Feb 28, 2011

Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek I don't know if it was the rocks around the waterfall that had changed or the level of the water in the pool underneath, but things seemed a little gentler here.

Rainforest, Early Morning

Rainforest, Early Morning The other day Nicole had a day off so she suggested that she could take Eloise to school and I could go out and do some tography.

So I set my alarm clock for bloody early in the morning, after checking sunrise time, and headed up to Mount Coot-tha to watch the sun rise over the city.

Then I headed up into the hills and wandered around for a while in the rainforest in the early morning chill. The sun was just coming up over the crest of the hills and the birds were noisy and abrasive, but it was very peaceful.

I came down the other side of the mountain and visited Cedar Creek, which was very much changed since the last time that I had been there.

The heavy rains that caused the flooding here had pummeled down taking many trees with them. There used to be a gentle waterfall over a bank of rocks above a large plunge-pool: the plunge-pool is scattered with boulders and gravel and the bank of rocks has been battered into submission.

Upstream the flow is altered over the gorge that is now strewn with debris.

Feb 21, 2011

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake Nicole was, and is, very proud of her cake. You can see it has a bee on it for every year of Eloise's life.

Eloise made the bees, and applied the stripes. I was responsible for a few of their eyes and all of their wings.

Nicole can take full credit for the cakes, although she did subcontract out some of the sculpting to yours truly.

After 70-odd slices, there was still some left.

Feb 20, 2011

Birthday Bug Hunt

Fresnel The last couple of weeks have been a crescendo to the fortissimo of birthday activity, culminating in the party to end all parties, or at least our sanity.

Before we had an idea for the staging of the birthday party, the invite request was for the old Prep D to be invited along together with a selection of kids from Eloise's new class as well as a few externals. This wound us up with a potential undertaking of significant proportions so a home party was pretty much out of the question and a Skating Party was poo-pooed as too... what's the word.... and swimming too much hassle.

Eventually we settled on something fun, interesting and outdoors and decided that we would go to the forest and conduct an enormous bug-hunt with butterfly nets, specimen bottles, a walk in the woods, all that jazz.

Needless to say Nicole embarked upon a massive project of themed catering with a massive bee-hive cake with sugar paste bees together with various entemologically based cup-cakes of every conceivable confection, green ice-cubes and insect blood drinks, and a sausage sizzle over real-fire barbecues up at Ironbark Gully.

There were many trips to Dollar Shops to procure the necessities of butterfly nets et al, plus plastic insects and bubbles for party bags, et cet, et cet.

And as the invites went out and the replies tricked back we realised that the acceptance rate was going to be cruising around 90% and we were going to end up with around 40 little darlings to supervise, and a developing sense of horror at the scale of it all.

In the end though it was kind of fun... we pitched up about 20 minutes in advance to find our table was hoccupied!! so headed up to a higher location and commenced to demount the Eskies. Half-unpacked we noticed that the interlopers had vacated our preferred tableux and were therefore in the process of moving down the stairs onto the wide forest-flanked grassland when the first people turned up.

And these Aussies - when there's a party to be had, punctuality is a watchword.

Before long we were in the midst of a throng of people, Nicole hanging out butterfly nets (named) and dealing with gatecrashers, I deploying foodstuffs and finishing the unloading of stuff, insect tattooing deputised to a willing volunteer, balloon-inflating likewise.

The dregs arrived, and the last nets disbursed, it was time to send out the prawns with whistles to round up the Adventurers for the journey into the deep dark unknown woods.

"Kids" I intoned. "Stay nearby! If you should get lost then please use your whistle and someone will come and find you! Do not interfere with snakes! Do not leave the path! Or you will! Die!"

And forty kids promptly hoofed it into the woods, whistles blaring.

Some had parents with them, and their pace was moderated by wise age. There were boys though. And they just ran away.

I managed to hold them up for a while when we saw a big Goanna up a tree (a Goanna being a three-foor long scavenging reptile) but then the were gone, at high speed, whistles once again blaring.

I tried to follow them but the girls couldn't keep up, and they started to get scared, after all there weren't any pavements or anything! Sympathetically though, even though you couldn't get lost in that forest if you tried, I hadn't actually told them that. I shared a giggle with a little girl about that before swearing her to secrecy. Ho Ho Ho.

I went around the circuit fixing nets, accumulating broken ones, picking stones out of shoes, tying shoelaces etc. and eventually got back to base camp.

It turned out only one child was missing, so we headed back in the other direction and did the circuit backwards, but no sign of him.

When we got back again, he'd turned up.

That bit over with, we played some games: tug of war (boys vs girls, and kids vs adults) - one casualty to rope burn.

Tadpoles in the horse trough were popular too. Many were collected. I think the horse trough may have been sterilised.

The food needless to say was demolished, except for the 80 sausages, which weren't. It's Matilda's lucky day, too.

So after the food, the cake, and after the cake the Pinata... we were on a schedule and people had to get going.

The Pinata was a bit disappointing and came down after only a mild beating. After the orgiastic melee of scrabbling for sweets, Nicole handed out the party bags and the guests disappeared like mist on the wind. Poof.

Feb 5, 2011

Heat in the valley. Smoke in her eyes.

Smoke in her eyes Cyclone up north, though you wouldn't know it here.

Down here in the valley it's been in the mid-30s which would be nice and comfortable except for the fact that it seems to rain in the morning and that seems to evaporate into a torpid humid fug of humidity. Which is quite hot.

So today, after walking the dog in the sweaty forest, and going to the sweaty market, we ascended into the mountains to have ourselves a little barbecue.

It was nice and cool up in the hills, a sea breeze was blowing across the turbid plains below and as it climbed the hills clouds unhazed themselves and gave us some nice overcast shade.

Meanwhile Nicole worked the barbecue, au naturel, that is with wood and fire. And Eloise helped her.

It seems that Eloise has some Slimm in her in the fire department. Although in her favour, when she got smoke in her eyes and I suggested she kneel down, she thought that was a good idea, which was more response than I got out of her mother.

Feb 1, 2011

Back 2 Skool

Back 2 Skool First off, I suppose I should if not apologise then at least register some disapprobrium for the slackness of updates of late.

I have unfortunately discovered The Wire which I have been watching on iView, which is the Aussie equivalent of the BBC iPlayer.

And I have discovered a need to understand macroeconomics, or rather to understand why nobody in power seems to understand economics, and to understand what might happen given what's being done, or not done.

But I won't bore you with that.

Anyway, since last time, life has returned to normal. By which I mean that I have not visited any flood-affected areas and that out of sight is out of mind.

We did entertain some friends for supper one night to relieve them from the drudgery of their hostel. Their house, at the confluence of the Bremer and Brisbane rivers, disappeared beneath the waters completely, with only two feet poking out. Some possums saved their bacons in the gables and they had a pretty narrow escape. Luckily they were renters, so they only lost their worldly possessions.

Of course Natural Disaster Number Two, in the shape of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, which could be a Category 4 system when it makes landfall tomorrow, is on its way but that is far to the North of us. It's likely to be ugly up there.

On a more mundane level, Eloise has gone back to school and is now a Grader, moving up to class 1A. She has some continuity as Mrs Boone will one again be a part-time teacher. The other part of the time she will have Mrs Anderson. And she has a couple of little chums in her class too.

It's a composite class with some new Preppies so it'll be interesting. The Graders now have their own desks with drawers and everything. The Preppies don't. The two groups split up for seperate activities: the classroom has two rooms.

Other than that, I don't know much... we don't get much reported back to us. There have been some minor separation anxieties, but I dropped her off in the car this morning and she toddled off with her pack and umbrella and got to the class in one piece saying hello to friends and Mums along the way. She was so blase about it and made so little fuss that she got a well-done star for her trouble.

She's elected to drop dancing as an extra-curricular thing this term, so it's just swimming and yoga.

While she's been sitting in air-con wonderland the rest of us have been sweating it out in the mid-30s and high humidity. It's been rather nice and sunny.