Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Out of the closet

I’ve been hiding in the closet – I’ve not told you who I am, most of you don’t know my gender, anything about my career, my family and I’ve been happy to keep it that way. This is because previously I've been hated for what I say, but I have come to the realisation that if the truth hurts, then you are the one with the problem, not me.

I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer keep my online identity hidden without people distrusting me.

I’m aware that there are many fakes in both the real world and on the ‘net, I can assure you I am as real as they come in both worlds. What you see is what you get with me. I don’t hide behind a screen and keyboard, I don’t hide behind false words or faces. That is not who or what I am.

I am responsible for many things in my life, from a happy marriage of 22 years and 2 beautiful children, to a haphazard but happy working life.

I am also wholly and solely responsible for itaintalwaysso and Marysvillecookbook blogspot and also The Marysville Cookbook - with no external input from anyone or anything on any printed word.

The last 12 months has seen many changes in my life, from the devastation and destruction of Marysville, where I grew up and went to school. To the death of my father, 12 months after the Black Saturday fires.

But that is not why I am coming out of the closet so speak.

My name is Heather, I live north of Melbourne in a rural setting and I enjoy who and what I am, and what I have become as I’ve grown up.

Noting that as someone said recently – growing up doesn’t mean a mortgage and kids, it means being happy with who and what you are. And I am

So there you have it – I’ve come out of the closet.

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Garden, My Food, My family, My Budget

March 2010

These last two weeks have been bountiful in the harvests, and our family has enjoyed eating fresh picked and home-grown food.

Some of the produce harvested this week – Over 10kg of Zucchini, 4kg of Almonds, 3 Chestnuts, 1 Mandarin, 500g of Blackberries. (Please no comment on the quantity of Chestnuts and Mandarines, this is the trees’ first fruiting season)

This week I’ve made Zucchini Chutney, Fig Jam (courtesy of the neighbours) every meal has had Zucchini in it and the Blackberries didn’t make it more than 2m from the bush, the same for the Mandarin and the Chestnuts which will have a ceremonial roasting when we light the fire.

There is currently a debate on eating locally, eating locally produced in-season food. I agree. Alright – you can have strawberries and apples in the middle of winter, but people just don’t realize is that cost of growing, storing and transporting those vegetables to places they are not meant to be in the middle of winter is huge, not just the dollar value – but the cost to environment and your health.

It is estimated that if a family were to eat ‘in-season’ i.e. fruit and vegetables that are grown in the area AND in season at the time of shopping, this could save as much as 20% in plain dollar terms. On the average bill of $50, that would mean a saving of $10 per week which is a whopping $500.00 saving per year. Simply by buying what is right not what is wanted.

Add to that cost, the cost of keeping and transporting out of season and out of area fruit and the cost to the environment is huge. The cost can add up to 500% to out of season fruit and vegetables. Imagine paying 500% for your electricity. Would you do that if you had alternative choices? I don’t think so.

Not everybody has access to a garden, but you have family and friends and often they have fruit trees that are bending, almost breaking with the weight of fruit. Why not stew some, jam some, eat some, just plain old use some.

The cost of good quality jam is around the $4.00-$5.00 mark – why not reduce that to $0.50-$1.00. I made fig jam this week and the cost was $2.00 for the sugar and about 3 hours effort with little monitoring. The jars, well you collect those all year, so the cost is nothing. I made 12 jars of Fig jam which will last for 12 months and there is enough to give away to friends.

My garden grows my food, as long as I look after it. My food is for my family and it must be of a high quality. We waste nothing, if we can’t use it immediately, we find something that can be made so the produce is not wasted. If all else fails we blanche the products and freeze for later use.

My budget for food shopping is pretty good, simply because we buy specials, we buy bulk items and we do without and supplement where we can. So mushrooms in the casserole? You can do without, without affecting the taste!

And if you are looking for a cookbook - look at Cookbook for Marysville

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Year 1905

This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine!
The year is 1905. One hundred years ago.
What a difference a century makes!

Here are some of the U.S. statistics for the Year 1905:

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.

With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most! Populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,

A dentist $2,500 per year,

A veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and

A mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: Pneumonia and influenza; Tuberculosis ; Diarrhea; Heart disease; Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

Arizona, Oklahoma, New! Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write.

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacist said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." (Shocking!)

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

And I forwarded this from someone else without typing it myself, and sent it to you in a matter of seconds! Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

It staggers the mind.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

L is for learning, P is for Practice

Well that’s what I thought this meant when displayed on a vehicles front and rear windows. Until now. Last week, I saw a bronze Mazda, travelling south on Merriang Road, tailgating, speeding, applying make-up AND talking on the mobile, all whilst displaying P plates!

Alright, multi-tasking to the extreme, but let’s look at this closely.

P Plater – needs all their concentration just to drive the vehicle

Tailgating – did not pull back when the vehicle in front applied the brakes, nearly up their clacker

Speeding – the speed limit has just been reduced, yet maintained the old speed of 100kph

Make-up – as soon as the traffic slowed down to 10kpm, the mascara comes out

Mobile Phone – the mascara brush goes down and the phone goes up

FFS – no wonder our kids are being killed left right and centre on Australian Roads, either they don’t care or their parents haven’t drummed into them the importance of driving and single concentration.

It was two weeks ago – that a major newspaper showed that 75% of drivers failed to see the clown on a unicycle whilst talking on a mobile phone and they are experienced drivers!

I keep coming back to the same thing – and that is that my daughter has already been threatened with loss of vehicle either permanently or temporarily depending on what punishment is dished out by the law. We figure license suspension – lose vehicle; demerit point loss – 1 month per point. To disable the car is as simple as applying a steering wheel lock and or removing 1-2 tyres and placing on blocks. Something I am quite capable of doing by myself.

The reason for this is that we own ½ of the car, in that we are paying for 50% of said vehicle, she pays the other 50% and registration AND insurance – so we have the power to disable/sell the car if we choose to due to a poor driving record and don’t think I won’t.

I would rather her walking and alive then driving and dead and if that means a sullen attitude for next couple of months/years then so be it – she can’t afford to buy a car without our funding assistance.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Storm in Perth yesterday 22nd March 2010

This is the damage from the storm that hit Perth and surrounding areas Yesterday,
Monday 22nd March 2010.

There is considerable damage as you can see. Thought you might be interested!

If I get more photos OR you would like to add yours - add a comment (which is moderated - meaning I have to check before posting) and leave your email address - I contact you right back!

The Financial Woes of Our Youth. (Part 2)

You don’t know what to do – you think it will just go away if you move, or get your sister/brother or parents to say you don’t live here anymore. This DOES NOT work. You will be tracked down, be it in 1 year or 10 years. All these black marks will sit there and collect dust until the day you need your credit rating for something like a home loan or even a new car. You will be denied ALL of that UNLESS you act now.

First – you MUST seek help. Contact the people you owe money to and try and negotiate a repayment plan, see if they will reduce/stop the interest. You MUST maintain that payment plan, the first time you default, it will be worse and they will not enter into another agreement, ever with you.

SecondIf possible, try and consolidate your debts into one payment, the larger the debt, the less fees are charged and sometimes the interest rate is lower. But this will only work if you haven’t already ruined your credit rating.

ThirdAlways pay off the highest interest debt first, but you MUST maintain payment on smaller, lower interest debts also, or your will have considered as having defaulted.

It won’t be easy – but you must knuckle down. You will have to go without – you would be advised to go back on a pre-paid phone. Stay away from shopping centres, use public transport whenever and wherever you can. Stop buying takeaway, learn to cook. It will be 4-5 years until you have filled the hole in – but it will be a lesson learned and perhaps a lesson that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Life is not free, life is not easy. Do not make the mistake many young people are making today and think that interest free is the way to go if you want something. If the old one is still working, keep it, save up and pay cash. Credit is an evil and dangerous thing, that will consume your life if you are not careful.

Help is only a phone call away. It will not be pleasant, it will not be easy. But you have to do it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Financial Woes of Our Youth. (Part 1)

I’ll admit it – I’ve been in the workforce 23 years, that makes me older than the youth I am about to discuss. But I’ve mentored several people from the youth group regarding finances and have tried to dig them out of the self-dug holes, they find themselves in.

It is so easy to get into trouble, you may not even realize it until it is too late.

You want the newest mobile phone, bugger going prepaid and finding the money for the handset, stuff it just go on contract. You don’t read the contract properly and you end up with a bill of $2000.00. This occurs because you are used to the service cutting off when you used pre-paid. This is the first error. Some kids are smart and will ask for help, others think it will just go away and this is the first step into the troubled lands.

You want a new laptop – easy – Harvey Norman are offering interest-free for 24 months, no problems, I’ll pay it off before then. You always have something else to pay and you don’t pay off the bill, even though you get sent monthly reminders. 2 years race by and suddenly that $2,000.00 laptop is going to cost $3,500.00 assuming you pay it off immediately, when you realize that they interest free period has expired. (27% interest, back dated AND compound)
This is assuming you have job and haven’t lost it yet, due to economic downturn.

The car that you drive, your parents helped you with the personal loan and probably went guarantor. Lucky you, but you haven’t paid the monthly loan amounts, you would much rather spend the money on partying, then paying stupid bills which will always be there. Suddenly your parents are receiving nasty letters, saying you have defaulted on your loan. You now owe another $500-$1000.00 in legal costs and you have your first black mark against your name.

Let’s add this up - $2000.00 phone bill, $3000.00 Harvey Norman, $500.00 court costs, $1200.00 loan costs. This totals approx $7000.00 in debt before you are even 21.

Look out for part 2 tomorrow. It will give you tools you need to fill in the hole you have dug.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The animals went in two by two

The animals went in two by two, hurrah! hurrah!
The animals went in two by two, hurrah! hurrah!
The animals went in two by two, the elephant and the kangaroo.
And they all went into the ark, for to get out of the rain.

Today being the first day of school holidays, 7th Dec 2009 (lucky me) My second born finished school 2 weeks earlier than other schools.

Anyway – almost Ms18 – decided to treat him (at my expense) and take him to the zoo and said that if he misbehaved she would handcuff him to a monkey and if that didn’t work – would throw him to the lions!

By 11am – there were still no tears and no misbehaving. Mstr12 is saying the whole day is great, and Ms18 said it was easy getting to the zoo on public transport.

Just received a phone call from Mstr12 – can I delete some of the photos off my memory card? – Ummmm, what photos? The ones I took last holidays. How much room do you have on the memory card? – Oh 343 more pictures! – FFS – talk about putting the cart before the horse.

All’s quiet at 2.30pm – fingers crossed Ms18 hasn’t fed Mstr12 to the lions!

The train ride home saw a grown man offer Mstr12 some lollies, Ms18 went off her rocker. I’m sorry but in this world of rock spiders and similar, a grown man can’t go doing that on public transport, it’s just so wrong. I know – I am becoming untrusting, but seriously………….Mstr12 looks younger than his years and is quite petite for a boy. Makes you wonder.

Besides that – the day was a great successful and two children (yes Ms18 is still my child) had a wonderful time.

The weather is somewhat changed today – wet and raining – but surprisingly not cold! – Thanks for the good show Melbourne.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Story about getting on in life

In 1998 I was involved in a rather serious car accident, one that the only thing which stopped the car from exploding was the spare tyre that was punctured rather than the gas tank exploding.

I had been on the way to work – a reasonably new job of 3 months, I took 1 day off work to sort all the insurance out and report the accident to the police and go see the doctor.

For 8 years, I fought to keep a job, (where I was working forced me out - I should have sued, but it was all too much), I fought to keep my family together, my sanity and my house. We weren’t entitled to any government assistance due to issues with a failing business, TAC refused to pay any income support because my husband should have been able to help me home, not someone from the TAC. I told them time and time again, that he couldn’t leave apprentices in the factory – due to workcover regulations that could see him locked up in jail if the apprentices did something stupid – he would automatically get the blame.

So we struggled, we struggled to keep food on the table, we struggled to stay sane. We lived in a pigsty, because my back was too sore and I was too tired to do any housework, when I got home from paid work. I couldn’t lift my children. I had to work to pay the child care fees, because TAC wouldn’t pay the fees, and I couldn’t stay home AND afford to send the children to childcare. I barely had enough money to put food on the table. Work was the lesser of two evils.

I remember once asking the CES for $5-$10 so I could buy some potatoes (It’s amazing what you can do with potatoes) and they turned me away – I’ve never begged in my life – I didn’t know where to turn. We went hungry that night.

Things eased slightly when my youngest went to school. Still no permanent work – but at least no child care fees and people looked after me – loaned me money for work yet to be done, found me work. ‘Real’ employers didn’t want someone who couldn’t use their right arm sometimes, or walked with a limp.

Until recently, I didn’t have a permanent job – and I believe that was because of my disabilities.

Some 6 years later, just when I was starting to get my life back on track, another near fatal accident, which broke and crushed my leg. To this day the fibula is still broken.

Finally things started looking up – the bills get paid on time – the mortgage is paid up and beyond, finally we no longer need to scrimp and save just to have clothes and shoes to wear.

With perseverance I’ve come to realise that life is for living – I’ve had too many close calls not to realise this

You can move on – it takes time – it takes patience and most of all strength of character to succeed where others often fail.

Life is precious, family even more so and if you take one thing away from reading this – it is “Life continues with or without you, so make sure you are included, not excluded.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yoghurt Plus – Dog Food – Review #3

Above is a picture of the tester of Yoghurt Plus, and you know what? - I think he likes it!

Last week I picked up the bag of his 'normal' food and put a handful ON TOP of the Yogurt Plus, to see what would happen.

He's spent the last 3 days ferreting out the Yoghurt Plus! - so that proves - that although he seemed to dislike the product initially - he now seems to prefer it!

Check it out:- and also here

The dog is the boss and he seems to prefer it - as the normal cost of the food I buy is mid-range - there would be nothing stopping me from purchasing this product when I need more (He's a small eater!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Timely Customer Service Equals YOUR Money Ralph

I have a small site - that is hosted on small servers, with supposed AU based support. I know previously it was AU based - I had the owner's mobile number. Anyway - times change.

I had a query about the hosting and about what I could and could not do with 2 of the 5 sites I have with this company - So I sent an email:-

Reply-To: "Soon to be disgruntled customer"
From: "Soon to be disgruntled customer"
Subject: my
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:24:09 +1100


I operate my - I think renewed in March - I'm also Contact for Clients site (At least I was) and they are (or were) on your servers.

Can I swap it out for another domain? - or do I have to open 2nd hosting plan?

Please advise - would like to point DNS this weekend if we can get everything sorted out for a book launch on Monday (I know late)

Please advise


Soon to be disgruntled customer
(use email as out of range of mobile and it 12.30am here now!)

I sent another email 2 days later after not receiving a response, even though the site hosting admin claim they offer 24/7 support. here is the second email:-
Reply-To: "Soon to be disgruntled customer"
From: "Soon to be disgruntled customer"
Subject: further to my email of the 27.02.10 at 00.24hrs
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 19:56:57 +1100

We can be reached 24/7 via E-mail to answer all of your support related needs. We can be reached at the following...


I was just wondering what 24/7 means? - I live on earth and 24/7 implies
that I am able to contact someone AT THE COMPANY THAT HOSTS MY SITE and several others that I am responsible for.

I was looking for more hosting - but it would seem that we are on two totally different planets.

Maybe my money is a different colour?

I haven’t done anything wrong - always paid my bills on time, what do I have to do to actually make contact with someone?

Soon to be disgruntled customer

PS here is the email of the 27.02.10 00.24hrs


I operate my - I think renewed in march - I'm also contact for Clients site (At least I was) and they are (or were) on your servers.

Can I swap it out for another domain? - or do I have to open 2nd hosting plan?

Please advise - would like to point DNS this weekend if we can get everything sorted out for a book launch on Monday (I know late)

Please advise


Soon to be disgruntled customer
(use email as out of range of mobile and it 12.30am here now!)

On the 3rd March 2010 - my credit card receives what I consider to be an unauthorised transaction. But then a series of unfortunate events occur - which delay my enquiring about the unauthorised charge. In fact these events keep me tied up for almost 2 weeks, during which time I do not give the matter a second thought.

Noting that I have not heard anything from this supposed 'company' for 18 days, I then out of the blue receive this email:-

Date: Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 6:33 PM
Subject: [#VWB-596984]: Contact Form - Hosting

Thank you for your interest in our services. There is no contract and you are free to cancel at anytime.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Thank you,
Cool Handle

Ticket Details
Ticket ID: VWB-596984
Department: Pre-Sales
Priority: Low
Status: Pending

To which I respond:-
From: Soon to be disgruntled customer
Date: Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 8:24 PM
Subject: Re: [#VWB-596984]: Contact Form - Hosting

It would be really nice if you answered your emails in a timely fashion - considering you claim 24/7 site support

Doesn’t matter - as soon as I receive my credit card statement - you'll be in for a surprise - or maybe earlier

Thanks for NOT helping - I will be removing 2-3 sites (minimum from your servers) due to your poor response time and poor service


Soon to be disgruntled customer
Phone number deleted

What seems to be minutes later the following emails shot backwards and forwards over a period of 30 minutes in total

From: Cool Handle
Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 5:24 AM
Subject: [#VWB-596984]: Contact Form - Hosting

Soon to be disgruntled customer,

What websites do you have with us? If you wish to cancel, please follow our procedure.

We are sorry that you want to cancel your account. In order to best serve you, please submit your request from the following form:

Due to security reasons, we will not terminate account without the cancellation form being submitted with the proper information. We cannot except your cancelation request by any other method except for this cancelation form.

Please note that applicable any refunds will be based on our refund policy and our terms of service. For details regarding our terms of service, please review the following page:

Thank you,
Cool Handle

Ticket Details
Ticket ID: VWB-596984
Department: Pre-Sales
Priority: Low
Status: Pending

and then I sent this one in response to the above:-
From: Soon to be disgruntled customer
Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 6:58 AM
Subject: Re: [#VWB-596984]: Contact Form - Hosting

I can just repoint the DNS - I am not an idiot - although you seem to think I am

Without authority OR warning - you debit my credit card and consequently I'm rather pissed and you have failed to address ANY OF the issues I've raised

If you had bothered to read your emails - you would already have this information

Soon to be disgruntled customer
Phone number deleted

and then the reply from the hosting service was:-
From: Peter D.
Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 7:02 AM
Subject: [#VWB-596984]: Contact Form - Hosting


Thank you for contacting support.

We do apologise for the frustration you are experiencing, and regret losing you as a client. You can simply repoint the DNS if you wish, yes, and that would point all traffic to your domain name to whatever host you choose. However, unless you cancel your account with us, using the forms provided, your account will remain active with us, and you will continue to be billed accordingly.

Again, we regret losing your business, and apologise for the difficulties you have experienced.

Thank you
Thank you,
Peter D.
Cool Handle Hosting

Ticket Details
Ticket ID: VWB-596984
Department: Pre-Sales
Priority: Low
Status: Open

and then my reply - I am very frustrated at this time - they have failed to respond OR answer any question NOR have they answered anything in a timely manner or even attempt to address the issues at the heart of the problem

From: Soon to be disgruntled customer
Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 7:11 AM
Subject: Re: [#VWB-596984]: Contact Form - Hosting

um - no I won’t as I can STOP it simply by informing the bank that you have accessed my details WITHOUT my authority - failed to supply a Tax invoice, failed to supply an ABN as is required by Australian Tax Law

Need I go on?

You have failed miserably and you know what makes it worse? - You think you are right

I have been with you(and previous owner) for over 4 years and this is how you treat an old, no problems customer?

I pity those that follow in my footsteps.

Soon to be disgruntled customer
Phone number deleted

and then the piece da resistance - when I point out that they have failed to abide by Australian Law and Australian Tax Law and even Australian banking Law

From: Cool Handle
Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 7:12 AM
Subject: [#VWB-596984]: Contact Form - Hosting

I wanted to see if you have any further questions or comments regarding this issue. Please contact us if you have any other questions, otherwise you do not need to respond.

Thank you,
Cool Handle

Ticket Details
Ticket ID: VWB-596984
Department: Pre-Sales
Priority: Low
Status: Pending

I'm the first to admit in this instance I MAY have been able to handle it better - but you would think they would read their emails BEFORE responding, particularly if the customer has already refered to previous emails and problems.

I am now in the market for new hosting for a minimum of 2 sites, that a low hit, steady sites, hell we don't even access the cPanel, simply because there is no need to do so most of the time and I keep nothing on the servers.

The sort of clients you should be happy to have!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Day We Buried Our Father

The weather could not have put on a better show. It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t windy – in fact a perfect day for anything but a burial and funeral.

We left home at the required time to get to the location of the burial and funeral in plenty of time, even allowing for minor traffic hold-ups.

We did NOT consider the possibility of a major road being shut down completely for 45minutes or more. I don’t think anyone does – not even funeral directors.

45 minutes from the cemetery a log truck goes over the edge of the road and blocks the traffic in BOTH directions. Who could believe it? – Certainly not us and most certainly not the guy in front of us who stormed out of the car and threw his phone at me and said please make it work, it’s new and I HAVE TO phone some people, they are expecting me in 60 minutes.

This guy was dressed in a checked shirt and jeans (with his fly down) I don’t know what made me notice that! I made the phone work and he dialled the number while standing in the middle of the road. He seemed panicked – but then again – so was I. I was trying to contact my daughter and my mother. My daughter somewhere behind me and my mother, waiting for us to arrive, so my father could be laid to rest.

Suddenly I realised that the guy standing beside me was trying to contact my mother. I put two and two together and figured out this guy was connected to the funeral parlour and he was explaining that there was a delay. He finished his call, and I interrupted explaining who we were. He realised that we could all be late. The hearse was behind him somewhere and no-one was going anywhere very soon.

He told me to ring my daughter and tell her to pull up on the side of the road and wait for the hearse, and then pull in tightly behind him, he would get the 4 of us through regardless of everyone else.

He walked ahead of the cars and obviously arranged something. I’m not sure how, but before I knew it, the traffic was moving and we cleared the accident and he pulled over, so did too. I was hoping that my daughter had done as instructed. No sooner had we pulled over than the hearse AND my daughter pulled in behind us.

It turns out the road block allowed traffic through until the hearse and the white car had passed and then the road was shut down again.

We proceeded through to town, of the cars that got through the road block all except 4 of those cars had the same destination in mind.

The burial took place on time, at the end of the ceremony and as people were paying their last respects a noise was heard. It sounded like rocks being thrown into the grave. Turns out it was gentleman, who often played cards with my father and apparently the last time they had played cards (before the fire) a debt of copper coins was owed. He had repaid the debt! – I suppose stranger things have happened.

The service went as planned, the number of people predicted turned up and then some. There were no more glitches, thankfully. The day was a day of reminiscing and reunions. The number of people I had not seen for many years were numerous, all saying thank-you for stopping the evacuation, saying thank-you for the cookbook and saying thank-you for having a father who cared enough to stay and help in their time of need.

I was also told that I am already filling the shoes of my father, I’m sure that is a compliment, but it is very tiring, and I am not sure I want to tread in the shoes of my father. He was brilliant at everything he touched, I’m only a beginner. I have many years of learning ahead of me.

Dear dad – the memorial service did you proud, there was plenty of food and if you had been arranging it – you would not have changed a thing!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

The way it was

My Mum used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn't seem to get food poisoning.

My Mum used to defrost hamburger on the counter AND I used to eat it raw sometimes, too. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in icepack coolers, but I can't remember getting E.coli.

Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring)--no beach closures then.

We all took gym, not PE...and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked's (only worn in gym) instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion! soles and built-in light reflectors. I can't recall any injuries but they must have happened, because they tell us how much safer we are now.

Flunking gym was not an option...even for stupid kids! I guess PE must be much harder than gym.

Speaking of school, we all said prayers and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention.

We must have had horribly damaged psyches. What an archaic health system we had then.

I thought that I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself.

I just can't recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations.

And now this iPod thing. It can hold thousands of songs. Problem is, there isn't one song popular today that I care to listen to.

Oh yeah, and where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!

We played "king of the hill' on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites, and when we got hurt, Mum pulled out the 48-cent bottle of Mercurochrome (kids liked it better because it didn't sting like iodine did) and then we got our butt spanked.

Now it's a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $79 bottle of antibiotics, and then Mum calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.

We didn't act up at the neighbour’s house either because if we did, we got our butt spanked there and then we got butt spanked again when we got home.

I recall Donny Reynolds from next door coming over and doing his tricks on the front stoop, just before he fell off. Little did his Mum know that she could have owned our house. Instead,

she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighbourhood run! amuck.

To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that? We needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes? We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn't even notice that the entire country wasn't taking Prozac! How did we ever survive?


Friday, March 12, 2010

Fox Hunting with a Jack Russell

The night was quiet, all the humans asleep. The dog was chewing on a rabbit, caught by either cats or dog. The cats were watching waiting for their share.

Suddenly the dog gets a bee in his bonnet and is barking and growling.

The human wakes up and goes to investigate, the cats are howling, the dog has taken off down the back, chasing something that has upset him.

The human enters the paddock, something like a large cat takes off across the paddock, the dog is still going nuts down in the valley. The noise is terrible and is carrying down the valley, I’m sure the neighbours will be investigating soon.

The human, minus torch, follows the dog down the valley, through the fences and onto the dam wall. There fighting in the water is something could be a joey (baby kangaroo) a fox or even a feral cat. Not sure which, as there is only a sliver of moonlight.

The dog and the opponent are the same size, the dog is growling as only a blood thirsty dog can. In and out of water, both animals disappear under the water several times. The dog refuses to be called off. He just looks at the stupid human and says ‘get stuffed, this is my fight’

Some 30 minutes later another human calls down the paddock, looking for the first, not aware that no. 1 human is watching the fight to the death of these two animals. One will not survive the night and with the way the Jack Russell was going – the human thinks it might just be him that wins this bout.
The first human, calls to the second human, “Bring a torch and a camera.” The second human, not knowing what was going on, races back to the house and grabs requested items. The second human, climbs through fences, up and down dale to reach the dam wall. Only to stand beside the first human and say “Call him off, he’s going to get killed”

The first human turns to the second and says “You try, because he won’t listen to me, I’ve been trying for ½ hour and he just looks at me and then continues trying to kill it.”

Suddenly the dog is under the water with whatever it is, the clock ticks, some 30 seconds later the dog emerges and drags whatever it is to the bank. Human No. 1 starts taking pictures, the light, even with the torchlight is low.

It has big ears, skinny legs, still could be a joey, fox or feral cat. Then the smell hits the Humans, no doubt about it, it’s a fox. Only a fox could smell that vile and disgusting.

The dog is now allowing us to take photos, but is still going for the throat. The thing is dead, it has to be dead, it’s not moving.

The dog after about 5 minutes decides it’s dead, the war has been won, he saved his dinner (the rabbit) and all is well. He trots home with the humans, to finish consuming his rabbit.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

The Ode to Lamb Chops and Joey

Lamb Chops and Joey – How can I explain this?

Alright – I won’t other than we ate them – Lamb Chops the 6month old and Joey the 12month old – both rested nicely in the freezer before being consumed

See we live on a farm – and we often eat the meat we grow. In fact we rarely not know the day the animals were born, they day of each monthly birthday and the day they met their maker.

Lamb Chops – by definition was obviously a lamb
Joey – A little harder to determine was a calf, well yearling in the meat market

There have been many others – but these two stick in my mind for some very interesting reasons.

Lamb Chops was introduced to my family after death, when everyone was sitting down at the table and my 5yo piped up and said “Lamb Chops is yummy” An adult at the table corrected the sentence “No, The lamb Chops are yummy” and the 5yo piped up again and said, “NO, Lamb Chops IS yummy” and then proceeded to inform the dinner guests of who lamb chops was.

Reminder to self, never allow a child to name your dinner whilst still on the hoof, it causes people confusion and also to be ill when they realize where the meat actually came from. For some reason the meat from supermarkets is different!

Joey…………. Well Joey was a darling little boy. (Well, little really isn’t true, all 250kg of him) He was dispatched of in the normal manner and put into the freezer.

Standing at the BBQ a couple of weeks later and guests ask us where the cow was. The 10yo then pipes up and advises said dinner guests that we will be eating Joey for dinner. One of the guests went vegetarian that night, and called us cruel.

I don’t understand, the meat from the supermarket is meat from cows/lambs that once stood in a paddock, ate lots of grass, looked cute and was born to feed them. Yet a cow raised on a friends farm and killed for the same reason, is considered cruel?

Everything in the supermarket has raw ingredients; those raw ingredients are grown on farms. Those raw ingredients are sometimes turned into what I consider inedible foodstuffs, that are prohibited in my house. My children have tasted ‘real’ milk from real cows. Many children have no idea where milk comes from. When asked they think it grows and comes from the supermarket.

Everything we eat comes from the land, not the supermarket. Teach your children this.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Father, in Loving Memory

31.10.1936 – 05.03.10

My father is gone, My father is dead.

It was quick, perhaps too quick. He went to bed, he slept for a bit, he got up, he went back to bed, It sounded like he was having a nightmare, maybe 30 seconds, by the time the light was turned on he was gone.

So simple. The towns on-call medical person came, he did his upmost. The ambulance came, they did their best.

He was gone. Perhaps a god-send. We don’t know the cause, perhaps we never will.

I am glad it was so quick. To be trapped in a body that didn’t work and to have a mind fully-functional, I could only imagine as being a living death.

I am going to miss him, my children will miss him. My mother will miss him. There will always be an empty place at the table.

My father enjoyed his food. I knew he wasn’t well on Sunday when he refused his favourite, Spotted Dog (bread and butter pudding with sultanas) with oodles of cream. In fact he didn’t eat well at all, but that is not unusual. No-one thought much of it – everyone is allowed an ‘off’ day once in a while.

Looking back over the week, I think he knew, add the information I knew with the information that people told me when I made the dreaded phone-calls, added up to he KNEW. HE KNEW something was wrong.

He had started visiting extended family, long lost relatives. People he had perhaps not spoken to in decades. Looking back it should have been a sign. But you don’t put two and two together until after the fact.

18 hours ago, I received THE call. 18 hours later I feel nothing. No emotion, just black, almost blank inside. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be feeling or even if.

The last 12 months of his life have probably been the hardest of his entire life. His health was as good as could be expected for his age, but he lost over 30 people in one dreadful night, he lost his town, he lost everything he had known for 40 years. I think it broke his heart, I think it broke his soul.

My father came to the big smoke to finish his education, he met my mother, he married my mother. He owned and ran a business. He opted for a tree-change and moved into a small milling town. He ran the mill office, my mother ran the small holiday accommodation business they set up. He ‘retired’ from the mill to concentrate on the accommodation business, which my parents ran together for almost 25 years. They sold that business barely 12 months before the fires destroyed it for them. They were starting to enjoy life, take holidays and being S.K.I.’s (Good on them I say!, they worked for it)

Both my parents were an integral part of the community. My father played a major part in establishing the town water supply, the sewerage system, the tourism board. He maintained the water supply and the associated quality checks. Many nights he was called out to repair broken mains and would come home early in the morning, covered in red mud from the armpits down. He was trustee for the cemetery and buried many of the people who were lost in the fires. He was part of the community, the community a part of him. When the community was destroyed, a large part of him was also destroyed.

I may not have had a chance to say good-bye – But I am thankful he didn’t suffer.

And…………….. now the tears start.

**Kiss & Hug those you love,**
**because tomorrow you may not have the chance**

Yes I poured my heart out and now I can feel the pain – It does help to talk – even if to a piece of paper.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Yoghurt Plus – Dog Food – Review #2


It’s now been two weeks since Shorty was switched from his normal dog food to Yoghurt Plus.

I thought it was time for an update.

Shorty seems to enjoy the food, because it is self-serve, he seems to willingly go to the bowl and partake in the food. So that is a good sign.

What I did find interesting – was that I had the opportunity to offer the same food to 2 other small dogs, we call them Shorty’s playmates. They come for a visit on an almost daily basis. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share the food around.

Jim, who is playmate of the morning, ate with gusto the first day of offering, again after initially refusing to eat from the bowl, but did eat a piece from my hand and the dived into the bowl of food as soon as that piece was finished. What I did find interesting is that subsequent attempts at offering the food resulted in refusal, either from my hand or the bowl. It’s been over a week now and I can’t get Jim to take any more food.

Pete, (Yes, what lovely names) playmate of the afternoon, refused all enticements. Was not interested. So we have to say that Pete did not like, regardless of attempts and methods used in an attempt to get him to eat a piece. So it’s a bit hard to comment other than to say ‘perhaps’ Pete did not like Yoghurt Plus.

Shorty seems quite content, eating his new food. I haven’t noticed any change in any aspects of his health, be it weight-wise or bad breath. It’s a bit hard to gauge his stools as we live on acreage and he just does what nature intended somewhere in the paddock, sight unseen.

I was thinking about the smell, which I found so off-putting when I opened the bag originally, I may have been put-off by the smell, because I do have slight lactose-intolerance and a dislike of milk products, as a result, as well as a very good sense of smell. My pickiness/dislike may be personal more than anything else.

Shorty seems to be managing better with the size of the pieces this week. So perhaps his initial reluctance was because the product was new and a different size to normal.

I have no problems recommending this product, as long as your dog likes it. I suppose each dog is different to his neighbour and so on and so on!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Working the Ethical way

Once upon a time I worked for a large organization, so large that there were departments and each department was responsible for its own budgeting and expenditure.

My job was to invoice out existing and new clients for equipment hired. The turn-over of the equipment was quite high with the clients. They may only hire for 1,2,3 weeks, sometimes a lot longer, but generally no longer than 1-2 months.

There was also an option to purchase the equipment, which was rarely taken up by the client as they didn’t anticipate the long-term need or the overall cost.

After about 6 months, it became apparent that for some people in some instances it was cheaper for the client to purchase the equipment, so a decision was made for those clients, where it became economically viable to purchase, a note of sale was sent instead of an invoice.

This suited both parties, and allowed for more stock to be purchased and it was also found that equipment when purchased by the client, was returned to us, rather than being dumped somewhere. This was a win win for all parties concerned.

The long term effect was that this department became the most profitable, simply because they looked after the clients needs and not the needs of the business formula.

Equipment turn-over although increased, allowed for better quality equipment and equipment previously sold was returned more frequently and in better condition than hired equipment, which in turn allowed for it to be put back into circulation for new clients. Profit for that department increased by 25% in one 12 month period and grew every year I was there.

This policy is still in place today, some 5 years down the track. Due to unionisation within the site, my presence was detected and because I was contract and not a full-time employee, I was given the boot, not by my department head but by the union.

The decision to bill the client for equipment sold rather than hired, appears at first, to be cutting the profits, because you are actually reducing the income. Hire equipment is generally not treated as well, than if sold. People have an attitude. Oh well, it’s only hired, so it doesn’t matter. Whereas if they purchase an item, the attitude changes completely.

By turning over the older stock and selling it (it would have been hired anyway) the department was able to increase the quality of the stock on hand and thus please the client. By turning the stock over, we were able to buy more stock, more often and thus receive quantity discounts.

By selling stock instead of hiring it – the admin charges were reduced and then to top off all these benefits, in appreciation of the reducing the cost to the client, the client returned the favour, by returning the stock and thus saving more money again!

A win win for ALL involved!

Big Dog, Little Dog, Sad, Dog, Vicious Dog, Dead Dog

I am not even going to pretend I know what it’s like to be mauled by a dog – I am sorry for those that are affected.

Please don’t blame the breed of dog, blame the dog, blame the owner, BUT not the breed as a whole.

I had a Rottweiler when my first child was born. People said I would have to get rid of the dog because she (the dog) would get jealous and hurt my first born.

No – I refused to get rid of Rottweiler, instead I made an effort to incorporate that dog along with my baby into the family unit. I had my Rottweiler for a total of 14 years of which 8 years she lived side-by-side with my daughter, protected her, guarded her, pulled her pram and helped me around the house. (The dog, not the child)

The dog was known to bark when my daughter was getting up to no good, the dog would not permit people near the pram when the child was in the pram. The dog would sit between myself and the person I was having a conversation with and play verbal tennis. Her head would go from speaker to speaker, listening/watching the people and the conversation.

This dog was truly a member of the family, she was socialized, she was well-adjusted, she was loved and most of all she loved.

Dogs, just like children need discipline. Dogs need to know that you are the master. Once the pecking order has been established, they understand where they stand in their ‘society’ as they see it.

Dogs, just like people, have the good, the bad and ugly. The causes could be upbringing, genetics, all sorts of events that can cause trauma. Sometimes a dog will instinctively try and protect itself, not mean any harm but do harm inadvertently.

Other times a dog will just lose the plot, just like humans; again, genetics, upbringing, illness, old age.

Children SHOULD NEVER be left alone with a dog of ANY size, I’ve been attacked by terriers and poodles, yet have not been attacked by Rottweilers, Ridgebacks or German Shepherds. Often this is because the owners of large dogs acknowledge their responsibility in that owning a big dog requires that dog to be disciplined and controlled at all times.

Often you will find that dogs which do attack, are dogs that belong to young males, who ‘rough’ them up for a bit of fun, teach them to attack cats and similar small animals, simply for the thrill of controlling another animal.

These dogs are often un-socialised and allowed to rot in the backyard until it is time for some entertainment by the owner.

Dogs do get jealous, dogs do get lonely, dogs do feel pain, dogs do feel panic, dogs do feel aggression. They may not be able to express these feelings and many people can’t read these feelings in animals, but they do feel them and often display these with ear movements, tail location and even lip movements.

It is not the dogs fault as a general rule – more often than not, it is a human’s fault, for allowing unsuitable dogs to breed OR not socializing animals, or not integrating them into the new family properly.

All non-breeding animals should be de-sexed, it should be compulsory for all dog owners to get a license, something like a drivers license, to permit the ownership of animals, and if an animal kills another animal or human, then the dog should be euthanized immediately. No court rooms, no argument, If your dog kills, due to your lack of care and responsibility then you and the dog are punished. Then IF the owner of the dog can be located, they are banned from owning a dog for 10 years and the ‘license’ revoked, pending a new application in 10 years time.

These thoughts and ideas are mine alone, but sometimes, once again, common sense needs to be re-introduced into society. Without common sense, many things go wrong which could cause devestation to a family.

Take care.