Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bloomin' Marvellous

Nope this is not about a 1997 UK TV show set in Yorkshire (not another one please - is there anywhere else in England that can be used for a location) nor is it a gardening post, though i might include a few photos later.  This post is about feeling Bloomin' Marvellous.   I don't want to put a jinx on it but at the moment, everything is looking pretty good on the home front and i want to take the time to take a big breath in and savour a period when there are no major issues at play, Spring is in the air and life feels pretty damn good.   So if it all comes crashing down around my head tomorrow i can look back on this post and say "See, it hasn't all been bad!"

On the job front, we are both in full time employment in jobs that we love.  Now that is saying something as it hasn't always been so for poor Rob.   Its taken six years to find a place where his level of skill and experience is again recognised, where he is shown respect and where he can genuinely say he likes his fellow colleagues.   Its been a long long journey with many downs (the last job in particular) and not many ups but he has pulled through.   Lets just pray that his new employer (its a biggie) stays profitable and this job will see him through to retirement.

He looks happy doesn't he and that makes me happy!   You might notice he looks a little different as well. No moustache or beard.  Trimmed for food grade packaging plant.  It was either that or wear a beard net.

Rob was initially employed by the agency for 4 months probation (so they can make lots of money contracting him out) but the company has paid out the agency after only one month and he is now a salaried employee.  Last week, the agent called him and personally thanked him for doing such a great job as now other sites of the same company are using them.  Can there be no greater validation of his skills and in his belief in himself.   We would both like to truly rub a few ex-employers names in it but we are taking the higher ground.

This new job is quite a distance and so we seriously had to start thinking about our motor vehicles and running costs.   Robs Falcon XR6 is 13 years old and my Fairmont 5.4L V8 is 12 years old.  Both in need of ongoing repairs (expensive in my case) and not very fuel efficient (OK again in my case). Lucky us, Rob was gifted an amount specifically for this purpose and so he was able to buy a new Mitsubishi ASX which is a lovely blue 4 cylinder SUV.  Just perfect for the job at hand.  Yes, i know, that gift would have gone a long way on the mortgage but that's was not its purpose.  It has made him very happy and able to put up with the long commute (he doesn't like driving).

Which brings me to my dilemma.  I know I'm not supposed to love a car but i do.  I love the leather (sorry veggo's), I love the sliding roof, I love that if i want to get somewhere in OH say a few seconds, i can just gun it and "poof" I'm there, like magic.  I know I'm supposed to think green thoughts.  I know that a tiny little eanie weannie 4 cylinder would get me to work and back BUT A. it wouldn't make me happy (sorry Gav) and B. we wouldn't FIT IN IT, which i guess is a pretty BIG (excuse the pun) reason to buy a family sized car.

Why do i feel like im having an affair?  Its one year old and has 6500 km on the clock so it practically new and was $10,000 under its new price.  Bargain.
My emotions from selling the V8  have been soothed by a very gleaming Falcon G6 Sports.   Its a 6 cylinder and so far its proving to be very fuel efficient using normal unleaded rather than the premium I've been buying for the last 7 years.  Both cars now have 5 years warranty and fixed priced servicing and so Rob's days of spending weekends under a car are over.  Did, i say that?  There is always the stereo mods you know he's going to do.   So did i sell my soul.  Nope, having paid cash for the ASX i financed this one and after much discussion and bargaining i got them down to 6% which is almost home loan rates.  I can also pay extra and reduce my term which suits as i pay all my bills weekly.  I think we have set ourselves up for the next decade with regards to having good reliable vehicles and me thinks i had better stop trying to justify it to you and just enjoy.

Since everyone's posts are full of spring flowers, i will add my very small collection of garden snaps from last weekend.  I promised last spring that i would start planting more flowers.

The bees are certainly appreciating my efforts.

On the veggie front i continue to pick buckets of snow peas each week with no end in sight.  The broad beans seem to be doing their thing as are the cabbages and brussel sprouts.

I've put in lettuce, a couple of early cropping tomatoes and quite a few seedlings which i will call "bird fodder".   They were there one day and not the next.  Last weekend my sister and I refurbished one of the raised beds, first filling it with leaf mulch before adding lots of nitrogen and soil.  I'll let it rest a few weeks before popping something in, with a net over the top.

I had a blocked pipe on my worm farm and once unblocked i collected rather a lot of worm pee for use in my garden, my neighbours garden and my friend Ella's garden and still, i have more.   I was told they would take my "shit" anytime.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Birthday Celebrations at Eastern Beach - Geelong

Happy Birthday to my sister Glenda.   This weekend's visit coincided with her 58th, read FIFTY-EIGHTH birthday.  So i got to spoil her a little and embarrass her lots, which is always so much fun!

Country bumpkin that she is, there is still a bit of adventure to be had on public transport so by the time i got home from work on Friday she was sitting at my table.  Her journey from Eastern Melbourne across to the West includes two buses and two trains.  She does of course have a perfectly functional Ford Territory but with Friday traffic, fuel and tolls it works out much cheaper and a lot more interesting to come by train.  Our usual Friday nights together include a catch-up of Foxtel programs she has missed.   We both love Village Vets filmed in country Victoria and River Cottage Australia when its on.

On Saturday, her actual birthday, Kerrie and I took her to Eastern Beach in Geelong for coffee and cake by the water.  Its always so lovely there in springtime.  Not too hot and with the first warm weekend in the early 20's F there were plenty people walking dogs, children playing along the edge of the water, families picnicking and of course, the latte crowd i was happy to join.

Its a popular place and parking is really the only concern.   We did strike it lucky and got one right near where we were headed near the yacht club.

Honest, the cake wasn't really this big, its the camera angle but it was a large slice of Hummingbird Cake.  I had a word with the waiter on the sly and he presented the cake at the table with a burning candle and then sung Happy Birthday to her.  She was very embarrassed but very pleased by the attentions of such a gorgeous young man.  (I wasn't looking, honest).

We waddled out to stroll along the pier with everyone else.  As always i look for opportunities to enhance our visit and had Kerrie and Glenda doing lots of embarrassing things while i took photos.  I have readers i have to amuse.

There are 103 bollards decorated by Melbourne artist Jan Mitchell along the waterfront and it would be a 2 hour walk to complete the trail. All of them represent some historical feature of Geelong's past. You can see more detail about them here .

The ocean pool boardwalk was a lovely walk and believe it or not there were people swimming.  There were also children playing in the water park but its way to cool for that.

After such a feast we postponed a planned roast lamb dinner until mid afternoon Sunday.  Yummy as usual and followed by a Nanna nap, that truly only one of us is qualified to take.  Glenda's grandchildren are Maison and Chelsea (here in Melbourne) and she has three more in NSW.

Chelsea has lost 3 front teeth recently and we are all amused by her speech and slightly wonky smile.

There, now I've embarrassed everyone for my own amusement and yours.  I hope you appreciate my efforts.

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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Hello and Welcome Spring

Its funny how a date on the calendar can make you feel so much better.  God turned on the most beautiful spring day on the first day of September, and it was like drinking in a long tonic of sunshine.   There were people out and about walking or just standing, looking up into the gentle sun, smiling.

Of course in Melbourne Springs means one of two things for the vast majority of Melbournites.  Its either finals season for AFL (footy) or its Spring Racing Carnival time.  So you are either going to be getting dressed up in your footy clubs clobber from head to toe with painted face and coloured hair downing meat pies and beer in the company of 80 to 100 thousand screaming fans or you are going to be visiting a milliner for your race day hats and designers for your racing wardrobe whilst sipping champagne.  I of course, will be doing neither of these activities.  I will be spending time in my garden communing with worms and playing with poo, having great chats with the veggies and giving them lots of encouragement.

A garden is a dance between Mother Nature and the Gardener.  

See, this is me dancing in the garden!   Honest.  
Our dance at the moment is more like a military tattoo though in a month or so I'm sure we'll be doing an elegant waltz together.

Of course today, 2nd of September,  its raining and that's OK too because winter hasn't been exactly wet. Cold, freezing even but not wet. I am, however, talking about my side of Melbourne, the West.  My sister lives in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne near the Dandenong Mountains and she complains that it never stops raining. We often have different weather. This is due to the effect of the warm waters of Port Phillip Bay meeting the cooler waters of the southern ocean and the prevailing easterly winds causing the rain to move to the East towards the mountains.

I'm near Werribee in the West and Glenda is up near the Dandenong ranges.
FYI for my overseas readers
Now that you have all enjoyed a lesson in geography and meteorology, on to more interesting things.  I, of course, am feeling much better since my last post and i thank my loyal readers for their kind comments.  You do know that was the aim, don't you?  To elicit as much global sympathy as possible. It worked. I feel restored.

OK, sound the trumpet, bang the kettle drums Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom , Mum has moved into her new home in Narrandera and seems to be settled in and very relieved.  At 85, it seems though her heart is willing to take on another house her body and emotions have taken a toll. Time for a rest.
Its been a big, long-winded adventure for an her.  First selling her home in the next town, packing, saying goodbye to many memories and then moving back to Narrandera, which we all think of as home.

Huge kudos for the many members of my family that worked tirelessly for a weeks and over the last weekend. When Mum told me she was concerned about how much effort it was taking i simply reminded her that this is why you had six children.  This is payback for all the stretch-marks and hernias, the million meals she cooked, the clothes she made and all the great advice she has given.  Laryn, I'm sure, would rather forget the frying pan to the back of the head many years ago when he was being cheeky but there he was cleaning out the kitchen cupboards with his grandma keeping a close eye on the pot drawer.

I am looking forward to making a trip home to see everyone.  I'm not going to plan it.  I'm just going to go so that the planets do not have time to align under the title of "holiday" and there is no chance of things going wrong.

Back on the home front (are you confused now, where is home) here in Melb we are going about our working lives.  Rob in his new job on the other side of the city.  He's not enjoying the extra driving but he is enjoying the work environment and his colleagues.  Change is difficult but worth it sometimes.  On weekends he's been working on fixing his car.  I've told you before he can turn his hand to anything.  This time he's been a panel beater and spray painter of his XR6's front bumper bar which was badly damaged by many run-ins with gutters and it was practically falling off making it undrivable.

All the supports had to be bent back to normal and the bumper itself heated with a heat gun and remoulded till it was back into shape.  Many many hours of sanding, painting, sanding, painting, sanding, painting (get the picture - he's a perfectionist) and its now back on the car.  This has been done over several weekends and i lent him my car for the duration as he has so far to travel.  Lucky Tom has a car too, so i borrowed it for work.  Rob's happy to have the life support for his sound system back on the road and i will be happy not to have a bumper bar on my dining table for weeks, drying inside because it was too cold in the garage for the paint to dry.

Since I'm putting tickets on Rob at the moment, he also fixed his Samsung Note.  He left it on the top of his work ute several months ago and later received a call from someone who had picked it up off the road, taken it home, removed the Sim and located him.  It was very very crushed.  As you will know, a Samsung Note is an expensive phone and when you are locked into a phone plan you pay whether it is working or not and in this case, for almost another year.  What to do?   Fix it of course.  He took all the parts he got back and through the magic of You Tube he taught himself what to do and what parts to order via EBay.

Even the battery was bent.    Total cost of repair $250 for all parts.  
Rob's head will be getting too big with all my praise and so i tell you that i dragged out my 20 year old sewing machine to take Rob's new work pants up when he had asked me to take them to the tailor.  It's been ages since I've sewn but took immense pleasure in doing a neat job.  It only took an hour and by the time he was home that day two pairs of work pants were shortened, hemmed, washed, pressed and ready to wear the next day.  Cost - $NIL

My friend tells me that blogging is one big brag. I guess she is right.   I didn't put in a winter garden but i do have some amazing snow peas on the go.  With being away and being ill i missed going outside for two weeks.  When i went out this weekend the snow peas were everywhere.

Snow Peas galore!  We've had them in slightly cooked in multiple meals (2 min in microwave with dash of water) , as fresh snacks in lunch boxes and I've given a bag away.   The more you pick the more they crop so I'll be back out there again this weekend.  
One last brag.  Do i not have the cutest dog?  You know those embarrassing photos you take of your kids and threaten to expose when they are 21.  Well i think I'm safe so here they are.

You know that she sleeps with me but did you know that she sleeps upside down on her back between us. She is so so cute and the skin on her tummy is so warm and pink.  She has both her undercoat and top coat so she is super fluffy.

I haven't forgotten Tom, my fingers are crossed for next weeks driving test.  He's completed his PC based Hazard Perception Test and now its just the actual Drive Test to go.  I think his life will change so much when he is independent and can drive himself.

Tootle Peep till next time.

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