Saturday, June 18

Locked Out!!!

I had been out for the afternoon at a meeting about the funeral industry and came home as the sun was setting.  I dropped my things upstairs and ran down stairs to check if the fire was still going.  I went outside to get some logs of wood from the heap, and the breeze slammed the door shut behind me.  There I was  -  no key, no way in, no phone (it was upstairs in my bag), both neighbours are away and my friend who lives up the street is also away.  What do I do?

I am very security conscious and usually lock all windows and doors, but for some explained reason, I left the bedroom window upstairs open.  Lucky for me - as I could prise the windows wide open and climb inside, which I did.

Scary thought really.  I have always been concerned about security in the house - it is an easy house to get in.  There are no screens on windows and no security doors.

Well, I have one week to go.......................

(Strangely, this little corner of the suburb is dark with no activity.  I know the next door neighbours are in New York, and I think the others on the other side are away.  They usually have a host of lights on, but tonight there are none on.  It is very dark.)

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A few days ago I called in to see my daughter and the 2 grand daughters.  It was around 8 pm and the girls were supposed to be on their way to bed.  We had a quick cuddle, and chat.  As I was leaving (it was only a very short visit) my daughter asked me if I needed some eggs.  She was supposed to give me some a few days earlier.

Daughter Z is 'the chicken woman' - and has some dozen or so laying hens.  She sells her eggs for pocket money.  Normally I don't pay, but on this occasion she reminded me that it usually costs $2.  OK, said I, but I don't have my purse with me, so I will have to owe it.  I laughed and said "Write an IOU" - within seconds she had gone and written out on a piece of paper for me to sign.

Last night I had a dream (or was it a nighmare) that Miss Z came and took the eggs back - because I have not paid!!!!

I had to check in the fridge this morning - I still have said eggs, so my eggs are safe for the moment - must get over there and pay my $2 quickly!!!

Friday, June 17

One Door Opens, One Closes

It is short few days before I move from Paddington to the next house sit at Wakerley.  It will be with mixed feelings though, as I have enjoyed my nearly 10 months living in leafy Paddington with the peace and quiet at night.  After hour house at Wynnum where the traffic noises often woke me in the night.  Idiots would try and see how fast they could get around the corner without smashing their cars - which they often did.  I would hear the squealing of tyres and wait for the BANG, and often go out and administer first aid or call the Police/Ambulance etc.  I hated it. 

Here there is seldom a noise at night, except for the possums dancing around the roof.  They can be noisy animals - even this morning there was a possum fight on the roof.  Rather unnerving at times as they thump around.

The "new" house is in a cul de sac, and there should not be much trouble with traffic there.  It is all on one level (no stairs at all) and a lovely back yard with a huge table and chairs, so I can entertain in the evenings.  Most of my friends are on that side of town too, which makes it easier for me.  My social life is limited here.

I'll not use so much petrol either as I am close to places I visit often.

But, on the negative side, I won't get into the city so easily - the train journey is OK, much longer, though I will get more read on the train.

I've discovered places that I can revisit more easily now I am more familiar with them too.

It is a pain to pack up - but all's well.  It will be OK.

Life's a journey.

Wednesday, June 15

The fire continues to glow......

Tending the fire reminds me of my childhood - where we had an open fire in the lounge room of our house in suburban Adelaide.  Each afternoon in winter, my mother (and as we got older, my sister and I would 'help' or do it ourselves) would get some newspaper, some kindling (small pieces of dry timber that would easily light and get the fire going), and then when it was well alight we would put the larger pieces of wood on.

I remember watching (or more likely listening to) my father chopping large pieces of wood into smaller pieces so that they were easy to carry or would fit better into the fireplace.  I remember him making kindling, sometimes out of old fruit or vegetable boxes as the fruit was delivered in wooden boxes to the local store.  There was no styrene foam or indeed cardboard boxes. 

My mother did not drive a car, and she would walk to the local store and if the order was big, the grocer would deliver them later, and we would sometimes get to keep the box.

Just thinking about it brings back other memories too.  I remember we didn't have refrigerators - we had an 'ice chest' and the ice man would deliver huge blocks of ice, which he carried in special big tongs as he ran from his vehicle to the house and put it in the top of the ice chest.

The milk man delivered milk - he had a horse and cart and my mother would put out a billy can, and he'd empty our supply into the billy can, and we'd run it inside the house and into the ice chest to keep it cool and fresh.  I remember when the milk would have a layer of cream on the top and mum would scoop it off to use in cooking.  I remember her boiling milk and watching the 'skin' settle on the cooling milk.

The baker also delivered bread - plain high top loaves.  We had to slice it ourselves with a big knife.

My father was building our house with the help of friends and family and we moved in some time in 1948.  We had an indoor toilet - which was considered quite 'modern' for the time.  The house we had been living in, with my grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins had an outdoor toilet, and we had 'potties' under the bed to use if we needed to 'go' at night.  Mum would have to empty the contents in the morning, and clean the potties and put them under the bed ready for the next night.

The house had two bedrooms - my parents' room and the bedroom I shared with my sister.  It was many years later, when I was in my mid teens that I had a room to myself.

When the area had telephones, we had a shared line.  Someone nearby had the same line, and we had to take it in turns to use the phone. 

My father worked at my uncle's building firm, and he used to ride his bicycle to work, and later he had a small utility. 

I had started school before we moved into the house in the suburb which was called Ballara Park, but now I think is called Warradale or Oaklands Park.  I had attended a little school at the back of St Jude's Church on Brighton Road, just next door to the Brighton Primary School.  I think I started at the latter when I was five years old.  Of course my mother did not have a car to take me to school, and she had my baby sister to care for, so I walked, usually with some of the other children who lived nearby and went to the same school.  I remember one of them - Roger Lawrence.  I remember him because one day a big spider landed on the front of my school uniform as we were coming home from school, and when I screamed he scooped the spider off me.

The distance from our home to school was around 2 kms, mostly along unmade roads and through bushland. I wonder if parents in 2010 would let their children, at age 5 or 6, to walk so far to school alone?

Saturday, June 11

I lit a fire!!!!

It is ok, I am not a pyromaniac!!!  It has been particularly cold here in Brisbane this week - in fact we've had the coldest winter days for over ten years, so I am cold. Upstairs where I spend much of my time here is a vast open space and not conducive to my little heater succeeding in keeping me warm.  I stand out in the sun (when it is out - which it hasn't much), and I rug myself up with my 'throw'.  I made one recently.

Yesterday I spoke with the owner who is preparing to return to Australia later this month and she asked if I had used the fire.  It is downstairs, but there is a huge 'pipe' that pipes the heat into the upstairs area.  But there was no wood or anything else, and anyway I can't remember when I lit a fire.  The owner suggested I ask her son to light it for me - but since he is seldom around and I rarely speak with him, I figured I would try to set it myself.

I went downstairs and examined the fireplace - it was essential a metal box, with a heavy glass door.  No timber, no kindling.

I found the supply of timber in a little garden shed, and loaded some up and took it into the house. Kindling?  I looked around the gard and all I could find were some old palm leaves.  I pulled them apart and stuffed them into the fireplace.  I did start with a couple of sheets of paper, lit the match and sat and watched.

The paper took off, and then the leaves from the palm fronds, but the bigger timber did not catch on.  I watched as the fire died in front of me.  I remembr years ago as a child, watching my parents light the open fire in our loungeroom, and later as a Girl Guide lighting fires to cook our food, sometimes the fires did not wish to take.  I remember we would just try again.

So last night I tried again.  I ventured into the garden and sourced some more dry palm fronds, and went back pushed it in the fireplace, lit the match.  Success at last.

The fire eventually was roaring - a roaring success?  And soon upstairs began to warm up, and I put a huge log on and left it.

I've not been down to check this morning, but I will shortly.  I am off to the supermarket soon, and when I come back I will light it up again.  Then I will spend this cold miserable day warm in front of my computer, or reading my book.

I am reading "The Last Days of Old Beijing" and finding it particular fascinating as he writes about an area that I am slightly familiar with, as when I was in Beijing I stayed in a hotel near some old hutong. (I've learned from the book that there is no plural for hutong - it can mean one or many.) Over the past 10 and more years the government of Beijing has destroyed all the lovely hutong - traditional housing and in a rampant way have replaced them with sterile multistory housing appartments and shopping complexes. 

Wednesday, June 8

Watch out for the vet bills.

I received an email from a fellow house sitter who looked after a house in Adelaide belonging to a university professor and his family.  There were two dogs to care for in a northern beach side suburb - and despite the occasional challenge with life in a new house, and new state, it was a pretty ok 'tour of duty'.

During the period, one of the dogs needed medical treatment and the dog was taken to the vet, and in accordance with the instructions, the account was left for the dog owners to pay, though the house sitter did 'sign the dog in'.

Months later, debt collectors are chasing the house sitter because the vet bill has not been paid, and it appears that the owner and his family have moved.  No one can find them.

The house sitter is being targeted for the money owed which is over $1000!!!  A little warning here.

I don't have any particular recommendations, other than to ensure that any amount spent on behalf of the house owner, is sorted out. 

I have had to call in an electrician - but I did not have to deal with the bill.  A story like this certainly makes you awere of the risks one takes.

My next house sit is where there is a dog - and I am sure I will have no trouble getting them to pay for any bills that come up.

However, even in this house, I am paying for some repairs to the car as I was driving it when it happened.  Someone must have swiped the rear vision mirror which has lost its back and I need to replace it. 

House sitters need to take care not to damage things - or if they do, they must pay for the repairs.

Monday, June 6


On Saturday I spent the day at Wynnum - met with friend for lunch, and then attended a 'world premier' of a play called "Presumed Guilty" written by Margaret Dakin.  Oh, and I picked up some new shoes (second pair at half price, so I just had to!) and a new purple watch.

Margaret Dakin (far left) on stage after the performance.

Lunch was great at the Olive Cafe in Bay Terrace, and we met Karla - actually one of the staff, but she sat at our table to eat her lunch, and we got chatting.  She is a Jazz singer and some of her craftwork is available to purchase at The Collective Store in Bay Terrace, so we wandered in to the shop and perused the awesome creations there.   I should have had my camera with me - but perhaps I can do that later.

Karla is singing there next week at Wynnum Up Late too.  After watching "Presumed Guilty" I headed back to Paddington and as I drove west there was an awesome view as the sun set behind the clouds giving them a rather gorgeous red glow.  I thought of stopping and taking a photo but there were too many power lines etc in the line of sight so I decided to go to Mt Coot-tha, on Sunday night.

On Sunday there was a lot of cloud cover and I wondered about the project, but as late afternoon came the skies cleared and I drove up to the top of the Mt.  Here are some of the photos I took - the clouds were not as bright as they had been 24 hours earlier, and even from Mt Coot-tha it is not easy to get a good view of the sun setting.  I met a guy there who was also taking photos (with a film camera - he said he could not afford digital) who discussed his idea of making a tower or larger and higher platform so that we could see west above the trees.

I was amazed at the number of people up there at that time of day.  As I left they were still arriving.  Here are some of the photos I took.

Brisbane City from Mt Coot-tha

Thursday, June 2

New booking

I have had my 'fingers crossed' for some time about the house sitting option for the rest of 2011, and yesterday learned that all was progressing well.  I am moving to the house at Gumdale in a few weeks time, for about five weeks, and she and her husband will be back for three weeks before they go away again, but they had plans but no confirmation - until yesterday.

It seems they will be going to Shanghai from September to end of January - so I have a roof over my head until the end of January.  Actually it might take me right up until the end of my studies, though I may have to fast track the last few weeks.

I'm jealous actually.  Not that I want to work as hard as I know she will have to with the job there, but I'd love to go back to China - Shanghai would be fine.

Still, I am content - no excited - that I will be settled until the end of January.  Later in the year I will consider my other options for 2011.