Saturday, January 29, 2011


I love fireworks!  I love the Ooohs and Aaaahs that happen whenever people see fireworks!
It is inevitable.....

We have had firework displays performed for us at various times.  Of course - always at New Year's Eve ---but when Chris and I got engaged all those years ago - there was a personal fireworks display given to us by a dear friend.

Then at one time in Paris, during the Celebration of the River - we went on a dinner cruise in a beautiful glass fronted boat, and sitting at the front of the restaurant, we experienced a fireworks display explode over the Seine!  It was magical!

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Chimps

On my birthday, my family asked me what I would like to do.  I thought about it. Anything was in my power - restaurants, movies, trips to the beach, a dvd movie marathon at home, lazing around the pool...the list goes on.  I chose going to the zoo to see my two special friends:

Ocky showing his gentle nature
 Octavius (Ocky), and

Cassius (Cassie) 
Cassie showing off!

I have been going to see them since I moved to Rockhampton about 24 years ago.  They were much younger then, and a bit smaller, but still adult size.  (So was I!)  They have matured and grown into their bodies and personalities. (So have I!)

 Their caged environment is so large and friendly, and there are so many viewing platforms in which they can communicate and interact with the public should they choose to.  Their main 'keeper' is very knowledgable in how to handle and communicate with them. He has taught us how to greet the chimps with a guttural throat sound, and how when calm and peaceful nature is displayed they will react likewise.  I have always felt so close to these gentle souls, and, well....I just love them.
Ocky as seen through the glass viewing platform

So, I went to see them at 'feeding time' where they drink poppers through the popper straws, which they insert themselves, and eat special treats out of plastic bowls with a plastic spoons, and when finished, slide the bowls and empty poppers out of the enclosure to their friend and keeper, for him to dispose of.  Ocky and Cassie are extremely intelligent, and respond to quiet, gentle communication.  Sometimes I wish I could get closer to them, but we both respect our privacy.

The exciting news is that our zoo has been able to make exchanges, and Ocky and Cassie will soon have new friends imported into their environment.  Some females are coming in.  Wonder how the boys will react after all this time.  Will there be a sense of excitement - will they call 'dibs' on the best looking one!  Will they mate!  There is a lot of privacy for them - as there should be - but I am happy to see that my boys have grown up, and may soon be Papas! That would be nice.  They would be very gentle Dads!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Today is my Birthday

In our family, a birthday means that you are banished from the main living area the night before, and eventually sent to bed that night, as our family members decorate and prepare for birthday celebrations for the upcoming Day!  We also blow up enough balloons representing the person's years of life.  In my case they'll still be at it next Thursday!

It's a big deal!

I love this tradition - it's a big celebration--we all love the surprise on our big day!

However, this morning, I got up early and squinted my eyes so that I wouldn't notice any surprises as I sleepily walked through our lounge room to go to the front deck to sit and ponder.

I watched the dawn appear, and loved the beauty. As I sat in my favourite chair, I looked up from reading my youngest daughter's University schedule, and noticed three magpies sitting there, just looking at me.  Funny birds!  They can be so aggressive , but with me they are so hopeful and gentle.

My birthday wish to you:

May you always be surrounded by love
May you accomplish what your heart expects and wants
May you find the strength to deal with sad times, and
May you live a long and valuable life!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Squirt is on the move again

Squirt has been moved down to the lower level family room as we begin to finish any renovations in the lower level of the house and the bottom bathroom. She lived in her large aviary style cage outside the backdoor for about half a day, then we remembered we needed to find a new space for her - did I feel guilty about leaving her out there!  But I think she enjoyed herself!  She called Strap a lot and really joined in singing with all of the wild birds around her.  I think she thinks she is special because she has a home and swings and gets fed - I told her not to rub it in but to play nicely with the others!

Anyway, as we needed to move her down a complete flight of stairs, Maddie and Jason wheeled her cage instead from the back door through the side garden, and up the rise to the family room.  She now sits in her glory in front of the wall of still curtain-less windows with the sunlight and birdsong all around her in this large room. As it doesn't yet have curtains on all of its glass space, there is a good echo down here, and she really takes advantage of it!  She is having a great time, and I can hear her singing out early every morning telling everyone that she is awake and wants to play!

The other day, Jason and Maddie were down here at the computer desk and working on things when Jason looked over and Squirt was laying on her back at the bottom of the cage with her legs in the air, hitting the bell on her rope swing and talking to it.  As the afternoon went on, she had managed to pull herself away from her bell and was just laying on the floor in the corner of her cage, with her legs spread, and just remained laying there.  (And they call me a Drama Queen!  She was obviously rehearsing a great dead bird routine, and by the way, doing a very good job!)  Eventually she got bored and just ran around chasing her plastic balls and yelling out.

I will admit--there is never a dull moment with her around!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stories about Dad- His lunch menu

First of all, Dad was a creature of habit.  He liked it when things were steady, and reliable and there weren't any really big changes to get used to - so for the first perhaps 10 years of Mum and Dad's marriage, Dad's packed lunch consisted of a peanut butter sandwich.  There may have been 'cookies' or other treats, but the mainstay was the sandwich.
Then one day, just out of the blue, Dad said to Mum one night as she was getting ready to pack his lunch:

"You know, Mary, I think I shouldn't have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch anymore."
"What?" Mum replied, wondering what she could do now at this time of night.........
"Well, how about bologna and mustard?  That would be good!  Yes!  That would be really good!  Besides, I think the peanut butter is beginning to make my body smell....."
"Bologna and mustard - OK- that's what I'll pack", she said muttering to herself under her breath - "At 9:00 at night he tells me he smells and he needs mustard!"

Mark Twain Sunday picnic (ckilgore) Tags: playground picnic sandwich bologna marktwain

So for the next 15 - 20 years (OK- writer's licence again - but it was a very long time.....)--Mum packed Dad's lunch with bologna and mustard sandwiches.  Every day, 5 days a week.

Then again, one night, Dad approached Mum as she was getting ready to pack his lunch, and he said:

"Mary..the bologna sandwiches are good.  I like them.  But I think the mustard is beginning to make my body smell --maybe we should change to tomato ketchup ... so how about some tomato ketchup instead!"
"So, now after all these years you now want ketchup?"
"I think I do--ketchup would be nice"
"OK then - so ketchup it is!", she muttered under her breath again as she looked at this man and wondered if all husbands were so fickle and difficult............

But as a child I grew up in a home where on Sundays we had a lunchtime roast of chicken - every Sunday.

On Mondays Mum washed the weeks laundry in her wringer washing machine, and then served left over chicken for dinner.

On Tuesday we may have had meatloaf and mashed potato.  (We had mashed potato a lot, and only usually corn or green beans - Dad didn't trust peas and the broccoli had to sit at Mum's end of the table so he couldn't smell it!

On Wednesdays Mum cut out coupons for groceries, and ironed the clothes for the week.   (We probably ate left over meatloaf)

I don't remember Thursdays - maybe they were paydays, where Dad would come home and Mum would get out the big, grey journal, and they would lay aside the cash for the bills to be paid and meticulously tick off each bill in the journal - in retrospect - after paying bills maybe we didn't eat!

Then on Fridays, Dad would take Mum grocery shopping with her coupons, and if I was lucky I could have a toy or a comic book--I always liked Fridays - they made the rest of the week worthwhile!

But as scheduled and regular as our weeks were, I ended up having the best childhood, with lots of laughter and a feeling of security - sort of like I knew my parents would always be there, and would always protect me, and there would always be the same home to come back to every time.  They did what they could in what were in the early days very difficult times, and just kept doing it, meanwhile being able to store away money into a bank account and look after their family in the best way they knew how to.  

But to this day meatloaf and definitely lima beans have never made it onto any of my dinner menus for my family ---somehow I don't think they ever will!

Stories about Dad- the lunch box

There are so many stories about my Dad that I decided to start with this one - the lunch box incident.

Every day for years my Mum packed Dad's lunch at night before going to bed, and Dad filled his thermos with fresh coffee each morning, before heading off at about 6:00 am to go to work at the CB&Q railway diesel shops, which were eventually amalgamated into the Burlington Northern Railroad.

At the time of this story, Dad was a gang foreman for the Diesel gang at the CB&Q shops, and during lunch time found a (and this is where writer's licence comes in - because I can't remember if it was a lizard, a scorpion or a praying mantis) but he found it interesting enough to keep it, and put it into his lunch box to investigate it later when he got home.

That night, when Mum once again opened his lunchbox to make him a fresh lunch for the next day, there were suddenly screams of panic and shock which exploded out of the kitchen and into the lounge room where Dad and I were watching TV.

Dad had forgotten his hidden 'treasure'!  Mum found it -and was not too pleased about his surprise.  Dad rushed out to the kitchen to apologise to Mum, (but mainly to see if his treasure was safe, I think) - and after I realised that Mum was OK,  I went to bed laughing at the surprised look of shock on Mum's face and Dad's boyish grin as he realised his mistake.  Oops!

How come Dad's never get spankings for doing bad things?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Snoopy's dance of celebration

We had some positive news today from our realtor for our beachhouse property--things may be coming to a good and positive end soon.  We felt very much like celebrating - so when it is all completed ---YES --  there will be happiness in the village ( as the saying goes....)

We also have made a decision on a property in Cairns - it is on 2 acres and very nice.  A good life change --we feel very positive about this next step too --now just have to make it happen!  It will. I know it!!  Finally all of our hard work is going to be worth it!  Yay!

You'll have to excuse me now - happiness is ruling at the moment - a Snoopy dance is called for!!

  Yes!  That felt good! 
 I think I'll do it again!    

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Painters attack again!

The painters came back today to begin work on the back level of the house.  In preparation, Chris and I emptied our water bed in order to better make room for the painters to move into that room and begin their work.  It's a big room, and will present some challenges as over the years some cracks and surface scarring has occurred on the ol' walls, so there will need to be a bit of attention paid to it once they get going.  Unfortunately it became obvious yesterday as we moved the empty water bed out of the room, that she had served us well, but had come to the end of her serviceable life.....we decided to give her a fitting burial and try not to dwell too long on her 'demise'.

Well--our alarm clock was set for 6:30, as we slept on our super dooper new bed last night in what we refer to as the 'spare room'.  The painters needed to get in there to put their second and final coat on the walls, and to begin work then on the bathroom further down the hallway and then our vacant bedroom - (except for the 'junk' we still needed to find a home for!)

They arrived at 7:00am, and we greeted them, chatted for a while, then they set to work.  While we were scoffing toast and our morning tea or juice, they had already begun work on the 'spare room' for which we had provided additional cover sheets to protect our new bed, and after we had put quickly into the wardrobes the lamp, clock, etc, for use tonight.  (We've accepted the fact that we will be sleeping there for the next week or so, while this work continues and then the new carpet is laid.)

Before I could sneeze 'My Grandfather!' they had already stripped the bathroom of any of its belongings, including my toothbrush, and started work there. By now it was about 7:45.  Yeeks!  We started our arduous task of removing everything from our other bedroom - quite a task as it had become a dumping ground from the rooms where we had to formerly move things - so it contained a griller, a new fan-dangled deep-fat fryer, heaps of paper work, 'stuff in general' and then more stuff --we had learned over the last month to do the walk and swerve through the room, now we were moving all of this stuff to some other place!  This whole house is comical - I keep telling myself that it will all fall into place--but I am beginning not to believe me!

We finished our work in our bedroom by about 9:30, in a fit of heat consumption.  Meanwhile Graham and Justin had painted the first coat on the bathroom walls and ceiling and had given the 'spare room' it's second coat.  When they move -- they move fast! They took a 'smoko' break, and Chris and I escaped to the air conditioned lounge room and sat on the new couch in a heap.  I then started the washing machine and washed 14 curtains which had come from our bedroom windows--3 loads!  Graham and Justin left  between 12:00-12:30 pm, and I said that I look forward to seeing them tomorrow, but asked them to start in our vacant bedroom first and concentrate then on the bathroom, as we would get up to greet them and get on with the day, but not at 6:30 am again.  We might try to sneak a sleep-in until about 7:30!  Wow! That's what you call reckless abandon!

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's early morning again

It is early morning, and once again, I think I have gotten up too early, so will be going back to bed for a little bit more snoozing soon.  But I have to admit this is just my favourite time of day!

Squirt is still in her adopted room, (our bottom bathroom!) and I can hear her trying to make everyone wake up--she has my early morning-itis too!  I told her earlier (in a whisper--as tho' she should understand that whispering means to be quiet!) that it is too early to wake everyone else up!  But not sure if she understood the subtlety of that!

The roos are on the front driveway, and the birds are waiting for their early morning 'pick me up!'  Yesterday the younger magpies (this season's crop) flew up to the front deck railing and one of them sat practically next to my elbow as I threw out pieces of banana for them.  I think they are as fascinated by me as much as I am of them!

We have house renovation work to do today - hence my need for more sleep--today we get to refinish decks while I buy varnish and kitchen knobs and other things in town---the not so 'fun stuff'  we keep putting off - but there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and it will be all stations go next week as everyone invades and we get back into action!

What is completed looks great - so makes it all worth while--just a little bit more!

As the Little Tug said:  "I know I can!  I know I can!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


On 2 January this year, I remembered and reminisced over the death of our daughter, Lauren, who died at the age of 19, in a car accident while driving with a good friend on their way to a major rock concert.    James survived the awful accident with scarred memories and a scarred and damaged body, but our Lauren didn't.  This all occurred 12 years ago now.

This year the memory of her death has been a tough one for me. I have cried and have had difficulty moving on --you would think I would be over her death by now, but maybe my emotions got all saved up for this year --difficult to know.. Maybe it is because we are going to sell the family home, and this will be the last time I sit in what was her I think some good memories are called for:

I remember:
  • the times she drove me crazy with her paint blotches everywhere here in the downstairs family room, (her bedroom/studio at the time)   We are still trying to get paint out of curtains, tiles, window sills and furniture!
  • the times she would wander up from downstairs to the kitchen and grab a mug of filtered coffee from the coffee maker, then add instant coffee to it --just to make sure she was really awake!
  • the times I would take her car keys and insist she sleep, as she only lived on about 4 hours of sleep a day.....She would sleep, then do it all again --she never stopped
  • delivering pizza to her at the radio station so that I knew she had something to eat!
  • laying in bed on Sunday mornings and listening to her radio show--based on music I would love
  • the song she wrote for me for me for Mother's Day, entitled 'Unconditional Love'.. She sang it to me and played it on her guitar.  Better than any commercial present a Mother could have hoped for
  • street theatre on East street with her friends, and me being a 'groupie' and having Maddie in tow, because she was so young
  • Lauren coming home from her Sunday radio show, grabbing Maddie and her roller blades or skateboard and taking Maddie skating in the empty shopping centre car parks--buying 20 cent rings and having a great time
  • roller blading across the stage in the Emmaus College production of 'Fiddler on the Roof' as she portrayed the grandmother -- her idea--and it worked!
  • laughing with her -- a lot
  • her long dark lustrous hair
  • her as a younger girl sitting on a stool while I trimmed her hair as it was so long that she sat on it!
  • watching her bravely perform her tap dance routine for her 3rd grade class as she tapped away in front of parents and schoolmates, noticing that one of her taps had fallen off her shoe, kicking it away, and going on with her routine
  • watching her play piano on a grand piano on  centre stage in the Emerald Town Hall, in front of the Queensland Music Society, and receiving an award.  She had never touched a real keyboard before that occasion.
  • Seeing her wide beautiful blue eyes just staring into mine as I held her in my arms in the hospital just after she was born.  We bonded at that moment.  She was mine, and I was hers.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

These were the best of times....these were the worst of times...

Residents on Quay Street, Rockhampton. (AAP)
At the moment here in Rockhampton we are being hit with tremendous flooding as a result of all the rainfall that this region has suffered for such a long time.  It is truly heart-breaking to witness it.   Personally we as a family are the fortunate.  We have just suffered rainfall damage - that was devastating enough as we watched our driveway wash away and mopped up many areas as the flooding rains invaded our home.  But there are families tonight who have no home to go back to as they are under water, or their homes have been so destroyed by disastrous water that the resultant smell and the water damage in some cases would and should only be described as the most heart rendering thing one should ever have to go through. 

QUEENSLAND is suffering a disaster “of biblical proportions” that will set back its economic recovery, state Treasurer Andrew Fraser says.In some cases, there just was not enough warning that the waters would advance as quickly as they did--our drive around certain areas of Rockhampton tonight, confirmed my worst fears.  These would have to be worst of times for these people.  My heart and whatever I can give, goes out to them. I would hope that if circumstances were reversed, these people would do the same.

However, today was my youngest daughter's 19th birthday, and as we do in this family, the birthday person gets to be spoiled by the family only on this special day.  So today, Madison was allowed to dictate what we would be doing today.  Bless her - she chose family.  We spent a lovely day together with Maddie and Jason, and tonight Chris and I treated us all to a birthday meal in town at a local restaurant.   Coming home eventually, Maddie, Jason and I prepared for battle as we played the most silly game called 'Atmosfear', while Chris looked on.  It was fun, and we were in it to win it!  Yet during the game, and throughout the day, I have had to keep wiping a tear away as I thought about those who weren't sitting in their homes tonight as they were in an emergency shelter, and I couldn't help but feel guilty - even though I am not at fault.

I hope this situation is rectified in the best possible manner, and that families and homes are reunited again soon.

We had a wonderful family day, and feel blessed that our "Princess for a Day" chose to spend it with her family -- but in the back of my mind I kept thinking about those young people who may have been forced into displacement, and while I suffered silently for them, it made me all the more grateful for what I have here.  A lovely home and a loving family.

Maybe the secret for us all at this time is to hold onto that loving family and never let go.......