Apr 30, 2008

27 and Counting

Gone Fishing Yesterday was my 27th birthday.... in hexadecimal.

After a slight sleep in the day continued in pretty much a normal way, with a music lesson, a brief playground visit, some lunch, a sleep for sproggy during which I did some more photo assignment, joyfully photographing purple hippopatumuses and yellow bananas.

Then a walk for the dogs and when Nicole got home a chilly dusk barbecue at the local park. Oh, and chocolate cake.

Happy birthday to me.

Apr 28, 2008


Chocahol Happy Birthday Eve to me.

Thanks for the Birthday Cards everybody! (Mum and Dad)

Nicole and Eloise were making me a cake this evening. Eloise was cock-a-hoop with excitement at all this chocolate and butter arrayed in front of her and couldn't quite understand why it needed to go into the food blender and not into her stomach.

She knew who the cake was for, but methinks she had a more personal agenda that she was secretly following.

She was most upset when she couldn't tuck into the still-oven-bound cake before bed time backoned.

As for me, today was first-day-back-at-school for me and today we were entering into the dizzy world of developing black and white film. So it was another day of frustrating theory, with half an hour of winding rolls of films onto spools - in the dark - for entertainment.

People have been tooling up over the holidays, and some people have shiny new cameras whilst one certain Gareth has bought himself a darkroom, or at least the photographic components thereof. All he lacks is ventilations. I suggested he could supply me with baked beans and I'd sort him out.


Autumn Colour on Clear Mountain Autumn is here.

You wouldn't necessarily know it during the day, but the mornings are fresh and cool, and the sunlight is still strong building to a temperature generally in the mid-20s.

When the sun goes down at about 5 o'clock it starts to get a bit chilly so if you want to stay in your shorts and t-shirt then the old al-fresco dining thing can get a little uncomfortable.

But overall it's really pleasant, not too hot during the day and not too cold otherwise.

Although Nicole, being a fairweather girl, is talking about getting the thick duvet out.

She also says that she finds this whole autumn thing a bit confusing, and I can see her point, because the trees aren't dropping their leaves, far from it. Actually quite a lot of things seem to be in flower, especially grasses but also some wildflowers and lots of new leaves are growing.

The slightly odd thing about leaves here, on some trees and plants anyway, is that while they are young they are red or very light green and it's only after they have matured that they change to the deeper green of ripe old age.

Still I don't expect it will be long before the days start to cool down a bit and it starts to get decidedly chilly in the evenings.

Probably around the time Nicole's parents visit. Next week.

Apr 25, 2008

Anzac Day

Weathering It's Anzac Day today when we get a public holiday to reflect quietly upon the selfless bravery of the Aussie diggers who died for their country defending freedom, democracy and so on and so forth.

Gallipoli is especially celebrated as perhaps the greatest contribution they made to the Empire's war effort, and lots of Australians go there to reflect, again quietly, as the sun comes up, and maybe (but probably not) ponder the futility of it all, or just that action in particular, where thousands of Australians, and many more thousands of others died assaulting the heavily entrenched Ottomans in an attempt to take the Dardanelles in an onslaught of expendable human matter as was the savoir faire in those days of war-as-statecraft.

Which isn't of course to detract from the bravery of those soldiers, far from it, but to reflect on the progress that has been made since in attitudes to the tactics, strategy and politics of war where loss of life has become a thing to be avoided at all costs, thankfully.

Anyway we pondered the futility of it all whilst we listened to the radio coverage of people pondering the futility of it all as we sat in the traffic on the way up to Bribie Island aspiring futilely to reaching a speed greater than 10km/h.

Siezing the day we took an exit to try and make some speed, and watched the traffic on the highway we'd just left accelerate away as lots of other people siezed their days also in the same way as us.

Eventually we got to Bribie Island and as usual went to Red Beach, the dog-friendly beach of choice to discerning Bribie Island-goers, and walked amongst the driftwood, paddled in the frankly quite chilly waters, buried each other in the sand and ate peanut butter sandwiches.

A jolly three hours or so we spent there, and what with it being Nicole's day off in her new Monday-Friday nine-to-five (give or take an hour or two of timeshift) existence, it was nice to get out of the city and grab a breath of fresh sea air.

After a while cloud started to drift over from the mainland so we adjourned for coffee and milkshakes.

Apr 24, 2008

Swimming, Sipping, Smoking, Swearing

Shadows in the Smoke Eloise was woken up by Nicole creeping around at some unearthly hour this morning so we shook our collective legs and were out walking the dogs at the brook by 8am.

Misbehaviour on the hell-hound's part meant she went on the lead while we played on the playground, which she wasn't very happy about.

Then off to swimming for the first solo session.

Eloise has now graduated to the Big Pool and is in a group of three with one instructor. She was terribly excited as her swimming hat and goggles were put on, and remained terribly excited throughout the session.

I spent the early part talking to a Mum whose sprog will be in Eloise's group. Turns out she worked in Ipswich (England) at Vision Express doing locum optometry, in 1993-1994. She probably tested my eyes. She didn't remember though, which I think is a pretty poor show.

Anyway various activities took place in the pool which I didn't really follow as I sipped my coffee. Sarah the instructor took it easy with Eloise as this was her first go with the Big Girls, but I did see some discipline meted out when E wouldn't stand on the table or cling to Sarah's back properly.

But all in all she had a good time.

That is, until she was caught running round the edge of the pool and sternly reprimanded which had her taken aback.

Still by way of celebration and encouragement, and in the spirit of positive reinforcement, I allowed her a milkshake and a slice of tart on the mountain, which she enjoyed.

On the way down a pall of smoke hung over the road as some controlled burning was being done. It smelled quite nice; eucalypts have quite a distinctive aroma when burning, sort of spicy and exotic. And the forest looked quite different with grey clouds drifting through it.

We were held up by a bloke in a uniform for a bit. "That man's holding his hand out. Why?" demanded the ever-curious one, just as a socking great tree fell over up ahead. "Oh" she said.

Later, after failing to sleep, we went to the camera shop to replace my poor lens. The traffic was horrific. It's Anzac Day tomorrow so everyone's going on holidays for the long weekend.

In town on the way back some clever fellow walked out in front of us as we were chugging along. I called him a choice name from the safety of my cockpit.

"What's a Fudwit?" asked Eloise as my hand rushed belatedly to cover my mouth.

"Never mind...."

"Are you having fun?"

"No. Are you?"

"No. You're making me unhappy. I don't deserve you."

How right she is.

Afternoon Drive

Lux Yesterday's sky was looking good so in the afternoon I went for a drive up to Clear Mountain and round and about that neck of the woods.

A tried out my wide-angle lens on the film camera, which has a better field of view than the digital (owing to the nearly ubiquitous APS-C sensor it uses which is smaller than a 35mm film frame) and it gave rather impressive views through the viewfinder.

Although in trying out the lens I had a small accident which resulted in the premature death of the 50mm prime lens that had been attached to it, owing to a crush injury inflicted by my clumsy foot.

Down the mountain on the other side I had a little explore and found a road that wound up through the hills. Soon the weather was drawing in and thunder started to rumble overhead, so I headed back and picked up Eloise, getting home to find that wifey had already started with dinner.

Apr 23, 2008

Feeding the Birds

Feeding the Birds Yesterday after our first day back at music - it hardly seemed as though we'd been away - Eloise completely failed to have a rest.

And so, throwing caution to the wind (and leaving the dogs at home) I permitted her to get on her bike and ride her little legs off down to the duck pond for to feed the birds and all that.

And with this inducement in hand and in mind, she was soon pedalling away up the road, strongly resisting my attempts to get her to ride near the side.

"Did you bring the pineapple chunks?" she said half way up the road.

"No, I didn't" I tentatively offered, fearing the worst.

"What about the biccies?" she suggested.

"Nope, we left them at home" I stammered, with a feeling of dread.

She looked at me askance, then looked up the road, uttered "Oh well" and we were off again, to my considerable relief.

So only about half and hour later we arrived at the duck pond where there was a very bold heron who was practically snatching the bread from her hands.

Three slices of bread later we had a satisfied little flocks of ducks, ibises, moorhens and a heron waiting on our every move, but no bread left so we adjourned to do some paddling underneath the bridge where we met Nicole.

Needless to say Nicole was an easy option so Muggins had to carry the pink bike home.

Apr 21, 2008

The Dreaded Lurgie

Radiant A little while ago I think I may have glibly passed comment on the girls' trip to Melbourne and how they came back bearing gifts of pestilence over which I at the tame remained aloof.

Well aloof I am no longer; I have had a hacking cough for the past week which just won't go away. It doesn't hurt as such and I don't feel ill but I certainly sound it. Of course Nicole is now better - her cold didn't last long, and her theory has matured beyond it was something she caught on a plane to this is something entirely different.

Eloise is still coughing away too, and has been for a couple of weeks now. I think she picked something up from Nursery and I've got it.

She says she doesn't feel ill either but I think we're all feeling a little run down and war-weary.

So Nicole your days are probably numbered.

I found a new walk up at Mount Coot-tha which is a nice short circuit that the dogs enjoy. It's actually a little side-walk to the mega circuit we sometimes used to do on a Friday, and it's quite steep near the top of the mountain but I might give Eloise a spin on it this week and see how she gets on.

Apr 19, 2008


Eloise The unthinkable but inevitable has happened, or is happening, somehow, and try as we might to maintain a high level of elocutional excellence in our offspring the environment is interfering with our best laid plans and fine example.

"Water" is starting to become "Warder." "It's WATER! A warder works in a prison!"

"Skirt" is tranforming into "Skird." "SKIRT, SKIRT!"

We're considering playing recordings of Radio 4 while she's asleep to see if the problem can be solved that way, but I think we're probably going to be fighding a losing baddle.

Apr 18, 2008

This Deck Oil Stuff Works

Liquid Gold No sooner has the oil dried on the decking than rainy weather comes in to put it through its paces; it rained last night (I vaguely perceived) and when I got up this morning I was pleasantly surprised to see that the water was sitting on the surface of the wood coagulated miniscally like little aquayolks with big puddles giving way to smaller droplets under the eaves of the house.

Of course if you walk on it your feet are instantly drenched... but it looks nice.

Apr 17, 2008

I Am A Lady

Make Over After a typically disastrous little-bike trip to the brook - when will I ever learn - where Eloise rode down to the rocks very well but point-blank refused to ride her bike home and wanted to be carried, rendering the situation impossible (have you ever tried to carry a child with two dogs on leads, pushing a bike simultaneously), we went about our business.

Firstly to the pet shop get dog food and look at the puppies and kitties and parrots and fishes and lizards, then to the vegetable shop, even though Eloise was adamant that we were fully stocked up on vegatables and didn't need any more.

Then to Paul and Carol's where I helped Paul with his numbers while Carol and Eloise did colouring, firstly in Winnie the Pooh books, but escalating to fingernails.

So pleased was Eloise with her nails that as soon as she got home and I got cooking, she sneaked into Nicole's drawers and got out the lipstick to finish the job.

Apr 16, 2008

Dark Barbie

Moon Rises Over Darkened Brisbane Nicky visited us yesterday, briefly interrupting our deck-oiling which we've been doing for the past couple of days.

It's been hard work what with the scrubbing with deck-clean and lots work on all fours but it's looking good.

I put the last coat on this afternoon and it's going through its final dry now. We even slapped some oil on the front fence. How about that.

Anyway, I digress... Nicky came over and we took her out for a barbie in the usual sulubrious locale of Kangaroo Point beneath the Story Bridge. We got there as the sun was going down and chowed down to some mystery foods that we couldn't see properly but which were jolly tasty nonetheless.

Nicky's arrival was of course extremely popular with Eloise, who very enthusiastically stole her lip balm and smeared the strawberry-flavoured stuff all over her mouth all night.

Later I read on the internet how it's actually physically impossible to photograph as well-exposed moon against a well-exposed night scene, say of a city, without using a double exposure and so felt that I should fake a photo of Brisbane with a full moon setting or rising or whatever to illustrate our dark barbie experience.

So there it is.

Apr 14, 2008

Dishwashing Diva

Outsourced God alone knows where she gets it from. It certainly isn't me.

Try as I might to steer her clear from the route of dirt fascism, she just loves to clean.

Dishwashing is the latest thing. She stands herself on a stool beside the basin, demands that water be poured into it, then proceeds to footle around with the dishes for a while then she mops down the worksurfaces, with a wet cloth so water goes everywhere.

Precious little gets cleaned, but she enjoys it immensely, Passionately. Obsessively.

Then she likes to go into the tea-towel drawer, pull them all out, lay them neatly on the floor, then re-fold them and put them back again.

Apr 12, 2008

Bathtime Fun

Time to Dry Sometimes she only agrees to have a bath to put off the inevitable.

So you run the bath, get it to the right temperature, make the hot chocolate.

Then the music goes and the bath goes out of the window.... "I need to dance! I don't need to have a bath! I need to dance!"

And dance she does before finally relenting in the face of some piece of gentle coercion or other.

And then she won't get out...

"I'm not tired. I don't want to go to bed."

She'll Huff and She'll Puff

I'll Huff and I'll Puff Eloise is quite coming along with her reading, or rather her memorisation of books. Reading would be a bit of a push just yet.

We can read Charlie and Lola, for instance, and she can fill in words and sentences.

Or, when she's in bed and supposedly sleeping, she'll get books out and you can hear her making up little stories to go with the pictures. They generally start "One Day" and kind of degrade from there.

She was playing with her blocks the other day with Nicole when to her surprise she correctly identified the letters O and S.

She is also getting a little bit bossy which unfortunately we find quite funny. This probably reinforces the behaviour, which is a bad thing really. Also she generally bosses me about, pushing boundaries I suppose.

We were in the car coming back from somewhere or other and Nicole and I were talking when this voice came from the back "Neil! Stop Talking!" which I duly ignored; soon she was angry at being ignored and shouting at me... we're thinking that ignoring might be the best strategy to nip it in the bud, but I think we'll end up in the Naughty Room.

Or else she will.

Apr 10, 2008

Punctures and Ill Health

The Song of a Babbling Brook Here is a catalogue of the last few days' punctures:

- Last week Nicole had a puncture and had to walk her bike home from work
- Nicole went for acupuncture the other day
- I got on my bike yesterday to find I had a puncture on each tyre
- I fell over on a wet rock at Cedar Creek on Monday and punctured my leg (a bit of a stretch on the puncture theme perhaps)

On the ill health front, above which I am aloof and blessedly unaffected, Nicole has had a not-quite-stinking low-grade cold from her trip to Melbourne which Eloise has caught. She has been coughing and spluttering for several days now.

The dogs have now stopped limping, thankfully, so rather than arthritis exacurbated by excessive exercise it just looks as though they were suffering from excessive exercise alone.

This week I have mostly been walking them up by Mount Coot-tha but having run into the same people two days in a row have decided that this is just a little too habitual.

Apr 6, 2008

Warming Down

Cedar Creek ...is how I'm interpreting - arguably from the point of view of denial and guilt-reduction - the reluctance of the dogs today to move more than is absolutely necessary.

Matilda is hobbling around a bit, though actually now I think about it she did have an incident yesterday where she stepped on something, and we thought she might have been bitten by an ant or stung by a bee or something.

But whatever, they weren't really into excessively exercise their newly-pink footpads so I decided that the best option was to take a slow stroll down to the brook and do a bit of paddling.

I thought that perhaps the best way to limit speed was to allow Eloise to cycle up there on her little bike.


Eloise was riding her little bike marvelously up to the point where I opened the front gate to let us out, whereupon she hopped off and pushed the bike up to the top of the road, through Crushers' car park and down to the Brook.

Painfully slow, and yet even at this speed I am having to drag Matilda along. She is clearly interested in just standing still. Or perhaps lying down.

Half and hour later, and Eloise gets on her bike on the path by the brook and goes great guns up to the Montrose Street bridge, whereupon we ditch the bike, let the dogs off, and go for a paddle.

She assisted some boys in building a dam for a while, and we went climbing on the rocks and so on and so forth, but then Matilda found her legs (or her stomach) and went raiding for duck-bread, so I had to go an re-capture her before she actually stole it from someone's hands. Which was quite embarrassing as she had developed a case of acute selective hearing.

Eloise absolutely refused to ride her bike home, so I had to take the dogs and the bike, a combination which isn't good for the back, while she farted around dancing with an umbrella singing "It's starting to rain" which, Jehovah be praised, it didn't until just after we got back.

After a luncheon of cous-cous (which she requested) with apricots, raisins and almonds, she went to bed and for a while I fell asleep next to her.

In the afternoon we went to Cedar Creek, getting there just as the sun dipped its head over the D'Aguilar Mountains. We scrambled around for an hour or so before I remembered that we didn't have any bread.

Eloise found a pocket calculator in my pack and decided that it was a story book that told a story about pigs and wolves, and told me a story whilst we walked about pigs who squealed and laughed and a wolf who growled and laughed. She does a great wolf voice, but her impression of a wolf laughing is indistinguishable from her impression of a pig laughing.

Apr 5, 2008

Too Much, Too Old

Reflecting on the Lilies The picture is from yesterday, when whilst Eloise was having her dancing lesson I took the dogs for a short walk nearby and sat for a while by this lake watching the sky and the fishes.

Later in the day, Valerie dropped by to show off her new bike, and Nicole, perhaps jokingly, suggested that we repeat the Nudgee Beach Bike Ride and Dog Walk Experience (we excluding Nicole, of course, who was at work today, her cold much improved).

The suggestion was met with such enthusiasm by Val with her new bike that I felt honour-bound to oblige so while Mick and his little helper strung new lengths of wire up and down the house we readied ourselves for our expedition and set off.

The dogs did exceptionally well on the outbound leg, with Tiny staying the course remarkably well and Matilda only flagging at around the 15km mark.

They collapsed at the cafe while we sipped our coffees, and slunk around on the beach not very adventurously, then laid around as we played at the playground.

Coming back was a struggle and, as the sky lowered and clouded over and the first spots of rain started to fall, we took a break as Eloise slept fitfully on the back of the bike and the dogs spontaneously went on strike.

It soon emerged that Tiny's feet were started to wear through (to put it a little strongly) and they were little spots of blood on the pads of one her feet, but we were in no position to be able to do anything about it, so pressed on, eventually just dragging the dogs along, until we got to the playground at Kalinga Park at which point I left them there and hoofed it home through the soon-driving rain to fetch the car and retrieve them.

And just to prove a point, Valerie made it back on her bike faster than we did in the car.

Apr 4, 2008

In the Woods

In the Woods Nicole hasn't been too well for the past few days, having caught a cold; she thinks from the airliner to Melbourne as her aunty Ros has the same thing but delayed by a couple of days apparently.

So we've been taking it easy and getting out of her - and Mick the Sparky's - way and went up to the forest at Bunya near Albany Creek for a bit of a jaunt on Thursday.

The track led down into a valley and the floor was soon thick with undergrowth.

"I love long grass Dad, it's my favourite" she said.

Climbing up the other side of the valley, after a while she started to flag. So we sat on a log for half an hour while she picked wild flowers (naughty naughty) and looked for butterflies.

Then she decided to stand on top of a tree stump and dance around like she was at the Hacienda or something.

She had to be carried a bit on the way back but failed to fall asleep in the car, and so in order to keep out of Sparky's way we went up to Coot-tha and drank coffee and milkshakes and had some cake.

Apr 2, 2008

To Catch a Fish

Fishing While wandering around the shallow waters on Nudgee Beach on Saturday, trailed by Tiny, under my feet little flatfish upon hearing my wet heavy footfalls would quickly unearth themselves from their hiding places and flit away hugging the seabed like little hovercraft.

Matilda delights in the same thing, padding around in the shadows until a little fishy makes a break for it, and then attempting to jump on it, presumably to catch it.

No luck yet.

Apr 1, 2008

Girraween National Park

Afternoon Creek Climbing

Underground Creek Back to Girraween, and after our lunch we drove up a dirt road in Val's Lady's 4x4 with cruise control and all that stuff we've been over before to explore an underground creek.

The creek wasn't really underground as such, but a large overhang of rock had collapsed over it so it was buried beneath tons and tons of huge boulders and trickled away somewhere beneath our feet, affording us views through crevices of rocks, more rocks, and flowing water somewhere deep in what was apparently the bowels of the earth.

So after some time scrambling over that, and decided that our old bones had had enough of a battering we wandered back and visited a waterhole, which was nice, before being forced back to the Day Use Area by biological necessity and thence home again.

On the way back I phoned Mick to see how he'd got on with the electrics and he told me that everything was working and he'd be back on Monday to continue with the project.

So I was a little disappointed to find that the bedside lights didn't work and the bathroom was powerless. Also, later on, we found that the cooker fan and light or distinctly silent, and dim.

The rest of my weekend was spent going to the beach, and wandering around forlorn lonely but not quite bored (and not that lonely really, but I did miss the ladies),

I picked my better two-thirds up from the airport on Sunday, and was jolly glad to have them back. You'll have read Nicole's account of their exploits.

Mick didn't turn up on Monday before Nicole set off for the Nursery, and didn't look for/find the key I left for him or phone me, so it wasn't till I contacted him that I found out that he'd even been.... and he didn't turn up today after I texted him first thing and he told me he would.... tradesmen, eh!