Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A new perspective on clutter...

Clutter... This is what this whole journey is all about.  I’ve had a realisation in my mind just lately, and over the past few weeks, I’ve come to a decision that I now firmly believe that it’s all around us.  I’ve discovered that clutter seems to take many different forms in my life – noise, untidiness, busyness, STUFF (you know – that STUFF stuff again...)

The past 2 weeks, and also for this week, I am incredibly busy for my work.  The first week, I had Auditors at work, doing our ISO Recertification for Environment and Safety.  That’s 2 Auditors for 3.5 days – hard work.  It takes a lot of time up when you spend your time with Auditors, and you seem to go from one area of the factory to another, and you go over and over the same stuff.  That’s an Auditor’s job – to make sure that your systems are in place, and that everyone is following the same procedures, so it’s actually a good thing when you’re going over and over and over the same things.  (Doesn’t stop it from being painful though!)

I was then asked if I would come to our sister factory in Smithtown, NSW, to support the Safety Co-ordinator, as they had their SHE Manager resign and leave about a month ago.  No problem.  Then they wanted me earlier than the day of the audit.  Right – no problem.  So, Wednesday morning I’m sitting at my desk looking at flights, when I realised that I would really need to fly to Sydney that afternoon, and then fly up to Port Macquarie on the 8.00 am flight the next morning.  Right – no problem.  I rang Ken at work and told him I was going (gave him a virtual kiss over the phone!!!), went home, unpacked from the weekend, packed to go to Smithtown, and belted out the door again heading for Brisbane airport.  Phew... made it – all was good. 

However, in the “making it” – I feel like it allows clutter to invade my mind.  That busyness, that untidiness of having things thrown in the suitcase without much thought.  I’m not fond of it, but I recognise that sometimes that’s what happens in this wonderful thing called life.  I have found that the best way to cope with it is to try and put everything else out of my mind (as best I can!!!) and just get on with what has to be done.  Sort the paperwork that I threw into my bag, tidy up the clothes that weren’t really folded right.  Clean it up a bit and that makes me feel less cluttered.  I must have had a bit of a mind shift since I’ve started this decluttering journey – I managed to remember to throw my ball of cotton and a crochet hook into the bag last week – it came in handy, sitting in airports and on planes and in my room at night.  It makes me feel more grounded, and kind of clears my mind from what I’m doing.  That quiet time in my mind then makes me feel less cluttered inside. 

Last week while I was away, I finished off the pot holder/heat mat that I had been making, and I then started on a dishcloth made from the same cotton.  I think I’ll have to make the dishcloths less stitches wide – I used the same number of stitches, but the dishcloth is wider, probably due to the fact that I’ve done trebles on it, and only did doubles on the heat mat.  They’re lovely colours – it makes me feel good to be doing something like this towards the environment.  I haven’t used any of them yet, I think I seem to have a bit of an aversion to using something that I’ve actually managed to finish!!!

Remember I was also doing a dishcloth for a lady in Canada as part of the DTE Blog swap?  I have finished and posted it out to her, and on Saturday evening when I got home, I found that I have received my dishcloth from her!!!  It was so exciting – I love it!  Its pinks and creams, all mottled, and it’s just lovely.  She does knitting, and it’s lovely to see a differently made dishcloth to what I do!!!  She has put such a lot of effort into it too, as it has a lovely pattern through it, it’s not just plain knitting.  She also sent me a lovely magnet from her home Island – I will put that up on the fridge when I get home...  I really hope that she likes the dishcloth that I’ve sent her – at least she’s a new knitter too, so hopefully won’t mind any mistakes in mine!!  I popped a couple of little surprises in with the dishcloth too, hope she likes them too!!!

When I travel for work, I’m usually bored at night.  Easily bored actually!  I’m really loving this trip though – the HR Manager at the Smithtown Factory recommended a B&B in Smithtown – The Old Post Office.  It’s really an old Post Office that’s been restored, and it has two rooms.  One is just a Queen sized room, with a small ensuite and a kitchenette.  The other room is a King room, which has a Dining table for 7 (???) but there’s another chair in the room which could then make 8.  It has two huge, very comfy lounges in front of an electric fireplace thing, and a bed at the end.  It has a fully appointed kitchen, full sized small fridge, and a laundry – washing machine and dryer.  The piece de resistance is the kitchen though – one of the benches is actually the bench at the edge of the kitchen.  Most people would think of this bench as the bench that you sit at to eat meals, although with this one you couldn’t do that as it doesn’t have a top that you could put your legs under.  However, you could sit there and have drinks/nibbles if someone was working in the kitchen.  That bench is actually the original serving counter from the Post Office – and it’s amazing!!!  In the kitchen, there’s also a space for a dishwasher but no dishwasher.  In that hole is a large safe that  would have been used in the Post Office somehow...  (doesn’t every kitchen need one???)

What I really love is the opportunity to do my own cooking, rather than head out each night.  I headed tonight into Kempsey Woolworths to pick up a few provisions, and am now consuming baked potato’s with chicken schnitzel & a pasta salad, complete with lemon pepper sauce.  Total spent for the 5 nights I’ll be here - $62 roughly.  Including one magazine.  Hmmm – that lemon pepper sauce should perhaps be called Pepper sauce with a touch of lemon???  Actually – it’s quite yummy even though I don’t like pepper too much.  They even have Austar, which is lovely for me because I don’t watch TV at home.  It’s lovely because it has some different sorts of programs which I’d never see on free to air TV, and because I won’t pay for cable/satellite TV, I’d never see on TV.  Oh, and it also has a Wenetex Mattress on the bed.  Lots of money (we have one that I have relegated to the spare room, mainly because it’s not thick enough and when I tried it out it was too hard).  My back though feels soooooo much better for being on this mattress, so Ken and I have agreed to give our spare bedroom mattress another go.  Well, I’ve agreed to it – Ken loves the Wenetex, I was the one who didn’t like it!!!  When I told him what it was and that I liked it, he was soooo happy!  I’m thinking that by the time I get home on Friday, the mattresses will be swapped on the main/spare bedroom!!!

The only thing I’m not liking is part of the bathroom....  There’s not enough room for the myriad of STUFF that I’ve brought with me to live on day by day, and also it seems to be recently renovated, in a most lovely way.  That’s not an issue, but the fact that the windows were obviously some sort of outside window originally is an issue – they are fixed style louvres – glass set in timber, so you can’t close the windows.  Given that it’s turned cold, it’s not so pleasant in the bathroom in the morning!  Maybe that’s a good thing – I’m not spending long in there!!!

Oh boy... this has been a long blog!  I’m sorry if I’ve bored you here – if you’ve made it this far, congratulations!!! 

My challenge to you – does anything other than STUFF clutter your life?  Do you need whatever it is, or do you need to shed that clutter?

Monday, 23 May 2011

And the magic number is....


Friday last week was Gympie Show Day public holiday!!!  It was also the weekend that the A family, Mr L and Ken and I had decided to go camping.  The boys were originally going to head out in the morning and set up and the girls were going to head out after work on the Friday and just swan in....  Then I discovered it was a public holiday, so we all took days off and went Friday morning...

We headed out to Borumba Dam, which is about 40 minutes or so from home.  Lovely spot.  We camped not at the Deer Park, but at the Borumba Dam camp grounds, which was nice and close to the dam.  We had heard all about the Red Claw that are in the dam, but hadn't ever gone and got any, so now was the time!!!

We got there, and headed out in the boats to set the pots - 24 in total.  We used a mix of fish heads, pumpkin and potato's and also some dog food, then we came back to Goulash for dinner (we had a powered site so took the slow cooker!!!  Dinner was lovely, we sat around the fire (Hugh was a boy scout fire bug - you need one of them when you're camping!!!)

Next morning we headed out to pick up the pots.  We brought back about 150 Red Claw tails!  Mmmmmm!!!  We set the pots again and left them there for the day, went back in the afternoon, harvested the pots and reset them again, and the same on Sunday morning.  All in all - 332 Red Claw Tails!!!

Really, the ultimate in free food.  They are just yummy, and I guess we spent a bit on the fuel for the boat, and the bait for the pots, but when you factor in the enjoyment of heading onto the dam, it was really well worth it!!!  Even if it DID pour with rain on Saturday night!!!

This is what a Red Claw looks like - odd looking things...

The lake is just gorgeous.  Not huge, but lovely to look at

Red Claw in the Esky...  Mmmmm!!!

This Saturday, Ken and I are heading off to our Life Sparkle workshop.  I so can't wait - I just know it's going to be fabulous...  http://www.sparkleconnection.com/ We're then heading off to Stanthorpe... to check out how the maze building is going. 

I did promise you some pictures of the maze when Ken was out there with Craig and Sandra helping them cut it down.  Here they are.....

You can see the problem... some died, some didn't.  Seeing as they take 7 years to get this tall, you can't exactly plant replacements!

The very last family to go through the Maze...

Ken starting to do the chopping...

A couple of other friends who came to help.  Thank goodness for community spirit!

You can start to see now what it was like.  The fort is in the middle of the Maze...

Ryan (Craig & Sandra's middle child) checking out progress...

That white stuff is frost.  Stanthorpe is actually the coldest place in Queensland

Ken and Sandra.  It was early in the morning and the frost was still on the ground.  The little puppy is Jessie - she's just gorgeous.  They are going to let her have puppies, I think Ken wants one.  Shhhh - he might just get his wish!  She's got such a gorgeous nature!!!

Craig with the very last Conifer....

Just like a battle ground when you add in the smoke from the burning conifers.  The star pickets & barbed wire were to stop the public from taking shortcuts THROUGH the Maze instead of taking the paths...

WWI or WWII????? 

So - that's the Maze when it was destroyed.  Amazing, hey?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A thought about this journey...

My work colleague, Thomas, translated a Chinese saying for me the other day.  It was interesting because Thomas is German, and he got it translated into German and then he found an English translation too.  Phew... what a process!

The saying has provoked all sorts of thoughts in my mind.... 

The Journey is the Destination...

Does that invoke some thoughts in your mind?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.... weekends!!!

WHY do they have to go so fast????!!!

Here it is, Sunday night.  3/4 of what I had thought I'd get done is done, and stuff the rest - it can wait!

This weekend, my parents were visiting, along with my brother and his two children.  I got one out of two - my parents came because Ken picked them up and brought them up here.  I rang Mick at nearly 4.00 pm on Saturday when he wasn't here yet, because we were expecting him around about 3.00 pm....  He wasn't coming.  He had sent me a text at 3.00 pm (arrival time).  My phone was at work because I forgot it on Friday afternoon and decided that nothing important EVER happens on weekends...... WRONG!

So.... getting over the visitors that didn't appear, Thomas and Astrid did appear on Saturday afternoon, as did Sue and Brent, and a little while later, Richelle.  Hugh was finishing a job and decided to continue to do the job (as you do when you can't actually put it down!!!).  Thomas and Astrid came to tell Graham and I all about the Routeburn and the Milford Tracks in New Zealand.  It was really interesting, and to see some of the photo's has got me all inspired!!!

Anyway, Thomas and Astrid departed, not long after Sue and Brent arrived.  They stayed for a while and then I said why didn't they just stay for dinner, seeing as Mick, Josh & Jaz hadn't arrived, so Sue went and fetched Richelle, and they stayed for dinner. Richelle was happy because she didn't have to cook, and because I am a dishwasher fiend, she didn't have to wash up either!

Poor Spot got stuck in the boys' room that we had had open earlier in the day to air out (carpets soon to be replaced!!!) and when we found her she had pooped under the bed and wee'd on the doona.... poor Spot. 

Ken, as I mentioned, came back on Friday night from Stanthorpe.  They removed all of the maze, including all the star pickets and the wire.  He brought some photo's that we looked at last night, one of which looks truly like a battle ground of Vietnam or WWII.  Absolutely amazing...  I will post some pictures soon.  The other thing he came back with was a love of Jessie, Craig & Sandra's little dog.  He wants one when she has pups... not sure I want a dog though!

Chooks are good, although half of them are bald.  No eggs laid by said chookies, and now there's no eggs in the house because I cracked the last 7 of them into a bowl this morning to make scrambled eggs, then tipped 5 of them over the floor and the walls and the fridge and the pantry (don't ask.)  **sigh**

Because brother didn't appear, I took parents to Nambour to the train to go home today.  We missed it by about a minute.  Grrr....  Took them home and then into Pomona to get the Gympie to Brisbane train later this afternoon.  Another job!!!!

Have been busy doing the budget today.  I haven't updated it for a while, so it's got quite a lot of things that I need to update on it.  I'll do them tomorrow night as I'm really not in the mood tonight!  I have auditors at work all week, so god knows when I'll get back here either!!!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Being more organised

I had an interesting night last night!  I have been going to a “Biggest Loser” club in town – I need some motivation to shift these kilograms that seem to want to hang onto me.  Anyway, the girl doing the talking was talking about labels and how you didn’t really need to read the labels when you were losing weight if you were doing “their program” (Herbalife) because if you just stuck to what they said, you’d be right.  Not much help to me – I’m allergic to Soy, and their shake program is Soy based!  She really didn’t have a clue what she was saying, yet she was standing up and lecturing other ladies on how to lose weight? 
It got us to talking about oats and porridge for breakfast.  Plain oats are much better than the instant type oats as they are less processed.  BUT – they take 5 or 10 minutes to prepare.  That’s 4 – 9 minutes longer than the quick style ones.  I piped up and said that it didn’t have to be such an ordeal – you could soak your oats overnight in the milk or the water, they’d be parcooked overnight and then it would be much faster in the morning.  One lady then proceeded to tell me that she was just too busy to be organised like that, and how hard it all was, so I then sat back in my (rather uncomfortable I might add) chair and just listened to what people were actually saying. 
It got me thinking.  Is it so hard being a bit organised?  I work long hours, I start at about 7 and finish between 4.30 or 5.00 pm most days, with a half hour drive each side of that.  In winter it’s dark when I leave, and dark when I get home.  Is it so hard to spend a bit of time getting organised so that it saves you time in advance? 
You all know that I’m a huge fan of my freezer.  I’m always making yummies and sticking it in there, just to pull out later when I need it.  I put sandwiches, curries, even a bit of leftover lemon juice or coconut cream or milk in there.  You never know when you need that bit for something.  You might spend an hour or two making sandwiches on a Saturday or a Sunday, but surely that’s better than spending half an hour each night making sandwiches every night of the week, when you’re already busy??? 
As I was listening to these ladies, I was having almost an out of body experience.  Was I so organised, or what?  I don’t think I’m particularly organised at all.  I do know however that if I don’t have breakfast and lunch ready to go to work with me when I leave in the morning, I will have to buy both of them.  Buying means leaving the factory by car which is such a pain in the arse!  Maybe the alternative (buying) is so much more difficult that it makes the norm (getting organised and getting my lunch and breakfast ready the night before) the easier option?
As I was listening, and thinking, I also pondered how on earth I managed to have the time to be a bit organised at home?  I work long hours, so does Ken.  He doesn’t do a lot of the cooking – that’s my domain, because I just love doing it. 
I make the time.  Simple as that.  I do a couple of jobs at the same time – I will be cooking the dinner and making enough for lunch the next day as well, and perhaps either making a sandwich or pulling one out of the freezer.  Last night I cooked dinner while I folded up the washing that I’d brought in off the line and aired on the kitchen table.  We don’t watch TV.  Truly – we don’t watch TV often at all...  Friday night I like Better Homes & Gardens and Escape to the Country, and Saturday night I love to watch Pete on the ABC at 6.30 pm (Gardening Australia – ok, Peter Cundall’s retired, but I still call it Pete).  That’s all I know that’s on TV.  The whole lot – don’t watch anything else, and I don’t always watch those shows either.  The TV might go a couple of weeks or even (god forbid) a month without being turned on. 
I don’t think it’s extreme.  It’s just not what we do.  Ken and I sit and talk to each other while I prepare dinner.  He’s happy to chop or stir or whatever I ask while I do the rest, and it just happens.  I don’t think it’s organised, it’s just how we work.  That’s the way it is. 
Maybe “being organised” is a state of mind, not a condition?
Sue & Richelle came over last night.  Stripe got a bit over the top – she wouldn’t leave poor Richelle alone.  I had to rescue her.  (Richelle that is!!!)
Stripe's comfortable.  Not so sure about Richelle though!

I have had an eventful morning also today.  I took the recycling and the garbage out to the bins on the street because today’s bin day, and discovered that one-eyed Kermit was still under the handle of the recycling bin.  I couldn’t leave him there – he would have wound up in the truck!  So – I wet my fingers and removed him to the back yard.  Then I was coming round the corner to the front of the house, and found a better home for him, so I went back to the back yard and got him and popped him in the plant at the front of the house.  Much better!  Might see if I can catch something tonight for him to eat – I don’t know if he’s eaten much lately at all, seeing as he’s been living under the wheelie bin handle for a few days!

One-eyed Kermit.  He looks like he's winking at us!

Then, having moved house (twice) for the frog, I went to work.  At the one lane bridge between me and Cooran, they seem to be doing some bridge repairs, and there’s a Stop/Go man on one end and a woman on the other end. 
They stuffed up.  I was allowed to go and because they’d pulled me up quite a distance short of the give way line, I couldn’t see what was around the corner, but I assumed that the Stop/Go peoples had their shit sorted.  They didn’t.  Woman on the other end let a car go through, even though man on my end had let me go.  Because they’d pulled me up around the corner, I was doing about 40 kph when I reached the bridge, and saw that there was another car on the bridge as well.  Put the brakes on.  Actually, slammed the brakes on, and then given that I was actually on the “give way” end of the bridge (despite there being stop/go people supposedly in control) I backed off the bridge.  I then vented my spleen at the man who’d let me go and again at the woman on the other end.  Told them that if they had a job to do, take it seriously and do it otherwise get off our bridge and let us regulate the traffic according to the give way sign. They could have killed someone in a head on collision!  Grrr.....
Okay – vent over.  Day is good – it’s bright and sunny, and all is well with the world.  (**breathes deeply.....)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Pondering moments...

I was having a reflective moment last night while I was organising myself some dinner, putting things away and generally pottering around like you do when you first get home from work.
I had decided yesterday that I wanted pizza for dinner.  Now, quite often, I make pizza using Lebanese bread as the base.  Didn’t have any at home, and wasn’t about to buy any either!  So – I found myself a basic recipe online, which I then played with a bit because I didn’t need the quantities that they had listed, and I didn’t have the ingredients in the manner that they suggested either.  What I wound up with was:
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.  Put a fine layer of flour over the pizza stone and pop it into the oven to heat up (if you’re using one).
Thin & Crispy Pizza
1 cup plain flour
small sprinkle of salt

½ teaspoon sugar
3 grams of yeast
about 95 ml warm water
Mix the warm water with the yeast and the sugar and let sit for a few minutes to activate.  Mix in with the plain flour & salt, and then knead till smooth.  Roll it out thinly. 
Get the pizza stone (carefully) out of the oven and put it on a heat proof mat (I just used my stove top – sits really well on there!!!).  Put the pizza base on the hot stone.  Putting it onto a hot stone gives the base a crispy finish, not a soggy one. 
I made a mix of tomato paste & ricotta cheese with a small sprinkle of mixed herbs for the pizza base, and then I turned to the freezer & found some shredded ham for one of the toppings.  I chopped some shallots and sprinkled them over the top and then finished off with cheese.   Back into the oven for about 20 minutes – I had mine on the lowest shelf as I didn’t want the top too brown.  Check out the results!!!

So... it's not so perfectly round - and I did actually have to trim it a bit because it overhung the pizza stone. 
Still tasted okay though!

Ah... hang on – back to why I was being so reflective last night.  As you can see in the side bar, I am a fan of Simple Savings.  That site has truly taught me to think about things differently.  Pre SS, I would have bought a pizza.  Post SS, I would have gone and bought the ingredients and made my pizza.  Truly now taking on board the SS philosophy, I looked around for what ingredients I had at home, and made the entire dinner myself.  Total spent - $0.  It made two meals – last nights’ dinner AND today’s lunch, so an extra bonus there! 
In the quest to declutter my life of the things that I no longer wish to have in them, one of the things I am actively thinking about is the things that I DO wish to either keep or those things that I want to develop.  One of those is resourcefulness and adaptability.  I need to be able to know that I can live comfortably without having to rush out to the shop every day to “just pick up some....”.  When I think about how long it took me to make my dinner last night, it was done in about an hour.  In that time, I came home, I called a friend and chatted to her and her partner, I opened my mail, turned on the computer etc., AND I made my dinner.  From scratch.  I don’t think that’s too bad actually.  Mind you, I didn’t have hungry children nagging at me or anything like that – if I had, I think I would only have concentrated on the dinner and it would have been faster! 

Aren't they just sooooo cute when they're not trying to kill each other?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Sunday - Mother's Day!!!

I have had a busy couple of days!!! 

I stayed home from work on Friday because I felt unwell in the morning – I have a bit of a “thick head” and felt like I was coming down with a cold.  So – I stayed longer in bed, and that was probably the best thing I could ever have done.   Felt a bit better on Saturday, but today I have a vague cough – need to stay on the watch out for that darned Bronchitis!

I pottered around on Friday afternoon and did some more sorting of stuff.  I got rid of a pile of important papers – you know, the kind that you really can’t throw out, but you don’t want to keep either?  I kept them.  Ken asked if they were the kind that you throw out in 7 years like your tax and I said I didn’t know – maybe I won’t ever throw these out.  Yeah, those kind of papers.

Anyway, the dining room looks a lot better now than it did, and I have moved the table back a bit so that it looks more like a room.  I have some more things in the “give away” box, and I have a box now for “throw out” which makes chucking STUFF so much easier!  I also have some shredding to take to work and post in the big white shredding bin!

While I was cleaning up all the paperwork in the dining room, I filed all my tax paperwork into a big rollaway tub and put the lid on.  It’s so easy to get a paperwork system going – why do we make it any harder than it absolutely has to?  Here’s how I keep on top of mine (most of the time – as long as I USE it!!!)

Open all your incoming mail.  I then have two hooks on the wall above my desk.  One says SHAZ, and one says HOUSE.  On the bulldog clip I put my personal bills – for SHAZ and on the HOUSE bulldog clip I put the bills for the house.  In date order, with the soonest to pay on top.  Each week, I sit down and look at what is to be paid that week, and pay them.  My budgeting makes sure that I have the money in our account to pay a bill when it comes, so that’s not an issue.  I’ll write more about how I budget later – with investment properties and all sorts of other things; it needs to be set up properly, which it is.  I don’t really have to think about it too much. 

Once the bill is paid, I staple the receipt to it and put the paid bill into an “in tray”.  There it stays till the end of the financial year, where I sort through the pile (by then it’s about a foot high – I only do it yearly because I’m lazy…) and I pull out the papers that I need for tax, and I file everything else.  Again, that’s simple.  Bills paid go into a folder “bills paid”.  They go into last year’s bills paid folder, and last year’s bills get shredded.  Superannuation stuff into a super folder, shares stuff into a shares folder.  The simpler the better here – you don’t want 5000 folders to have to sort into, just put them all in together.  Really, what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t sort them into date order?  You have to flick through a pile of papers to find what you want?  I figure that’s worth doing for the number of times I’ve ever had to go back to my paperwork pile!!!

For things other than bills (which is not very often!!!) I just put it on the side of my desk till I’ve dealt with it, then it too goes into the large “to file” pile.  If the pile begins to offend you, you can file more than once a year.  File every week if you must.  I hate it so I don’t….

If you go away for a week or two and come home to a large pile, this method also works well for the overwhelming task of opening it.  I open one day, sort the next, and then the third day sort into date order & pay what needs to be paid.  Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor should we try and get everything done in 5 minutes either!!!

As long as you have that budget worked out, there will not be any issue with having money available when you need it to pay bills.  Promise!  That will be a topic for another day – a topic I’m very passionate about actually!!!

Last night I used the Tajine again.  Gosh I love what you can create in those things, although I reckon it'd be just as easy in a slow cooker, casserole dish or large sauce/stock pan on the stove.  We had Lamb Tajine with Dates, Almonds & Pistachio's.  Mmmmm!!! 

So – today was also Mother’s day, and the kittens have bought me two new table runners.  They’re great – a green bamboo one, and a brown one with kind of sticks in it.  I love them both – the green one is on the table already.  I kind of like this mother’s day thing!!!

Friday night the kittens were all cuddly and lovey dovey - doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it's gorgeous... check this out!

Hmmm... can't see which one is which.  Bad mummy!  Oh well, one's Spot and one's Stripe...

We have also repaired (kind of) Stripe's duck. What actually happened is that we went to a pet store and bought her a new one. Ken then worked out it fitted exactly inside the old one. How wonderful!!! We get a new duck while we still have the old one!!! The new beak even fitted out the hole left by the nibbled off bit of the old beak!!!

The yellow in the blue chest is the new duck.  If you look closely, you can see that the new duck has an orange beak, whereas old duck had (and still has the remains of) a yellow beak....

So – this afternoon I’m going to finish off this blog first, then I think I’m going to go and do some crocheting.  It’s a fairly dull outside, but I’ve just checked the Radar and there’s no rain around to speak of, so I’ll hang out the load of washing that’s in the machine, put another on and also bring the load on the line in.   I need to find myself something to eat for lunch too – I’m a bit peckish!  Ken’s gone now to his friends’ house out at Stanthorpe – he’ll arrive there late this afternoon.  He’s staying all week to help pull out the maze and if they get far enough advanced, start putting in the timber maze.  It’ll be very quiet all by myself but I’m really looking forward to getting a few things done, uninterrupted!!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

2 1/2 weeks!

Wow – I haven’t been here since the 15th April.  I’m sorry for my absence – I have had such a lot go on since that date!

My brother rang me just after lunch on the 15th April and said that Mum was unwell, had been to the doctor and was now on her way to the Mater with a heart rate of 160 bpm.  Now, my mum normally has a slow heartbeat, sitting about 50 bpm, so it was more than 3 times as fast!  The doctor said that she needed to have it sorted out, as it was in Atrial Fibrilation, and while that’s not necessarily dangerous (lots of people apparently walk around with it and don’t know they have it!!!) you can however have a stroke if there’s a blood clot etc., so that’s why they were so keen to get it fixed once they’d found the issue.

Mum spent 10 days in the Mater Private Coronary Care Unit and was discharged (bored) on Easter Sunday.  They gave her lots of drugs, and eventually stopped & restarted her heart in an attempt to get it back into the right beat.  Funnily enough, now it’s too slow!  So – standby for further updates, there may be a pacemaker needed but we won’t know more till they see how she reacts to the lowering of the drugs...

For Easter, some girlfriends and I went on a little road trip!  The delightful Michelle, Sue and I packed ourselves up and drove to Sydney.  We left Sue on the North Coast, and Michelle & I continued onto Millthorpe, where a friend of mine has an Antique store.  We stayed out there a night, and then came into Sydney to stay with some other friends, mainly so that I could go to the ANZAC Day dawn service with my RSL Sub Branch.  What a wonderful day – I was wrecked by the end of it though!!!

Michelle and I then drove back up the New England Highway to Glen Innes, where Ken was waiting for us, having driven down from home that day.  Glen Innes is the home of the Australian Standing Stones, and the annual Australian Celtic Festival.  Ken and I went to this for the first time last year, and had such a fun time that we decided we were going to go again.  This year, Ireland was the host nation (they take it in turns – very civilised!!!). 

We stay at the showgrounds, and when we got there, the wind was blowing SO hard!!!  Our tent was on an interesting lean at times, but Ken is very diligent about making sure things are done properly, so there was never a danger that we were going to do a Dorothy and fly away!!!  We did wonder about Michelle’s tent from time to time though – did you know that a single dome tent can almost lay on its side & then pop up again when the wind stops?  No, nor did we!!!

Roast lamb, potato bake & veggies done on the open fire...

We saw some great music – Paddy McGinley, Murphy’s Pigs (our very favourite), Highlander, Leaping Lizards etc.,  plus watched the parade, listened to lots of bagpipes & drums, ate and drank a little too well, and before we knew it, it was over!

Piggies at play... 

On Sunday we travelled up to our friends’ house at Stanthorpe for the night.  They are the owners of the Granite Belt Maze and mini golf.  They grew all of the conifers (which took 7 years) and designed and built everything themselves.  It was absolutely heartbreaking though to see the condition of the maze, and after this coming weekend, it won’t be there any more.  The conifers don’t like too much rain, and with all the rain that we experienced in Queensland in January, they have basically drowned and a lot of them have died.  You can’t replace them – as they take 7 years to grow, a maze with holes in it isn’t really a good maze....  So – they are very practical people, and they are ripping out all of the conifers and will be replacing them with a wooden maze.  They have incorporated lots of new ideas & innovations into it, and the puzzles and riddles will still be a key part of the overall experience.   

It made me really start to think about things that are important.  Here’s a family who’s life was built around those conifers, that was their business, and it was taken away from them when it rained.  There’s no lamenting anything though – they’re just getting on with it, they have this weekend that they will be open, and then they’re closed until such time as they have a new maze.  They have a large chainsaw, an area prepped and ready to burn the conifers as they pull them out, they have a new plan of what they’re doing, and a very positive attitude.  I’m having a bit of a hard time fathoming how they’re managing to stay so positive, when they’re about to rip out such an achievement. 

This photo really shows the problem. 

Which got me thinking a bit more. 

What would I do if I didn’t have to go to work?  And do I really want to go to work?  I basically go to work so that I can pay my mortgages, which are my savings for retirement.  I could ditch the investments, and go and live in a tent and not need money.  Would that make me happy? 

I decided that the answer to that is no. I like my home, and while I also loved going camping for nearly a whole week, I don’t want to do it forever.  I like the fact that I’m working towards my retirement so that I will be able to do more of the things that I like doing and less of the things I don’t like doing.  Till then, I’m happy working. 

I was pleased when I’d worked that through – that’s one area that I won’t have to declutter!!!  I don’t really want to have to declutter my job!  Or my properties!!! 

I also went and had a look at my e-mails this morning and I have one there from my Dish Cloth swap buddy from the Down To Earth blog.  She’s in Canada – so exciting!  I need to go and get started on a couple of dishcloths now so that she can choose!!!

Hmmm – don’t have much else to say today, so had better get back to it.  Tonight I will be starting a list of things to do for the floor replacements, so that I can keep on top of it!!!