Sunday, December 4, 2011

Going Quackers

It was THE Saturday night that Dragon had been waiting for. The big kindy night where they do their end of year production. It was to be combined with my church's Carols by Candlelight under the rain trees and mango trees in the playground. Up to 300 people attend most years. Dragon had a speaking part too. He was to be the inn-keeper. You know the one  - the good inn-keeper who didn't kick the young pregnant mum out on a winter's night, but let them stay in his warm stable.

Mummy McTavish thought it would be a good idea if Grannysaurus went along to help with the boys since Wolf McTavish had to go to work. So it was all planned until...   I received an email from my church letting us know that the evening had to be cancelled due to the possibility of rain. Mummy McTavish wasn't entirely convinced because she had not received notification from the kindy, so we decided to go ahead as planned and resort to plan B if we had to.

We arrived at kindy/church to find the kindy teachers sending everyone home because it really was cancelled. Big disappointment for the boys, but when we told them about Plan B they quickly recovered.  Plan B was to go back to the Dragonlady Grotto, pick up some stale bread and head down to the river to feed the ducks, turtles and fish.

It promised some great photo opportunities with the boys in their Christmas shirts. Wrong(ish)!
Three excited boys standing still for more than 0.5 seconds - impossible!
Three little blow flies all looking at the camera at the same time - impossible!
Three little comedians all smiling angelically at the same time - impossible!

I took a few photos, but not the carefully composed family groups that I had in mind, so I decided to put them in a slide show for you.

The most exciting part of the afternoon for the boys?  What could be more exciting than a shopping trolley dumped in the river by vandals?  To think - some poor kids only get to go to Sea World and Dream World. They don't know what they are missing out on.

Oh, and the rain? Check out the sky in the photos, but it did rain eventually - late that night and the next morning.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stealing his thunder

It was Mr Sunshine's birthday recently, so we all met up at Romeo and Juliet's place to have tea together and celebrate. After a delightful dinner (where, as usual, I forgot to put some of the food out and found the potato salad and coleslaw still untouched in their containers as we were packing up) it was time for THE CAKE - a rich choc mousse concoction from Cakes on Carthew. The grandkids all gathered around to sing Happy Birthday to Grandad and for a happy family photo.  Just as the song ended and Mr Sunshine got ready to blow out his candle, Lion gave in to a tempting impulse and beat him to it.

I love the look on Mr Sunshine's face. How did I capture the split second instant as the flame flickered before it snuffed out? I'm glad you asked because the timing is entirely due to my great knowledge and skill as a photographer really, really good luck.
Poor Mr Sunshine - all puffed up and nowhere to blow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moving up

I have been a slack blogger. I admit it - guilty as charged. I could say I have some good excuses, but they are still excuses and it isn't as though I couldn't have written something. But "something" isn't necessarily worth reading.  There are a lot of things I can't write about now.
I can't write much about our natural environment because we are no longer living at the beach.  We have moved back into town as caretakers for a charity organisation. It is probably best that I say little about that in case I breach some security or privacy protocols of which I am ignorant.
So I can't write about where I live.
I can't write much about the grandchildren since I have so few new photos of them to post because I wasn't snapping any. I had an eye problem that dragged on for months that made photography difficult. That is now 95% fixed.
Then there was the coughing virus and the tendinitis in my right hand (my camera weighs over a kilogram - ouch) and the packing up and moving and a week in Brisbane for a family funeral.
In other words, life just got in the way for a while.

Now I'm back in form and doing things to make the creative juices flow. A day with Juliet and Ladybug helped. My grandkids are all sooooo photogenic. [Totally unbiased grandparent opinion.]

As we were passing the helipad at the hospital we saw the emergency helicopter had landed. We decided to wait and watch it take off. We were not disappointed. One of the crew waved to Ladybug and blew her lots of kisses. He was a sweetie! He kept waving as the helicopter lifted off. He was high in the air and still waving when he finally had to close the door.

One last photo because it intrigues me that the blades of the helicopter appear so distorted. I'm not sure if it is just the phone camera lens causing it or if it is a genuine distortion of the blades caused by the uplift, downdraft or whatever.

Only the blades are distorted so I don't think it is a lens distortion. If there are any aerodynamics engineers out there, feel free to leave an explanation in my comments.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More of nature

Something you don't see every day.
Blue winged kookaburras are common here at the beach, but I think our blue winged kooka's have the most spectacular colours of any I have ever seen. This fellow was snapped with the camera flash (I know the experts detest direct flash, but I don't carry around a ton of camera gear - mainly because I don't own a ton of camera gear).
It was late in the afternoon and the natural light wasn't picking up the iridescence of his blue feathers, so it had to be a flash. I'm not sorry. It has turned out to be my favourite kookaburra photo.


Another new favourite photo.
I photographed this water lily as the late afternoon sun was fading fast. The pond was already in shadow, but the petals were catching the last few rays. No flash for this one, just soft natural light and lucky timing.

Soon the McTavish clan are going to see some dinosaurs. Lets hope for some great photos on their blog when they get back. It's been a busy time for all of us lately, but blogging should return to normal soon. Normal is a very relative term, isn't it?
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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Museum Trip

Mummy McTavish needed time off from children to shop, drink coffee, meet her friend E, prepare the boys bedroom for their new bunk beds. So I took them and Nanny (great-grandmother to the boys) to the museum.  It has some fantastic, hands-on gizmos for little boys to play interact with, especially in the science section. It's all science really, but you know what I mean. Dragon is making music with some bottles in the first picture.

The model of The Pandora takes up most of the first floor and the highlight of the day was the firing of the replica canon. The presenter asked Dragon which boat they should aim at (the museum is situated on the creek bank overlooking a marina and the canon faces the huge windows). Dragon pointed out a red boat on the opposite bank and was so focused on seeing it blow up that he missed out on all of the activity of preparing the canon and "lighting" the fuse. He didn't miss the bang, but I suspect that he was a bit disappointed when the red boat didn't sink.

While they were there they apparently were put in chains for some misdemeanor and thrown into Pandora's Box. Fortunately I had them released from custody, but not before I took their photos. Monkey looks like a violent and ruthless mutineer if ever I saw one. Don't you agree?

Dragon is such a hardened criminal that he can still smile while being chained up in the dingey, smelly ship's hold. He seems to have grown an extra pair of hands too. Strange things happen at sea. . . .

No wonder they turned into criminals when even their great-grandmother couldn't go straight and ended up in Pandora's Box also.
We had a great time and the boys were very good, but I didn't take many photos because I had my hands pretty full with grandma duties.
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beach Refugee

No, not us this time.
Meet Myrtle.
I discovered Myrtle lying on the beach when I went for a walk yesterday afternoon.  She (or he, I know nothing about turtle gender) did not look very well.  At first I thought she was already dead, but when I gently lifted one of her flippers she tried to turn around and do a runner paddler.  Poor Myrtle was in a very bad way.  What to do? What to do?
Usually I would have my mobile with me, but I'd left it at home. I stood and watched her for a few minutes and it was obvious she didn't have the energy to get herself back to sea.  I knew that sick and dead sea turtles had been found on Townsville beaches recently.  Cyclone Yasi gets the blame again and rightly so.  The rough seas whipped up by the cyclone had destroyed most of the sea grass that the turtles feed on and now, six months later, turtles were starving and dying.  Poor Myrtle.  There was only one thing for it.  Pick her up and take her home and phone for help from there.
Myrtle might be starving and underweight, but she was still heavy.  Fortunately I was only a couple of hundred yards from home where I put Myrtle in the bath tub.  She took up most of the bath tub. After several phone calls I spoke to someone who told me that she was a green turtle and to cover her with an old bag or hessian and keep her wet with warm water.  Not having any hessian she got my good recently worn out Actil sheets. I think she looks like a well dressed turtle.  He also told me that the algae on her carapace was not a good sign.  The barnacles were more normal, but still not great to have on her head and flippers.

Myrtle spent the night in the tub and in the morning it did look as though she was an ex-turtle.  She wasn't moving at all.  When someone rang from the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) Mr Sunshine told them that we thought she had died.  Just before I left for an appointment, I lifted her little flipper to have one last look at her and just to be sure she wasn't playing possum.  She moved her head - ever so slightly, but she was alive.  While I was out the EPA man came to pick up Myrtle's mortal remains and Mr Sunshine produced a live turtle.  They took Myrtle out into the sun, poured some more warm water over her and let the sun warm her up.  She perked up a bit.  It was a good sign.

The news is that Townsville's Reef HQ already has so many convalescing green turtles that Myrtle will probably be sent up to Cairns.  Apparently we are reasonably good turtle carers, but we could have kept her on some foam (maybe one of my pillows??) to take a weight off her lower carapace and we could have warmed her up more.  You live and learn.
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The best news is that with expert care, she will probably fully recover.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Promise of good things to come

The mango trees are covered in blossom and already have hundreds of tiny fruit.  Many of the fruitlets (is that a word?) will fall off or be blown off by the wind.  Last year all of the fruit fell before it matured.  It was the worst year ever for mango growers. So far this season looks very promising.
My favourite way of eating mango is after they have been dehydrated. I have a food dryer and I'm planning to have it go into mass production this summer :-) I may share the produce with friends and family. That is after I put aside several truckloads for myself.  I told you I really do like dried mango.
Speaking of the promise of good things to come, I took this photo of a path down to the sea yesterday.  I love the "light at the end of the tunnel" atmosphere. I was hoping to get a nice sunset photo. Mostly cloudless skies are not producing the best sunsets, but I'm glad I snapped this one.
Even though the sunsets may not be as spectacular as I hope for, I've included the last photo so that you know they are not rubbish either.
Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is a good omen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gorgeous Birds

These days I don't see as much of the grandkids as I used to, so I take an interest in the other families around the beach. 

The photo collage gives you little glimpse of some of our neighbours.  There are many, many more who prefer to be heard and not seen.  In fact the air is usually so full of birdsong that I rarely put my music on.  Back in town I often had music playing as an alternative to listening to air and road traffic noises.
You already know my favourites are the Brahminy Kite family. Their baby is now flying, but I haven't seen him in action yet.  The Nankeen Night Heron regularly roosts in the top canopy of our biggest mango tree.  He would prefer to be closer to the sea, but was probably forced to improvise following Cyclone Yasi and the lack of foliage left on most trees.  Blue Winged Kookaburras regularly wake us up with their strange half laugh.  They are also called Barking Kookaburras, but whoever came up with that name must have had a strange dog.
Spangled Drongos are an enigma.  Someone said they are called Drongos after silly people, because they fly south in the winter (i.e. for northern hemisphere readers - our south is the coldest part of the country) making them appear silly.  Some other 'expert' claimed that silly people are labelled Drongos after the birds. Which came first? I don't know.
Like I said, it's just a glimpse.
It really is a bird watcher's paradise as long as you want to watch the feathered variety.  The only non-feathered variety is a migratory species usually referred to as the Grey Nomad.  They are very common at this time of year, sometimes forming huge flocks that create problems for traffic and National Parks rangers.
They don't tolerate the heat of summer and when the weather warms up they all return to their nests.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Not me.
This beautiful fellow.
Can you see him at the bottom of the fence? He was about 1.5 meters long.
Many people think every snake is a bad snake.  I like to give them the benefit of the doubt when it is safe to do so.  I believe this is a harmless green tree snake. I tried to get closer to be sure, but he disappeared in the blink of an eye.  I didn't even see which way he went.
Some people call them yellow-bellied black snakes and think they are poisonous like red-bellied black snakes, but there is no such creature in Australia as a yellow-bellied black snake - just the poor misunderstood tree snake.
I was fortunate enough to be looking out of the kitchen window when I spotted him.
He made my day.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Recovery Mode

Cyclone Yasi was over five months ago, but the memory lingers on at the beach. Hundreds of trees like this one on the foreshore have roots exposed by the erosion that has left a small embankment separating the foreshore and the sand.  They are the lucky ones.
Many didn't make it.  Some survived the initial onslaught only to be weakened and unable to survive the dry season. 

To be perfectly honest, I'm feeling a bit the same.  The storm that was the GFC cost us our life savings, our home, our business and a chunk of our superannuation.  It also cost us hundreds of hours of lost sleep.  Like cyclone Yasi, it isn't really over yet.  We are still in recovery mode.

Our future is very uncertain.   Suitable employment seems to be eluding us.  We live in a borrowed house.  Our grandchildren are a fifty minute drive away instead of a five minute drive away. And we are not young anymore.  There is a strong possibility that we may have to move much further away from family for Mr Sunshine to find a job.  Being "not young anymore" makes the likelihood of a career change unlikely.  I don't know which one of these things is the hardest to deal with.  All of them are depressing and we have good days and bad days. Today is not a good day.

Mostly I am very optimistic and upbeat, but not today.  This may be because we have been discussing other options - like taking up university study again for either of us.  Even that would not guarantee a job, but it might get me a student allowance for a few years (Austudy) - not exactly a lucrative option.  Mr Sunshine thinks I should study just for the fun of it.  I would enjoy it, but it would also encroach on my grandparenting time and that would hurt.  Even though I would chose study aimed at a writing career (can I say that when retirement age is only about 4 years away 9 years away, b*****y government's eligibility changes), it would actually also encroach on the time available to do the writing I want to do.

Anyone got any ideas?
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson

"The Eagle" was one of my favourite and easiest to memorise poems from high school.  Our eagles may not be clasping any crags, just gum tree branches, and the mountain walls are 20 kilometers away, but the rest is pretty true.  They do seem to have a lonely existence.  Even the chick sits alone in his eerie most of the day while one of his parents looks on from a distance and the other is out hunting.  I have not yet seen any two of them get within meters of each other.  Although at night I can only see one adult and I suspect that the other is in the nearby eerie keeping her chick warm.
The bottom two pictures are to give you some idea of how my poor camera is struggling to bring them up close.  I have a 200mm telephoto lens that is doing a mighty job and a wobbly tripod that is doing its best, but these lovely birds like to be really high. So if the photos are not pin sharp, I hope you will bear with me.
If I can get a photo of one of them falling like a thunderbolt I will share it with you, but, like a thunderbolt, it happens very fast and furious.  The bird is away with a fish almost before I have the camera at eye level.

The Eagle

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–1892 Alfred, Lord Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tiny Time Team

If you haven't seen Time Team on the television you are missing out on archeology at its most entertaining.  The McTavish boys have been keen archaeologists thanks to Tony Robinson and crew.  A few weeks ago when they visited us, Lion did some digging in the garden and under the trees and eventually became frustrated and threw in the trowel because he couldn't find any archeology. 
A devoted Grannysaurus could not leave it at that.  If the boys wanted to find archeology, then archeology had to be found.  So mysteriously archeology started to find its way under the big mango tree.  Very sensible of previous civilizations to leave their relics in the shade. Old tools, hose fittings, coins, bones and odds and ends were lying just below the surface waiting to be discovered apparently.  So when the boys returned for another sleepover, we decided to put in two trenches.  What do you know - they found plenty of archeology.  The most exciting finds were the "dating evidence" (the coins).
As usual Dragon was the King of Silly Faces. Unfortunately Cheetah didn't star in any of the photos of the day because he was the official photographer.  I love his photo of Lion in the middle top of the collage. 
Morning tea was Anzac biscuits again thanks to Cheetah's kitchen skill.
Would you believe that four year old Dragon actually accused me of putting the archeology in the ground?   No flies on that boy!
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cheetah Feature

As I said in a previous post, Cheetah, our oldest grandchild and for a long time an OG (only grandchild), came and stayed with us for a few days of the school holidays.  He wasn't a slacker either. I asked him if he wanted to prune the mango tree where some of the branches hung too low.  He didn't have to be asked twice when it comes to using big tools.  In no time at all he had a pile of branches nearly as tall as himself.  (see footnote)  This wasn't all he did.
He also dug holes, raked leaves, took out the compost, baked bread, made macaroni cheese for dinner and baked Anzac biscuits for his family.  Anzac biscuits are an Aussie icon, a bit like oatmeal cookies if you are an American, but tastier.  You can see Cheetah with some cooked biscuits still on the tray in the far RH picture below.
At times we did let him out of the kitchen to have some rest and relaxation playing computer games or exercising on an old drum (maybe we should rename him Hamster).  We also had an outing to the Cassowary Coast to do some bushwalking at Jourama Falls National Park. Note to self - never again take energetic, impulsive grandchildren to places with steep cliffs, loose rocks or cold, deep water.  They might survive, but my nerves may never be the same.
While the day was still young we kept driving and had lunch in Ingham and a quick visit to Cardwell.  Cardwell was one of the towns in the line of fire from cyclone Yasi and suffered badly. The environmental and building damage is still in evidence and will be for years in places.  But... it is still a beautiful little beach-side town.  The view of Hinchinbrook Island is a classic picturesque seascape.
Next week we get him back for four more days. 
I wonder if the septic tank needs to be re-dug.
Footnote - our electricity company was also pruning trees around power lines in the vicinity and the mango tree did have branches close to powerlines. It is possible that Cheetah's huge pile of mango clippings had some help from a nice man with a chain saw and a sense of humour.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wouldn't you know it. . .

We have had fantastic weather.  Cool nights and mild to warm days without a cloud in sight.  The trouble is that for a great sunset you really need some clouds - not too many or you can't see anything.  I've been watching the sky like a seasoned sailor waiting for the right conditions to get the perfect sunset photo.  This afternoon looked very promising so at about 5.15 I set off with the camera up to "the point".  The point is where the river meets the sea a couple of hundred metres up the road from home.
Everything was shaping up beautifully until my second photo.  I was planning a longer exposure to see what the effect would be on the water and I was hoping for a nice, golden blur.  Nothing.  Flat battery.  Annoyingly, I had charged up the spare battery only a few hours earlier, but I left it at home.
So this is it folks.  Out of a grand total of two photos, this was the best.  I am pretty happy with it and there will be other opportunities.
Remember I promised to keep you posted about our neighbours, a pair of brahminy kites?  I think they might be expectant parents.  This is what I saw this morning.

My interest in her was not appreciated.  When a bird of prey glares at you, you know you've been glared at.
I'll be keeping a close eye on them and keep you posted.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In Lieu of New Header

A new header for my blog is a fairly time consuming thing.  It's not that I'm time poor. It's just a matter of priority.  I will produce a new header in the not too distant future (I hope).  In the mean time you need to know that one of the grandchildren is missing from my header.  She is nearly a year old.  That's how slack I've been.  So here is one of the latest photos of our little Ladybug with her mummy, Juliette.   You can visit their blog here.

All of our family have bloggy nom de plumes for security and it is always a BIG decision when we have to decide on a new one for a new grandchild.  After all, it has to reflect some of their character and be positive.  None of them will ever be a "Spider" if I have my way.  Our Ladybug is soooo cute and colourful - like her namesake.

Of course since the last header update the other five have grown too.  So you were wondering if I have any recent photos of them too.  I'm so glad you asked.  Here is Little Bear looking gorgeous as usual, but sort of quiet, even pensive, definitely NOT as usual.  Don't be fooled by the photo!  Little Bear is the most impulsive and overactive energetic of all of the grandchildren.  She can be giggly, teary, cranky, haughty, sweet, charming, cuddly - and all within the space of a minute. 

Here is Monkey in a pose that I often see, but will never take for granted - running towards me with outstretched arms, usually yelling "Mammar!" as loud as he can at the same time.  How can you not love that?  That's Mr Sunshine and Dragon in the background.

Here are Monkey's big brothers with their cousin Little Bear.  That is Dragon in the middle and Lion on the end.  Lion is a bit like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz in that he often has that serious, slightly worried expression.  He can be very serious for a little fellow, but he also has the most adorable loving and cuddly nature with a great sense of humour.  Dragon is always ready for fun and it is much more rare to catch him with a worried look.

That only leaves Cheetah - the oldest - our first grandchild.  Cheetah was an OG (only grandchild) for 5 years before Lion came along.  I'll leave him out for now because soon he will be having a little holiday with us and I will make sure I feature him then.
Maybe with some fresh photos I'll find the time to update the header.  Maybe.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Meet the neighbours

Not all of the neighbours.  We do have quite a few very interesting neighbours, but these are two of my favourites.  They are Brahminy Kites, otherwise known as Fish Eagles or Red-backed Sea Eagles.  They are the most intense chestnut colour with a pure white head.  I think they are really gorgeous and I hope to get much better photos of them in the future.  As Mr Sunshine and I went for our beach walks, I sometimes spotted one of them in a certain tree - the tallest tree in that part of the neighbourhood.  Then one day as I was photographing him.  His mate flew in to join him. That was even better.

On the way back I was checking to see if they were still there.  They weren't, but then I glanced over at a slightly smaller tree nearby and saw their nest.  How I had missed it before I don't know. It is several feet across and very high. No wonder they look at me in a very suspicious manner when I stop to take their photo.  They have a lot at stake with a home to protect.
Needles to say, I will be watching this for further developments.  I'll keep you posted if there is anything to report.
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Monkey Meets THE STIG

What do you mean it's not the real Stig?  Of course it is. Just look at Monkey's expression.  Would he look that impressed if it wasn't the real Stig?
Mind you, the Stig was feeling a little flat that day.  He was standing at the back of a Townsville bookshop mostly on his own until Monkey came along.  I'm sure we brightened up his day.  It made Monkey's day.
As we left, the Stig was really cool.  He didn't move a muscle or wave, just stood there.  But he still looked a little flat.  Maybe he needs to be a little less rigid at times.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beach Crowd

Mr Sunshine is such a funny man.  He was having some fun with my camera and said, "You'll have to put this picture on your blog because the beach is so crowded today".  That's the crowd in the photo.  We do usually have more room to ourselves it's true, but really we don't mind sharing the beach with crowds like this.

We had Lion and Dragon with us for an overnight stay.  Too short really.  Dragon got into the spirit of a beach holiday with this lei he found among the toys.
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Both boys enjoyed crushing aluminium cans with Mr Sunshine's "bommy-knockers".  Is that a real word?  I hope it's not rude. We collect them for the Leprosy Mission (cans, not bommy-knockers) and they sell them to metal merchants to raise money.  If the cans are crushed they don't take up so much storage space and little boys just love hammering the living daylights out of anything as Lion's grin proves.  I swear these boys keep getting more handsome.

They didn't spend all of their time doing hard yakka. Some of the time was spent playing at the beach.  We built a race track in the sand for the toy grader and dump truck to whiz around.

Obviously, the crowd had thinned out a bit by this time.

Granny's tunes

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus


About Me

My photo
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together. At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.

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