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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Changes Afoot

It has been almost five years - five! - since we bought our house. In that time, we have really done nothing to the exterior, aside from telling each other that it really needs painting. So, true to fashion, we started talking more seriously about it a couple of weeks ago. Just near the end of our vacation. What could we do to update this house? It's pretty sad looking. (Note the old carpet sitting outside - that was my doing! New flooring is sitting in boxes in the living room, waiting to be installed!)A couple of days ago, as I left for school (yes, school!), I snapped this photo. "Our" stone man and his boys were ready to start their work! What will it look like? Well, I'll show you very soon! The painting will be done in September, as the painter is all booked until then.

The house is now full of dust, with tape measures and tools scattered around. I was still able to entertain tonight, however. Good friends, food, and a little wine made for a most enjoyable evening. The big question: What movie have you watched most often in your life? (not counting children's movies!)
Wish you were here, as always!

Friday, August 21, 2009

More prescriptive moments for good health!

I just had to document today in the blog.


I believe it is the FIRST day for a very, very, very long time (some months ?!) since I have had a day just to myself. No meetings, no deadlines, no errands (well, none that ABSOLUTELY NEEDED to be done TODAY, right now, immediately!), no lists, no people to see, no people to be seen by.

Well, that’s not quite true.

But it was an ‘enforced day of rest’ - due to having to be home to wait for the Telecommunications technician to connect us to the outside world (see ‘Ranting and Raving’). And true too, we still have hundreds of boxes that are just calling out to be unpacked. And lists of administration still to be administrated. And people to see. And people to be seen by.

But I had a day at home with just ME!

Boy, do I need days like this!

A day just to breathe. Just to be.

Nice clean bathrooms…..dinner’s cooked…..laundry’s flapping out in the fresh breeze and sunshine…..we now have a landline…..I’ve taken a number of calls….the house is vacuumed....I've fingered some CD's....there has been a modicum of tidying up done.....and it has been BLISS!

Just me….and my cuppa tea! Bring it on! Ahhhhhh!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Prescription for Good Health

Well, after such an awesome photo marathon, I feel compelled to add a few of my own. Although they don't come from such an exotic locale...
Big Bear and I just spent a week together. Part of it was with friends, but miracle of miracles, we had four out of eight days BY OURSELVES! It was difficult to convince him, this extreme extrovert of mine, but in the end he agreed to go through with it. And he liked it!
We started on Texada Island, where we visited Al and Stella.

After sleeping in their guest bed for a night, we pitched a tent at the local campground. Not because their bed was uncomfortable, but because they were leaving for Vancouver. We then decided to camp for another night, as the ocean view was so beautiful!

We left the island and spent a day on the Sunshine Coast in the rain. Actually, it cleared up quickly, but it sounds better that way... And then we went to Vancouver Island, where I ate this amazing mango and brie quesadilla. You would have loved it, with all that melty brie! Somewhere in there, we also spent a night in a fleabag motel that was decorated in the seventies.
On the south end of the island, in Sooke, we twirled on a merry-go-round.

And then we had cheese and wine looking over the ocean.;

Our next stop was on Galiano Island, where we stopped at my old favorite, Montague Harbour. It seemed uncommonly full of moored boats!
We stayed with Paul and Sarah on Galiano, and the following day, their new little sailboat took its maiden voyage. Big Bear, Paul, and his two daughters sailed for three hours to Thetis Island to take the girls to camp. And then the guys sailed for three hours back! You can just make out the blue and white sail as Sarah madly waves her arms to say goodbye.
That evening we had one of those perfect dinners on the deck as the sun went down over the ocean.
And the next day, the eighth day, Big Bear and I caught the ferry (our seventh of the week) to go home. But wait - who was on the ferry with us??? It was Tim and Lea with Andrew and Chrissie, also returning home from an island vacation! What a lovely way to finish the week, riding the ferry with my brother! And the 50 orca whales frolicking around the ferry made it even more special!
It was a soothing, gentle week with a perfect balance of people and... not. Good for the soul. I highly recommend holidays.
I think you need one, Southern Ange.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ranting & raving

I am going to have a rant. It befits my age and station in life.

The last few months have ‘stretched’ us all in many ways. I have been working hard at being tolerant and patient. Not virtues that I possess in a natural capacity, by any stretch of the imagination. However, I am sure that we have been given more than our fair share of ‘training’ now. I am happy to admit defeat. The gross inefficiency of the Australian Bureaucratic Process leaves us drowning in Red Tape and sheer disbelief. I know all countries in the world have their share of unwieldy processes, but we are flummoxed as to why a progressive country such as Oz would still tolerate inexcusable incompetency and mindless practices. “Because this is the way it has always been…and things are never going to change”…. I guess. Let me share just a wee snippet from one of hundreds of similar stories we now have in our ever growing collection!

Enter Telecommunications Company (TC), selected after weeks of research and sifting through telecommunications plans and deals.

K&A: Have extensive conversations to establish whether TC can provide us with landline and broadband coverage. Establish after a few days of communication, that this is indeed possible.

TC: Standard email received to say that TC will be coming on X date for installation purposes. Someone needs to be at the property between 8am - 1pm on the day. We need to confirm that we will be at the property between those hours or a fee of $250 may be charged!

K&A: K is at work, so A phones TC to see if the installation people can come after 9am as A needs to drop kids off at school, and K will be at work.

TC: Could you please give us the name of the person we are talking to?

A: Ange (etc)

TC: And what is the name of the person who ordered the installation?

A: K (etc)

TC: What is his date of birth?

A: Gives DOB

TC: And what is the address which is requiring installation?

A: Gives address

TC: And what is your name again?

A: Ange

TC: I’m sorry, but you are not the designated name on our records. Therefore, we will have to speak with K in order to take this matter any further. He will have to designate you on our records if we are to deal with you on any matters.

A: Your email says that we needed to contact you if we are not going to be at the property for installation purposes and I just want to know if you can make a note on your records that we will be available after 9am as I need to drop my kids off at school prior to that.

TC: I am sorry. We can’t speak to you because you are not the designated name on our records.

A: Rings K and tells him that he has to phone TC himself, and that they don’t like his secretary.

K: Phones TC. Adds A’s name to their records. Asks if they can come between the hours of 9am - 1pm on the designated date.

TC: I’m sorry. We can only come between 8am - 1pm.

K: I know that, but surely its not going to take 5hrs to install a phone. Could you give us an approximate indication of time that we need to be at the property? We have to drop kids off at school and we can be back by 9am, but we don’t want your man to turn up at 8am to find that we aren’t there…

TC: I’m sorry. We can only come between 8am - 1pm.

K: OK, OK. Let’s try a different tack. How long will it take to get the job done?

TC: I only know it will happen between the hours of 8am - 1pm.

K: Right. It is just a matter of connection to an existing line. You’ve said that we need to be at the property. Will someone actually be coming onto the property to do the installation?

TC: Not necessarily. Someone may or may not come to the property.

K: Then how will we know when the job is done? Will someone give us a call or drop us an email to let us know that the job is completed?

TC: No. We don’t phone or email those details.


It would be fair to say, that we have ALSO had some GREAT customer service. It is a sad indictment on things that whilst we used to take good customer service for granted, we are now almost always caught off guard when we do get good customer service! The other day, I was so surprised by some great service, that I spontaneously told the Real Estate agent (who was serving me) “Wow! I could give you a hug!” Ooops - That might’ve just destroyed a rare service!

And we have had some amazing experiences with the boys’ school and other places, which have far and above, made up for the frustrations elsewhere.

Now I’ve got that all off my chest, I feel much better. I shall go and enjoy the perfect weather here. It has been 29 degs C for the past few days, with the characteristic clear blue skies and sunshine. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact, that this is ‘winter’ ! 8 weeks here with the same perfect weather each day (bar a total of 2 days when it tried to rain). You can’t stay grumpy for too long! WHEW (said the world)!

Time for some pics from the last few weeks:




At dusk




Sandsculpture at night


Catching a night view of the city


View of city & Story Bridge from our previous apartment


Whalewatching on the Gold Coast


4 yr old koala mom with 1st appearance of koala baby!


P1120158 Massive python saying ‘gidday’ to L


…and E ! Mmm…yummy looking specimens…


I know I put my wallet in there somewhere….”


Hairy nosed wombat


The first Blue-Tongue Lizard spotted in our garden so far – the saying goes, that if you have a Blue-tongue around, you’re less likely to have a snake within coo-ee. This was only a baby (probably great snake fodder) though, so we didn’t hold much faith in that saying.


The first cane toad spotted outside our house. Gross. Can see why they’re used for golfing practice!


Church (or at least, morning tea afterwards)


Fellow Kiwis on Mt Coot-tha


Home for now. I just love our outlook over a huge park with a river, bike & walking trails, and the pony club. Our back lawn has a gate straight into the park.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chrissie's Birthday

My lovely niece, Chrissie, is twelve today. Just think of all the wonderful things that await her in life - driving, high school, first love... (Wow. I can't think of anything else to equal those three.) Not only that, she will also get to work out her future career. A few years ago, with stars in her eyes, she declared that her goals in life were to be a teacher and/or a waitress.
There are so many special things about this girl who has a very special place in our hearts. She loves animals, has a beautiful smile and a soft heart, loves her family, and is creative and spunky. And she recently discovered that I looked very much like her when I was young!
Whatever Chrissie ends up doing, she will add her own special loving touch to it, and will probably be surrounded by animals and candy. And just think: in one year from now, she'll be a teenager! (Then life will really begin, especially for Tim and Lea!)
Happy birthday, sweet girl! xox

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Carpe Diem

August is here. I know what this means: soon, in the next couple of weeks, I'll go outside and sniff the air. Maybe there will be a red leaf on a tree, or maybe it will be something else, but I'll know in that instant, summer will be quietly wandering south. Even when it's warm, there will be a certain something in the air whispering, "autumn." And my days off are numbered.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying summer! We spent the holiday Monday at the beach with Tim 'n' Lea. Mmmm, I love that salt air!
We laughed so hard - shot after shot of these kids jumping (lots of moaning and groaning!), and there was always somebody on the ground when the others were up. But in each one, Chrissie looked like she was doing some wild sixties dance!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

O Canada!

Nothing strikes patriotism in the heart of a Canadian like the sight of a mountie in red serge. And the RCMP musical ride has red serge in spades!
I went with Tim and Lea to the musical ride today, and due to my dear brother's exalted position, we scored prime seats in the VIP tent. Out of the sun!
The horses pranced with precision and the riders sweated in their hot uniforms while we oohed and ahhed and snapped photos.
How Canadian!

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