Christmas with the family


Two sleeps before Christmas. Before the hoards arrive. Bearing gifts and wine and food and Christmas cheer. Three sleeps and it’s over.

This year, 25 for dinner.

Which, Groover constantly reminds me, is a lot.

But it doesn’t seem that many to me.

Not many more than the 18 or so we had last year… And we had a great time.

Anyway, everyone is pitching in with food and drink… So really it’s no more effort than having say 12…

I know it will be a bit squeezy.

But we have air-conditioning and a pool so really, we’ll cope with the 39 degree day.

It’s going to be evening and some of the 25 are really quite small.

I think maybe I was a Bedouin in a former life.

I love this hanging out in a big “tent” with all my extended family.

My favourite holidays have been where we’ve shared houses… Christmas 2007, parent’s 40th anniversary 2005 and even Bali last year with friends. (Part of our unofficial extended family also coming on Tuesday night)

Bring it on I say!

I’d invite you too but I think Groover would freak out. Freak out more…

I hope your Christmas is full of happy chaos and unexpected joy.

How to dial an old-style telephone

See I didn’t think you would need a lesson but then, probably, you’re not 14.

It has taken nearly two years but finally we have got cable which means we can now use my old bakelite phone as the house phone.

Ahhh I am quite excited but the rest of the family, less so.

Groover: It’s useless! I tried to call a 1300 number today and I had to “press 1” but you can’t on that phone.

Dippity: So does that mean I can’t take the phone into my bedroom??!

Hugamuga: Meh. I don’t use the phone anyway.

It’s not as if we don’t already have a surfeit of phones in this house – five active mobiles at last count, and one spare.

I quite like not having an answering machine too. After all, if you really want to speak to me you’ll ring me on one of my mobiles right?

And who uses caller ID anyway.

So for those of you who want to go retro communicado – here’s a little how-to video from my girl.

In other news – which you might also get if you rang us on our home phone – my boy finished his last exam today. It was Geography and he reckons it went well.

Interview for St George’s tomorrow. Good luck!

Improvising in the kitchen

Essential oil burner

I came home from work today, opened the door and was transported to the outer suburbs olfactorally speaking.

To the tip to be precise… which may or may not be in the outer suburbs… I haven’t been there… that’s what rates are for.

The kitchen bin REALLY needed emptying.

But not onto the floor which is what happened when Groover pulled the plastic bag out of the shiny stainless steel bin and trying to stop the small drips from a hole in said bag managed to tip it over the floor.

Then the house really started to reek.

A shame as we’d done quite a good job in cleaning the house over the weekend.

Apart, obviously, from actually emptying all the bins.

Anyhoo we needed DRASTIC odour manipulation but an essential oil atomiser was not to be found.

Fear not, says Groover, and he quickly rigged up the above home atomising kit.

Now our house smells of lavender.


Later it was Dippity’s turn to do the washing up.

She likes to dress for the occasion.

My little maid

Aw.  Cute.

(she did a good job too)

Don’t say we never get anything done…

Back in 2008, this happened.

Remember this back in 2008?

Now you might not remember it (so go to the link to refresh your memory), but our solution at the time was to board it up with a bit of plywood.

An unsightly solution to be sure.

It’s not as if we didn’t know the frames were rotten.  In 2005 when we had the house repainted the painters had refused to waste good paint on clearly rotten wood.

We did nothing.

Then the door broke.

We moved our beer fridge to in front of the window for added security, and handy access to beer and wine.  And it was handy.

Over the next two and three quarter years we said to eachother often: “We really must get that door fixed.” and “If we were ever to sell, we’d need to get that door fixed.”

We hardly ever go out the back so we really didn’t notice it too much – except from the other side when getting beer and wine.

This year though it was hot.

Damn hot.

And we spent a lot more time in the pool.

In particular, Groover spent time outside. (a rare event)

One day last week, while swimming, he looked up and noticed that the bit of plyboard that had been nailed in again a few times by now, had come off again.

This time the nails fell out of the rotton wood.

He got quotes.

And today the door is in.

Don’t it look pretty?

The new doors from the outside

 Okay the wood has to be sealed somehow.


Apart from “don’t take another three years to seal the wood!”

I’m thinking a clear varnish myself.

The new doors from the inside.

I can’t believe it took us so long.

They look so good.

They feel so secure.

And so… not-rotten.

Yay Groover!  …and Nick from DoorSTOP.

Only thing is… where are we going to put the beer fridge?

How to save water

Our water bill

Congratulations, our water bill said, your water use is below average for your suburb.

Our water bill
Our water bill

Which would be saying something if we didn’t live in the suburb with one of the highest water usages in Perth.

So I guess you want to know how we saved so much water?

What the secret is to our success?

How we managed to go from 312,000L to just 170,000L?

With a pool.

By the way, the target set by the water corporation is to save 60L per person per day – which in our household of four would come to around 50,000L – give or take a few thou.

We saved 142,000L, nearly three times the goal.

Well, how did we do it?

The simple answer?

Here’s a clue.

Poor sad garden

Yes that’s right folks, we didn’t water our garden.

Green is over-rated don’t you think?

The lawnmower man has asked if he can check our reticulation.

Because, and this is the other bonus of not watering… your lawn doesn’t grow!

So you also save on lawn mowing costs.

Win win.

It must be said, the garden is looking a bit bleak…

On the other hand, this summer it’s been too hot to sit outside anyway.

Win win win.

Of course the cost of water has nearly doubled so unfortunately our bill is nearly the same (slightly cheaper).

Oh well, you can’t win them all.

The darling buds of August

My enthusiastic glory vine

It seems only yesterday that I was posting photos of my glory vine’s last bright red leaves.

It is now a twist of twigs over my rotting pergola, the beams sagging, held together by inexpertly attached shadecloth.

Well it was.

Today, as the bright sunlight of winter shone through I noticed greenery.

It’s budding.

And there are still two red leaves from last season.

Spring has sprung my friends, and we didn’t even have winter.

Well, maybe a day or two of winter.

And that freak storm in March.

Maybe we’ll have winter in spring?

Then my glory vine WILL be confused.

The last red leaves of my glory vine

A perfect Sunday lunch


How good is this diet I’m on?

In the last two weeks I’ve lost about four kilos, I’ve not given up wine and I get to have lunches like this.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese wheels – easy and delicious – with a light salad.

There was a light breeze as I sat outside on my reclining camper chair eating my salad and thinking that the world was a pretty good place to be in.

Speaking of salads… here’s a little rant.

Why do restaurants – in particular perhaps those that aren’t so great – overdo salads?

The one on this plate has some rocket leaves, one chopped spring onion, some sliced cucumber and yellow capsicum.

Simple and delicious.

A salad I had the other day at a restaurant had so many competing flavours I felt sick by the end of it.

It’s unnecessary.

I’m writing this listening to my new iTunes purchase – Elbow‘s The Seldom Seen Kid.

Strange name for a band don’t you think?

Stranger if they’d decided to call themselves after the inside of the elbow… you know… that little crease on your arm that has no name.

I guess then that little crease would have a name.

You know, maybe I should give up on the wine.

Speaking of which…

I’ve just volunteered to host four kids going to my daughter’s school’s drama weekend.

Are you okay with Halal cooking I’m asked.

LOL – I don’t even know what that is.

Something to do with the meat is slaughtered no?

So I say yes, whatever and then my daughter tells me she’s not even doing the weekend because I didn’t fill out some form.

How very irritating.

I put my headphones in, turn Elbow up loud and go to a better place.

UPDATE: And then discover that iTunes didn’t download the album properly and I’m missing two tracks including the one I actually bought the album for. I don’t know, you do the right thing and throw money at the problem and you end up wishing you’d got your teenage son to steal it for you. (Note… that was a joke. As if I’d admit to being THAT bad a parent on a public blog)

How to fix a sliding door

Our well used sliding doors into the granny flat and out of the back doors have been bumpy and sticky for a while now.

The door to the cabana (our granny flat) so bumpy as to actually bump out of the track which is why we had banned the kids from hanging out in there.

Over the holidays I had tried to get a man in to fix them little realising that I slept with such a man every night.

To be fair, Groover didn’t know he was that man either until a recent trip to the hardware shop to buy a new toilet seat (cracked for at least six months).

There he saw roller thingys…

So this weekend we set about fixing our sliding doors which really should be called rolling doors as they roll along on these little wheels.

You know, I’d never even thought about how sliding doors worked. I guess I imagined ball bearings if anything.

Anyway they don’t “slide” if the little wheels look like this:

It took us a while to get them out and we undid screws that didn’t need undoing and were tricky to get back in.

Basically with this roller all you need to do is loosen the little screw at the top of the unit… this is the one that adjusts the height of the rollers – there is only one screw. Don’t take it all the way out!

Then it’s just a matter of tapping in the new unit, adjusting the rollers to the minimum height, replacing the door and then raising the roller until the door “slides” smoothly.

Piece of piss really.

And it only took us about ALL DAY to do the three doors that needed their rollers replacing.

Of course they had different rollers so a second trip to the hardware store was required!

The rollwes were between $12-$16 each and with a number of screwdrivers and two people to remove the doors and encourage one another the job was easily accomplished by two handy-noobs.

And it was a lot more satisfying than writing an outrageous cheque to a fellow who might do it in five minutes.

Bring out your dead

Concerned readers will be relieved to know the title of this post does not refer to the author following the attack of the stinger a few days ago.

Indeed the evidence of the brutal tentacled molestation is all but gone and your correspondent is very much alive and kicking.

Not kicking as well as her daughter who is limbering up for a karate grading on Monday, but still quite well.

If a little sore.

Muscle sore that is from all the hard work this week has involved clearing out the back room and the back wall.

I’ve cleaned out the back room several times before, but this time we were serious.


We’ve even taken out the bookshelves.


Now apart from about 6 small boxes – the room is storage free.

I’ve sold or given away 14 boxes of books, including most of my science fiction collection.

The old telly and microwave, bookcases and four boxes of previously packed junk have gone on the verge (and a lot of it very quickly into other people’s cars).

And after four years we’ve finally got round to putting up the cedar blinds… which we’ve been meaning to do since we replaced them in the main house.

I feel relieved and zen.

And a little muscle sore.

Because we also pulled off the ivy from the back wall.


The ivy has long been a leaf trap, releasing them in a steady stream into the pool.

This was not our pool’s finest hour but you can see what the ivy ad vines looked like.


Every year we have to cut it back so we can walk down to the pump.

It has taken us at least six years since a landscape designer recommended we get rid of it to finally rip it out.

And then we discovered the high pressure hose…
So that’s the first week of my holidays over.

Boy it went quickly.

Now just the car to sort out, an ongoing fitness plan, the stumps need to be ground down… oh and I want to fix the paving round the pool.

Just one or two things on the list then.

My Space – seriously kid unfriendly

We are lucky enough to have a granny flat out the back of our place called affectionately The Cabana.  As we don’t have a shed it comes in handy as a place for storing all that stuff that somehow accumulates when you’ve lived in the same house for ten years.

The camping equipment is under our old queen sized bed.  There are boxes of books that I’ve given up trying to find a shelf for but can’t bear to give away.  Dress ups, my cello, a guitar, two single beds, a sofa bed, an old desk, more camping equipment, luggage, the bicycles, a trunk of Groover’s sister’s stuff, fishing stuff, carpet cuts, unused appliances, gardening gear, a set of boules, several paintings and the old telly.  I’m sure you have a similar space at your place.

In the last few years, every six months or so I’ve cleaned it up so the kids to entertain their friends.  The telly is linked to a dvd player and they can lounge around talking rubbish and not disturb us… but no more.

It’s supposed to also be the spare room for guests but after my two and their friends have been there – the guests don’t really have much of a hope finding the bed.

I’ve decided as they NEVER clean it up, I’m going to reclaim it for me.  It is now Myspace.

I’ve had the sewing machine fixed up and I now can – theoretically – do some sewing projects.

I’ve fixed the telly so I can watch videos as I sew or type in blissful peace, playing my music… should I wish to.

Some may say it’s selfish.  I say they should have bloody cleaned up!