Saturday, 31 January 2009

Hot, dry memories part II

I’m dreaming of a time, in a land that was hot and dry with drought and days like this hot day were normal and happened everyday. I’m dreaming of far north Queensland in the Gulf country again, two and half hours north of Julia Creek.   Arizona Station was my destination, a cattle property owned by Richard and Judy Makim who were to be my new employers. My job was to be a governess (home tutor) to three of their seven children.  The photo above was taken outside the Julia Creek Hotel, I'm standing in the car park wearing my town clothes.  I think this photo was taken after a trip to Mt Isa for a School of the Air (SOTA) sports day and we were stopping for a cold soft drink and a bite to eat before the last leg of the drive home.

I first arrived in Julia Creek by bus from Brisbane via Townsville, a very long two and a half day trip. Another girl who was just starting work on the same property as house keeper/jilleroo (female farm hand for those not in the know) was travelling with me. She was 16 and I was 18. I think we arrived on the day that the mail truck made it’s weekly run out to the stations along that route. So we waited by the post office for our lift out to Arizona station. I can’t even remember the mail truck drivers name, he was a very quiet man and was welcomed with cups of tea and cake at every station he stopped at along the way. He would literally sip, eat and run, he got a bit antsy if his mail run got held up for too long.  Each station would have a mail bag that was full that he would drop off as well as grocery deliveries and other necessities people ordered from town.  On his return journey he would stop by again and pick up the refilled mail bags to take back to the post office.  I would later realise how important this mail truck was to all of the people out here living so far away from town.  The mail truck was a life line to the outside world, exciting packages would arrive, mail from loved ones and school work for the next month and returned school work from correspondence teachers.  I used to send my rolls of film to be developed by mail, it used to return about 3 weeks later.  Talk about delayed gratification, but it was always exciting, nothing like instant gratification with digital cameras now.  I remember how we had till about 3 or 4 in the afternoon to get school work finished so we could send it off on the mail truck and everyone would be finishing off letters and licking stamps in a hurry so they didn't miss the mail truck.

The mail truck below on it's return journey, empty, except for refilled mail bags and a few passengers, always a bit of company for the mail man.  

I had arrived at my destination after a long, long, long trip there.  It was bare, hot and dry, but I was still excited.....I think.  Here are a few pictures of around the house.  The first two photos are of the front entrance to the house.  The main house is the larger building with stone fireplace on the right and the building on the left is the school room.  In between the two buildings is the entrance, a shaded concreted green house area.  Every morning at 6am I would be up and sweeping this entrance area as part my daily routine.  And every afternoon before sunset I would be out watering the gardens, a peaceful end to the day.   

The next view is from the side of the house looking back to the front gate. 

The last picture is looking out from the kitchen door to the cold storage room, the meat house which held the deep freezers and an old generator shed, down behind the tree line was the nearest water hole to the house.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

School and food

On Tuesday morning on my way home from my walk I went past the boys school.  The notice board said that school resumed on Wed Jan 28.  Originally the boys were to go back on the Friday as there was a teachers strike on.  So I asked in at the office and they confirmed that the strike was off and the boys were to start earlier on the Wednesday.  I walked home with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  I broke the news to Sam and Ethan and they were quite dismayed and of course I burst into tears.  I wasn't ready for my boys to start school yet.  We thought we had two more days together in our own little Earth Walker world.  To cheer them up I decided we'd have a going back to school feast and asked them what they would really like for dinner.  The menu was to be Hamburgers and ice cream cake with maltesers, m&m's and blueberries mixed in, with a chocolate biscuit base.

We had our final holiday feast of the juiciest hamburgers and ice cream cake that was rather colourful, and we talked about some goals for the boys school year.  The sad mood lifted and the boys were in a happier frame of mind about starting school.....and of course I was up last night sharpening pencils and cleaning out old pencil cases, freezing water bottles and laying out clothes.  The year has begun again.

So today the boys went off to school pretty happy walking our familiar walk down the street to school and not a tear was shed by me.

Toby and I went to visit his pre-school for orientation day to meet his teachers ready for starting his first day next week.  Bring out the kleenex next Wednesday!!  

The boys came home from school to an afternoon tea of banana orange smoothies and popcorn.  They were pretty happy after their first day back catching up with friends and getting their new teachers and class rooms.  Life is content (for the moment) and I guess their stomaches full too!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A bit of fun

In fact we had a lot of fun on Australia Day.  For breakfast we joined our church's ward in it's annual Australia Day breakfast at the park.  There was lots of food to eat, cricket played and lots of climbing,

flags flying,

kids spinning,

photo's being taken,


and pirate ship sailing.  

I really enjoyed the morning, apart from the tears when two of my boys whacked their heads on the same bar over the slippery slide, but I actually managed to have some adult conversation with some of the lovely ladies from church.  I felt rejuvenated so when we got home I made some damper for lunch with butter and golden syrup, rather scrumptious.

For family home evening we played some charades.  Toby is getting better and more hilarious when he plays.  Under Donald's guidance Toby came out with his fingers snipping like scissors, the concentration on his face was priceless and his little snipping fingers were just beautiful.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo, but the next pics are of Toby being a seed growing into a sun flower, a rather jumpy sunflower.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Hot, dry memories

It's hot, dry and gusty days like we've been having over the past few weeks that really start to make me think about a place I once worked in North West Queensland.  Arizona Station, Julia Creek.  I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  Reason number 1: I love to reminisce and reason number 2: I love to escape into my past when I'm not so happy with my present and try and bring out the strengths that I had then into today (phew that was a mouth full).  I once was a courageous and adventurous young girl who worked as a governess and a jillaroo (female farm hand) on a cattle station (ranch/farm).  I had no real fears that I can remember, life was just an adventure.  What ever happened...happened. It seems such a long time ago, 21 years in fact.  As it was such a long time ago I have been making notes as I go through my old photos before my brain turns to mush and I forget everything.  I might share a little more with you in time or I may not, depending on my writing skills.

The photo above was my favourite photo taken on Arizona Station.  I've always called this photo the three musketeers.  We were the three permanent workers on the cattle station that lasted the whole year.  On the left was Patric, the same age as me, me in the middle and on the right was Clint an American from Montana learning about life on the land in Australia, he was so laid back.  I often wonder where they are today.  True gentlemen I must add and good value.  The borrowed pig crate we drove blew a few of it's tyres as we drove on to the hot tarmac.   We had to change the tyres in the middle of a stinking hot day, no shade, just our hats and long sleeved shirts to protect us from the unrelenting sun.  In this photo we were on our way home from a weekend stay at Lawn Hill Gorge, a beautiful paradise in the middle of a desert.  Fresh water, canoeing along the gorge to little waterfalls, swimming very briefly as we didn't want to get bitten by the fresh water crocs.  We had to drive through several properties to get there with only a few directions written on a piece of paper, it took most of the day to get there and we had to drive back the next day.  It was a well deserved break away from hard work.    I love this photo, I love the sunset below the heavy clouds, I remember there was a scud off in the distance, a promise of rain that was so needed.  The dry clumpy paddocks with dry, dead grass that were so hard to ride a  motorbike through it was so bumpy and clumpy. I love the calm of this photo, it's the end of the day and peace is in the air as we drive our way home.  Aaah there's a lot to remember in just one photo.  I could go on because I really miss this part of my life, I think these photo's are going to keep me busy, but I'm loving it.  

Oh and don't forget to have a......

Happy Australia Day

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Did I forget to tell you.... much I love these trees.

The magical Crepe Myrtles are blossoming beautifully again at the moment but I just don't want to repeat myself so you can go here and see how much I loved them last year.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Ruins and other things

Visiting  a ruin is an enjoyable experience, you get to see a piece of history that somebody has built and then been knocked down by someone else.  It kind of reminds me of a ruin that Donald and I visited in Kassel, Germany in 1997.  The Herkules monument is built on what looks like a ruined castle but it was actually built to look like an old ruined castle.  

Fun if you've got the money and don't know what to build....
Wife asks: "What would you like to build today dear?
Architect husband replies: "Hmmm, I know, lets build a castle". 
Wife again: "Sounds a bit ordinary to me, didn't you build one last year?". 
Architect husband suggests: "How about we build a ruined castle".  
Husband and Wife together : "Yeaaah".

Making your own ruin, making your own history and designing it to look like a ruin, now that sounds like a plan.  Kind of what we did yesterday.....finally.

Ethan calls it our "gingerbread ruin".

It started out ok.  Gingerbread baked beautifully, was thick enough to stand up once cooled.  Made the royal icing and the boys decorated, Sam and Ethan a roof piece each and Toby decorated the front path so carefully and beautifully.  

My roof line however was our gingerbread houses downfall.  The roof angle was cut a little too steep, which was why the roof wouldn't stick and set and then it cracked and caved in.  And maybe the weight of the icing and lollies on top didn't help either.  

The demolition crew didn't take long to finish the job off either.  What with Toby jumping up and down and up and down after inhaling all of the sugar goodies, (one for the house, one for me, one for the house, two for me....) it's no wonder the gingerbread house became a ruin, and what a beautiful ruin it was.  Fun to make and break and eat.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

One of those days

It’s been a hot week and today is no cooler even if there was a tiny storm last night. I didn't sleep much last night and by the time I fell asleep around 1 am Sam was calling out because he had a really bad dream.  So also feeling a little sleep deprived.  Our Millenium (Horrendous) Falcon is in the garage getting the radiator looked at, it’s over heating again, like so many summers past, something or other related to the radiator needs replacing . Here’s an image from 2004 on our drive from Rockhampton to Brisbane, we got no further than Gladstone before the car wouldn’t go any further.

Today is one of those days. The boys are hassling each other and making Toby whine and squeal. I had a fun day planned seeing as though we couldn’t drive anywhere cool we would stay home, keep cool in the paddling pool and make gingerbread and decorate it. We ran out of time at Christmas to do this and I have all of the fixings, so today is the day.

I took the car to the garage early and walked the long way round home...needed some exercise. Got home watered the garden and filled the paddling pool (just a little bit, water restrictions remember). I put my first load of washing on and popped into the shower. Meanwhile the boys were to tidy up the cars (toys cars that is) and get their swimmers on. I came out of the shower and Sam and Ethan were on the back step in time out. They had been hassling Toby about putting a truck away so they could go outside to play, but Toby wanted the truck and S and E got nasty so Donald put them in time out(Donald is a little cranky and sleep deprived at 8.30am after working till 3am).

So 2 boys in time out are given the choice to do some weeding as punishment or to sit there all day - which one would you choose? - anyway Ethan decides to go get the weeding forks and gets bitten by one of our resident giant ants, and they are nasty, they're about 3cm long and have big pincers, guaranteed once a week someone gets bitten.

Ethan wailing, Sam grumbling and Toby wants food. Deep breath, grab the ice pack to put on bitten foot, Sam goes out to weed (grumble, grumble about how hot it is, it’s about 29°C by now). 

Ethan still upset about painful bite and is now hungry for breakfast, Toby still wants more food. Get food, sort out washing put and on a second load. Meanwhile I sneeze half a dozen times and pee myself, just a little bit. Yep you heard right, one of the joyous after effects of giving birth three times, you sneeze-you pee, unless you bend over in time which I didn’t in the throws of many sneezes. Hang out clothes on the line, listen to Sam grumble some more then I hear Toby’s little voice from the back door, “Mummy the laundry’s flooding”.  “Oh *%#@”, I forgot I was filling the washing machine for a hot wash from the laundry tap (the hot water inlet in our washing machine is irreparable) and of course I forgot and it filled up and overflowed. Mopping to do, washing to finish hang out, Sam still grumbling, but Ethan is ready to help him now do some weeding. Deep breath...... Boys weeding for a little while and manage between them to dig up 4 weeds. 4 weeds!! Sam still grumbling and feeling a little upset because it’s hot, and he appologizes most sadly because he hasn’t done much weeding and feeling very sorry for himself. Yep it's time to change the situation. The 3 boys are now happily playing in the pool, I have made the gingerbread mix and is in the fridge awaiting rolling, it’s 11.30am and it’s 34°C. But I have accomplished something today......haven’t I?? I’m sitting here typing this aren’t I??

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Egg problems again!!

Look at what came out of these eggs.

My aunt Lynne gave me some eggs for the boys, cause she loves to give them things and she's always thinking of us.  These eggs you soak in water for a few days and some creature cracks out of the shell and gets bigger.  It shrinks if you don't keep it wet.  Pretty freaky hey?  The boys have been very patient waiting for them to hatch and very excited each morning to find the eggs cracked even more over night.

Monday, 19 January 2009

What do you do when....

...your dining table is covered with stuff you've been sorting out all day and you've got dinner ready and can't be bothered cleaning the table off??

Have a picnic dinner on the lounge room floor and watch "Wall-E" on our big free tv.  Donald and Toby's new favourite movie.  

By the way the tv did have a price $60 Chiropractors fee I paid today to sort out my neck from carrying the big lug of a thing in from the car when we got it.  It's given me migraines, neck pain and lots of little headaches over the past few weeks.

Note to self:  Don't lift heavy things even if you can, you will suffer in the long run, silly billy!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Donald's delectable delights

Dishes for "D" word.  "D" word is code for dessert, so Toby won't know what we're talking about, cause if he does he won't eat his dinner.  Donald promised the boys dessert if they helped him do the dishes.....and this is what he came up with. Little cheese cakes with fruit on top, just delicious!  The boys thought it was the best dessert ever.

I wonder where he got the inspiration??  I think he felt he missed out on some goodies at Kerri's baby shower don't you?

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Kerri's Baby Shower

My cousin Kerri's first baby is due next month so friends from her work threw her a baby shower today here in Sydney. Kerri's friend Ally graciously opened her beautiful home to us, right on the waterfront, with lashings of delectable delights to nibble on. So for all of you rellies who missed out on coming be prepared to feel jealous.  My cousin Lainie and my Aunt Lynne came down from Brisbane for the weekend and we got to catch up, a most enjoyable time was had by all.  From left, me, Lainie, Kerri and Lynne.  

My favourite delights were the little strawberry mousse cups with a biscuit crumb base and lovely strawberry coulis on top and the cup cakes were pretty good too.