December 10, 2009

OK - I'M STILL HERE!

G'day all!
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.

Catcha!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:14 PM | Comments (3)

March 08, 2009

Valentine's Day

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Hi All!
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!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2008

Sooo Lucky!

Hi all!
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! So, apart from the fright it gave us, we all ended up winning.

Never a dull moment at our place!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2008

In the Navy!

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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. It broke the ice and we got on like a house on fire with lots of laughs. Brook has already palled up with a lass from Mareeba (an hours drive from Gordonvale). This woman is probably in her early 30s and is going in as a Submariner. One other man, also in his 30s, was joining up as a Linguistic Cryptologist and he'd been accepted withing 2months of his application. The other recruits all appeared to be around Brook's age. I was glad that Brook's new friend was a mature woman, she will be able to give her motivation when training gets really tough. For the next 11 weeks we won't be able to have a lot of contact, but the Officers made it clear that Mail Call was really important to the trainees, so I'll be writing regularly.

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.

Vickie.


Posted by Midus at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2008

Life Goes On!

Hi All!

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.

Vickie.


Posted by Midus at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2008

Tightening the Belt.

Hi All!

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 was finishing drilling the holes for the rail, when he jumped of the small stepladder...right into the blades of the ceiling fan! He sustained a nasty gash to the top of his head, which bled like hell and needed 6 sutures - 3 internal and 3 external. He must have a thick skull because he never even complained of a headache. The blade of the fan is still a little bent out of shape.

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. It knocked me rotten for nearly three weeks. I am NOT a good patient.

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!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2008

A New Twig on the Tree.

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Hi Everyone!
Easter was an eventful time for the family. We welcomed our newest member in the early hours of Easter Sunday.
His name is Dean Andrew. Dean is the second boy for my son Karl and his wife Jodie...and a little brother for Seth. The picture was taken when he was 36hrs old. This my 10th grandchild (5th grandson). Dean is also the second 'official' grandson for Rob - we've had two born since we were married in 2004.

Now back to the other news from the homestead:
The torrential rain seems to have stopped. The garden is a jungle and the vege patch is a disaster area. Rob is taking 3 weeks of annual leave in April. The intention is to finish the renovations and then spend time getting the garden back into shape. Hopefully we may also find some time to get away from the house and have some time to ourselves. I'm so pleased that we had the forethought to buy enough paint, tiles and timber to finish the house, because, with the rise in interest rates, it would be nearly impossible for us to afford it now. Every week is a challenge, but Rob is pretty good with finances when they need juggling.

We've started shopping at a meat wholesaler. Not only do they supply some really lovely meat - in a huge variety, but they have catering packs of other items - frozen veges, calamari, spring rolls etc and a wide variety of deli goods. I found we can save heaps and eat really well. Until the vege garden gets back into production, we are taking the trip to the markets on a Saturday morning - another way of saving. I buy other items from the supermarket in the largest size I can get and I'm saving there too.

My daughter Deena is giving Rob a lift to work 4 days a week and won't accept any money. Not only is it saving on petrol costs for us, but parking has dropped by about $90 per month. Rob is back doing his shift at the Community Radio Station on Thursday evenings, reading the News for the Print Handicapped and that's the reason it's only 1 day a week that he takes the car.

Our granddaughter Brook went for her initial interview and testing for enlistment in the Navy on Wednesday. So far it looks very good. She's having to wait for some paperwork from Sydney and Melbourne. After that's submitted, she will have her physical exam etc. She has another interview by phone scheduled for Monday. The recruitment officer was keen to get her in the next intake (she wants to do Electronics) in April, but the hold up with the paperwork means that she has to wait until the next one. Fingers crossed for her please, because the Navy is where she wants to be.

Rob, Deena and Brook played in an indoor soccer team for The Cairns Post. The team name was 'Run Forrest, Run'. I'm pleased to report that they won the finals! They beat a team that was previously undefeated. Well Done!

Still on the sport front, my granddaughter Elyse (aged 15) took part in the Queensland State Life Saving Titles in the under 17yrs section. She is now State Champion. Not only did she do well in the teams events and individual races, but she won the Iron Woman section...taking out every event. Now she is off to Perth in April for the Australian Championships. Her mum (Jenny) and her dad will be travelling with her. I'll let you know how she goes. Needless to say, we are all very proud of her.

I think that's all on the newsfront from this neck of the woods, so.....

Catch you all later.
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2008

A Brand New Year.

A belated Happy New Year to all of you!

Lot's of news.
Firstly, the young Honey Eaters have left the nest and taken up residence in the Bankok Rose bushes in the dog run.
It's lovely to hear them twittering away, whilst they feed.

Rob, Karl and myself took on the task of renovating the guest room. It's like walking into a whole different room - thank goodness! Next on the agenda, after a break to catch our collective breath, is our bedroom and dressing room. I think it can wait for a while as we are all pretty busy with other things that need doing. Karl, especially, has a lot on his plate. Jodie and Karl are expecting the new addition to the family quite soon and he needs to do a lot of work on their place before he (yes it's another boy) arrives. I can't say enough to thank my son. He's given so much of his time to us and saved us soooooooo much money.

The first guests in our 'new' room arrived on Jan 22nd. Cameron and Linda, good friends from Sydney, came to spend 5 days with us. It was great to have their company ... even if I did have to fight to get a word in edgewise with Cameron. We had a BBQ on the 23rd to celebrate Brook's 19th birthday which gave our friends a chance to 'meet the mob'. It was a nice evening and I think Brook appreciated it.

On Saturday, Australia Day and Cameron and Linda's last evening with us, I got a call from my daughter Deena, informing me that the 'mob' was again decending on us for a BBQ and that they were bringing the food. Karl supplied 5kgs of prawns, which was lovely and most welcome. I was thinking how unusual it was for the kids to give me warning that they were coming, when I had the feeling that they were bringing another guest with them. I told Rob that I thought my daughter Jenny was coming...I 've not seen her for nearly nine years. We don't always see eye to eye, but I've never given up on her and have rung her a few times recently. Sure enough, when Deena pulled up, there was Jenny! She'd come to Cairns for the 21st party of her best friend's daughter and decided it was time to mend fences too. It was a really nice party, with 13 of us all told.

Cameron and Linda left early on Sunday morning. Rob took them into the Cairns Railway Station, while I caught up on some housework. We were sorry they could only spend such a short time with us, but the heat really got to them...especially Cameron. I think he was quite pleased to wave goodbye to the Tropical Far North!

Monday was the Australia Day Holiday and Jenny's last day here too. Her plane left at 5pm, so we were invaded again, for lunch this time. We ate in the dining room, with the air con going full blast. I think it would have taken an army to have moved Jenny from the cool! It was lovely and so good to have most of the family together. It was a pity that they couldn't all have been here. I know Jenny was looking forward to getting home to the GoldCoast and her AirCon and swimming pool.

Rob and I were relaxing last night and I decided to move my lazy self and get the washing in. It was hung in the undercover entertainment area. As I was folding the final towel, I spotted something crawling on the cement floor. I thought, at first, it was a small cane toad. When I took a closer look, I found a really tiny bat! I managed to coax it onto my hand and then onto my shirt. It didn't appear to be injured, just unable to fly. We transfered it into a shoe box. It was less than 2 inches long and black, with a dear little face. Rob rang Wildlife Rescue and a very helpful lady told us that it was probably an insect eating bat. She suggested hanging a shirt on the outside clothes line, encouraging the bat to attach itself and then leave it and check back later. Apparently they can't fly away from a prone position on the ground and fall victim of dogs and cats etc. When we looked later, it had, much to my relief, flown away. I did a search this morning and identified it as a Gould's Wattled Bat, which are quite common in this area. I 've never seen such a tiny bat - I've actually seen moths that are much bigger!

Time for me to go do some work around the place...though I'd much rather read a book...actually I think I might just do that instead.

Until next time I have some news,
Take care and have a great 2008!

Vickie

Posted by Midus at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2007

Time to take a Breather!

Hi Everyone!
No sooner do I seem to get through one Christmas, than another one appears from nowhere. I think my resolution for the New Year, is going to be "start Christmas Shopping in February." At least it won't be able to sneak up on me, next time.

It's been a pretty good year for us. Most of the renovations are finished. Those that aren't are really only waiting on my son Karl, to have time. He's a very busy man, so they could be a while yet. Our health has been good, over all, so no real complaints there. I've had some very expensive dental work done, so no longer feel worried about smiling. I really have to thank my darling Rob, for insisting I go ahead with it.

Rob has the entire week off, after New Years Eve, so he and I, will be getting stuck in to renovating the spare bedroom...seeing as it will actually be empty during that time. I'm hoping it's going to be a little bit cooler while we are doing it.

Our youngest grandson Seth is thriving and now 18 months old. He's a real little charmer and a motor bike nut to boot! In March (I think) he will have a new little brother to terrorize. The family is expanding without me having to do a thing.

This year we've had our granddaughter Brook stay with us. We had visits from her Mum, Gemma, and her little sister Christine. Then my daughter Jacqui and our granddaughter Kate came from Melbourne for Rob's 30th birthday. It was lovely to see them all again.

My daughter Deena has a new job. She's an accountant and has taken over as manager for a new accountancy practice. She let the villa she was renting go. It was too far to travel. She moved in with us for a while, but now she and Brook are renting a house in the same street that Karl and his family live in. That means that Deena can get her daily "fix" of Seth!

Brook finished her secondary schooling this year and we all went to the Graduation Formal. Deena made her dress and she looked stunning. Hopefully I can manage to post a pic before long.

Christmas itself, was hectic, as usual. It seemed to be a constant round of cooking and clearing up afterwards. I had some really nice presents...I love all of them.

We, here, all had a wonderful late Christmas present...it absolutely poured with rain last night! It cooled the place down no end. Hopefully it will continue today, otherwise it will be very steamy.

I must tell you about a very special thing that's going on. Outside our back dorr into the entertainment area and garden, we have a collection of windchimes and temple bells. Not long ago, I started to notice leaf litter on the ground. I didn't think too much about it and then my daughter spotted what was going on. A male Sunbird had started to make a nest on a string of bells! He was very smart...using a bell as a protective hood over the top of his nest. Over the days it rapidly took shape. I got Rob to loop the string up higher, out of the dog's reach. These little birds love nesting close to human habitat and are wonderful to watch. There is now a female in residence and, hopefully, in the new year, we will be hearing the cheeping of babies.

The Peewees (Magpie Larks) have already hatched their young and there are mother birds around, followed by their hungry youngsters. It's lovely to watch them running after mum with their mouths open, chirping demandingly.

Today I have to attack the fridges. So much food left over! Now I have to go through it and see what is salvagable. There's an entire ham that's not been touched. I'm going to have to slice it and freeze it. We should have ham sandwiches for the next 3months! I'll also be making huge pots of chicken and vege soup and some curries. Next Christmas will be much easier, because we are going to my son and daughter-in-law's place. All I have to do then, is ask what they need us to take. Still, there is one thing, after today, all I'll have to do, is reach into the freezer for dinner!

Deena and Brook are driving to Melbourne on New Years Day. They are taking down Deena's car for her son Rhys. She has his car here but it needs some work on doing to it. It has a towbar and she needs one for towing her sailboat. They will spend a week there and fly back on the 10th of January. It's a very long drive but they are going the inland route, so it should only take them 2 1/2 days...allowing for overnight stops. Rhys is paying all their running expenses and has had a GPS fitted for them. It should be quite an adventure for the two of them.

I hope you guys all had a wonderful Christmas and that 2008 is kind to you and yours. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that it's a kinder year for the entire World.

Love to all of you,
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2007

Spring has Sprung!

Hi all!
The main vege bed is complete except for the surrounding pebble path. It isn't quite the width of the garden...just 18mtrs, but it's large enough. It's already 80% filled with seedlings. Not only did I end up with a huge vege patch, but a watering system that covers most of the other garden beds as well.

My son Karl took on the project and, as he never does anything half-arsed, it ended up bigger than Ben Hur! I hate garden hoses, but there is something theraputic about watering the garden. Now I trot around turning taps and switching outlets...I still get to water the middle garden bed and the ones close to the house, not to mention my collection of hanging pots. I must say it's great not having to water the veges by hand though.

This week-end we are getting a new cupboard in the kitchen. It's going to be next to the pantry cupboard and as tall, but not quite as wide. I got sick of having electrical appliances cluttering up my work space. Most of them are stored in under counter cupboards, but there are a few that are too tall to fit. Now I will have a designated storage area for them, within easy reach of the working area. Not only that, it will cut down on the need to continually wipe the dust from them. The heavier items in the low cupboard will also be easier to access in their new home.

We had our trip to Brisbane on September 16th. Before we booked into our accomodation, we took the Airlink train into the City. Rob had never been to Brisbane, so wanted to check it out. He discovered that it is just the same as most other cities...same stores, same hi-rise design. We escaped to Dymocks Bookstore and indulged ourselves until it was time to catch a Taxi to Boondal.

The motel we stayed at was quite close to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, which was just as well, considering that traffic into the centre was just about at gridlock as performance time neared. Steely Dan were were terrific, but I do wish they had performed, at least, a couple of my favorite numbers. I know that Rob thoroughly enjoyed himself though. (Judging by the ear to ear grin on his face.)

After a late breakfast, which we finished just prior to check-out time, we took a cab to the Airport. That had us there at 11am...2 1/2hrs prior to our flight home. The 2 1/2hrs stretched to 3 1/2 hrs. Fog had delayed flights in the early morning and flowed on through to the afternoon. We were really glad to touch down in Cairns. We took a taxi to the Casino in town, where we had left the car overnight. Rob has monthly parking there, as it's close to his work and much more convenient than trying to find on street parking.

Getting home and seeing the dogs again was lovely. You'd have thought we'd been away for a week. I guess we have turned into Homebodies.

Today Gordonvale is covered by a smoke haze. The National Parks authority are conducting a 'controlled' burn, in the mountains to the west of us. There's no such thing! I've been spotting trees on fire outside the area they are burning. The wind suits itself and no matter how they try, sparks are going to get away from them. I hope it isn't going to last for long, because I'm now used to breathing clean air.

Anyway...that's all the 'news' I can think of right now, so I'll catch you all later.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2007

Time Rushes By.

I've only just realized that it's been three months since I last posted...and that's far too long!

Lots of things happening at our end of the ether.
Firstly, harking back to my last post, Bow was laid to rest and has a lovely birdbath as her marker. It's nice to think she's at rest in a garden she loved.

Next, we had my Grandson Rhys's 21st birthday party on June 23rd. He flew up from Melbourne, together with his aunt Gemma and my youngest granddaughter Christine.(Brook's mother and sister) Gemma and Christine stayed with us...it was a bit like playing sardines. Christine is autistic and it was the first time we've met her -even though she's 4yrs old. I found her to be a dear little girl, but a bit of a handful. She's had a very rough start in life - they removed a large tumour from her heart and lung when she was only 2 1/2 and then she was diagnosed with autism. I have great respect for those who live and work with autistic kids - it's draining! Brook was so happy to see her sister again it was really lovely. The family all attended the birthday party, which was at my son Karl's house.The Melbourne contingent only stopped for two nights, but it was great to see them.

We had a "break" for a couple of weeks, in which time Karl finished the laundry. It's wonderful to have a seperate and fully functional laundry and the dogs are thrilled too, because they get to use it as a bedroom at night time. It's been pretty cold here. We got down to 6o C one night...unheard of in this neck of the woods! We actually put a couple of Rob's undershirts on them as they were really miserable. They didn't even care that they looked silly.

During those two weeks, I worked hard in the garden, spreading woodchip and tending my veges...which this year I have in large pots. We've got rid of the old vege patch and intend, in the not too distant future, to put in a paved area and a gazebo, so that we can sit there and read. Then, a month ago, a friend who worked for vegetation clearing business (mainly tree lopping) delivered about 8 cu meters of woodchip and mulch...I spent the next week spreading it on the gardens.

After the break we started on Rob's 30th birthday celebrations. First there was a lunch, followed by a movie. The movie? Why the new Transformers film - Rob is an enthusiast from waaaaay back. Optimus Prime has pride of place next to his computer. His actual birthday was on July 11th...so he took the week off to enjoy it. We held an official birthday party on Friday the 13th. About 20 of us got together to launch him into officially being an adult...well that was the general intent - how successful it will be is another thing!

The nicest thing that happened for Rob's birthday was a visit from my eldest daughter Jacqui and her daughter Kate. They too are from Melbourne and flew up for a holiday. They spent the first 4 days at the Cairns Colonial Club resort...doing the usual tourist things and Jacqui got a chance to show Kate around the places she grew up. For the last 4 days they moved over to our place and Katie got to meet her relatives in this part of the world. I know from her mum's report, that she really enjoyed it. We loved having them here and do wish we could see more of them.

Once the house was empty again, I started in on the task of growing our own veges. This time I vowed to grow them all in pots. It's been pretty successful too. We then decided to replace all the old timber railway sleepers, that edged the garden beds, with concrete sleepers. Rob and Karl are still doing this, when time permits.

Unfortunately/fortunately, I got the bug for providing veges for the family. I joined a gardening club (on-line) who can provide me with 'Heritage' seeds...no GM junk thank you! I love veges that taste as they were intended to. Not only that but, as Karl's wife Jodie, is expecting again, it's important that she has the freshest possible. Actually it's important that we ALL have that chance. My plan to only grow in pots has gone out the window. Now the menfolk are building me garden beds that stretch for the length of the back fence. We are keeping them narrow, so that they are easier for me to tend. Hopefully, I will be able to grow just about all the veges we need and the supermarkets can go jump! The price of lettuce here is prohibitive and I do enjoy going out into the backyard and cutting leaves that taste like lettuce. You wouldn't believe the way the tomatoes taste after the pap you get in the markets!

Anyway...that's enough of my ramblings...the laundry is waiting for my attention. I promise not to wait soooo long before my next entry.

Vickie.


Posted by Midus at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2007

Over the Rainbow Bridge.

Hi All...
It's been a while since I've posted. Lack of time and enthusiasm, to be absolutely honest, being the chief reasons.

When I left Gordonvale six years ago, to live with Rob in Sydney, my son Karl took on my old dog Bow. She was just coming up to her 9th birthday then, but she was pretty fit and hardy. Bow was a German Shepherd/Rottweiler X and a pretty big girl. She was born on my eldest daughter's birthday, 15th May and she had her 15th birthday on Tuesday.

Karl and his family left for Cooktown on Friday evening, leaving Bow and his other dog, Ruby to guard the property. He left lots of food and water and we voluntered to check on them today and Sunday, before they arrived home in the evening.

Tonight, after seeing a movie in town, Rob, myself and Brook, checked in on them before going home. Ruby came to meet us...but not Bow. At first we thought it was because she was stone deaf, but we quickly realized that she was on her mat and had died quiet peacefully, sometime during the day.

Old dogs know things. Bow chose my late husband's birthday - May 19th, to take her final 'walkies'.He was her first 'master'. It was a blessing that she passed away while Karl wasn't there. He was dreading anything happening to her and most of all hated the thought of having her put to sleep. Now he doesn't have to.

Right now the poor old girl is resting in a working, but normally unused freezer in our garage. It's been pretty hot here and it seemed like the answer to the problem. Karl can bury her when he's up to it.

God bless old dogs...and young ones too. They bring so much joy and comfort.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2007

It's April 5th.

As you can see from the small banner to the left, it's the day to Blog Against Sexual Violence.

"It's finally stopped!" was the title of my last entry...I would love to be able to use it on this one, but it's nowhere near true.

Until recent years, discussing Sexual Violence wasn't on the list of things that 'nice' girls did and boys didn't talk about it...unless it was behind their hand. What happened to bring it into the open? Personally I think it was victims deciding that enough is enough! It was also the realization that it's never the fault of the victim. Most of this was brought about by dedicated workers, who came into contact with the results of sexual violence, in their roles as councillors and social workers. It's taken a long time, but now the Federal and State Governments are behind awareness campaignes in Australia. It's time to stop the rot.

Sexual Violence has nothing to do with Sex or Love...but everything to do with Control !

Sometimes sexual violence has its roots in the perpetrators background. If it's happened in their social /familial group on a regular basis, then it's the norm and therefore acceptable behaviour - WRONG!

So much pain is caused by the perpetrators inability to channel rage. In this area, within the last week, a 14yr old boy was arrested after a sexual attack on a 67yr old woman. The attack was in her own home. She managed to escape before she was raped, but that was his intention. His victim will never feel truly safe again...not even in her own space. The thing that leapt into my mind was " Why does he hate his grandmother so much?" Of course that's probably an over simplification, but I'd bet my little cotton socks that it has something to do with his actions.

Until recently, when we thought of sexual violence, we only thought of women as victims. Then we came, unfortunately, to accept that paedophilia was more prevelant than we had could ever have imagined. Now sexual assaults on men are being revealed, as men come forward with their stories.

We need to hear the victims stories. We also need to find out what drove their attackers to take action. It's a dark area, but unless we can turn the lights on we will only be assisting the victims...not preventing the crime.

How can we teach our children to respect each other, when so many are raised by the TV and their Computers?
The electronic babysitters can't give our young physical contact and cuddles. WE are the ones responsible for reducing violence (of any type), in our communities. We are also responsible for educating people on how to avoid becoming victims. It's a tough job and we can't do it alone.

For anyone interested in finding out more, please visit this link:
http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com/2007/03/blog-against-sexual-violence-day-5.html

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2007

It's Finally Stopped!

Hi All!

The rain seems to have let up for a while. We had 3 low pressure systems hovering around for about a week, but the heavy rain did us a huge favour. It cooled the sea temperature and stopped them joining up and intensifying into a cyclone. The lower sea temps have also stopped a lot of damage to the Great Barrier Reef by lowering the chance of coral bleaching. So it was a win/win situation!

We've had a chance to work in the garden too. Rob mowed, whippersnipped and I've done some weeding and a little pruning. The pruning, in it's entirity, is going to be a job for this weekend. There's a massive amount to be done. The shrubs have more than doubled in size and are taking over...so it's "hair cut" time.

Brook's been here for over a month now and seems to have settled in OK. She's bought sailing boots and gloves and has joined a learners class at the Tinaroo Sailing Club. It's good that her auntie Deena can take her when she goes sailing herself. Brook's been wanting to get her "abs" back and leaning out over the side of a yacht is one really good (if strenuous) way of developing them again.

I had the pleasure of going to her Induction for the Senior Year at her High School last week. It was quite a nice afternoon with parents and guests taking a plate of goodies for general consumption. As usual, I took Devilled Eggs and they went down well. I wonder why it is that mothers don't realize that teenagers prefer savory food over sweet? There was a heap of cake etc left over...but things like sushi disappeared at an alarming rate.

We seem to be playing "Swaps" with kids at the moment. My 20yr old grandson Rhys, has gone to live in Melbourne...he has a job and a girlfriend there and is staying with Brooks mum, Gemma. Poor Deena, Rhy's mum, now has a 3 bedroom villa to rattle around in, on her own. I know she really misses him, but he'll be flying back for his 21st birthday party in June.

It looks like Tiger Airways will be setting up a nation wide network and with that, there should be some really cheap fares. Brook is already planning to book ahead for her school holidays etc. I can see me taking a few trips to the GoldCoast and Melbourne to catch up with family too. Cheap airfares are what's really needed when you live in such a big country. Who knows...if they are cheap enough, we might even get to visit Suzanne and John in Hawaii if that's on their agenda. Of course that all depends on getting a reliable 'dog sitter'...Oh Broooook!

Rob and I have had a lousy couple of weeks...both of us have had some sort of tummy bug, that's made us really miserable. Fortunately it appears to have subsided.

Rob has been busy with his gaming mates lately and will be meeting up with them for another social get together this evening. I can't go, because it's right after work and we live too far out for me to get there without having to catch a bus. I'm not really enthusiastic about sitting on a bus for an hour. Rob also has his mentee, with whom he spent a couple of hours last Saturday. I'm assured they had great fun 10 pin bowling. Next time it looks as though the mentee is going to be teaching the mentor how to fish. Now that's something I'd love to see!

The dogs are both well and lazing around in the heat. Their morning run has been suspended...they are nearly impossible to take out together! They play up rotten - so I've ordered a couple of Halti Leashes. They are guaranteed to make them behave. The Halti fits around the muzzle and the leash extends from that...I'm sure you've all seen them. The maker reckons that your 90yr old grandma can walk the dog on one of these leads - We'll see if a 30yrold and an 18 yr old can too!

Anyway...time for lunch and then a look at the garden when it cools off a little.
Catch you all later!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

SETH MESS.

Seth Mess.JPG

Seth loves fingerpainting...especially when the canvas is himself and/or his highchair!
He was 8mths when this pic was taken but he's nearly 10mths now and he's taken his first step.

Posted by Midus at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2007

Where did Dec/Jan go?

Here it is, very nearly February, and I don't seem to have had January yet!

Our Christmas was, as anyone who reads Rob's site knows, somewhat subdued - to say the least.
We had a death in my daughter-in-law's family. Her brother-in-law was struck down with a brain aneurism on the Friday before Christmas and was transported to Brisbane, where he died on the 28th. We had two of his three small children with us at Karl's place over Christmas, while their mother was with their Dad. They flew down on the 27th to say goodbye. The funeral was on January 5th.

The day prior to the 5th, I started to have stomach pains. There was some sort of virus doing the rounds...usual acute time was 48hrs. Mine lasted nearly 2weeks. While I still had the damned thing, I got a visit from my old 'friend' Trigeminal Neuralgia - just to make me feel really good. Finally, I appear to be free of it, with no pain for the last two days. Boy I really do appreciate the time when I don't have it!!!

Now for some brighter news! My granddaughter Brook, has decided that she's had enough of Melbourne and has booked her ticket for Cairns! She will be staying with us for a while and then moving over to Karl and Jodie's place. She will be completing her final year of high school and then, hopefully, going to University. My daughter Deena lives within a short bus ride of the Uni, so Brook will move out to her place then.

We had plans to do the renovations on the spare room shortly, but thats had to be put off for a while as we need it for Brook to use. What's the old saying about telling God your plans? We have appointments made at the school and application forms for after school jobs for her already, so she's going to be a busy girl. We still have to go buy school uniforms and books, so she's not the only one that's going to be busy. She arrives late in the evening of Feb.6th and Rob is taking the Wednesday off work to spend with us and drive us around - I don't drive as much as I used to these days. Truth be known, I rather like the idea of sharing the day with him.

It's been as hot as Hades here...the Wet has finally started and the temperature has been above 35oC for most of the last week or so. It's raining in the afternoons (sometimes mornings too) and at night time, so with the high temps it's like living in a Sauna. Not happy Jan!!! (I guess only Aussies will get that reference.) There appears to be a low forming in the Gulf of Carpentaria, which will bear watching, as it is also our Cyclone Season. We could well do without a repeat performance of last April's cyclone.

Not only has the heat befuddled our brains, but it's also played merry hell with our computers. Rob installed a couple of additional fans in my case and another in his. Hopefully it should solve our problems.

The dogs are feeling the heat too and trying to sneak into our bedroom at night, when we have the AC on. Not that we blame them for that! At least we don't have to spend the day wearing fur coats.

Anyway, it's close to midnight, so I'd better close this post and go to bed. I DO love my bed after the energy sapping days we are having.

Sorry it's been so long since I posted, but I really didn't feel like it. I promise not to leave it so long before I post again.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2006

Christmas Spirit.

Hi Everyone!

Each year, at this time, we start to get really antsy. Like everyone else, we are caught up in the cycle of searching for gifts for our family and friends. We've done 1/2 the shopping so far but, as many of you know, it's hard on a limited budget, to provide for a large family.

Last night Rob and I had a discussion on what Christmas should be. Neither of us NEED anything much. We have simple tastes and try hard to stick to our budget. Rob's main gift to me is a subscription to Better Homes & Gardens...it's what I want and it arrives each month of the year...so it's the "gift that keeps on giving."
Rob wants a video from me...so that's easy.

I suggested a couple of things we can do to make the season more joyful and less stressful and Rob liked the idea.

1) Put a limit on the price of our gifts for our families...it will make searching for the right thing more interesting and we can start right after the Festive Season has passed.
2) We are going to start the New Year by sponsoring a puppy, to be trained as a Guide Dog. It's going to cost us $10 per month, but the worth of that puppy will be immeasurable to the person who receives it.
3)We had already decided to become part of a Youth Mentoring programme - being a friend to a youngster could be the best gift they will ever receive.
4) Start early in the year collecting things like toothpaste/brushes, soap, undies etc. as gifts for the Street Kids, who are fed and hopefully, will be housed, by Harald's House.
5) Make Birthdays the time to give more expensive presents.
6) Eat lightly...there's no need to gorge just because it's Christmas...it should be about 'quality' not quantity.

Having mentioned Harald's House, I'd like to tell you a little more about Harlad Falge - the founder and tireless worker, who is all heart:
I first encountered Harald over 20yrs ago. He was (and still is) a youth worker with the Cairns Baptist Church. Our family isn't Baptist, but my son Karl, who was about 12 at the time, joined the Boys Brigade...a church run youth organization. Harald used to take the kids away on camps and I credit him with helping to make Karl the self sufficient man he is today. Harald works full time, in his own business, as a Chiropractor (he's good too!) He also has a family. Unfortunately his wife suffers from a mental condition, but, in all the time I've known him, I've never heard him speak of her with anything but love.
He started caring for the Street Kids of Cairns about 15yrs ago. He was walking with his sons, one evening, on the Cairns Esplanade. He was appalled to see young kids...some as young as 8, roaming around, accosting( read prostituting themselves to) tourists and begging. His sons gave him the idea to start a mobile kitchen to feed them. I don't know how he did it...probably twisted a lot of arms ( He's also into martial arts.)...but he did it! His van has become a familiar site at Monro Martin Park and the kids know there are no strings attached.

Harald set his sights on providing a home for these children. So far $170,000 has been raised - but much more is needed. One local builder has offered to build it free of charge. The Cairns City Council is going to find land for it to be built on...so things are in the pipeline. There's an impressive list of sponsors too. Best of all, the Cairns Police are behind the project and have a member on the committee. So much more is needed though. He plans to house 12 youngsters until they finish school and find jobs. He will also provide short term crisis accomodation for another 6.

Yesterday I listened to Harald on the radio. It's that time of year when the kids feel really alone. He was asking that the public consider giving a gift for distribution to the children - nothing big...value approx. $10. He told the listeners that last year, he gave toothbrushes, paste and general hygine items, and that some of the kids were crying because someone cared about them. How much WE take for granted!
If Harald can have room in his heart for all the waifs and strays, then we aren't going to miss the few dollars that it will take, to make the children/teenagers, feel we care too. I'm going to start collecting things right after the start of the New Year.

We are blessed by having caring families, enough to eat and a roof over our heads. We NEED people like Harald to show us how lucky we are

I have the feeling that Christmas is going to be a much happier time for us from now on.

Love,
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:19 AM

October 10, 2006

What's Happening at Riverstone Rd.?

Hi All!
Time for an update on life at our place.

Firstly renovations are progressing...albeit not as fast as we'd like. The blinds are up in the lounge room and, apart from the doors needing to be removed, sanded and painted/varnished, there is just some touching up to do. Oh and the new stair treads need to be finished. The room looks brilliant! The main walls are a soft white with just a hint of gold. The colour is called 'Sarah's Place'. The feature wall is a rather odd shade of green entitled 'Field Maple'. It's one of those colours that looks far better than you could imagine from a colour chip. With all the furniture in place, the room seems much bigger than it used to. The new blinds certainly add the finishing touch...they are a fine woven bamboo - so fine that they are see through, but cut the sunlight and make the room much cooler. Now all we have to do is put up the Javanese and Balinese artifacts. I have a necklace from the Hill Tribes in Thailand...antique silver, which I've mounted and framed. It will be a lovely focal point on the feature wall. All in all, the room looks quite tropical, but without the bright colours associated with the word.

The kitchen and dining room have been the focus of attention over the last week or so. Rob took a week off from work to do the main work. We had fun stripping the wallpaper - NOT! He ended up washing the glue off the walls with #7 Thinners. All the walls, where they aren't tiled, are now a soft creamy colour - just 1/2 shade darker than the cupboards and tiles in the kitchen. Rob's worked so hard and it's his first project that he's tackled on his own. I'm really proud of him. We have timber ceilings in the kitchen/ dining room and also a set of cedar louvres that open into the feature wall of the lounge - the wood tones add warmth. The dining room has one huge, high wall, which I intend to use as a display for many of our pictures, collected over the years. Once all the trims and the skirting have been painted, I'm going to have fun (nightmares) working out where to put them!

When those rooms, which have been finished, are back in order, I'm going to concentrate on my poor garden. It's in real need of some TLC. Eventually we will get back to the house...the new laundry still needs to be sheeted on three walls, the water pipes need rerouting and the new laundry tub unit needs installing...then it needs painting. I've come to regard the smell of paint as a good thing - it means 'completion'.

Now for some other updates:
My daughter Deena has a place to live. I found it through the net and Courthouse Realty (the agents) were really great and actually phoned us when they said they would. She now lives in a lovely Villa at Kewarra Beach, one of our northern suburbs...and yes, there really is a beautiful beach! It's a small area and not many tourists find their way there. It's large for a villa - 3brms, study, lounge, kitchen. dining room, ensuite and bathroom. It's also less than a year old, which is a definate plus! Add to that a huge garage with auto door and a large patio area out the back, and you have a lovely home with little or no maintenance. Just what the doctor ordered. It's also cut her travelling time from 3hrs per day to 1 1/2hrs - giving her more time to relax and study.

Our new grandson, Seth, is now 20wks old and thriving! He's teething, so making himself heard. His daddy is still totally besotted by him and his mummy wants to be with him every waking moment. He has them wrapped around his little fingers and his toes too!

We had a BBQ on Sunday night (my birthday was on Friday). Deena prepared the salads and Rhys (grandson) suprised me by taking over the cooking! Deen, Rhys and Jodie, Karl & Seth, gave me two large copper patio flares from the Jamie Dury Patio collection. They are going to look terrific when the warm nights arrive. My darling Rob gave me a box of authentic Turkish Delight...he found a Turkish Cafe in Cairns and decided to indulge me. He spoils me rotten...but then, I'm worth it!

Zelda had a trip to the vets last week. She has a large lump at the base of her skull. The vet says it's a soft tissue injure caused by a bump to the head. She's always crunching into something or other, so it's not suprising really. Rob adds antibiotic drops to her food at night to make sure it doesn't become infected. It's a closed injury, but the blood needs to be dispersed.

Ziggy (Deena and Rhys' dog) is now a fixture at our place. They can't have a pet at the new place. He really is a charactor. He has a very narrow black 'moustache' and Rob nicknamed him 'Errol' after the late Mr.Flynn. So now we have two dogs to care for...but then I guess that means we get twice the love back.

Anyway...gotta go - lots to do!
See you latter.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:23 AM

September 01, 2006

Was it Really so Long Ago?

I ask the question and already know the answer.
Today marks the 50th Anniversary of my arrival in Australia. It also marks the beginning of a love affair that will last as long as I breath.

I was very nearly 14 when my parents decided to uproot our lives and emigrate. It was a huge step and one I wasn't really keen to make. It meant leaving the rest of our family, our pets and our friends, not to mention all hope I had of going on to University. Making a fresh start in a new country isn't an inexpensive venture. I want to say now, that it was worth the sacrifices we made.

We were "10 pound(stg) tourists"...Pommies, but we were accepted by the wonderful people in Rockhampton, where we first settled. It was a joy to live the way Aussie kids did back then. I am of a generation of Australians who grew up in a small town and had very few restrictions. At weekends and school holidays, we would get up at first light and a group of us would peddle our bikes out into the surrounding country. No one worried about us - we would be home at sunset, hungry and ready for bed. We had no TV, no computers and no video games. There were pinball machines, but they were viewed with suspicion.

I've travelled, lived and worked in most States in Australia and I've experienced so much. If I'd stayed in the UK, I would probably have never left the place. I would never have had the family I now have or have seen my second generation Australian grandchildren. I wouldn't have my husband or the lovely life we share.

I just want to say 'Thank You God' for letting me be an Aussie!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:43 AM

August 14, 2006

How Lucky I am!

Today marks the second Anniversary of our wedding.
In some ways it seems like it was only yesterday, but in others, it feels like Rob and I have known each other forever...maybe we knew each other in a past life. The last 5 1/2yrs have been wonderful.

So much has happened in the last two years, there has been sadness and great joy. Decisions, made on the spur of the moment, have paid off in Aces! Moving back to Gordonvale proved to be the best thing we could have done. I thank my wonderful husband for, yet another, courageous act. I've never regreted one moment of my life with him.

Things here are still chaotic. Renovations are taking longer than was first expected...I think that's about par for the course though, from what I gather from other renovators. Enormous progress has been made though - even though cement dust coats everything. It's a horror time for this 'neat freak'.

The last few weeks have seen us with 2 extra 'real' rooms now. Temporary divisions have been replaced by permanent walls. We now have a proper dressing room with an open plan robe. Once the odds and ends from the lounge room are back where they belong, we will be able to enjoy it. I actually have a laundry that I can close off from the rest of the house, instead of an area hidden behind a bookcase! The ceiling trims and the skirting boards still have to be put in and the window frames finished, before painting can start, but the end is actually in sight. My son Karl has been wonderful and has saved us so much money. Once painting has been finished, the new steps will go in and the new blinds. I can hardly wait to see the end result! I will post pics as soon as the furniture and other decorations are in place. The new wall in the computer room (the main entry to the house) is going to be turned into a floor to ceiling bookcase. We are going to put in a desk which will take up the length of another wall and, hopefully, hold all out computer gear. It should give us a little more room to move in.

We had a good week of fine weather, so we trundled off to the wholesale paint place and purchased all our painting needs. My grandson Rhys gurneyed the roof and then Karl spraypainted it. It looks like a totally new roof! It was good, because the whole roof got checked out for any prospective leaks and fixed where it needed it. The entertainment area roof was also leakproofed and, when time and weather permit, will also be spraypainted. I must say I'm very relieved because it won't be too long, before the next Wet Season.

In the process of all the work going on, Karl and I have acquired quite a few new 'toys' for our respective workshops. I suspect that some of mine, might find their way to his, for a prolonged sleepover.

Our new grandson, Seth, is now just over 11wks old and thriving. There were a few hiccups in finding a suitable formula for him, but he's now on a soy suppliment and is much more content. Jodie has gone back to work in Childcare, which is a bonus, because she can have Seth at the same centre she works in. It's amazing to see my son turn to mush, when he's around the baby!

We still have my daughter Deena living with us. Houses are just about impossible to find at the moment and I have the feeling that she may have to move into an unit. I guess we could end up with Ziggy (her dog) as a permanent boarder. We don't mind, he's a lovely little mutt and Zelda likes the company. Deena's son Rhys, now has a job with Vodaphone, which is a relief. He also has an attractive new girlfriend and yet another reason for not donating his time to our renovations.

I have an appointment at the hairdressers this afternoon. My usual hairdresser is off with a bad back (result of a car accident a few years ago), so I'll have to make do with a quick wash and blow wave. It's a pity, because I really wanted to look good for my dinner date with Rob tonight. Anyway, I'd better go find something to wear and tart myself up, ready for the big night out! It will be dinner at Perrotta's...a favourite spot...but I still miss the Blue Cheese pizza from the Normanhurst Cafe.

Have a good one, friends - We will!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 08:54 AM

July 27, 2006

It's All 'GO'!

Sorry for the looong delay in posting anything new, but I have a valid excuse this time - Chaos reigns at our place.

Major renovations have resumed and the contents of the lounge room are spread throughout the house and some larger items have migrated to my son Karl's garage. Even our bedroom and dressing room are in turmoil. It's a major achievement to get dressed in the mornings.

The electrical upgrade happened about 2 weeks ago - what a blessing that was! We have an extra 4 power outlets in the computer room (now giving us 6), which finally gets rid of most of the need for powerboards. We have an extra 4 outlets in the lounge and, when the renovations are finished, the speaker wires will be rendered nearly invisible. The kitchen now has 5 double outlets. We also replaced all the ceiling fans with nice stainless steel ones. It's weird being able to see your reflection in them. I have developed an absolute phobia where electrical cables are concerned...I HATE them and, unfortunately, I tend to be rather vocal about it. Poor Rob is left in no doubt about my problem. Once things are back in place, I'm hoping we can install some sort of conduits to run the offending item through. Up until now, we have had absolute rats nests behind our desks and the entertainment unit. It becomes hard to keep the dust, fluff and dogs hair under control and those things make for real fire traps. I guess the phobia comes through being the daughter of an electrician.

My son Karl (father of 2mth old Seth) is doing the renos for us...God bless his little cotton socks!
So far he's put up the frames for the dividing wall between the lounge room and the laundry. Prior to this we have used bookcases to do the job. We are actually going to be able to close a door and pretend it's not there! The temporary wall between the computer room and our dressing room has been torn down and the wardrobes (to which the wall was attached) have been torn assunder. I kept one narrow unit for use as a broom cupboard in the laundry. The cabinet maker who did my kitchen and all the new cabinets in Karl's house (he's doing major renos at his place too) is building the frame for an open plan closet for our clothe, at a really cheap price. Karl will install that when it's ready. At the moment, all our clothes from the wardrobes are hanging on mobile racks...which is a pain in the arse, but at least we can find them.

We are resheeting the entire lounge room - I can't wait to see what it will look like. At the moment, apart from the feature wall, it's just painted cement block, which acts like a magnet for every speck of dust and dirt. We're having a grand throw out of accumulated possessions that are either just dust collectors or out of place in the entirely new decor.

Once the lounge is painted and the new furnishings back in place - especially our new lounge suit - I'll post some pics, so you can see the end result.

The part of the garden fence destroyed by the cyclone has finally been replaced and the whole fence straightened up. Now...well when I get time...the garden will get a make over. We are going to have to fence off the area that needs replanting. We have my daughter Deena staying with us and also her dog Ziggy. Our Zelda and Ziggy treat the garden as their own private race track, so it would be pointless putting in new plants without some sort of barrier.

I'd better stop having fun now because I'm expecting a load of wall sheeting to arrive shortly and I need to let them know where I want it unloaded. As I said in the heading...It's all GO here.

Vickie.


Posted by Midus at 10:57 AM

May 26, 2006

Seth William Bowman & his Nanna Vickie.

Vickie&Seth.png

Baby Seth made his entrance at 1.28am this morning Friday 26th May, 2006. Weight 2.72kgs (6lbs 9ozs) length 52cm. Mum, Dad and baby are all well!
We are all really proud of Jodie because it was a totally natural birth...Karl was wonderful too.

Gotta go...lots to do!
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2006

Work, Work, Work!

Like most uninvited and unwelcome visitors, Cyclone Larry left us a big mess to clean up.

The kitchen skylight developed a persistant leak and the TV antenna was totalled. Both have been replaced as insurance claims.

We've been working our butts off, trying to get the yard back to a semblance of order. It's looking pretty good...just so long as you stop before you enter the treed area at the back of the garden - from then on in it's pretty chaotic.

We lost approximately 12 tree in the blow and have removed a couple of others since, that didn't look too safe. There's a lot of really big palm fronds to come down yet, but they are out of reach. It's going to be a case of keeping a careful eye out, when we venture close to them. If it hadn't been for our neighbours, we would never have cleared the yard on our own. Mick came over the day after the storm and started helping me clean up. The next afternoon he came with his two teenaged sons and they got stuck in with the chain saw. The pile of vegetation on the nature strip, out the front of the house was huge...Rob and I have added a lot more during the week too. Monday, the Council clean-up team took it all away. It nearly filled the back of a 10tonne truck.

The Insurance company gave us the go-ahead to get a fig tree removed from the back yard. It totally uprooted and fell on the dividing fence, so they will, thankfully pay for it. The quote was for $1650...and that doesn't include the root boll, which is too heavy for the tree loppers to move. At a later date, we will have to find a backhoe or somesuch, big enough to handle it. (again an insurance job)

I can't believe how lucky we are. When I see the devastation of other coastal towns and the towns on the Atherton Tablelands atop the mountains, it's hard to believe that we got off so lightly. The winds were Catagory 4 here in Gordonvale but they were Cat.5 at the centre. I'm not sorry we didn't get to experience them. It's going to take years to rebuild those areas and many, many years for some of the farmers to have a crop again. Sugar Cane and Bananas will be back within 18 months, but Avocado, Mango, Macadamia Nuts and other tropical fruits can take 7 yrs before the trees are mature enough to fruit. Milk quality will drop too, until pastures return to their previous condition. It looks like a pretty lean time for a lot of people - so many are jobless because the agricultural side has sustained such heavy damage. It's a time for taking stock and realising that we can help, even if it is only by going through our wardrobes and donating things we don't wear.

Many of our State Emergency Service personel and our Council workers, who are involved in cleaning up the towns that have been worst hit, are at burn out level. My son Karl, is working in Babinda...he has a chain saw licence...he's working from 6am to 6pm every day, including week-ends, and he's worn out. He thinks that it's going to take at least 3-4months before the clean up is finished. It's going to be a continual drain on the physical rescorces of the willing - I just hope that others will step in and give them time to recover.

Today is fine, weatherwise. It's been just over a week since Larry and this looks like it might be the first day that we don't have rain. I'm not taking bets on it, but it looks OK so far, though there are a few dark clouds heading our way.

It's nice to be able to find a few minutes to post. I've been slack, so far this year, with no excuses. Funny isn't it...now I'm busy as all get out, I decide to use my break time to post. I really am just a little odd!

Speak with you soon,

Vickie.


Posted by Midus at 10:39 AM

March 07, 2006

The Week that Wasn't.

On reflection, I can't seem to think of anything I've achieved over the last week...other than a shopping trip to Cairns last Friday.

Rob and I went to the movies last Monday, thanks to free tickets from his work. I did my usual trick of agreeing to go on Sunday and then changing my mind. I'm glad we finally did go, because it was well worth the drive to the City. We saw 'Mrs. Henderson Presents' starring Dame Judy Dench and Bob Hoskins. It's the story of how the Windmill Theatre, in London, came into being. We both loved it and can thoroughly recommend it to those of you who don't need a movie to be non stop action and violence.

It's still raining here. The monsoon trough has finally arrived to give us our annual drenching. We were beginning to think that we were going to be in real trouble, but it's here and water for the rest of the year should be OK. I hear they are planning on putting in a new dam, but so far it's only talk and I don't think any location has been nominated.

This Summer has been appalling! The humidity and heat have been disgusting. Both Rob and myself have been suffering with skin conditions bought on by being continually damp. On top of that, I managed to fire up an allergy that I'd all but forgotten. On Friday, while I was shopping, I stopped for a sandwich. I had egg/lettuce and mayo...sounds pretty mundane eh? Later in the evening, I asked Rob what he felt like for dinner. Not being particularly hungry, he said "Scrambled eggs." I scrambled 8 eggs and that's what we had. It wasn't long after that, that I started to itch and my eyes began to become irritated. It's been 20years since I've had any sort of reaction to eggs, so I'd thought I was over it. Wrong! I guess the equivalent of 6 or more eggs in one day was just too much for the system! It's now 5 days later and I'm still not totally rid of the problem.

One of the worst parts of the egg fiasco, was that I had to bow out of an RPG session. That's right...we've finally found a couple to game with! It's only taken 13mths. I knew how much Rob has been hanging out to GM again, so I insisted that he go. He toddled off to Simon and Cristals house at about 10.30am. First off, he and Simon went into town to do some grocery shopping. S&C don't drive and have 4 small girls, so I think they were more than happy to not have to take the bus. I understand that Simon has a rather large thumb and that's the excuse he has for missing some of the items on the list!

Rob tells me that they later watched some wrestling on pay TV before starting the game. The game was "Dogs in the Vineyard"...for a detailed report, please check out Rob's website...you'll find a link to it on my menu. He arrived home at about 6.30pm, totally wired. He and Zelda went for a run to get rid of the excess energy that both of them had generated during the day. He came back in a far more relaxed state...thank goodness!!!

Sunday, Karl (son) arrived with a friend and they, together with Rob, loaded the ute with the garden refuse, accumulated over the last two months. It took two trips to the dump, but it's finally gone. Later, the three of them took off and came back with a full load of concrete sleepers for me. The plan is to use them to 'pave' an area down the back yard. It's close to the site where my vege garden will be...after it's cleared of the ever present weeds. We also have some pavers to lay as stepping stones, along the pathways through the trees.

Poor Zelda has a problem. The bloody Indian Minah birds are continually swooping at her, whenever she goes into the garden. She usually ignores them, but it's pretty difficult to do, when she's attending to calls of nature. I curse the stupid person who introduced these 'Rats of the bird world' into Australia. I don't think there's one state that they've not invaded.

Later on Sunday, my daughter Deena and her SO Peter arrived and stayed on for dinner. Rob and I are always happy to see them. We had our usual good time together. Rob remarked later that he had really Lucked On, when he joined our family. It's so nice to have them all get on so well together. Families are great ... when they work!

Enough of my rambling. Time for me to tackle my wardrobes! I'm finally going to go through my clothes and dispose of a lot of them. I'll never wear most of them again, so better they go to someone who can use them.

See you soon,
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:01 AM

February 26, 2006

It's Been a Long Time Between 'Drinks"!

Finally we've met some fellow gamers who aren't totally committed to D&D or Goth type games - even though they are both GMs in those genres!

Crystal and Simon have just moved to Cairns from Brisbane and so far they love the place. They are fortunate to have found a large house in one of the better suburbs. They need a large house because they have 4 young daughters (including twins.) It's set into the side of a hill in a nice quiet street, quite close to the botanical gardens.

We visited them for the first time today and were relieved to find they were our sort of people. What you see is what you get...and Rob and I both liked what we saw. We are getting together next Saturday lunch time for our first game. It's going to be 'Dogs in the Vineyard' which fortunately doesn't require a massive rule book and huge amounts of preparation. Anyone whose played in a group with me, will know that I get a glassy look in my eyes when things get too technical! I just play for the fun of it and it will never be 'life or death' for me.

Crystal is keen to start an herb garden, so I'm going to see if I can strike a few cuttings for her. My herb garden is thriving, even if it is a bit water logged at the moment. Yes folks, we've actually been getting some decent rain! I measured about 90mls in one 24hr period the day before yesterday.

Rob finished the painting in the computer room last weekend and the bookcases etc are now back in place. It's amazing how much brighter the room is. The new tiles make a huge differencetoo - I totally loathed the old carpet we had there and took great delight in ripping it up! The only rooms with carpet now are the bedrooms and our dressing room. As soon as we can afford it, that will be going too. It's too humid in this area for carpet. You may not be able to see it, but mould loves carpet and I can't stand the thought of going through another wet season cultivating a bumper crop of the rotten stuff!

Tomorrow we are off to the movies...we have freebie tickets, so it's going to be a cheap afternoon of entertainment. I'm not exactly sure that we've settled on what we are seeing yet, but I'll let you know.

Anyway...It's goodnight from me - see you all later!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 01:12 AM

February 03, 2006

Return of the Slack Tart

Hi all,
Sorry for being so slack lately. It's that time of year, in Cairns, when my brain goes into melt down.
I know that most of you have been experiencing extreme weather conditions of one kind or another, but the humidity here has been terrible.

8/2/06

It's effect on people is weird. Even the most sensible of people, suddenly develop sponges instead of brains...Ask Rob! This morning he rang me in a bit of a panic. He had arrived at the Casino Car Park to discover his briefcase and his lunch bag were missing. He had visions of having left them on the roof of the car, while he came back into the house to pick up his car keys. He asked me to check the garden to see if they had fallen off there...rather than on the journey in to Cairns. In actual fact he had placed them on the top of the outside freezer. So apart from having to buy his lunch, all is well!

The renovations to the Computer room and the hallway are STILL not completed. My grandson has been procrastinating and, instead of taking a week to do, they are still waiting on final coats 5 weeks later. I'm totally fed up with living in a mess! Soon it will be time to strip the walls in the dining room and start painting there...I'm honestly considering Rob and I doing the job ourselves - I can't bear the thought of a repeat performance!

The lovely rain we had last week, seems to have disipated. It's a pity, because we need a lot more to bring the water table up to a sustainable level. The garden is flourishing...apart from the cucumber plants which drowned. The weeds have been horrendous, but are (fingers crossed) within management range. I think Rob has nightmares at the rate the lawn grows! We actually gave in and purchased a motor mower a couple of months ago as it was just too exhausting for Rob to be using the hand mower in the heat.

Speaking of the rain, our clothes dryer went on the fritz just as the rain arrived. Rather than race off and buy a new one, we put up clothes lines in the outside entertainment area. I have a rotary line out in the garden, but I hate standing in the sun, so, even though the rain has ceased (for now) I still hang the clothes on the undercover lines. Each time I do so, I think of how much money I'm saving on the electricity bill. My son will be buying a new and larger dryer soon. They need a larger one because of the, not to distant, birth of their baby. Karl is going to pass their old one over to us. I'm going to make sure that it only gets used in an emergency.

It's nearly time for Zelda to have her annual shots. Hard to imagine that she's owned us for over a year now! Amazing how one stray dog can have become so important to us - but she certainly has. I'm very grateful for her companionship and the lavish love she spreads on the family.

I guess I've rambled on for long enough...time to go read the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens, that the postie just delivered!

Catch you all later!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2005

Well that was Christmas!

Hi All!
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas day and enjoy the rest of the break...if you're getting one.

We had an early Christmas gift this year. My youngest granddaughter Christine, who lives in Melbourne, underwent major surgery earlier in the month, for what turned out to be a huge benign tumour. They say 'benign' but it was still potentially fatal and did quite a bit of damage. It was pressing between the lung and the chest wall. It had invaded the lung and the cardiac sac. It also totally destroyed the main nerve between the lung and the diaphragm. It was an anxious time for all of us, but she totally blew them away with her recovery. Her lung reinflated spontaniously and she was discharged from hospital a week ago. She still has a way to go, because she will have to have continuing physio to combat the overdevelopment of the right side of her diaphragm...but she's looking well. Did I mention that Christine is 2 1/2yrs old?

Christmas Eve, my daughter Deena came over to see if she could help prepare for the family dinner on Christmas Day. To save time, we bought fish & chips for tea. Rob, myself and Deena all ate them. Later we prepared prawns for the Prawn Cocktails that I had decided on for entree. Deena ate a couple while we were peeling them.
Today she rang me to tell me she'd been up all night kneeling before the porcelain alter. I immediately thought it was the prawns, because neither Rob nor I were ill. She came over at about 9.30 but ended up on our bed under the air conditioner.

I was in the shower and thinking about whether to throw out the beautiful prawns we had, curtesy of my son Karl, when I had an epiphany! Deena has been using patches to give up smoking, but the evening she was here, she hadn't used one but she DID smoke quite a few cigarettes. My eldest daughter rang us and when I mentioned it, she confirmed that it had effected a few of her friends that way too. Puzzle solved/ Prawn Cocktails still on the menu.

Unfortunately Deena wasn't well enough to eat and she wasn't in the best of moods either, so of course we had

far more food than we needed...cold cuts for the next week are indicated because I did my usual trick of overcatering. We had a bit of a blow up with Deena's son (19) saying something she took exception to, but that blew over eventually. What would Christmas be, without an incident like that!?? Zelda enjoyed her Christmas dinner too.

We received some lovely gifts...one of the best was Karl's wife Jodie announcing that, the baby she is expecting in May, gave her the first kicks she could actually feel, on Christmas Eve. It's their first and Karl is being a wonderful father in waiting.

All in all, Christmas was Christmas.

Thanks to those of you who sent cards/phoned/e-mailed/sent E-Cards or SMS'd us. We hope we didn't miss anyone on our list, but if we did, we apologise and hope you know we were thinking of you.

To our families...thank you for your support and love. It means so much to us

Lastly, to my husband Rob. You're the reason I wake up with a smile and I love the life we have together. Thank you Darling.

My wish for 2006 is that it be the year the people of the World come to their senses.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:32 PM

November 21, 2005

Count Down

It's the time of year when I wish I could change the date to the previous month. Only 35 days to Christmas and I'm only just thinking about gifts. Actually that's a big fib, I've been thinking about them for ages, just not got around to doing anything about them.

This year has been really expensive for Rob and myself- what with the move and the renovations, which still aren't completed. I'm lucky with my kids here. They aren't really big on receiving gifts, they just like the get togethers. The Melbourne connection is just about covered, but the Goldcoast remains a problem.

It's all the grandchildren that I have, who are difficult to give to. Two of them I've never met. One of them I only met when he was little. Strange that those three children have the same mother. Her eldest daughter visited Rob and myself at Easter last year and we had a great time together...she's now close to 17 and not living at home - Goodness knows, when the next time we see her, will be.

I've not seen my granddaughters on the Goldcoast since 1998, but at least we keep in touch. I dearly want to see them before they go their own ways.

It's funny but my eldest daughter's little girl,who was our ring bearer, never seems far away, even though they live in Melbourne too. I guess that's because her mum and I yack on the phone quite often. I'm hoping that they might find time (and money) for a visit before too long.

Anyway, enough of my whinging. It's nearly time for the annual "Rob & Vickie Silly Season Party." Invitations are out and so far we've had 8 replies. Only 5 days to go before the RSVP date is here. It's on Dec.10th and this year I'll have my daughter Deena to give me a hand with the catering. She's probably the only person I know, who can work alongside me in a kitchen, without getting in my way. She has the ability to get on with things without having to be told what to do. Deena is nearly as much a perfectionist in the kitchen as I am.

I did a trial run of Christmas dog bikkies yesterday and they proved to be a munchie success with Zelda. Karl (son) took home a couple to test on his two dogs. If anyone wants the receipe, just ask. My son ate one himself and declared them to be pretty good. I nibbled one and it gets my seal of approval too.

I've made one batch of cheese straws and they go into the freezer today. I'll make another lot about a week before the party. Freezer space is one thing we don't lack!

I've been collecting nice bottles to use for Taragon Vinegar. I make my own labels and I must say, the finished product looks really professional on the shelf. I love giving home-made pressies.

Having said that, I've got to go make a batch of ANZAC biscuits for our own use. I'll probably make up some more to package for the kids for Christmas gifts.

OK...time to get my A into G.

Catch you all later.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:05 PM

November 05, 2005

How Much Mulch is Enough?

Today the trees got a haircut.
Not much style to it. Four of the them have gone to the great woodpile in the sky...well actually to the huge piles of mulch which are dominating our back garden. The four in question were a Foxtail Palm from the front garden, a Jacaranda which gave up the ghost (they are prone to do that) and two trees of indeterminate species. The 70 year old Lychee has been drastically reduced in size and so has the Ficus. All this frenzied activity is due to the expected onset of the cyclone season - February to April.

It took 3 guys with all the right equipment, a total of 3 hours to do the work. Of course the green ants got angry and no one was safe! Unfortunately I was silly enough to go down the back to inspect, wearing a skirt. As soon as I brushed against a branch, I was attacked. I have bites in places that never see the sunlight!

As soon as the tree lopers departed, I started carting the mulch to the front garden bed and the ones in the dog yard...by this time I'd changed into some, much more practical, shorts. By the time Rob came home from work, I'd moved about 13 loads. We moved another 7 or so by the time it was too dark to see. Those 20 loads have barely made a dent in the first pile!

Zelda is having great fun with the mulch. She burrows into the pile and comes out with a tiny piece of wood in her mouth. You'd think she was looking for that exact piece, the way she carries on!

Saturday looks like being a pretty full day. Probably a trip to Rusty's Market in the morning and more mulching in the afternoon. I'm hoping to get the weed mat (for the pathways) down on Sunday and covered with chip by the end of the day.

I was so glad that I put the furniture dusting off this week. It would have been totally wasted time...the amount of sawdust in the air was amazing!

Anyway...it's Midnight and I'm knackered. So it's goodnight from me!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:22 AM

October 31, 2005

Amendment to Last Posting

Hi All,
I thought I'd better clarify something...the previous posting was not taking a shot at our friends from overseas. It was intended for those of our friends who live in the Sydney area.

I'm sorry if I upset those of you who live elsewhere. I should have stated my intentions in the offending post.

Love,
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:38 AM

October 29, 2005

Sometimes I Wonder...

It's been some time (as usual) since I've updated my site. This time it's been because I've not wanted to. Nothing to do with time, or lack there of. It's more a feeling of wasting my efforts.

I've considered the situation and have decided that distance definately is a case of 'out of sight, out of mind' with many of the people that Rob and I considered to be good friends. We've made a point of staying in touch, whether it be by e-mail, voice chat or phone calls. One thing I've discovered is that people we hardly know, have been the ones to keep in contact.

We remember birthdays, Christmas and any other occassion that's important. Very few of our friends bother with remembering us. OK, so that makes me sound like a spoilt child, but I really don't care. It's not about ME, it's Rob that I care about. He's bent over backwards to be a really good friend to many of you and you've just shrugged him off. Well, believe me, if you intended to hurt him, you've succeeded!

Fortunately he works with a nice bunch of people at the Cairns Post and so gets some interaction with others. I, on the otherhand, have very little outside contact. If I need to go into Cairns City it means an hour long bus ride and I'm limited by what I can carry on the trip home. Needless to say it's not exactly condusive to meeting friends for lunch!

I have my garden and so on to keep me busy. Rob spends his by researching games that he can play online with friends. The problem there is, that we only have one person who really wants to play and his time is limited by his young children...at least he tries!

The RPG scene in Cairns seems to be limited to those who never passed D&D and those who are into the Vampire scenario. Not places where we really want to go. D&D is fun but the rules lawyers take up more time than the actual game does. Rob's a dyed in the wool gamer...I became one through osmosis. Of course both of us prefer f2f gaming, but it's not an option here.

Recently I even became tardy in answering e-mails from a couple of you. Something I would never normally neglect. I guess the feeling of being so forgettable got to me. I remember the get togethers in Fraser Road and feeding the hungry hoards and wonder now how many came because they really enjoyed our company or for the food. I truely hope it was the former.

If I've bruised a few people by my remarks then tough. If you take it personally it's because you feel guilty and you deserve to.

I thank God for my kids, because they ring me or e-mail me, or, if they live in this area, they visit us and are only too happy to help us where they can.

What's your excuse for relegating good friends to the trash bin?

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:36 PM

September 25, 2005

Yesterday/today/tomorrow

Living in a small town is like living in a time warp.

About a month ago I was in the local supermarket and I bumped into a woman I was acquainted with, when I lived in Gordonvale, before my move to Sydney.
We exchanged the usual pleasantries and she then remarked that she'd not seen me around for a while. I laughed and told her that ' a while' constituted 4yrs.

Time just drifts here, without any really noticible changes. We only have two seasons...Wet & Dry. The Dry is Autumn & Winter. This year even Autumn was wet and Winter lasted two whole days, with a couple of chilly nights thrown in for good measure.

February to April is the time for Cyclones. It's muggy then and the mould grows like it wants to take over the world. The drumming of rain on our iron roof will lull us into a state of lethargy and we'll find a tendancy to 'go troppo'.

We have so many jobs to do before the Wet starts and it's really hard to get motivated enough to even start on them. Our garden has some really huge trees that need drastic pruning. Not a job for the average gardener. The trouble is, tree loppers charge an arm and a leg for their services. We could really use the wood chip for the paths in amongst the trees too. Nothing like recycling!

Yesterday afternoon was spent pulling weeds and raking leaves. This afternoon is going to be spent bundling branches from the mandarine tree and bagging the leaves from yesterday. Well that's what I'm going to be doing. Rob will be painting the dog kennel that my son, Karl, made. It's going to be Shammrock Green with a green colourbond roof. Nothing but the best for Madam Zelda!

Rob's settled into his new job at "The Cairns Post". He's back working to deadlines and keeping track of what the advertising team is up to. He's lost the nervous tic he'd developed working in the Centrelink callcentre.

Being on a really tight budget, Rob and I haven't had a lot of opportunity for social outings. Rob working for the paper has made it possible for us to get out and about to events we wouldn't have, otherwise, been able to. Three weeks ago we had free tickets to the premier of "Look Both Ways" and got to chat with the lead actor (William McInnes) after the movie.
Two weeks ago Rob's name was drawn out of the hat for two tickets to see the Australian Shakespeare Company's Rock production of "Much Ado" set in the Flecker Botanic Gardens in Edge Hill, Cairns. http://www.australianshakespearecompany.com.au.We took a picnic basket dinner and sat on a blanket on the lawn. The weather was perfect for the show and everyone had a great time...including the cast, who obviously enjoyed themselves.
Last Saturday we went to "Food, Wine & All that Jazz" held in the gardens of the Cairns foreshore...again, complimentary tickets. It cost us $20 for a food voucher pack, but we both, surprisingly, ate and drank well for that price. We had a lovely stroll along the Esplanade boardwalk.

It's amazing the work that's been done on the Esplanade while we've been away. Not only is there a fantastic lagoon for swimming (free) but they've put in a wonderful playground for children, called "Muddy's" - in the water playground the main feature is a giant Mudskipper and that's where the name comes from.
There is also a really nice cafe, where parents and others can have coffee or food while watching the kids. http://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/tourism/esplanade_foreshore/muddys.htm

While we were sitting gazing out to sea and watching the moon's reflection on the waters of the Inlet, Rob remarked on how lucky we are to live where we do. He's right, it is beautiful. It's even better that we don't have to live in Cairns itself. Time warps have distinct advantages.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 02:11 PM

August 05, 2005

Not Before Time!

Apologies for my absence.

I've been busy doing (and achieving) absolutely nothing!

Rob and I have both had this disgusting head cold that appears to have reached every corner of Australia. I managed to nip Rob's in the bud, with a mixture of Lemsip and 1/3rd tspn of dried chili infused in it. Sort of 'Kill or Cure' but it worked. Unfortunately I wasn't so lucky and am now barking like a dog.

Retirement...I now understand why people say it's a difficult thing to get used to.
Prior to retiring, I was always organised and everything managed to get done. Now I have trouble deciding what to wear! I rarely leave the house and at the end of the day I wonder what I did to fill in the hours.

Sometime soon, we are having the new floor covering for the kitchen and dining room, laid. It will be lovely to get rid of the old vinyl(kitchen) and dust catching carpet. The vinyl was laid on top of old tiles, which, to my amazement, have asbestos in the mix. The vinyl has a paper backing which is also impregnated with asbestos! My guy from the flooring company told me that it was standard practice when they were put down. Anyway...up they come and down goes a nice warm wood patterned vinyl with a felt backing.

The worst part about getting new floor covering, is where the heck do we put the furniture and fridge, while this is all going on? It's not an exercise that I'm looking forward to! Still, I feel lucky to be getting it done, as it's a month for heavy bills. Tax this year is a killer...$800+ to pay and just to add insult to injury, the rates notice came in - there goes another $700. Sometimes you can't win for losing.

One bright note. I had a poem published as 'Poem of the Day' (which seems to run nearly all week) on the Australian Poetic Soc. web page.

My son Karl and his wife Jodie, have put their house up for sale. They want to buy another one, which belongs to a friend. The new house has a huge shed...and as we all know...every boy(man) deserves a shed! It's also a larger house and they have plans to rip the kitchen out and replace it with a more functional one. (Sound familiar?)

Zelda is my constant companion during the week days. Mind you, as soon as 'Daddy' gets home, she tends to forget I exist...unless I'm preparing food. We now have her trained to 'speak' on command. She also 'speaks' when she wants to of course, but when we ask her to, she tries to do it very softly and it sort of comes out as 'huff' instead of 'WOOF', which is really cute.

Anyway, time for me to finish this ramble and log on and pay the bills. I really do appreciate internet banking.

I'll be back!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:17 AM | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

The Birthday Boy!

Yes...it's that time of year again and today is Rob's 28th birthday.Happy Birthday Darling!

We celebrated yesterday, with a BBQ in the back garden entertainment area. Sounds swish eh? It's really only a double carport with a cement floor attached to the house by some laserlite. Actually it's a nice spot to have a party because it doesn't matter if you make a mess...we can actually hose the place down after if needed. (Sorry Sydneysiders - I couldn't resist.)

It wasn't a big party, only 12 all told, but it was nice and relaxing. As usual I over catered, with family taking away excess salads etc. Seeing as Rob was BBQ chef (complete with striped apron) he felt free to indulge in a few Heinekin. He certainly deserved them! I must thank my daughter Deena for giving me a helping hand and for icing the birthday cakes. That's right 'cakes'. My daughter-in-law has a wheat allergy, so I made her a seperate cake - I certainly didn't want her to miss out.

Zelda had a pretty good time too. She had so much to eat that she forgot all about dinner last night. It certainly won't do her any harm.

Rob e-mailed me a short time ago, to let me know that his workmates put on a morning tea for him...only trouble is they forgot to tell HIM! :) I know he managed to find a sausage roll and some dip, so at least he had something.

I'm going to have a quiet day today. I think I may even make a start on a jigsaw puzzle. At least I can go back to it if I get bored.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 01:07 PM

July 05, 2005

Does 4am really Exist?

Yep that's the time Rob and I were out of bed this morning.

Those of you who subscribe to Rob's website, know that his Nan died last week.
This morning he flew to Sydney for the funeral. He will be back in Cairns at 10.10pm.

We were expecting the bad news, so it's not been a huge shock, thank goodness. Still, it's hard for Rob to lose so many, loved family members, in the last 2 1/2yrs. We have to thank Rob's dad, Ian, for 'shouting' him the ticket to enable him to be there. If nothing else, he's a very generous man. It would have made a huge hole in our savings otherwise. I'm hoping that Rob's reunion with his dad won't be as traumatic as he imagines it's going to be. I'd like to think that having distance between them will improve their relationship.

It's going to be a bit of a shock for Rob to return to Sydney weather, even for a brief while. It's raining here this morning, but the temperature is still 23oC. I see that it's 9oC in Sydney at the moment. Needless to say, he's taken a warm jacket with him.

Ian will be meeting him at the airport, but many, many, thanks to Lauren for her kind offer of transport. It's a pity that there won't be time for Rob to catch up with our Sydney friends, but it's not possible. My son Karl will be picking him up tonight, so I won't have to drive the 38kms in the dark. I owe him.

Getting up before dawn has it's advantage, I guess. So far, apart from the trip to the airport, I've made the bed...probably a futile exercise, because at some time during the day, I'll crawl back in. I've had breakfast, put a load of washing on, trawled through my forums, read the news, listened to the news and given the dog her breakfast. Later on today I'll be bottling the next batch of pickled onions.

We had a marathon picking of mandarins on Sunday evening. We picked enough to feed an army! Somehow the crop has escaped the attention of the 'Big White Stupid things' (cockatoos). It's the first time I can actually remember that happening. We have mandarin juice to spare and still have a large box left, even after selecting some for Rob's work mates at Centrelink.

Next Monday, July 11th is Rob's 28th birthday and we have a BBQ planned for Sunday afternoon. Hopefully the weather will be fine and the mossies will be on holiday.

This is the first time that Rob and I have been in different States since the beginning of March 2001...and I miss him already...even if it is only for 1 day. Actually it's the first time we've been in different cities, since then, too. We have our first Anniversary on August 14th and it only seems like it was a couple of weeks ago. We still miss the Normanhurst Pizza Cafe's Blue Cheese Pizza Bread! Those of you who were at the 'reception' will know why.

OK...time for me to go put the clothes in the dryer and wait for Rob's phone call to say he's arrived safe and sound.

Sooner....
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 07:55 AM

June 27, 2005

On A Roll!

Just a quick note to let you know that my villanelle "Lace Curtains"has been nominated for the InterBoardPoetryContest. It's the first time I've been nominated twice in a row. I usually manage to get one nomination per year.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:17 AM

June 24, 2005

The Wee Small Hours

Good morning all...actually I should be saying Goodnight.

The last couple of days have seen my lazy b**ch of a creative Muse come back from vacation. Hopefully she won't decide to hibernate for the Winter.

I've just posted 4 new poems below this message. Two of them were in answer to the bi-monthly challenge at About Poetry.com. We are given some lines selected from a poem by a published author and use them as a trigger to hopefully inspire a masterpiece...for some it works! The two from the Challenge are Everyone Uses Shorthand and A Good Memory is Essential.

The other two poems are my take on a couple of well established forms of poetry. One is the Villanelle Lace Curtains (dedicated to you know who!) and the other is a Ghazal (Guzzle) entitled Diversity. The've been quite well received on the forum. I hope you enjoy them too and don't expire from boredom by having 4 poems to read in one go.

Next time I hope I have something more interesting to write about.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:34 AM

June 03, 2005

Clueless

The title just about sums me up at the moment.
I haven't a clue what I'm going to write about, so bear with me for a while and I might actually come up with something worthwhile.

There's not a lot going on here, just the garden taking up a lot of my time, not to mention my constant companion Zelda, who thinks she owns me - until Rob comes home. Of course, when Rob is home, he has my undivided attention. Unless, of course, it a night when there's something decent on the TV!Zelda demands his attention and usually gets it. She even manages to get him running on their morning and evening excursions.

Actually Rob's been pretty engrossed with a debate he's into on one of the sites he visits, so he hardly misses me sitting at my computer next to his. He's also been busy submitting his resume in search of a permanent position. Hopefully one will eventuate before his contract at Centrelink runs out.

One snip of news that may interest some of you; my poem "Today I Make Polenta", which I posted previously, is one of three selected by About/Poetry Forum to represent them in the IBPC (InterBoardPoetryCompetition). There are approx. 26 Poetry forums who each submit 3 poems each month - so the competition is pretty stiff. I'm just happy to get a look in. I did place second a couple of years ago and I made the cut about a year ago, but nothing since then. Now it all depends on the preferences of this quarters judge. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I caught up with an old friend the other week, when we invited her for dinner. She's one of those wonderful down to earth people, very much involved with her family and her siblings...she is one of 8kids, so I was delighted to have her accept. She came armed with a nice bottle of vino and a box of chocs, of which, I must admit, I ate the majority. It was a really lovely evening. The next day she returned to bring two large bags of lemons and limes - she has a large surplus. I've turned them into Moroccan Preserved Lemons, Lime Pickle and some Lime/Olive Oil/Chili salad dressing. I have, of course, made some for Suzy too.

Doing the preserves gave me the bug and I stayed up late the other evening bottling spiced pickled onions. I also strung up some of our chilies to dry. My herbs are doing well and are finding their way into a variety of dishes.


Speaking of cooking, I've got a casserole that needs removing from the oven, so I'd better finish. I'll be back soon with another poem to post.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 04:58 PM

April 30, 2005

Art's in the Eye of the Beholder...Obviously!

G'day all.
I've not posted for a while, due to having an unpleasant bout of back pain (slipped disc) bought on by merely planting some basil. Thankfully I have a pretty good chiropractor.

The subject for my dissertation today is "The Archibald Prize". For those of you unfamiliar with the 'Prize' - it's the foremost Art award for Portraiture in Australia. It's worth a cool $35K(au) to the winner, which ain't to be sneezed at!

One thing about the Archibald Prize is that it's always controversial. I can't remember a year when there wasn't a shermozzle about something. This year, as far as I'm concerned, should be no exception.

The Winner is John Olsen - an artist who is apparently revered by many and obviously by those on the panel. Frankly I'd give $20 for the painting...and then only for the value of the canvas to paint over. If you think I'm joking just take a look for yourself.

Here are the portraits his was up against.

I've been to some fine Art Galleries, The National Gallery, The Tate, The Art Gallery of NSW, ditto Victoria and South Australia, not to mention The Art Museum in St.Louis and many other smaller ones in various countries and even including the Cairns Art Gallery.

I have an appreciation for just about every genre, but I wouldn't hang this particular one in the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay(Sydney)! It would be an insult to some of the other daubs hanging there. I actually prefer the paintings executed by a couple of Asian Elephants in an exhibit entitled 'When Elephants Paint' (June/August 2001).

I'm wondering if Mr.Olsen was awarded the prize because he's not getting any younger. If this is the case, maybe I should give away the jewellery and pick up the palette again?

Your comments on this award, would be viewed with interest.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 07:20 PM

March 29, 2005

How Time Flies!

G'day All!

It seems like only the other day it was Christmas and now Easter has come and gone. It wasn't until I was removing spam from the guestbook, that I realized that it's been nearly 7 weeks since I last posted here. Sorry, but life's just run over the top of me!

What's new? Well Rob is 1/2 way through a stint with Centrelink...for those of you who aren't in Australia, that's the central office for Social Services here in Australia. He's been working in the call centre and the money isn't at all bad. He signed on through one of the agencies for 8 wks. He seems to like the work, so that's an added bonus.

The new kitchen is installed, but until we can raise a few more $$$, the splashback and the painting will have to wait. It's really nice having somewhere to actually put all our appliances and china, without having to delve into the depths of cupboards and still not find what I was looking for.

I had an overnight stay in hospital in February. A return visit of my old enemy Kidney stones. Fortunately it wasn't a lasting thing this time. Friday week I managed to get a dose of the flu...the cough was awful, but I'm pretty fit now, so I managed to shake it off in a week. I hear that it's making some people really sick. Not that I felt on top of the world.

Easter was spent in the garden. It was a real work out and my back is giving me heaps today, but at least you can see where we've been. Prior to this weekend, my son has taken about 10 utility truck loads of garden refuse to the rubbish tip. He now has at least another two waiting for him.

I actually found a couple of trees that I didn't know were there! They were totally hidden by undergrowth and blocked off by shrubs and other trees. I really feel as though we accomplished something and that all that hard yakka paid off. Sunday Rob and I went to a local nursery and bought 4 new plants. One garden bed was looking particularly barren and needed some TLC. We planted a couple of really nice bromiliads and a gardenia bush...one with a heavy perfume. We also planted another gardenia just outside the entertainment area, so we will have the pleasure of the aroma while we dine or party.

I was pretty ruthless with the pruning shears and the hibiscus bushes are looking a little less lush but they will come back a whole lot better than they were, now they have a chance to 'breathe'

Our 'little darling' Zelda, has taken up residence and has made us realize how easy we had it before. Life with a Doberman is one of being constantly chewed and loved in equal measure. She came through her ordeal with the vet with flying colours. The vet's instructions were to keep her 'quiet' for 7 days...yeah...right! She was bouncing and ready to investigate the world the next day.

I've never owned, or met a dog, quite like her. She loves fruit of anykind...mango, canteloup, pawpaw, pineapple, rambutan, banana and all the rest. She really likes veges too...including onion, carrot, celery, cucumber, olives, lettuce and tomato. If I've missed any, she would eat those too. The result of her diet, is that her coat is really glossy and shines like satin.

It's pretty nice to have family around us too. Rob's getting a taste of what it's like to have family who actually visit us. It's also really good that they all get on so well.

Anyway, time for me to start some much neglected housework. It's been missed in favour of working in the garden. I've really relished the hard work the yard demands. I can't say that Rob is so keen on it, but I think it will come with time. When you see the end results, satisfaction takes the place of aching muscles.

I promise not to stay away so long in the future.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:13 AM

February 10, 2005

Home Again, Home Again...

G'day All!

Rob and I have been in our home in Gordonvale since Feb.27th. The furniture and effects arrived safe and sound, without losing even a wine glass. That shows, either what good guys the removalists were, or what a 'superior packer' I am! Oh and Lauren, not a drop of sauce was spilled either. We finally got the phone on and the ADSL was connected yesterday.

I could have cried on seeing the state the house was in and being told by the real estate agent, that I had no redress, because the keys had been handed over...which constituted taking possession. She considered it to be all normal wear and tear! Yep, I would have done so too, IF I had given tenancy to a troop of baboons. My agreement was for one single man and an aged dog. I later revised it to be one single man and two dogs. It seems that I had One single man, his girlfriend, her daughter and anything from 5 - 7 dogs. Totally in contravention of the lease...but hey...the real estate were getting their cut, so why the hell should they give a F***?

The new kitchen is underway and should be fitted by the end of next week. We went in today to select the colour scheme. Doors will be Antique White and the roll edged counter top will be Kakadoo Stone (kickboard is black) I also selected some classy looking handles. I'm looking forward to having lots of overhead cupboard space and proper storage drawers - not to mention a nice size pantry. We've already purchased a new fridge and the damaged oven element should be replaced this week.

I've never actually seen an oven element with a 5" piece missing. The electrician said there are only three ways it can happen; a) Something is dropped on it. b) So much oil/fat is coating it that it catches fire and burns out or c) It came in contact with water while it was switched on.(eg: cooking a frozen roast). So much for the element going 'bang' as the tenant said. The electrician said it certainly wouldn't have exploded!

Our neighbours are ecstatic to see us back. The ones over the back are in their 80s and were more than a little scared, when the tenant here, discarded a fire arm, during a party one night.

My son Karl has been a huge help in tidying up the yard...carting load after load of rubbish and prunings to the tip.

Karl is also reinforcing the dog run to accommodate the newest member of the Rob & Vickie menage. Her name is Zelda and she's a 4mth old Doberman. She's all lolly-legs and big feet right now. She was a stray - probably an unwanted Christmas puppy, who wandered into Karl's neighbourhood. The concerned citizens of that suburb were throwing stones to drive her away, when Karl rescued her. He already has two dogs (legal limit) so, as soon as we arrived, he put the guilts on us and we became instant parents. I think this week-end heralds her arrival at our place. Next week will be a trip to the vets for removal of her dew-claws and spaying, microchipping and worming etc. It's never been cheap having kids!

Rob went for an interview today, at the Cairns Court House. We know what happens, probably at the end of next week. He's also applied for a position at the local newspaper office, The Cairns Post...no, NOT as a reporter.

In the meantime he's been busy fiddling with our computers and providing height and muscle when I've needed it. (It's a bugger when you can't reach the curtain rail!)

Just as an aside, we have a lot of housekeeping due on our sites. The spammers have discovered the art of 'pinging'. Now I not only have to close posts for comment, but I also have to remove the 'ping' facility. If I was to ever come f2f with one of these morons, I would happily kick their behinds so hard, that their head would end up wearing their monitor as a collar!!! Cleaning up is going to take hours of time that we can't spare.

Speaking of spare time...I don't have any right now, so I'd better finish this and go cook some dinner. The heat is bloody awful and even the locals who have never left the place are whinging! If I could stand under a shower all day, I would be happy. Still, if we can survive this, next year will be a doddle!

See you later - hopefully I might have a few pics for you by then.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 05:31 PM

December 28, 2004

The Lull in the Storm.

Happy 28th of December!
I can say that...because Christmas is OVER and New Year's not yet here.

It's that lovely time of year when things sort of grind to a halt. After Christmas Sales were yesterday. People have either gone back to where they came from or left for a few days away at the beach. Pennant Hills Road is actually really quiet, right now.

Christmas Eve was lovely...Rob left work early and we spent some quality time together watching the Lord of the Rings. It's become a Christmas Tradition for us. We only managed the Fellowship & The Two Towers and saved Return of the King for Christmas night.

Christmas Day - We stayed up until 2am and opened our Pressies!
My daughter Jacqui and her family in Melbourne gave us a really welcome gift of a metal box filled with 12 little cannisters of unusual spices - ones that won't be too easy to get in Cairns. They are going to see a lot of use when our new kitchen is built. My daughter Gemma and her family(also in Melbourne) sent me a slightly off-beat sachet for the wardrobe - in the shape of a bra. Rob got a really terrific Cook-Book. It's designed with guys in mind. Who knows - it might actually encourage him to acquire some culinary skills, because he doesn't have many that I've noticed! Actually he was really happy with it.

My darling gave me two boxed DVD sets of Halifax FP (for those overseas readeers - it's an Aussie TV drama show) and a DVD of Local Hero. Rob's been wanting me to see it for ages, because I've had the sound track CD for years. He also gave me a beautiful 'French Country' nightdress made from white lawn, with lovely smocking all over the top. It should be perfect for the hot nights up north.

Rob's Aunt Heather sent a wonderful scarf/shawl in a gorgeous bronze colour - it's wonderful and reminds me of mithril in the way it moves and shimmers. I know it should really be silver coloured, but hey this is my imagination...right?

When we woke on Christmas morning, we called all the five kids and had nice long chats. We found out that Jenny and her family, who live on the Gold Coast in Queensland, had been flooded out two weeks before Christmas. Apparently there was heavy rain and the council hadn't been keeping the drain across the road clear. They ended up with knee deep water throughout the house. Jenny lost her 1 yr old car, dishwasher, washingmachine and, of course, all the carpets. Hopefully their insurance will cover it all. Christmas at their place was a little chaotic.

OK...So we had to bite the bullet this year and spend Christmas Lunch with Rob's family. It's going to be our last for some time. It was also the first Christmas without Rob's mum Anne and we knew it was going to be overshadowed by her absence. One thing Anne really loved was Christmas! Ian tried to do all the things she would have done and did a pretty good job...but he couldn't add the special touches.

It was never going to be easy and it wasn't. Ian drank too much - but then he always does. He broke down and it fell to Rob to try and help him. We went through the usual critisism of Rob not doing IT courses to further his career - what Ian was really expressing was his fear that Rob won't be able to find suitable work in Cairns. He's under the impression that Cairns is actually a small town - when in actual fact it's a City. Sure it's a lot more laid back than Sydney and a lot smaller, but it's thriving. I might add that Ian has never even been to Cairns...the closest he got was Townsville in the 70s, when he was still in the Royal Navy! It's no good trying to tell him differently, because he will believe what he wants to believe.

I've been charged with the task of 'looking after Rob'...something I do anyway...but I found that a little ironic, seeing as I'm the one with hypertension, diabetes and arthritic hips and back!!! Rob is quite capable of looking after himself and me too. It would be nice if Ian could see him as a man and not a child - but then that's fathers for you.

I would like to add, that Rob and I both received some lovely gifts and lunch was really nice, Ian, unlike Rob, can actually cook. Mind you, he hates cleaning up, so everyone else did that.

Boxing Day - You'd have thought we would have been totally Lord of the Rings tired by that time, but no. We caught a train into Darling Harbour and went to the Power House Museum for the LTR exhibition. Rob got the tickets the week before, because it's not going anywhere else but Sydney and there was no way we were going to miss it! If you like LTR, I suggest you make sure to go. It's amazing to see the costumes and weapons. There's even a 'life size' cave troll! The work on the armour and weapons is wonderful. How could the cast NOT become their charactors, when wearing such costumes??!

We finished the evening by watching the Bruce Campbell movie Bubba Ho-Tep - it's not available here, so I'd ordered it from Amazon as part of Rob's Chrissie Pressie. It's totally whacky and off the wall - it's an absolute hoot!

Yesterday we spent packing. The lounge room has nearly been finished and Rob has broken the back of packing the gear in the study. It's not a job either of us relish, but starting early will make it less traumatic in the long run.

Our friend James dropped by in the evening and we had a meal and a good catch-up. It's been an absolute age since we've seen him and we've made a firm promise to keep in touch. He's one of those quiet people who never pushes and you don't realise how much time has past.

Today, we really should go get some groceries. The fridge is looking bare and there are some essentials that we desperately need. I think Rob has plans for us to see a movie this afternoon - we are having the day off from packing.

Next Christmas, we will be far away from Sydney and hopefully we will be having a BBQ and fun with the family there.

Enjoy your last days of 2004.

Vickie.


Posted by Midus at 09:29 AM

December 24, 2004

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

XmasDuo.jpg

Here's wishing one and all a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year 2005. May the Christmas Spirit carry over until the next one arrives.

Peace & Love,

Vickie

Posted by Midus at 05:40 PM

December 22, 2004

BUGGER!

Today has not been a good one for this webpage.
So far Rob and I have cleaned off more than 320 spam msgs left as comments.
I'm going to be closing, all but the latest posting, for comment. It's the only way I'm going to get any peace.
Much good may their spamming do them, as I'm wishing them to hell! I've wasted quite a bit of my busy day on them, only to be hit again as soon as I've finished deleting.
If any of my readers want to make a comment or contact me, please use my e-mail.
Thanks,

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 03:48 PM

Taking a Breather

I thought I'd take a few minutes from my busy day to have a cup of coffee and a natter to my friends.

We had a delivery of 23 packing boxes this morning and I've been putting them to good use. The temperature is 30oC and I'm exhausted already. We've already thinned out our library, but the filled boxes keep mounting up. Thank goodness we have enough bookcases to hold them...problem is do we have enough space in our home in Gordonvale to hold the bookcases!

Enough of packing. We held our Annual 'Vickie & Rob' Christmas bash on Saturday the 18th. Of the 30 people we invited, 15 accepted...about what we expected. Of those 15, only 9 showed up. We were pretty disappointed, because we'd spent a lot on food. Two of them were sick, so they are excused. The rest either forgot or accepted more attractive invitations. Thanks 'Friends'. This was going to be our chance to say Goodbye to many of you.

If any of them really want to see us before we leave, then they know where to find us.

Those who did turn up were a pretty convivial bunch and we all enjoyed ourselves. (Well I didn't hear anything to the contrary.) Rob and I have just about finished the left overs...except for the dips and a cheese platter. Rob actually remembered to take some photos and when he gets around to downloading them, I'll post some here.

You know, it's possible that our parties are too civilized. No loud music, nobody gets drunk and there are never any altercations and everyone keeps their gear on. I guess that must be rather boring to some.

Christmas day is going to be spent with Rob's family. Neither of us is particularly looking forward to it...last year we went to the 'real' zoo, rather than spend the day living on the edge. This year we are obliged to attend the family lunch - it will be our last for quite some time. Rob's family love him and want to see him. I'll just be along for nuisance value.

Boxing day we are going to the Lord of the Rings exhibition at the Power House Museum. We have tickets for the 1pm tour - I'm buggered if we were going to leave Sydney without seeing it! We also have plans to visit a few of our favourite places before we go, but it all depends on how organized we are.

Anyway...back to the packing.

I'll have another cuppa with you soon.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:29 AM

December 12, 2004

What a Waste of Time!

Well Rob and I successfully wasted 8hrs of our time today. We also wasted a whole heap of time during the last week or so...time that could have been utilised packing.

We held our garage sale today and nobody came. We had posters up all over the place. We put careful thought into how we would display the goodies...all to no avail.

It's not all bad though. The majority of clothes that we don't want anymore are now neatly folded in boxes in the boot of the car, ready to go to the thrift shop tomorrow. There's also a box of odds and ends of china and a box of photo and picture frames + a signed poster by a guy called Jonathan Chester, who is an Antarctic explorer and photographer. I hope St.Vinnies make a few bucks from them.

The boxes of books are another problem. Some of them are just about brand new and if there's not a used bookshop that wants them, I'll ask the Red Cross if they want them for the Hospital book trollies.

We are going to list our old TV and stand on E-bay - it's still in pretty good nick and if no one wants it, we'll take it up North with us. (We know it works well, because we had it on all day in the carport.) It can go in the outside entertainment area (when it's dry.)

The other items we don't want to take are two cane bar stools one tall and one a little bit shorter. There's a little bit of binding missing on one of the legs, but otherwise they are in good condition. They came from designer Gary Masters' studio and cost over $100 each.

It's amazing just how exhausting it can be - doing nothing! Rob's slipped out for take-away because we are both too tired to bother cooking.

I'll write soon, when I'm in a better mood!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 04:28 PM

December 07, 2004

GRRRRRR!

One of these days things are going to go to plan!

As you would have read, I finished work on Thursday last week. I was assured that my final pay would be taken care of on Friday and deposited into our joint account. Riiiight!

I wasn't reallye expecting it to be there before today - which is normal pay day for the office staff. Apparently I set my sights a little high. I hadn't bargained on the National Australia Bank!

Problem: The new owners had set up their banking with the NAB and it was supposed to be activated Monday. I rang the pay office and they informed me, with regret (I could hear the intake of breath) that the earliest my pay would be in the bank would be Thursday. The simple fact is that the NAB hasn't set up the account yet!

I must admit to being rather short...I asked if they were going to pay me the interest I'd be missing out on. OK so that's being bitchy, but hey - it's my money and as it was a termination pay, if should have been payed out the next day. I hope for their sakes that the NAB has the account active on Thursday... it's the Nursing Staff pay day and I don't think they want to field two hundred phone calls from staff wanting to know where their money is!

Last Sunday we hired a ute from Kennards to pick up a couch from Mosman. We had it for 4hrs. When we took it back they gave us a docket and credited us with the deposit refund as normal. It's Tuesday and that amount is STILL not in our account - apparently their bank takes 48hrs to return credits to your bank account.

I remember, when I was working for Queensland Health, that whenever anything new was introduced to the payroll computer system, there could be a delay of up to a week in receiving our pays. It was always shrugged off by the management. Strange how it never affected the salaried officers.

I found out, on the Union grapevine, that the money was actually being sent off shore for a couple of days and they were making huge profits. The Union went to war and our legal advisors informed the department that a late payment fee would be attached for every day they were late. It was amazing how quickly computer updates became hassle free.

Since those times, I've become increasingly suspicious, when there are any glitches, in my dealings with financial institutions. It's my/our money and I object strongly to having someone else holding out on us. It seems they can use our money whenever they want, but we can't.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 02:58 PM

December 03, 2004

Finally!

Last night I pulled the pin!

My last evening shift at work was filled with phone calls from both nursing staff from the agency and Administration nursing staff, from the various facilities the agency provides staff for. All of them expressed regret at my leaving. Several asked for my new address, so that they might keep in touch. Funny thing...I know that they actually will!

The majority of these people I've never met. Somehow, over the course of 2yrs and 8months, a bond was forged. I know many of their problems and have shared some of their happy times, through the telephone line. I have mental pictures and no doubt they are totally different from what the actual individuals look like. Voices on the phone...

Voices mean so much. They express warmth, humour, anger, frustration, professionalism and desperation . When you've spent as much time as I have, dealing with 'voices' it would be so easy to be dismissive and cut the 'not so nice calls' short. I guess I've spent a good deal of time being, what we call, an 'Auntie Mary'. It's easier to difuse a situation at the begining than have to deal with end consequences.

I've had some pretty desperate calls from staff who are lost on the way to a nursing home or hospital. Imagine me, someone who really doesn't know Sydney, trying to direct a nurse to a facility, when all I have is a UBD and they really don't know their exact location at that time! I've never 'lost' one yet...but that was pure luck.

Working out how to get a nurse from one side of Sydney to the other, using trains and buses, has been another challenge. It's more so, when that particular nurse has only basic English skills. My North Queensland accent has been just as unintelligible to them as their North African (for example) has been to me. Some of Sydney suburban names and street names are SO difficult for overseas people to grasp. (They are for me too!)

My friend Monica, whom I met 'on the phone' became a real life friend and if I gained nothing else from working at the agency, I am grateful for that. She came to our wedding and added her own particular charm. Marguerite, an RN with the Agency, who hails from Columbia, has been a delight. She came to see me before the wedding to give me a ring with a Columbian emerald in it. She also lent me a beautiful pair of gold earrings set with emeralds. So much generosity and trust, from someone I'd only actually met twice before.

I must mention my mate Jodie. She left her position as Community Co-ordinator, with the agency, a couple of weeks ago. Frustration and stress are not something she needed in her life, so she did what she'd been threatening to do for sometime. Congratulations! I'm going to be keeping in touch with her too.She and her husband came to our wedding too.

I actually enjoyed most of my work time at the Agency. The women I worked with, especially Bette, Jodie, Helen, Lin, Jane, Louise and of course Connie, made me welcome and feel an integral part of the team. I shall miss them. Thank you ladies!

On a last note, the business has been sold to a couple of nice guys, who intend to put some real drive behind the agency. Wouldn't you know it? The first thing done was to have the computer IT guys go through the place and today they are installing another brand new server. I said, from the time they put in the previous one, that it wasn't up to the job. One of the new bosses (who I worked with for 3 days) asked me for my ideas on what needed to be done around the place...nice to be asked for input. He also told me that if I ever came back to Sydney to live, he expected me to go back to work for him.

Retirement (for the second time) is really attractive. I've not yet accepted the fact that I am, as of today, just that...Retired! I expect that, once I get back to Gordonvale and the house and garden are back in shape, I will be looking to start my own small business venture. It will probably be working part time on my jewellery and part time trading on e-bay. There are lots of auction and garage sales in the area, with some very saleable items to be picked up for a song. In the past, I've bought some terrific things through the auctions held in the Cairns Show Grounds.

OK...so now I'd better do some work around the house, so that the bread-winner comes home to less of a shambles!

I'll be back soon,

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:02 AM

November 24, 2004

IS THIS ON THE SOUTH BEACH DIET?

Squirrel

Credit to the guys at How Strange.com
They really come up with some doozies!

Posted by Midus at 11:27 PM

Hurray!

Well it's official - I finish work on Dec.2nd!

Nothing's been done about the computer problem and I've heard, from a very reliable source, that the business has been sold. My boss will be staying on as manager for a while. It's been up for sale for about 12mths but past interested parties haven't followed through, but this one has. I gather the new owner is going to be putting in an appearance this morning.

I spoke with a friend in the know last night and she mentioned that she'd heard I was leaving a month earlier than planned. If she knows, then I guess it's a given. I've been there for 2 1/2yrs and not once have I managed to go to any of the staff parties or social gatherings, so I'm not expecting a 'going away' party!

It's going to be nice to be able to organise the move without interuptions. Speaking of the move, We've had a few quotes in so far. One was a ridiculous figure of nearly $9K and the one we got yesterday was $6.5K. My son has given me a mate's name and Rob faxed off the details this morning. Hopefully he will come in at an even better price. It turns out we have approx. 47cubic meters to ship. Where did it all come from?!!!

The Garage Sale is scheduled for Sunday, December 12th between 9am and 5pm. With luck a lot of minor items, like clothes and books etc, will find homes in the Sydney area. If you're in the district on that date, pop over and see what we have.

'til next time,

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:08 AM

November 19, 2004

Decisions, Decisions.

Just an update on the work situation.

I had previously given my notice in at work, with a separation date of January 6th, leaving me a couple of weeks to complete packing for the move.

Last night the allocations application was staggering along, I was getting really cranky and ready to kill somebody, when I got a phone call from Rob. For once he got really forcefull with me and told me that the few dollars I earn there, is not worth the amount of stress I'm going through. He also told me that our good friend Leslie had phoned him after reading my last posting and said pretty much the same thing. (Bless her little cotton socks.)

So...I wrote a letter to my boss - whom I really, really like, telling her that, unless the Allocations programme is fixed soon, I will be leaving on Dec 2nd, to preserve my sanity. (Well I didn't say sanity - I used the word 'health', but I think she will get the message!)

I'm hoping, for purely selfish reasons, that the IT guys can't fix it. I love the idea of not being there. I want to take my time packing. I've moved households before and I remember, vividly, how horrible it is.

The thought of only having two more weeks to work is looking better and better! Actually the thought of not going back at all is even more attractive.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 01:16 PM

November 16, 2004

WORK WOES!

Hi All,
I'm actually at work scribbling this. It's not that I've nothing to do - in fact I have quite a stack of work. My problem is that the programme I use to do my data entry is playing up rotten! It's a really comprehensive application called 'Allocations' and the licence costs a bomb. It's been running slow for months, but now, since we had a new server installed, it's been reduced to crawling along really, really slowly.

Our friendly IT team can't seem to find out what the problem is. I feel like quitting here and now, because my stress level is through the bloody roof! Trying to achieve any level of efficiency is impossible. It's like asking a mechanic to fix a Ferrari with a paper clip!

It's really quite strange, because the Payroll and Invoicing applications are fairly racing along - it's just the entry of shifts and staff which is playing up. Both payroll and Invoicing are calculated from the data I, and the other Allocations Co-ordinators, input.

The only thing that I can think of is to have the IT guys do a back-up and a clean reinstall, but I can't see them doing that unless every other avenue fails.

Just as an example; I entered two items and those took 20mins. I can't continue working this way, my blood pressure must be through the roof. How the daytime staff manage I have no idea, it must be sending them insane!

Does anyone of my readers have any suggestions? It would be wonderful if we could solve the problem.

Thanks for reading my bitch.

Vickie (... who forgot to take the Panadol to work.)

Posted by Midus at 08:02 PM

November 09, 2004

Another Wedding Pic.

Us Again

We had some more photos sent to us this evening. Thanks to Dan for some really nice pics.

Posted by Midus at 11:38 PM

Not Far Away...

Hi all,
It's all 'busy, busy' at this end. I'm getting antsy with wanting to pack and knowing, that the moment I tape a box closed, I'm going to want something out of it.

For the first time we are going to have to pay for cardboard packing boxes.(Shock horror!) At least I've found somewhere who will do free delivery if the order is over $60. $60 doesn't buy many cartons...even if they are second hand.

Still - enough of that. What I really wanted to talk about was Christmas...or lack thereof. I'm not particularly religious but I know quite a few people who are. Apart from in the Christian churches, where are the Nativity scenes going to be this year? I haven't even heard the dates for Carols in the Domain yet.

If I go overseas to a country where Christianity is in the minority, I don't expect there to be Christmas celebrations - but this is AUSTRALIA. We are a predominantly Christian country. Aren't we carrying multi-culturalism and political correctness too far? We shouldn't have to consider whether those of different faith are going to be offended. Frankly they don't have that right. The old adage 'When in Rome' is still valid!

Is it just Sydney that's taking a turn for the worse or is it Australia wide? Are we so scared of offending our migrant population (legal and illegal) that we fear retribution? Thank God for suburbs like Mt.Colah who still put up Christmas lights.

I know that some of the larger stores decorate for the season, but they are so commercial that even Santa has taken a back seat. The store decorations seem to be comprised of Christmas trees (pagon symbolism, which we still indulge in) or icicles and snowflakes...with perhaps a star sneaking in without comment.

It would be nice to know that my great-grandchildren will have an opportunity to celebrate Christmas with all the trimmings and that it won't become just another excuse for a public holiday, without a thought for the reason.

I have noticed that those who don't observe Christmas, will still take the holiday or expect penalty rates if they do work. Smacks of double standards to me!

Let's reclaim Christmas.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:54 AM

October 25, 2004

The Russian View

Elite

It seems the Russians don't hold video gamers in particularly high esteem.
http://www.cartoons.ru (be sure to switch to the English option.)

Posted by Midus at 01:45 AM

October 15, 2004

Got Boxes?

I don't suppose any of our Sydney mates have a stash of boxes that they don't need...do they?

Rob and I have to start hording the darned things again. About 2 1/2yrs ago, we threw out 60+ cardboard cartons and now we wish we hadn't. We are also going to have to go through our possessions and do a huge cull. I think we will be doing a lot of listing on E-bay...hopefully we may make enough to defray at least some of the costs of moving. When I moved down here, it cost me just over $4K (and we did the packing) now it looks like costing around the $5-6K mark.(shudder) Still, we can't replace all our stuff for that price, so we will just have to bite the bullet.

Oh that's right...I hadn't told you had I? We have decided that we are moving back to Far North Queensland and our home in Gordonvale (25kms south of Cairns). Neither of us has a job to go to yet, but the feelers are out. Doing the math, it will cost us at least $13K LESS, per annum, to live there. We will also be living in our own place - which is a definate plus! Imagine being able to have power points where we actually need them!

The aim is to be leaving mid January. I need to give our tenants 90days notice, so it won't be too long before I'm making that joyous phone call to the Rental managers. The place is not in a good state and we it's going to take some real TLC to get it anywhere near the way it used to look. Still, now's the time to totally redecorate.

One thing that we are really looking forward to, is being able to have a dog again. It's also a pretty decent area to go for walks, so both of us might be able to drop those persistant Kgs that have taken up residence around our mid sections.

It's going to be tough being without our friends. There's not a particularly strong gaming scene in Cairns...too many other things going on. I'm sure we'll find plenty to keep us out of mischief. We will still be at the end of the phone line and on the computer. Oh and we do have a guest bedroom.

Both of us have the feeling that it's the right time for us to make the move. Following our hearts is something we've come to trust, so it's time to climb up on the garage roof, put on our capes and take a flying leap of faith.

...oh I must remember to take the umbrellas!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:57 AM

October 12, 2004

Straight Talking from Me.

Today Rob decided to cancel his Black Talon Campaign. It was the right thing to do.
It will save conflict between our friends. The campaign isn’t the cause of the conflict.
The conflict is caused because we can’t accept violence as part of our lives…even indirectly.

I’m probably going to tread on some toes here, but there are things that I need to say and I’m going to do it the best way I know how…BLUNTLY! Actual Physical Violence is not the answer to anything! If you want violence as part of your life, stay away from this household.

I’m not going to use names, because, if those concerned read this, they know them already.

Domestic violence is something I know about – intimately. I was subjected to it by two of my husbands. I realised that it wasn’t only affecting me physically, but it was actually infecting me and planting the seeds of violence in my mind.

I recognised this while lying wide awake on the lounge at 2.30am, after yet another incident…I was thinking of ways to murder my, then, husband, without being found out. The shock of that, made me decide to exclude violence in any shape or form, from my personality. The closest I ever came to reneging on that, was telling my late husband (after he had knocked me from one side of the room to the other, while in a drunken rage) that he had to sleep sometime. I said it in deadly earnest and it scared him shitless.

There is no excuse that you can give me for domestic violence. Defending ones home from intruders isn’t violence…it’s defence. If a wife attacks a husband and isn’t armed with a lethal weapon, then that man should remove himself from the situation until it’s defused. I know women can goad and provoke, but those aren’t weapons she’s using, only words, no matter how hurtful. If a woman can remove herself from danger then she should. Unfortunately I never had that luxury. The main consideration is that, if there are children involved, they are not subjected to their parents fighting. It really does leave permanent scars, as quite a few of us can attest to.

The rubbish that has been dumped on Rob and myself is not something we are going to accept. We do not want to lose good friends, but both Rob and myself have standards and ethics we will not compromise. If you feel that violent behaviour is OK, then we are sorry, but we feel you should start questioning your motives.

A friend of ours said, very recently, ‘if you want Peace, then you go visit Rob and Vickie’. It’s a wonderful compliment – even if it does make us sound rather boring. Another of our friends once said that he found our home to be a haven…I hope he continues to think so. We try to live our lives in the most peaceful way we know how. We love our friends, but we have our limitations.

The decal on our front window (just by the front door) says “This is a Peace House”…we intend to keep it that way!

Pax,

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:59 AM

September 27, 2004

What Came Next

Hi all!

Sorry it's taken me so long to get round to posting, but things have been more off kilter than usual here.

I left off, last time, with our return from our delightful honeymoon and left you knowing that Friday the 27th wasn't the best day in our lives.

I'm not going to dwell on it, but say that Rob's mother, Anne, passed away in her sleep between 6 and 7am that morning. The funeral was held the following Thursday. It was a simple, warm service and I know Anne will be greatly missed.

We've had a pretty stress filled time. Dealing with his family has been really hard for me. They don't like me and, at that time, had no idea that Rob and I were married. Rob's father now knows we are...whether he's told the others, I don't know. I do know that it's not going to change the way they feel. For Rob's sake I wish it would, but frankly, as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't give a rodent's rear end!

What I want to address in this post is grief. It's a complex subject because there are no right or wrong ways of dealing with it. It's different for everyone.

I’ve had my fair of death to deal with and each time it’s been a totally different experience.

First was the death of my grandfather on my father’s side. He was a young man debilitated by heart disease…he died at 52 and I only have misty memories of him now. The things I remember, which always bring him to mind are smells. Curry is the main one – he spent years in the British Army in India and brought a love of curry home with him. I was inducted into the ‘Curry Club’ at a very young age. The others are lavender and 4711 Cologne. My grandmother used to bath his brow with 4711, in an attempt to reduce the fevers he suffered. Lavender was used by my grandmother to store the bed linen. I was probably about 6 when he died, so he was just someone who wasn’t there anymore. BTW, I still love curry.

My paternal grandmother also died young, she died when I was about 11yrs old and she was 56. We had been living with her after my grandfather died. It was not an easy arrangement. I was forced to share a large bedroom with my parents. I imagine it did wonders for their sex life. I didn’t like my father’s mother. She was short and very, very fat. I guess she was an embarrassment to me – youth can be cruel and really shallow. When she died, I inherited her bedroom. To be totally and brutally honest, it was a relief, not to have to spend time with her, when I got home from school. I was a selfish little beast.

Nanna and granddad, on my mother’s side, were a different kettle of fish. I spent a considerable amount of time with them when I was a child. They probably had more impact on my upbringing than my parents. I think I grieved for them when I left England to move to Australia. I missed them – they were my ‘real’ family. My parents never really filled the gap that was left. When they died, first my grandmother at 82 and then my grandfather at 88, it wasn't really any different. I still missed them and still couldn’t see them.

My next, and probably most devastating, run in with the grim reaper, was the death of my second husband, James, in 1977. He was a delightful young man, intelligent, articulate and loved my kids. Unfortunately he was a bi-polar – non-compliant with his medications. I actually had no idea that he was a sufferer, until after he committed suicide. We were married for 6wks. My world fell apart. I was inconsolable. I ended up in a psychiatric unit for a week, until things dropped back into place. I think my grief and feelings of guilt, lasted for many years…until I put it all in perspective and accepted that it wasn’t my choice and that I had only been guilty of giving him love. I also learned to accept the anger that I felt towards him and that it was a healthy thing.

Gordon, my father, was killed by a drunk driver in 1979. I experienced rage at the waste of such a good man and the sparing of the criminal who killed him. My father and I were kindred spirits. Both rebels in our own way, both keen debaters …especially with each other. We both tolerated my mother’s obsession with animals, because it made life easier. To say I was pissed off at his demise is a total understatement. He had his faults as do we all, but he was a mate.

I think the death that had the most profound affect on me and my ability to cope, was that of my late husband Wayne. We found out that he had liver cancer in 1997, when he was 44yrs old. He was officially diagnosed on the day I retired (the first time). I had known the diagnosis for several months because I worked in a hospital and had taken his CAT scans in to our X-ray specialist and he had given me his opinion. We waited 7 wks for his private specialist to get back from holidays! I moved him into the public hospital system, to actually find a doctor who gave a damn. His oncologist told me that he had approx. 8 months to live. He died one week after the 8months.

I spent those 8 months watching him go through palliative chemo and caring for his bodily needs. I drove him to his fathers home in Maryborough for a quiet time besides the river. Then we continued our trek to Sydney for alternative therapy. It made him a little stronger, but that was all. On the way back to Cairns, we stopped for more treatment in Brisbane. By that time we were grasping at straws. After three weeks the doctor told him it was time to go home.

Wayne amazed me. He’d never been a particularly good husband or stepfather, but in those last 3 months he became superhuman. He found the will to get the jobs that needed doing, done…even if he was only supervising most of the time. He developed a relationship with Karl (my son) that I wish they’d had for all the previously 18 years. I cried when he died. I cried from relief for both of us – it had been a long, traumatic battle. I’d had time during those previous 8 months, to do my grieving, so, when he went, I could only pleased that it was over for him. I didn’t feel any guilt, I didn’t feel anything other than being a little numb. Two days later, I knew it was time to get on with my life. I guess others thought I was callous, but it was the only way I could be – it was right for me.

My mother died on my youngest daughter’s birthday, in 1999. She’d had a running battle with cancer for a couple of years. We didn’t have a good mother/daughter relationship and it took her doctor ‘ordering’ her to ring me, before she spoke to me for the first time since Wayne’s death in 1998. It was weird…I disassociated myself, I did all the daughterly things expected of me. It wasn’t until I knew that things were just going down hill and that she had, in fact, had a heart attack after an operation, that I decided that I was going to follow my mother’s wishes. She had been a member of an Euthanasia group and had that noted in her Medical Records. I spoke to her doctor and she agreed that prolonging my mother’s life, was not something she would have wanted. All lines were removed, only pain relief was given. My mother was already in a coma, but I knew that she could probably hear what was going on.

The nurses in the Oncology Unit were wonderful, they played CDs of bush sounds, burned fragrant essential oils and sat with her, when I wasn’t there. Finally, one of her favourite nurses and myself, gave her ‘permission’ to go. She did, twenty minutes later. It was possibly the only time in her life, that my mum had EVER done anything she was told to do. I spoke at her funeral and said my goodbyes publicly, I’m not sure I’ve actually done it privately.

Last year I heard something interesting and thought…’ I must ring mum and tell her’…Now that’s weird. I understand now, that whatever our feelings about our ‘dear departed’ ones, they have all made an impact on our lives. Grief is for us – not for them.

Whether we wail and gnash our teeth (to be biblical about it) or shut ourselves inside ourselves, it’s a painful process. It’s a coming to terms with OUR loss. Some indulge in excess in an attempt to block their pain, while others deny themselves creature comforts as punishment for surviving. Denial is another way of dealing with it, but that one will turn around and bite you.

If you don’t really feel mammoth amounts of grief, don’t feel guilty, it’s OK…it’s only your system providing you with the best way for you to manage.


Wow…that was a long post…sorry if I bored you all to tears, but it’s something we will all have to face, even if we haven’t already.

Peace,

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 03:30 PM

September 20, 2004

Monday needs to start with a Laugh!

Cat Mouse

I remembered seeing this on a forum I belong to and decided to share it.(Many thanks to Dave for the original post.)

Posted by Midus at 10:05 AM

September 06, 2004

Everything Old...

Hi All!

It's been forever since I've actually been able to post anything here, but I'm finally back.

Things started to get out of shape when our Webmaster Marcus set up a new server and we had difficulties moving our archives etc. Seems like we were orphans of the storm for a while. I must admit that I gave Rob a bit of a serve on Saturday and yesterday he gave it his best shot and rose to the occasion.

Lots of news since I last posted. Some wonderful and some terrible. I'm going to post the wonderful news first, because that's the order in which it happened - the rest I'll deal with later in another posting.

I started my leave on August 6th and go back to work tomorrow Sept. 7th...I wish it could be longer as I really do need the extra time to get myself back on an even keel.

August 14th: Rob and I were married at 4pm, in the lounge-room of our home in Normanhurst. It was a simple yet romantic ceremony, with lots of candlelight and beautiful flowers everywhere. Russell Hansen was the celebrant and we have to thank him for making the ceremony so personal and so very special for us. It was also really informal, which meant that everyone was at ease.

I must say that I am so happy and so honoured to be my wonderful Rob's wife. If you'd have told me 6yrs ago that I'd be getting married again, I wouldn't have believed you. Now here I am, married to the most special man in the World.

We must say a huge 'thank you' to Lesley Connor and her husband Daniel, who were our witnesses. Lesley gave us the flowers as a wedding gift. She took the time to go to the markets on the Saturday morning to buy them, then went home and did three beautiful arrangements. She also supplied some of the candleholders and candles, not to mention a lovely rose quartz globe for the table. (the globe was from Dan & Lesley's own wedding.) Apart from that, they gave us a glorious piece of amethyst crystal, which is now on a stand on top of a display cabinet.

We must also thank my eldest daughter Jacqui and her life-partner Phil, for making the trip from Melbourne for the wedding. They had to come, or my granddaughter Kate wouldn't have been able to be our ring-bearer. (She made such a cute Froddo!)

We also had calls and best wishes from all but one of my offspring. My son Karl said, jokingly, that he hoped Rob didn't expect to be called dad! (As most of you know, Karl is older than Rob.) Thanks kids for welcoming Rob to our family.

The wedding supper was held at our local Pizza joint. The Normanhurst Pizza Cafe. I know that sounds odd, but it's a great little restaurant, run by a great family. As quite a few of our 20 guests are gamers, pizza was a natural, seeing as it's just about the staple diet. Not only was it handy for us, being just down the road, but they serve the best Pizza in Sydney - their blue vein pizza bread is to die for! I think everyone had a great time and I know some guests are aiming to go back again for another visit.
A huge thanks to Helen & Joe Khoudair and their staff, for making sure everone had a terrific time.

Some of the guests wandered back to our place after the party and we finally called it a night at about 1am. By that time Katie had well and truly crashed. The next day was spent just bumming around the house with Jacqui, Phil and Katie. Phil and Katie had fun playing soccer with a volley ball that mysteriously appeared in our yard. It had been 12mths since we'd been with them in Melbourne, so we did a bit of catching up. Unfortunately they had to get home on the Sunday evening, so after dinner they left for the airport. It was nice that they had hired a car, so that Rob didn't have to drive all the way across the city.

Monday we had a leisurely start to the day and then took to the highway for our trip to Lovedale Cottages at Lovedale, in the beautiful Hunter Valley, where we were to spend our honeymoon. Argenta (our 2002 Ford Laser) went like a dream. We got lost on the way - we usually do. The maps we had were as good as useless, so we stopped at a truckstop and bought a better one. We still ended up ringing the owner of the cottages and asking directions ... it turned out we were nearly there anyway.

We loved our cottage. We loved the log fire. We loved the seclusion. We loved the owners Kelpi dog Zen, who took up residence ...Did I mention that we loved the place? It was sooooo relaxing. We wished that we could have spent a lot more time there. One problem was that we ate too well. All the gorgeous cheese and the welcoming hamper played hell with our diet...but it was worth it.

Rob and I, both fell in love with the Hunter Valley - so much so, that if a job opportunity arose there, we wouldn't have any hesitation in moving to the area. It's also a heck of a lot cheaper to live there. We might even manage to buy a house there, something that's only an impossible dream in Sydney.

We had two days of rain (Tues & Wed) but we had some good books and the Olympics was on the TV and the fire was going full blast. Wednesday we did a 1/2 day winery tour. For those of you who aren't familiar with the area, The Hunter Valley is the main wine growing area in New South Wales (our state). We sampled some pretty good wines and purchased a couple of bottles to add to our (ahem) cellar- which is actually a wine rack in the lounge room.

Thursday we decided to tootle into Cessnock and catch a movie. Not only did we catch a movie...we caught two! First we saw 'The Chronicles of Riddick'. We both enjoyed it, even though the critics had been less than kind. Then, when we emerged from that one, we gave way to temptation and bought tickets for 'Hellboy'. Hellboy was fun and we hoped we'd managed to beat Gav to seeing it - but we weren't betting the homestead on it! When we got back to the cottage we decided to go for a very muddy walk into the National Park which was just over the back fence. We had to dodge cowpats walking across the paddock, but it was worth it. We came back with our shoes just loaded down with mud and spent ages cleaning it off.

Friday came and we packed and had a tidy up around the place. Then watched TV until it was time to check out. We WILL be going back to Lovedale. It's the perfect place to unwind.

Rob went back to work on the Tuesday and I was enjoying being a housewife - yep, I actually do enjoy it. Things were going beautifully and then Friday happened.

I'll fill you in on that later.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:21 AM

July 03, 2004

Birthdays and Cards

Hi all!

It's been a pretty eventful week for us. Monday last week I nipped down to the little strip of shops in Normanhurst. I just wanted a couple of things, so I didn't bother taking my bag, just my purse, phone and keys. I did a little juggling going back to the car, because I had my hands full and no pockets.

Tuesday I had a hairdressing appointment at 1pm. When I got there, my hairdresser, Melinda asked me to get some change from the Post Office next door and, if I had planned to use my debit card, to get some cash, because their terminal was down.
I got her the change, but found that my card was missing. I visited the three shops that I'd been to the previous day, but no card had been handed in. I slipped home and did a thorough search of house and car... remembering how I was loaded up the day before, I didn't hold out much hope. Nope, nowhere to be found. I rang my bank and cancelled the card and arranged for a new one. A week before a new one would arrive.) Melinda, bless her little cotton socks, did my hair and put the money in the till herself. I paid her back the next day, when I could get some cash from my credit card. I do the majority of my banking online, so I was able to transfer funds to Rob's account, but that took 2 days to clear. I just hate not having access to my money! Anyway, I have the new card (with name spelled wrongly) but am awaiting the arrival of the new PIN, so until that turns up, I'll have to do the transfer to Rob thing again.

I had my darling home for 3 days this weekend past. It was his birthday on Sunday 11th, so he took an extra day... just because he wanted to. Early in the day Cameron & Linda dropped by with a pressie for him - the first series of M*A*S*H on DVD. They were off to Melbourne that day, so wouldn't be able to make the party in the evening.

We had the party at the Greengate Hotel, Killara. It's a pretty nice old pub, with lots of space in the front bar...plenty of room to accommodate a party. First to turn up, as usual, was Gav. It's rare for him to ever be late. Then Jake and Komala turned up, followed by Rob's parents, his aunt Trish and his grandmother...all bearing gifts. His family always give him really cool stuff, especially since him Mum and Aunt are geeks too. Juene and Joe... old friends since his days at Advantra arrived and then Lauren and Jason. The party was really starting to get underway. Later in the evening Andrew, then Nick and Charisse, followed by John and Deb. Last but not least, Jacinta finally arrived, much to Nick's relief... we were starting to wonder if she was OK!

We drank, we ate, we yakked. Lots of catching up done and lots of conversation on a variety of subjects, from tyres on cars to Nick's attempts at following the instructions on the Transformer he received as an advance Birthday pressie. (His B'day is next week-end) I think we needed a 10yr old to show us how to do it.
We were all pretty miffed when the staff started turning lights off and moving the chairs in from outside. Still, at least those who had to catch trains home, made it with plenty of time to spare. I reckon we all had a good time. It was a shame that Rob couldn't of had a few more celebratory drinks, but he was the driver in our twosome. I will say that he slept like a top though...including the humm. (read snore.)

Monday was just plain lazy. We did nothing of note. Rob slipped out to the bank and picked up some lunch. I made a pair of earrings. The plumber arrived to fix up a blockage in the bathroom pipes and that was about the total sum of our activities. It was great just having a day to ourselves with nothing urgent on the agenda. The only sour note, for me, was a phone call from work, asking me to start early today. I really hate having to spend more time there than my 18hrs per week. I'd much rather be working at home.

Anyway, I've got a loaf of bread cooking and need to get my A into G to prepare Rob's dinner for tonight, so I'll finish this and say ...

See you later.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 01:58 PM

July 01, 2004

Whinges, Whines & Whimpers.

I guess the title says it all! Not exactly inspired to get you reading further, but sometimes things have a nasty knack of running over the top of you.

I've lost a filling in a bottom tooth and am suffering from a lousy toothache. Finances are a little strained at the moment (big bill month), so I can't get it fixed until my rent cheque goes into the bank. I do hope my real estate agent does better this month.

Last month's deposit was nearly a week late. It took me 2 emails and 3 phone calls before I found out the reason. It seems that the process for 500 clients, was held up because the office in Cairns didn't receive their order for receipts, from the printer in Perth W.A! Too bad for those of us who have mortgages to pay.

The insurance claim for water damage in the kitchen of our house in Gordonvale is still not settled. The assessor is still waiting for a quote from the cabinet maker. It's only been 3 months since I put in my claims. Now to cap it off, I hear on the grape vine, that there is a hole in one of the internal walls. When my son mentioned the hole to the tenant, he was told that the 'previous tenant' had made it. Interesting, because my son was the prior tenant and the guy didn't know that. Besides, I have the real estate report on the condition of the property before the present tenant moved in. I think he may be on the receiving end of a bill for my excess on yet another claim.

I'm having a little trouble on the creativity front right now. I've realised that it's probably a side effect of the new blood pressure meds I've started. They control the BP beautifully, but, as with a previous one, they tend to dull the creative side of my brain. For me it's a disaster. I should be thankful that they work on the BP I know, but it's really a very high price for me to pay. I'm going to have to make myself think! Not only does it take away a huge pleasure, but it's cutting my income!

My visit to the Diabetic dietician was interesting. She has her doubts, after looking at my BS level records, that I am diabetic. She wants me to have a more comprehensive test done. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she's right!

Now for a change of tack:
When I moved to Sydney from Cairns, I left two vehicles behind. I was my utility truck (pick-up to my American readers) and a sedan. My daughter had the sedan and my son the truck. Both vehicles still registered in my name. The other day, I went to the NSW Road Transport Authority website...just out of curiosity...and checked my drivers licence. I found that I had lost 2 points. Strange...seeing as I've never been pulled over by the police or had my licence inspected! On enquiry, it seems that an infrigement notice for speeding was issued on November 5th 2003 in Queensland. The fine was paid, but, as the registered owner, I was penalised! I've been nagging my son to send me the transfer papers for the truck, as I gave it to him ages ago, but so far no response. The sedan was written off by my grandson earlier this year and I'm still waiting for them to get rid of it. At the time of the infringement, both vehicles were 'on the road'. I'd really like one of them to let me know who was responsible. The've been expensive acts of kindness for me - in more ways than one!

The end of the financial year is with us here. I have decided to wait before doing my tax this year. I think I may have to pay and, right now, is not a particularly good time for extra bills. Besides, I want to go through all the phone bills and find out just how many calls I made with regards to the Rental property, so I can put them in as expenses. At least I have a trip to Cairns, when I did my yearly inspection, to write off on it. Maybe taxes won't be as big a nightmare as I think...Well I can dream, can't I?

I'm taking a month off from work starting on August 6th and ending on September 6th. We had hoped that Rob would be able to get 4 weeks too, but, due to pressure and changes at work, he can only get a couple of weeks. Still, it's enough time for us to be able to get out of Sydney for a while. My boss is in panic mode because she's not got a replacement for me. I mean, she's only had 4 months warning.LOL.

I hope, next time I post, that I have a few less WWWs.
See you all then!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 02:00 PM

June 21, 2004

The Internet: Social or Anti-Social?

I first used the Internet in 1998, to find out about overseas travel. I was recently widowed after 17 years and had no friends to speak of. I visited the ‘Thorn Tree’ at Lonely Planet.com…the ladies message board. I was quickly contacted, by an American gentleman, with whom I struck up a friendship. (I should have asked myself why he was reading the ladies message board!) I then gained confidence and joined an instant messaging service and ‘met’ another American man, who was a teacher. We both shared an interested in the American Civil War and during our conversations, he pointed me in the direction of an online forum with a St. Louis newspaper. I made friends with quite a few of the ladies on that forum. So much so, that when I visited the United States in 1999, I was greeted with open arms by them. Some of those friendships are still in existence – some are not, for various reasons.

When I returned home after my visit, I found myself spending more and more time on-line. My chance of making friends in my hometown became less and less, as I found myself preferring the company of my cyber companions. On the insistence of one woman, who thought I needed the interaction of like- minded people, I joined another online forum and, for 2 years spent more time there than was really healthy, but did enjoy it. It was as if I had another family…to the detriment of my real children and grandchildren.

I lived for my time online. I would spend the majority of my day and night, with my cyber friends, only stopping to sleep briefly and work, when I had to. It was a wonder I found time to eat. I spent my hard- earned money on another trip to the US to attend a Gathering of the people on the forum. I also visited a friend in New Mexico and saw a part of the world I would never have seen otherwise. I also got to see Philadelphia and Boston, staying with forum friends.

Fortunately for me, I actually met my fiancé in the forum I belonged to. He is another Australian, so it was a lot easier for us to actually have a real life relationship.

One thing that made itself very evident to me, was, that if a person is unsure of themselves, socially, or has problems relating to others, it’s very easy to lose your true identity and ‘become’ your online alter ego. I found myself nearly incapable of leaving the house, except for the most routine things. It would take an empty refrigerator and store cupboard, before I could go grocery shopping …and then only at night when there were few people in the local store. I had become a virtual recluse, relying solely on the net for friendship.

Meeting my partner was my salvation…he decided that I needed to leave my safe haven and move to Sydney to be with him and further my writing career. The writing is in the doldrums at the moment, but the rest of my life is wonderful.

I had days (and still do) when I can’t get beyond the front gate, but I’m much better than I was. I have a life separate from the Internet and spend less and less time online.

I have friends, who are the way I used to be. I want to say “Get off line, go get a life!” but when you live in a small isolated community, or a huge city, as some of them do, it’s a pretty hard.

The Internet is seductive, it allows you to talk to people all over the world, without leaving your chair. It woos you into thinking that you are actually interacting, when in fact you are just as alone as you were before you switched your computer on.

While I have met some wonderful people in actuality, because of the net, I’ve also met some people I would much rather forget. It’s easy to be taken in by someone who professes friendship after a few exchanges online. There is no substitute for actual face to face meetings.

I’ve learned to be a lot more selective in whom I speak to. Life is too short to waste on near-do-wells and con-artists. It cost me a lot of money before I learned that lesson.

If you have a problem with forming friendships in real life, please, be very careful. Limit yourself to the amount of time you use the net…other than for work or resources. It’s a great tool, but a very demanding master.

Posted by Midus at 02:02 PM

June 17, 2004

The Weekend that Was

Last week-end, here in Australia was a 'long' one, with the Monday off to celebrate the 'Queen's Birthday'. Her actual birthday is in April, but we've never passed up an excuse for a work free day. I actually worked the Monday, but that was from choice, as I rather like a less stress free shift and getting paid penalty rates for doing it.

Saturday evening Rob and I trundled over to Dan and Lesley's place for "Bubblegum Crisis". Rob had previously picked up Gav & Dizzy at Chatswood Railway Station. It was one of those weekends when there was extensive track work going on and there was no service between Gordon and Mt.Colah. Imagine thinking that no one would possibly want to travel to and from that area on a long week-end...Well done guys!

Sunday didn't go the way we had planned, but I think we both had a really good time. We had a bit of a lazy morning and then headed into Hornsby to catch a session of Van Helsing...but I spotted that Harry Potter/Prisoner of Askaban had started, so, as a surprise, Rob bought tickets. The cinema was so packed that there wasn't a seat left where we would be able to see, let alone sit together! We went back to the candy bar and got a refund (no problems) and then Rob surprised me again. I thought we would come back later to follow our original plan but he bought tickets for the next session. During the wait, we had lunch at Blu...I love eating out. Then we went and stood in line outside the theatre and we got perfect seats this time. Loved the movie!

We did the grocery shopping after the film (hate shopping for groceries!) and then went home to unpack it. We had a really slack dinner...beans on toast. LOL, but then we did stuff ourselves at lunch.

I said before that I worked on Monday...well I put in an appearance. Actually I did a fair bit of work, but it was more in the order of data entry and fixing up stuff ups. I worked 11.30 to 17.30 instead of my usual evening shift, so I got to spend the evening with Rob. I had Tuesday off because I swapped a shift with a work mate who wants Friday free. So my work week is Wed/Thurs/Friday this time around.

I also got myself a winning spot in the About/Poetry workshop challenge. That's 2 in a row. The block must be lifting a little.

Gotta go...have to get in the mood for going to work. That usually takes a few games of Zuma and concentrating on smashing balls before I can aquire the right mind set. LOL

See you guys soon!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 02:06 PM

June 06, 2004

Have To Get Moving!

Not a huge amount to report this time. I seem to be in a weird kind of limbo - running around in a tight circle chasing my tail.

The diabetes seems to be undercontrol with all testing well within acceptable range. I have an in depth assessment coming up on July 2nd, so I'll have a much clearer picture of what's going on, then.

Rob and I went to the movies a week ago to see 'Twisted' the new Samuel L Jackson/Ashley Judd flick. It also featured Andy Garcia. It was a nice meaty murder mystery, with all three of the main characters as police officers in San Francisco. As usual, I'd worked out the villain of the piece within the first quarter of the movie, but it didn't spoil it for me. It was well acted with a good storyline.

Yesterday, Rob and I had a quiet day at home, after staying up late finishing our entries for Rob's "Whisperers at War" Lexicon. We decided that an evening of videos was in order. I know a lot of you will turn your noses up, but we watched PJ Hogan's (director) & Mohammed Al Fayed's (exec.producer) version of "Peter Pan". We highly recommend it. It was everything that James M Barrie envisioned, come to life. The acting was terrific, the special effects were exactly that...Special! The amount of training that the cast (mainly children) had to go through, to 'fly' was incredible. The sword fighting was really professional and Cptn. Hook (Jason Isaacs) was truly magnificent in the part.

Rob watched "Pitch Black" with Vin Diesel, afterwards. I drifted in and out...mainly to watch Vin (what girl wouldn't? LOL) but I'm afraid that waiting for monsters to swoop out of the dark to eat the cast, is really not my cup of tea. I'm afraid we have a little more of the same today, with "Underworld" being the fare for this afternoon.

Never mind. While the movie is on, I intend to have my jewellery making tools in hand and be just a little distracted. :)

Work has been really stressful lately. There's a flu epidemic plus a gastro outbreak hitting nurses and nursing home residents. Trying to find enough healthy nurses to keep things running has been horrific. Just when you think you have all the bases covered, one or more of your assigned nurses rings in sick. It's like trying to juggle chainsaws! More than once, I've felt like pulling the pin and just walking out. It's a shame we need the money.

Enough of my whinging...time to get moving and do something other than stare at my monitor.

I'll back...sooner rather than later.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:24 PM

May 19, 2004

Busy, Busy!

Time to do a little dabbling on the website.


I don't seem to have had five minutes to myself this month. Health wise it's been a bit of an eye opener. I've been diagnosed with Diabetes type II and I've had three doctors appts so far, with another this Friday, plus a visit to the podiatrist. On Monday I've appts. with the Diabetes Education RN and then the Dietician. My Darling Rob is taking a day's leave to come along with me, so that he knows exactly what's going on and learns about the condition himself. I'm really grateful that he wants to do that, as it's a great support for me.

One good thing to come out of this is a wake up call to take care of myself a little better. My diet isn't too bad, seeing as I'm basically vegetarian...not all the way, but for the most part. It's the exercise that I'm really slack on. Anyway, I'm welcoming the change of lifestyle and grateful that my problems have finally been identified. Look out for a new improved me!

Sunday Rob and I took a trip to Oxford Falls to pick up a Power Rider machine, which we bought on E-bay. It's a really good all round machine which works out nearly all the body. We are both using it and I already feel a little more vitality replacing my permanent tiredness. I guess I needed to get the blood circulating again. If anyone out there (Sydney area) has a Treadmill that's just taking up room, please give me either an e-mail or a phone call. That's the next purchase we are intending to make.

The evening before (Sat 15th) we took a ride to the City and The Basement, to see our favourite live band The Bodacious Cowboys, who are a Steely Dan revival band (not that they need reviving!) The band take their name from a line in one of the Dan's songs, Gaucho. They were in top form and the night was a blast! Good food, as usual and good company...we shared the table with Rob and Ian, two music enthusiasts (Rod 59 and Ian 60). They had travelled from Melbourne and Tasmania to be there for the weekend. Rod exchanges e-mails with one of the guitarists, Peter, but had never met. We had the chance to meet him when he came to our table during break. Unfortunately we had to leave before the start of the second half of the show, due to catching the train back to our side of town. (Not happy Jan!)

Once things settle down a bit, I'm going to get back into the jewellery making with a vengance, so watch out for some new pieces in the near future.

Work is as stressful as ever but with the governments ideas on retirement, I don't think I'll ever be able to retire. Sometimes it seems that the people who've worked all their lives, have the least rewards. Still, at least I'm fit enough to continue putting in the hard-yards!

I'll post again, when something interesting comes up.


Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:04 PM

May 04, 2004

What Happened to April?

Seems like I blinked and April went and hid!


I think I spent most of the month working, but then I usually feel that way. Fortunately I actually did work over Easter and got paid penalty rates. Just as well, because our car Madam Lash has been giving us a little trouble lately. I spent a couple of hours yesterday, waiting for the transmission doctor to work his magic. I'm pleased to say that the patient is alive and well and, at the moment, sitting in the carport.


Brook's visit (granddaughter) went very well and she's keen to come back for a holiday with us next year. Whilst she was with us, I taught her how to make the easier types of jewellery. I'd best be careful, because she may end up as competition. She's showing a heap of talent. I made up a small jewellery making kit for her to take home with her and her mother tells me that, already, she's been the recipient of a really pretty bracelet.


Today's been busy. I spent a good couple of hours posting items for auction at E-bay. (Check out the link in the left hand menu) I've posted some of those items here too, just in case you don't fancy the E-bay experience.


Rob and I are back into the gaming scene, having shown up for Dan's "Bubblegum Crisis" evening, on Saturday. I play (and I quote) A Babe in a Hardsuit.LOL. My name is Utopia Jones - pretty cool name eh?


Ouch...just caught sight of the time! Work this evening, so I'd better get my skates on! Catch you all later...

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 03:25 PM

March 26, 2004

News from No.32.

Hi All!
It's been some time since I managed to find a minute to update the site.

The last three weeks haven't been much fun...workwise that is. I've been working my usual 3 evenings a week, but starting at 2pm instead of 5.30pm. One of my colleges is on holiday and I volunteered (stupid me) to cover 1/2 of her shift. Apart from the fact that I managed to pick up a dose of gastric flu, I just managed to survive the stress factor. The majority of stress was (and is) caused by the fact that the computer system at work is so bloody slow, that I managed to eat my dinner while it was still thinking about the application.My boss has promised they are doing something about it. What ever it is, I hope it works!

Rob and I have both been watching our diets and so far, I've managed to lose 7kgs...I don't know about Rob...I suspect he has a quiet indulgence now and then. Jokes aside, he has lost quite a few kgs.

I've posted a few new pieces of jewellery, that I've managed to find time to make...hope you like them. Do leave me some feedback in the comments section under each pic.

See you later!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 04:17 PM

February 20, 2004

FantaC Jewellery at Frenchs Forest

FantaC Jewellery will be at the Frenchs Forest Market this Sunday, the 22nd of February, with a selection of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and the odd anklet for sale!

The market is on the grounds of the Parkway Hotel, 5 Frenchs Forest Road (a.k.a. Frenchs Forest Road East), Frenchs Forest, NSW and is open from 8 AM until 1 PM. Please come along, have a browse and spoil your friends - or yourself - with a present of quality jewellery!

Location of Parkway Hotel

UBD™ Page No. 177
Grid Reference A5

Posted by Midus at 11:56 AM

January 16, 2004

Home Again, Home Again Jig a jig jig!

Time for another post.

Rob and I went to the Wedding of my son Karl and his wife Jodie, last week.

For once the flights to and from Cairns were actually bearable...especially the return trip, where we were quite comfortable.

We stayed at the Cairns Queenslander, which is quite central to the shopping and entertainment area. It was well worth the $89au per night as the suite we had was fully self contained with a full kitchen, dining and lounge areas, plus the usual bedroom and all important bathroom. (Yes the shower was a beauty and actually worked!)

Karl and my daughter Deena, picked us up from the airport and took us to the motel. Jodie was at her sisters place, helping her move her possessions back to her mother's place. (Drama in her relationship.) When we had unpacked, we drove out there, so that Karl could tie the load down. He, accompanied by Rob, drove the ute to drop off point. Along the way Rob got the 'you'd better take care of mum' talk. Karl is <i>very</i>protective of the women in our family and now this is extended to Jodie's too. Rob and Karl got on pretty well together by the time we left.

When we got to Karl and Jodie's home, the pre-wedding shambles was in full swing. Her sister and brother were staying there, so the place was overflowing. I got to see my old dog Bow again and have a pat and a bit of a cuddle. I don't think she even remembered me, but it was nice to see her.

After that, we went to Deena's home...I hadn't seen her place either, because both my son and daughter's houses were built since I left Cairns.

Deena made the dresses for the two flower girls and then, because the dressmaker made a total stuff-up of the maid of honors dress, she'd had to make an entirely new one. Two years ago Deena could barely sew a seam! She also made her own dress, which looked really nice.

When we got back into the City, we had Deena drop us off and we had a wander around before heading back to the motel. We then changed and headed into our favourite dining spot at Pirottas

Posted by Midus at 02:00 PM

December 31, 2003

Bring It On!

Another year come and gone!

Where on earth did 2003 go? It only seems like a couple of weeks ago, that I was wishing friends and family Happy New Year.

We plan ahead for what we are going to achieve with the fresh chances that a new year brings. Some make resolutions and keep them. Others, like myself, wistfully dream of taking earth shaking steps and reach Dec.31st, only to find themselves still running on the same spot.

I can't really complain. Rob and I have had another wonderfilled year together. We've had an unexpected trip to the UK. We've cemented friendships with some great people.

Early in the year, we had the very great pleasure of hosting our dear friend Jillian, on her first visit to Australia from the US. It was two weeks that will remain etched in my memory.

In September Melissa, whom we had not met before, made us her last stop in Australia, before heading back to the US. Melissa is an artist and a poet (she's very talented.) She spent 4mths in WA painting and one of her small oils hangs on our living room wall...it was a delightful 'thank you' gift, from one of our favourite people. We also hopped a Virgin flight in July for a couple of days in Melbourne. We were my granddaughter Kate's guests at a school function and it was lovely to see my daughter and her family again.

We said 'See ya later' to Roger...and did a couple of days later in the UK. Hopefully he will find the Aussie water (or in Roger's case beer) has become something he needs to top-up on, on a regular, if not permanent basis. Hurry back mate...we miss you in the games and we miss your stories!

The surprise departure of the year, was Mandi's leaving to work in Beijing for twelve months. I don't think anyone was more gob-smacked than Mandi was. We are waiting to see some pics. Anyone wanting to give send Mandi a welcome and really meaningful gift should send COFFEE! The girl is jonesing for a truely decent cup.

Workwise my year hasn't been particularly exciting. I <i>am</i> lucky, in that I work for nice people, who appreciate their staff. Rob, on the other hand has had a more eventful year. He has seen nice advancement and it looks like 2004 will be bringing more.

Other things of interest: Rob finally got around to revamping his website and I got a brand spanking new one...many thanks to Marcus for providing the space.
FantaC Jewellery appeared out of nowhere and took me by surprise. I had no idea that I even wanted to make jewellery!

What does 2004 hold? Who knows!
One thing that is coming up- in a week's time in fact, is a four day trip to Cairns. Karl (son) and Jodie are getting married on the 10th of January and we will be there with bells on. We hope they will have as much love in their marriage as Rob and I share.

Personally I guess I want the usual things for New Year...
To lose weight. (Yeah-right)
To win lotto. (ditto)
Most of all, I just want Rob and I to spend another loving year together...until the next one comes.

On a wider front?
I want the World to embrace Tolerance.

To you, our friends and family:
You know where we live if you <i>need</i> us, and hopefully, when you don't <i>need </i>us but just want to bring us joy.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2004!

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:17 AM

December 16, 2003

Comment Spam Removed

Hi, all,

Vickie and I have been hit by some comment-spam recently. Thankfully, they've usually been older posts, but it's still annoying to find a comment whose only purpose seems to be to get your attention on the author's URL - which inevitably leads to a site on penis enlargement.

I've just been through our websites and cleaned the spam out. I've also taken Vickie's replies-in-comment to the spammers down, else she look daffy by responding to something that isn't there.

Posted by Midus at 04:37 PM

On the Road Again!

Hi all!
Finally I've found the energy and the enthusiasm to post. The dreaded virus has left the building. (I hope!)

Now to get back to the final stages of our trip to the UK:

On Thursday November 13th, we boarded a coach at Victoria and left the big smoke behind. London is OK to visit - if you like grey, but it's not somewhere I ever want to live again. We travelled for about 2 1/2hrs to Bristol and my internet friend Maurice. The bus travelled through some really nice countryside, so at least there was something to look at.

We had originally planned to go to Glocester first, to see one of my cousins, but when I rang her, it turned out she was leaving that day for a short holiday in Wales, so I guess we'll have to wait until she comes to Australia again.

Meeting Maurice was exactly as I'd imagined. He looks the same as his pics and he sounds the same as he does on the phone. We've been in touch for 5yrs off and on. At one time, when I was in Cairns, there was a cyclone very close to us and, being alone at home, I was pretty nervous. Maurice stayed on line and kept me company until it abated. That's the sort of unselfish person he is.

The three of us took a taxi to Fishponds, where Maurice has a TV and Video repair shop. At that time he was living in a flat over the shop...he's since moved into a house. We had a bit of a rest and checked out our email etc - YES Maurice has cable! It was nice to put up my feet and have a cuppa.

It was decided to go for a drive in search of lunch. Maurice isn't exactly a cook.<g>

Outside the shop was a big surprise for Rob. Our host drives a Cadillac complete with left hand drive! It's a '75 model (if I remember) and so comfortable it's decadent. Maurice drove us firstly to his favourite pub down by the river, but unfortunately they were closed during day in the off season, but we had a booking for dinner that night. It was an experience getting there...sitting in a huge Yank Tank, navigating very narrow country lanes!

We eventually found a pub that was open for lunch...The Blue Bowl. Rob and I tucked into a huge lunch and then realized that it wasn't that long before dinner time. Rob also sampled the local brew. I think he's fast developing a taste for beer, whether it's UK or Aussie variety...or even the imported Dutch brand. Roger even had him drinking Guiness and that's not something he'd do at home.

After we finished lunch, Maurice drove us to our accomodation for the night. What a difference to our digs in London! It was 10GBP cheaper per night and really lovely. Crossleaze Farmhouse is somewhere we would recommend. The only fault I had with it, was that they didn't do breakfast. Apparently we had the last room available because they have a very steady guest list. Sure the bathroom was next door, but we did have our own private loo. They actually had a 'real' shower and wonderfully huge, thick towels...pure heaven! Our room was the smallest in the place, but it was twice the size of the dog kennel at the Dover.

Maurice arrived at 7pm to whisk us away to Checkers...the pub that was closed for lunch. We didn't go in the Caddy but in a VW van owned by his friends Paul and Donna. When we arrived at Checkers, Gloria, one of Maurice's ex wives (yes he has a 'past') was there already and waiting to join the rest of us for dinner. We had a terrific night. It was a pity that Rob and I had stuffed ourselves at lunchtime, because the food was great. The company was excellent and we had a lovely time. Another highlight of the evening was the weekly Trivia night. We didn't officially take part, but we had fun answering the questions and giving tips to a couple of the teams.<g>

We decided it was time to hit the road, when it looked like Rob was going to end up face down on the table! We got back to the Farmhouse and slept like logs.

Maurice picked us up the next morning and dropped us off in his local shopping area, so that we could go find breakfast. We certainly did find it! We had a huge meal at a nearby workmens cafe and then walked the distance back to Maurices place. Unfortunately Maurice had a really bad headache and sinus trouble, so he wasn't really feeling up to much...just as well he was taking the day off.

Just before we left in the taxi to go to the coach station, Maurice gave me a little Christmas ornament from his own collection. It's a little robin sitting on an alligator clip, so that it can sit firmly on a branch. Robin is now sitting on the branch just under the Christmas Angel on our tree. It will be on all our trees from now on...a lovely reminder of a really good friend.

The weather for the trip back to Manchester was bleak. Really heavy storms were forecast...and we got them. It rained in torrents for most of the way.

We trundled our way along the streets, with our suitcase, looking for a bus stop to take us to Prestwich. We found one, but it was bucketing down and I wasn't in the best of moods. A taxi came into sight and we grabbed it. Far nicer than standing in the rain! Not only that, but it saved a walk in the rain at the other end.

Rob's dear Aunt Heather was waiting up for us and had a very lovely cuppa on the go. Bed was very, very welcome and I don't think either of us stirred, until morning.

I'll post the last 4 days of our trip shortly, after I've finished my Christmas list.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:17 AM

December 03, 2003

Swindon & More!

Hi all!
Sorry for the delay in getting around to this posting, but that damned virus I caught in the UK is still with me. I'm a lot better than I was and I'm back at work, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.

Back to our trip:
Day three saw us met at the coach station by our old mate Roger. He'd returned to Briton just a couple of days before we left on our visit. It was a pleasure to have a hug and see his 'ugly' mug again.

We did a little wandering around, prior to meeting up with his lady, Clair, in an Irish Pub (yep...I've forgotten the name.) Clair is a delightful lady and we sincerely hope that Roger brings her back to Australia on a permanent basis.
The food was great, the drinks were plentiful and the time passed too quickly. We arranged to meet Clair later for dinner, because she had to leave to go back to work.

We stopped off for coffee before our next move and I managed to give some person a wonderful Christmas gift. I went into a newsagency and somehow dropped 65 British Pounds. I hope their need was greater than ours.

Roger took us on a trip to see if we could take in a movie, but we'd seen most of them or they didn't fit into our time frame, so we went back to Swindon and had coffee and a tour of the shops...where I picked up yet another Christmas ornament.

On the way back in, we went around what must surely be the ultimate in traffic nightmares. It's actually called 'The Magic Roundabout'! It's a central large roundabout with five smaller ones on the perimeter. God help the unsuspecting tourist who is thrown into this traffic mahem.

Roger took us to visit his parents and to also check our mail on their computer. It wasn't such a good idea (the mail thing I mean) as they only have dial up and our time was limited.<g> After a cuppa, we were on the road again and it was time to pick up Clair from work...as Roger was driving her car.

Dinner was at a place called The Pattern Store. It was a converted factory(?) where they used to keep all the technical stuff attached to the railway. It was a huge place which retained a great many of the artifacts from its original usage. Again the food and company were wonderful and it was with heaps of regret that we took our leave of them at the coach station that night.

We arrived back in London a couple of hours later and were really glad to see bed...even if it was in the same horrible little hotel.

Next post I'll tell you about our visit to Bristol and my old friend Maurice.

I've posted a few snaps of our trip and there are more to come...when I eventually finish the role of film.

Stay tuned for further 'adventures'.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 12:51 PM

November 27, 2003

Apology.

Hi all!
This is just a brief entry to let you know that I've not forgotten about updating the site. My problem at the moment, is that I'm too sick to sit at the computer for any length of time. I went to work on Tuesday night and just made the distance. Wednesday I had to beg off.

It's pretty difficult to breath properly at the moment and if I cough, I discover all the damage I've done to my poor muscles...so, I'm afraid things are just going to have to wait a little longer, until things get back to a bareable level.

Just these few lines have let me know that I should be back in bed. I'll see you later.

Oh and I want to say<i><b> thank you </b></i>to my darling Rob. He's been wonderful. He's put up with my whinging and never complained. He's always ready to take care of me and give me a comforting cuddle.

Soon,
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:16 AM

November 22, 2003

Timed Out.

I'm back on Planet Oz and totally understand the Pope's urge to kiss the soil. The further I venture, the more Australian I become. Not in an ocker way, but in my desire to return as soon as possible.

At the moment, both Rob and myself are still battling jet lag. This, off course distorts everything. No amount of Bach Rescue Remedy has been able to fix it. I checked my blood pressure yesterday and it wasn't what I wanted to hear.

Rob is setting up a post on the subject of jet lag...he's actually trying to work out the hours we've slept or not slept, since we've been back. I've given up!

Our trip to London had it's highs and lows. Firstly our hotel, The Dover on Belgrave Road, Victoria...don't, unless totally desperate for a place to lay your head, give them your hard earned $$$! Our 'room' was on the third floor. That doesn't sound too bad, except the stairway was narrow, steep and like a switchback. It took 5 seperate sets of stairs to get there. No lifts and no help with the luggage. The breakfast room was down 2 flights from reception, in the basement. I feel totally exhausted just thinking about all the climbing we did. One night, I actually crawled up the last flight...and NO I wasn't drunk! The room itself was about the size of a breadbox. The double bed was jammed up against the wall with just enough room to walk next to it. In this space was crammed a clothes rack and a bedside table. At the foot of the bed was a dressing table. Facing the end of the bed was a tiny shower in a glass cubicle. It's just as well neither Rob or myself are particularly modest! Oh and yes, the loo was in the hall way! Ensuite in the UK means something totally different from the Australian version. If you want a shower and a loo in your room, you have to be specific.

We did, however, find a great place to eat and have a few drinks. The St.George's Tavern was just 2 blocks away and provided meals in three sizes, to cater for all appetites. Prices were reasonable and they had cheap drinks from a 3hr long happy session. This is one place we can recommend.

As we didn't have a heap of time in London, we decided to go for a bus tour with the Original Tour. It was a pretty good investment, as it gives 24hr travel on their buses and has 70 destinations where you can alight, sight see and then catch a bus that suites you, to continue your journey. We managed to see quite a bit without getting off the bus. London by night (well after 4pm) is still quite spectacular.

We did, however, get off the bus to visit 221B Baker Street. This, for those of you who don't recognize the address, is the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson. It's a really well put together, little museum of memorabilia and it's hard to remember that none of the events actually happened...especially after you've been greeted by Dr.Watson.<g> We gave it an A+ on the list of things to do...and we've the TShirts to prove it!

Oh...one special thing of note: We saw St.Paul's Cathederal - well we thought that's what we were looking at as the bus approached, but then we realized that the entire facade was actually a sketch of the building! It was covering the scaffolding that was in place while it was being cleaned. This must surely be the world record for Trompe-l'oeil. The rear of the Cathederal was still quite visible and yet to be cleaned. Rather like a Charles II virgin (if there was such a thing) showing a rather grubby pair of drawers.

On day 2, we were unfortunate enough to get caught up in the traffic mayhem connected with Rememberance Day at the Cenotaph. Our bus was 3/4hr late and we hung around getting more and more testy...along with a great many other tourists. Once underway, we actually saw the changing of the Horseguards on our way past. Our aim for the day was Oxford Street, Regents Street and a trip to Knightsbridge to Harrod's. We achieved all of those and managed a trip on the 'tube'...again held up, this time due to someone having fallen under a train. I'm now the proud owner of a zip top shopping tote from Harrod's with the name embroidered on the side. (I'm such a snob!LOL)

One of the things I make a habit of doing, is picking up ornaments for our Christmas tree and I scored very well in London.

Day three saw us on a coach again...this time to travel to Swindon and to visit our old mate Roger. I'll tell you all about that in my next post, which should be ready sometime tomorrow or Monday.

Vickie (Who is so very glad to be HOME!)

Posted by Midus at 09:16 AM

November 08, 2003

Across the Pond

Here I am, sitting in the Prestwich Library computer room, sweltering! I can't get used to the solid wall of heat that hits you as soon as you venture in from the outside. Shopping malls are like saunas and you could cook your Sunday roast on the floor of Boots the Chemist!

The weather this past 4 days was glorious. Autumn sent swirls of amber leaves on gusts of wind that were quite temperate. Today, Saturday, is pretty chilly. Rob and I are all rugged up when we are outside. It's not really unpleasent, just so long as the extremities are warm. We've both aquired some pretty snazzy hats etc.

Wednesday saw us on a hike across Heaton Park to find the huge bonfire that was to be lit later in the evening. Eventually we found the fun fair and behind it the mound of timber and the Guy. Remember, remember, the 5th of November etc. Prior to the ritual burning, the fireworks were set off. It was a pretty good display for a local community. Nothing like New Year and Australia day on the Bridge, but plenty of flash and bang. When the fire was lit, it was like something out of the Wicker Man and had a distinctly pagan feel to it. We headed for the exit gate on Sheepfoot Lane, only to find that the hundreds of people trying to get out a 3ft wide exit, were being held back by a mob of louts trying to push their way in. It began to get ugly after about 30mins of stalemate, with punches thrown, but then the police arrived and started weilding their riot battons on the trouble makers. It didn't take long for the crowd to disperse and we wended our long way home on foot.

We've been going to bed by 9pm and awake about 5am...it's totally insane and something that we will no doubt put right when we return.

Next week we're off to London. I'll keep you posted!

Toodle Pip!<g>

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 10:58 PM

October 21, 2003

Friends and all who venture here.

I notice that Rob has made an entry on his site about the value of friends. At the risk of sounding repetative, I'm going to do the same.

Firstly...thanks to those of you who've taken the time to sign my guest book or leave a comment on one of my posts.

It's amazing how we turn to our friends when things aren't going right, yet tend to be less attentive when all's right with the world.

Recently I had a very sobering experience: I belong to a poetry forum called Kookoomunga Square. It's a warm, friendly place, with quite a few poets whom I've known from other pages. One of the lady poets there contacted me with overtures of friendship. I replied and received an e-mail back. Then, being a slack-arse, I put it aside, meaning to respond within a day or two. I actually still have the draft I started in my mail programme. A week later, I was browsing the KS forum and found a msg saying that she was in intensive care and not doing at all well. Two days later she died. I lost a friend before I had the chance to know her and the world lost a good and caring person. I felt so angry with myself. It gave me a wake up call though. Marie was 8 yrs older than I am and mortality gave me a big slap to remind me that time is passing rapidly.

Last year a dear friend of mine died. I knew her personally from my visits to St.Louis and the place won't be the same without her and her ribauld sense of humour. She is directly responsible for my poetry. Mimi introduced me to a forum where I met others who wrote and that kindled my interest. Poetry became, at first, a catharsis and later a joy. Of all her many friends, she shared her illness with only 2. She spared the rest of us, but we also lost the chance to say goodbye and to let her know how much she meant to us.

Enough of the sad side of friendship. I am blessed by the friends I have. For those of you who adopted me when I joined my beloved Rob: Thank you for your ready acceptance of what must have been, to you, a very <i>odd couple</i>. To those of you I've met since and am also honoured to call my friends too, thank you for wanting to share yourselves with both of us. My online friends, most of whom I've known before I met Rob: Thank you for hanging in there for so long and for showing love, concern and acceptance of our relationship. I know some of you had misgivings, but that quickly changed to support when it was proved we had a good thing going.<g>

<i>Our friends are a measure of who we are</i>. If this is the case, I am 10feet tall! (Don't ask me to convert to metric.)

I know there are a couple of members of my family who will be reading this. I want to thank you too, for taking Rob into your hearts. I guess you're used to me doing the unexpected by now.

During my life I've had very few people I could call friends. I guess, mostly, that was due to the fact that I've always been a loner. I've learned that I need the company of others, inspite of myself. Thanks all for being there.

Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 09:22 AM

October 17, 2003

Why only 24hrs?

Life is busy. Busy? That's a total understatement. At the moment I could do with 36hr days!

The garden, such as it is, is a total shambles. The weather is erratic and poor Rob hasn't managed to fit the lawn mowing inbetween showers and a busy schedule. It's tentitively slotted in for this week-end. What a pity that dandelions don't have a commercial value, other than for making a revolting tasting tea! The roses need dead-heading and that's my department...when I can find the enthusiasm. Pruning is, I think, going to be a joint assault from both of us.

On the jewellery front things are buzzing. I've a commission for a special pair of earrings to be worn to a wedding and for a collection of earrings as a Christmas gift for a 7yr old. Oh and a necklace and earring for Mandi's mother.
I've also discovered that I need three hands and much better lighting than we have at the moment. Poor Rob, when I start to cuss, he heads for the relative safety of the computer room! I never imagined at this time last year, that I would have discovered such a creative and satisfying way, to make an extra income. Of course, one has to spend money to make money, but it's starting to pay off.

I should, of course, be giving the house a total spring-clean before our trip to the UK and I guess this week-end will see the start of it. I don't want our house-sitter to think that we're slobs. There's also the task of selecting and packing the clothes to take with us. Just as well I've not put the winter woolies in storage yet!

I hate packing. I'm pretty good at it by now, having some long trips under my belt, but it's still a real chore. At least we are only going for a couple of weeks.

It's going to be an odd experience for me; returning to a country I left 47yrs ago. On the upside, I'll be meeting Rob's Grandmother and Aunt for the first time. I'll also be meeting up with a cousin who I last saw in 1999, when she and her husband visited Australia. I may even see her sister whom I've not seen since I left. We will be having a few(?) drinks with an online mate, with whom I've corresponded for 4yrs. On the downside...the flight. I don't do long hauls well. I spend most of the time on my feet, as I loath sitting in one spot for so long. Flying has about as much allure for me as sitting on a bus to Cairns!

Speaking of Cairns: Rob and I will be off to Cairns in January. My youngest, Karl, is finally marrying his fiancee Jodie. They've been together for about 8yrs, so I guess he finally decided to keep her! <g> It's not going to be such a huge expense, because I can write my expenses off on tax, because I'll be checking up on my rental property while I'm there.

Now to totally change the subject: <u>One to Watch out For!</u>
Those of you with an interest in Sci-Fi, may be interested to know that there's a NEW Robert A Heinlein book being published! Actually it's not strictly new, seeing as he's died quite some time ago. He wrote <i>For Us, the Living</i> in 1939 and it was his first novel. Apparently he and his then wife decided to destroy all copies but one escaped to be rediscovered not so long ago. <a href="http://www.heinleinsociety.org/rah/works/novels/spidersFUTL.html">This page will give you the complete lowdown</a>. (Credit to my good friend Moby for posting the link at Robinson's Place.) It will be interesting to see if this forerunner to his other novels, has the same weight.

BTW, Rob's talking about putting in a <b>Soap Box</b> for me to stand on. Somewhere I can rant and rave about social issues and anything else that's getting my goat. Could be dangerous!LOL

Time for me to stop assaulting your eyes and go catch up on the chores.

'Til next time,
Vickie.

Posted by Midus at 11:04 AM

October 15, 2003

My Work Here... Is Done.

Hello again, everyone. Another quick message to let you know that the last poems of Midus' selection for posting has now been posted. It's quite an extensive selection - at least eighty poems, I believe - and Midus will ptobably add more as she goes.

Unless and until more work needs to be done on this site, this will be the last news post you read from me on Midus' web log.

Cheers, all - and won't you please post in the guest book, you awfully slack people on whose demand I built the thing? My post is awfully lonely in there!

Posted by Midus at 08:15 PM

October 14, 2003

Guestbook Is Up!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Kids of All Ages, You Asked For It, and By Gosh if we didn't Give It To You! Midustouch's Guestbook has been established; it awaits your comments and signature.

Now it's time to get back to posting poems. Only fifty-four left to go - unless Vickie's dropped some more into the For Posting folder...

On the horizon is an About Me page, but I want to get some more general site content into both Vickie's and my own sites before I start fiddling with that.

Cheers, All,

IMAGinES

Posted by Midus at 07:31 PM

By Popular Request

Hi all!
After feedback from a number of friends, it has been decided that I really <i>need</i> a Guestbook, where you guys can leave remarks and suggestions.(keep them clean) I also need a 'contact me' button.
Rob is going to be working on this and have it up and running in no time. You see how much faith I have in him?<g>

So far I've had a heap of nice things said by those of you using IE. Those of you using Netscape and the dreaded Macs haven't been quite so complimentary but <i>as the chef said to the butcher...that's tough!</i> LOL

Anyway, this is just to let you know that I take all crits on board and pass them on to the relevant authority...namely my boss, Rob.

Vickie

Posted by Midus at 11:38 AM

October 12, 2003

The Midustouch Poetry Back Catalogue

Hello everyone! I'm IMAGinES, Midus' man and friendly website admin. Right now, I'm going through Midus' list of poems to publish and adding them to the archives. I just throught I'd put the word out so that all the Midustouch regulars can go and have a look! As Midus mentioned in her first post, she'd love the comments!

Posted by Midus at 05:29 PM

October 11, 2003

First Past the Post

This is my first real plunge into a website that doesn't have huge restrictions as to how I format it. With Rob's help and the joys of Movabletype, I'm actually going to be able to take command of my very own site!

I'll be using The Midustouch to share my poetry, short stories and possible a chapter or two of my novel, which, like many of my enterprises, is a work in progress. I'll be sharing news and views and also displaying the fruits of my labour as FantaC a jewellery designer and maker.

If I stumble across any interesting items of news or interesting sites, I'll leave links. I may even start a page on various gemstones. I love to share the unusual.


Your comments on any or all areas will be appreciated and I'll answer all posts and e-mails as soon as is humanly possible...some mornings I barely qualify.

Those of you who know me personally, are aware that I have a, somewhat, offbeat sense of humour. Those of you who don't know me...be warned and please, don't take offence.

Before I start running riot and downloading my trash and treasure onto these pages, I'd like to thank my wonderful life-partner Rob Farquhar for firstly his invaluable assistance and secondly (but not necessarily in this order) for his continued love and support. I must have done something right in a previous life, because sharing my life with him, is a joyfilled reward.

Posted by Midus at 01:41 PM