04 September 2011

An open letter to Mr Greg Miller of Dillon Bay...

Yesterday afternoon whilst driving in the car with my girls, at some indeterminate point between our local shopping centre and Bunnings, my youngest daughter piped up randomly from the back seat, "Mum, do you remember when we went to Dillon Bay?  That was FUN!  Can we go there again?"  At which point, it was my cheerless duty to explain to her that no, we wouldn't be able to go there again, because Nanny and Poppop didn't have that house anymore...

Nanny and Poppop - my mum and dad - paid a good sum for that house over 20 years ago.  Unfortunately it was the house that they paid for, not the land.  That didn't really matter though, because there was an agreement with your ever gentlemanly father - affectionately known to all as Pop Miller, with his gently bandy legs and ready smile and wave.  An agreement that was effectively "rent" plus a little bit towards power too.  An agreement that, upon the sad passing of your father a good number of years ago now, continued amiably, with a letter from you to my folks stating something along the lines that you "saw no reason why the arrangement couldn't continue".

Sadly, not long after, it would appear that you found a reason.  A reason to take all those houses from the people who owned them, including at least one permanent resident who would then have to find somewhere else to put down roots at 70+ years of age, along with finding homes for all of the abandoned animals that she cared for out of the goodness of her own heart.

I don't profess to know anything about the legal ins and outs of the situation, except that there were legal ins and outs that spanned over a number of years and culminated earlier this year in a decision that you were legally entitled to do what you were doing - to remove the dwellings from the land and from the people who had enjoyed them for decades.

To be honest, I'm not concerned with the legalities of the situation.  What concerns me is that the future generations of our family will not be able to enjoy holidays in that house as these last two generations have.

And I use "house" in the loosest possible sense of the word.  Mismatched face bricks are the first thing to greet you as you pass the big old gate.  Once inside, the carpet is almost worn away from years of beach sand being tracked in by any number of feet, past the map on the wall showing where our little patch of paradise was, complete with the tiny hand drawn image of Poppop in his fishing boat, just off the coast.

That same room houses the table that is always bigger in my reminiscences than in real life, but still big enough to hold a large assortment of random and contrasting chairs, which at any given point in any given holiday would be holding a random assortment of people, sometimes eating a pre-fishing breakfast, sometimes enjoying a post-fishing feast of beer battered fish and home made chips.  Sometimes reading, sometimes playing a board game or doing a crossword, often having a holiday drink and a bloody good chat with whoever happened to be inhabiting the other chairs, but always relaxed and in "Dillon mode".

The old wood burning stove in the kitchen, for many years heated the water to the house and also provided a hot cuppa at any time of day or night and the tap to the right of the sink brought rainwater into the house from the big tank outside.

The lounge room shelves held an assortment of magazines and Reader's Digests spanning years - some came with the house itself and some were taken down on holidays and left there, the crosswords completed over the course of several visits.  The big couches were perfect to curl up with a cuppa, or to sleep a tired body or two when the holidaying group was large and the beds ran out.

The old curtains in the bedrooms were held together with pegs, to allow them to meet in the middles of the bent and rusty curtain rods and prevent a pre-dawn rising of the non-fishing folk.  The cupboards sent forth an aroma of mothballs with each opening so that the blankets within weren't feasted upon in the times between visits.

We showered in bore water - blissfully hot and perfect - after long days spent at the beach, bush walking, taking a run "into town", sometimes all of the above.  I can still conjure up the taste and smell of one of those holiday showers and will probably always be able to.

Beyond the house, the backyard was enormous, and for a number of years, was "mowed" by the sheep from next door in between visits.  Down the very back, we could peek through into the sanctuary over the fence, which at any point in time housed a variety of different sized kangaroos, most of which had been found as joeys when their mothers had been hit by cars and brought to Margaret to be cared for.  She also looked after a dancing parrot and a potty-mouthed bird among her other "children" and was always up for a chat.  There was almost always a joey in residence at each visit, and the kids delighted in being able to give them a bottle and a snuggle when Margaret wandered over at the late afternoon feed time.

The backyard has also been a camp site at different times, when the couches had run out along with the beds.  One memorable trip being immediately after I had completed my final year of school and both my brother and myself each took along a tribe of friends.  My mates - "the boys" - pitched a tent in the backyard and were happy with their little set up until the afternoon that Jack - Margaret's late husband - spied a snake in his yard and took a shot at it.  He missed.  That night, the boys were sharing the yard with what was likely one highly pissed off snake, so slept with the tent very tightly zipped if memory serves...

That year was also the year of the impromptu volleyball tournament on the beach - me and my mates vs. my brother and his.  I'm pretty sure there is still photographic evidence somewhere at mum and dad's of the high five that signified the victory of the little sister's team...

Ahhh the beach - a five minute drive that scratched the bejeesus out of one's duco, or a twenty minute walk past farm fences and through grey/black sand that didn't give away a single hint about what lay ahead.  Kilometres of baby-powder-esque sand as far as you could see and beyond.  Sand that rippled perfectly in the overnight wind in the dunes and squeaked when you walked on the wet bits.  Sand that led you down to the amazingly clear and beautiful water - water that at any time of year was frigid and straight off the Antarctic and made your ears hurt to swim in it.  But swim in it we did, except when dark shapes chased the salmon.  Those times I was happy to spectate...

The beach where my girls "learned to drive" in Poppop's 4WD.  Hannah studiously keeping the wheels in the existing tracks of past vehicles during her turn and Sophie looking everywhere but forwards and threatening to drive us into the ocean at several points during hers.

Yes, we have memories, and by crikey we have photos, but what we no longer have is the house that provided them all, and this is where the law concerns me much less than a little bit of heart and a whole lot of good old fashioned Aussie good-blokedness.  Neither of which seem to reside in decent amounts in you, Mr Miller.  More than anything, this makes me feel sorry for you.

But I'll get over it and we will find somewhere else to have holidays and you will do whatever it is that you plan to do with that stretch of land between the red dirt road and the heavenly coastline.   The red dirt road that appears like magic in the paddocks on the right after the last long stretch of Bremer Bay Road and the heavenly coastline that materialises when you stop at the top of the hill on that red dirt road - bright and blue on a clear day and barely distinguishable from the sky on an overcast one, but always there, promising to provide one heck of a great holiday and always, always delivering.

As I sit here on a Sunday evening, prompted to write this by the surprise but solemn questioning of  my almost five year old, I am fairly safe in the knowledge that you are unlikely to ever actually read this.  There is however,  just a tiny part of me that is also vaguely hopeful that you might...

25 June 2011

Saturday morning slavery

As much as my kids are pretty close to perfect ( no, really!), like most kids, they are much more inclined to spend a Saturday morning watching tv, playing and hanging around in their jammies than willingly tidying up around the house.

Which is fair enough at 4.5 and 8 years, really...

Trouble is, I woke up to a pig-style of a house due to having had an off week in terms of my health and didn't really want to look at it all weekend, or run around tidying it up when I'm still not feeling on top of the world.

Enter my idea for cheap child labour a super-fun tidy up the house game - the best way I know to get my kids on board doing something that would usually elicit groans of "do we HAVE to?" and "but I'm TIRED!"

While they were taking turns playing computer games, I ripped up some pieces of scrap paper and wrote small jobs on eight of them.  Things like "put away shoes", "take dirty clothes to the laundry" and "make Sophie's bed" with another eight pieces of paper bearing rewards that they could choose after each job was completed.  These consisted of things like "an m&m", "a BIG hug" and "a 20c piece".

You know, super motivational type stuff.

I called them out to the loungeroom and explained the rules...
  • they would take turns pulling a random job out of a bowl
  • they had to do the jobs together
  • the didn't have to do them quickly (I was timing them for an added element of fun), but they had to do them well
  • at the completion of each job, they had to bring the slip of paper to me and I would check on their work
  • once it was deemed to have been done properly, they could choose a reward slip that they each would receive before pulling another job out of the bowl
They were excited to get started, and during the entire process, Sophie was heard to utter several exclamations of "this is FUN!".  She did fall in a heap after a little while, but Hannah was totally into it, so kept motivating her little sis to keep her eyes on the prize.

At the completion of the entire exercise only about half an hour later, I had finished my coffee (and most of my scrapbooking magazine!), and the girls had:
  • made both of their beds (beautifully :-))
  • put their dirty clothes in the laundry
  • hung up their clean clothes
  • put their shoes away
  • removed the toys from the loungeroom
  • tidied the toy area
  • tidied the kitchen table of their colouring in stuff

All of this for the royal sum of three m&m's each, a BIG hug, a high five and 80c each for their money boxes.

The bonus reward (for getting dressed and brushing their teeth and hair) was an outing with daddy for a Bunnings hot dog and to spend their money, which has since morphed into a trip to the movies, as it turns out.

Happily, this leaves mummy at home with a tidy house and some time to finish my scrapbooking magazine  while away some hours on Pinterest catch up on the work I didn't manage to get to during the week.

I'd love to hear your ideas for motivating your poppets around the house...

21 April 2011

The Easter Hat - a fairytale

Once upon a time, a four and a half year old girl brought a note home from Kindy advising her parents that she would need an Easter hat to wear in the parade a couple of weeks later.

The mummy was always under the impression that the Easter hat was to be constructed during class time, so was happily surprised that she would have the opportunity to take part in the creation of said Easter hat.

The Kindy teachers meanwhile, were unaware of the monster they had unleashed in the mummy, whose main purpose in having children was to enable her to do school twice over again, having enjoyed it so much the first time around.

The mummy happened to be in possession of a vast array of crafting equipment and she immediately set about thinking up a prototype, a design which was to be brought to life by pastel coloured felt and an interactive element too...

With the design finalised, the children set to work cutting out felt egg shapes, happy to be included in the grand vision of the Easter hat.

Being well versed in the operation of the equipment required, and having seen the mummy use it in almost every crafting creation since its acquisition a year ago, the girls worked quickly and efficiently to create an assortment of different coloured and sized felt "eggs".


At the time of the commencement of the construction phase, the big girl was at school, and the small girl - aside from allowing the mummy to measure her head for size - was more interested in her Polly Pocket and Barbie collection, leaving the mummy to complete her vision virtually unassisted.

The mummy worked happily, cutting and sticking, assembling and building with (sporadic interested assistance from the small girl) until the final product was ready to be tried on.

The small girl was delighted with her hat, in particular the little bunny that bounced when she walked as a result of being attached by clear plastic strips to a band spanning the crown section...

With a whole week to go until the Easter hat parade (and being one of the few times in her life the mummy was organised for something so far in advance) the hat itself had to be put away safely so that the small girl didn't subject it to numerous exuberant trying on sessions and ultimately trash it in the lead up to the parade.

When the day dawned, the small girl was excited to finally put on her hat. She and the big girl also had little baskets of Easter treats each to hand out to their friends.

Once at school the mummy stood misty-eyed with the other mummies and daddies as the precious array of Kindy kids marched past proudly wearing their various creations.

And now they're all on school holidays after a really long and tiring school term and are heading off for a long weekend on the south coast of WA where they will chill out blissfully and hope that the Easter Bunny knows where to find them.

The End.

28 March 2011

Dabbling in digi...

Ever since I discovered Photoshop a good many years ago now, I have been on a constant, occasionally frustrating but mostly enjoyable learning curve.

Having never completed any formal courses on how to use it, I have muddled my way through, likely taking the long way 'round in many cases and figuring out how to do thing as I've needed to.  It's safe to say my Google search bar has seen more than its fair share of "Photoshop x/y/z tutorial" searches in its time...

If I could turn back the clock, I would very possibly pursue something along the lines of graphic design and with less than a year until both my poppets are at school full time, I may still head down that path, but for now I am content to faff about in front of my computer with my outdated, e-bay acquired version of Photoshop and create things like my blog banner up there ^ and a couple of other bits and pieces that I'm going to show you now...

My delightful and delicious five month old nephew Maxwell was baptised a couple of weeks back and on the same day his sister - my sweet and spirited niece Ivy - celebrated with a party for her third birthday which had been a couple of days prior.  My sis-in-law Janny asked if I wouldn't mind putting together some invitations that she could quickly send out, so always up for a challenge and an excuse to play in Photoshop, I readily agreed!

Being rather a fan of my Canon 500D digital SLR and taking every opportunity to bust it out,  I also took the photo on Max's invitation, his adorable expression  being helped along by uncle Tim getting right in his face and being a doofus.  He loves his uncle Tim :-)

In addition to being my source of tutorials, Google is also my friend when searching for various brushes and patterns to use, but by far one of the best discoveries has been Lettering Delights, which is where I got the cute red decorative elements on Ivy's invitation.

It's also where I happen to get a good many other bits and pieces in the way of graphics and fonts, especially since they're so adorably cute and a mere few dollars at most, or even less when there's a sale :-)

Better still, you can get a bunch of freebies just by creating a free member account, which also gives you the option of signing up for the Lettering Delights newsletter so that you're among the first to know when there are new things available or stuff is on sale.

Click the banner below to head there now and sign yourself up!

Just be warned that cuteness abounds, so if you're anything like me, you'll spend ages putting search terms in trying to find an excuse to purchase and use the hundreds of delightful graphics and fonts that you'll find...
Just so you know...

03 March 2011

Out of the mouths of babes #1

If you're a parent, I'm guessing that you could just about write a book on this topic the same as I could.  Kids can say the funniest things and my small one has me in stitches frequently with her four-year-old observations and mispronunciations, so I thought it would be fun to dedicate a whole category to it, thereby keeping a record for my own enjoyment and their mortification in years to come.

THE SCENE:  Saturday morning at home, with the promise of a swim at Mama and Bunts' (my in-laws) house with their cousins later in the afternoon, I advised the girls that they might want to have a look at the bomb site they'd created in the toy room and start work on cleaning it up if they planned on togging up later that afternoon.

SOPHIE (all attitude with jutting hip and rolling eyes):


25 February 2011

Gas mask appreciation society

Just call me madame president.  Of the above-mentioned, newly formed society that is.  Which is odd considering that the gas mask itself came to be in our house as a result of the unofficial contest that my handsome man and his brother are determined to hold on an ongoing basis, which is along the lines of see who can give the other the most ridiculous and pointless gift on record.

Let's just say that my SIL and I apologise in advance to each other on the eve of the boys' birthdays and Christmas, as we both know what's coming and that each time it will likely be more ridiculous than any past efforts.

Christmas this year (albeit late since the gift itself was shipped from Russia) was a MIG fighter helmet.  I kid you not.

Last year's birthday was a Casio calculator watch, which, whilst it might possibly send your average ten year old mathlete into raptures, looks rather nonsensical on the wrist of a 30-something man with fingers too large to operate the buttons.

I couldn't even tell you what has been given in return - I think it's a case of having blocked out the memories once the gifts themselves had left my immediate vicinity.

On this particular occasion, however, I must backtrack in my prior disdain for the aforementioned gas mask.  And I do mean double filtered, rubber-strapped, reminiscent-of-creature-out-of-Star-Wars gas mask.

Cutting a fairly long story relatively short, a couple of days ago I noticed a not so pleasant aroma emanating from somewhere near the back of our fridge.  Being that Tim claimed to have seen a mouse just a day or two prior and being familiar with the smell from an incident in my childhood where a mouse chose to take its dying breath stuck in the bowels of our family toaster at the time, I figured I knew exactly what we were dealing with.

When we failed to find any trace of anything resembling an expired rodent with a quick torch scan under the fridge, the decision was taken to move it out of its spot against the wall and see if we could uproot the source of the stench.

Half an hour, some torn lino and much exertion later, we were no closer to figuring out where it was coming from, so we cleaned the floor under the fridge (a delightful job, let me tell you) and turned our attention - and the extended vacuum cleaner nozzle - to behind the pantry, which lives right alongside.

It was evident upon hearing the hollow "thhhhummmp" followed by having warm Eu de Decomposed Mouse blown warmly at my legs from the rear end of the vacuum cleaner that we had found what we were looking for.

Needless to say, that vacuum bag had seen its last duty and was quickly marched out to the kerb-side bin.

Having just acquired a staple gun earlier in the afternoon, Tim was happy to busy himself with replacing the errant panel on the back of the pantry, which left me with the enchanting task of cleaning the scene of Mickey's demise.

Enter the gas mask.

Despite being somewhere in the vicinity of 35 (C) degrees and not being the most comfortable piece of apparatus to attach to one's face, I was so very thankful at that moment to have this thing at my disposal.

Tim was operating nearby, without even so much as a flimsy dust mask on, and at one stage when he disappeared, I thought it was to go and gasp in some fresh air, but my sympathy disappeared quickly when I turned around to see the camera lens within inches of my face...

So to my Brother-in-law, my apologies.  I did indeed find a reason to appreciate your somewhat left-of-centre idea of gift-giving.

Just this once....

17 February 2011

Thelma the playdough machine!

Towards the end of last year, having coveted one for a very long time, I joined the ranks of "Owners of a Thermomix" and while I'm still learning to drive it to a certain extent, crikey I'm having fun doing it!

This morning, having found the last batch of (very purple!) playdough in the toy room all crusty and dried out with the lid left off, I thought my small girl and I would try out the Thermo version of playdough, and what a treat it was!

Super easy to do, with a Polly Pocket recess in the middle while we waited for the first part of the process to cool, a few drops of pink food colouring later, and we had a fabbo batch of the pinkest pink playdough you ever did see!

Hours of fun ensued, and provided that the lid stays on this batch for a while, I'm sure there will be many more such hours to come :-)

Call me crazy....

....but I've decided to start a new blog.  Perhaps you know of my other one

I thought it was about time that I separated my stamping self from my real life self, if only for the sanity of my stamping readers who, for the past almost four years have put up with my random warbling with the occasional hand made card thrown in for good measure.

I figure that at least this way they (you?!) have a choice - go there for all things ink and paper, and visit me here for frequent narratives about how delightful my children are, occasional anecdotes of the highly amusing things  they say, regular dalliances with photography and Photoshop, recurrent tales of my op-shopping adventures, sporadic insights into our little home and intermittent forays into cooking, plus pretty much everything else that goes on in this varied and lovely life that I have going on.

And while I can't promise incessant posts on this blog, I have thoroughly enjoyed re-discovering a love of writing through blogging in the past few years, so I'll be here as often as possible in amongst life's meanderings, as much as it will likely only be my mum that reads it ;-)