Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Thunderstorms and Flooding

We were up at 4am two Friday nights ago - sweeping water out of the Workshop.  Then again last Friday.  This time, though, it was more than the average flooding; brown rainwater came in from both ends of the property.  The creek at the bottom of our garden had risen so high, there was exactly three inches between the water level and the Workshop's concrete floor.  The Machinist's brand new 'thousands of dollars' new machinery sat 10 metres away from facing the dreaded 'wet feet'. 




The Machinist, the girls and I had spent the afternoon packing hundreds of sandbags in preparation of what was looming in the late afternoon sky.  We were still filling, lifting, carting and dragging the heavy, (already)wet sacks when the storm began. 



Equipped with several pumps, we attempted to suck the water away from the Workshop and pump it back into the creek.  We'd made calls to the State Emergency Services, as well as our local Fire Brigade, to no avail. 



"It's not just a back-yard shed," I pleaded "It's our bread and butter..."

I was so proud of my family that night.  Our girls were real troopers, lugging sand bags on their shoulders, placing them around the perimeter of our property, through the trees, orchard, chicken coop and barn, bitten by bugs, treading on slugs (and having slugs stuck on their skin....yeowww).

You never know what you can do until you have to do it...

**On a sad note - we haven't seen Rognon since the storms.  We can only presume she and her kittens were marooned someplace along the creek**

Monday, 25 October 2010

Where the Sun Shines


When life gets hectic, and work piles up and the to-do list is overwhelming, it is a luxury and a comfort to gaze through the trees into the paddocks beyond.  Grassy fields that could tell stories (if they could talk) of vagabonds and bushrangers, as well as immigrants who strived to make a new home on them.

How fortunate to own this view - directly across from the Shop!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Paperwork

It's not easy running two businesses and a household.  When I wrote out my profile on the sidebar of this blog, it was prior to establishing the pie shop, but I'm truly - truly - living it out now.  We're always looking for ways to work smarter, not harder.  We even own a book with the same title! Everything, simply EVERYTHING can be improved upon, but this takes time.  For workable systems to be put into place it takes time, effort and a lot of mistakes have to be made in the process. 

Take the paperwork, for instance. 

In our home office, we have three paper trays, one for engineering, one for the cafe and one for the household accounts.  Many times, the paperwork overlaps.  The telephone account overlaps, because we have one for all three entities.  Same with the electricity and gas accounts.  Some expenses are shared by both businesses - like the petrol bills.  Some expenses are shared by the cafe and ourselves - like various food items. 

A and B, B and C, C and A. 

(Doe, ray me, tea with bread, bread and jam...tra la la...)

Every purchase, invoice, cheque payment, direct deposit etc has to be recorded in an electronic acccounting system.  Food and hospitality produces an enormous amount of paperwork.

Bank statements are the biggest headache.  We have several.  We collect them, you see....

3 x business statements, 1 x GST statement, 1 x private statement, 1 x mortgage statement, 1 x investment statement, 2 x superannuation statements (there's more, but I'm sure you don't want to hear about them...).

Reconciling them for quarterly tax reporting is always nightmar-ish.  Imagine having several shop dockets with various tax codes for various items and having to separate them to record them accurately....

I remember watching documentaries on "Starting a New Life", whereby families would change their lifestyles completely.  A few of them decided on hospitality; b & b, small hotels, restaurants, cafes.  All of them declared that the hardest part of their new life was staying on top of the paperwork. 

Hmmm.....

I get it.  I really do get it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A Taste of Spring

I bought some petunias today.  Petunias and stocks - in pinks and whites - some frilly, some smooth petalled.  Oh, and a couple of silver leafed perennials to plant in between them, bringing out their beauty, while adding to their vanity.  There were red and green cabbage flowers, too, which I left behind and now regret.  I've always adored displays of fruits, vegetables, berries and twiggery which hold their own against the most brilliant of flowers.   These aren't for our garden, though - they are for the Grands, and for mam to divide and replant.  She's been wanting 'pots of colour' for their outside table since the weather warmed a little.
"When did you put those plants outside our door?" she asked "will we be going back to the plant shop? I'd love some primroses, too ..."
"Sure we can, ma... I just wanted you to have something beautiful to welcome spring"

Our garden at home has come alive and looks quite lush already .... with LOTS and LOTS of weeds.  There's weeds between the vegetable beds and the garden paths have the thickest, greenest patches of lawn.

Should we mow it or scrape it up?

On each bed sits bulbous black bags, strategically placed and filled with semi-decomposed leaves; - a gift of labour from Grandpa when the leaves were carpeting the front of the house in early winter. They look like huge cocoons, waiting to burst open and spew out their contents.  I'm hoping we can relieve them really soon. 

Then again - I'm hoping to attend to a lot of garden exploits.  Soon.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Ramblings

The Machinist insisted we had a day 'off' and in town today.  Who am I to argue with that? Firstly, though, we had to pack away the flour deliveries, as well as the fresh fruit and vegetables. It's a good job we're just 'down the road' from the Shop.  There's always a feeling of 'I need to do this or I need to do that'.  The Machinist says I should relax and rest on days that we are closed.  I can't see this happening, as I cannot rest unless my house is clean and orderly, the washing is done or doing and the pets are tended. 

The Grands are always willing to help with our workload.  Grandpa forages for firestarting branches on the hill behind their cottage, and stacks the wood when we deliver it to him.  Hard going for an 84 year old.  They made them tough in 1925.  Each afternoon, he pops in for coffee and a treat, then later returns to carry the outdoor tables and chairs inside.  Like I said, they made them tough...

Granny also pops in with him, as she polishes the cutlery and folds the napkins.  Some days (yay!), she takes a stroll down to our house and washes any dishes we may have as well as folds the washing.  They made them tough in 1928, too!

Tomorrow, Lordwilling, the girls and I are taking a trip to Sydney with our Cheffy Rob to attend the Food Service Australia Expo. 

Which means an early start...

Hope Rob is awake by then! 

(If you read this, Cheffy, note that I AM JUST KIDDING. We all know you are like the sparrow...)

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Soup..Er ... Meat Kitchen

I didn't notice her straight away.  Then, the kitchen light, shining out into the darkness revealed her eyes.  She was so thin and tiny, almost skeletal.  She came towards me, limping...

It's our mission to fatten her up.  Her name is 'Rognons', 'cos her first meal was Steak and Kidney pie and she wolfed it down with great abandon.  She is a nocturnal tabby.  There is no sight of her during the day, and then, at night, with the clashing of pots and pans, and the ritual door-opening to let cool night air into the hot kitchen, she appears, waiting, wanting ... with faint meows...

Two nights ago, a pure black cat showed up, too.  Rognons, although much smaller, growled at the newcomer, as she lapped up her evening milk.  The larger black cat now waits until Rognons is finished before she approaches the bowls.  The Machinist informed me earlier this evening that yet another cat; - a black with white patches feline attempted to claim Rognons' position as the Head Daily Pie cat. He continued on that he showed the other cat some 'Oliver Number 7' boot (he'd never do it.  He just hates injustice).

I remember smiling with admiration at a local farmer - all of 84 years of age - who feeds the local ferral brigade.  The cats don't remain ferral and a nuisance for long, though.  They become tame.  He names them and they become his.  The dairy cows on his farm provide a bottomless dish full of lactose nourishment.

Perhaps we've started a trend akin to our local farmer.  Maybe the feline community do their rounds.  Meaty dinners, followed by warm milk in two of their favourite locations.  Maybe, then, Rognons will become ours.

Smile....

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Working Together

We work together
We work as one
Though there may be times
When we don't 'get on'

We may not always
See 'eye to eye'
And sometimes we feel
Like saying 'good-bye'

When this happens
We shouldn't lose heart
For of 'something greater'
We are all a part

Each one of us
Has a role to play
In making this
A brighter day

We work together
For the good of all
It's in our hearts
Where we feel the call

Gods love lives within
Every heart that shares
and every soul
that really cares

So whenever you feel
like going away
Just listen to your heart
For it wants you to stay.

Janice Walkden

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Strength in Weakness

It's constantly amazing to me, how we get through things in life. 

A week ago, things looked daunting.  The Machinist had to go for an operation, Granny had to go for an operation, there were the prospect of long weeks ahead, full of events for The Daily Pie. 

Who would roll pastry with me? Who would bake pies with me?  Who would marinate and braise and slow cook meat fillings with me?  How could I take care of these two loved ones at the same time?

The washing machine broke down, the water pump played up and the electricity at the Shop was constantly tripping...

There was a multitude of other things, too. 

And yet....

My family pulled together and we got through it all....

The annual Pumpkin Festival is on this weekend, and we are expecting thousands of visitors to our tiny village of around 250.  We will be baking meat pies, sweet pies, pumpkin pies and serving pumpkin soup.  Pumpkin fever rages high, and I am tempted to enter a pie in the Pumpkin Pie competition. 

If there's time for such frivolity!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Caring for the Sick and Injured

"Hey, Babe, do you know any other guy who'd weld and machine during the day, after an early morning stint rolling pastry and making pies, only to return later that evening and help clean down the kitchen?"

"No, Babe.  You're the man.  You're. The. Man".

I feel so badly for the Machinist.  Remember this story, where the Machinist was larking about with Number One Son and badly hurt the back of his leg / ankle?  It turns out that the Machinist has actually broken his Achilles tendon.  The ultra sound shows that it is only hanging on by a few 'threads', and very flimsy threads at that.  Furthermore, there is a blood clot in the Machinist's lower calf and he is insistant that he '...ain't going on Warfarin*tm.  Not that rat poison!...'

And I certainly can't blame him.

He's been helping us so much at the Cafe.  We get there early (..ahem...) We roll, form and fill the pies by hand, then the Machinist and I drive in convoy out on the highway, where we leave his utility with a massive Daily Pie Cafe sign on the back (we're not allowed to leave fixed signs on the highway).  Then the Machinist goes home, supposedly to get off his bad leg.  He doesn't, though.  Well, not all the time.  He's busy quoting on machining jobs, making calls, costing etc.  He makes things for the Cafe and fixes things and does repairs and maintenance on the house, Workshop and grounds.

Last week, I took mam for cataract surgery.  The next day, she had a follow up appointment with the surgeon.  In the same week, I went with the Machinist to the hospital where we waited over 8 hours to see a doctor.  Good has come of it, though, and to cut a long story short, his tendon surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday.  Mam also has follow up consultations next week, but one of the girls will take her into town. After placing food orders, I'd like to focus on helping the Machinist get well again.  

We've got public holidays and a festival coming up in the next couple of weeks. Big days for the Cafe and staff (us).  One day at a time, though.

By the grace of God go I...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I'm A Cafe Owner

Well.....

Weeks of blur have passed.  We're seeing through the fog and REALLY getting organised.  Owning a cafe is nothing like you imagine before you open.  Each day is tiring, because you're not only preparing, cooking and baking food, but you have to put your 'business brain' on, and think of the patrons.  What they would like to eat, what they would like to see, how they would like to feel in YOUR establishment.  Because really, without customers, the business wouldn't be.  It is truly a service, and one that demands a theatre in it's own right.  It doesn't matter what is going on behind the scenes; - as long as the whole, complete experience is 'just right', there lies the reality of it all. 

There have been a few evenings, when the Machinist and I, when all is quiet and clean and scrubbed and packed and swept and mopped, - sit and reflect on all that has transpired.  We tell each other "...we're cafe owners...did you ever THINK this would be?"

And yes, - it's true. 

We pinch ourselves....

We are truly grateful and excited and challenged yet rearing to continue and develop and grow.  The whole experience is so emotionally packed, that you feel like one of the stars on awards night....

"I'd like to thank so-and-so and so-and-so" and "...we're amazed..." and "...it's been an awesome journey..."

Etc. etc.

The Machinist and I are the pie-makers and bakers.  We mix and roll and fill pie pallets and cover them with rough puff pastry.  Our black aprons are lightly dusted with plain and baker's flour.  We do a happy dance when we see the pie tops rise like souffle's through the window of the trusty old pie oven. We also do a lot of high fives, but the tone of the kitchen can change in a minute, resembling a kitchen akin to Ramsey's, if things go wrong. 

Sometimes, the girls pop their heads in and ask "...can you keep it down in here.  We have customers..."

Customers! 

We. Have. Customers.

This weekend is the 'Easter' weekend and we are expecting a lot of passing motorists.  Fish pie is on the menu: a seafood marinara filling boasting a piped mash 'hat', which we will serve with mesclun salad and a wedge from a BIG FAT LEMON.  I will also make some fruit flans and apple pies - nice and plump and runny.

Mmmm....

Right now, though, there is a multitude of ordering to be done, and if I don't fall asleep at the computer, bobbing forward and cracking my head on the screen, I hope to do some paperwork, too.

Oops!  There goes my floppy head!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Welcome to My Manufactory!

I've missed blogging.

Then again - I've missed a lot of things. 

No matter.  This is a new chapter for all of us.  I have to smile at the sheer variety and fullness life has to offer.  On any particular day I could be doing the washing, making business calls, typing out quotes for the Machinist, grocery shopping with the Grands, cleaning commercial equipment, MAKING AND BAKING PIES, working at the local winery, ordering or picking up food for the cafe, mindlessly checking Facebook, holding metal sheets in place with the Machinist, sweeping and mopping the shop's kitchen floor, having a photo shoot at the Shop, dropping off marketing cards...The list goes on.

All of our children are hands on deck today.  The Machinist and Son are doing the final touches to the cafe tables, as well as 'knocking up' some more pie tins and customising the baker's rack.  The girls will be up at the cafe, unwrapping packets and boxes of coffee, sugar and tea, as well as arranging 'their' counter space.  They'll also be doing the last of the painting; the toilets.  We are using a deep purple colour called "Double Bass" by Dulux (same as the rear wall behind the counter). 

We're all full of aches and pains.  This is back-breaking work!  The Machinist's leg / ankle is still troubling him.  I suspect he has broken a bone, but I'm no doctor.  I've booked him in to see our doctor AFTER the opening.  Emma has fallen arches, so she is hobbling around, too - also putting her treatment off for 'later'.  I think for all of us, though, the sheer strain of constantly lifting, carrying and moving is taking it's toll.  Not to mention the long hours and late nights. Won't it be lovely when we're open and life is routine?  Maybe a lot of work still, but nevertheless - routine.

I hope to update the pie blog soon, with pictures of pies, the kitchen and cafe, along with media releases.  I'm hoping that on Tuesday of next week, we can mainly clean and titifilate the place up.  Now that will be exciting... 

Sunday, 7 March 2010

We've Set a Date!

The pie shop is coming along nicely.  It has been a long, hard haul, but now we have an opening date: Thursday, the 25th March 2010.  It's rather scary and exciting naming a day and date, which is a HUGE committment.

Getting the equipment into the kitchen was the easy part.  What I find so tiring is carting various items from our home kitchen to the shop kitchen and organising them.  I don't think you truly know how you want your working space until you're actually using it on a regular basis.  We've been making a supply of pastry, - puff and shortcrust for the pies and storing them in the freezer.  It's a good thing to have backup products.  Tomorrow, there'll be more mixes and test pies in the making...

This evening, the Machinist called me "...come and help me with Bob, Babe.  He's cut his foot really bad and the blood is dripping all over the place.."  Our 'Miracle Dog' decided to jump over the deck fencing for his toilet duties.  He can get over, but he can't get back upon the deck.  He has been chewing the deck post, which holds the gate brackets (that the Machinist made to keep the dogs out of the big yard).  In a desperate effort to get back with his pack, he has jumped, caught his back paw and cut it wide open.  We've bandaged him up the best we can.  For tonight.  Tomorrow, we'll have to take a closer look and assess what needs to be done.  It's the last thing we needed to happen...

We are all so weary and I wanted this to be an exciting post, but it's 11.45pm and I'm really tired. 

More later....after all - as my mam says "...tomorrow is another day..."

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Ram Whisperer

"I'm just going up to Nicole's place.  She's seen a snake just outside of her shanty and wants me to get rid of it" declared the Machinist. 

"Do you want me to go with you?"

"It's alright, I won't be long" (what help would I be anyway, other than the vocals?)

"I don't mind.  I'll keep watch for you ..."

Nicole was standing in the doorway of her settler's hut, not wanting to venture onto the front verandah, nevermind the grass, which would lead to the main family home.  And safety.  The Machinist climbed out of the ute and grabbed the long handled spade which was on the back tray and proceeded to the front gate.  Suddenly, he halted in his tracks. 

"Will this ram go for me, Nicole?"

"It shouldn't.  If it does, just grab it's horns"

"I'm not going anywhere near him.  If he comes for me, I'm off"

With this, the Machinist darted behind a couple of broken down cars and stood cautiously, waiting for the ram to disappear.  The ram decided he wasn't going anywhere.  I called to the ram ...

"Come here, boy.  Come on, then.  There's a good boy..."

I stood stroking the rams nose and talking gently and calmly to him. "You're a good boy, aren't you?  There's a good boy..."

The Machinist ran to the gate, lifted the bent wire over the post and pushed it open.  The snake was nowhere to be found.

"Sorry to have to call you.  I'm terrified of snakes.  I'm really paranoid"

"So am I, Nicole...." 

The ram was moving around me, pushing his hot woolly body against me, "It's allright, laddie".  I continued stroking his nose, while heavy breathing, occasional snorting and exhaling noises came from his nostrils.  Thoughts of my own pet rams back in South Africa came to mind.  I would talk to them in the same manner and they would follow me, wherever I roamed.  I would hide from them, and they would bleat until they could sight me.

"C'mon, Babe.  That snake could be anywhere.  Let's go"

I was keeping the ram entertained, while the Machinist made his getaway to the safety of the ute.  I stopped stroking the ram's nose and as I suspected, he decided he wanted me to continue and nudged me (gently rammed me?) each time I stopped. 

The Machinist started the engine.  I took a sprint to the ute.  The ram chased me.  The Machinist held the passenger side door open to let me in.  The ram tried to get in, too. 

He didn't make it.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Hopalong Cassidy (ies)

Further to my post on cockroaches, what I failed to mention was the Machinist's accident.  Not a car accident, but rather - a trolley accident.  The Machinist had 'knocked together' a trolley with swivel castors, - strong and sturdy enough to manouvre the heavy fridges from the top floor of a Canberra Mall to the awaiting utility and trailer.  It was after hours and the only human life in the Mall were the auction staff, a few Mall staff and security guards, patrolling the different levels which were now closed to the public. 

The fridges were loaded, the hard work had been done and it was time to play.  Number One Son, Sam (our only son) was sitting on the trolley.  The Machinist had one leg on the trolley, and was scooting his son at top speed.  A voice was calling behind them in a broad Sri Lankan accent "Excuse me, excuse me, sir, you're not allowed to ride in the Canberra Centre".  The Machinist slowed down and Sam climbed off the trolley.  Not for long, though.  As soon as they turned the corner, it was back to tricks.  Scoot, scoot, scoot, then suddenly, a grinding halt, where the Machinist grabbed Sam's T shirt by the scruff of the neck, while his foot and lower leg acted as a human brake.  Somehow, the Machinist's non-scooting foot had slipped between the framework of the trolley and was completely bent backwards.

The Machinist informs me that only on few occasions  in his life has he recalled feeling such intense pain.  The result is a swollen and bruised foot, ankle and lower leg.  A recent addition to the site of the bruising are small, skin coloured itchy spots, which have now developed into a bright crimson rash.  It looks so, so -  nasty.  I googled "rash at the site of bruising" and was most interested to learn about the rush of histamine to the site of the trauma, leading to an allergic skin reaction - hence the rash.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My daughter, Emma, has had a swollen left foot for a couple of months now.  Due to the nature of her work, she is on her feet for most part of the day, and this offers no rest for her 'bad' foot, as well as her other foot, which has gone in sympathy to the left foot. Now her legs are aching.  She has been treated by an osteopath, and although this has offered some relief, there was increased swelling last week, so I took her to the Casualty department at our closest country hospital.  We're still awaiting some results, which have been sent to Emma's GP. 

The Grands had accompanied us to town, and after 4 hours (a quiet day) at the hospital, we met them at the food hall in the shopping centre.  Granny couldn't wait to tell us that a couple of her 'special people' were also in the mall.  (Granny's people = adults with mental disabilities.  Yes, up to two years ago, Granny was still doing respite care in her local community).  Granny's special friends ended up sitting with us while we ate a late lunch.  We  told them about our long wait at the Casualty department, and they nodded in agreement, offering their own waiting room experiences, as well as details on their own personal ailments.

Then suddenly, a booming voice from the table behind us, (another mentally disabled client of Granny's) asked

"What's wrong with her?"
"She's got a swollen foot"
"Tell her to elevate it"

Aahh... and this from the mentally disabled people who are oftentimes more 'with it' and normal than 'normal' people

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On greeting each other in the morning, the Machinist says "hello Clubfoot" and Emma replies "hello Scooterboy

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Orthopterous Blattidae

I like to keep my 'eye' on property sales.  I like to keep my 'eye' on auctions, too.  I wasn't always like this.  Experiencing the ups and downs of business leads you to really think before you buy anything at all.  Not like before we inherited debt.   One of my favourite auction sites covers so many things, but my favourite sections are the Hospitality and Catering (wonder why?) as well as the AFP (Australian Federal Police - the items that are stolen, recovered and not claimed).
Snowmaster has a good reputation for commercial kitchen equipment.  To my delight, I spotted two underbench 4 door fridges for auction from some unfortunate person / people's liquidation sale.  I cannot disclose here what amount we actually paid them for, but let me just say, a fraction of the cost of their true value. 

The Machinist and son had to go and remove the fridges from the closed-down cafe, in one of Canberra's upbeat malls.  They were there at least three hours, as each buyer had the responsibility of removing their own purchases on a set day between set times.  My men were prepared; angle grinders, hammers, trolleys, plyers, screwdrivers - and a large amount of male grunt.  It was hot and humid and my men were sweaty, but verile.  Thank-you-very-much.  Their male grunts turned to groans, however, when they started moving greasy, filthy, sticky kitchen equipment around to uncover colony after colony of -

COCKROACHES!

Any of numerous orthopterous insects of the family Blattidae, characterized by a flattened body, rapid movements, and nocturnal habits and including several common household pests.


"Babe, if I had a dollar for every cockroach we saw, we could pay off our mortgage"

For the past three days, 4 family members (including the Grands) have been cleaning the two underbench fridges.  I won't go into how filthy they were, else you might catch something just by reading about it.

Grandpa had the task of removing thickened food grease from the fridge motors - armed with an old pastry brush, a screwdriver, a knife and dry steel wool.  He unscrewed several electrical boxes within the motor to uncover even more life; survivors of severe dowsings of Mortein*tm.

Granny, passing yet another can of pest spray to me:  "Make sure you have no crawlers on you, Grandpa.  That's it, shake you pants.  Those creepers make me ill..."

The result of all our high pressure spraying, bleaching, scrubbing, and pest control is a couple of new-looking, highly shined, fresh smelling fridges, which, when adorned with the Machinist's creative metal art, will become The Daily Pie's front counters. 

Resourcefulness!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Romantic Interlude


Happy Valentine's day to you, Dear Readers
And happy Valentine's day to me.

Earlier this afternoon, while at work and serving food to many hungry, wet customers, a familiar face appeared outside the kitchen window.  The Machinist!  The Machinist! 

"There's my sweetheart"

"Who?"

"It's Andre"

In the middle of a shift, I was able to have a romantic interlude with the Machinist over rhubarb crumble, Bacci gluten free cake and a couple of flat whites.  It was magical and memorable. The rain had turned to mist, and the slopes of  netted vines, holding tight onto bunches of future bottles of Pinot Noir, as well as the view of the (once dried up) lake was utterly beautiful.

Oh, how fortunate are we, to live such a rich life!

Water Everywhere and Not A Drop To Drink 2

For most of the time my family lived on farms in South Africa, I had to lodge with folk in town.  It was a small, historic little town, (not far from the Battle of Blood River and Rorkes Drift), where my parents did their weekly grocery shopping and picked up chicken food.  And so it was during the course of our farm life that my parents raised over 4000 chickens.  On the weekends, when they picked me up, I had to sit on the back of the truck (known as a bakkie) with huge sacks of meal, corn, grain etc.  When we had to drive through the centre of town, I would lie as flat as I could, so that no fellow school mates could see me.  My parents never understood this...

Sometimes, in between lodging with different people, I would travel into town with my dad and brothers, but that would mean a really early start - around 4am.  Mam also had a part time job at the local hospital.  During our stay at Hattingspruit, where it rained a lot, we were returning home on a wet and windy evening.  The dirt road down to the house was winding and lined with huge boulders, which, for the most part of my childhood, I was convinced were dinosaur eggs (I had no reason to disbelieve mam's tales).  The dirt was a deep rust colour and must have had a high clay content.  The men in the family were quite skilled at driving, skidding and avoiding the boulders.  One thing they couldn't control, however, was the depth of soggy soil.  On this particular evening, the bakkie sank, the wheels spun and we were going nowhere fast.  Mam and I had to get out and push, while dad worked the clutch.  We were drenched; me in my school uniform and mam in her white nurse's uniform, complete with dinky hat.  Just as we were gaining ground, the tyres spun, the engine roared and the bakkie lurched forward.  So did my mam - head first into the red sludge.  I began sobbing, shocked at seeing my mam lying on the ground.  Then suddenly, she picked her head up, looked around at me, and with a faceful of mud pack, threw her head back, and laughed uncontrollably.   I could hardly hear what she was telling me and leant forward...

"...I'm allright you silly sausage...it's allright..."

It's only now that I am a parent and home owner that I can truly relate to my parent's plight.  Home maintenance is ongoing; even when your home is complete and intact. 

It's still raining this morning.  I've just returned from a walk around our village.  As I type, I can hear some of the rain running into the rainwater tanks, and the rest dripping into a mini-pool at the bottom of the rainpipes.  Two large leylandi cypress pines are generous donators to gutter clutter.  The Machinist has to monkey-climb the deck posts and onto the tin roof most times it rains.   I can't complain.  The state of dryness inside the house has increased a hundred-fold since we took the kitchen roof off completely one fine spring evening and replaced rusty tin sheets with shiny new galvanised ones.

Somewhere under the house I can hear the faint croak of a frog.

There's never, ever a dull moment.  Whoever said that living in the country was peaceful, has obviously never really lived...

Water Everywhere and Not A Drop To Drink

We've had hot and humid days, with intermittent drizzle, followed by steady rain and cooler temps at night.  There is a leak in the school room ceiling and we have to cover the floor with old towels and bowls.  Shakin Stevens singing "This Old House" comes to mind a lot.  Our house isn't that old, but I suspect it suffered neglect over the years as a petrol station, while the owners (back in the day) endeavoured to serve their customers.

My thoughts go to the many homes we lived in during our 13 year stay in South Africa. Apart from the first few months living in a caravan, each house offered a variety of surprises. 

The first, - a beautiful 1920's house had floors that weren't attached to the walls by at least three inches. 

A farmhouse in Wasbank had no proper water storage facility and the bore was dry.  When it rained, water flooded the house, but there was no water to drink.  Plus, one of the rooms off the back verandah (my brother Gary's bedroom) had a resident hornets nest.  The opposite room off the back verandah was the outdoor bathroom.  It was very 'outdoors', because it had no rear wall. We had to wash in a tiny sink, with our butts facing the great outdoors.

A farmhouse in Hattingspruit - dating back to the 1800's and made of stone had two rooms without floors and each time it rained, there was a stream running through the centre corridor.  One night, my mam woke, wondering what all the noise was about.  She stood in water up to the top of her ankles, turned round, dried off her feet and went back to bed.  As she was dozing off, something 'big' landed on her face.  She plucked it off her cheek and threw it into the darkness of the bedroom, and heard a distinct 'thud', as it hit the wall.  To this day, we don't know what this creature was.  A month or so later, two baby green mambas were entwined in the cavity of the old wooded window frame...

More to come...

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Nocturnal Hustles

I have a new profession of making trips to the bathroom during the night.  It's my new vocation in life.  I wear myself out and no longer scoff at my parent's generation who used chamber pots, even though I don't think I could use them myself.  When there is one Shi Tzsu on the bed, I can make the trip, return, lift the mosquito net and face minimal puppy excitement before claiming my position and struggling with the sheet.  When there are two Shi Tzsus on the bed, one of them is determined to follow, prompting her sister to do likewise.  This poses a problem, in that while I am spending a penny or two, or simply 'tile-gazing', the puppies grow impatient and return to the bed, then to me. 

The Machinist appears, blinking at the kitchen light

Machinist: What are you doing up, Babe?

Me: the usual...

Machinist: Thats it.  These dogs are going to be outside in a kennel tomorrow night...

Me: why, what happened?

Machinist: I can't afford to be woken every night like this.  Nor can you. 

Me:  What is it?

Machinist: I was in a deep sleep, then suddenly, the mozzie net came crashing down.  One dog under, one dog on top.  They're gonna have to go out!

Me: ok (chuckling and making a dash for the bathroom)

Friday, 5 February 2010

All For The Greater Good

There is many a night I can't sleep, and tonight is one of them.  Or should I say this morning?  As I lie awake, thoughts of my family are foremost on my mind. I am so proud of the Machinist for caring for us and considering me the way he does. "I'm so excited for you, Babe.  Are you excited, too? Your dream is finally coming true.  Can you believe we are going to be shop owners?".  I can't describe how grateful I am for his support and encouragement.  Each time I worry about making pies (how will they turn out in bulk? How many should I start with? Will people like them? etc etc) the Machinist is fast to assure me that my pies will be 'absolutely delicious'. The other day, when we went equipment shopping, he was like a little child. Being a Machinist, he loves machines and equipment and has to scrutinise each button / knob / mechanism and function. His skill and knowledge gives me peace of mind.  I know that we have the best we can afford.  Even if we are up to our eyeballs in debt now...

I am also so proud of our children, too, who have each gone out to work elsewhere, seeing as the primary family business is quiet at this time.  Less than four months ago, we all worked together.  Now, the children set out to different destinations at different times on different days.  One sets out at 'sparrows fart' (as the Machinist calls it), finishes early afternoon and waits for a lift home.  One sets out at a decent hour and finishes at a decent hour, but has to pick up the other, in a different town.  One sets out in the early afternoon and finishes late, arriving home even later.  There's hardly a day when we are all at home, together.  On the rare occasion that we are, we try and make it a memorable occasion.

"All for the Greater Good", we chide each other on.

I look forward to the day when we will once again work together in a new family business

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Doggy Day Care

We're still taking the puppies to the Grand's Day Care for Doggies each morning.  Soon, and hopefully sooner than later, we would like to fit protective wire around the court yard, so that they can play outside in their own garden without the threat of Sneaky Pete reptiles. We still haven't found the snake, but we know he's out there somewhere.  Some of us are 'game' to hang our washing on the line, but I'm not.  Not yet.  Until there's a capture, or a confirmation of death, via a rotting smell, I really don't want to venture out there, and truth be told - I MISS my garden.

I have a suspicion that the puppies won't want to sleep outside anymore anyway.  They have been spoiled with extra fuss and attention; the Grands even play ball with them, and feed them treats.  They won't admit that they feed them treats, but we know they do! Especially when their evening meals are only half-eaten.  The young puppies start looking for places to snuggle around 9pm and one sleeps on Sarah's bed:

Pepi - Sarah's puppy

 and the other, gasp, - on ours. 

Lilly - Sam's puppy

"When did we change, Babe?" the Machinist asks. "There was a time that we wouldn't allow the dogs in the house, never mind on our bed..."

The Ragamuffins at play

Looking after young uns' is tiring and it makes you hungry and thirsty.  Polly enjoys the refreshment bar:


And Bobby joins her... Check out his knobbly, rough elbows. 


And Miss Blossom, the Grand's baby feels rather left out.  "Where are the days when I got to play ball with my momma ALONE?"

Oh mercy! As if I haven't enough to do, here I sit blogging about the canines.  It's a good job the Machinist keeps me busy during the day.  As you can read here . 

(As I sit, the lights keep going off, then on.  Even the computer has shut down and opened up again.  It seems that there is a problem with Country Energy, and we have lost a phase.  The Machinist is like an anxious bear, checking lights, power, sound.  I'd better go and see if he needs help and pretend I'm interested...)


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Road

Emma and I went to see "The Road" at the movies this evening, and as the story unfolded, all I could think about was the way in which Viggo Mortenson's character cared for his young son likened to the same way in which the Machinist looks after me.  He tucks me in, feeds me, sacrifices for me, defends me, encourages me, adores me. I started really missing the Machinist, even though I'd only left home an hour earlier.

I love you, Machinist.

Oh, and by the way - The Road, based on the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner novel by Cormac McCarthy ('No Country for Old Men') is such a well-acted movie!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Familiar Roads

Some time ago, a ferocious gust of wind blew the tarpaulin off the cold display fridge we had bought for sweet pies, and with it - the front curved glass.  It was a dark morning, when I went up to the shop and found scattered, shattered glass lying around the base of the motor.  The Machinist had to make a template and post it to a glass repair business in Sydney.  Today, we went to pick up the new piece of curved glass.  We also intended to purchase pie warming ovens and perhaps even a freezer (for the right price), and what did we come back with? Just a new piece of curved glass for the cold display fridge. 

But....

We also returned with a lot of information regarding kitchen equipment, brands and warranties, and I am more confident, focussed and resolved in what needs to be done and bought; -  knowledge which is more valuable than a few minutes of an accomplished salesman's charms and an unplanned purchase, even though the price was very attractive.

Taking the trip with the Machinist along the familiar highway caused me to reminisce about the many times I had travelled alone, or with the children, either dropping our recently manufactured commercial trolleys off for zinc-coating or picking them up.  We would often go to the 'city movies' either after the drop off, or while waiting for finished products.  Precious memories and trips that we may never make again, as many of the businesses we dealt with are either closed down or have moved, and beautiful souls who are now Young Adults and have their own committments and general busy-ness.

This evening is one of melancholy and I fear I am being a silly old sentimental bear (or old fool!).  Is this pure exhaustion or common emotion indiginous to business owners.  Or both?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Extreme Measures

"Mam, Maaaammm!"
I only just heard her shouting to me above the noise of the washing machine as I was folding clothes.  I looked out of the window, and Sarah had hoisted herself up and was balancing on the top of the picket fence, holding onto an arbour.  Between our herb garden

and the arbour leading to the pool area, she had '...spotted the tail end of a small snake...'

I rushed to the phone and rang the Machinist up at the Shop

"Snake!  Quick!"

Within minutes, the Machinist walked through the front door, long handled spade in hand "Where? How?"  He went down the deck steps and cautiously poked at a clump of catmint, which was poking through the fence from the shrubbery garden within the 'Vegetable Garden'. 

What Sarah thought was a small snake, turned out to be much bigger. The Machinist took three whacks at the slithering reptile with the spade

Site of the whacking: arbour leading to the 'Pool Room'

The snake slithered away.  I stood on the back deck, watching and feeling physically faint.  I watched it slither under the gladitsia bush, past a purple rose, then under a row of baby's breath, then....where?  It had totally disappeared.  We knew that probably injured, the snake would be angered.  Due to the midday sun and heat, along with shadows from shrubs and bushes, Slithering Houdini had made his getaway... The trouble is - our garden is totally fenced in (goodness knows where he and the other villain entered in the first place).  "They always travel in two's, Helen" I can still hear mam advising me on numerous occasions. 

The dogs have spent the day indoors.  I will not let them out until the snake is found.  The Machinist insisted I go into town to buy aspirins.  He has been told, from a reliable source, that crushed aspirin, mixed in a bowl of milk, will attract a snake from it's hiding position and kill it.  While I took the trip into town, the Machinist whipped up four 'dish guards' from square mesh, to put over the bowls of milk, and thereby prevent the kitties from supping up the deadly concoction. 

Extreme situations call for extreme measures.

I returned with the strongest of aspirins as well as Napthalene blocks. After the Machinist had crushed them and spread them around the perimeter of the dogs yard, we could detect that nasty moth ball smell from the front driveway.  Even while we were still in the car.

The dogs will have to spend their days in the Grand's fenced in, snake-proof garden and nights in our house during the next few days / weeks - until we can assure their safety in the back yard. 

In other news, we've applied three coats of clear epoxy to the 100 square metre plus gallery / cafe floor, as well as three coats of a coloured composite resin to the 45 square metre kitchen floor. Oh, and we've started moving the kitchen equipment in, too.  You can read about it at http://www.thedailypies.blogspot.com/ .

 I have a shift at the winery tomorrow. And so, for me it's - to bed!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A Love Story

Twenty days after my birth, in cold sleet and sloshy England, my husband was born in the humidifying heat of South Africa. Miles apart. Nevertheless, already hand picked by the Creator of all, by the Lord, Who puts the lonely in families. Years later, because of the forever itching feet of my father, and the complete optimism of my mother, I came face to face with my husband, in a sleepy country town, in the state of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.


We met while we were both in school; Andre was on school holidays, with his mom and together they were staying at a friend's house in my hometown. The local pool and cinema were great highlights of our days. The minute I met him, I knew I loved him. I didn't even know him, but I knew.

We endured being apart during school, as he lived and attended school in another town. We endured being apart during my Technical College and his apprenticeship years. We endured being apart during the first half of his National Service in the South African Defence Force. And then - four months after the completion of his compulsory army service ~ we married. Childhood sweethearts, now joined as one.

The early days of marriage were filled with joy and excitement. We started off with a piece of carpet on the floor (which we used as our bed), a couple of blankets and one pillow. We slept fully dressed in winter, as two flimsy blankets aren't enough to keep the freezing damp air at bay. Friends and family donated furniture and accessories, and before long, we were piecing together our first nest. We would feast on rice with onion gravy, followed by coffee and Ouma's rusks. Now and again, we would treat ourselves to a chocolate bar and a trip to the two Rand drive- in, where we would park the Yamaha 175 and lie under the stars, enjoying every minute of being together. There's much to be said in building up a home together. Building it together. Not marrying into a fully furnished, pantry well-stocked, efficiently heated home, bur rather, doing it Hard Time.
Before long, and just after my husband had left for a stint in the army, I discovered that I was carrying a new life. Emma was born with large, dark eyes and little hair - blonde fluff, as we called it. We weren't in hospital long; we wanted to be home. The three of us were together just three weeks before Andre had to leave for a three month 'border duty' camp. Each day, I would write to Emma's daddy. Each day, Emma would sleep in her pram next to me, while I wrote and told him of every little insignificant thing that we lived through. And then, as the letters were completed, we would post them, hoping that there would be a return letter for us in the mail. Letters from my husband were few and far between. Those that we did receive were censored by army officials.

A year after the National Service my husband qualified as a fitter and turner. This meant more in the pay-packet and a chance to go forward in life. We were able to buy good food and lots of it. We were able to buy a new bed. We were able to buy many items that we had waited so long for. Despite our house developing into the cosy home we had long desired, it wasn't enough. My feet were itching, just as my father's had years ago. My husband's feet caught the same fever.

"It's the land of milk and honey, Helen...." my father would tell me, referring to the country in which we now live - Australia. "Things are going to get worse here. You'll have no regrets. We'll follow you soon. I promise."

Three years later, we had packed up our home and were waiting at my parent's home for the day that great Silver bird would take us to a foreign land. My parents and brothers promised me that they would only say a 'quick' goodbye. They lied. The day of our departure dragged on. I felt as if my heart was about to jump out of my throat. I ached all over; physically and emotionally. My mam slipped a book of verses by Helen Steiner Rice under my arm, as she squeezed me and implored me to "...go now, Helen" I read this on the flight, as the tears streamed down my face.

Time is a great healer. It's true.

My father was true to his word and joined us six months later.  We have lived close by each other ever since.

With two more little Aussies, Sarah and Samuel our family is complete and the Love Story continues through generations.

Slowly. Almost There

Any mother will tell you that the last few weeks - even the last few months - of pregnancy go by very slowly.  The same is true of my new 'baby' - our pie shop.  It's been about a year now, since we started work on renovating the building - mainly on weekends or stolen hours in between our regular business.  The only tradesman we've hired is an electrician, because we've had to. The rest is all DIY, Baby.

It seems to have gone even slower these past four months, - ever since the family have taken on extra shifts elsewhere. While it has been needful, financially, for us to take on more work, everyone is so very tired when they are at home on those odd days off from outside work, catchup has been the priority.  Add to that a holiday season and constant guests ....

"Babe, I don't want anyone staying next week, ok?" the Machinist pleads, as we work together in the kitchen.  "Please Babe?" as he turns the gluten free sausages in the Jamie Oliver pan and I load another tray of dishes into the (commercial, thanks, Machinist!) dishwasher.

I assure him that I feel the same way. 

Later, sipping coffee the Machinist asks me "What are we doing for Australia day?"

"I may have to work at the winery"

"Bummer. I thought we could ...."

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

How Our Dog Survived a Tiger Snake Bite With Vitamin C

Bobby : 7 year old Staffordshire Terrier, weighing 35kg



Sometime on Friday the 18th December 2009, our Staffordshire Terrier was bitten several times in the head / neck area by a tiger snake. We didn’t know he had been bitten, as he showed no signs of distress as we enclosed him in his kennel, - along with two 8 month old Shi-Tzsu puppies on Friday night around 11pm. It was only on Saturday, 19th December, around 6am that we noticed and suspected that he had been bitten. His pupils were large and clouded, he showed signs of agitation, he staggered when he walked, he seemed generally disorientated and reacted slowly. We found the mangled tiger snake near the colourbond gate later in the afternoon.

We felt it important to move him indoors, keep him quiet and peaceful, cool, well-hydrated and with as few stressors as possible. It was handy to have lots of newspaper, blankets and old towels on hand. Later, we bought disposable toddler nappies (for up to 30kg), which made life much easier. Several times per day, we would change the bedding and newspaper. A temporary bed was made with a thick blanket doubled over and used as a mattress, which was inserted into a couple of large black dustbin bags. On top of the waterproof bin bags, we placed a large dry towel. We would also bathe the dog with warm water and Dettol, drying him gently and thoroughly. When the temperature reached almost 40 degrees, we sponged him down and placed a fan near him for a short period of time, until he had stopped panting. We moved him regularly, from side to side during the day, to avoid cramping.

We only started to feed Bobby on the third day of his recovery, as he couldn’t lift his head and could hardly swallow. When we did begin feeding him, it was with runny food in small amounts during the day, - firstly via a syringe and later, by spoon, very carefully and slowly to avoid choking. Each time we fed him, we had to hold his head, to allow him to swallow.

Each time we handled Bobby, we wore rubber gloves and sterilised all utensils.

Below is a summary of how we treated our Bobby with Vitamin C and strong black coffee, along with thoughts and observations on his daily recovery. At the time of writing (12th January 2010) Bobby has recovered completely from his ordeal. He has lost weight, and the bone in his ‘buff-head’ is protruding a little, but his appetite is as healthy as ever.

Saturday 19th December (8 or more hours after snakebite)

6am = 20ml vit C and ½ cup coffee

7am = 10ml vit C

11am = 20ml vit C by mouth (10 x 1000mg crushed Vit C in 150ml water)

1pm = water

8am = 20ml vit C and ½ cup coffee (4-5 teaspoons)

9.30am = 1 C water & antibiotic

3pm = ½ cup coffee

4.30pm = water

6.00pm = water

8.00pm = 10ml vit C

11.00pm = water

Able to move only slightly. Paralysed by late afternoon, although his tail wagged a little late at night. Lay on stomach in ‘frog’ fashion.

Sunday 20th December

8.00am = ½ cup coffee and water

9.00am = 10ml vitamin C & antibiotic

11.00am = water

12.30pm = 20ml vitamin C by mouth

Water throughout the day

Mainly paralysed. Minimal eye movement. Pupils smaller. Minimal tail wagging. Brown urine. Incontinent.

Monday 21st December

10ml vitamin C

Water throughout the day every 1 1/s hours

Vitamin C by mouth

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed followed by water in syringe to wash down

Not much change.

Tuesday 22nd December

10ml vitamin C

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Water throughout the day every 1 ½ hours

Vitamin C by mouth – 20ml

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Swallowing water much better. The noise of the syringe encourages him to move his tongue, ready to receive. Good appetite, but only small amount of food administered by tablespoon (about 1/2C each time). Tail wagging. Eyes have lost that blank stare. Vigorous kicking of back legs when turned over to new position.
Wednesday 23rd December

10ml vitamin C

1.5ml vitamin B

Weetabix x 2 and cold milk

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Water throughout the day every 1 ½ hours

Vitamin C by mouth – 20ml

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Same as yesterday.

Thursday 24th December

Weetabix x 2 with cold milk

10ml vitamin C

Weetabix x 2 with cold milk

Water throughout the day every 1 ½ hours

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin (mashed, not processed) – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Good appetite. Stonger tail wagging. Eyes have lost that blank stare. Tongue movement increased. Able to swallow chunkier food. Actually seeking food that had spilled out. Hot and panting. Cooled with damp cloth over body. Worked his way off the bed onto the cool tiles.

Friday 25th December

Weetabix x 3 with cold milk

10ml vitamin C

Chicken soup

Water

Chicken soup

Moved Bobby into the lounge for Christmas. Peeing a lot, change of urine colour from reddish brown to normal. Able to eat alone for most of his meals. Prefers to lie on belly, commando crawling.


Saturday 26th December

Chicken soup

10ml vitamin C

Chicken soup

Water

Chicken soup

Able to eat himself. Crawling on belly more and more. Getting stronger holding his head up for food. Able to roll off his side onto his belly. Having difficulty getting his paws from under his forearms. Had to put two nappies and a pair of old tights, cutting hole for tail. No poos for three days now, previously runny stomach. Much more responsive and wags tail at the sight of us, without even speaking.

Sunday 27th December

Weetabix

10ml vitamin C

Weetabix

Water

Beef, pasta, veggies

First day outside. Staggering on his feet, wanting to pee himself. Staggers, falls, gets up and walks, then staggers. Lifting his head. Drinking water by himself. Eating by himself from a dish. Quite content to be outside, even though heavy rain. Slept in the laundry.

Monday 28th December

Weetabix and bacon

10ml vitamin C

Beef, pasta, veggies

Spent the day and night in the kennel. Able to walk for longer distances. Prefers to go down the garden to ‘toilet’ area.

Tuesday 29th December

10ml vitamin C

1.5ml vitamin B

Antibiotic

Water from bowl

Cut up pieces of meat

Spent day in kennel, although very receptive to fuss, returning straight to kennel (for recuperation?). Eyes still a little weepy, but a lot better. Right eye is worse. Drinks lots of water from bowl. Comes out of the kennel when called.

Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st December

10ml Vitamin C

Regular meals and water

As above. Loss of weight

Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd January

10m Vitamin C

Regular meals and water

Good appetite. Very mobile. Barking and playing with other dogs. Still a little wobbly on legs and becomes tired and has to lie down for a while to re-charge. Right eye still weeping, but is able to open it fully.

Tuesday 12th January

Fully recovered. Needs to gain a little more weight. Still receiving 10ml Vitamin C by injection, as well as weekly 1.5m Vitamin B. We will administer this for another week, making it one month since being bitten.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Reason, Season, Lifetime



People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. Thank you, Reader, for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.

AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Old School Room

Yesterday, I showed you pictures of the disorganised section of my office.  It wouldn't be right not to show you the rest of the office.  I say office lightly, as the Machinist has booted me out of the Machine Shop office, and I haven't gotten around to eleviate this old School Room from - well - it's schoolroom atmosphere. 

Poster depicting Australia's history from the Australian War Memorial


Another poster from the Australian War Memorial


Yet another poster from the Australian War Memorial.  I particularly liked this one, because I like the mention of jobs.  Especially when I have to give them away to another...


Precious cards - stuck on the wall above my computer


A dumpable mess.  Keeping it real...


Reference books on business, cafes and interiors.  My budget tin, and memorabilia from home-school days. Sigh....


My shelf of decorating magazines: - inspiration for the Daily Pie's cafe / gallery


This is going to be one of the backs for the cafe chairs - designed by the Machinist.


More memories from the Young Adult's childhood days... sob....


Yet another wall of memories.  I really HAVE to change things in this room! Always loved the printer's trays, though.  Oh, and all the books on this shelf - are my favs.  Some read, some waiting patiently for me to turn their pages.  Below this shelf, we used to have a whole wall of desktops.  Now that was a bit too much...


Part of my bookcase, - all non fiction.  Gardening, Cooking, Health, Home Education, Cleaning and Organising.  What a freak I am.

I hope you've enjoyed your mini-tour. The Machinist would love to replace all this with a flat screen tv and sinkable couches.  Hmmm... that doesn't sound too bad, given the way I feel right now, after FIVE hours vacuuming dust at the Daily Pie.  See update here.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Middlepaw

As always, one of my children have left me in awe.  Read this child's thoughts here.  I am so blessed!

Monday, 4 January 2010

An Organiser's Dilemma

Woke at 3.26am this morning.  Who needs an alarm?  Our son, Sam, starts work in town (temporarily, as part of our BIG plan) at 5am and the Machinist or myself drives him in.  Sam will be staying at a friend's house for his 3 days 'on'.  When I ask the Machinist 'who will be taking Sam tomorrow?', he always responds "Whoever is awake".  Well, that's an easy one; - it's always me that's awake - before the cock crows (not that we have a cockerel - just very generous hens).  The Machinist has this knack of being able to spring out of bed at the last minute, wash his face and ready in a flash to take his turn by driving Number One Son into work.  This talent never fails to make me smile...

I cannot go back to sleep until the Machinist has returned home - safe and sound - and use this time for reading or blogging.  One of this morning's 'visits' was with a gal I've known for years - who wrote about her recent malady: an 'organising bug'.  Now I know this may sound freakish, but I LOVE to organise and clean.  It brings me great peace when I know where things are.  However, at the moment, I have to shut my eyes to disorder, as this is what I see each day, as I enter the room which I now use as an office for both businesses; our old schoolroom:


These are the smaller items we've collected for the pie shop.  Some of them are brand new, some second hand.  Some are great bargains off Ebay.  I can't wait to move them to the Shop and free up so much space here at home.


Sometimes, I can't remember what we have stored in all of these boxes.  I know what we still need to purchase, though. 




Well, at least I can see the mixing bowls, a few pie pallets and the cash register.  Ka-ching!

All the larger equipment is kept either in the barn, on our back deck, out the front of the Machine Shop or inside the Machine Shop.  The Machinist and I have this 'knowing', that soon, very soon... we will be rewarded with our respective 'work areas' and lots of space back again...

Can't wait!!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Reflections on the Festive Season Past

I've been working a lot at our local winery over the Christmas / New Year period and although I enjoy it, I have to confess that it has been hard leaving home each day, as there is so much going on here.  The Young Adults have been very Social Beings and have either had friends stay, or accepted invitations to go out.  On each day, the Machinist and I have had to coordinate Who Is Available to help at the Shop, as there are certain jobs he cannot do on his own (see right hand side bar for updates on The Daily Pie Shop renovations).  Furthermore, somebody has had to care for the pets while we are all coming and going. 

We've hosted Christmas and new year's eve dinners.  We've hosted a morning tea for my darling Mam's birthday - which was on the 31st.  The most memorable time, though, was when the Machinist and I stole away from all the action at home and nipped over to the Grand's house for a nice and peaceful visit with them - just before we had to get ready to celebrate NYE across the road at our country hotel with our children.  Although we hardly ever drink anything alcoholic, the Machinist packed a basket with a beer, lemonade and a bottle of Merlot.  He poured mam a shandy, and a glass of wine for the rest of us. We sat in their cosy loungeroom, with the lights off, curtains open, a breeze blowing through from the kitchen to the lounge and only the light of the full moon shining in.  Blossom, my parent's Pekingnese, was doing her rounds - sniffing and snorting (as her breed does), finally settling next to me, flashing her Betty Davis Eyes.

My parents often want to help in our busy-ness, and I know they must feel helpless at times, but if only they knew how much they do help - just by being 'available' to chat with, confide in and do all the other tedious little jobs like sewing rogue buttons back on garments, stripping and polishing old window latches, peeling vegetables when a wholesome meal is needed, and not to mention - sweeping collective spider's webs from our windows and eaves.  I am going to make a point of letting them know their value to us regularly this year.

The house is quiet as I write.  Emma has just left for work, Sarah and the Machinist are having a lie-in ; - they'll be working at the Shop today, fixing a 'boot' around the exhaust where the exhaust 'meets' the tin roof.  Sam is at his young lady's parent's house - due to come home early to help at the Shop as well.  Shortly, I'll put the coffee machine on, then get ready for work at the winery.  Tomorrow, the Young Adults will all be at work, and the Machinist and I will be FULL SYSTEMS GO! determined to finish the big stuff on the Shop before the end of January. 

Lord-willing.

Storms and Dogs

When a storm is on it's way, and the charcoal clouds pile up, the dogs start throwing their furry bodies at the back door (sliding glass).  Sometimes we hear them, and tell them off.  Other times, we feel sorry for them and let them in.  They come indoors and have an anxious look on their faces.  It doesn't last for long, though, as they bound down the corridor, then through the lounge, then into the tv room, around to the old schoolroom, now office.  They are constantly in search of someone to fuss them.

Bobby is doing so well.  He is up on his feet now.  He stands, walks, feels a bit wobbly on his legs, panics and dashes to his kennel.  We have to talk to him "it's ok, Bob, it's ok" to sooth him.  Each day, though, you can see he is stronger and stronger. This evening, with the threat of a storm in the air, he was trying to jump through the laundry window, as we didn't hear him at the door.  His next best bet was to climb into the laundry, through the kitchen, then around to the tv room, where the Machinist and I were watching Murphy's Law.  Emma heard his attempts at jumping, took pity on him and let him in.  Works every time!

(I will be publishing Bobby's treatment schedule on the blog, so that others who have pets which are bitten may have some hope in saving them).

Anyway, more later.... xx