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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September Whirlwind

It is almost the end of September, and as always, it has been a strenuous but beautiful month. It's been several years since we've had such a summery start to the school year (although maybe we had one last year!). Fall officially began last week with high temperatures and I was dressing in summer clothes to survive in my warm classroom. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and today seems to signal the end of the sunshine and the beginning of the typical rains.
Here are a few September moments:
Last night we went to see Casting Crowns,
opened by Matt Redmond.
It was a very good concert.
I spied a field of ripe pumpkins as I drove from my parents' house on the weekend and just had to stop. Pumpkins are well-known for jack o' lanterns and pies, but I prefer them like this. A beautiful, happy part of fall!

I made Little Bear a pair of shorts from his ripped jeans; the torn legs inspired him to contemplate a new career with his brother! The two of them are immersed in school stuff and seem to be doing well.
We celebrated Big Bear's birthday with dinner at his favorite carnivore restaurant. Mmmm!
As for me, I've been coughing for five weeks and am quite SICK of the whole thing! However, I've been assured by those who know that I'm not dying of consumption, and continue to hack away with the knowledge that it's quite "normal" to cough for this long. Sigh.
Our house is still in the transformational process; Big Bear is outside working as I write. Hopefully, we'll be able to get it painted before winter sets in...
Enjoy the advent of spring in the land of perpetual sunshine!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Day After

We went to bed last night, still blanketed in our shroud of dust. Imagine our amazement and delight when we awoke this morning to clear blue skies and sunshine - a perfect day!

So this was our day today…


















Thursday, September 24, 2009

Worst Dust Storm in Oz History

We are enjoying being on the northern coast of New South Wales. The coastline here is spectacular – miles upon miles of white, sandy beaches, clear blue water, surf reserves or calm water, weather to match! Yesterday, we had the most glorious weather. This was the sunset we enjoyed.

VLUU L100  / Samsung L100


Today, we began our day with a beautiful walk along one of the many beaches here.


One of the locals even popped out to see us!


Within a short space of time, the horizon began to take on a pink tinge and there was a distinct feeling that a storm was brewing.


VLUU L100  / Samsung L100

And then everything turned yellow……and then a pinky-orangey-red.

It was weird. And the light was so eerie.

The high winds and unusually coloured skies made it feel like we were in the middle of a huge rainstorm…..except that there was no rain! Visibility dropped, and you could smell and feel the dust everywhere.



Can you believe these photos were taken at about lunchtime today!


Everything felt surreal! We are told, that the dust storm was fuelled by gale force winds blowing across the drought ravaged lands of western NSW. The strong winds spread a huge cloud of dust about 600kms from Sydney up the coastline through to Brisbane, dumping up to 75,000 tonnes of reddish dust per hour into the Tasman Sea.



Airports & traffic were disrupted as the dust reduced visibility to metres in some areas. Whereas a normal day might see about 10mcg of dust particles per cubic m of air, and a bushfire might generate about 500mcg/m3 of air, today’s dust storm saw levels soar up to 15,400mcg/m3 of air! No wonder I spent the day feeling like I needed another layer of moisturiser!



This last pic was taken at about 4pm today. The orb is the sun, not the moon! It has felt like dusk since the morning. Very unsettling indeed! I have enjoyed the unusual nature of the day, but am looking forward to a return to the status quo….

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spring has sprung

This is my favourite time of the year.
The stress of term time is dissipating...
The holiday spirit is willing...
Time to kick back with friends...
Balmy temperatures...

Saturday, September 19, 2009




Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Letter

I just had to share this one with you.
One of my grade three boys decided that he should write a letter to his mum after an "incident" on the playground. Here's what he wrote:

Yesterday mom, I said a word that should not be said. I said sex, and I will never say it again mom and I just said it for no reason and it means when your in love.
to: mom

What do I do with that?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On concerts, fireworks and reptilian endeavours

This is the last week of school for us in the Sunny Southern Isles! Well, the last week for Term 3 anyway. After this, it’s a fast trot through Term 4 to the end of the year, and all the madness THAT brings. And summer. The boys have forgotten what summer is like here…I’m trying to find a legitimate excuse to disappear to cooler climes! Too long outside in the sun, with or without sunblock, and this is what one could look like!

We are halfway through our week already, and the weekend is a distinct blur. It was a good one though as far as I can remember.
The boys both did very well at their piano concert, and stole the show. As usual, we were very proud of them. K has made 2 video clips as small as poss so that you can hopefully view the clips without a huge download. We hope you can access the clips OK.
E is 1st. We have only included part of his first piece. L is 2nd with snippets of his 2 pieces.


[Click on the arrow to load & play.
For those with slower internet speed, you may need to load the videoclip once right through to the end, before clicking the 'play' button again.
It should run a little smoother the 2nd time around!]

This weekend was the weekend of the annual Brisbane Riverfire – a fireworks extravaganza that is quite simply one of the very best fireworks displays we have ever seen anywhere on our travels. Well over 600,000 Brisbanites descend upon the banks of the river around the central city environs. By early afternoon, carparking is virtually nil for several kilometres around the city. Public transport is full, and people have staked their spot from which to enjoy the evening’s entertainment. There is a real party atmosphere with many people making a day of it. BBQ’s, eskies, and picnic rugs. Although there is entertainment happening right throughout the day, the highlight of the Riverfest is the fireworks display. Barges in the river, bridges spanning the river, and tall buildings around the river are all used as fireworks dispensers! In fact this year, some of the bridges had firework-waterfalls cascading off them into the river. Truly amazing! The fireworks are synchronised to music which is broadcast through loudspeakers everywhere. This year, was particularly poignant, because it is the last year that the F1-11 jet fighterplanes would be making an appearance. The F1-11 is interesting because of the ‘dump ‘n burn’ manoeuvre it can do – the jets can dump a load of fuel which then can be ignited by the afterburners on the jet. Naturally, at 600kmph, you can imagine the incredible sound and spectacle of this happening in the night sky as the finale to an amazing 30-minute solid round of light, sound, and colour. It is such a superb occasion – one of the few where it is worth joining the crowds just to ‘be there’!

I did wonder though, with the vibrations caused by millions of dollars worth of fireworks and jet fuel, and the hundreds of thousands of people everywhere, just where do the animals (like snakes which feel vibrations acutely) hide on such a night as this? It was just a thought….

Speaking of snakes, I heard the other day, that the warm winter has activated the reptile population a little earlier into preparing for Spring Things. Our neighbour heard a hullabaloo on her doorstep the other morning. A guest of hers had arrived, and was hammering at her door to be let in. Unfortunately, our neighbour happened to be ‘indisposed’ at the time and couldn’t rush to open the door….when she did however, she discovered that a yellowbellied black (snake) had holed her friend up on the front porch! Like, this is only NEXT DOOR! Anyway I am working VERY hard at not being a hysterical mom, when my son goes off mountainbiking into the bush, and my husband disappears offtrack to explore another path into the scrub! And I have to work even harder to quell my misgivings, when they drag me on my bike into the bush too…..!!!

Surprisingly (for me), I live to tell the tale…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Week

I welcomed my new class on Tuesday; they're pretty sweet and cooperative, although the "honeymoon" is over and a couple of my little boys are showing their true colours! I'm so grateful to the teachers who have come before me (K, 1, 2) and who trained these children so well - although we all know that some kids just resist that training! :)
My Little Bear left for his second year at school. He actually left his room relatively tidy (due to intense pressure from me!), so I don't need to keep his door shut! We won't see him this weekend, as they're all away on a college retreat. Sigh. Another year with an only child. (And lower grocery bills!!)
Big Bear removed the 1970's shutters from the windows as he continues the process of replacing the old siding. Yay!
We came home yesterday to a room-temperature fridge and freezer. Blech! I had to throw out lots of food, and besides the bread and the freezer packs, there's nothing but a big pool of something red in the bottom of the freezer. Berry juices? Or something awful? A repairman will come today and replace the compresser.
A lovely package arrived in the mail! I now have a good book to read and a sweet new bead on my bracelet that, along with another one, will make me think of the ocean and my dear, dear friend! Thank you!

A story that brightened my day: After my first French class on Wednesday, one of my little grade two girls went home and told her mum all about it.
Mum: And did Mr. L teach you French?
Sweet Girl: No, Mummy, it was the younger teacher - Mrs. W!

I will forever love this girl, as Mr. L is more than ten years younger than I am (way more!), and I was Mrs. L's teacher when she was in grade 7!
An altogether satisfying week.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I’m sorry to hear that the school year has begun again (& with it, the farewelling of summer holidays), Ange of the North! It always surprises me how quickly summer flies past! And you’ve had such a full time this summer...


As I began this post a few days ago, I had just tipped my cuppa tea all over me. Drat. I was having lunch about 70kms from Brisbane in the bustling metropolis of Beaudesert (population of about 5,000)! We had an early start that morning on account of our 1.5hr journey southwards. Lil L had been chosen as 1 of 6 students from his school to take part in a special science programme for gifted students, on ‘Electricity & Magnetism”. It was a struggle to rise with the dawn to make it to this event, I can tell you! However, my 3 fellow-passengers kept me well entertained and I now know ALL the jokes that Yrs 4-6 students find especially funny!


I had the most pleasant day wandering around this shire in my new vehicle, aptly named “Ollie the Truck” ! Beaudesert shire is well known for its horses – stud farms, equine rehabilitation centres, racing farms etc. I had been warned however, that there is not much to do here. This was evidenced by the fact that as soon as parents had dropped their kids off at the programme, there was an almost instant exodus, with most parents choosing to drive the long distances back from whence they came.


I myself considered this option too, but as I looked at my map of the area, I became intrigued by the fascinating names around these parts – Biddaddaba, Mt Chinghee, Jimboomba, Lost World, Rathdowney, and especially Wonglepong! I decided to explore. The elderly gentleman (with 2 teeth) at the Information centre was a mine of local knowledge. After he told me that “Wonglepong” is Aboriginal for “Death”, I decided that today might not be the day I explored this option. Instead, I headed for Hillview in the hope that I might get just that.



The land around Beaudesert was so dry. Fire alert was/is on ‘extreme’ caution. Fields are so brown and you can almost imagine the grass crackling as you drive by. But every so often, there will be a very well delineated patch of green – tended paddocks of turf farms or the well-moneyed racing stables. These green bits reminded me a bit of NZ’s landscape. But the eucalypt and gum trees identify the land as being undeniably Australian. And having a Big Red Kangaroo boinging across the school courtyard was definitely an Australian sight! A very un-kiwi expression burst from my lips – “Oh MATE! Get a look at that, will ya!”. The parent I was talking to at the time, barely blinked an eyelid! Probably wondered what planet I’d just hopped off…



I really enjoyed absorbing the landscape armed with camera, laptop, and refreshments! And I loved having the freedom of a day (well, some of it) to myself and the opportunity to determine the extent of Ollie the Truck’s capabilities. At one stage, I was so busy testing Ollie’s limits, that i missed a major turnoff! Well…I did see it flash by…Oops. Naturally, I’m presuming you have done the same with your new chariot?!


I must confess that I am feeling as "literarily" parched as the ground is here.


We did have our first storm of the season that same night we went to Beaudesert. K took great pains to manoeuvre his car under our porch (about a 20-point turn) to protect it in case of hail or other nasty storm-induced things. As K stood admiring his handiwork, the storm blew over! So much for filling up the water tanks….can’t complain – it is nice to wake up to those blue skies and sun we have come to expect!


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