Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Carnival

We have had a great weekend, what a good way to finish up BMX for us. The Christmas Carnival was my fourth, started with a Christmas Carnival and finished with one, and we all had a great time.

The weather was not too bad, it is usually stinking hot (two years ago we had record temperatures of 37-38 degrees C) and no breeze. It was hot but not so much, and we had a lovely breeze for much of the weekend and it helped that we were sitting under some huge trees.

My partner in crime and life won all his races for 40year+ men, (he always looks good on the track, as he has a much more athletic body than me, whereas I just sort of blob around the track, not athletic at all but can't be bothered being embarrassed about it). I came last in all of mine but that is alright, I didn't do too bad seeing there was only one lady older than me and the rest were seven years younger and 25 years younger (and that is my excuse and I am sticking to it). Our number one and only son enjoyed himself and did well too, I could see the colour of his braces as he zoomed past which means to me that he was smiling (not grimacing).

We sat in our usual carnival spot at the top of the start hill where you can see everything, next to the people we always sit next to and other friends sitting with us too. There is always someone to talk to and there is always the danger of missing your race so mustn't get too carried away.

This is my little twinny, she is my twin as she has the same pants as me, she is eight years old and just started at the beginning of the year and usually rides against the boys. This carnival there were three girls (three is a class) so she rode with the girls, this was a surprise to her as her cruel father didn't tell her :) and she was wondering why her name wasn't called with the boys. Well, she was pretty happy to be riding with girls, she did very well.

We are going to miss our friends from BMX, and hope to keep in touch with some of them (shouldn't be too hard really, we all live in the town just have busy lives) but it is time to do something else. We have loved BMX, but we have been dragging our heels a bit this year, particularly the second half of the year, so before we start to really hate it we have decided to move on to kayaking (yay).

Finish on a high and have lots of great memories. There are so many things we want to do in life and we can't do them all at once, so we have to pace ourselves, financially as well as time wise. Our list of things we want to do is long, and some are things we have to do before our bodies are unable to do them (it really hurts when you fall off a bike, you just don't bounce the same as you did when much younger :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The rain is coming down today, the dog doesn't want to leave the house and I always feel like cooking when it is raining. I have no Tai Chi class today as the hall got booked out for the week so a local theatre company could rehearse, so we gave up our slot for them. So I was going to do more painting, and probably will. And I don't know how the BMX track will be on the weekend for the Christmas Carnival, guess it depends on how much more rain we get and how damaged the track gets.

We went to the school Christmas concert last night and it was very good, a lot of kids out there can play instruments very well. Our number one and only son did a guitar solo, he played Silent Night and was very good, we were very proud, takes a lot of courage to get up and play alone in front of people. He is the shadowy figure in the background of the photo, obviously I didn't have control of the camera :)

It was a lovely evening, not all Christmas carols, mostly groups, only a couple of solo performances, and the church they held it at is really nice. Our number one and only son cooked a cake (from scratch) to take to contribute to the supper afterwards, it was yum too. However I think it was the only homemade thing there apart from cut up cheese, all the rest was packets of chips, bought biscuits and buns and believe it or not KFC (the mashed potato and coleslaw), I am not sure what people were supposed to do with that, I think as a dip?

My family are all pumpkined out for the year and I still have three small pumpkins left from my garden. My partner in crime and life eats it because I tell him to, our number one and only son refuses to, and I love pumpkin so I have no problems with it. So seeing pumpkin eating in our house is on the decline I need to use up the last of it, so I think I will make a pumpkin fruit cake or two (or three) and make other pumpkin things, at least they are not huge ones.

It looks like the rain has cleared a bit for the moment so I had better think about some painting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We are starting to get a bit of rain now, just enough that I am going to have to start mowing more often, but only when the flame tree finishes losing its leaves. It is making a huge mess, so when it is done I really need to make an effort.

Just when we thought we have to start wearing our sunglasses at 5.30am, as it has been so bright, the clouds roll in and we get these lovely mornings. It was not too hot, it rained a little (which the dog hates) and the sunrise was only grey, no colour, but I still find it pretty. This is the time of the year when the weather gets interesting.

I have finally finished my two coat hangers, I have been so slack, yet they are only long rectangles, I knitted one and crocheted the other and even though I am a crocheter I think I prefer the knitted one. I have done very little craft and I want to (in my head) but just haven't, so (once again) I am determined to do more.

We are starting to get quite a few mangoes now, though we are losing a lot to the bats. Our number one and only son and myself have a bowl of fruit most mornings and so can now include mangoes, once they have ripened that is, and they are yummy. We also must really go and get down our bunch of bananas before we lose them, job for my partner in crime and life this afternoon I think (I can't reach them).

Well, must go and do some painting now but I think maybe another cup of tea first, or a pot :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Once again on a Monday I am multitasking, I am currently making bread, washing clothes, writing my blog and trying to eat breakfast. Unfortunately the dishes won't do themselves and we don't have a dishwasher, also the floors also won't sweep themselves nor the beds get made alone.

We have been away for a lot of the weekend at a work Christmas party which was an overnighter. We had a lot of fun and our number one and only son spent lots of time watching the large plasma TV in his room, watching the TV from his bath and enjoying the all you can eat buffet that night and for breakfast the next morning. He wishes his stomach was bigger to fit in more of the yummy food.

However, I am now playing catch up as no work clothes got washed or any other clothes, no bread got made for lunches so I am doing it now. In saying that though, that is really how we have organised our life. I do most of the housework and gardening, grocery shopping and other running around so we can spend time together as a family do the things we want to do. Next weekend will busy too the same as we have a BMX carnival all weekend.

It came up in conversation once, with a dad whose wife had recently gone back to work full time and one of the things he hated doing on a weekend was the grocery shopping. It took up a good half a day of the weekend (by the time they got there, shopped, went home and put everything away) and he couldn't plan anything else. If she had to shop so did he, as they were both working, unfortunately so did the kids and I don't think they liked it much either. I know our number one and only son hates shopping and trys to get out of it during school holidays, but I have decided that occasionally I can have company in misery so he has to come too. So we are lucky in that we don't have to spend time on the weekend doing things like that and can instead go kyaking or BMXing without feeling guilty.

We have started painting the house, wow, what a difference that makes. I have always hated the dirty yellow colour the house was when we bought it, and it has taken all this time to do something about it. It looks so clean now, so while we are in the process of doing this we are also sorting out stuff to get rid of, and just a general tidy up that you only do every now and again. Things like throwing out the solar lights in the garden that no longer work, putting the gardening stuff into the shed where it belongs instead of in the outdoor area, and binning the old fish tank that no longer worked but thought we might use it for something (not sure what but something).

It feels good to have a declutter, it gives you more space when you thought you needed more cupboards, it makes things clean and everything looks great. There is also less places for cockroaches (which are coming out a bit now with the warm weather and I have had to put down baits), spiders, mice (which we get from time to time) and other crawlies, however as a twelve year old, our number one and only son will just say yeah yeah and continue on his merry way with stuff all over his room. Oh well, such is life.

Best get on now, washing to hang, bread to knead, floors to sweep, dishes to do, walls to paint, busy busy busy and when these things are done, then I can go out and do exciting things on the weekend (and they are exciting because we don't do them every day). I guess that is why everything else seems ordinary :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

We Got Our Electricity Bill

We got our electricity bill the other day and as usual I am not happy about it, I always think we could use less electricity than we do. In saying that, we have been told that we are using around 33% less electricity than others in our area, it is apparently the new thing to let us know, so we feel better I guess. So that means that other people use way more than us and I would really hate to have their bill.

We try to be very conscious about our usage, turning off appliances when we are done (we used to know people who had the TV on from about 6am to about 11pm every day), turn off lights and fans when we go out of rooms, have solar hot water (which works way better now the tree out the front is gone) all those sorts of things. My partner in crime and life thinks we live in the dark and that I am obsessed sometimes, I just think it is worth it, and he doesn't complain when the bills are lower :) It is no problem and we still do all the things we want, we just turn them off when we are finished. So what are all the other people out in the world doing to have higher electricity bills than us?

I take the environment pretty seriously, we reuse, recycle and the other r word that eludes me right now. We try not to use chemicals, buy natural products or make them, have a vegetable garden and fruit trees, cook from scratch and don't buy processed food (mostly), have short showers (except for the 12 year old of the house, despite having no less than three timers in the shower). We are not always good but we try.

I also recently bought (though could have made if I was smart enough) vegetable bags to reduce (there is the other r word) the amount of plastic bags we collect, and of course use reusable shopping bags (various types as I love bags), however we still manage to get plastic bags. We also rarely use plastic wrap, I have it in the house but it is just sitting on the shelf, sandwiches get put into those nude food containers (sounds rude, that is why I really like the name :) and other containers with lids. Leftovers in containers with lids, reusable drink bottles for water, all that stuff, just no plastic wrap.

I can often smell the neighbours washing powder from my house and other cleaning products, how strong must they be to smell them from here. I see people who randomly spray for weeds and kill everything else as well, then also wonder why they get a headache, I just think these things are not necessary as we have the technology and intelligence to find alternatives. Even our number one and only son complains about the strong smells of chemical cleaners, and he always says no to plastic bags and prefers homemade food (except for the occasional fish and chips).

When grocery shopping I try not to buy food that has lots of plastic, and is full of preservatives and additives. I dont always get what I want (others go without rather than buy packaged food, I am not that good, I just aspire to be) but sometimes I just buy it, so therefore I reuse plastic trays and any bags, jars and bottles, and spend a lot of time shopping. I read ingredients labels and agonise over whether I can live with the packaging and is it able to be reused or recycled (I don't like shopping very much).

I am not sure if we are to blame for climate change or not, but it doesn't matter as we shouldn't be polluting our backyards, we have to live here, and seeing I am going to live to 150 years, I want a world that isn't dead and smelly. So I do the best I can, with the information I have, and I will keep trying to get that electricity bill lower :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Building and Painting

Busy times coming up to Christmas, this week certainly has been. We have had a school presentation night (two hours) and worth it as our number one and only son got an award. It was an academic award for Health and Physical Education and he was very proud as are we.

Over the weekend I had to go to Bunnings to buy some paint and while there attended one of their workshops. I had never done that before but found it was well worthwhile, I made a go-cart, who knew I had it in me? They did give us lots of help and it has now been partially painted, and it was free.

I do like to learn new skills, even if I don't become very good I like to give it a go and to gain a bit of knowledge along the way. Not everything is for everyone but I find lots of things interesting and at least try, I do like the practical skills and being able to achieve and have something to show for my efforts, like a go-cart. I am thinking it will be useful to cart my gardening stuff around the yard, might have to add a back onto it though.

Talking of practical stuff, I have started painting the house, have only done one coat on a small corner but it is a start. It desperately needs doing and haven't started till now as my partner in crime and life was worried I would paint the house purple and orange or some such thing (in all fairness, I did consider purple but we may be selling this year so thought that white would be best) :)

So, off to do a Tai Chi class with my lovely ladies (and occasionally men), I never know what will come up in conversation, some things very thought provoking and some hilarious, but always interesting. Every class is different, some go well, some not so much but I always try and improve if I am not happy with the way things have gone, I don't like that feeling at all. I guess though, that those are the things that make us continually strive to improve (I do lots of striving).

Monday, November 16, 2009

As I sit here typing away I am washing the clothes, making bread and yogurt, growing sprouts and planning the rest of the day. They say you should be multiskilled and be able to do more than one thing at a time, but at least these things take care of themselves once I have them under way, I believe you should only think of, and only do one thing at a time otherwise you get flustered (hard to do in our fastpaced lifewith with everyone expecting more). I just like the non-guilty feeling I get when I stop for a cup of tea knowing stuff is going on without me :)

This is my sprouting tray, it actually has three levels. It was a Christmas gift last year from my partner in crime and life (made sure I was very specific about what I wanted so I would get it) :)

My partner in crime and life turned 42 years yesterday, luckily he didn't have to work, well not at his workplace anyway. We did take a trailer load of palm fronds and other garden material to the tip, the council had their once a year, one week only deal to take garden material to the tip for free. I am sure I remember when they didn't charge for this at all, all year, then I am sure it was for a month now we have week. If they want people to clean up for the cyclone season, I really think they need more than a week.

Not only did we take palms to the tip but my partner in crime and life cut down a small tree out the front, good thing gone. Also a lesson learned for him is to wear shoes while doing these things, he never wears shoes and so he nearly trod on a snake, which turned out to be dead, and then he thought he accidently killed it, but on closer inspection it had eaten a cane toad poor thing. Don't want to eat those, they make the dog froth at the mouth.

We also took our new kayaks out, we just went to the creek up the road so took about two minutes to get there. They are great, can't wait to get a third one so we can all go out together. My shoulders are sore this morning and my right leg? Can't figure that one out, oh and my fingers too.

I have to show off my new bed cover, I try to only buy useful things (I think I do anyway) with the exception of books (my biggest weakness) but I really wanted this, it is pretty only and serves no other purpose. It is like in the good old days when we had bed covers on the top and it tucked in over the pillow. We obviously have more than one pillow under there, it does tidy it up and looks great. It has elephants on it, I love it :)

So that got me thinking (at 2am this morning, shouldn't think at that time) about something I read in a book over the weekend about having layers on the bed. Instead of having one doona, we should have a few layers of woollen blankets, that way we can regulate our temperature. If we are a bit warm can take off one layer or two or a bit cold do the reverse, rather than only having one layer and it is either on or off. We have a summer blanket and warmer blanket, and also one I crocheted and is only wide enough for one, but is lovely and warm when needed (by me).

I hadn't thought about it, but I do use the layers and having only one layer wouldn't suit me at all as sometimes I only need a light blanket, other times I need all of them (all in one night). Our number one and only son is the same, he has three blankets on his bed and regulates his temperature with his layers. It all makes perfect sense now :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Coffee For Me

Well, my garden is all woeful and I haven't done any knitting or crochet and I haven't finished the Christmas shopping. My hair was annoying me so I cut about six inches off it this morning, hopefully more manageable for the summer.

The rain we have had this week has been great but now the grass is growing, can't be happy can we, and I also can't start the whipper snipper. It is too hot for many things to grow at this time of year so I haven't done much in the garden but it does need a tidy up. The pigeon peas have fallen over in the rain and taken the passionfruit with it, so that needs cutting back too. However in looking around all is not lost.

Another bunch of bananas was discovered while our visitor was here, I didn't see it as it was on the other side of the plant, so far not as big as the other one but you never know, it has time (not that I know anything about the life cycle of bananas).

The lime tree seems to be flowering with a vengeance and of course the flowers smell lovely. The orange tree in a pot has three oranges on it, the only one we got last year was the best orange I had ever tasted, they don't look very flash but they are very tasty. The lemon tree, also in a pot, is looking a bit sad but has quite a few lemons, probably should fertilise them.

I missed the coffee bush flowering, well I was aware but didn't look really close, so now it has coffee beans on it. We have a lot in the freezer and we really need to process them, I have the instructions and it seems pretty straight forward, so maybe after this lot has turned red and I remember to pick them I will process them. Thing is, I am not a coffee drinker so I don't have a lot of motivation to do it, but I should just to see if I can, then my partner in crime and life can tell me if it tastes any good.

The mulberry tree is on the last of it's fruit but the barbados cherry is flowering, and the mangoes are coming along except the bats are now getting in and eating them. They need to ripen up quickly so we can pick them. Also the galangal (which is like ginger) is flowering, this is the first time I have seen it do that.

The rain is bringing out the green tree frogs and we have a couple of big ones around, however it is the babies that I love to see, they are so tiny and cute, I get quite a few in the vege garden.

Well, after having a bit of a whinge about how the garden isn't producing much, it really is when I look at. We can still go out into the garden and pick greens for a salad (sweet leaf, abika, kang kong, mushroom plant, betel leaf, spring onion, chives, gota kola) and the fruit trees are producing. So I feel better now, I like knowing I can feed the family to a degree from our garden, and soon we will be eating mangoes, bananas, passion fruit and maybe drinking coffee, well, no coffee for me :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

It Is Never Too Late

Well, I have decided that I am going to enjoy being out of routine for just a few more days and start fresh next week. Can't start halfway through a week, nothing will be balanced, it is like, we have only three people living in the house but four towel rails in the bathroom and four towels, three is uneven. That is my theory and I am sticking to it :)

A few other things have happened this week aside from our visitor (did I mention we had a great time?), our number one and only son had to boil an egg, draw a face on it, put clothes on it, give it a birth certificate and carry it around all week. He wasn't really clear on the reason for it, but we are assuming he knows even if he is being a 12 year old and not being forthcoming with information. So four eggs later (we had to eat the first three as they cracked) we have Eggbert, his clothes (a hat and a round shirt thing) were cut out of an old sock (I knew it was a good idea to have a rag bag, even though there is no bag at the moment just a pile of old clothes to be used as cleaning clothes).

There have been some funny stories of the destruction of some of these eggs, one kid wanted to test the theory that you couldn't smash an egg if you squashed it from the ends. Regardless of how he did it, it smashed, another kid was throwing his up and down and catching it, of course one time he missed. I think some of the girls had fancy baskets to carry their eggs in but our number one and only son had a yellow plastic cup. Oh, and another kid kept his egg in a takeaway container with some padding on the bottom and a lid, but one time he put the lid on it squished his egg flat :) so hilarious.

The other thing we have done is go to a sale at the camping shop and bought two kayaks. This is going to be our new thing. We are going to get another one later, we got two as we saved so much money, what we paid for the two and paddles, we would have paid for one and the paddle at full price or close to, so we are very happy.

We are going to be giving away BMX next year and selling all our gear, the men have been racing for five years and I have been racing for three. We feel it has run it's course and it is time to move on and try other things, we will still be doing the Christmas Carnival and we will see how we go into the new year. However all enthusiasm has gone and as we work as a family it is catching (the lack of enthusiasm), it is hard to drag anyone out so the one who wants to go ends up not going nor having any enthusiasm either. We also get our Friday nights back, and not being committed to anything at any particular time, it will be nice to do things in our time for a while.

In saying all that, we have loved BMX racing, I have learnt lots of new skills and done things I am afraid of (those jumps are pretty big up close you know) and life is so short you just have to try things. We have met some great people and had lots of fun racing, certainly never thought I would do anything like that, especially seeing I didn't start till I was 38years, it is never to late to start anything.

So hopefully on Sunday we will get out on the water to try out our new kayaks, and hopefully I won't fall out :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Special Things

And didn't we have a good time. Our friend from Adelaide arrived and we barely stopped talking till he left, he was also probably the easiest guest we've had.

We took him into our local markets so he could get mangoes as the ones on our tree aren't ready yet, and we also bought him mangosteens to try (very yum),he actually had new experiences while here. He ate green ants out of our yard which are good if you have a sore throat, and while I personally haven't tried them (I think only in a survival situation)they apparently taste like lime.

On Sunday we took him up the mountains and of course it rained, not just rained really but poured, the one day it was shocking weather, at least it wasn't cold. We even managed to part the clouds on the way down so he could take photos from the lookout, kind of anyway. In the afternoon, my partner in crime and life took him into his workplace to show him around as they work in the same industry.

On Monday we took him to lunch at the boat club and it is a great place to spend some time, views of the ocean and the boat marina, a nice lunch and a great atmosphere makes you want to just stay. We even took our number one and only son out of school for the day so he could come with us.

After not seeing him for about ten years we picked up where we left off and that was great. My partner in crime and life and our visitor realised they still have so much in common, work in the same industry, like to be early, still like leather work (even though neither do any at the moment and both have all the tools which co-incidentally both got at garage sales). In some areas, their lives kind of parallel, bizarre really, bit twilight zone, except for the moustache.

He has the best moustache and always getting comments, he has travelled overseas and people take photos of him and with him. Even while here, he had comments and one lady we met up the mountains told me to tell him that she just LOVED his moustache.

Anyway, all good things must come to an end, and I think that is what makes them all that special, that they are not every day so we enjoy them all the more. So now I have to turn my attention back to every day life, washing, gardening, Tai Chi classes, all those things that make life full.

By the way, we are going to Adelaide for our friends' 50th Birthday in January 2011 and we are so looking forward to it. We got an email this morning to say our friend arrived home safe, is probably telling tall stories to his wife (as she probably won't believe he behaved so he is making up wild stuff) and that it is 455 sleeps till we visit them :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Feel All Deep and Meaningful

I have had one of those weeks where you feel behind the eight ball. My partner in crime and life is away this week which makes life easier and our number one and only son is easier to feed. I am missing him though and our early morning walk (except the early morning, not missing that) but I am sleeping better (I know I am supposed to be pinning away for him) as there is no-one to squish me in the middle of the night and wake me :)

However, on Monday when I usually have the day at home and do heaps, I had to do a Tai Chi talk on the other side of town (which seems like a long way to me as I rarely go there) at a Community Health Centre. So that was pretty much the whole day gone, not complaining much though as I really enjoy doing it. I get to talk about something I love, I get people involved to see if they might like it, I get to meet new and interesting people and they gave me a cup of tea and homemade cake after.

We got to talking about homemade cooking and about all the preservatives and additives in processed food and what it does to your body. These things affect young and old alike, maybe in different ways but still, cant be good. Even natural things can have a detrimental affect, my partner in crime and life has arthritis in his hands and has been on anti-inflammatory tablets for a while now. His hands would still play up and if he missed a day they would really hurt, however I have now banned him from tomatoes, eggplants (nightshade veges) and oranges (which he loves). Now if he misses taking his tablets a day it is all fine, who knew, just got to try these things.

Anyway, point is, home cooking is good, we know what goes into it, can control what goes into it and if is is bad for us we can find out as we know what is in it. We are lucky in that apart from my classes I am at home and so can make our own bread,cakes and biscuits and can have our dinner going early (when I am organised, must have a menu plan, must DO a menu plan). I don't know how people with families cope not having one partner at home, most people I know who are working say they don't. They are tired, they have to pay someone to clean, pay someone to look after the kids, don't get enough time as a family and eat late (my two would die of starvation if we ate late).

Some make it work well, but I don't think I could, one lady I spoke to the other day said her family sits down to eat about 9pm (wow), I am thinking about going to bed at that time and certainly couldn't do the dishes (kitchen closes at 7pm at our house). Anyway, I think we are lucky.

It is amazing the things that come up in conversation and I enjoy listening to the different opinions and experiences of people. You can learn a lot, speaking of which, one of the things that came up today in my class is the the lessons learned from others. I believe that people come into you life for a reason and it no coincidence, it might not be obvious what that reason is but there is one. We all learn from one another regardless of the different personalities, backgrounds, cultures etc it is what makes us interesting to others.

I know from teaching Tai Chi that I have learned a lot from the people that come to my classes. I have certainly learnt more about Tai Chi (I am sure they like asking curly questions), but also about people and myself, and the amount of wisdom gathered together in one room, there is always someone who knows. These people are my friends and I value the things they teach me and the knowledge they have and are willing to share, we all benefit from each other, we are together for more than just Tai Chi. That is my opinion anyway.

Enough of the deep and meaningful, much get on with getting ready for our visitor (who arriving tomorrow) must at least look like the house is usually tidy (I can pretend really well). I know we are going to have a very enjoyable five days even though they say it is going to rain, who cares, we haven't seen our friend for about ten years so regardless, it was always going to fun.