Trip down memory lane

A few posts back I talked about my husband killing time by suddenly taking to furniture restoration with hitherto unseen enthusiasm (read more here).

Not to let Greg have all the glory, I have found my own remedy for killing time – photo sorting.  Now there is a time killer to beat all others!  I can see myself spending the next couple of weeks doing this, heaven knows how I’m going to have time for anything else.

It all started innocently enough, I was searching for a specific photo to insert into my blog.  A photo I knew I had … somewhere.

If you are like me, you have thousands of photos on your phone, tablet or computer.  And if you are one of those organised people, you have sorted them into albums for ease of locating later on.  Well, I can announce to the world, I am not one of those people.  It is all too easy to just shoot away, have a quick look and then just forget about it.

Of course the organised people of the world also make sure the photos are backed up in one form or the other.  Here I give myself a big tick!  Yep, I have dutifully backed up photo libraries from three different computers, two digital cameras, several smart phones, as well as photos posted by friends and family on social media.  To make matters worse I have back-ups of back-ups, so when I open the drive I am met with a forest of folders.

This means that after more than 12 years of happily clicking away at just about anyone and everything, finding a specific photo makes finding that needle in the proverbial hay stack look like a piece of cake (why, oh why, didn’t I spend some time organising all those photos?)

Photo forest

Looking for my photo, I found myself opening folder after folder and nearly forgot why I started this whole exercise. I wasn’t looking for that specific photo any longer, I was thoroughly enjoying myself walking down a pictorial memory lane.  My goodness, Greg and I have had some fun and done some crazy things together.  Photos, like music, have the capacity to instantly transport you to a different time and place and I spent a few happy hours “travelling” back in time.  Thank goodness we had left-overs in the fridge from the day before, I was way too busy to do any cooking.

The cause of all this merriment, said photograph, was however nowhere to be found.  It finally dawned on me it was taken back in the dark ages (the olden days as our kids used to say).  So onwards to plan B – the many photo albums and photo boxes hiding in one of the cupboards.

Here I must explain that I have always been a keen photographer so there are literally thousands of photographs.  Having brought all the albums and boxes out of the cupboard and put on the sofa, I could see that I must have single-handedly kept the photo shop in business.

Some of our photo boxes

At some stage I had obviously started to sort all those photos, some of the envelopes had dates on them. But judging by the majority of envelopes tightly squeezed into the boxes, this was considered a job for another time.  A time that has now come.

As I started to go through the photos, I constantly called Greg to “come and have a look at this!”. No sooner after having had a look and returning to whatever he was doing, another call would go out “you really must have a look at this!”.  He soon tired of running backwards and forwards and for the next couple of hours he too was absorbed in this form of time travel.

The older the photos were, the more we laughed and the more we remembered. We laughed at ourselves, how silly we looked, how young we were and we reminisced about the kids, dogs and friends we at some stage thought would be in our lives forever.

After several hours, one thing became very clear, there was no order what-so-ever to my photo filing. At one time there might have been, but no more.  What was not put into albums was simply squeezed into a box waiting for the photo fairy to put it in its place.  And Greg was no help at all, once he had enough of reminiscing, he put the photos he had spread out around him back into one of the boxes, got up and said “can’t believe how many photos we have, you should sort them out!”.

Yeah right, as if I don’t have anything better to do.  Well that’s just it, at the moment, I don’t.

P.S.  I did finally find the photo.

 

 

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Waiting…waiting…Still waiting!

Is there anything more frustrating than waiting?  Be it waiting in line at the supermarket, at the bank or waiting to board the plane .  Not to mention being put on hold and placed in a phone cue.  That’s a universal “tear-out-your-hair” and curl up in the fetal position moment.

I’m not good at waiting but I’m 100 times more patient than my husband. He  hates waiting and if he can avoid a situation that requires any form of waiting, he will.  So believe me when I say that our present situation is anything but ideal.  What to do with all your spare time while waiting?

We are presently back in Australia awaiting our new work permits for Papua New Guinea.  And we have been waiting for quite a few months now, our new contracts with a new employer, signed long ago.  PNG has this odd requirement that you have to be out of the country when re-applying for a new work permit even if your present permit has many months to go.

With so much time on his hands, hubby has dreamt up all sorts of things to do, not only for himself but unfortunately, for me too.  All I can say is that Google and YouTube have a lot to answer for.  For one, he discovered the pleasure of renovating old furniture, something he wouldn’t have given a second thought six months ago.

He resurrected our old and very comfortable cane dining chairs, destined for the tip after a recent purchase of new ones.  He repaired them and re-sprayed them and had me make new cushion covers for them.  I myself stupidly offered to do that, thinking I’ll stitch them up in a couple of hours.  I do know how to sew after all and the sewing machine could do with a workout, it had sat idle for the last couple of years.  Definitely time for it to earn its keep.

I had the perfect material on hand and it was just a matter of re-using the zippers and making exact copies of the old ones,  how hard could that be?  As it turned out, very hard.  I have made many types of cushion covers in my younger years, there is really not much to it, even the fully tailored ones are quite easy to make.  But these ones almost made me lose my sanity.

I struggled with those blasted covers for five (five !) days and for the life of me, I couldn’t work out where I was going wrong.  I could not get the measurements right to get the curved rear edges nice and smooth (did I mention I’m a perfectionist?).  Making it worse was hubby’s constant jack-in-the-box impersonation and sudden expertise at cushion-cover making.  He has no idea of how close he came to wearing one of those covers.

No one can ever accuse my dear husband of not going the full yard.  Once the chairs were mastered, nothing in the garage was safe.  The corner in the garage where we had put old furniture to be given away or thrown out, was all of a sudden in the spotlight.  Nothing was safe.

Bed head and side tables

A queen size bed with a beautiful timber bedhead was sanded down, several coats of oil applied and Hey Presto!, a new bed appeared where once an old ready-to-be-thrown-out one had stood.  Bedside tables were sanded, legs repainted and they were now way too good to part with.  He even restored our outdoor glass table, stripped the paint off the aluminium frame and re-sprayed it.  It came up like new.  And I must admit the frustration with the cushion covers was worth it, we now had another usable outdoor setting.

For a professional man, used to putting large deals together and managing a sizeable work force, he could put many a furniture restorer to shame.

But of course there are only so many old things stored in the garage and the novelty did wear off after a time.  Lately he has taken to reading my monthly food magazines (he is really bored), taking great interest in the many wonderful recipes hidden within their covers.  I have always bought food magazines but very rarely have I cooked any of the dishes.

Alas, the luxury of just reading the recipes at my own leisure is now gone.  My soul mate is now making constant suggestions for recipes “we” should make, “we” meaning me.  I have never cooked so many new dishes, some very complicated, others thank goodness, less so.  But I concede I’m learning a lot and we have never eaten so well.  Not to mention that some of my many house hold gadgets have finally seen the light of day.

What’s left of the Maltesers cake

Luckily, Greg and I enjoy each other’s company and having worked together since the first day we met, we have learnt to put up with each other and take an interest in what the other one is doing.  Be it furniture restoration, sewing or cooking we are determined to keep ourselves occupied while we wait…and wait.

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Snakes and Spiders – They don’t eat much

“We live in a country full of dangerous and deadly creatures and each day is a struggle just to survive all the perils lurking outside our front doors”. “Snakes and spiders are just waiting to attack you”.  I think  this is sometimes how the rest of the world sees our country.

Some of the dealiest creatures in the world can be found in Australia

Australia is well known for having some of the most venomous and deadliest snakes and spiders in the world.  Not to mention deadly jelly fish, crocodiles and sharks in our waters.  Going for a swim or a hike can be down-right life threatening.  There are so many films and TV programs highlighting the dangers in our country, I’m surprised Australia has any tourism at all!!

Crocodile warning sign
No swimming – crocodiles

I was born in Sweden, a country where there are very few things that can harm you.  I mean, how often do you come face to face with a brown bear or a wolf?  As kids, the only things that saw us running for our lives were wasps or the neighbour’s mad rooster (he really was dangerous – he once had my mother cornered in the out-door loo for several hours).  The sea didn’t harbour anything more scary than the jellyfish that would come in late summer, their  tentacles could sting, but they certainly didn’t kill you.

“You’ll never last!”

When Greg and I decided to move from Melbourne to Far North Queensland, I was constantly told I would hate it and never survive all the creepy crawlies and snakes that live in and around the rain forest.  Friends and family alike thought we were bonkers; we (especially I) would never last.  Well I hate to say it but, 25 years later on, we are still here.

Monitor lizard
Rocco studying monitor lizard
Lizard in close up
Monitor Lizard

Not only do we love it, we have learnt to live with all of nature’s creatures, big and small.  Some might look scary but most the time they are harmless and as the saying goes “much more scared of us than we are of them”.

We are not alone

When we moved into our present house, it had sat vacant for well over two years.  In the tropics things grow very fast and both flora and fauna take over in a very short time.  I’m sure if you stood still for any length of time, you’ll be covered in vines, with critters having made a very comfortable home in the greenery.

We found we shared the house with two brown tree snakes who lived in our ceiling.  The first time I heard their dragging, rasping sound, I was in the bath. Greg was away on a short business trip and being alone at home, I really freaked out. I spent the next couple of nights following the eerie sound as it moved from one end of the house to the other, telling myself not to be stupid. Whatever was up there couldn’t be that bad.  Besides, our two dogs didn’t seem overly worried.

As soon as Greg walked in the door I insisted he investigate to see what kind of monster lived in our ceiling.  Judging by the noise, it had to be big whatever it was.  He soon found the offenders, two brown tree snakes. They had obviously made themselves at home during the past couple of years and after several unsuccessful attempts to catch them, we decided to simply just let them be.

Snake in car engine
Getting Thelma the snake out of car

Thelma & Louise

We got used to seeing one or the other of these snakes in the evenings when they came out to hunt and we grew quite fond of them, naming them Thelma and Louise.  There were times when we found them inside the house, usually alerted by the dogs barking, but they always made their way out quite quickly.

Thelma eventually grew too big to fit into the small opening they used to get in and out of and she moved herself to the garage. Louise disappeared shortly after and for several years now, all’s been quiet in the ceiling.

We still see snakes around the house but we have discouraged any “new tenants” by blocking off any openings to the ceiling.  And I have learnt that I don’t have to run, screaming, in the opposite direction every time I see a snake.  Sure, there are some very dangerous ones but they are not going to chase me if I leave them alone – live and let live, that’s my motto.

Spiders – not my favourite

One thing I still have a slight problem with is spiders.  I am no longer petrified by them, however I really like to admire them from a distance.  But my god, we do have some beautiful ones in this part of the world.

Orb spider
“Colossus” – our Orb spider

For the past month or so we have watched an orb-spider weave its beautiful web and grow bigger with each day.  I really wasn’t too keen on this one since the web was right outside our back patio doors and next to our outdoor sitting area.  I had this horrible thought I would forget to watch out and walk right into the web, thereby ending up wearing the spider.  The web was quite high up though so we let it be.

She grew very quickly (we know it was a female, males are tiny in comparison) and we named her “Colossus”.  Every morning we would go out to see what poor creature she had caught in her substantial web, it was like a private biology lesson, our very own nature program.  Most insects caught in her web didn’t stand a chance, very few escaped.  She really was quite beautiful and I can understand the fascination some people have with these eight- legged creatures.

“They grow up so fast”

Colossus got as big as Greg’s hand and I slowly warmed to her presence.  Visitors might have freaked out but we quite liked her. One morning however she was gone, all that remained was the web with a large hole in the middle.  We presume some bird must have got her.

Orb spider in web
Big as the hand

We have lots and lots of other spiders and critters around the house, but she became special.  And strangely enough, we sort of missed her after she was gone.  After all, she didn’t eat much.

 

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Day trip to the outback – Chillagoe

In Cairns it doesn’t take too long to go from the lush coastal landscape, with it’s long sandy beaches and rain forest clad back drop, to the much drier and flatter outback.  Within a couple of hours drive, you have literally been transported to a completely different world.  It looks different, it smells different and it is different.

My husband and I took our beloved SAAB, nicknamed Sweedie, for a drive last weekend (husband’s love for this car will be another story).  We decided to visit a little outback town called Chillagoe, about 220 km inland from Cairns.

Greg and “Sweedie” at Chillago

It’s been several years since we last visited this little town and we have some very fond memories of the place.  At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much there, what was once a thriving mining town with a large smelter has long since declined to a mere dot on the tourist map, with less than 200 inhabitants. But take a second look and you will find there is actually a lot to discover.  I won’t go into details of what to see and do in the area,  if you want to learn more the following links are a good place to start:  Chillagoe    Chillagoe, Queensland

In Chillagoe

Chillagoe is known for its limestone caves and beautiful white marble. The very first time we visited, we specifically wanted to explore the caves.  The kids and I were very excited, husband much less so, he gets claustrophobic in small places.  But I convinced him the cave we were going to visit was very big, no way was he going to feel closed in.  After all, I had seen beautiful photos from inside the caves, they were as high as cathedrals, no possibility of claustrophobia there.

Chillagoe marble

The particular cave I had chosen for us to visit was only accessible with a guide.  Our small party was told there was no lights inside the cave so we were given miners lights to put on.  We were also told the cave was home to hundreds of bats and not to shine the lights upwards to disturb them.  They were sleeping and would not leave the cave until nightfall.

Limestone cave

But of course, someone managed to upset the bat colony and while squeezing through a very narrow and low passage (we had to crouch and walk sideways) hundreds and hundreds of bats were flapping past us at lightning speed.  We were told to turn our lights off and stand still, we were in pitch darkness and all we could hear and feel was the flapping of hundreds of wings.  But not a single bat connected with us.

It was an amazing experience and I will never forget my amazement at how skilled bats are at navigating in pitch darkness. The experience did however make my husband swear never to enter dark unlit caves again.  Actually any cave, lit or unlit, and that’s a promise he has kept to this day.

The  old smelter sits just outside town, a testament to the thriving industry that once sustained this town. Three large brick chimneys proudly stand watch over what is now mere ruins. But it is not too difficult to imagine the hustle and bustle that once must have reigned here.

Chillagoe smelter

You are no longer able to enter the actual smelter site, but you get a very good look from the information platforms erected around the place and lots and lots of information about the smelter and the town is provided on signs around the place.  For a history nut like me, it’s heaven.  It’s also a very good spot for some fantastic photos.

The drive to Chillagoe is in itself half the fun.  You drive through some sleepy little towns and if you stop for a coffee or a beer at the pub, if there is one, you’ll meet some wonderful characters.  They are always ready for a chat and can tell you just about everything about the area.  And they are wonderfully accommodating. We stopped for a quick coffee in one of those towns in the morning and the cafe owner, even though he closes at 2 pm, told us he would be happy to open up for us on the way home around 5 o’clock and make a pizza for us.  Just in case we were hungry.  That’s what I call service!

Petford railway station

Almost all the road to Chillagoe is now sealed, there are only a few kilometers here and there that are unsealed.  Those sections had just been graded when we made our day trip so it was an easy drive to the delight of hubby, who was a little bit worried about Sweedie getting her “feet” dirty.  After all, she’s a mature lady of 25  and she requires a little bit of extra care.  Which she got the next day – come 10 o’clock she was washed, dried and restored to her shining best.  And awaiting her next adventure.

 

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I’m a lizard

Here in Cairns we have a bit of a cold snap at the moment or at least what we in this part of the world think of as a cold snap.  Anywhere else in the world it’s called warm, pleasant summer weather,  perfect for a day at the beach.  But us North Queenslanders think it’s a bit chilly.  We reach for our winter wollies and turn our reverse-cycle air conditioners to heating as night falls.

This got me thinking about how easily we get acclimatised and how in one part of the world 24°C means we go to the beach while in other parts, we put on winter clothes.

I hate the cold!  Anyone who knows me will  wholeheartedly agree; I’m always the one carrying a jumper or cardigan “just in case”.  And unless the pool is as warm as a steam bath, I’m really not that keen to get my feet, let alone my body, wet.

I left my country of birth (beautiful Sweden), looking forward to living in what I thought was a forever warm and sunny Australia.  When I stepped off the plane in Melbourne on one of their stinking hot February days, I was in heaven.  I thought 38°C was the norm.  Little did I know that Melbourne is known to have four seasons in one day, it might be 35°C in the morning but come early afternoon the temperature has dropped to 18°C and it’s pouring rain. Very similar to the place I had just left behind and, weather-wise, definitely not my dream climate.  I wanted those tropical balmy nights all year round.

Here I must mention that Melbourne is a fantastic city, one of the most livable cities in the world and if I could change the weather to tropical warmth, I would definitely live there.

Australia is a very large country and lucky for me, the weather gets warmer the further north you go.  So when my husband and I decided we wanted a change of scenery, I got my chance.  I looked at the map and basically picked a place as far north in Australia as you could go by car.  The first place I picked was vetoed by my husband because it apparently was just a tiny fishing village with absolutely no hope of employment (fishing for a living did obviously not appeal to my soul-mate).  Next choice – Cairns.  After a seven day scouting trip, checking out schools, housing and employment opportunities, we went back to Melbourne, sold our house and, with our two young children and large family dog, set off in our trusted Nissan Patrol.

We drove nearly 3000 kilometers north, a feat I’m very proud of having done without murdering the kids.  There were a couple of times my husband threatened to leave them behind on the roadside, but really in hindsight, they were incredibly patient and well behaved. This was 1992, long before tablets and smartphones.  We had to rely on “I spy with my little eye…” and coloring-in books.  Wish I had kept count on how many times we heard “are we there yet?”, “how much longer?”, we could probably have entered the Guinness Book Of Records and won.

But oh, it was soooo worth it!  Arriving at our house, we literally walked from the front door out to the pool and jumped in.  The pool was like a hot bath, I was in heaven (this is not to everyone’s liking mind you, most people actually want the pool to cool them down).  And for the next 10 years we lived on our out-door patio, swam everyday and apart from sleeping and cooking, hardly ever spent any time inside the house.

I took to the tropical climate like a duck to water, when everybody else were dripping with sweat in the high, wet-season humidity, I was at my best, nice and dry and just soaking up the heat.  It was never too hot or too humid for this wayward viking.  I am convinced, if there is such a thing as more than one life, I was definitely a lizard in my last one.

And then we moved up to the Tablelands, 300 meters above sea level and a mere 20 minutes away from our home on the coast.  But what a difference 300 meters can make!  It is consistently 3-5°C cooler up here (husband loves it) and for the first time in 10 years I was really feeling cold.  Not just a bit cool,  but cold.  14°C over night means a thick doona on the bed and sheep skin slippers, I might as well be in the Arctic.  Of course unless you have lived in a tropical climate for any length of time, this would simply be a nice summers evening.

My husband and I have spent nearly three years in Papua New Guinea and the temperature on the coast rarely goes below 23°C during the “winter” nights.  Average year-round temperature in Port Moresby where we work, is 26 -28°C.  Needless to say, this suits me fine.

At the moment we are back in Australia waiting for new work permits before heading back for another three years.  Port Moresby might only be a short one-and-a-half hour flight from Cairns, but we have once again acclimatised to the even warmer weather further up north.  As I write this the sun has set, it is just past 7.00pm and we are scrambling for our woolen jumpers.

Where to next?

 

 

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I’m getting there

After finally managing to publish my first post, I now realise there is still quite a lot of work to be done.  If any of you experienced bloggers out there read this, you must be laughing, thinking “it’s not that hard!”.  And of course you are right, I just happen to be one of those annoying people who want every aspect of any project I do to be perfect.   And I have this stupid need to understand how everything works behind the scenes, it doesn’t matter that it is totally unnecessary for any success.  My better half’s take on this is that perfect equals slow, very slow.  Somehow, he always manages to complete any project in lightening speed and the worst part is, they are always very good.  Infuriating!

When looking on the net for helpful advise I found literally dozens and dozens of websites and YouTube clips giving advise on how to start a blog, talk about confusing!  But hey, a little advise can go a long way so to help me with this blogging business, I have decided to get some help by doing the 30 Day Blog Challenge.  It surely can’t hurt and who knows,  I might actually learn something.

I will be playing with the look of my website until I’m a 100% happy with it and you will most certainly find small changes as we go along and as I’m getting better at it.  So please bear with me and if any of you have any suggestions I love to hear them.  I just hope I have correctly inserted the contact form!

When I told some friends I’m starting a blog, the first question was “What are you blogging about?”  According to most blogging advise on the net, I must have a subject to talk about, a niche.  Well, that’s just it.  I don’t have any particular subject in mind, I really just want to talk about everyday things, share my observations and experiences and in doing so, hopefully put a smile on your face.  So starting with my next blog, I will give you an insight into my everyday but crazy life.  Come join me!

And hey, if there is any particular subject you think I should mull over, please use the contact form and let me know.

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