Child-minding for the McTavish grandkids again and never a dull moment with these boys. Lion looked in my shoe cupboard and "found" some "tap" shoes. Hard plastic soles are the closest thing we have to tap shoes around here. I can remember when I was a little girl that the cobbler (we had real cobblers back then) put little metal bits on the sides of the heels of my shoes because I kept wearing them down. They really did tap after that. So many of life's little pleasures have been lost.
Anyway, Lion and Dragon started to improvise a little dance. By the time I found my camera and some dancing music (karaoke Christmas was the best I could find at short notice) they were starting to lose interest, but with the promise of some chocolate biscuits for morning tea, their enthusiasm returned. For a little while at least.
I prefer not hear my own voice recorded, but it can't be helped. I reckon I should be offered a job doing voice-over for cartoon and computer animations because I can do a great wicked witch impersonation.
If you listen really carefully you will hear a little squeak from Monkey in the background.
Not the parrots, the bushes, which means. . . the jam (or jelly if you want the American translation).
Often, we in the tropics bemoan the fact that we don't have many of the beautiful flowers and fruits that our temperate climate cousins enjoy. I know I do. But sometimes there are little compensations. Rosella jam is one of them. It is actually made from the colourful bract that contains the seed. The seed is used for providing the pectin in the jam making process, but they are then discarded after the jam is made and not left in the jam.
What does it taste like? That is difficult to describe. It has a tang - a bit like raspberry or marmalade, but it has a flavour like nothing else. The perfect balance of sweet and sour really. Maybe a bit like rose hips with zing. No, that doesn't describe it. You'll have to get some and try it.
Another wonderful thing about rosellas is they are good for you. Really good! Research has (apparently) proven that rosella juice can lower blood pressure and has cancer fighting properties. I'm always a bit sceptical of these types of claims until I know who did the research and who paid for it and how it was done. But since rosella jam tastes so great, I'll gobble it down and if it does me some good that is a double bonus.
Another bonus - they self-seed and thrive on neglect.
I'm not depressed- just being realistic about some aspects of my life.
Mr Sunshine and Romeo have been working very hard. They average 15 hour days some days and 7 days a week most weeks. This is all mostly thanks to the global financial meltdown. More on that later.
Today I thought I would do my bit. Mr Sunshine is rarely home until after dark so that makes mowing the yard a bit difficult. I used to do all of the gardening and mowing. Eventually Mr Sunshine took over most of the mowing when I got old and weak, too lazy, the grass became really thick and difficult to mow.
Today I did get all of the front yard and most of the footpath mowed before disaster struck. Somewhere in the long grass on the footpath is a little bit of metal like a tiny metal hub cap. Without it I can go no further.
Actually only one wheel fell off this time, but it is not the first time that this has happened to this mower.
Now to some other metaphorical wheels that have fallen off. Last weekend our whole family went to the beautiful tropical paradise known as Magnetic Island for the wedding of Mr Sunshine's niece. We had a wonderful time. The grandchildren had a great time.
Here we are - a very rare pic that has the children, their spouses and the grandchildren all in one photo. We are a handsome lot and I'm not being biased ;) I love the way we are mostly colour coordinated - entirely by accident.
Then we came home. . . to the sound of running water and the gently swoosh of waves. . . under my bedroom floor boards where no waves were ever meant to be. The floor boards are bamboo and they are supposed to be a lovely light creamy colour. They are not supposed to have grey and brown discolouration.
The sound of running water seemed to be coming from everywhere. On Monday the plumber took a bit of a punt an educated guess and cut a hole in the wall of our shower recess. It was a good guess because he was within a hand span of where the pipe was busted and spraying out water (as it had been all weekend while we were away). He was relieved because it usually took longer and more holes in walls and floors to find a leak. On Tuesday morning the insurance assessor arrived and checked out the damage and sent his report away. Now we wait. We have been through this before. Two years ago it was the drainage pipe that leaked and wrecked the floor boards. The insurance company replaced them. The floor was only installed three and a half years ago. We are starting to wonder if the house is cursed.
We have lived here for 17 years and had up to 7 leaks in the roof which wrecked part of the ceiling. During one severe downpour we had 9 or 10 buckets and pans throughout the house catching the water as it came through the ceiling. It was a nightmare. We replaced the roof. We have had water rushing in our back door and through our laundry and rumpus room in heavy rain. I had to call the SES for sand bags, but they couldn't get here because the roads were too flooded. We have had to replace wall panels and timber beams in walls that were affected by wood rot and termites. When the wall panels were removed we found the skeletons of about 24 rats (they probably ate the termites before dying of starvation or rat bait) in the walls. Apparently they jump down from the palm fronds which overhang the house and get in under the edges of the roof. We have had a swarm of bees temporarily set up home inside our back wall. We still have paint peeling from our ceiling throughout most of the house although it was completely repainted only three years ago. The new paint is not peeling. It is the original paint coming off under the newer paint and leaving the bare ceiling panels exposed. I have miles of sticky tape holding the ceiling paint together. Really! We have had bikes stolen from the yard on about 4 occasions and an attempted break-in that shattered a front window. On another occasion someone broke in while we were all asleep and went through all of the desk and file drawers in Mr Sunshine's study and damaged a laptop which they left lying on the living room floor. They only stole one can of coke. Probably kids. That is the major things that I can remember. Along the way there have been numerous minor irritations.
Then there was the GFC. With our usual great sense of timing we had just gone heavily into debt to buy a business that caters to the top end of the market. We do glass splashbacks and two-pack spray painting for cabinetmakers, builders and private customers. These are luxury items and luxury items got crossed off most folks' lists when the economy wobbled. Two major builders went bankrupt owing us thousands. Thousands of locals lost heavily when Storm Financial went under and spending came to a standstill. Two of our tradesmen left us and set up a competing business and poached our customers. Then we had to deal with equipment breakdowns that never happen one at a time, but arrive en mass.
The wheels always fall off. Not always. We are still fighting to stay in business and, God-willing, we will survive. We have great kids and the most lovable grandchildren. We have wonderful friends who have helped us and prayed for us. We live in a beautiful, free country. For at least 90% of the world's people, life is much harder than ours.
We count our blessings and our greatest blessings are in the group photo above.
This Wednesday will be someone's birthday and she will be 29. Isn't that exciting?? If you go to this blog you might be able to guess whose birthday it is.
When I look at photos of my kids when they were little, I often wish I could turn back the clock. It all seemed to pass so quickly. Too quickly. And yet 29 years have passed since I was in that labour ward having the surprise of my life - a painless labour. Well, until the last few minutes that is. But I wouldn't complain about that. [No I wasn't on any drugs either.]
I could tell you so much more, but I might not be very popular in certain quarters if I start airing too many family secrets on the world wide web. Of course I could just make some up ;)
Do you think those three little boys over at Samster-dot-com have picked up some of their mother's looks? I hope so.
The truth is . . . I was looking for a plug-in for photoshop so that I could straighten some crooked images. I didn't find what I wanted. I found some other cool stuff instead. Like this kaleidoscope plug-in and it was free.
My garden is looking very neglected and sad at the moment and I love flowers. So, I simply made more flowers using photoshop. Easy. Some very mediocre photos came alive with this plug-in.
I took these photos back when the garden was blooming just before Romeo's wedding to Juliet. It's been all down hill since then - for my garden, not for the happy couple.
The top photo is a rose. (Variety - Duet. It also has a beautiful scent.)
The next photo is an aster.
The bottom photo is a weeping bottle brush (Callistemon viminalis).
Okay. . . so it is not the most flattering pic of Mr Sunshine. I can't help it if he stood in front of the camera while I was taking a picture of something even more rounded. Sorry Mr Sunshine, that was uncalled for. Actually Mr Sunshine does not look exactly like the gentleman in the photo (circa 2008). He is now several kilograms lighter and if I continue to be such a slack cook, he may yet lose even more weight and his doctor will be pleased.
The photo was taken at the Beaconsfield Mining Museum in Beaconsfield, Tasmania. The whole world heard about Beaconsfield a few years ago when a couple of miners were rescued alive, after being trapped nearly a kilometer underground for two long weeks in a tiny (1.5 X 1.2 meters) metal cage.
But this is about the Furphy. The photo is of a genuine Furphy and that's no Furphy. Let me explain. . . . in Australia a Furphy is any misinformation, whether intentional lies or accidental. The original Furphy was a water tank pulled by a horse and cart as in the photo. During WW1 they were used to cart drinking water for our soldiers. I thought it was pretty exciting seeing a real Furfy, the stuff of legend so to speak, but I'm easily pleased.
How did a water cart become a euphemism for misinformation? I don't think anyone really knows for sure. Wikipedia gives some theories about this so I won't repeat what they say. Since it stems from WW1, I can't help thinking that it also could have something to do with wartime secrecy and propaganda. After all, propaganda is all about the dissemination of Furfies (misinformation, not water tanks) in order to confuse the enemy.
Oh, and if you don't know what an ockerism is then you obviously are not Australian. An ocker is an all-Australian bloke - a bit of a rough diamond. Ockerisms are Australian slang terms used by ockers and others - like 'ocker' for instance and 'furphy' and 'bottler' and 'dag' and 'yobbo' and 'galah' and 'budgie smugglers'. What do they all mean? If we told you we'd have to kill you.
Then you would be cactus, mate, and that's no bull dust.
The last few days have been a little frustrating to say the least. . . frustrating in a bloggy way.
You may have noticed.
I thought it was time to update the ankle-biters' photos in my header. Monkey has grown so quickly that he would hardly be recognisable from his previous little baby photo. So I created a new header and it didn't fit the header frame. I changed the background and it narrowed my writing space down and left huge margins on the sides. It also cut off some of my photo collage of my mum, which forced me to shrink it to fit. All in all, my blog ended up looking embarrassingly amateurish.
Of course I am an amateur, but that is no excuse. I don't mind being an amateur. I just don't want to look like an amateur.
The good news is that I found out how to widen the bits I needed to widen and changed my background to one broad page instead of columns and I'm much happier.
[Try to imagine me doing a happy dance around my computer]
Now the grandkids fit neatly in the header frame - I will change it though. It was another failed experiment, but I will reuse the photos of them because they are sooo cute. There will be more changes. Gradually and carefully.
This is my Mum. I created the collage weeks ago, intending to post it for Mothers' Day. Unfortunately life got busier and busier and although I phoned Mum on Mothers' Day, I didn't do a Mothers' Day post. It was going to be a nice one - full of positives that I have to be thankful for and letting Mum know what her strengths are. I was going to put a lot of thought into it.
I don't seem to get a lot of time for thoughtful stuff like that.
Still, Mum needs to know that she is thought about and appreciated and loved, so I post the collage now and hopefully the thoughtful stuff will find a window of opportunity later.
Baby fingers and toes are so cute and photograph-able. I love the way her little fingers are just as pink as her gorgeous little dress.
Sunday May 2 was a big day in the lives of two little babies. Mr Sunshine's twin great niece and great nephew were baptised. The little man was a good baby who slept a lot - like good babies do. His little sister (a minute younger) bawled into the minister's clip-on microphone as he held her and at the celebratory morning tea, spent quite a lot of time awake. So we have more girlie pics than little boy pics, sadly.
You can see that she wasn't unhappy all of the time. That smile was for her Grandad D. He was putty in her tiny little hands.
I would love to know what their big brother was thinking when he pulled that funny face during the service.
Today Monkey met his match. All of our grandchildren have strong wills (from Mr Sunshine's side).
Meet Mr Sunshine's mum - one of the great grandmas to my grandchildren. Our grandchildren have been blessed with a virtual plethora of grandparents. Great grandma loves her grandchildren and great grandchildren, but she is not about to be pushed around by any of them.
Today's post title should be accompanied by music - dramatic music - the sort of music you might hear in the introduction of a very scary movie. The sound of the music would fill you with dread even before you knew what would follow.
Last weekend was the Chimera and DH's anniversary. It was a special one and they decided to have a second honeymoon at the place where they spent their first honeymoon. No one takes the kids on a honeymoon, do they? That is what grandparents are for.
This would be great - three whole days AND NIGHTS with Cheetah and Little Bear under the same roof.
Yes, THREE NIGHTS! Cheetah has slept at the Dragonlady Grotto many times in the past and regarded his mother's old bedroom as his room because he spent so much time here. It had his toys, his quilt, his spare clothes, his dresser. Sleeping here was never a problem for Cheetah.
But Little Bear has only slept here once before. She missed her house. She missed her own bed. She missed her mummy and daddy. She couldn't fall asleep. She tried the bed in Cheetah's room, but it wasn't her familiar bed. She was up and down like a yo-yo, in and out of the bedroom, wanting a tissue to blow her nose, a drink of water, a cuddle, a book - anything to avoid sleep.
Cheetah was patient, but he was overtired too. Mr Sunshine was being patient, but he was getting tired. Grannysaurus was patient in a "biting-my-tongue-and-counting-to-ten" kind of way. Little Bear is only two and she was trying to be reasonable in a two-year-old kind of way. It is amazing how long a really tired child can stave off sleep even though bigger, older and tougher individuals are buckling at the knees, drooping at the eyelids and ready to collapse. Little Bear's mother taught me that. . . oh, about 30 years ago.
Eventually, I folded my quilt into quarters to improvise a mattress on the floor in my own bedroom and put Little Bear there and I stayed in the room and reassured her that I would be sleeping there all night. It didn't work instantly, but it did work and for the next three nights, that was where Little Bear slept. On the third night we had Little Bear and Cheetah on the floor in our bedroom - no honeymoon for us ;)
Three days with the children gave me a generous number of photo opportunities. The collage gives a bit of insight into Little Bear's charming personality. I deliberately left the blurriest one in the middle because that is what we mostly saw of Little Bear - a blur whizzing by. She is the proverbial blow fly, never sitting still for longer than a few seconds. Getting an unblurry photo of her was almost as big a challenge as getting her to sleep.
Cheetah is not a blowfly. I could have taken hundreds of crisp shots of his back dramatically silhouetted against the light of my computer screen. He does like playing computer games (which I was constantly monitoring for suitability). But I didn't take any photos like that, just a few when he emerged occasionally.
I forgot to mention that with Cheetah and Little Bear came Jo Jo, the cockatiel. Jo Jo has learnt that whistling gets attention and sometimes buys him a few minutes of freedom. He whistled a lot. That feathery little bonnet at a rakish angle on Little Bear's head is Jo Jo - not his best angle.
Finally a Sunday afternoon picnic tea at the Strand got everyone out of the house and some valuable cousin-bonding time with the McTavish clan. Note the bags under the eyes on Little Bear in the bottom pic. Her mummy told me that she crashed when she finally got home to her own bed.
Can you see the gleam of idol worship in the way Lion looks at Cheetah? I'm glad that he is a worthy role model.
They are a gorgeous bunch of grandkids and I'm not the least bit biased.
How time has flown! This is Romeo in 1992 - his first year of school. Romeo was five years old. He is now 23.
Skippy was the name given to the Agile Wallaby joey he is holding in the pillow slip. Skippy's mother was hit and killed by a car and Skippy was found, hopping around, on the side of the road, looking very lonely, vulnerable and confused. Baby wallabies are born in a very underdeveloped state - hairless and tiny. When Skippy was adopted by Romeo's class he had very little hair. By the time this photo was taken he had grown quite a bit and settled in to classroom life very nicely.
Romeo's lovely teacher Mrs W, (her son had found Skippy) got permission to care for Skippy because he is a protected species and had to get a special milk formula that suited his metabolism. She hung a pillow slip in the classroom for him (a fresh one every day) and he would execute a careful somersault into it in the same way that he would have rolled into his mother's pouch. At night Mrs W took him home to care for him.
Not only did Skippy thrive in the classroom, the children learnt to care for him and learnt a lot about marsupials. Mrs W is still a great teacher who takes advantage of situations (like caring for Skippy) to create a theme for the students. Arithmetic, writing, music, reading, poetry - all had a marsupial theme until Skippy grew into a healthy young wallaby and had to go to a new home to prepare for his release back into the wild. Lots of learning took place while Skippy bounced around between the desks and busied himself getting to know the children.
Yesterday I bumped into Mrs W at the shopping centre and we spent at least an hour standing in the aisle (trying not to inconvenience other shoppers) while we reminisced and caught up on all of the news about our respective families. Mrs W taught each of our kids in infant classes and knows as much about their childhoods as we know ourselves. For each of them she will always be their favourite teacher.
I wonder how long wallabies live and if Skippy or his progeny are still hopping around somewhere in our great outdoors?
This week the movie premiered in Townsville where it was shot last year.
It interests me because it is a bit of lesser-known Australian history and because I have a need-to-know.
Dad's Uncle Thomas(click for more information) was a tunneller in the war. He was recruited in Tasmania where he was a miner. He suffered from mustard gas poisoning twice in Belgium and was repatriated home to Tassy. He died a few days before the Armistice was signed.
In his last weeks of life, the Australian Defence Force denied Thomas' application for a pension. They (whoever "they" are) claimed that his "rheumatism" was a pre-existing illness even though they gave him a clean bill of health when he signed up only two years earlier. This information is in his records which are accessible from the Australian Archives online. Was this an injustice? I believe so.
Brave, fit men signed up, compelled by noble motives, to do a dangerous, frightening and dirty job which took them far from their loved ones. To return, frail and ill, traumatised and dying and be denied a pension by a penny-pinching government - that's betrayal.
If you have a frog phobia, you might not want to view these pics:)
These days, I don't see as much of the Chimera grandchildren as I do of the McTavish grandchildren. The result is that my blog doesn't feature Cheetah and Little Bear as much as the other ankle-biters. So today, for no particular reason, I decided to find a favourite pic of Cheetah to feature in a post.
I have many favourite pics of Cheetah because he is so photogenic with his pixie face and big blue eyes. Can't you imagine him as an elf-lordling?
I can remember when this little frog landed on him nearly 18 months ago whilst he was playing in the McTavish cubby house. We all love frogs - although Mr Sunshine has a frog phobia, he still thinks they are cute to look at. As long as they keep their distance and don't give him THE LOOK - you know. . . that LOOK that means, "I'm about to jump and I'm looking for a suitable landing site." Fortunately none of the grand-kiddies have inherited his phobia. [They have all inherited my spider phobia :( ]
Cheetah was obviously delighted that the little green guy was being so chummy and was disappointed when he jumped away. They say that frogs are a sign of a healthy environment. The McTavish back yard must be very healthy indeed. They have heaps of them - in the pot plants, under leaves, in the crevices and even in the barbecue. You have to do an inspection before turning on the gas. At times the outdoor area has a distinctive amphibian fragrance from the number of frogs. If you have frogs you will know this fragrance.
Kermit posed for one last close up before hopping on his way.
This is one for the family. Dad passed away in February 2005. I didn't realise how many photos I had of him until I was playing around with Picasa3's facial recognition feature. Then with the click of a button and about 2 minutes of rearranging and I made this collage.
I haven't scanned all of my old film photographs yet either.
These pics span about 50 years of Dad's life.
A. They aren't messing up the house while they are in the park.
B. They use up some of that bountiful energy supply and (hopefully) sleep more soundly at night.
C. Fresh air is good for them and us.
D. Exercise is good for them and us.
E. They just love to go to the park and think we are the best grandparents in the world for taking them.
F. Add more of your own reasons by leaving a comment.
The red brick house that you can't see behind the trees is the Dragon Lady Grotto. This is only a fraction of our park. It's big enough for 2 Rugby League fields and we figure that it's about 1 kilometer in circumference. So, aren't we lucky to have so much playground for the grandchildren? The down side is that until this time of year it's too hot to make use of it until late in the day.
On Saturday we looked after the McTavish grandchildren again. For more than an hour we were in the park and even Monkey had a great time. He forgot all about his obsession with food for the whole time.
There is a cycle path around the park and various (adult size) gym equipment also dotted around the park close to the path. Lion can just reach the handle bars on this one. I'm pretty pleased that I managed to catch the action with my camera.
Another action shot I'm fairly happy with is this one of Dragon playing hopscotch, but I think it would have been better if I'd got down really low - like on my belly - to get the feel of the distance between his feet and the ground.
Of course it can't be all sunshine and Lion had a momentary funk when Dragon's weight stabilised the roundabout thingo and stopped it from turning for him. I told him to keep frowning because I wanted a good 'grumpy' photo. So, naturally, he started laughing and giggling, but not before I "shot" this one.
Usually they want to stay in the park forever and we have tears when it is time to leave. The really amazing thing was that this time they were happy to leave and come home with us. Maybe they were getting hungry after all.
This photo was taken in about 1956 in a VERY small town called Ringarooma in North East Tasmania. That is me on the end behind my cousin and my (late) Nanna is watching us. Nanna owned a dairy farm on the outskirts of the town. All of my family know where Ringarooma is of course. The geographic information is for readers who have never heard of it.
In Australia, towns are measured by how many pubs they have. Ringarooma is a one pub town. It's a small town by anyone's standards.
The next photo is the Ringarooma pub, circa 1956. These days it looks a little less fresh than it did back then.
My 'weird Australian history' is about the general area in the 1920's. The photos are just to give you a general idea of the area and to help cast your mind back.
We all know that there were no rabbits in Australia before European colonisation. But in the early days, some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to bring bunnies from Europe out to this country. Before you could say "here comes Peter Cotton-tail" Australia was overrun with rabbits and they were a plague and a menace. In the 1920's the folk in the Ringarooma area were fed up and started a baiting campaign. I don't know what their poison was, but it effectively killed truckloads of rabbits. Unfortunately it effectively killed truckloads of magpie birds also because they ate the dead rabbits and possibly the baits as well. Unlike the rabbits, the magpies were virtually eradicated from the area.
Back then, folk did not always think through the consequences and environmental impact of their actions. There was an impact because the magpies ate moths and butterflies and caterpillars and now there were very few predators for the moths, butterflies and caterpillars. Caterpillar populations exploded all over the countryside. In 1926 they denuded the land of every scrap of vegetation.
Now for the weird history so pay attention. . . The caterpillars were so thick on the ground that they even covered the railway tracks. They made the railway tracks so gross that trains couldn't run until the tracks were clear.
That's right - Caterpillars stopped the trains.
I think that's weird.
Footnote: Obviously I was not the photographer. My mother took the photographs with her little Kodak Brownie camera.
Actually it wasn't a Sunday. By the way- what is the origin of the 'Sunday driver' equals 'an accident looking for a place to happen driver'? Is it something to do with Sunday drivers being sightseers and therefore not focused on the road and traffic? But back to my story-
Actually the pictures are the story. Mummy McT took the photos and I made them into a collage (with a little help from Picasa3). Get a load of that lawn. That's how everything looked after weeks of good (a bit too good at times) rain. Well maybe not EVERY thing, but everything green and growing took on an almost surreal brilliance. I have never seen so much of the countryside looking quite that fluorescent shade of green before. We get so used to grass looking a sort of washed out light tan colour and eucalyptus and wattle trees tend to cope with the severe sun by having grayish foliage, that the greenness of the grass looks positively unnatural. But back to my story-
Mummy McT and Chimera took all of the children to the park directly over the road for them to have a play with their trikes and scooters and for Cheetah to practise on his new (at Christmas) RipStik. Poor Cheetah. It was much harder than he was expecting and it seemed that he really did have two left feet. I'm sure practise will get him there in the end.
As for his younger cousins, Dragon and Lion, they have about 12 and 14 years to go before they can get their driver's licences. Let's hope their concentration and coordination improves by then.
In case you are wondering, there were plenty of wheels to go around and Little Bear and baby Monkey were there too.
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.