Dream house, dream life, yeah right. Dream on…

Archive for the ‘Normal’ Category

Measuring time.


1978 Nov
This is a photo of my Dad, in 1978, 3 years after we moved here,  with Rhododendron “White Pearl” making a great comeback from it’s hard prune.(It was about 25 years old at this time).
This is White Pearl this year.2015OCT31 079a

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 This is why we can’t have nice things

I went to get a new mattress topper – and noticed they are now just egg carton foam – the last one I got had a different pattern for airflow under pillows and swirly channels for less pressure under your feet. The woman serving said, no, they had to revert to the plain ones because the others were getting them too many negative reviews – people couldn’t remember which way around they went or complained that they felt better the other way around. Seriously – the foam people had to dumb down their mattresses!

I love sweetcorn! I hate husking it and trying to get all the silk off before they get stuck in my teeth. About a year ago I found the perfect way to cook and husk in one move, stringless! Simply toss the whole cob, husk and all in the microwave for 2 minutes. Remove, let cool till you can grasp it and cut off the base of the cob, about 1cm up from the stem. Then grab the top of the husk and the silks and twist/pull it up and off the cob. All the silks come away clean. Absolutely perfect. So, about 6 months after I discovered this, I went to buy some corn, to discover the supermarkets (and even the local green store) have started cutting the TOPS of the cobs off. I’m not sure why because I think the sight of the dried out top kernels of corn a lot less enticing than the dried out silks that show it is ripe. It’s like someone is out to make sure I can’t have corn because I refuse to cook it if I can’t have it without silks.

After a week of back issues that have left standing and walking as two of my not so favourite activities I decided to use Woolworths online to get my groceries. After I placed my order (having to delete the tiger bread roll or I couldn’t have it delivered before 3pm which was just weird, aren’t bakery items cooked in the morning?) I was reading some reviews of the service – many complaining of the many ‘out of stock’ items in their orders. The next morning I was just thinking of looking up the ‘track my order’ site when the doorbell rang. My groceries were delivered to my kitchen counter. Everything I ordered was there. Instead of a vac packed discount chicken thigh pack I got 3 packs of fresh thighs – a bonus of about 300g and the $6 more they would have cost if I’d ordered them. The lone hair product was in the bag with the pasta and other packaged foods – something that didn’t worry me in the least but there was another bag, tied up at the top, but feeling empty. I opened it to discover the lone pack of footlet socks that I’d noticed on a clearance special.

My question is, do you think I need to continue to ostracize the sockettes or are they safe to let socialise with my other footwear? It’s just that I’m not sure I have a spare drawer available for them.


Last year Rufus was really good about  showing up at least once during each guest’s stay. This year, he seems to need a new watch because today, for the 4th time since Xmas, I waved off departing guests with an empty yard and a few minutes later looked out the window to this:

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Bad Wallaby! You’re late.

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Somehow I don’t think he cares….

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Bonus photo from last week when some guests left some carrots. He ate one without stopping. Then took a bite out of each of the others so there was no doubting they belonged to him.

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And he went and sat in the garden waiting to be worshiped.

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Maybe when the clocks go back tonight he’ll have better timing 😉


Seven minutes

Nearly missed this tonight. Just glanced out as the rainy sky turned into this.

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Click for a larger image.

Then just 7 minutes later looked up to this…

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Can’t ever imagine getting tired of this view.


One thing about relief teaching is you never know what you’ll be doing on a day. Which is how I ended up touching my first ever live snake on Friday.



This tiger snake shed her skin the day before. Those gold highlights aren’t light reflecting, they are actual streaks of gold in her scales.

There are only three species of snake in Tasmania, all are poisonous. The tiger snake is the 6th most venomous in the world. Lucky us 🙂

And this guy was standing in the middle of a complete set – tigers, copperheads and white lipped snakes. They were climbing his leg, hiding under tubs and generally ignoring him. It was the best demonstration I’ve ever seen of the fact snakes get used to your presence, and as a result can be slow to react when you come across them. Snakes won’t chase you. Their only interest is in getting away.


He also showed a ‘snake bite kit’. Two compression bandages. He gave the example that by tightly wrapping the bitten limb and sitting very still you could last 8 hours after a bite. If after being bitten you ran the length of the schoolyard to the house, you probably would be dead before you got there.


Please excuse the poor quality photos – taken on my phone in terrible lighting.

There were a range of other reptiles and spiders there, but this blue tongue was my favourite.

She’s a bit shabby because she was shedding her skin.
This is what blue tongues usually look like.


The pure black one is apparently the opposite of an albino.

Two and a half degrees of separation

Tasmania is well known as a great place for genetic research because apparently lots of family stay here, they don’t spread out like on the mainland. It is also said that we have two heads due to our inbreeding.    That of course is totally untrue, (*pulls scarf over scar*) however, while the rest of the world might only be 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, here in Tas, the distance between two people is more likely to be 2 1/2 degrees, and the half is most likely a cousin.

Friends from other states are often amazed when someone they just met turns out to be related to someone they already know. Tasmanians tend to take this as the norm. Take today for example. I go to have my boobs squished and the radiographer glances at my address and goes –
Oh you live in  Gumtrees Rd.* When I first moved to Hobart I boarded in that street, in an art deco house on the left hand side. I immediately had an image of the house I thought she meant although she couldn’t remember the number. I didn’t know the name of the people who where there when we moved in 39 years ago. She went on to talk about the woman who lived there and how she ran an illegal book and the phone rang all weekend. She then mentioned that when the woman was away she would go down the street and stay with  Norma* and Albert so she wasn’t in the house alone with the other boarder, a man.

“Norma and Albert were my next door neighbours when I moved in,” I said.

“Norma was my future husband’s (who boarded at the other end of the street) Aunt,” she said.

Of course I thought, and we continued to catch up on some gossip about members of the family I hadn’t seen since Norma had moved North and died (many years after Albert died).

I didn’t have time to get the radiographer’s name and discover how else we might be connected.  There’s a funny story concerning the neighbours though. First, picture the street. Back in 1975 most of the houses were still occupied by the same people who had built them 20 years before, whose children had gone to the local school, and who were now retiring. (20 years later we were still the ‘new’ people in the street.)

When we first moved in Norma was quite abrupt to my mother, telling her that people in this street didn’t have time to chat over the fence all day when Mum tried to say hello.  (Mum had two young children, she certainly didn’t have time to chat.) Funny that 11 years later in one of the many LONG fence side conversations when Mum mentioned we were looking at other places Norma declared we were the best neighbours she had ever had.  For the first 5 or so years we were here Albert never spoke to us, and she couldn’t get away fast enough. One day Dad came in and said he thought he had figured out why the neighbours didn’t like us, they thought he was his brother (who had been involved in some criminal activity and done gaol time – in association with a business that was connected to the business Albert had worked for before retirement.) Albert had apparently spoken to him, and basically admitted that   he ‘wasn’t who we thought you were.” My father and his brother both had the same initial. Mystery solved, except that didn’t explain why they had continued to be very friendly with the neighbour across the road.

You see when we moved in, Mrs P from across the road came across, talked to us kids at the fence line and when she heard our surname mentioned that her daughter had just married someone with the same name. I had to run across and ask Dad, who replied that was his nephew. Yes, that’s right, her daughter married the son of the man the neighbours thought Dad was and so avoided. And they had a son, so Mrs P’s grandson is my cousin. Mrs P has had more contact with his aunts (my 1st cousins) than I have, in fact she was the one who  kept me informed when one was fighting cancer.

Then Kirsty moved in to the house opposite me.  One day (several years later) we were talking about selling houses and she mentioned that her Aunt is a real estate agent, if I wanted her details. No problem I said, my cousin is a real estate agent.  A bit more conversation and she mentioned her Aunt’s company – which just happened to be the same one my cousin worked for.  Yes, this is Tasmania, Kirsty’s uncle, was my cousin’s husband. Mrs P would often babysit Kirsty’s son, so I mentioned one day that technically Kirsty’s son,  Mrs P’s grandson and I were all related. We’re cousins.

Two and a half degrees. Or less. And nearly always a cousin. Welcome to Tasmania.

*Names and locations changed because, well, this is Tasmania!

And just because it was stunning (although I only caught the very end of it, I was driving through the rest), here’s tonight’s sunset.

Sunset from 28Gumtrees





A creature of habit?


12 months ago Rufus spent most of July in my yard while his foot healed. He is obviously a creature of habit, or else he remembers that the food was good (I supplemented his systematic destruction of my garden with wallaby pellets), because he’s been here most days for the last month, and again yesterday and today.   I don’t think he has become ‘dependent’ upon the pellets (especially as they weren’t offered for 10 or so months), but he certainly has learned what it means when I hunt him down in the yard, wave my closed fist at him and then walk back up to the clothesline lawn. He’s usually there before I get back to the door. If I stay to watch you can see the indecision – avoid human, or eat….. He has learned that “It’s just me” is code for, stop hopping away you stupid creature, I didn’t know you were behind that bush either!

Despite the yard being very very green,  the lawn (which I’ve only mowed a couple of times in the last 18 months!) is rather well trimmed, even the weeds that usually grow around the lemon tree are very low. Nothing is really growing (except the ixias, and apparently they are very yummy!)  It’s been very cold, extremely windy and very wet over the last few days and apart from looking very pathetic sitting out in the storms, he has vacuumed up every pellet offered in moments, showing every sign of being very hungry (although obviously a long way from starving, let’s just call him ‘big boned’.) So this is just to share a few photos and videos from the past couple of weeks.

Rufus in the rainThere’s a Mountain behind him, being covered in snow and it’s raining.

A couple of videos:

Coming up for dinner

I smell pellets…


rufus fluffyNot fat, fluffy!

2014AUG02 010aGimme food!


rufus claws Check out those claws!

I can just reachNo, it’s okay, I don’t need to move, I can reach them….

Rufus 3

It’s a man’s hardware store

The events at the heart of this post happened 2 years ago last October in the days immediately before the house settlement. I was sitting in the said house (as I had for the previous 36 years) and mentally cataloguing all the things I would do once it was MY HOUSE. Carpets to go, boards sanded and varnished. Kitchen splashbacks to go and be replaced. Couldn’t afford a new kitchen, but I had ideas of how to change the cupboards that were there. New cupboards to build in the laundry. Fresh paint (bye bye butter cream yellow!) from ceilings down. Turn the hall into a library with floor to ceiling shelves. New doors. New handles on old doors. New doors on the cupboards with new modern hinges. New light fittings in lots of rooms. Air conditioning. Window awnings. So many ideas I literally could not sit still.

The amount of money I was about to spend on the house was not small. I think I probably underestimated what paint would set me back by about $800 alone. Since I couldn’t afford to have anyone else do the work I was going to have to learn a few new skills. So one Friday night, sitting here twitching because I couldn’t really start any project (might jinx it if I did before it was truly mine) I focused on the amount of timber I would need to cut in the immediate future and went shopping for a sliding compound drop saw. I knew very little about them other than the fact that I can’t saw a straight cut to save my life, so this was a necessity, not a luxury if I ever wanted shelves.

I headed for K&D Warehouse Mitre 10 store in the city. It was almost ingrained – as a child I followed Dad on many a trip to Kemp & Denning for hardware. I went to the tools section. There were two men serving, one older the other a younger guy. So I planted myself in front of the saws and browsed while I waited for them to finish with the customers. I read boxes, fiddled with display models and got moved twice while the salesmen got up to higher shelves for things. Each time I went back to the saws. I was not just propping up a shelf waiting for hubby. The older guy finished with his customer. I started to initiate eye contact. I turned towards him. He turned towards me. He walked towards me….and straight past me to greet a man just entering the section behind me.

Deep breaths. Apparently I’d lost more weight than I thought and was now invisible. I waited as the younger man finished up with his customer at the other end of the row. As his customer walked away I started that little half wave you do when shopping. I almost got ‘hello’ out before he glanced my direction, turned and went to serve a man who had just entered the tools section at the other end.

I should have demanded to see a manager. About 6 months before I had asked to see a manager in the same store – to commend the actions of a salesman who had gone above and beyond to find me 6 screws (and then even cut them to length for me) – a total transaction of about $5. I was standing looking at $700+ equipment but these men weren’t interested in serving me. To tell the truth I was so furious I knew I wouldn’t have been coherent. I walked out of the store, got in my car and don’t remember driving to Moonah. As I walked into Bunnings the woman greeting at the door asked how they could help me.

“Depends, do your men serve women?”

She was a bit shocked when I told the story and assured me that wouldn’t happen here. I walked into the tool department and the salesman there spent the next hour going through what I needed, what would be better, which would do what etc. He pointed out the cheaper saw would disappoint me and talked me into the next model up which has a laser and less vibration so it stays true. He did all this despite me stating up front that I wasn’t spending any money that night, just getting a feel for what to buy later. 5 days later I walked in and bought the saw $800, several smaller tools and some paint. Within the next couple of weeks I had spent around $5000 in Bunnings, and that was by no means the end of it. I haven’t added up the total because I really don’t want to know. Despite the fact I have to almost pass K&D to go to Bunnings I went there constantly. In fact one day one of the cashiers commented I was there more than she was and she worked there full time.

Then, 12 months after they refused to serve me, I had to go to K&D. Firstly, they stock Rustoleum paints (which I have read rave reviews of on many an American blog) and Bunnings doesn’t. (Having now tried a couple of cans of Rustoleum I am now very reluctant to buy other brands of spray paint – they are just so superior in application and quality.) I also have a router which I bought from K&D many years ago and I’ve lost the fence (cutting guide). I was hoping maybe they had them individually. Well I took the manual in so he could see the model. (Note, the router is almost useless to me without the fence). The man in the tools department glanced at it, said “We don’t sell them anymore,” (the brand is discontinued, which I knew) and turned and rushed away from me as if he had an appointment. I later turned a corner and found he was in a hurry to hang packets of screws!) Now, if he’d said, we don’t have them, BUT here’s our range of routers, I’d have probably bought a new one. Stuff them, when I need a new router, I’m going to Bunnings for it.

Is sexism still alive and well in your hardware store?

Why Don’t You Just

Why Don’t You Just.

One of the best descriptions of depression I’ve seen by a friend of mine. Rings so true.


Hard to  believe that this time 37 years ago I was, well I was probably asleep  in bed, no way did I get to  stay up  after 8  as a kid. But When I went to  bed it was knowing it would be the last sleep  in the only house I’d ever known as home. I don’t remember being that  upset about it. I was nervous about a new school and sad about leaving  school  friends, but  the new house had a lawn. A huge lawn that didn’t get dug up  every year to  plant tomatoes or dahlias. Also  I got my own bedroom, no more sharing with  the messy baby sister. It was a huge house, at least twice the floorspace of where we had been. I guess my love affair with this house started that month. I remember  sitting watching the rain (wettest winter in many decades) through the HUGE windows,  splashing around the half acre of  trees and chook shed and carports and wood shed and all sorts of interesting places to  explore without even  venturing out the gate.  I especially remember that I could barely see across the countertops in the kitchen (remember that when I post what I’ve just done in the kitchen next week 😉 and sitting on the  floor of the unfurnished living room in the winter sun next to  the roll of new carpet waiting to  be laid, playing knuckles.

Independence Day has always been  special in this household.  ID37 is the first one where it’s MY house. Not sure I actually believe that most of the time. Happy Anniversary to me 😉

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