Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa asked me to write this

In our family I have a strong connection with Santa, who told me he tries to pick a person from each family to act in his place when it comes to putting special surprises in the Christmas stockings and things like that.  He always tells me what he wants me to do, and I always try to comply.  I assume this tradition gets passed on for each family.  In this case, I think he chose my youngest daughter, Madison, as his next contender for the role.  The following little 'story' is in Santa's words (who by the way, is very tired, and deserves a very big rest!).

" I came down the chimney one night in this special home to find a 'Santa' hat on the hearth of the fireplace, with a silly light glowing and twinkling  on its fur covered ball, welcoming me to this home.  The welcoming message next to it was written by a small young girl named Madison.  I smiled, left my presents, drank her cold Milo milk and went on my way.

The next year when I returned to Madison's home, there was a very sad note attached to the same Santa hat, saying that she was very sorry, but somehow, during the Christmas holidays my Santa's hat had stopped twinkling and the light had gone out. I smiled at her innocence and strong belief in me, and left for her instead my own hat, with a note saying that I decided to take the old hat away.

The next year, when I came down the chimney in Madison's home, I noticed that she had left my Santa hat on the hearth, thanking me for the honour of caring for it over the year.  I smiled again, and knew that I had picked a true believer.  She had said to me in her note that while she loved having my hat, and it was very special to her, she would understand if I took it away to keep my head warm.  I put my finger to my nose and just grinned as I read her message, drank her cold Milo, and laughing with a lot of joy, I decided that as she was such a believer, she deserved to be a keeper of my favourite hat, and with that I left.

The next year when I visited Madison's house, I noticed that my old hat was still sitting on the family's hearth with a very big Thank You Note, written by Madison (with the help of her Mum), and it told me how happy and pleased Madison was to have my hat and my trust.  I knew then I had met a special believer!

Madison is now almost 19 years old, and each year when I visit her home, my old hat is still there on the hearth, waiting for me, telling me that she still believes in me.  Bless her, and bless her family!!"

Ho!  Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Early morning visitors

Click on picture to enlarge it

Yesterday morning, quite early, I looked out of my kitchen window and this is what I saw.  Even though I have lived with kangaroos in my close environment for all of these years I still get excited when I can see them acting naturally in our environment.  We have been able to develop an area of peace and a refuge on our property, and as a consequence we have been lucky enough to have a lot of wildlife sharing their time with us, including a varied species of parrots and other birds, and kangaroos, occasionally an emu, and other great creatures who stop by on their 'way through'.

Click on picture to enlarge it
 I love the fact that we have families of kangaroos living on our property and they come and go as they please. This particular gathering was a family consisiting of a male roo, a female and their adolescent 'joey'.   We have noticed that this 'family grouping' exists, and that even grandparents are included.  Great to see the bond that forms!

But my attempt to get some photos disturbed them, as I quietly stood on the front deck with my camera.  They stopped, stood and posed briefly for a short time, (mainly because all of our animals here love having their picture taken!) 

But then, just as quickly they decided it was time to leave this human area, and go further down the paddock area into the bush.

Click on picture to enlarge it

High Flying Act!

Mid last week our builder, 'Wazza' repaired the woodwork around a windowsill up near the peak of the cathedral ceiling in our living room.  It made a spectacle to watch the assembly of the scaffolding but the actual repair job, which with its dramatic scaffolding build-up, ended up being fairly minimal, and was completed very quickly! 

Click on photo to enlarge
Click on photo to enlarge
Today the painters started work on this large living room.  As this room has these cathedral ceilings, it meant they had to climb and scale this large scaffolding to get to the ceiling area and relevant windows.  It was amazing to watch them move so agilely, but eventually I had to leave the room because my tummy was doing flip flops imagining them working from that height --but they did it! It was so interesting to see them in action, as the room is fairly large, and they were flying through the work, and fresh paint was suddenly appearing on the old tired surfaces. 

Click on photo to enlarge
We've all been through these big jobs together, with a lot of mess and disruption, but it seems to be falling into place.  Last week this was what my dining room looked like and yet we still have managed to get it somewhat settled, and have put up our Christmas tree in front of one of the windows.  It has been an interesting renovation experience to go through, and there has needed to be so much team coordination behind the scenes to make sure that everyone was working on the 'same page'.  But tomorrow our re-upholstered antique chairs arrive for the dining room table, (which is currently hiding under an onslaught of 'stuff' that is important, but we don't where to put it...')  We have ordered carpet for the bedrooms, and set a laying date. We have anticipated a tiling date frame for those floor surfaces, and have either already installed the new bathroom vanities, or have them on order.  As long as the main schedule is adhered to we will accomplish this renovation with the least amount of pain--but exhaustion is becoming a common occurrence here. 

But on a bright note, on Friday our new latte coloured lounge suite arrives, to mix in beautifully in our new cream/latte living room.  It is all falling into place at least on this level of the house.  I'll keep you tuned in ...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Renovations and staying alive

All the painters, plasterers, builders, electricians and all involved left me alone today by 11:00 am.  (The painters started today around 7:00 am--usual time for them, but not my favourite get up time!).  It is Friday here--usually a close-early day for painters anyway--so I suddenly had the day to do what I wanted for a I showered, actually styled my hair and put on make-up and remembered what it was like to be a female, and not a worker in plaster,dust and paint, and building materials---it felt good!

I did my only second day of Christmas shopping and had a blast!  I felt good to be out--out of the house and its mess--out of any current building hassles, and just enjoyed people and my interaction with them.  It was fun!!

I had some great chats with seasonal stall holders in the mall, you know the ones.  They come back every year at Christmas and set up their jewellery or gold chain stalls, or candle and scents, etc--anyway it was like  meeting old friends--I was remembered (maybe I'm unforgettable--make note to self).  Anyway, it was great to actually stand and talk about their craft with them and discuss options and business---got small gifts from them--kinda nice--good to see them back!

I went on to somewhat successfully buy what was on my 'List of things to buy for people' list, and came home feeling very exhausted, but happy with myself and my day.  Even though I have been so sidetracked with our renovations, and haven't had much time to spend, as I usually do, devoted to Christmas and its fun--everyone kept commenting on my smile and my happy attitude--saying that if they were in my shoes they would not be as confident that our home would fall into place for Christmas day---but I  have faith in my builder, my painters, my upholsterer (who, by the way has created some very stylish upholstery for our antique dining chairs), my plumber, my electrician and all of the others who have so readily supplied their services to us!  I keep telling them I love them, and work with them as much as possible to make it all easier--I think we all collapse at the end of the day!

Anyway--today was fun for me.  I enjoyed talking with my 'community' and of course, naturally enjoy the infectious happiness of Christmas anyway!

I hope you are enjoying this joyous season as much as I am!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just having an early morning chat

Click on photo to get an enlarged view
I got up very early this morning, and before going back to bed, I looked out from the dining room windows to see these two kangaroos happily sitting on our driveway, 'chatting' about their proposed day and what they had gotten up to last night.

Click on photo to get an enlarged view

Couldn't resist, I had to try to get a photo...


Saturday, December 11, 2010

When do you want to do this??

This has been a very exhausting week in our household, the family room downstairs is almost painted and complete.  As it stopped raining on Thursday, I  washed, line dried  and folded the large woollen-blend curtains from there, ready to be re-hung.  A mammoth task!

On Thursday morning this was the general atmosphere here:

Eric, our painter told me that his men would start stripping the wallpaper in the dining/entry area upstairs that morning.

"You're going to do it when?"

"This morning."

 "Like now--as in I need to shift all of the furniture and remove the stuff from everywhere in there?" I queried in a somewhat surprised and frantic tone, thinking how would this happen in a quick manner.

"Yep.  In about an hour".

"An hour? OK.  I had better go get Chris."  (Thinking to myself--oh, yeah, this will need super patience and skill today--little of which my tired mind possessed at that moment.)

Somehow Chris and I made the miracle happen, and the room was ready for the invasion of the strippers---wallpaper style!.

By Friday we were still stepping over wallpaper shreds, and dealing with our driveway bobcat driver who was trying to make our driveway resemble once again a surface that could be driven on---this current rain has not been a friend to us, our track, or the many trucks that have created new and varied ruts everywhere.

We have had the floor tiles delivered, as well as a new rut created.  Our antique chairs have been picked up for re-upholstering, and our front yard looks like a war-zone--with planks for scaffolding laying on the lawns, and the painter's van parked by our entry way, and paint tins and 'things' involving paint scattered like wildflowers in the Springtime (Just not as pretty.)

The radio is blaring music and background noise, and on Friday I escaped to the front deck to have breakfast and think calm thoughts.  New carpet quote for bedrooms is organised, and a laying date in early January has been organised.  Sleep is really wanted, but Chris and I do more building errands, and buy groceries to sustain us all for the next on-slaught.  The wallpaper strippers will be starting their strip act in the bedrooms next, and I just have to stay a jump ahead of them.

I haven't seen the carpet or the top of the large bed in the spare room for over a month now--somehow I need to make those areas clear before next week, so that work can progress in there---just feel like packing myself into one of the boxes and getting some sleep--maybe next year....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Toys - the lifetime friends

A few nights ago I watched the movie Toy Story 3 on DVD. This movie was about a child growing up into a young man heading away from home to the next stage in his life, and leaving behind his toys (his great friends as a child) That movie reminded me very much of my 'special friends' as a child.

When I was growing up I discovered at a very young age, the magic ability that some toys have - I learned from my most favourite 'friends' that there was a magic bond that formed, one that, if special enough, stayed with you forever. I was one of the lucky kids who had a room in my home which was totally dedicated to the creation of a place for me and my toys--my playroom. It held shelves of my toys and children's furniture upon which was placed my treasures and some of my most loved 'friends'.  It was not unusual for me to spend hours in this little room, playing and creating stories.  There wasn't an Ipod, TV, or computer game in sight.  Just my gifted 'special' friends and me.

Old ToysEvery night I would go into this playroom and take my special friends from their place on various shelf spots, and lay them safely on the floor, so that at night when everyone was asleep and they 'came alive', they wouldn't hurt themselves jumping down to the floor.  In the morning I would talk to them and wish I could know the stories of their adventures during the night.  I would then put them back on their shelves, and begin my day.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter, Madison, and I sorted through boxes and collections of things which had been stored in her attic like wardrobe.  I found a couple of old 'friends' who had travelled with me to Australia from my childhood, and happily hugged them when I realised that they were still here with me.  The bond is still there--it always will be.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The latest on Squirt!

Because of all the renovations going on here, we have had to temporarily move Squirt, (our lorrikeet) to the lower bathroom, as it has been almost completed and is her sanctuary for awhile!

What has been so interesting to watch though is her behaviour!

Normally, if anyone invaded her space when she was in the central hallway, where she ruled the house, she would squawk loudly at them or me, and protest any invasion of her personal space.  But since we have moved her, she has dealt with plumbers near her cage area, and action all around her, and hasn't protested at all!

There have been nail guns shooting close by, and furniture moving, and doors slamming, and she has remained as calm as can be.  She would occasionally say "Hello!" to the plumbers, but I think they had enough on their hands and really didn't talk to her much.

All week she has been amazingly on her best behaviour, then the guys all went home for the weekend, and on Saturday morning she started:

"Hello!  Hello, Squirt!  Squawk! Wake-up! Squawk!  Jock!  Hello, Strap!" 

The words and phrases just kept falling out of her mouth--like she had been restraining herself and could finally let go.  Then, I worked it out!  She had been on 'Best Company Manners', while all the guys were here--plus she is a natural flirt and could sense fresh talent!

Once they were gone, it was like she could take off her tight girdle and just let go--and so she has --all weekend!

It will be interesting to see how coy she is when the guys all show up again on Monday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Monarch Butterflies - little miracles!

As a child growing up in Iowa, some of my 'playmates' were Monarch butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly
  I would be amazed at their fragility, and even as a child I    
  loved their beauty and larger size.  They seemed more
  friendly than any other insect I had found.  Well, lightning
  bugs were pretty special  too--but they'll get their own story

  Anyway...I especially loved the times when the Monarch was
  slowing down (sadly because the poor thing was
  probably reaching the end of its life cycle), and I would be
  able to coax them onto my forearm or finger. Their spindly,
  black legs would grasp and hold on, and as they moved, the
  tickling sensation of  their fragile legs and my ability to be
  so close to such a beauty of nature was a wonderful sensation. I followed them everywhere in the garden, and discovered some that would stay with me for a long time during the day.

Out of curiosity, I recently did a search on them and discovered that they have an amazing life cycle-

Here is an excerpt from one of my readings - the full web-site is attached below - no wonder these guys amazed me so much:

The total time frame for one butterfly's life cycle (one generation) is about 6-8 weeks . . . egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. It grows inside the egg for about 4 days. It then munches milkweed and grows as a monarch caterpillar (larvae) for about 2 more weeks. The caterpillar's life inside the chrysalis (pupa) lasts about 10 days and its wonderful life as an adult butterfly lasts from 2 - 6 weeks.

February/March - hibernating monarchs in Mexico and southern California reawaken, become active, find a mate, begin the flight northward and lay their eggs. Finally they die. These special monarchs have lived about 4-5 months through the long winter.

March/April -the 1st generation monarchs are born -egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly;

May/June - the 2nd generation is born - egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly;

July/August - the 3rd generation is born - egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly;

Sept/Oct - the 4th generation is born - egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly . . . but THIS generation does not die. It MIGRATES south and lives 6-8 months in Mexico or Southern California. They begin awakening and mating in February/March of the NEXT SPRING, and then lay their eggs! Withered and tattered from their migration and hibernation . . . they finally die.

The cycles goes on as the new baby caterpillars are born each spring and the cycle continues throughout the year into the next spring. MAGICAL and AMAZING!


House renovations, massive rain season and Christmas preparations.  Yes. I know I'm alive!

On Monday our builders came and loaded up all of our unwanted furniture from around the house, and after two very large trailer loads, had left it at a monthly held auction site (We'll see what that result will be later--some of the pieces were nice--so--hopefully someone else will enjoy them.)  That action at least emptied out some much needed space in order to get ready for our proposed renovations.

On Tuesday morning, we had a plant filled, tiled central hallway which housed our noisy and opinionated lorrikeet, Squirt.  By mid-day Tuesday, Squirt had been re-located to our lower bathroom area, out of harm's way, and the plants were stored safely downstairs, while the tiles on the central hallway floor were ripped up.  It didn't take long to discover that we were in trouble.  A small infestation of termites was found in the floorboards, and a pest exterminator was summoned immediately.  He discovered a small nest under that area of the house, treated it, and inspected the rest of the house--giving us a clean slate.  But we waved goodbye to the hallway floor completely.  By Tuesday afternoon, we had a safe, termite proof protective flooring installed, and we waved goodbye to those little chew-mongers!

On Thursday morning we  waved goodbye to the functioning of any water to our bathroom vanity in the middle bathroom as they shut down that plumbing, and proceeded to destroy the vanity in the lower bathroom, in preparation for the new one being installed.  While installing the new vanity, and what should have been a quick job for the plumbers turned out to be a 4 hour marathon as water difficulties and leaks kept appearing--but the end result was worth it!

Friday morning signalled the cutting away of the rain damaged ceiling area in the family room, downstairs, and a new ceiling fitted.  The vanity in the middle bathroom was removed and new tiling surface was laid in the hallway, with the middle bathroom tiled floor being removed and the special flooring surface laid there also.  New doors in various areas were ordered and connections were made with the tiler and painter and plasterer.

At the same time, the removalists arrived early in the morning and took our packed boxes of books, teddy bears, precious goods, and other keepsakes to our storage space in Yeppoon, where we have stored our other furniture and antiques from our beach house. 

During this entire week we have all battled massive rain storms and today was the ultimate.  Roads around the area are cut, with rivers flooding and massive downpours predicted for quite sometime.  The guys were so wet, but they kept working, with squelching boots and still amazingly a good sense of humour.

During this week Chris and I worked into the night cleaning up the days dirt and mess, and packing things for removal or disposal. We have organised new tiles for the bathroom, hallway and new (to be) laundry room. we have designed and ordered a new vanity for the middle bathroom, chosen 25 new kitchen knobs for our kitchen cupboards, picked up a new cable extension for our satellite TV, and have made the mammoth decision to celebrate our last Christmas here in the family room, downstairs.  Talk about breaking tradition!

For the next month we will be living in a painter, wallpaper removal, tiling environment--but hopefully it will all end before Christmas, and we can all say a blessed prayer!

I'll keep you posted....