Monday, December 31, 2007

Hello 2008!


Well, hello 2008!

We had a easy, friendly kind of New Year's Eve, where we actually managed to stay up until after 12!

The local Fire Brigade threw a big party up in the hills nearby, and they hired a country and western singer who looked like Willie Nelson. We're not into big dos anymore, but as the year turned over, they had an impressive fireworks display on the horizon to the east. It was so good, we didn't need to watch the TV for their fireworks.

It was possibly a bit confusing how the local fire brigade could be putting on a fireworks display high in the hills, surrounded by dry forest, and on the hottest night of the year. Maybe they were looking for thrills if the bush caught alight. Our local group only gets a call out around three times each year, so the action can be a little thin on the ground.

Topped up with champagne, good food and company, we kissed our friends and waved them off down to the studio, and almost made it to bed when my man's daughter rang, amazed we were still up. We were, just!

..............................................

I don't have any New Year Resolutions, just 'intentions', but will recap the major milestones in 2007 instead.

~ I was invited feature artist for the 20th Anniversary of the Drouin Ficifolia Art Show. I had the honour of giving a speech and opening the show, with an area of my own for my paintings.

~ I began a new series of oil paintings in preparation for my next solo, scheduled to co-incide with the re-opening of a regional landmark, Coal Creek Historic Village. The subject matter was of the decaying machinery on the site.

~ I have watched my daughters blossom into the beautiful loving young women I hoped they would always be. My youngest daughter graduated with honours in Philosophy and completed a year's teacher training with straight As. She begins teaching in February nearby, so I will have her and her 8 year old moving closer to us next week. Wonderful!

~ My middle daughter has been working on her PhD in Psychology, as well as producing a gorgeous baby grandson. I assured her that no matter how many others you have (6), each one is just as special.

~ I had a serious motorcycle accident in September, shattering my wrist and damaging my knee. Added to my shock and injury, the driver, a popular local doctor, showed no concern for my welfare in the days and weeks after the event.

It is unlikely I will be able to ride again, but my Harley stands repaired and waiting until March before I decide to sell it or not.

..............................................

I am sure there was much more, but this year will bring.......

~ Surgery on my knee, maybe in February.
~ Hopefully an improvement in my damaged wrist, involving physiotherapy and the plate taken out.
~ A determined resumption of my painting, and planning for my next solo.
~ A whole heap of work constructing and improving my garden.... single-handed if necessary!
~ Spend lots of time with my girls and grandkids.
~ Do up my bedroom, which needs doing badly and will be lots of fun.
~ Work at living as sustainably as we can, producing our own food from our veggie garden, fruit and nut trees, beehives and lambs.... and brewing our own beer!
~ Start sewing again, which I haven't done for years. I am sick of trying to find clothes I like. I used to sew everything!
~ Finish off my studio - painting the floors, sewing curtains for my bench fronts, and repainting the windows and doors outside.
~ Clean out all my paintings I 'am over', and have had hanging around for a while. Rent a hall in town for a day and have a clearance sale. A Fresh Start!
~ Be good to my lovely man, and support him in his endeavors.

..............................................

What I have learned....

~ Always be optimistic. It helps your immune system, and healing abilities.
~ Happy attitudes attract happy people.
~ Quit negative people who suck your energy. Spend your time with those who can carry on a proper conversation, not just talk about themselves.
~ We don't do angst, after doing it for too many years. Bad marriages, divorce, betrayals...... the works!
~ Live in the present. It's the only time that matters.
~ We try to keep our minds free of worries, accepting they are a normal part of living. Good times, bad times..... everything passes.

..............................................

This photo is from from winter two years ago and has nothing to do with much at all.
We have had two days of 40+ degrees heat, and we're sick of it!

I'm hoping it might cool us down....

"I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips."
... Violette Leduc, Mad in Pursuit

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Best Chutney in the Whole World


I can't remember what website I got this chutney recipe from, so I pass on all accolades to the person who dreamed it up.

It's made in the microwave in about half an hour. It does make a bit of mess of the oven, so be prepared to wipe it out afterwards. I've been making it for about two years now, and everyone fights over who gets a jar when I cook it.


MICROWAVE TOMATO CHUTNEY

Makes 2 cups.

· 6 tomatoes, each cut into 8 pieces (about 3 C)

· 3/4 C brown sugar

· 1/2 C white vinegar

· 1/2 C raisins or sultanas

· 1/2 C onions, chopped

· 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely

· 1/2 tsp oil

· 1/2 tsp ginger

· 1/2 tsp garlic powder

· 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, plus ¼ tsp chilli powder or equivalent, for heat)

· 1/2 t salt

· Pinch of ground allspice

COMBINE all ingredients in a 2 1/2 quart microwave safe casserole dish.

MICROWAVE
on high, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, repeat microwaving for 4 minutes at a time, and stopping to stir until the mixture is thick like jam.

In my microwave, it took 35 minutes to thicken.

STORE in tightly covered container in refrigerator or freezer, if it lasts that long.

SUGGESTIONS:
Add or substitute crushed red pepper, crystallized ginger, fresh garlic, 3 T capers, can tomatoes
with liquid, honey, and anything that's left in your fridge. I have put chopped apple, carrot, zucchini, capsicum.

This chutney will go with anything..... sausages, omelettes, ham, roast meats, as a dip with cheese.....

And make you really popular!

..................................................

The temperature is going to hit 42 degrees celcius today, on our last day of 2007.

We're not going anywhere tonight; just invited friends to come and stay the night. We will crank up the air conditioners and light up the barby. Then we'll knock the tops off a champagne for the girls and some Crown Lagers for the boys. Our view from here is so large we can see the fire works in Warragul 20 minutes down the road from our veranda.

..................................................

Couldn't ask for more!

"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other."
... Author Unknown

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hair Dos all round

We had our sheep shorn today.

After a stinking hot day yesterday, and our girls stood around panting in the shade with heavy wool on, we decided they needed a trip to the hairdresser. The weather report for New Year's Eve is 41 degrees celcius, which is too hot for woolly jumpers on.

Our normal fellow was apparently too busy to come until February, so we rang up a local man who agreed to do them the next day if we took them to him.

Our facilities leave a lot to be desired, but after some dramas involving a lot of baaing and wrestling huge woolly gals, the mums were unceremoniously piled onto the trailer, leaving the confused babies in the makeshift yard.

'Weeksie', the only ewe with horns, managed to poke a whole in my man's arm, which pleased him no end.

At the other end, more wrestling was required as they were manhandled off the trailer and shorn one by one.

You don't get to choose your hairstyle at this hairdresser!

Burghard is a shy, gentle man, who is also a beekeeper, and supplied our first beehive to us. As we came down his driveway, we could see rows of bee boxes on our left.

Naked and confused......

Our trailer was not set up to connect neatly to the sheep race, but we managed to back it closely to the edge for the girls to jump down.

Back home, the babies were still confused and bereft, and so were the mums, with all baaing hysterically at each other.

Because we only have a 6 x 4 trailer, the lambies had to stay home but still needed bottoms tidied up, so I got the dog clippers out and crutched them all before setting them free. Far simpler!

Finally together again, the lambs didn't recognise their mums because they looked so different, and smelled of the antiseptic spray put onto their nicks. They all ran around desperately calling; hearing their mums answer, but where were they?

All sounds quiet now, so I hope they're all lying down in the shade (now do we need to worry about sunburn?), unwinding after an exciting morning.

“In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.”
... Albert Einstein

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's all Over!


Well, it was simple, fun, and just that little bit exhausting.

Seeing our beautiful baby grandson opening his first ever Christmas present, and the joy felt by the watching family made it all worth while. Eight year old Blake opening his with equal anticipation, made it very special also. It has been some years since we all got together at Christmas, and each of us felt the familial bond made stronger by being together at this time of year.

If you are reading this, it means that you've survived Christmas Day, and now it's Boxing Day, where we breathe a sigh of relief, with just that little hint of anticlimax.

For us, it was plain old toast and honey for breakfast, and an unopened ham waiting in the fridge for our lunch and his daughter's annual visit. For some, the cricket, or the beginning of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The weather's good, so they might have a smooth trip this year. Other years have brought multiple drowning and broken yachts.

We visited, chatted and caught up with people for most of yesterday, and then collapsed in front of the TV last night. The man wandered off to bed early, exhausted by the socialising, and I reveled in my aloneness, processing my photos from Christmas with one ear on some rubbish on TV.

Aldi opened only a few weeks ago, and I am learning to make the supermarket work for me. This morning, I left my man mowing the lawns, and wandered down to town to view their Boxing Day specials. I had spotted a cordless vacuum cleaner I fancied in the brochure, and thought I would have a closer look.

Down at five to 10 am, there was a motley group waiting impatiently at the doors for Aldi to open. Two women were commenting they had 'never waited in line at a supermarket before'. How true! I never dreamed I would go to a Boxing Day Sale!

The doors opened and some men, who had probably never graced a supermarket in their lives, rushed in and snaffled the table saws, drill sets, and cement mixers.

I was happy with my snazzy little vacuum, and apart from realising I had left my keys in the car in my excitement, got out in one piece, after a short wait in the rapid-fire queues. You kind of hit the checkout, and feel like you've been pushed onto a slide, with your items snapped through the scanner, and dumped unceremoniously into your specially placed trolley. I found I apologised for fumbling my money!

More socialising this afternoon, and we actually chopped into our ham. The Christmas Cake has been cut, and is very good.

I am feeling a little emotionally frazzled. The effort of getting everything together in time is hard work for my tired old brain. But this year has presented some warm fuzzy moments that I will remember for a long time.

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall."
.. Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Postscript..... Deleted OES snippet as it's attracting nasty people. Happy New Year to you all!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Peace for Christmas

We're off to the seaside to spend Christmas Eve and morning with my daughters and family.

Lots of love, champagne and good food.

Then we're back home for my man's lovely daughter's visit in the afternoon.

My tiny Christmas Tree was given to me as an even tinier one five years ago. It's very slow growing, and has been in an over sized pot for some years. It's just big enough to finally work for it's living.

Merry Christmas to all!
.............

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weather watching!

The countdown to Christmas has begun, and we have just received our Christmas bonus.

For the past two weeks, I have become increasingly aware and distressed about our disappearing water supply. Living in the country with no town water, we have two large tanks of five thousand gallons each and a small catcher tank of 500 litres down at the studio. That's about 44,500 thousand litres. Heaps!

There's only two of us, plus the three poodles, ten sheep and the garden, and I've been very careful.......

A short but heavy downfall three weeks ago should have topped us up, but no, we were down to our last ten thousand in one tank only. I could feel my garden wilting, and the veggies turning to crisps as the weather heated up.

Two minute shower orders were put into place and I hovered dangerously over my man's shoulder as he brushed his teeth with the tap running. Not good!

I 'put on the jack boots' and marched him out last weekend to review the situation. It turned out that the two tanks weren't 'talking to each other', and the small tank down at the studio didn't have the pump that sent the water up to the big ones turned on!

Still no rain! I reviewed the weather radar each day, watching for brightly coloured pixels on the map that might wander our way. One heavy shower the day before yesterday wandered tantalizingly close by on the flats below, missing us, leaving only a light shower to damp the parched garden.

It's Coming!

Until yesterday! Thunder, lightning and the whole damn lot! In the middle of the first really heavy shower, the man got out on top of the primary water tank, to discover that there was a thatch of leaves blocking the inlet. Aha! With thunder crashing around him, and me yelling from the veranda for him to come in or get struck by lightning, he cleared the blockage and we were away.

Lily went under the bed as she always does. She hates lightning, and there is nothing that can be said or done to comfort her.

Poor baby under the bed

We sat out on the veranda and watched that blessed rain filling our tanks and knowing our lives can begin anew.

"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry."
... Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Things We Might All Try to Learn


These words are written by Andy Rooney, a man who has the gift of saying so much with so few words.

.....................................................................

"I've learned.....

... that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

... that when you're in love, it shows.

... that just one person saying to me, "You've made my day!" makes my day.

... that having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

... that being kind is more important than being right.

... that you should never say "no" to a gift from a child.

... that no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to be goofy with.

... that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

... that simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child, did wonders for me as an adult.

... that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

... that we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

... that money doesn't buy class.

... that it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

... that under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

... that the Lord didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?

... that to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

... that when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

... that love, not time, heals all wounds.

... that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

... that everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

... that there is nothing sweeter than sleeping with your babies and feeling their breath on your cheek.

... that no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

... that life is tough, but I am tougher.

... that opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

... that when you harbour bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

... that I wish I could have told my mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

... that one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

... that a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

... that I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

... that when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.

... that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

... that it is best to give advice in only two circumstances; when it is requested and when it is a life threatening situation.

... that the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done."


A Timely Escape.

The cleaning lady allotted to me by the TAC for the time I can't wield a broom or a mop is not the best conversationalist. I dread the weekly visits where she talks at me and doesn't listen to my answer. I have become a bit of a captive audience, so much so I begin to desperately look for somewhere else to be for those two hours.

This week, in desperation, I got into my car for a wander, around to a winding road nearby I hadn't been on for a while. My man loves to take me 'the long way round', where we disappear into the depths of the Strzelecki Ranges, with him pointing out places of interest and the people linked to them. He is a huge encyclopedia of local knowledge, not just because of the 40 odd years he has lived here, but because of his work as a Pest Plant and Animal consultant for the State Government.

After 11 years with him, I have heard most of it before, and do remind him of that, but sometimes he takes no notice, just like my cleaning lady.

So, I pottered at low speed around the road, stopping to break off some poplar branches for propagating. I love the sound of the wind through poplars, so will try and get some trees going to plant.


The terrain around here is often very steep, with lots of cosy gullies. You can see the green grass where the water collects.

I passed through a forested area, where the owners had built a gravel path amongst the tall gums and lined it with tree ferns. They also had done a no-no, and planted rows of agapanthus along the edge. Agapanthus are noted as an 'environmental weed' as they do spread. Not the thing to plant in your forest ........

I took a turn off the main road onto a 'no through' road and discovered an abandoned house with some equally abandoned cars in the field next door.



There was also a nice view out to the hills in the south.

Leaving there, I drove onto a the road I recognised, to work my way back home, stopping to pick up a bag of pine cones to dry as fire lighters.

We have Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos in our hills, and some live just down the road from us. They are a huge black parrot with yellow flashes on their tails, cheeks and yellow edges on their feathers. They call to each other with a loud moaning sound.

A John Gould Print

When my man sees them flying he always says 'it's going to rain', citing an old farmer's saying. I tell him if the poor cockies were only allowed to fly when it rained, they would be very bored, and hungry.

Back to the pine cones. The cockies love to eat pine cone seeds and make a real mess as they travel from tree to tree, leaving a trail of crunched up cones on the ground.

Standing there on a quiet road, I heard Lyre Birds, Eastern Whip Birds, and lots of other familiar calls. The 'silence' was deafening, and beautiful.


The secretive and beautiful Lyre Bird can imitate most noises it hears and can be heard barking like a dog or 'chainsawing'.

The Eastern Whip Bird is rarely seen, and it's distinctive whip crack call is actually made with its mate making the second note.

Back in the car, the clock still didn't tell me to go home, so I called in to a friend for a coffee and a chat, finally getting home with only half an hour left. I could cope with that .......

We talked for five minutes and I escaped down to the studio to clean my desk. It's funny how when you want somebody to leave you can steer them to their car and with body language, move them to get going.

I say each week, I will put her off and do it all myself, but with surgery in the new year, it's probably wise to bite the bullet and keep going.

"Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for;
sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive, or quiet and calm....
One of the greatest sounds of them all;
and to me it is a sound,
... is utter, complete silence."

... Andre Kostelanetz

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Yummy Baby

A small watercolour of my youngest grandson, Asher
~ a much loved baby boy ~

"A smile is the same as a tight pair of undies, it holds your cheeks up!"

Down Where the Bugs Live.

I love nasturtiums. I love their intense colours, their shapes, and their determination to survive. I pull them out and they germinate and return. I go to pull them out again and fall in love with them all over.

I especially love views like this - down where the bugs live.........

This rose came from a hundred year old garden I helped to renovate 14 years ago. It is intensely perfumed, flowers profusely and changes colour as it opens and ages.

A pastel I have done of this rose.

"When God measures a man, he puts a tape around his heart and not his head"
... Funeral notice for James E. Robinson

Friday, December 14, 2007

Are You Looking Forward to Christmas?

Most women I know don't really like Christmas. It's hugely expensive and if you're in a family, requires a lot of work from the lady of the house. Finding that special present that doesn't break the bank, and just finding the right gifts over and over is downright exhausting. Buying things for people they don't really need or want can be pretty wasteful and disappointing.

I remember years ago, when I was a single mother, or just plain didn't have enough money,
Christmas was a huge trauma. I had four siblings who had a total of twelve children between them, and the tradition was that everyone gave a present to everyone! In the weeks before the big day, I would slave over my sewing machine, or trawl through the cheaper shops, trying to produce a special present for eighteen people. Plus, my own children needed something each as well. And we hadn't even thought about Christmas dinner.

I would heave a huge sigh of relief when it was over.

I remember one dreadful year, when the entire family got together at my younger brother's home on boxing day. We had my stepson there, along with my own children. I had made it public to all that he would be there. When the big family present hand-out came, no-one else had remembered to buy this ten year old boy anything. The disappointment on this poor boy's face still haunts me nearly twenty years later.

That's how sad Christmas can be.................

I lost my beautiful sister from breast cancer in '89, and 'sacked' my three remaining siblings around 9 years ago, and that has proved the most freeing thing I could possibly do. You grow up believing that in a family, all you had to do was love them and they would love you back. Not true.

I have my own new family now, filled with people who love honestly and are trustworthy.

My daughters have produced a bunch of grandkids for me to fuss over, and they have great partners who like and respect me and my lovely man.

We also have others who are our 'surrogate' family, and we trust how they will treat us from years of solid friendship.

I miss what our family could have been, but not what it became.

Christmas will be very special this year, and although I haven't bought all my presents yet, I am really looking forward to it.

" The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. "
... Burton Hillis

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Make Hay While the Sun Shines.


The farmers say this is the best season they can remember for pasture, and everyone's cutting hay. This is a view from our home of my man's family property. The hills are so steep, only the tops can be cut, and even then the round bales can roll away down the hill with little to stop them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our small and loyal Pastel Group, who have met on Tuesday afternoons to draw for around 9 years, finished up with a special pre-Christmas lunch last Tuesday.

Shirley lives at glorious beach side Kilcunda, and the rest of us drove over to the nearby Hotel Restaurant, for a delicious celebration.

We always buy each other some quaint present we have bought for under $10 and have a special presentation, which provides lot of laughs.

Calendar, wine, Chinese mug, essential oil room fresheners, a red rose in a pot, ...... and friendship! You can't beat the friendship great women bring to your life.

Pat gave me some extra treasures because I host our group at my studio. One was a small sketch pad, to get me back to work. Next was some antique style postcards, for inspiration. Last was a cat pencil sharpener, which meows loudly when you put the pencil in its rear. Makes a nice sharp pencil, as well as gives lots of giggles.

I have promised to get my head back in order and into some drawing in the New Year.

.................................................

Today, I have made my annual Christmas Cake. It's an easy recipe that produces a beautiful cake, and Shirley from our group gave it to me. It's cooking now and smells scrumptious!

Shirley’s Christmas Cake

Overnight put 375grms of raisins and sultanas
250 gms currants
125g mixed peel

125g glace cherries halved
6 each of dried apricots, nectarines peaches cut into dice
125g blanched chopped almonds all in bowl, then soak all these in 4 tbsp each of brandy and rum.

Cake mixture
250g butter
250g brown sugar
fine grated rind one lemon
2 tblsp golden syrup or marmalade
21/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
5 eggs
Use mixer to beat butter till soft, then add lemon rind and brown sugar beat til fluffy. Add golden syrup or marmalade. Sift flour, baking powder and spice. Add 2 tbsps flour to fruit mixture and toss through then Add eggs 1 at a time to cake mixture; add flour (a little) if mix curdles.

Mix in rest of flour to cake mix, mix all together. Place mix into lined 24c round tin or square cake tin with 2 sheets baking paper inside, 1 brown paper. Blanched almonds and cherries to finish. Bake in slow oven for 2 to 3 hrs. If cake browns too quickly, cover with paper. Sprinkle with brandy when cooling, wrap and store when cold.

Marzipan and ice

"Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy fat women. "

... Nicole Hollander



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Toilet Trained - I Don't think so......

Every spring, procrastination and my memory catches up with me. It has happened twice this year already and I'm paying the price.

We have swallows that love to nest in the dog kennels, building a cutesy little nest about 6 foot above the poodle's beds and raising three or four beautiful babies. That lot fledge and the parents get back in there a few weeks later to repeat the process all over again.

I don't mind that so much, but the little darlings then come out to roost under the rafters of the house and poop all over the verandah, leaving trails of white muck everywhere.

Beautiful Babies

I promise myself and the dogs that I will put a strip of curtain over the doggie door to stop them from getting in, BUT still haven't.


The second group have just fledged this week, but are still going in and out of the door leaving white lumps of guck on the trail in and out. The poodles have even had a few spots dropped on them as they slept.

We got creative when I discovered the first new babies were in there and cable-tied a plastic ice cream container underneath. There is a pile in there as well, but their aim was pretty average.

One of the parents must have died from overwork: I discovered its poor little body on the floor yesterday as I swept poops out the door yet again.

Don't get me wrong, I love swallows!

But I am shutting this computer down and cutting two strip curtains right now.................

"God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages. "
... Jacques Deval, Afin de vivre bel et bien


Monday, December 10, 2007

Stuffed Full


I'm sure my plants would do better if I gave them room to move, but I love this packed in look.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sold - One Puppy.........

I haven't cared much about selling any works recently, as my head has been filled with pain and shock from the accident.

This little guy went last week. He was a lot of fun to do, and I'll miss him.

Bits and Pieces

My early Christmas present is a 9ft Golden Elm tree.

Today we went out to Neerim South to the Blerick Tree Farm to view an amazing array of trees (over 2000). He offered to 'tree sit' until February, so it can reach it's optimum growth by autumn. He will water and feed it and check it for Elm Beetle.


Lovely! I am really excited, because I have wanted one for such a long time. My grandmother had a huge one out in her garden at Olinda when I was a child. I used to climb up into its branches and look up into its lime green canopy. I had to have one to recapture that lovely memory, and now it's done! Even standing amongst the young trees took me right back to those innocent days.

My wonderful tree will go down below my studio, where it can throw shade on the hydrangea walk I have built there. They need the shade and the blues will be beautiful with the lime green.

I am probably a bit past climbing up into the branches, especially by the time it begins to spread sideways. I'll leave that to the grandkids.

.................................................................................................................



I love rain like this, overflowing the gutters and pouring down the driveway. It didn't last for long though, and now the water's in our phone line and gives a loud irritating static while trying to talk. It happens every time we get a serious downpour.

.................................................................................................................



Who would believe our cute little lambies are now tubby sheepies in just three months? Some are developing the Cheviot roman nose that gorgeous dad Herbie gave them. They're great little people now, and spend most of their days sleeping, playing and stuffing their boofy little faces.

.................................................................................................................

My knee surgery for cartilage damage and whatever else needed will be scheduled by the surgeon on 23rd January 2008. Hopefully the plate in my wrist will come out as well. I may as well get it all over in one hit, then get on with my life.

I just have to stay out of trouble until then and that's the hard part.

.................................................................................................................

"I think I've discovered the secret of life - you just hang around until you get used to it."
... Charles Schulz

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Diagnose Myself? May as well.....

The frustration of not getting a long awaited result for my wrecked knee is starting to tell on me. The MRI was last Friday, and I'm supposed to wait for the surgeon to ring me, but it's taking SO LONG! The burning down the outside of my leg is very wearing, and I do wonder whether I am damaging it more. The injury is now almost three months old...

So, I got the films out again yesterday and downloaded a Gray's Anatomy picture from Wikipedia so I could compare. At least it all makes me that little bit smarter, and I love learning more.

I discovered that the Collateral Ligament from the top of the Fibular which ties the knee together via the Femur above, is quite shredded, and shows quite clearly on the scan. The pressure needed for that to tear it has possibly been what has caused the fibular head to crack. It's hard to tell how much is left, or if it is hanging by a thread ready to pop at any time, so I am taking extra care. Who knows what condition the cartilage is in as well.

I showed my physiotherapist this morning, and he agreed that it certainly looked that way.

Time will tell.....
...........................................

As I was walking up the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish he'd go away.
... Hugh Mearns


Sunday, December 2, 2007

What a Woman!


Topping an excellent weekend off, we went to see 'Elizabeth - The Golden Age' last night.

Largely panned by the critics, I found it to be one of the most enjoyable movies I have seen for a long time. I wonder whether some critics get so spoiled by their position and the plethora of good, bad and appalling, that they lose the plot.

Cate Blanchett, as always, was magnificent, and watching her becomes quite addictive. Her costumes and the film sets were luscious, full of saturated colours like old paintings. It is always good to see another exceptional Aussie star, Geoffrey Rush, as Francis Walsingham.


The sea battle with the chunky old ships was spectacular, and the shot of her on the cliffs in full armour, talking up the troops, was a panorama in itself.


We loved it: a memorable movie indeed..........................

"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. "
... Winston Churchill

Saturday, December 1, 2007

An idyllic Evening for a 60th


Cottage Style Country Garden

Historic Slab Hut next to the house

Pleading Eyes - Old Paddy hoping for a titbit

'Avalanche' - Thus named because he 'goes over the top of everything'...... meeting resident Millie the Border Terrier.

"I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends."
... Nancie J. Carmody


Friday, November 30, 2007

So much happening...........

The last few days have been very busy. We picked up my motorbike yesterday from the repairer's. It looks almost like a new Harley, with new paintwork and many components, including shiny new chrome slash cut pipes, front fender, wheel, tyre, and resprayed tank with paint so deep it looks like you could swim in it......

My man rode it home and proclaimed it handled 'beautifully'.

Our Harley mechanic, who is also a friend, asked me if I thought I might sell it. He said there would be no problem doing that as HD no longer make that model, and it's a favourite with the 'one percenter' clubs. I have decided to give myself three months to decide if I can ride again. Hopefully that will demonstrate my ability to recover sufficiently. My Harley weighs over 600 lbs and requires a lot of control and muscle to keep it upright. There are local men already making interested noises. One of the many excellent points of owning a Harley is that they hold their value really well, and although having over 52,000kms on the clock, it is still worth around $20,000.

Of course, it's only been ridden by a Granny, and I have never thrashed it, apart from my recent tumble.
.....................................................

I had my MRI on my knee yesterday, and that was an interesting process. I have the films but no official results. They will come later next week which is a bit frustrating as I'm pretty sore still.

I have looked in my amateurish way, and have discovered that the sore area shows quite a large anomoly at the top of the fibular. It looks like the crack that my physio spotted on the X-rays could well be there.

It's not so heartening to know I have probably been walking round for nearly 11 weeks with a cracked bone in my knee, then twisted awkwardly on it and fell three weeks ago, to re-injure it all over again.

.....................................................

Coming back from the MRI, we called in to a few lawn mower dealerships, and bought a self propelled mower. After having a TAC funded mowing man for a few weeks, my man was amazed by the fact that he could mow our large and difficult area in only one hour. When I asked this fellow, he said he used a self propelled mower. Aha! That was the secret!

I used to mow our grass, including the many steep slopes, and my face would get so red I would have a headache for the rest of the day. The effort of pushing the blasted weighty mower uphill was really heavy duty work.

So, we bought one, brought it home and my man got out in the heat of the afternoon to learn to drive it. Many mutterings came in between mowing runs as his brain got around the process of clutch bar in and out.........

Then, he came rushing in saying a bee had stung him between the eyes, just above the eyebrow level. The sting was still in there, pumping venom into his head, so I scratched it out in a hurry and gave him a cottonball soaked in vinegar and some ice cubes in a cloth.

Over the next four hours, my usually cheery man muttered darkly about bees as his eyes swelled alarmingly, until finally, in a rare burst of humour he said 'he could blindfold his eyes with a shoestring'.

He does have an allergic reaction to crustaceans.... prawns, crayfish and shrimps, etc, so I began to get a little concerned. I remembered that the Victorian Government began an initiative a while back where they provided a 'Dial a Nurse' service, to help free up the hospital Casualty system (1300 60 60 24).

I rang them and got a very pleasant nurse, who, after getting our particulars, suggested because the swelling was in very sensitive areas around the eyes, he should go down to casualty to be checked.

Well, that put the cat 'amongst the pigeons'! After our recent traumatic trips to Casualty with my accident, he cursed and carried on big time, saying he wouldn't go. We finally agreed that if he had further symptoms like breathing issues or rashes we would go. He rolled off to bed early, and did wake up this morning, which was a plus. But the eyes look pretty bad.

He has not been a good patient, and as I said to him this morning, I am glad the accident happened to me , not him, because he becomes a real grump ..........

We have a special 60th party to go to this evening which I am loathe to miss. At first he said he wouldn't go, but as the day progresses, he says he might go as the 'elephant man'.

We'll see. He will certainly frighten the guests.

"A Grouch escapes so many little annoyances that it almost pays to be one."
... Kin Hubbard

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ongoing

I went to visit my Harley yesterday to see how the repairs are going. It is almost back together again; just waiting on the fuel tank paint job, and the front brakes re-installed.

Robbie pulled it out of the line of bikes so I could have a go at pulling the clutch in, which I did, with difficulty, but I did succeed. Maybe I will be able to ride again.

I have decided to make closing the clutch in when the bike is back home my daily exercise!

I was chatting with a friend yesterday and telling her of the absolute exhilaration I get from riding my bike, and how closing the clutch in was such an achievement. She said, "You've got to get back on, Robyn!"

I will try. I don't know how I will feel being so exposed to injury again, but then I could get hit by a bus crossing the road. Indeed, driving back from dropping my man off at work this morning, I met the huge school bus coming round the steep winding roads we live on, and nearly had a 'confrontation'. Our corners are so tight that a large vehicle that doesn't bend in the middle can be a huge danger. I only remembered that the bus would be on its way 30 seconds before I met it, so was prepared to pull over in a hurry. It stopped, and I stopped, then we negotiated our way safely past each other.

Many residents report similar close calls, and we mumble about petitioning to get it downgraded to a smaller, safer vehicle, but never quite get around to doing it.

But, back to my original point, I could be hit by a bus!
................................................

I have an MRI on my wrecked knee tomorrow morning, which will be an interesting experience. My physiotherapist tells me it should only take about 20 minutes for a knee, so it shouldn't be too difficult. We are invited to bring our own music CDs to block out the apparently loud noises, so some Handel arias and similarly calming pieces will go too.

Always wanting to know more, I looked up MRI on Wikipedia. Bypassing all the technical blurb on how it works, I discovered it operated on a giant magnet, which could rattle any metal implants in your body. I don't know how it will affect my plate in my wrist, but they know I have that. My rings won't come off, so I should ring them today to see what to do about that. Further on in Wikipedia, I discovered a link to a You Tube that showed what effect the magnet had on a large oxygen bottle which was put on the table and run into the tunnel. It sucked the thing in with a crash, then banged it around like crazy.

Scary stuff! I might leave my oxygen bottle at home.........

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
... Franklin P. Adams



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'I'll Show You How'

Watercolour, pencil on 300 gsm Arches paper
15 X 10cm

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Giant Crocodiles and Lost Pleasures

Saturday on my own saw me travel down to town to see 'Rogue' (Jaws revisited!). This movie had good reviews, and there's nothing like a good monster movie to get the blood pumping, in more ways than one.........

Our local cinema is terrific, with four small theatres, which are often nearly empty when a movie run is almost over. Saturday afternoon was no exception. I bought my ticket, and watched with trepidation a group of eight giggling teenagers who loudly proclaimed they were seeing the croc movie too. I nearly cashed in my ticket to go and see 'Elizabeth' with Cate Blanchett, but hoped they might quieten down watching the show.

They all filed in, girls and boys of maybe twelve to fourteen, chattering like budgerigars coming in to roost. My heart sank, and I kept telling myself I could still leave if necessary. The movie started and feet were up on the back of chairs and noise level wasn't dropping, so I put on my best teacher voice and asked them to keep it down; that we needed quiet to enjoy this type of movie. You can't do suspense with giggles.

They did try, some more than others, and every time the noise level rose, I would lean forward in my seat to look at them, and it would drop again. Fortunately there was a father and son sitting a couple of rows in front of me, and though he didn't turn around, his presence added authority.


The monster croc did his stuff; people got crunched, and the hero fought his last battle and won, saving the heroine who had been impossibly mauled. Enough to well and truly kill her! Great female lead, and other excellent Aussie stars. The huge croc was terrific, and the money spent on him was a good investment. But it was just another Jaws movie in beautiful Northern Territory scenery.
.........................................

My man came home yesterday from his weekend away on his Harley. The dogs heard him from miles away and were looking down the driveway waiting for him to appear. Sure enough, a few minutes later, he came roaring round the corner and up the driveway, just as I put the poodles into the house to open the gate. He rumbled past me with his thumb up in greeting, and I felt a surge of grief that I probably wouldn't feel that extreme exhilaration again.

We used to make our last ten kilometres the best part of our ride, racing hard up the tight windies, me in front and him hot on my tail. Goodness knows what might have happened if a cow had been out on the road. There would have been no stopping.

We would roar up the driveway as he had just done, and along the veranda to the back of the house, the two Harley exhausts super loud under the iron roof. I would stop and get off and he would rev his bike up to make the rafters ring. Then we would Hi-Five in absolute joy. There is nothing that can possibly replace that adrenalin rush.

Later, after he had unpacked his saddlebags, I threw my leg over and lifted the bike off it's stand. I wanted to know whether I might be able to squeeze the clutch in. But, no, there was no hope ....... only pain. Early days yet, and my clutch has been operated on to make it softer, but it doesn't look good.

I was really gloomy after that. Maybe no riding ever again...............

"We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, 'Why did this happen to me?' unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way."
... Author Unknown