December 10, 2009
OK - I'M STILL HERE!
Apologies for months of silence from moi. Actually I was very busy (still am) but really didn't have anything to say. That's amazing for me, but strangely true.
In July, Rob and I became involved in politics. For the sake of harmony here, I'm not going to mention which party. We've put in a lot of time and effort and are both office bearers in our local SEC. We've made some wonderful friends and met some complete arseholes...if you'll pardon my explicit language. In many cases, the higher up the food chain, the worse they are, especially those who are on the executives. Machiavelli could take lessons from some of these creatures.
One thing about becoming mixed up in this sort of organisation, suddenly you find yourself with a social life!
It made the fact that I've lost a heap of weight this year, all the more important. Nice to look good in clothes for a change. One of my daughters lost a massive 25kgs too and looks amazing.
Just when everything was going beautifully, I developed a problem - probably brought on by an highly increased exercise programme - which saw me hospitalized for major surgery on November 16th. Convalescence is approx. 8 wks. Unfortunately I've developed some nerve damage, which will hopefully right itself, but it's meant that I'm on a rather nasty anti-convulsant drug which also works on the neuropathic system too. Now I'm just learning to live with the pain. General medical concensus is that it should fade with a little more time. I hope so, because not being able to exercise is really giving me the pip!
Enough of whinges. I've started putting together a Cookery Book which I hope to be able to send to rellies and friends by Christmas. I have the cover art, intro, foreword and a section on sauces and dressings finished. The title...and don't anyone breathe a word...is 'THERE'S A PARTY IN YOUR PANTRY!" In my mind cooking is a Celebration, so hence the title...plus it's a little bit risque.
The furkids are fine and dandy. Earlier in the year, Ziggy developed an aural haematoma and had to have an op. Nearly $600 later he's still got a droopy ear, but no swelling or pain. Thanks to Gemma for chipping in with some $$$. We seem to be having a flea plague at the moment and it's costing heaps fighting that.
The vege patch wasn't really productive this year...either no rain and tight water restrictions or too much rain at the wrong time. Glad I'm not a farmer! Still, we did manage to harvest quite a lot of our efforts, so it wasn't a waste of time.
Rob's Aunt Heather came over to Australia from the UK in October. She spent most of her stay with Rob's dad Ian, in Sydney, but they did fly to Cairns for 4 days and visited our place for the first time. Ian was actually quite nice to me for a change and it made for a nice visit. Rob and Ian seem to have finally reached a reasonably good relationship. Ian went to HongKong in November and has just returned with his girlfriend Shu. We are waiting for him to tell us that they are getting married. Maybe they will be like us and tell us after the event has happened. We are so pleased to think that Ian is happy.
Brook (granddaughter in the Navy) has finished all her exams and will be posted to HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, early next year. I know she's itching to get to sea. She will be home, here in Cairns, just after Christmas and will be spending a few weeks with us. I know we are all looking forward to it. We will also be celebrating her 21st Birthday while she is here. Look out DFO and nightclubs - Brook's in town!
Anyway, time to get back to the Cook Book - I'll drop in again soon to give you all an update.
March 08, 2009
I know it's been a long time since I've done an update and there's really been no excuse, except that I never got around to it.
Since I last posted I've had a couple of trips away from Gordonvale. The first in December, was to Brook's graduation ceremony from basic training in the Royal Australian Navy. I stayed with my eldest daughter Jacqui and her daughter Kate. It was lovely to have time with them and we went to the ceremony together. I might add that Brook paid for my flight as an early Christmas gift and it was lovely to be able to be there. Rob stayed home to look after the hounds. I know he would have loved to have been there too. I also managed to see my daughter Gemma and granddaughter Christine when Jacqui was driving me to the airport. I had seen Gemma (Brook's mother) at the Graduation, but Christine couldn't be there as she's only 5 and it would have been too late a night for her.
Shortly after I returned home, Brook rang to say that she had leave over Christmas and that she would be arriving on Sunday 21st Dec. I had the house all ready for her visit on Friday 19th. I'm glad I did, because at about 6pm that evening, the front screen door opened and in stepped this sailor in dress whites! Her first words were "What's for dinner Nan?" I sat there with my mouth open for at least a minute. To make me speechless is some achievement!
We had a lovely Christmas with the family and the two weeks went way too fast. I hated putting her on the plane back to Melbourne to start her training as an Electronics Technician.
Since then we've had regular phonecalls and updates on her progress. She's doing extremely well and has actually had a letter of commendation sent to the Commanding Officer of HMAS Cerberus with special note on her leadership qualities.
On January 9th, Deena, David, Karl, Jodie, the two little boys and myself, flew to Brisbane en route to the Gold Coast. It was Amanda, my eldest granddaughter's 21st birthday. Again, poor Rob stayed home to dog sit. We stayed in a really lovely resort at Palm Beach. The party was on Saturday the 10th. All went smoothly and over the 4 days we were there, I got to see quite a bit of my 2 granddaughters Amanda and 16yr old Elyse. I hadn't seen them for 10yrs and it was great to catch up. A good time was had by all. I even got to go shopping with my grandson Rhys who had flown in from Melbourne!
On the Monday, Deen and David drove the rest of us to the airport and then they went to David's parents place in Brisbane. After that they went on holiday to Tasmania and then Victoria - they had some nice quality time with Rhys while they were there too. Just after they returned home the weather went to hell! We had torrents of rain and, if they had been a day later, they wouldn't have got through the roads.
It's been a bad year weatherwise, not only here in Queensland. We still have small towns in the Gulf region, that have been isolated for over 2 months by floodwaters. Things are pretty desperate when saltwater crocodiles are swimming up the the front door! Then of course, there's been the devestating bushfires in Victoria...I think everyone, including my friends overseas, have seen what's happened there. Just to add to the 'fun', Friday night the world really moved for Melbourne, Broome and Beacon (the last 2 are in Western Australia) with earthquakes giving them a bit of a shake up. Fortunately there's been no damage reported, but it's unusual for three quakes, all 4.6 on the richter scale, to take place at the same time. Makes you wonder what's going on.
As you can see from the picture and article (see link) Rob and I were the subjects for the Valentine's Day issue of the Cairns Sun. We've had nothing but positive reactions to it. Most people thought it was lovely to actually read a 'good news' story for a change. For once it's actually a decent pic of us. The page links may take a little while to open, so be patient please.
Last week was 'different' to say the very least! I somehow found myself on a Jury for three days. Not only that, I got the job of 'speaker' for the panel. I still have one week of Jury service left and I could be selected again...but I hope I'm not! I must say I was lucky enough to be on a panel with a bunch of very good and reasonable people, which made the experience a lot better than it could have been.
Friday was one of those days. We had cyclone Hamish moving down the coast past Cairns. It's Sunday now and it's still gathering force and moving further south. I think everyone is holding their breath that it's going to peter out and not do any real damage. Queenslanders don't need another Cyclone Larry which hit just south of this general area on March 20th 2006.
Gotta love living in the Tropics!
Anyway, time to finish and do something else.
Catch you all later!
November 27, 2008
Time Just Flys!
It hardly seems any time at all since I told you all about Brook joining the Navy, but here I am, telling you that she's Graduating from Basic Training on December 4th!
Actually it will be 11weeks...and we've missed her every single day. Not only the family, but our dogs and her work mates from the Service Station too. Each time I've been in there they ask how she's doing and when she will be home on leave. One really nice young man, with whom she is good friends, asked if she was coming home for Christmas and then offered to pay her airfare if she couldn't afford it! I explained that we had to wait and see if she had leave and that the Navy pays her fares home.
Now for the really big news! Brook rang a couple of days ago, told me to book a flight to Melbourne and gave me her credit card details to pay for it. She wants me to be there for the Graduation Ceremony on the evening of Dec.4th. I'd been feeling awful about not being able to go, so she decided I wasn't going to miss out. Did I tell you I love that girl?
I leave on Dec 3rd (Wednesday) and return at midnight Dec 7th. Not only will I get to see Brook again, but I'll be staying with my eldest daughter and my second youngest granddaughter - which is another absolute bonus! They will driving down to the Parade with me and be there for Brook as well.
As far as I know, once her weekend leave is over (provided that she's not on the duty roster) Brook will start her Electronics Technician training the following Monday. I have no idea how long the course is, but know that the initial part takes place at the School of Engineering, HMAS Cerberus, which is her base at the moment. Seeing as her 1st rank is Seaman Star (unqualified) it will probably be something like 8 months of study and prac.
Brook's no stranger to hard work and has a great work ethic. I know that she'll give 100% to getting her qualifications. I can't wait to give her a hug...my only regret is that Rob won't be there, because he and Brook are great mates. Still, someone has to baby sit the dogs and earn the bikkies.
I'll post again when I get back. I should have some good pics for you then too.
October 06, 2008
Rob and I had friends over on Saturday afternoon. I'd met Brett once, though Rob has known him for a while. Neither of us had met his wife Jo or their little boy Lachlan (2). She turned out to be a delightful young woman and their son is a joy. Jo is expecting their second child in February.
In our outside entertainment area are two glass top dining tables and chairs, which see quite a bit of use. We sat there eating nibblies and drinking coffee or cold water and chatting for a couple of hours. It was lovely getting to know them better and swapping stories of family etc. Lachlan finally gave in and curled up on his mum's lap and went to sleep.
I moved away from the table to get something and, as I turned around, the table at which we were actually sitting, disintergrated! If you've ever seen a car windscreen shatter, then you should be able to picture it. Everything that was on the table fell through into the gap and a large pitcher of water, the dome of my cheese tray and a couple of other things, smashed too. Needless to say, Lachlan didn't stay asleep! I was pretty glad that Jo wasn't closer to full term too!
Not one of us had a scratch - which was unbelievable. It took us ages to sweep up and dispose of all the glass. Neither Rob nor myself could remember when we purchased the setting, but we knew where it came from. I was begining to think that we would have to go through an insurance claim. Once our friends had left about an hour or so later, I started looking for the purchase docket...I tend to keep receipts ...and I found it!
Now this is the second piece of good luck - Rob gave it to me for my birthday last year and we were two days inside the 12mths warranty period!
We rang the store the next day and they told us to take it back in for a refund. Karl (son) came around with his ute and then we all went to return it. We chose a smaller 4 place setting, in a really nice design, as a replacement...ideal for breakfast or intimate dinners. We also came away with cash in hand for the difference in price.
When we went to the customer service counter, the lass there told us that her manager had instructed them to put the setting out to be trashed! There were six perfectly good chairs and the table frame. She said it was a waste and he said that no one would be bothered replacing the glass. She told him that she would, and she ended up with the set!
Never a dull moment at our place!
September 23, 2008
In the Navy!
On Sunday, Rob, Brook and myself started out on 'Brook's Big Adventure!'
We were on the road to Townsville (423kms south of Gordonvale) by 10.30am. We stopped for lunch at Cardwell (about the half way mark) and sat at a picnic table right on the edge of the beach. It was lovely just being out of the car for a while. We'd had a going away bbq on Saturday night so there was quite a bit of left over food which we'd packed for lunch. Brook slept most of the way after that, because after the family get together, she'd gone to her girlfriends place. A bunch of their friends from Innisfail (about an hour south of G'vale) had gathered there for a farewell party and they made sure that she didn't get any sleep.
We booked into a hotel in Townsville, which was just a short walk (uphill) from the Recruiting Office, where she had to present on Monday morning. Once we settled in, we went on a very long walk to find somewhere to eat.
Townsville on a Sunday is the most boring place on Earth! We ended up having hot dogs at the Great Australian Ice Creamery. Not even the pubs were open (unlike Cairns). Cafes and restaurants are closed - obviously the misguided tourists who visit there don't get hungry. Apparently there is a strip with eateries, but it was too far for us to walk. Brook ended up sleeping from the time we got back to the hotel (about 5.30pm) until 6.15 the next morning! Rob and I ate at the small restaurant in the hotel. To say that it was forgettable would be an understatement. We were both pretty grateful to get to bed.
After breakfast on Monday, we headed to the Recruitment Office for Brook's induction into the Navy. As I said previously, it was only a short walk, but Brook had been sensible enough to by a large duffle bag with a trolly built in. Just as well, because, even after we had cut her packing to the minimum, it still weighed a ton and she had to pull it up the hill. We were there at 9am and she completed her paper work, had a final blood test and made contact with some of the other enlistees. We then left her there for a briefing. We went for yet another walk. Honestly, we were lucky to find a book shop to occupy us for the next hour. It was a relief when she rang us to say that the ceremony would be starting shortly!
There were 7 recruits for the Navy and 2 for the Army. We, including the other families, gathered together in a meeting room, complete with a coffee machine, which had a life of it's own.
The Ceremony started and the recruits received laminated certificates of their enlistments, which were for the families. I thought that was a lovely idea. Then the 2 Army recruits were inducted. After that the Navy guys took the oath or affirmation. Once that was over we had a few minutes for photos and then we went down to the front of the building, where the bus was waiting to take them to the airport. We had a few moments for hugs and kisses and then they were off. The Navy recruits flew to Brisbane first and then to Melbourne where they would be transported to HMAS Cerberus which is the training base. The Army recruits were to fly to Sydney and then from there to their base at Kapooka.
Rob and I went back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and the car. We got out of Townsville as fast as we could. Unfortunately there were a lot of road works on the way home, so it took us longer than we would have liked. We left at 12.30pm and reached home at 4.45pm. We have to thank Deena (daughter) for looking after the dogs while we were away. They were really pleased to see us but I suspect they are going to miss Brook, but not more than we will.
It's been lovely having had this last 20mths with Brook, I feel privilaged that she wanted to spend her time here, with us and the rest of the family. We've seen her graduate from high school, work hard at a permenant job and now make a move into the world in a career in the Australian Defence Force. We are proud of her...what ever she does.
August 26, 2008
Life Goes On!
Time for another update on life in the Far North of Queensland:
Winter here is the best time of the year. We could do with some rain, but I'm not complaining too much.
The garden is going great guns and we have a constant supply of lettuce, tomatoes, button squash, zuchini and, shortly, celery. The beetroot is about ready to pull too.
I made Jaboticaba Jelly (jam) on Sunday. We have a tree in our bush garden and it was loaded with fruit, so rather than keep giving surplus fruit away, I found a recipe and got to work. It's really delicious and makes toast rather special.
My granddaughter Brook is staying with us again. She's still working at the Caltex Service Station across the road and her shifts start at 4am and finish at 1pm. We didn't like the idea of her riding her bike to work at that time in the morning, so she's moved back in. So I'm back cooking and washing for 3 again.
Two weeks ago Gordonvale (where we live) held the annual Great Pyramid Race. Walsh's Pyramid is the largest free standing mountain in the world. It's weird - it just stands there without being part of the surrounding mountain ranges. The race has been held for the last 49yrs and now attracts runners from all over the world, not just locals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walsh's_Pyramid will give you some idea of what the challenge is like.
Here are the winners of the various sections and the times they ran. http://www.pyramidrace.com.au/a_information.htm
I wouldn't even make it 1/2 way...even if I was on all fours!
Brook, on the other hand, climbed the Pyramid at 8am on the morning of the race. She's a member of the State Emergency Service and they volunteer, each year, to man water stops and first aid stations on the mountain. The water barrels are dropped off by helicopter but this year, instead of the chopper picking them up after the race, they had to be carried out on foot. (The chopper had to leave to transport a very sick child to hospital.) On the way down, Brook got a radio message that one of the other women had hurt her ankle. It turned out that it was fractured in two places. It was in an area where the helicopter would have been unable to land, so they had to put into practice what they were trained for and carry her out on a stretcher. The way down is treacherous and in places they had to lower the stretcher with ropes. It was 11pm by the time they made it off the mountain. It must have been an nightmare doing that decent in the dark! I know Brook was footsore the next day - though I might add that some of that may have been due to the fact that ,she and some friends, went clubbing at midnight! Oh to be 19 again!
Brook and Rob have set up the gym gear, that my son Karl, had left to clutter up our garage. Rob has lost a lot of weight lately, due to the fact that he walks quite a long way from where he parks the car. He also walks at lunch time. Now he needs to tone up. Brook on the other hand, needs to loose about 10kgs, so they have set goals and are trying to work towards them. My challenge at the moment, is to give up smoking...yet again!
Our good friends Cameron and Linda are getting married on Oct. 24th and have invited us to the wedding. It's going to be in Sydney. We can't afford both of us to go, so Rob will be going down for 4days and staying with one of our favourite people, Gavin. Gav's place is close to a railway station and will give Rob easy access go the places he has to go. It will give Rob a chance to see his father too. He's not seen him since we moved here in January 2005.
I'm going to be on the GoldCoast in January next year. I'm going down with my daughter Deena and her partner David, Karl, Jodie and their 2 boys. It's my eldest Granddaughter's 21st birthday and a chance for me to see her and her sister again. I've not seen them since 1998 so I'm looking forward to it. Rob is staying home to babysit the dogs. I bet he spends most of that time playing Halo 3 online!
Time for me to go hang out the laundry!
Catch you next time.
June 17, 2008
Tightening the Belt.
How are you all travelling with the financial problems that most of our countries are facing?
I don't know about you, but the increase in interest rates have hit us where it hurts. Our repayments have doubled over the last 6mths and on our income, that's not comfortable. I'd absolutely hate to be in the shoes of a new home buyer now. The obvious decline in home buying makes me wonder where people are going to live. Sure there are houses for rent but the cost of renting is horrendous! Average rental for this area, seems to be about $320 pw. Units (apartments) are renting for $250 upwards...depending if you have a view or not...oh and that's unfurnished.
Rob and I might bitch about repayments etc, but I honestly think we are soooo lucky. We may be stuck with the interest on our loan, but, as I said last post, we were able to buy all the materials for our renovations before prices skyrocketed. Speaking of renovations, we have now finished nearly all of ours. The hallway needs repainting and the doors in the lounge + the bathroom ceiling. We also have to finish off the steps from the kitchen to the lounge with a coat of varnish. The makeover on our bedroom is phenominal! It bears no resemblance to the overcrowded, stuffy room it once was. The wallpaper and carpet are gone...Hooray! So are the ugly wall bracket lights, replaced with bedside lamps with wicker shades.
The floor has vinyl tiles and the walls are a very subtle colour called Cocoa Parfait. We used the same colour in the computer room. It looks nice in the computer room but in the bedroom it is just brilliant. It blends perfectly with the quilt and pillow shams which are an odd sort of bronze, edged with chocolate brown. We have a couple of dark purple rugs which bring all the colours together.
Above our bed is a print I picked up in New Mexico. It's a painting of a Native American Indian woman. She is seated on the ground and is wrapped in a blanket which echoes all the colours of the room. The curtains are cream linen- which makes the room much lighter. I get a real buzz everytime I walk in there.
I must add that the curtain hanging was not without incident.
Rob and I both had our Flu shots for the year, but they obviously got the possible strains wrong this year. I managed to catch it from my granddaughter Brook, who had a bad dose and passed it around very generously.
We managed to finish the vege garden and are already eating lettuce and other goodies from it. We also bought a "Biosnakky Mini-Greenhouse" and we are raising trays of alfalfa, wheatgrass and salad shoots to suppliment our diet. Honestly, it was amazing to have alfalfa to eat just 4 days after 'planting'! We are eating less and less meat and my energy level is on the rise again. Not only that, we are also, unconciously eating less.
Our Rosella bush has produced a bumper crop in this, it's first year. On Sunday I made a batch of jam which is delicious. It's a fiddly job but the taste more than compensates. One jar has been earmarked for my daughter Jacqui and will be posted this week. (See Jacqui...I told you I'd make it!)
Rob purchased a new bicycle for me. I've not ridden it yet because, apart from my having the flu...to be quite honest, the damned seat is far too hard for my aging rear.LOL We are going shopping for a much more comfortable seat shortly and then I'll start riding again. I've not ridden a bike for over 30 yrs, so it should prove interesting!
Rob has been doing book reviews for one of the columns at the Cairns Post (the newspaper he works for)...it's not paid work, but he gets to keep the books. He rang me today to say that he picked up a couple of books, one of which is the latest James Patterson novel "Sail" which I've been itching to get my hands on. Gotta love free books!
Anyway, that's just about all the news from the Tropical North, so, until next time, bye!