Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Valley Rattler: A Family Adventure

Mr BC comes from a family that gets very excited about trains, specifically, Steam Trains. They love them. They love to go to museums dedicated to them. They love to watch model trains. They organise visits, short trips & long trips on them. They adore them.

Me, not so much.

So when the MIL suggested a day out on the 'Valley Rattler', I wasn't that keen. But then I saw Mr BC trying to contain his excitement at the thought of such an adventure, I thought I would man up & take one for the team. It was only one day, & my family would love it.

Well they did. I did not. I tried. I tried really really hard. But it sucked. Now that it's over & I never have to do it again, I will stop wingeing about it & just leave you with some photos to commemorate the excitement.

The journey begins!

A large display at the train station. Well worth a look!

Look! Real steam!

Many enthusiastic amatuer dramatists accompanied our journey. Bonus!

They seemed very eager to chat with MonkeyBoy.

He seemed very keen to chat with them.

Jeez, he went on.
Ready for adventure: departure 9AM
Arriving at OneHorseBumFuck for a 30 minute morning tea stop with 500 jolly day trippers.
The Gentleman checks his wallet as the band strikes up 'Welcome Tourist Dollar'

MonkeyBoy making a spectacle of himself. Again.

Teenage Daughter in denial about the amenitys.
Yes, it really is that building with the squatting skeleton mural.

Back on the train, another opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

It's so green this time of year.

Look cows! Oh, you missed them.

Find a happy place.
The inlaws enjoying the cosy confines of our cabin. A 10 seater, very spacious!
You hardly noticed the 2 small boys at all, & they where soooo well behaved.
That esky takes up hardly any room.
When we arrived at Imbil the amatuer dramatists where staging a re enactment of a Bushranger hold up. 

This quickly deteriorated into everyone shooting each other. After a few hours to buy lunch & peruse the local shops, we came back to see the captured Bushranger being flogged, before once more, returning to our cabin for the long trip back.

Poor Nanny looks a little tired, unlike the Gentleman. Full of beans!

So, these pictures take us just past halfway through the day. I would like to share more but sadly I lost interest my phone ran out of charge. We eventually returned to the station at 5PM, ready for the 2 hour drive home.

The End.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Old House

I have often walked past an old house in my street, & wondered about it. It is an old Queenslander, without the lace, built around the 1940s. It is large & rambling, with an out of control tropical garden of mainly palms & various other creepers & shrubs. Falling down wire grandma fence partly across the front. It is on a large block, about 50 meters from the beach. It is painted pale grey, & I have never seen the doors or windows open.

This is the kind of house I fantasize over, imagining how I would bring it back to life & make it a beautiful home. Obsessing a little. Turning over hypothetical renovation plans in my mind like some sort of mental DIY rosary.

I thought the house was for sale a few months ago & was excited about attending the open house inspection for a sticky beak, but then it was off the market again in about 2 seconds. Oh well. Other things to think of, anyway, busy busy. Spoiler alert: I did not buy the house. Yet..

Saturday morning I was driving past when I noticed a garage sale, at this very house. Needless to say, I swerved to park the car instantly.

The new owners where there; a retired couple with their new project. I asked about a largish, lets be kind & call it mid century chest of drawers, & was told $2. It had been left out overnight in the rain & the drawers had swollen closed. I had to have it, so drove home to get Mr BC so he could help me load it into the car. Mr BC didn't bat an eyelid when I told him what I had bought, but he did look very dissapointed when he saw the drawers. No vision, Darling!

Anyway, we started chatting to the new owners, Fay & Gra, & ended up spending an hour there. They showed us over the house & told us the story of buying it. A crazy eccentric old lady was the previous owner. She had lived there alone for years, & the house was full of bags & boxes of stuff up to the ceiling, to the point where you had to follow a goat track through the rooms to get around. Last year Fay & Gra put an offer forward which the owner apparently tore up immediately, literally. So Fay & Gra went on a 3 month cruise, as you do. When they returned the house was on the market again, for less than their origional offer. So they put forward a new offer at the asking price, with simple settlement terms. The offer was accepted, & the house was theirs!

Except it wasn't so easy to take possesion of the property, because the eccentric old lady wouldn't move out. She stayed past the settlement date by 2 months. She accused the new owners of ripping her off. She accused the real estate agent, the buyers' solicitors, & even the buyers' bank manager of all being 'in cahoots' to rob her blind. She also accused almost everyone concerned with breaking in & stealing things. She had a roller shutter installed over the front door. She abused the pest inspectors & sent them off. She had banked the cheque, but wouldn't hand over the keys. Eventually she booked removalists, who turned up & expressed surprise that nothing was packed; there also seemed to be a lot more stuff to move than they expected. After that was sorted out a team of people came & took 6 truckloads of stuff to the tip; there was more drama when she refused to pay them. Even then she wouldn't go, because she 'didn't feel right' about handing over the keys. When she did eventually leave, she had her solicitor phone the new owners at 9pm that night to say that she had to be let back in as she had left all her medication in the house. Fay & Gra organised a police escort to help her retrieve it.

Walking through the house, I can understand her reluctance to leave. There is lots & lots of room, & the house has a really nice vibe, a lovely flow. High ceilings, very spacious rooms, casement windows, picture rails.  Beautiful bay breezes, lots of natural light. It is easy to see how someone could love this house, their home, so much - even in this state.

This house needs serious work.  In some rooms, the ceilings have fallen down. There are large holes in the floorboards, & some spongy areas that are unsafe to walk on. Wallpaper hangs off the walls. There is an abundance of origional features - including the bathrooms & the kitchen, which look as if they haven't been cleaned, let alone renovated, since the house was built 70 years ago. But still...

Fay & Gra are undecided whether to detonate or renovate. This is a retirement project, not a new home project. They bought the property because the large block of land is in a great location & also is on 2 titles, so ideally they could remove this house, & build 2 new houses to sell. But this house is so special, they are not in a hurry to demolish it. It is the wrong time in the market to sell an old house for relocation. They mentioned moving the house back, cutting it in half & moving the side section to the back, to free up the other title; which sounds like a lot of expensive effort..

I wish I had somewhere to move this house to, so I could restore it to it's former glory. A few acres tucked away in the rainforest, still close to the beach.

But I don't. So I'll just keep playing with the mental DIY rosary of hypothetical outcomes & see what happens.

Here is a photo of the chest of drawers. It was part of the stuff that didn't get to the tip, but wasn't taken by the removalists. Mr BC was probably right, it sure needs a lot of work. But I can't wait to see what is in those drawers. I do love a mystery.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Summer in the Air

I love Summer.

I would also love autumn, winter & spring to visit my garden in all their glory, however I live in an area that could rename the seasons 'bloody hot'; 'A Bit Cool' (but only enough to pop on a cardigan, forget ugg boots) & 'Faark! How's this RAIN?'

It's always exciting to see Frangipanis coming into bloom.
I especially love pink ones, even though yellow & white have the best smell.

 And of course you know it's really Summer when there is a case of Mangos in the kitchen. You can tell it's the beginning of Summer, because the mangos are super large & perfectly ripe. If it was mid Summer, the mangos would be smaller & a bit over ripe, and the box would be larger & overflowing. Mid Summer mangos cost about $5 a box from the side of the road. Mangos from the beginning of Summer cost a bomb, & are backed into cases, not boxes. They are bought at an upmarket greengrocer. 
Still glorious.

Summer is the time to start pondering which swimming cosi is going to have the best tummy control. You can call them bathers or togs, whichever term you like. 
Stomach will still be an issue. 
This is a portrait of me by The Gentleman. See my beautiful dress? And my lovely hair? And all the hearts coming out of my head because I'm full of love? Awwww, sweet. 
My hands are clasped next to my face. The next bump down is my boobs.
The next bump sticking out there is my tummy!
I don't think a tankini is going to cut it.
Oh well, never mind...
Lucky I have a big happy smile anyways :-)

 The Day Lilies have almost finished blooming, & we are not even into December yet.
This one is called 'Triumphant Lily'.

 This year we are growing a Blueberry bush in a pot. I don't know if this is a good specimen or not; I've never seen them growing on the bush before. We have all grabbed a few berrys to nibble, & there seems to be plenty more. The berrys are sweet, not too tart at all. I wish they would ripen all at once, so I could bake with them, or make jam..

I made this recently, as per The Gentlemans request

Stuffed Calimari.
First make a simple risotto with shallots, parsley & chicken stock.
Loosly stuff squid tubes with the rissoto, secure with toothpicks.
Make a tomato sauce with onion, garlic, & white wine.
I secretly put an anchovie in with the onions, to deepen the flavour.
Put the calimari in an oven dish, pour over the sauce & bake, covered for about 20 minutes.
Serve with a few fresh veges from the garden.

Dinner in summer should be fresh, easy & clean tasting, & hopefully it won't enlarge your tummy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Animal Rescue Day

Last Sunday, Mr BC & Teenage daughter came home from a driving lesson with an injured Australian Crested Pigeon. Apparantly some bastard Magpie had been pecking into it while it was still alive, leaving a large bloody hole in it's side. Teeanage Daughter, who is friend to all creatures, had to rescue it.

So then we had to find a wildlife rescue service that would take it. No sweat.

Thinking that was enough drama for a Sunday, we headed off to the beach to enjoy the beautiful day, and there we found a Long Neck Turtle wallowing around in the shallows.

Long Neck Turtles are freshwater animals, so we where surprised that this one was still alive. Presumably it had made it's way out of the local freshwater creek into a stormwater drain, and had ended up in the surf. What an adventure! Someone should make a tv show about Turtles having adventures in drains...

We all jumped back in the car, & drove the turtle to the local duck pond.
And bid him farewell, then went back to the beach.

It is so lovely at the duck pond, I hope Mr Turtle is very happy there.

Back at the beach, we found a giant Puffer Fish.
But it was well out of puff..

So The Gentleman made him a Tombstone.

The End

Thank You Playschool

 For inspiring my son to wash the dishes!
I must have inspired him to wear those daggy slippers..

He sure looks proud of himself.
Not as proud as I was.

Mrs BC

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Random stuff keeps leaking from my brain..

I am sitting here enjoying a glass of Shiraz Cabernet Special Reserve from James Busby Fine Wines, while the rest of the family sleeps. No I've never heard of this wine before either, but at $2.49 a bottle it doesn't matter, & it is actually a happy surprise. Yummo. Maybe it's the peace & quiet that is making me feels so relaxed & happy, or maybe it's the wine, but I feel a need to sort/delete from the brain space.
Bear (Bare?) with me.

For some reason I can't stop singing 'Midnight at the Oasis'. I don't know why. But cactus is our friend. Side note - Should I have splurged on tequila? Is that the message? I often get songs stuck in my head for varying lengths of time. The song seems to stay until I figure the meaning...no, I am not suffering from a mental illness. For example - Short Skirt Long Jacket by Cake, for 2 days last month. Turns out that the short jacket I wanted to wear was missing a button, which neccesitated the wearing of my other black jacket - the long one. For some reason, Big in Japan by Tom Waites almost invariably means we have run out of cheese. Which is why I was not wearing a short skirt with that long jacket.
Bizzare, I know. But I do so enjoy being a bystander to my minds inner workings.

If you are a Christian please look away, I am probably about to offend you. I overheard someone recently exclaim 'Christ on a Cracker!' I have no idea where this phrase origionates, but which image does it conjure up for you? Jesus riding a giant Jatz cracker magic carpet style? Or Jesus getting a giggly piggy back ride from an overall wearing hillbilly? I know in Voodoo that spirits 'ride' their followers by taking possesion of them, maybe that has something to do with it. There's a T shirt design in there somewhere..

I've only had one glass, I swear.

Mrs BC

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

If it's not raining, it's pouring..

Recently our house flooded, again.

We live in a style of house known as a 'high set', which means 'house on stilts'. Lots of people do in this city, although I had never heard the term until I moved here to the flood prone sub tropics.

As years go by, homeowners generally think 'blast this mud, I'll concrete under the house. Keep the car from getting bogged & give the kiddies somewhere to play'. A few years later the next home owner will say 'I'll just put some walls on downstairs, keep the bogan neighbours from stealing the washing machine & stop the dog running away while I'm at bowls'.

All this is well & good, but what it means is that an awful lot of houses have evolved 'downstairs' that have been created with shoddy workmanship & no council approval. No building standards adhered to, no thought given to things like legal ceiling height or drainage, for heavens sake.

This is why we have installed so much drainage in our yard, in an attempt to stop the water flowing straight into the house through the many nooks & crannys, & even up through the cracks in the slab. Money budgeted for the new kitchen has been spent on the drainage. *frowns, purses lips*

The first time this happened was a nightmare - 5 boxes of magazines (Architectural Digest & Martha Stewart Living, mainly. I know.) Boxes of text books, all thrown away.

I wept then & am still trying to salvage Teenage Daughter's baby photos & keepsakes. A moment of silence, please.

By now, we have the routine well sorted;
  • Marburg Radar Tracker on the laptop? check 
  • 'Flood towels' at the usual points of water entry? check
  • Move anything in the path of the water? check
  • Get the sandbags into position...
  • Check on the neighbours..

We are about to have a new fence installed, which will hopefully help. After Mr BC has created the new kitchen I will start trawling the internet for an Ark Building Tutorial. With proper planning we should be able to complete this before the arrival of the 6 cyclones that have been forcasted for this summer. Please not at once..

This last storm was a doozy - 50 houses evacuated a few suburbs over, a landslip in the middle of a street a suburb in the other direction.

This house of chaos should probably just count its blessings.

Mrs BC

Fabtastic October

There has been lots of fabulousness around here, it's killing me.

It's been birthday week in the Chaos household! Mr BC & Teenage daughter have their birthday in the same week, (yes, every year) which means 2 cakes, 2 rounds of 'Happy Birthday to You', lots of presents & lots of birthday kisses. Neither the birthday girl or boy wanted a big deal this year, possibly they are still recovering from the Birthday Parachute Jump last year? 14000 feet is a bit hard to top, even for a couple of Scorpios...

Monkeyboy has come home from day care covered in wheals, slightly disconcerting. Parvovirus & chicken pox have both been doing the rounds but it didn't look anything like that. No temperature, no lethargy. Mr BC was having a semi mild panic attack, so we rushed the laughing, talkative child through his dinner/bath routine & got him to the docters, pronto. 'Oh, hives' says the Docter. 'Not contagious. Give him an antihistamine if needed' Monkeyboy wants none of this, but he does want ice cream. As usual.

Recently I organised a girls night out for the mums of The Gentlemans class. Because I wanted to go out & get pissed, & you know, I was being the change I wanted to see. Booked a restuarant, printed some invites. What a hoot! About 18 women turned up & had a fabbo time. By midnight there was 5 of us ready to kick on, but unfortunately the bar had shut, as had most of the other bars in this little peninsula. Sad faces all round. We couldn't even get a cab, & it had started to rain. Mr BC came to the rescue & impressed everyone greatly by driving us all home. At 1am. You legend, Mr BC!

Monkeyboy had his stitches out, & I wish they had given him anaesthetic for that. Him or me, I don't mind. His kindy photos came back this week, & they had photoshopped the stitches out. I called them to request an untouched photo, & they where flummoxed. 'We do this as a matter of course. We always photoshop scars & things out.' I am equally flummoxed. Why would you do that? Isn't a school photo a record of how they where at that moment in time, neo nazi haircut, facial stitches & all? Anyway, they are sending me a free untouched print in the mail. Maybe I'll change my mind when we recieve it?

I made these cakes for The Gentlemans school fete. This picture shows them un-iced, but they were a heart shaped buttercake filled with hundreds & thousands, with pink icing also covered in hundreds & thousands. I'm sure some little princess snapped that up quick smart. There was also a plain chocolate cake with chocolate icing, & a coconut cinnamon butter ring cake. When we visited the fete that afternoon I am sad to say that no one wanted my spicy ring. It was sitting with all the flat fruit cakes & burnt biscuits, dejected. Poor spicy ring. I hope someone enjoyed it in the end.

My sister, the lovely Cheryl Ann, came to visit for 3 days! We shopped, we walked, we drank wine, we talked, we ate junk food, we drank cocktails..Awesomeness. I must have looked dodgy when I picked her up from the airport because I was randomly selected to be tested for 'essence of terrorist.' I have none. Thankfully that was all the little machine was testing for.

The Gentleman had his first school disco, which is pretty cool for a 5 year old. It was hard, but I resisted the dance floor. I was not at all tempted by the chicken dance, or the macarena. I must say, though, it was hard to stay seated for Nutbush Citylimits. The only thing besides my pride that kept me in my seat was the knowledge that this dance can only be done properly if you are drunk, & obviously the junior disco was a pretty dry affair.

Church house, hen house.....
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