Saturday, January 31, 2009

The BIG wet

The mighty Burdekin River.
It is mighty at the moment. That water is nearly 10 metres deep and it is flowing reasonably fast. It is being filled by the overflow from the Burdekin Dam and this morning the experts reckoned that water was flowing 3 metres deep above the dam spillway and that was equivalent to I forget how many Olympic size swimming pools every second. Mr Sunshine said he thought the figure was 36 pools, but we can't be sure. We can be sure that it is a lot of water. If you want to see more of our BIG wet click here for a gallery of photos from the major regional newspaper.

The amazing thing is that normally there is nothing below this bridge. Nothing except a big drop, way down to a dry sandy river bed. That is how we normally see it. Year in, year out. So I thought I would share the novelty of having a real river flowing with gigalitres (I just made that up, is it a word?) of water.
I took a few more photos while we were out today.

I couldn't decide if Groper Creek was named after the fish or the fellows who lived there, but since it is a fishing village I decided to give the fellows the benefit of the doubt.

What appears to be a small river is the road at Groper Creek. The power poles and street lighting would seem to prove there is a road there somewhere. I was just wondering how the people in the house get in and out. There is no other road. Groper Creek must be used to flooding. All the houses are on stilts and it is the only place I've seen where houses have upstairs garages. I kid you not. Some have built massive concrete ramps up to their garages which are along side their high set homes.

I wish we could send some of the water down to our drought stricken and bush fire ravaged southern states.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Laws of life with children

Reading this blog from Mummy McTavish reminded me of all those unpleasant 'coincidences' that occurred when my children were pre-schoolers. I thought I'd try and see how many I could think of. Here's a start:

  1. Mopping the floor means that someone will spill either milk or something sticky on it within the next 30 minutes. Usually a lot sooner.

  2. Putting a clean nappy/diaper on the baby will cause him/her to have a bowel motion almost immediately.

  3. You only have to think about sex and the toddler will wake up.

  4. No one drops in when the house is tidy. They only drop in when it looks like a bomb shelter with toys everywhere, last nights dishes still in the sink, a weeks dirty washing in the bathroom and another weeks clean washing waiting to be folded in a very prominent place.

  5. Your husband only has to wink at you and the baby wakes up.

  6. Children never get sick on week days. Illness usually starts Friday night. On Saturday you think they're on the mend, but late Saturday night you are wondering if their appendix has burst or if they have scarlet fever. Every doctor in town will be closed.

  7. When you do take a sick child to the doctor, he/she will make a miraculous recovery in the waiting room and be symptom free when you finally see the doctor.

  8. If your child has NEVER written on the walls at home, they will suddenly decide to express their artistic creativity with permanent markers when you are at someone else's house. This is particularly true if the house has recently been repainted.
  9. Sitting down to read the newspaper, a book, write a letter, etc., causes babies and young children (husbands too) to suddenly need your undivided attention.
  10. Your husband only has to look at you and they all wake up.

These are just some that I thought of, but my memory is getting a little fuzzy about the specifics. Please feel free to suggest others.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bundled Up

In about 1990 when Uncle R was a little tike we managed to drive all the way from North Queensland down to Sydney to visit my Dad, about 2000 kilometres or 1300 miles. We had to really watch our pennies back then. As a result, Uncle R got to wear his big sisters' hand me downs. So here he is in his pink and white flanny pj's in the Sydney winter. The blanket is his Grandad's lovely mohair blanket.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Procrastination pays off

Because of a serious attack of acute avoidance behaviour, you may remember from my previous post, the children's room was beautifully neat. Their play table was perfectly set with their bright plastic tea set, but the rest of the house was looking like a paper recycling plant. I hate tax.
The good news is that eventually I found ALL of the group certificates (do they call them that in the USA?), ALL of the receipts, virtually ALL of the information that was required to enable our accountant to complete tax returns for last year for Mr Sunshine and myself, and the last 3 years for Uncle R. I still have lots of paper to put away or put in the circular file, but it is basically sorted. Did I say I hate tax?
The other bonus was when Lion and Dragon came over while chaos still reigned. Dragon wandered aimlessly down the hall as they do. You never know what you might stumble across at Grannysaurus's - a few coins for your money box; some pretty jewelery (pirate treasure), left lying on a dresser; some chocolate carelessly left lying about in the refrigerator. He spotted the play table all set and ready to play and his face lit up and his eyes popped. So Mummy McTavish and Grannysaurus were immediately invited to a tea party. I say invited, but this invitation had no option to refuse. It might as well have been a royal summons. As you can see they happened to have real chips with them to add a little panache to our soirée. Did I say I hate tax?
Anyway the tax is done. The accountant is happy. In a few weeks we will each get some nice cheques in the mail to make it all worthwhile. I know tax is a necessary evil and my problem is not really about the money. It is about the inconvenience, the difficulty I have organising paperwork and the impossibility of understanding the forms without the assistance of an accountant (bless him! he earns every cent he gets and I wouldn't swap places with him for quids). I still hate tax.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I found out yesterday that the appointment with our accountant that I thought was next month is this Saturday. Where are our group certificates, where are our receipts, what have we got to show him? Nothing. I have a lot to do between now and Saturday so like the efficient person that I am I immediately . . .

. . . decided that the grandkids' play table needed to be in their bedroom (they don't live here, it just seems like it); that I needed to put a proper cloth on their table; then I needed to put their tea set on their table with fastidious attention to detail. A number of other 'essentials' got done (like taking photos for this blog) before I finally stopped avoiding the inevitable.

The paperwork is all there. It's just mixed up with lots of other paperwork - stuff that I thought I might need or might read or might save for someone else. So by the end of the day this is what my dining room floor looked like:

It still looks like this because I haven't got any further yet. The laundry basket is for rubbish. The other bags and boxes are for unsorted on the LHS and sorted on the RHS. Am I the only person who longs for a return to the 70's when we had a global paper shortage and thought we would be working in "the paper-less office" within a decade?

Have I found the essential, I mean really ESSENTIAL paper work? No, but I'm working on it. I think I'll go and take some more photos now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dragon calls the shots (click on the collage for a larger view)

Mummy and Wolf McTavish wanted to give Lion a big surprise because he had been such a good boy this week and even longer. His surprise was going to the cinema for the very first time. The movie they went to see was Madagascar 2. Dragon is a bit too little (and lively) to sit through a whole movie and besides this was Lion's treat, so Dragon came to spend the afternoon with Grandma and Grandad (Grannysaurus and Mr Sunshine).
This was no 2nd-best for Dragon because it meant that he would be an "only grandchild" for at least two hours. No competition for the toys, the attention, the food or the affection. What's not to like about that?
After we had practised ball throwing and catching and basket ball into the laundry basket, timed races up and down the hall on Dragon's "" (Dragon always speaks in staccato syllables), and helped Mr Sunshine shift 2 cupboards onto the ute to take to Aunty Chimera and baked muffins to share with Mummy, Daddy and Lion when they came back, we decided this needed a photographic record. This is where Dragon really called the shots, dictating what photos we would take and where, especially the one with him holding up his pink handbag and the one with him wearing Grannysaurus' plastic shoes and nursing his bike with his "sun... ny... glass... es" on his head. His pink pig handbag is on his lap, but you can't see that. His daddy says it is a "wild-boar man bag".
The top, middle one of Mr Sunshine waving from his recliner is the photo that Dragon took all by himself. His first attempt at photography and he was pleased with it. Not bad- being a published photographer at 2.
It was a great afternoon. We ate the muffins and Lion and Dragon (their parents too, of course) ended up staying for dinner which they, Lion and Dragon, helped prepare. That meant about three times the washing up because Grannysaurus, Dragon and Lion all had to have a mixing bowl and paraphernalia each. I think they both went home very satisfied with their day.
Mr Sunshine is still catching up on the washing up.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Prison Memoir

If you've read my bio stuff you'll have noticed that I used to be a prison chaplain. I've often thought I should post about some of the weird and wonderful things that happen in prison. The trouble is I can never remember them unless something else jogs my memory.

Last night, possibly while I was thinking of the damage the rain has done to some of my friends' houses this year and ours in past years, I did remember something funny. It happened in a very old prison where one of my older chaplain friends had worked when he was younger.

Apparently the outer walls of the cell blocks were constructed of two layers of bricks with a narrow cavity between the layers. One of the old-timer inmates discovered that the mortar around the bricks in his cell was a bit loose. Of course he helped it to become a bit more loose. He also realised that the cavity between the bricks was a useful hiding place for small and medium sized articles that you didn't want the officers or other inmates to know about or get their hands on. These could have been almost anything - drug utensils, girlie mags, tattoo machines, weapons, a bit of home, I mean prison brew or maybe none of these. The thing is that as time wore on he couldn't help himself, he loosened more and more bricks just because he could, but only on the inner wall. Whenever he took out some bricks to hide or retrieve something from this ingenious hiding place he would carefully replace the bricks so that no one suspected that the wall was becoming a brick jigsaw that could be pulled apart and remade at will.

It couldn't last. One day he was lurking near his cell door when he heard the jingle of keys that signalled an approaching prison officer. Maybe he was up to some mischief. Maybe there was something on his bed that he wanted to conceal or maybe it was just his guilty conscience at work. I don't know, but I'm told that he made a rush towards his bed and literally dived onto it. The momentum carried him forward and instead of being stopped by a nice solid brick wall, he went straight through it. In fact he went straight through the second layer of bricks as well. The mortar of those bricks being just as old and poor as the inner wall. His cell was on the first floor of the cell block. The surprised officer looked out through the large new hole in the side of the cell to see the even more surprised inmate far below in a pile of bricks.

I heard he sustained no serious injuries.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's still raining

If you click on the collage you will enlarge it. Clockwise from top left -

1. My feet sinking into the marsh that is my front lawn.

2. It looks like a pile of dirt, but it is a dead ant cemetery. Whenever it rains they bring all their mates' little ant bodies into my house :(

3. Front door mat, Venice style.

4. The wind did us a favour by bringing down the dead branches out of all the trees around the town.

5. The bucket on the patio filled up entirely with rain water just by being left out in the open for a couple of days.

6. I was about to open the windows for some fresh air when I looked out over the neighbour's houses and changed my mind.

So far this week we have had nearly 250mm of rain (10 ins) and more is expected tomorrow. A botanist back in the early days of settlement described this part of Australia as an area of total drought with intermittent floods. Some things never change.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just like Grandad

This photo is a little dated. It was taken in May 2007. That is 2 y.o. Dragon McTavish in Mr Sunshine's right arm and 4 y.o. Lion McTavish on his left side. They have grown a bit since then. It is just so cute I had to post it even though very belatedly.

Mr Sunshine has worn the same brand and style of shoes for about 30 years. They are Dunlop's (almost legendary) KT-26. Dunlop's website says they have sold about 5 million pairs. I think Mr Sunshine must have bought 1 million of those over the years. Maybe I exaggerate, but only a little. When Mummy McTavish found that you could get little kids KT 26's, Lion had to have a pair. He has grown out of them now and Dragon wears them sometimes. But he was very proud of his "Grandad shoes" and so we took this picture for posterity. Another 10 years and I'm sure he won't be so keen to wear the same anything as Grandad. That will make this photo all the more special (to us, but maybe not to him ;).

Oh, and they are sitting in the back of Grandad's ute ("ute" - short for utility; translation for USA readers: pick-up). The boys are soooo impressed with Grandad's ute and a favourite pass-time is to simply run around in the back of it - while it is stationary and safely parked in our yard of course. It was Lion's idea that they should pose in the back of Grandad's ute with their Grandad shoes.
They are so cute - even the old one! Well maybe he's only cute to me, but those little fellows would just melt anyone's heart. What a lucky Grannysaurus I am.
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Cyclone, but not really

For Mr Sunshine's birthday in December I decided to get him a weather station on behalf of the whole family. It has been great. I check it all the time and keep a tally of the rainfall. Mr Sunshine just laughs at my OCD over his birthday gift.
I thought it would be a good gift because in the past he has been a bit obsessive about keeping tabs on the weather. Oh well.
This little electronic machine gives us the barometric pressure, inside and outside temperature and humidity, rainfall, dew point, wind chill factor, wind speed plus date and time. Last night a small (category 1) cyclone crossed the coast on the western side of the peninsula and today it has rained steadily all day.
If you think of the cyclone rotating in a clockwise direction and it is to the west of us and we are on the east coast, it makes sense that the winds we are getting are from the Pacific Ocean side and that is why they are loaded with rain. When cyclones come from the east, we get the wind from the west (overland) and therefore very little or even no rain. That probably doesn't make much sense unless you are interested in cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons or whatever they are called all over the world.
Anyway, bottom line is we've had over 100 mm of rain today and the weather bureau has said we can expect 300 mm by tomorrow(100 mm = 4 ins). Our top wind speed so far has only been about 30 kph (about 18 mph). The really good news is that all this rain causes the temperature to drop and it's only about 22 degrees centigrade outside at present (about 72 farenheit). Just perfect. And most folk around here love rain when we get it because we have a long dry season.
If you have to have a cyclone, Charlotte is definitely one of the better ones.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I don't usually worry, but. . .

Remember this post with the pic of the boys having a carefree play in the stinger enclosure. Here's a recent picture (plus story) of the very same singer enclosure. Not so carefree as we would have hoped after all.
I've always kept a careful eye on the water when we swim in the sea because crocs are a possibility, although their habitat is supposed to be the river estuaries. That is why they are called estuarine crocodiles, although most people these days just call them 'salties'. The possibility of a croc or two inside the enclosure puts a whole different complexion on things. Even a small one would be deadly to a child. Our estuarine crocodiles are extremely dangerous and aggressive when hungry. They also grow to a huge size and have been measured at over 6 metres (20feet) long.
We have another croc species. The freshwater crocodile (or Johnstone River Crocodile) which is a much smaller, shyer and less dangerous animal. It eats turtles and fish in northern rivers, but it isn't native to our part of the country.
One thing is for sure, we'll be swimming in swimming pools in future and maybe give the beach a miss.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I've been tagged, now you have to.

Now I've been tagged by Chimera when I thought I had escaped. So here goes (tune out now if you want to, surf the web, check out eBay or the weather. This could get boring.)
1. name: Grannysaurus, Sweetheart, Darling, Princess God Botherer, Father Ted, Grandma, Mungma (2 y.o. Dragon's version of Grandma), Grandma Excavator, Grandma Thunderbird 3, Grandma Frog (etc from imaginative 4 y.o. Lion)
2. birthday: 2 May 1955
3. wear silver or gold: prefer gold, but wear either when I can get it
4. favorite restaurant: anything with decent food and good service. Maccas does not rate!
5. favorite junk food: Chocolate of course
6. favorite candybar: Cherry ripe usually, but it varies as long as it has chocolate in it.
7. favorite candy: Licorice allsorts
8. favorite store: Myers
9. favorite online store: The great thing about online stores is the variety - who wants to pick one out as special.
10. do you collect anything: I have a small collection of fine china. My favourites are Hummel figurines. NOT figurines of Hummel autos - figurines of little children. Hummel is the artist. She was a German nun.
11. favorite movie: Maybe "To Kill a Mockingbird" with Gregory Peck, but I have many favourites and they are mostly G rated.
12. favorite book: Like Chimera it's more like favourite authors. Grisham, Ellis Peters, Peter Tremayne, Terry Pratchet, Terry Brooks, St Paul . . .
13. something you could never get enough of: Tasmanian scenery (I love it)
14. favorite band: The Monkees music is still catchy (I'm a 60's child, remember)
15. favorite indulgence: Can I say chocolate again? But then there is good quality wine, solitude, all day with a good book, acting like a kid with my grandkids.
16. something you never buy yourself but want: more photographic gear, but I think I have plenty, more than enough really.
17. favorite color: Depends on my mood, but never orange, rarely yellow; mostly lavender.
18. something you are wishing for right now: sleep
19. favorite symbol: Believe it or not, I have often thought about this. No, really I have, because I think that the symbol of the cross (as special as it is to Christians like me) is not the only, or the best symbol to represent Christians. If we could come up with something that represented and reminded us of the empty tomb, it would be more central to what our faith is about. If Jesus had died on the cross, but not come back alive from the grave, our faith would be for nought. So I don't have a symbol of an empty tomb, but if I did it would be my favourite.
20. who are you tagging: If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. Since the blogs I follow are generally very busy mums, I don't want to put pressure on anyone even though I would love to know your answers. If you are not one of the blogs I follow I would still like you to consider yourself tagged, but please stop by to introduce yourself and leave me a link to see your answers.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sleep-over at Grandma's

Mummy and Wolf MacTavish had a wedding to go to on Saturday afternoon, so Dragon and Lion came to stay with Grannysaurus and Mr Sunshine for a sleep-over.
It's a bit of a worry for Grannysaurus because I keep putting things that they shouldn't play with out of their reach, but then forgetting where I put them. They spend a lot of time with us, which means there are a lot of things that I can't find. It seems like half the household goods and chattels are "in a safe place". This "safe place" has achieved almost legendary status here. The good thing is that while I'm looking for something I misplaced today, I usually find what was lost last week.
One of the highlights of a sleepover here is breakfast in bed. For years, Mr Sunshine has brought me a cup of coffee and breakfast in bed every morning with very few exceptions. Aren't I blessed?! So the boys had the joy of waking me up and keeping me entertained until Grandad (Mr Sunshine) brought in the trays and a towel in case of spills. Porridge for Dragon and Grannysaurus and rice bubbles for Lion. Lion would have preferred "neutral grain" (nutrigrain), but I didn't have any in the cupboard because of the high sugar content and my fear of my daughter's wrath. Dragon got stuck into his porridge with gusto.
While I was being "Mrs Kodak Moment" Dragon finished his off - to the last drop, and then started on my neglected porridge. Take note of that mischievous smile. He knows what he's up to.

I like my breakfast so I reclaimed my porridge, shared the last bits with Dragon and then picked up the camera again. I was just in time to catch Dragon homing in on the last few unfinished rice bubbles in Lion's plate. Waste not, want not! That's his motto. More sleep-over highlights tomorrow. . . .

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dung Beetle McTavish

Once upon a time, yesterday, Mr Sunshine had some work to do at his mother's beach house, a forty minute drive from home. We decided to invite Lion and Dragon McTavish to come with us for a trip to the beach. It was great. We had a ball. The boys went home very tired and very content with their adventures of "going out to sea" (Lion's words).

They swam in stinger enclosure which was large and safe and, because the tide was out, the water was mostly below my knee level. The stinger enclosure, if you are baffled by the term, is a large net held in place by a huge, floating sausage. You can see it running through the middle of the photograph, behind Mr Sunshine and the McTavish boys. It is meant to keep out our box jellyfish (its sting can kill within minutes) and the irukandji jelly fish (not as deadly, but extremely painful). These jellies (click link for more info) have caused many horrible, painful injuries and deaths in years gone by. Children are especially vulnerable. The box jellyfish used to be called the sea wasp, but the name was changed because overseas tourists tended to be fearfully watching the air around them and still got stung by what was under the water.

I was also entertained by a flock of our large (60cm/24 ins) red-tailed black cockatoos feasting on fruit in a nearby tree. As they fly their tail feathers fan out to reveal a huge, bright red blotch of colour. Like all cockatoos they are the clowns of the bird world.
But back to the title of today's blog - Lion McTavish is known for his many alter-egos. His imagination knows no bounds when it comes to taking on the character of an animal or machine. He has been known to be Lion Excavator, Lion Front End Loader, Lion Huddy (Huddy being a Love Bird), the list goes on. We think he even dreams in character because he wakes up in the same character as he fell asleep.
In the car, on our way to the beach, he was Lion Dung Beetle. Dung Beetles are those marvelous little beetles that live underground and pop up for poop. They use their back legs to roll the poo into neat little balls and take it back underground with them for future . . . er. . . recycling.
Lion knows all this and was quite comfortable to take on a Dung Beetle persona. We were passing the local refuse tip when he decided that his house is a refuse tip and he is a dung beetle who looks for poo and rolls it up and buries it. He kept up the tale of his life as a Dung Beetle all of the way to the beach. Poor little Dragon had difficulty getting a word in. Every now and then I would have to interrupt Lion Dung Beetle to give his little brother a chance to be heard.
Who would have believed that Dung Beetles could talk so much!
Mummy McTavish was not really impressed about the house/refuse tip reference. I can't imagine why??

Thursday, January 1, 2009

T-shirt says it all

Meet Uncle R. I know it isn't the greatest photo. His expression is a little dead-pan to say the least. But it is the best picture I have of the t-shirt. I thought it was hilarious. Whoever thought up the idea couldn't lose. Everyone would know someone who would get a kick out of a shirt like this, even if they weren't game to wear it, which obviously Uncle R was. There is probably not much that he wouldn't dare. That is why his mother, me, aka Grannysaurus, is going grey.

The bottom picture is also Uncle R, but a very long time ago - back when he was really cute and girls really did melt when he looked at them with those big dark eyes. The 'girls' were usually at least 20 years older than him and often 60 or 70 years older than him, but that didn't phase him. He was practising and perfecting his charm for the time when he used those big brown eyes on Aunty J.
She didn't stand a chance.

Granny's tunes

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus


About Me

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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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