. These and the ability to clean a home and cook a roast dinner all the while dressed as a Stepford wife.

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You may think that these standards are long since resigned to the depths of history, but let me ask you what is the difference between the pressures on those 1950’s housewives and the images the likes of Kim Kardasian and her ilk are transmitting into the brains of young women today.

Poise was important then and just so today. Think of the skill involved in presenting the perfect selfie to the world. Surely the poses required in those social media posts are a reflection of the type of “poise” desired for the young in society today.

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Ok so the Stepford “pearls and twinset” look has well and truly gone by the wayside but young women today are faced with an equally unattainable standard splashed over the internet and magazines. Thanks to the same Kardasian clan and lesser media starlets it is not good enough for young wives and mothers to be just cute, they have to be sexy as well. Seductively posed pouting in the bathroom mirror or suggestively filmed with breasts partly exposed, while driving their children to school. This is standard fodder for the all powerful social media platforms. So while the unattainable 1950’s and 60’s standards of perfection is thankfully no longer valid, it has been replaced by an equally unattainable standard – pole dancer style.

You might call me a dreamer but in the words that just dropped out of Amy Farrah Fowler, as I write this blog and watch The Big Bang at the same time, “why can’t we go back to the time when brains were sexy.”

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Boys Need Strong Mothers, Otherwise They Will Never Grow Up to Be Good Men

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I listened with delight to a news report today about an Australian Rules football player being left in Jail for four days because his mum refused to bail him out. If you are a younger person (or maybe someones son)  you may be thinking that was a bit harsh but believe me I am sure the decision by his mum was a long time coming. Most mothers love their sons and come to the tough love decision after more than one infringement by that same child.

It starts very early with your son, they nick the chocolate frogs from the fundraising box your daughter has been asked to sell for her ballet class and they swear that they didn’t do it. You know quite well that it is them but they snuggle up to you and there is nothing you can do.  They learn very early to wrap you around their finger, but eventually you wise up. My son moved to Mackay when he was twenty two. He and a mate went to North Queensland for a change. They spent the first couple of weeks sleeping in the back of a ute, chasing crocs and eating crabs and fish they caught. They were broke and being just after christmas none of the local builders had started back to work so they were stuck. It turned out however,  to be the best thing that could have happened to them. They literally had no money so they weren’t able to touch alcohol or any other stimulant that they may have previously resorted to.

Then a cyclone came and I had to help them out with a roof over their head. For some months after that there were any number of reasons why I should help them out. They were working but there always seemed to be an excuse for why they needed a little bit of help. That is until I did something that put a stop to it, stone cold dead.

My son rang one day saying he was totally out of food and wouldn’t get his pay for a few days. Poor starving child I thought but wasn’t going to be stupid enough this time to give him cash. So I negotiated with a large supermarket in downtown Mackay to allow me to buy a gift card over the phone, which for some reason they found to be a very hard thing to do. Anyway, once this was organised I rang my son and told him what I had done. To say he wasn’t happy would be an understatement to be sure. The coup de gras came when he tried to buy cigarettes with his groceries and discovered that I had imposed a limitation on the items allowable with that gift card. He was incredibly embarrass and because boys being as shame phobic as they are, it goes with out saying that he never asked me to give him money again.

In the case of footballers there doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without some incident with a player from one or more of the codes played in Australia. I am sure this is the same in most western countries, footballers headlining the morning news because of trouble with alcohol, fighting and women (usually all three together).  I think they should sack the managers and employ mothers, we’d fix ’em!

Functional Dysfunctionality – Families Where Would We Be Without Them

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Families are complex and I don’t think there are many people  on the planet would disagree with that. Just navigating the intricate labyrinth of internal relationships can be a mine field and can make your mind bleed at the same time; brother sister, mother daughter, husband wife, father son, then lets add aunts, uncles etc etc to the mix. I believe that most of our families work on the basis of functional disfunctionality.

Which brings me to my mother, Monica, a spritely impish woman in her seventies. She is incredibly active, still playing tennis and riding her pushbike many times a week, looking after grandchildren and great grandchildren on a regular basis and walking everywhere she can. Born during the Second World War she lost her father while he was a soldier in the British army. Her mother, having four children, had to find work and placed three of those children in an orphanage. Like so many of the children of that time loss was just part of her life and just like the English do so well, she just got on with life.

As you would imagine security to my mother is a very important thing. She doesn’t understand the waste she sees constantly in society today. People have far more disposable income than ever before but use it far less wisely. I tell you all this to explain what happened on my first trip to New Zealand and Queenstown in particular.

Even before we left Australia, in the planning stages of our trip, my mother told me that the main thing she wanted to do was visit Milford Sound. It wasn’t a trip I had envisioned for myself but as the tour guide I knew I would have to find out a little bit about about it. The first part of that trip saw us spend ten days in the North Island before taking the ferry to Picton. We stayed in Wellington for a few days, where I picked up some brochures. When I read the price of the trip I knew I would have to be skilful when breaking this news to my mother. After dinner the night before we left I sat down next to Monica, who was happily watching the television, drinking a cup of tea and nibbling on chocolate, perfect I thought, her heaven.

“So mum” I say, carefully as you go, “I’ve been looking up about your trip to Milford Sound”.

“Yes,” I could tell by her tone she was excited; phew I thought this is going to be easy.

“Well from what I can see, you take a bus from Queenstown all the way to Milford then on to a boat ……” I went through the whole scenario with her.

“This trip here” I held up the first brochure. “Is $159 NZ” I heard a squeak come out of her mouth but I ignored it thinking I could finish her off with my secret weapon.

“But look at this one, it’s on special for $144,” who could argue with that I thought. Monica that’s who, I think she nearly had a coronary.

“Oh that’s too much I can’t afford that,” Mind you this is the same woman that wouldn’t hesitate to buy a $200 dress if she really wanted it.

Eventually I had to let it go cause there was just no reasoning with her and the argument was getting heated. Even the fact our exchange rate at that time gave us $1.25 NZ for every $1.00 AU, could not sway her.

On the South Island things calmed down and I didn’t mention the trip to Milford again. A couple of days before we arrived in Queenstown out of the blue my mother says.

“I think I will do the trip to Milford Sound, I was just being silly.” I remained calm; I’d kind of expected this about face. Generally it is just the unexpected that people react to, when their brain has time to process the information they’re usually ok. So I didn’t say too much, not wanting to gloat.

“That’s good mum, I know you’ll enjoy it”.

“We’ll see,” she said ominously.

The day we arrived in Queenstown was a cool day, so once mum was settled with her cup of tea I went to reception to use the Internet. Deciding that I probably needed to book the trip to Milford while I was there I made it for Tuesday, two days away.

When I got back to our accommodation mum had found a couple of young backpackers to talk to so she was in a great mood.

Waiting till we were alone I said in the brightest voice possible, “ I booked our trip to Milford Sound.”

Monica nearly choked on the marmalade toast she was eating, “what did you do that for, I can’t afford that.” She proceeded to huff and puff, working herself into lather. I thought at that moment that my mother might have been suffering from either Alzheimer’s disease or Schizophrenia.

It was my turn to “WHAT” her.

“Excuse me. Didn’t you tell me the other day that you had changed you mind and wanted to go”?

“Oh, you shouldn’t listen to me,” to say I was flabbergasted at that moment was an understatement.

I won’t bore you with anymore details; needless to say it was very tense for a while. I did take the trip to Milford and had an amazing time, while my mother stayed in Queenstown. As I say families are not for the faint hearted, you possibly may need a PHD to understand them.

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle – I’m Not

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Ì love animals, you name it, love them all, especially frogs. Not that frogs are animals but you get the idea. Magpies though, now that’s a different story or at least it was. Being totally traumatised during childhood I always considered magpies one species of wildlife that I would I never say that about. I spent most trips to and from school during magpie breeding season carrying a piece of wood and behaving as if I was walking down a dark alleyway at midnight. The ever present stalker ready to attack the moment I let my guard down. I’m an “excellent ducker and weaver” to this day. It’s just a pity that I didn’t have better athletic ability where this highly developed skill could have been of more use.

We had two magpies living in our yard, just young birds, not a whole year old. They had no fear of our human presence in their lives or that of our domestic animals. Not even the constant staring of our old orange cat perturbed them. Our maggies had their first litter in late winter and the babies were ready to leave the nest in early spring.

Craig found the first baby in the small Banksia tree near the garage. Stunned by the fact it didn’t move when he patted it he couldn’t wait to show the kids when they came home. Being Sheena, queen of the jungle my immediate diagnosis was “Its fallen out of the nest, we’ll have to look after it”.

My husband and his brother both tried to assure me that the parents were looking after it. Of course I didn’t listen and managed to course he poor thing to fly into a tall sapling, safely out of arms my arms reach, there it stayed all afternoon. The beautiful day that had been Sunday had been disappear in a torrential downpour, complete with howling wind, trees nearly doubling over as the southerly hit. I looked out my kitchen window and stared at the helpless baby sitting perched in the tree, with its sparsely covered, needle like foliage offering no protection. The night rolled in the wet and the blackness was almost unbearable. I couldn’t stop worrying about the tiny bird and succumbed to my mothering instincts

Standing under the tree it didn’t take long for the rain to penetrate my clothes but I couldn’t reach the bird. If I tried to climb up to it I’d probably fall into the creek which the tree overhung. There was nothing else to do; I’d have to force it down. The long stick that held up my washing line would do. Being cruel to be kind is a thing we humans do well, and I was no exception. The rain and darkness made the task even harder. There were times when I was sure I’d shish kabobbed the poor thing, but still I pressed on through the driving rain. Finally I managed to push the frightened baby far enough down the tree so I could grab it. Clutching my prize I hurried inside.

It was soaked to the bone. Sitting there with it the snuggled in to my chest I was quietly confident that interfering with nature was the purpose of mankind but after spending the night with the bird in a box next to me I wasn’t so sure. The bright morning sunshine poured through the window and I could hear the parent magpies warbling in the yard and knew what had to do.

Out in the yard I found there was actually not one baby but two. The second sitting patiently on a branch the way my charge had been before my interference. Placing the bird next to its sibling I was quietly confident that I was setting the world to right. Alas, the last time I saw the fledgling that day it was stuck in a thicket of long grass along way from the other baby. Sleep didn’t come easy that night. Having the parents reject it because of me weighed heavily on my conscience. Watching the parents and the other baby for the week, my guilt had to some degree subsided. Suddenly a miraculous turn of events, my son Jack came running in with the news there were two baby magpies in the wattle tree and sure enough there they were.

It seems that magpies separate their babies into different trees until they can fly properly. They probably do this incase some marauding predator like an Eagle, Hawk or interfering human decides to steal a baby, then they wouldn’t get both. Only at night do they bring them together into the same tree.

Apparently Magpie parents know what’s best for their babies, who would have thought!

Crocs Rule – Even When You Don’t Know They”re There

The truck rattled and jumped over the patchwork of crusty potholes on the narrow dirt track. Only three months before the vast grassland that stretched out before us was covered by a huge inland sea. Even though it was August and Southern Australia shivered in the clutch of winters icy grip, the sun in the Northern sky was as potent as a furness.
Cattle grazed peacefully on the abundant vegetation, you could easily be excused for thinking you were in the African Savannah. Water Buffalo, native to Asia and complete with giant black horns, viewed the intruders with suspicion.
My father was in his element, he had been given the job of recording all mechanical equipment and parts at an iron ore mine in the Northern Territory. The mine was being liquidated so his job was virtually autonomous, no one telling him what to do. A Londoner by birth he had taken to life in the tropics like a pig to mud. His pale white Anglo skin had miraculously turned the colour of tanned leather with in weeks of his landing in Australia and it was now impossible to tell by looking at him that he hadn’t always been here.
We were heading to the Mary River to fish for the famous Barramundi, a legendary fish in size and flavour. I had never seen landscape or vegetation like it before. I spent many years telling anyone who would listen about this park like paradise that I had seen. Apparently in later times other people felt the same as me and it is now the Mary River National Park.
We spent a great day fishing and exploring the river bank. Dad and his mate caught some unbelievable fish so it was well worth the trip.
Latter in the day my friend and I wandered further along the bank following the paths that I now know had been made by the cattle. We reached a place where the bank dropped to a low muddy tributary. The trees changed, instead of being tall and majestic they became low and tangled. Taking a moment to decide if we were going further the decision was taken out of our hands, a sound I had never heard before froze me to the bone. A blood curdling, deep, rumbling, growl began.
It may seem strange now that I didn’t know what it was or that we didn’t even think that there were salt water crocodiles in the river but the fact is they had been hunted to almost extinction by the mid 70’s. Steve Irwin was a kid like me and his famous cry “Crocs Rule” was an ungerminated seed in his brain.

Even though I hadn’t realised before that there may be crocs in the river, it only took me a moment to realise what that sound was and we ran back to our fathers as if our lives depended on it, which they probably did. The funny things was  I had actually asked earlier in the day if I could go for a swim and been told yes. I’m sure my father wasn’t trying to get rid of me.

These days crocs are known to inhabit most of the Northern Territory waterways but back then most people barely gave them a thoughts, how times change.

Expect the Unexpected and You May Be Pleasantly Surprised

 

 

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Have you ever had an unexpected year, a year when nothing proceeds the way you would have thought it would, let alone planned. The year I left my husband and found myself living in a two bedroom flat looking after two grade 12 students, only one of whom was my child, was my surprising year. I spent most of the time fighting tooth and nail to make two  teenagers pass grade 12 , when neither of them really cared that much. Dragging my child out of the surf and the other one out of her bed cause she “just had to sleep a bit longer,” was my usual scenario. I felt like a sergeant major directing traffic, one to Maroochydore High and the other to Mountain Creek. That definitely wasn’t what I expected when the clock struck twelve on 31st December the previous year.

The day after I moved into the flat in Alexandra Headland I walked to the top of Pacific terrace. The view was amazing, the sunlight sparkled on the water and there was barely a breath of wind.  I sat down to contemplate exactly what I was going to do.

I was 40 something and single, after trying desperately to revive something that I should have left dead and buried, retrenched from my job and at that stage neither of my children were living with me. The situation could have seemed quite bleak, I had left all my furniture with my ex,  lent money to someone maxing out my credit card at the same time and I was broke. Sitting on top of that hill, taking in the view on that spectacular autumn morning, I thought to myself, I can either become bitter and twisted or make this an adventure. I’ll tell you later what I chose.

I got  a job at a local seafood shop, not really very glamorous, but if you have ever tried to find a job when you are over forty you will understand. There was method in my madness though, I had partly applied for this particular job because I knew how physically demanding it could be. At the end of grade 12  I had worked the summer holidays in a fish shop so I knew what I was getting myself in for. I had lost my peace in the last ten years of my marriage and I really needed to rest my mind. After years of office work I thought it was a good way to begin my reinvention.

So there I was shovelling boxes of fish, prawns and ice, in and out of cabinets, I didn’t have the time to sink into the bitter and twisted mind set that I was trying to avoid. I did learn to appreciate the little things. To this day nothing gives me more pleasure than to sit down on a hot summer night with a dozen natural oysters, sprinkled with salt, pepper and lemon juice, on a bed of ice, a can of dark and stormy in my hand, watching the Gilmore girls. Oh the unequalled bliss of it all.

So I rode my pushbike to work every morning, up and over the Alex bluff, sunlight dancing on the water, my mind sorting through all the sludge of the past twenty years, defragging as I went. Early on New Years Eve morning, as the year drew to a close, I was making my way through Mooloolaba.  Riding in the middle of the road as I approached a narrow section near the “Loo with a View,” a racing bike attempted to flash past me. The problem was I had a string bag hanging off my handlebars and his handlebars became tangled in it. As anyone would I came to a complete stop planting my feet firmly on the ground as I felt my bike being pulled by the other bike. Unfortunately for that rider it caused his bike to also come to a full stop, he and his bike then hurtled to the bitumen. I saw the whole thing happen in slow motion, unable to do anything to stop it. I watched his thankfully helmeted head smash into the curb and he lay there with his expensive bike resting on top of him.

I felt so bad ….. really, really bad …. until he started to scream at me.
“You bloody idiot, you moved to the side, you bloody idiot” over and over again. I tried to apologise in a soft consoling voice, but he went on and on. Now I’ve been screamed at by the best of them and the more he screamed, the more defensive I became. In the end enough was enough and I stood over him, hands on hips, waggling my finger and stamping my foot like I was scolding a naughty child. “You listen here” I said in my best school marm voice, “It was an accident and you’re very rude and don’t you ever call anyone a BLOODY IDIOT again”

And that’s when I saw it, I wish I hadn’t, I couldn’t believe it. The bloke lying on the ground, hurling abuse at me, was missing a foot. It was like a scene from a bad Monty Python movie, It was awful, Excruciatingly unexpected.

I do want to assure you that he didn’t lose it when he fell of the bike, I just hadn’t noticed it before.

The missing foot made me feel even more incredibly bad than I already did. I probably should have stayed; however, his behaviour, which I am sure was just shock on his part, had made me so angry that I got on my bike and rode off into the sunrise. I then spent the whole of the day in fear that I’d get a visit from the police to cart me off; cause there emblazoned on my tea shirt was the name of my employer, a well known seafood supplier.

Since then many unexpected things have happened, amazing jobs. I worked for a now defunct Childcare Company as an event coordinator. They flew me all over the countryside. I had one trip to Tasmania to open a couple of centres where I only worked for 8 hours the entire five nights I was away and they paid for it, car, fuel, accommodation, meals, amazing. I do sometimes feel that I may have contributed to the financial demise they eventually experienced.

I’ve even been known to wear a purple bear suit when there was a need, now that is another story. I have travelled to many other destinations, that I actually paid for. I have a peace I didn’t have in my marriage and I am unbelievably happy.

So I guess you know which choice I made! Honestly sometimes it is just that simply, you have to choose. Who would have thought, very unexpected!

Not a Place for the Faint Hearted – The Boxing Day Sales.

The fallen lay defeated on the battlefield. Meer shells of humanity, unable to speak about the horrors they had faced. The retreat had begun early in the campaign and by 4.00pm the exodus had escalated to a stampede.  Only those with true stamina survived the melee.  This was a battle not  for the physically strong  but the mentally strong.

Yes I braved the boxing day sales, stepping over broken husbands strewn across the path as I entered the Plaza.  Why, why why do they allow themselves to be subjected to the torture. They’re not built like us, they don’t have the shopping gene. The noise, the lights, the million and one items to find and purchase, oh the pure confusion of it all.  Like little animals in the glare of a thousand headlights, their eyes dart back and forth in alarm, hearts racing, exhibiting the jerky, erratic movements only fear can cause. Can’t their carers see the pain they are in?

Lets face it the ability to shop is a very underrated skill, one that truly warrants deep analysis. If you think about what it takes to be successful at the Boxing Day sale you may be surprised at how significant this is for success in other areas of your life.

Firstly you definitely need stamina as I have previously mentioned. Also needed is ingenuity, there are any number of people out their tying to find that ultimate bargain just like you, so you have to get there first.  Concentration, now that is of the utmost importance, no distraction can be allowed. No screaming children or disgruntled husbands can sidetrack you from your mission.

Maybe this is where the education system has been failing society. Lets do away with geography (we’ve got Google earth now anyway) and social studies (Social media has done away with the need to meet face to face these days) and replace them with shopping studies.

Highly developed Shopping Genes may hold all the ingredients for all the worldly success anyone could want, stamina, ingenuity and concentration, what more could you need!

 

 

 

 

 

What Do Women Want Today?

What do women want today, I am a woman and they totally confuse me sometimes so I have no idea how men cope?  Yesterday I heard about a marriage that had just ended. It is often a sad occurrence when this happens but particularly so in this case. To start with the couple had only been married for a year.  They must have at least thought there was a possibility that they could make a go of it when they decided to marry. You would hope it wasn’t a whim, right?

 

Now here is the main reason this case is so poignant, the groom had secretly planned and executed a second wedding to celebrate the anniversary of the first one.  The reason was simple, the couple married in a registry office and he wanted to give his bride the wedding he thought she deserved.

 

Really? I think he may be rethinking that opinion.

 

The bride thought she was being taken away for a beach weekend to celebrate her birthday. That fact alone makes me think there may be a bit of narcissism happening with this young lady. Meanwhile her husband had planned and booked a renewal of vows with an amazing ceremony at a spectacular winery, followed by a full reception for seventy guests. He had also invited and paid for a large number of the bride’s family to be flown in from outside Australia to attend.

By all accounts Saturday 17th May was a beautiful day for all who attended.

 

Obviously all except the bride cause barely a month later she is outta there.

 

Now I don’t presume to imagine that I can ever know what goes on in private but lets pull this a part.  Here is a couple who had only been married for a year and

a husband that tries to make his wife feel special when he can. On paper you would have to think they had a good chance to make it work if they both put in a little effort.

 

No One Told Me it Was Going to Be Like This

We all have them and a lot of us are them. What am I talking about, I’m talking about Parents. For most of us this role is the most important you will ever undertake. The most rewarding, the most precious but also the most challenging.

When your children are babies there is no denying it is hard. Oh the pain of it all. The sleepless nights, the crying and in my day the nappy washing. But those moments when they laugh for the first time or they snuggle in contentedly, they are gold and you never, never want to loose them.

As they grow the joys come in different ways. The first time they ride a bike, the many hugs and proclaimations of love you receive are precious beyond words. There are challenges no doubt but you do your best. You try one course and then you rethink that and you try another way. Yes you make mistakes but no matter what you do, ultimately you do out of love. Some of us definitely make better choices that others but most parents make decision based on what they feel is best for their child.

I am not going to mince words here, teenage years are hell. I can’t speak for eastern societies, but in the west we have so many influences good and bad that are bombarding these developing young people that you honestly feel like you are in a war. I am really happy for the parents who say they had no problems with their adolescents, but for most of us just opening your mouth to breath was considered provocative.

By the time your children reach their twenties you think you can breath a sigh of relief. Phew you think “I made it”. They are doing their own thing, leading productive lives and making their own choices. Then every now and then, just when you least expect it, boom, suddenly they are sixteen years old again and berating you, saying, “nothing I ever do is right with you is it mum you have to make me feel bad don’t you?” Where did that come from, like a whack on the skull you didn’t see coming.

And all you did is ask them if they took medicine for that cough.

Aarrgh is all I want to say.

Magpie Season

I am still on about birds. I really love them, waking up in the morning, hearing the tinkling tones of their morning song is just so pleasurable. The chirp chirp chirp as they go about their business is just a lovely  way to start the day.

In Australia we are just so lucky to have the amount we do,  even in suburbia, there is a great variety.

Which leads nicely into what I was planning to say, some birds just aren’t that nice.  We’re talking Bush Turkey’s (anyone who lies in a Bush Turkey plague area knows exactly what I mean), we’re talking Top Knot Pigeons. Not that they aren’t nice, it’s just that they are so stupid, just ask Genevive the cat. I’ve got two words for you, “sitting ducks”, and we’re talking Magpies

Walking this morning in another part of town, I see a Magpie warning sign hammered into the ground ( Where were the signs when I was nine I ask). Magpie breeding season,  a time of terror, a time to be scared, a time when it would be really good to own a heavy duty sling shot but you know deep down you would never be able to hit the thing anyway.

Don’t get me wrong most of the time I just love to see Magpies hopping around, warbling on a fence or washing themselves in a puddle. However, another few metres and I see a convoy of kids on bikes weaving their way along the path on the other side of the road. Suddenly the whole bunch erupts into a series of high pitched squeals and I see a Kamikaze Magpie dive bombing them from on high, aiming for any exposed skin it could find.  The memories came flooding back, the stupid running with your hands waving above your head. The sharp stab of its beak as broke the skin on the top of your scalp  The cuts and bruises when you fall of your bike because the bird was chasing you and it tries to scalp you as you lie on the ground crying (yes I have trauma, I may need therapy).

What is the answer, who knows, but every year another batch of kids are subjected to a childhood right of passage that is Magpie mating season.

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