You may now call me El Kazunkel

On Sunday 26 May at 11:00pm, my sister gave birth to her first child — a 52cm long, 4kg baby girl, who a couple of days later was named Elke Adele Smith. (It can be fun to guess what a newborn baby will be called; my guess was Leisel Olivia Smith. That Rebecca would go for a German name was easy to predict, given her strong ties to our German friends.)

My choice of zeroth birthday gift was a copy of Dreamland by Putumayo, a collection of lullabies from around the world, in various languages (you can hear a clip of each track at the website). If I have one criticism, it’s that the songs should be associated with the country they are native to instead of the country the artist happens to come from, but such quibbles mean nothing to a newborn baby.

Below is a Youtube version of one of the tracks — Cradle Spell of Dunvegan by Lynn Morrison — which is in English, although parts are rich in Scottish dialect words that I don’t understand.

I made my own card to go with the gift, featuring this photo of an elk for Elke. The front of the card is very personalised, but the inside is generic and could be used for any baby girl (which you may do, if you wish). Here are images:

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The message inside reads:

On the birth of your daughter
I give you wishes for a lifetime.
As you grow older
– And she has her turn to grow older –
May you find in her
A friend and daughter who enriches your world,
A fellow traveller on the adventure of life.
And may she find in you
The security of knowing she is loved and respected
In troubled as well as joyous times.
Grow with her! Have fun with her!
And remember fondly how it all began.

Soon after the name was announced, I told Rebecca by text message that I was changing my name to El Kazunkel, which I used again when I signed the card. Rebecca got the joke straight away (it’s pronounced “Elke’s Uncle“), but most people need a hint. They do tend to like it once they get it, though, and it was later featured on my own birthday cake (of which, more later).

I went home to spend a week with my parents on the evening of June 5th, and met Elke for the first time on June 6th. Rebecca told me my card was lovely. Here are some photos of Elke — mostly from that first encounter, but a few from later in the week.

With her mother:

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With her father, Ellis:

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With her grandfather:

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With her grandmother:

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With me:

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In her cradle:

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I gave Elke a little speech I’d prepared, referencing the famous bridge scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. It went something like this. “Your name … is Elke. Your quest … is to make life as challenging as possible for your parents (and if you ever need any help with that, just let me know; that’s what uncles are all about). As for your favourite colour, well, you get to decide that when you’ve had a good look at them all. And I promise that no-one is going to throw you off any bridges until you’ve made up your mind.

The week wasn’t entirely about Elke. Here are some new photos from my parents’ home, featuring the extensions that were built but not furnished last time I was home.

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And outside:

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(Compare with the photos here and here, taken last August.)

I brought with me a bottle of the coconut, orange, honey & spice cocktail that I created. I gave the recipe in a previous blog post, but to repeat: it’s 1 part Island Sting, 1 part orange juice, and 2 parts coconut water (alcohol content is 5% per volume). Dad said the flavour was interesting and very drinkable, adding that he detected a hint of ginger. I’ve left the bottle with him to share with guests, whose feedback I look forward to hearing about.

My cousin Robert, his wife Katrina, and their three children Kate, Leah and Joshua, now live on the same peninsula as my parents, and I saw quite a bit of them over the week. Saturday June 8th was a particularly busy day. We had lunch at the annual craft fair in Maitland, and spent the afternoon lighting small bonfires on the farm.

In the evening, I read Joshua a story that I had bought him as a gift: Ankylosaur Attack by Daniel Loxton. Circumstances weren’t ideal — I had a headache, Dad was making noise washing dishes in the background, and Josh insisted on sitting in a chair that meant I had to contort my body awkwardly in order to read — so it felt like something of an anticlimax. But later (on Monday evening), Robert told me that Josh had asked for the book again the following night, so it was evidently a success.

Here are some fire photos:

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And a video:

On Sunday 9th June, we gathered at Rebecca’s place for a barbecue lunch and a walk on the beach. It was then that I received the birthday cake I mentioned earlier (my actual birthday is June 12th).

Here is a video of Kate throwing a ball for Rebecca and Ellis’s dog, Molly:

And here are some photos of Molly that I took earlier in the week:

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I saw the wider family one last time at a Monday evening restaurant meal, and on Tuesday I returned home to Adelaide.

I bought a new modem while I was away, which I’m planning to install the day after I publish this. The main advantage of the new modem is that it has a wireless option, so once it’s set up I’ll be able to connect from my laptop and participate in Skype video chats, etc, from my own home (my desktop does not have a webcam).

5 Responses to “You may now call me El Kazunkel”

  1. Stan Says:

    Congratulations, El Kazunkel and all the Kazunkel family. Your speech is funny, and this is a lovely set of photos. A very happy birthday from the west of Ireland.

  2. Adrian Morgan Says:

    Thanks, although I don’t think of El Kazunkel as given name + surname. It may even be more of a title, with “El” representing the definite article, either in Spanish (c.f. El Greco, although Spanish uses the letter “k” only in borrowings) or Arabic (variant spelling of “Al-”).

    All the best to the west of Ireland. May it achieve the highest dreams that rocks and soil can aspire to.

  3. Stan Says:

    Oh yes, of course. And thank you for the good wishes. I was going to point out that we have ample trees and grass too, but then remembered all the time I spent last week shovelling stones out of a dry field. That particular patch aspires to be a lawn.

  4. April ElshaHawk Schoffstall Says:

    Happy Birthday from the states! I still think the poem is better without the 2 lines.. muahaha! The elk on the card is very unusual for a baby girl, but perhaps that will be a testament to her strength and grace as a young woman. Either way, she will remember that card. Heck, I will have trouble forgetting it..

    Nice photos, as usual. I do love a good fire.

  5. Adrian Morgan Says:

    (For other readers: April’s comment about the 2 lines refers to a text message conversation we had on Skype when I was drafting Elke’s card, in which she suggested omitting the lines “As you grow older and she has her turn to grow older“. I disagreed, and so did another person I asked for a second opinion.)

    The picture has to be a big daddy elk with antlers in order to be recognised as an elk. Otherwise (as Ellis put it when we discussed this) it could be any member of the deer family. But I think it works, largely just because it’s a furry animal.

    By “she will remember that card”, you mean Rebecca, not Elke, although there’s every chance Rebecca and Ellis will keep the cards and share them with Elke when she’s old enough. You can actually see the card, out of focus in the background, in two of the photos (try this one, sitting on top of the framed picture).


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