HAPPY AS LARRY: Kermie is happy as a pig in mud in the Mustang.
HAPPY AS LARRY: Kermie is happy as a pig in mud in the Mustang. Graham Harsant

The master is now the apprentice

IT'S been a busy time of late. Our Tom and his lady, Laura, jetted off to Japan for three months - or until the money runs out.

They met on Tom's last seven-month adventure to Asia, when she helped him celebrate his 21st in style.

Together since, they have been saving hard and this trip is the fruition of their self-imposed austerity.

Before they left, Laura's family flew over from New Zealand and we drove to Hooterville to meet them.

Usually we stay with friends but, wanting to play host, we took the caravan down and entertained them at the caravan park - after first joining them at Four Pillars Gin Distillery for a primer or three.

A great family, we were all instantly at ease and partied well into the night. They generously left a heap of drinks behind, which I'm still enjoying.

While in town we caught up with Lorna, our 79-year-old mate who bought herself a Bullitt Mustang as a birthday present.

She kindly allowed me to take it for a spin. What a car! I want one. Call me biased, but Ford knows how to make a V8 really rumble, and the 'Stang takes it to new heights. Think we'll be visiting Lorna a lot more in the future.

Back home and we decided it was time to take down the one tree in the backyard that annoyed us. This is/was an olive tree that had grown to heights never intended.

Apart from its drab colour - olive green, of course - its fruit never ripened properly and it dropped leaves constantly, stopping the grass from growing and stunting the other plant life around it.

I'm a little wary of ladders since my fall last year and climbing to the second top rung with chainsaw in hand is not my idea of a fun afternoon.

What was easy to start with became more difficult as the branches upon which I could rest the ladder dwindled.

The last couple needed cutting high so as not to damage bushes below.

The ladder rocked back and forth on the lone branch as Rita held on to it for grim death - or possibly my grim death.

Amazingly, I managed to drop all the branches without damaging anything, myself included.

Now of course, the backyard is a mountain of felled timber, which will take some days to strip of twigs and leaves, leaving the main timber for the next door neighbour's pot belly stove set-up in their shed.

While very happy to have this apparently excellent burning timber, they haven't offered to help me move it to their side of the fence yet. Some gentle nudging may be in order.

So now the backyard is much more open with the blue sky a vista - and we have an unobstructed view of the massive and butt-ugly concrete electric pole in the next street back.

Lastly on the agenda was our Nick ringing to ask if he could visit. "Absolutely,” I answered. "And could you help me fit a light bar on to the Territory?”

Said light bar was given to me a year or so ago by a mate and Rita has resisted its fitment since then. A recent trip down the Hume at night brought to my attention that my night vision ain't what it used to be, so Rita relented.

Now I've taught Nick a lot about cars - from changing tyres and timing belts, to changing brake pads and servicing. But when it comes to car electrics I'm a bit of an ignoramus.

Nick on the other hand has fitted a UHF radio, head units, speakers (seemingly bigger than the car itself) and a multitude of lighting (some of it I suspect not quite legal).

He arrived and went to work, patiently explaining what went where and how to connect the various bits together. An hour or so later, I discovered I could light up the night like day.

I was speaking to Tom in Japan the next evening and told him what had transpired and how I couldn't have done it without Nick. I could almost see him grinning as he said, "Ha, ha. The master has become the apprentice.”

Tom's comment took me back years to when my father, who always carried out his own repairs on his vehicles, got totally befuddled over fitting a new fuel pump.

I gently took over and did the job for him. I wondered to myself back then if I'd get to that stage. Perhaps this is the beginning. Noooooo!

Take care of you.

Kermie.

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