Thursday, December 31, 2009

We went out with a bang...

Or a fizzle.
Or maybe even a sizzle.
Yeah... I'm afraid that "sizzle" will have to stand.
Because that's what we got.

We were all ready to head out to a New Years Eve barbecue at about 6:30 last night...
The potato salad for 20 was all ready and waiting,

the cherry Stollen was wrapped and ready to go,

( Not my pic, I'm afraid, because my batteries were flat... so I borrowed this one from HERE. Same place I got the recipe from.)

And besides having yummy treats, I was freshly showered and ready to partay... and miracle of miracles, I had actually slapped on some war paint.
(I stuck the mascara wand in my eye though, which just goes to show that me and war paint don't get along too good. Maybe we would if I used it more often, but I'm afraid that I'm just not a "fixy" woman. I'll practice between now and 2020 though.)

Anyway, I was just sitting here waiting for the Old Guy to show up, when he rang me from his house.
Seems there was a major bush fire just down the road from him, and evacuations were taking place. He was alright for the time being, but if the wind changed, he - and the entire neighborhood - would have been in some serious strife.
Well, that's what I got from the phone call anyway.
But because the air tankers and spotter planes were coming in directly over his house, I could only hear bits and pieces of what he was yelling into the phone.
It was just enough to get my heart racing, anyway.

We were going to the NYE barbecue with friends, (Lee-Loubelle and her husband) and luckily they had stopped by here first... so they drove me straight on out to the Old Guys place.
And if I had had a better idea of what was going on when he called, I would have had a heart turn in the first place.

You could actually see the flames from his front veranda... probably close to 75 people were standing at the end of the lookout from his house... and Elvis (or a look-alike - or maybe it was even Priscilla) was performing water carting duties, along with another huge tanker chopper and a couple of smaller ones.

Luckily, there are holding ponds for sucking up water - just for this purpose - down the embankment at the nature reserve... straight down at the end of his street.
Literally, five houses away.

Close enough that we could actually see the pilots faces, as they came in for water.

(this is literally what we watched for over 2 hours... it was actually this close!)

The wind was whipping from the cool change coming through... and it was whipping because of the fires, and the helicopters hovering overhead ... The smoke was so thick at times, that it was hard to see what was going on, and the sounds of the fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, along with the fire-fighting aircraft... Well, it was literally deafening. And scary as hell.

(Word on the scanner last night was, 2 police officers and possibly a 3rd had died when the wind changed and the smoke was too thick for them to find their way out of danger. But luckily, the online newspaper didn't say a word this morning about anyone being injured or killed. So I'm praying that it was just a rumor)

Anyway... we ended up going to the barbecue in spite of the fire, mainly because it was just a few blocks away and we could still keep a very close eye on things... and besides that, I had enough tater salad, to feed a small army.
But shortly after getting there, the rain started.
A good soaking rain started bucketing down, along with hail, which went a long ways towards helping with the fire.

But sometimes with the good, comes the bad...
And the bad was that there was lots of lightning with it.. and it ended up starting numerous spot fires in the same general area.
Luckily though, with the helicopters and planes already there on the scene, most (but not all) of the spot fires were quickly contained pretty quickly.

We ended up coming home early - at about 9 o'clock - mainly because quite frankly, neither of us were in a very celebratory mood, even though the heavy rain had calmed things right down.
And as we drove home, the smoke was still as thick as molasses, and most of the roads in the area were still cordoned off.
It was pretty eerie, let me tell you... with thick brown/black smoke and the hazy, barely-seen flashing lights from all the emergency personnel.
There was just no way that we could completely focus on what we were actually seeing - it was all that surreal.

So... 2009 went out with a definite sizzle last night.
But luckily, no serious damage was done. At least that we know about.

But here's to a drama-free, safe, sane, healthy, trouble free, and happy 2010 for ALL of us!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My New Years Resolution

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

~~Mahatma Ghandi~~

That's it.
Pure and simple.

It's easy to carry on and on, and come up with resolutions and promises to myself and others that will never come to fruition.
But when you boil it right down to what "I" want out of my life in this next year... my resolution... that's it

"I" must be the change that "I" want to see.

"I" want to make a difference.

No matter how inconsequential the difference, no matter how unimportant to others that difference is, no matter how small the difference... "I" just want to make a difference.

Happy New Years Everyone!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gone bananas...

See, for some unknown reason, I seriously, seriously over-estimated the use of fresh bananas around here last week. ( maybe because every single, stinkin' kid brought their own bananas in their lunchbox, eh?)
And because of it, I've got bananas coming out my ears.

Sadly, there's only so much you can do with bananas.
I know.
Because I've tried.

I've baked banana breads, until the smell is making me nauseous.
I've made banana puddings. (and without 'Nilla Wafers, it's just not right)
I've made crepes with banana cream topping.
I've made smoothies.
I've made sliced bananas in rum-custard sauce.
I've made fruit salad that consists of 98% bananas... and an apple thrown in for good measure.

And to tell you the truth... I'm sick of 'em.

Luckily, I found that if you get really, really cranky and throw bananas under the trees, hoping that some neighborhood animal will cart them off, it makes the Parrots and Honey-Eaters flock in for a feed.

This will be my last attempt at using the damned stinkin' bananas ... and after that, the birds can have the 3 that will be left.

Banana Charlotte
(A banana dessert recipe with ripe bananas, gelatin, sugar, vanilla, orange juice, and heavy cream.)

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
juice of 2 oranges, about 2/3 to 1 cup
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a saucepan, combine gelatin, sugar, vanilla, and water.
Stir over medium heat until dissolved.
Add bananas and orange juice.
Mix well and chill until cold but not set.
Whip cream until stiff. Fold into banana mixture; chill thoroughly before serving.
Hmmm....I wonder if the birds would like some Banana Charlotte for a change??
Because I honestly think that I've reached my saturation point.

Christmas was wonderful!

Well, we had a lovely, low-key, laid-back Christmas around here, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Now when I say "laid-back', I mean it... to the point that the Old Guy spent most of Christmas morning at his house, painting the lounge room.
As you do, when you've been a bachelor for most of your life and never really got into the swing of all things Christmas.

But that's okay with me, because when you've lost two children and the other one is a million miles away, the quiet contemplation time on Christmas morning is ideal, as far as I'm concerned.

We ended up going to a friends for Christmas dinner late in the day, and it too was low-key and laid-back... so all in all, it was a perfect day!

I didn't put up a tree this year, because with a constantly changing houseful of kids and 6 cats running amok, I learned a long time ago that it just isn't worth the hassles.
But there were still plenty of decorations and signs of Christmas around the place, and to tell you the truth, it was one of the best, most relaxing Christmas' that I've spent, in a long, long time!

May the rest of the Christmas season be joyous and bright for you, and may 2010 find you healthy, happy and prosperous !!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mary Did You Know

I love Christmas...
Because I've already received the perfect gift.

Wishing each and every one of you, a very Merry Christmas, and all the Blessings of the Season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why today of all days?

I've actually taken the day off work today... I called both my daycare parents last night (2 children each) because I was feeling a bit (okay, more than just a bit) whoopsie in the tummy... but whether it's the actual gastro-like stuff that's been making the rounds around town, or just a few too many Christmas candies and treats, I can't tell you.

Well, I do have my suspicions... but I'm not telling.

Which just gave it away, didn't it?

So here I have a lovely, child-free day ahead of me, and blogger isn't cooperating with me !
Oh, I can get my own blog up, but when it comes to clicking on anyone elses, I'm just getting perpetual loading and nothing else... And it's frustrating as heck!
I've 'refreshed'.
I've re-loaded the whole page.
I've gone out and I've come back in.
I've turned ol' Bessie here off and back on again several times.
And still nuthin'.
I can see me, but I can't get to you.

I was really looking forward to doing some blog reading and catching up with y'all today, but if blogger doesn't come up to snuff very soon, I guess I'll just end up doing the Christmas shopping that I've been putting off.
No... never mind.
I don't dare leave home.
Because I've got a whoopsie tummy.
(Note to Santa: Can we change those laundry baskets, to buckets, instead?)

Ho Ho Hum...
Smacking the modem and calling it nasty names does work. One smack, and suddenly I'm among friends again!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dear Santa

Santa, I know that I'm a little late with sending you this letter, but since you know who's been naughty or nice, I'm pretty sure that you've been keeping a close on on my house... and surely you've got an inkling of what's been going on around here lately.
It's been a madhouse, and the school holidays haven't even started yet, so I'm pretty sure you can guess what it will be like around here starting next week.
So hence... the lateness in getting this to you.
Better late than never, I always say.

First of all, I want to thank you for taking my phone call the other day, when little "J" was acting like an addle-pated banshee.
One simple phone call to you, had the kid smarten right up... and he even helped pick up the toys strewn all over the lounge room without being asked twice - or even thrice. (which is usual for him, as you well know)
You're a life-saver, so thank you for reminding me to put your phone number on speed dial.
I'm sure I'll be making use of it again, in the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, here's my wish list for Christmas...
(in no particular order - and as usual, I don't want everything listed... but it will at least give you some ideas for my one, lone gift... eh?)

  1. Replacement cushions for the outdoor lounge suite. (five are needed, and anything that will semi-match the patio chairs would be fine. I'm not fussy.)

  2. Pruning shears for the garden. I know I have some new ones somewhere, but I can't remember where I left them. I hate to be picky, but can you make sure that they're expensive, rubber coated handled ones? I blister easily.

  3. A tooth implant. I'm pretty sure that I broke another back molar on Rubies darn chocolate coated coffee beans, and although I don't mind missing one back tooth, missing two is out of the question.

  4. A "No Junk Mail" sticker for my mailbox. I hate junk mail, but I suspect that one of my "I don't get the advertising papers at my house" friends yanked my last sticker off.

  5. A curtain rod for the patio window. Anything is fine. As long as it holds the ugly curtains that the Old Guy gave me, I'll be happy.

  6. Some of that Age-Reversal face cream. You know, the stuff that makes your face instantly look like a baby's bum... instead of a wino's arse? A 44 gallon drum of it, please.

  7. 2 new cat-litter trays with 'odor-control" hoods. The darn cats peed in the last ones, and they need replacing.

  8. A gift voucher for "Sue, the Hairdresser". I need a color job bad, because I'm starting to be mistaken for Mrs. Claus, and I think a brighter, more youthful color, (rather than the gray) will kind of take the focus off my 'bowl-full-of-jelly" belly. That's my theory, anyway. No offense intended, but it might do wonders for your image as well.

  9. Laundry baskets. Like maybe half a dozen? They come in real handy for throwing junk in, when unexpected guests arrive. On second thought... make it an 'even dozen', please.

  10. Patience. Never-ending patience would be nice, but any amount will do.

  11. A lawnmower. Preferably an ex-male-dancer one.

  12. Shelving for the the shed. To store 100 toilet paper rolls from Costco, and the like.

  13. That wall plaster stuff for putting up walls in the shed, so that it can be turned into a combination storage and guest sleeping area. And then I'll need attractive paint as well, so that people will want to sleep in my converted garden shed.

  14. A bicycle. Preferably a lovely old blue Schwinn like I had when I was a kid. You know the one... with wide fenders, a fat seat, and a basket on the front. Bell optional. I want to relive my youth, before I get too stiff. I think they call them beach bikes now, but I'm not sure. Just check your old records... from about 1962-64, I think.

  15. Ice skates. So that I can con Miz K into going ice skating with me when we go to Costco. I used to be good and I coulda been a contender, but nowadays, maybe something with training blades would be a good. (do they make those?)

  16. Books. Now this one is easy. Basically, anything with words printed on a page is excellent. (except training manuals, please) Something where I can close my eyes (figuratively speaking of course, or I wouldn't be able to read, now would I?) and be transported into another world. Preferably this world, as sci-fi doesn't do too much for me.

  17. One of those fancy new, big, skinny arse tv's that get all the channels. I know... I already have a tv that works just fine and I'm quite happy to get up to change channels, since one of the kids flushed my remote, but I'm just adding this in, in case you don't have any of my other requests in stock.

  18. Sheets for my bed. At least 2 sets please, so I don't have to wash, dry and put the same ones back on the bed again. And please, no sports printed ones. I made the mistake of telling the Old Guy that I found the red-striped baseball sheets at JC Penny's, adorable. And they are... but just not on my bed.

  19. Placemats for the patio table (semi-matching the current or new cushions - and preferably in plastic, for ease of wiping.)

Okay, I know that the list is rather long this year, but I'm just giving you options, okay? If none of the above items are available, I'm quite happy with my usual stand-by of

"Peace on Earth, and Goodwill towards all mankind".

In fact, please disregard the entire list, and just give me that last one.

It's easier to share with others.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tis the Season...

To be tired.

(that term actually makes little or no sense to me, because my dogs always slept with one eye open and barked at a mouse-fart. Unless burglars were involved... and then I think they just feigned sleep, just so they wouldn't have to get up and actually do anything dangerous.)

Kind of like the photo of like this dog, which a burglar actually took whilst ransacking a house.

But I digress...

Tis the season, but not for the reasons you would expect.

For me, it has more to do with the upcoming school holidays and all the prep work that has to go into that, rather than the actual Christmas thing.
I haven't even started Christmas shopping yet, and to tell you the truth... I may not do it this year anyway.
Cards are the same.

Not that I don't want to, but it's more of a financial issue this year, and with our upcoming trip to the US in April ( and time off work, which means no $$'s coming in for at least 5 weeks) I just don't have a lot of spare cash laying around right now.
Like I ever have had spare cash laying around.
When you're buying your own home, spare cash seems to be a thing of the past.

And then several friends have had birthdays this month - including a couple of momentous ones like 50th's and 60th's - so there have been parties to attend, gifts to buy for those and all the socializing that goes with it.
Not that I'm much of a socializer at the best of times, because I'm not.
Give me small groups of people - and close friends at that - and I'm fine with that.
But when there are dozens and dozens of people around, and people I don't know at all... well, just look behind the potted palms, if you want to find me.

And drinking? Ho Ho Hum. Maybe I'll have one or two, but I swear I haven't had a hangover or even anything close to a hangover, in a couple of decades now.

Because I'm boring.

And because let's face it. When you're hiding behind potted palms, catching the eye of a passing waiter so you can ask for another drink, well... it's next to impossible
(Yeah right, like I attend parties that actually have waiters? Garth Brooks said it best when he said "I've got friends in low places"... and I like it that way.)

So anyway, (I'm real good at this digressing stuff this morning, aren't I? But I have a good excuse, because I'm dog tired.) we attended a 50th birthday party on Saturday night, but luckily, it was one of my dearest friends.
And not only does she know what I'm like, I had my lad with Autism with me, so I had plenty of quiet-time tomyself while I took him off to look at the sheep pen and such, to calm him down.
And when the kid needs to go to bed, it's time to head home... so we were all tucked in by midnight.

Then on Sunday, we had a small barbeque here at home, with another dear friend and her daughter down from Bendigo... (and 4 of my daycare kids as well), but they had to head home by 3-ish, (my friend - not the kids, unfortunately) so even though it was an enjoyable visit, it was short lived.
Too short lived.
Because when it comes to Rubies, I never want us to part. Because the sharing of chocolate is always involved, when Rubies is around.

Which is why I love her so much.
Mainly, anyway.

So, between working 6 days straight, (and I had some kids 24 hrs a day) the party Saturday night, and then the barbeque on Sunday, I was so worn out by early evening, that I sat down in my chair to watch some telly... and I fell dead asleep.

The kind of 'dead-asleep" that means you never wake up all night, and when you wake up in the chair in the morning, your right ear is resting on your shoulder, the front of your shirt is absolutely soaked from 7 hours of drooling on yourself because you were dreaming of Sam Elliot... and you can't get up out of said chair, because of the damn crick in your neck. Which can present some tricky problems, when the first thing on your mind is "I gotta pee, NOW!"
(Which I still have, despite a couple of painkillers, a hot shower and a few cups of coffee. The neck of course.. not the pee.
And you'll notice that I used "you" rather than "I"... because it kind of distances myself from having to admit to myself that I was an idiot for not just going to bed when I wanted to, in the first place.)

So... "Party Animal"?
Nope, that's not really me.
Unless we're talking sloths, or something extremely slow moving.

Yep, I've got it... I'm "Tater, the Partying Porcupine."

Friday, December 4, 2009

This thing called love...

And no, it isn't what you're thinking.

I'm not talking about "romantic" kissy kissy love...
But rather the love of all things blog related.

Blogging, reading blogs, becoming invested in the lives of people whom I have never met (yet)... googling photos and coming up with blogs I never would have come across if I hadn't first searched for "wildflowers in Uzbecistan", or "grandmas mayo and chili cake".
And getting totally sucked in.

But alas, my love affair has been suffering lately.

Not that it's ever far from my mind, mind you.

See, I can weed and garden til the cows come home, and think up some fantastic blog material.
I can scrub counter tops to rid it of ant footprints and scrape blackened breadcrumbs from the toaster... and whilst doing those boring chores, I can think of wonderful, insightful, earth-shatteringly funny stuff to blog about.

Only I forget it, later.
I sit down, and there's a vast window in my brain, which as soon as my arse hits the chair, the window opens and lets all the good stuff out.
Which leaves me with the boring, spur of the moment, mind-numbingly inane stuff.

It's kind of like opening a telephone directory and letting your fingers do the walking... and just seeing after your fingers have been busy, what you've actually come up with.
Like 'pick a card. Any card'.

Which in my case, is crap.

What I wanted to do with this whole blogging thing, was to get my thoughts and memories down on the proverbial paper as it were... so that my grandsons would some day read through it and think "Wow, Grummie was a hoot and a half in her day, wasn't she?" "Grummie had a great life and some great adventures in her day." "Grummie was cool". is what I was aiming for.
Sort of.

Because my 3 little guys mean the world to me... and because we're so far apart, it makes it hard to convey to them just exactly "who" this woman called "Grummie" really is.
What made her tick.
Because I didn't want to be simply the giver of gifts and cards and money to these guys. I wanted them to know "me" - like I never got to know my mama or nana's thoughts.
(and besides... whoever knew that I could fall so deeply and irrevocably in love, with 3 little boys that I have only met once in my life for two weeks?)

Unfortunately, they'll probably read it through and think " geez...we should have invested in a home for Grummie a long, long time ago... But who knew that she would have lost her marbles at such an early age?"

But that's not the point. It was supposed to be... but somewhere along the line, other factors came into consideration.

Stuff like friendships formed, and seeds planted.
Ideas for doing this, or cooking or baking that.
Thinking 'I can do that if she can, because she's made it sound so wonderfully inviting that I would be a complete and total idjit if I don't try it too.'

Wondering on any given day what Mary or Sally have been up to, and wondering and waiting for the bits and blobs of their lives to be blogged about.
So that I can laugh or cry, right along with them.
Caring and sharing.
Because I've grown to care.
(Not that there is a real "Mary or Sally"... it's just easier than typing a 101 names, ya know what I mean?)

Because somehow, this has ended up being about you.
Not me.
Your lives.
Your stories.
Your friendships.

So this blogging thing hasn't exactly ended up being the "thing" I was aiming for.
But because of you, (and who knew you were even out there?) it's become so much more.

And I'm grateful to you.

Geez... would ya look at that?
I started off with one thing in mind and ended up going off on a tangent ... completely forgetting where I was heading with this.
What I meant to say was that I have these absolutely terrific ideas for posts - and then I get so side-tracked reading your terrific posts, that I lose track of what I was thinking about posting about.
Because you're far more interesting than me.
And for that... I'm grateful.

Because, if it's true that you're judged by the company you keep, my grandsons will think that I've had a wonderful life.... now won't they?


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