Legends from our own lunchtimes

Monday, May 31, 2010

Taking Stock

I think when a  big scary rabbit starts to stare at one, it's time to take as stock of one's life.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tired but happy

It's winter in Brisbane, and I can report that barefoot bowling on the river front, the day after considerable precipitation can be akin to walking barefoot in snow.   The game was fun, and the company was great, the food OK as usual, and the afternoon tea sensational.

Then of course there was a quasi birthday dinner, the sixth of the month.  Pizza, wood fired under the stars, or where the stars would have been had the clouds not obscured them, and fire and wooly jumpers in the backyard in a chilly seventeen degrees.

We felt all suitably wintery, until we phoned Shell in London, mocking their summer fourteen Celsius, and she informed us she was sitting in the warmth outdoors in a little sundress, lapping up some rays and making the most of the warmth.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked

Yes I know I could have waited an hour or so or picked a photograph from a thousand others, but once again we found ourselves waking to the sound of the alarm well before the sun had risen above the yard arm, or even the horizon for that matter.  The alarm was gentle enough to be sure, "harp music" on the iPhone, but it was still way before we would have preferred, and it was one of those wet cool mornings which leave one begging for just a few more hours under a warm doona.

But it was also Macy's second birthday party, a breakfast in Brisbane so we set off in almost no daylight, and sloshed our way down through the drizzle and downpours and huddled in the picnic shelter while devouring snags and onions and red and blue Elmo cakes.   

Everyone was there  of course, and after all that catching up and a few odd jobs, an hour or so alone with Lily seemed like a terrific way to snooze away the afternoon.

Friday, May 28, 2010


On a Thursday evening, the neighbours get together in one of our homes, perhaps five our six households worth at times, to have a quiet drink, a chat and perhaps a meal.   

We've always had a genuine community in our street, the product of living among a fine bunch of people and at the end of a culdesac I expect.  The atmosphere is interesting now.  We've grieved together as the resumption process marched on, swapped notes about our respective applications, and laughed about our tribulations, shared our triumphs.

Now half of us are going and half remain as though nothing had happened or at least that's what "their people" would have us believe.

Now half of us talk quietly of our plans for the future, not wanting to offend those who can't make plans of their own.

I read the recommendation from the government's genius today.   The report says that it will cost between one and two hundred million dollars to keep the highway on its original alignment.

It says that about half the houses required to realign it have been resumed.

Then it recommends that the realignment does not proceed, as it will disrupt our community.

I wonder if "they" realise just how disrupted are they who now must remain.  

I wonder if "they" know what "community" actually is.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

After Sales Service

We bought a single burner hotplate a year ago, brand new for $20.00.   It worked for a time, then stopped so we phoned the warranty people, who told us to take a photo of it, cut the cord and throw it in the bin.  Since the parts to repair were going to be a lot more expensive than buying a new one, even though my scrounging heart was broken, I did as I was told.

But it was a good day, we have a real estate agent who is working for us and with us and that's a good thing.   Really good as it turned out as we made an offer on a house, an investment property that perhaps one day may serve as home, even if only temporarily.

Contrary to the state of the appliance market at the moment, an new house is currently a lot more expensive than buying one that is just a few years old.

We really are in a bit of a bind in terms of working out what to do about replacing the Home of the Biting Midge, but at least we'll have a roof that we can call upon if it rains.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Roundabouts and Swings

The roller coaster has barely stopped and we've already raced over to the swings.

We have a sense of urgency about finding at leas one property in short order as a hedge against what may or may not happen in the money market over the next six months.   On the one hand, prices here are in the very top range for the country.   On the other, it is difficult to see any indicator at all that they will magically become lower in the short term, and population pressure and construction costs give one the fairly solid impression that prices may well be on the move in an upward direction.

Speaking with a friend in a large land development organisation today, it seems they are trying to combat this in the marketplace by providing more lots (as required by Council of all things!) at an ever-diminishing lot size.   I can't say I disagree with this as a matter of planning philosophy, but it will change for ever the character of the place and the reason so many of us came to live here in the first place.

All of which brings me to the beach front block we looked at this afternoon.  Gosh we were tempted, it is a bargain. But the reality after we sleep on it, will be that there is no view so we could be developing any cheap bush block with a salt laden mist problem, it is further from services than we want to be, and we could have two or even three houses for the cost of developing it.

I'm sure we'll be sensible in the morning, and tell ourselves things like "We'll only be there five or six months a year, it would be silly to tie up all that capital...."

It's almost enough to make one want to get a proper job again.

Hmmm... no it's not.  It's not even tempting.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I might have known today would be one of those days, when I didn't change out of my PJ's until far too late in the day.  There I was in my blue striped flanny splendour, sitting with my camera and my coffee on the steps, oblivious to the fact that it had been raining, watching this pyjama blue canoe tootle past.

And so it was with a wet posterior I contemplated the two canvasses that still need work.   "Ralph" and "Frank" are cramping my style.  In truth, neither need to come with us, but I just want them done!

And we had a look at another gazillion houses today.

The more we look, the more confused we become.

I think tomorrow will see more progress on all fronts!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Monday turned out to be remarkably like Sunday really, except there wasn't any sunshine.

And no one came to visit.

And we didn't go out for fish and chips.

Grey sky is quite nice on reflection.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


We've just had a Sunday.

Not much, a lie around, a read, a walk, lunch with friends, afternoon arts on the TV.


Baked beans on toast for tea.

I can't remember the last time a day like this happened.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The end is nigh!

We slept in this morning.  A sort of old folk's gesture of celebration I suspect, and with a giggle thought about making a list of things that perhaps the landlord should think about repairing.

We didn't of course, and as usual pulled out our projects various and got going.   

The last three months in the shed are coming to a close which is both good and bad.  Good because it means the project is nearly finished, another day on "Mr Two" and a few on "Frank" and we're ready to pack, and good because I can focus on the several hundred other projects that need finishing before we depart.   Bad, because I really like just standing there for days on end mixing colour in ever decreasing blodges, although if I get serious, a window would be nice.

Isn't it a mess.  It will be nice to have it back to it's original purpose, for cutting things and banging them together, but it's been nice having the alternative too.

But all of that is skirting round the fact that we are still in shock.   It doesn't matter if they decide to build the road again, we have their money.  

They have our house.

We are free to think of our future with an understanding of what we have to work with, and we need to have a big think.

In a day or two!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Is that all there is?

Late this afternoon, when the shadows were very long indeed,  in fact so long that the nice lady at the bank kindly kept their batching open so our deposit could be processed before the weekend, the roller coaster that has been one part of our life for the past nine months, came rolling to a stop.

We are a little dizzy of course, and the silence is deafening, and we are looking around trying to get our bearings.

We are now tenants in the house that has been ours for almost a decade, and for the first time since we arrived home late last year, there is no uncertainty surrounding our tenure.  

Uncertainty surrounding where we might eventually live of course, but for now we have twelve months reprise, and strangely "a chap" to make any repairs.

Our home is not our house!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

With Barely a Ripple

Today came and today went with barely a ripple. 

An early meeting to sign the lease on our house, and what a bizarre sensation that was.

Breakfast with old friends, lunch with newer friends and the afternoon with a real estate agent who was desperate to become our new best friend, just about filled in our entire day.

Not quite filled it in though, because there was the debriefing session with all of the neighbours over dinner.

And now, a strange hush has befallen us.   The calm after the storm has begun to envelope our emotions.

Sometime tomorrow the home of the bitingmidge will be owned by others.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One More Sunset

Tomorrow is the last sunset we'll see as owners at the home of the bitingmidge.  Now it really does seem like a dream.  Even my hard-bitten instincts are telling me it's OK to drop our guard, (but not to sleep!).

Today we passed the pre-settlement inspection, which turned out to be quite pleasant as their "people" was "not unknown" to us, a neighbour of sorts in our old town.  We also signed a thing called a "sustainability statement", a bureaucratic joke if ever I've seen one.  What evil mind could dream up a form which is compulsory to complete, where an incorrect answer is worthy of a fine of several thousand dollars, but where the instructions say, "if you don't know the answer, leave a blank".

So we didn't know a lot of answers, and signed a blank form, thereby avoiding a hefty fine for guessing.

Tomorrow, even more strangely we meet in the house that has been ours for almost a decade, to arrange to rent it.

Friday, we will find ourselves living in someone else's house.

I am not sure if it's separation anxiety, relief or excitement that we feel, but the end result is that we are sleeping very much like Lily, waking up every few hours, and staring fitfully at the ceiling, or modifying web pages, depending on which of us is up.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Welcome to the house of Pink

Ten days it took for our Lily to catch her first cold, and that meant her mum and dad spent a lot of time awake during the night before her mum's birthday.

We had a grand Birthday Breakfast at yesterday's birthday house, before travelling the few kilometres to what is now the house of pink, for a continuation of the celebration.   

The girls went shopping too, while the blokes silently jockeyed for position over Lil, waiting for the slightest stir so there could be a reason to pick her up, but she remained resolutely snug in her bassinet, which is the very same one her cousins slept in, and her mother, and her aunties, and their father and their aunties and an uncle, and we're not even sure that one of their uncles didn't make it his home for a time as well.

Even if he didn't, we know it's been used by pretty much everyone in the extended family with a birth date after 1952, which makes it some sort of heirloom I suspect, if not an antique.   Which in turn makes me wonder if I am either.

Having been custodians of it for more than thirty years (as indeed were my parents before), we are hoping to have wrapped it in it's dust proof cover for the last time.   When things leave the Home of the BitingMidge these days they do so without a stamped addressed envelope, and with so many babies in the production line, we might just get away with it.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome to the house of fun!

Sometime before dawn, nature or something else called one of us and the door to our room was opened to reveal Mr Three standing outside holding his "guitar" in one hand and a maraca in the other.  The grand dog stormed in with him and if they'd known the words I'm sure they would have been singing "Welcome to the house of fun."  

Birthday Breakfast, Birthday Lunch and Birthday Afternoon Tea with cake ("don't forget the fire, Mummy") put us all in good stead for a dose of Birthday Dinner.

Between walks and swings and eating, I made use of the time away from the paints, by working on a badly unfinished upgrade to all my blog templates.  Now I have a less badly unfinished upgrade at least, but all of the above faded into the background by ten that night, when Steve with audible sighs of relief all round, finished the paperwork to complete his apprenticeship.   

Jen's illness may well have meant a somewhat lesser celebration of her third birthday with an "0" in it, but it won't be easy to forget!

Ahh tomorrow, another day another birthday!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


It's Saturday, no Sunday..... another week begins well before dawn for reasons which are inexplicable and as often happens we've lost a day somewhere!

Since Lily's arrival we have a routine that seems to be a few days out, I paint until Sunday night, then we have two days off in the big smoke with kids various, their spouses and offspring, so Tuesday inevitably feels like Sunday and well three day's later the week's gone.

Birthdays tomorrow and the next will doubtless relieve the cabin fever.

As they get older, their birthdays remain on consecutive days just as they have always been, but sadly the cake fest doesn't seem to go as long as it did when they were small.  Then, it seemed "Birthday" meant a month long festival.  First one, then the next, then the party(ies) on the next weekend.

Sometime between now and Wednesday, we'll have to tidy the garden.  It's not too bad, but the frangipani are starting to think that winter is coming, and the lotus' have decided it's here, and we have an inspection this week.  Their people want to make sure the house is just so, before they hand over the cheque.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Old John

Not a bad day in the office really, two more finished and I'm past half way.

 I'm not sure how John would feel about being immortalised, but it's too late now, he's coming to France with us.  I hadn't thought of the scale of it before, but I suspect at 1.5 metres across, the painting is a wide as he is tall.   I'll have to see if I can get him here to pose beside it.

I'm actually starting to think I can get finished in time, but we're heading off you know where for a couple of days, so that should put me behind the eight ball again!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Things I'll miss #125

The whole move thing is starting to feel quite real.  We perused the rental agreement today, so we know we will be here for the best part of the next twelve months, but that doesn't mean I can't keep finding things I'll miss about this place.

Like that little patch of light that glints on the water opposite our robe when I get out of the shower of a morning.

It's hard not to feel cheery with the river laughing like this on a sunny day.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Time Flies

Time flies when you're having fun, and so it came to pass, while sitting on my step watching the sun rise that I came to the realisation that we have a one week old grand daughter today.    

In a week we will no longer own this house.

In five we will be off to our "other" life on the other side of the world.

So in five weeks, I have five paintings to finish, find a house and a block of land, start a some sort of design process, try to co-ordinate work on the boat over there, think about what we need to live for four months in a soon to be not so foreign country, sell a car, and keep having fun.

Is there any wonder I wake up before sunrise!

I think I need a day job.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Going Batty

The flying foxes have arrived in the mangroves opposite.  I have no idea where they go or why they come back, but they do and their numbers slowly build until none of them can get any sleep at all during the day for all the chattering.

It seems that the Government is serious about using the original route for the motorway too, they've called for "submissions" which of course is a euphemism for objections.  I'm wondering if I should let the flying foxes know.  

Meanwhile this painting caper is teaching me that I have more patience than I thought.   I haven't figured out why I actually like standing there all day painting half the surface area of a large canvas with a tiny brush in such a way that it looks like it was done in ten minutes with a very large one, but I do.

I'm glad I was never in the navy, I suspect I might have enjoyed scrubbing decks with a toothbrush too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I actually enjoy just wandering between the unfinished canvasses, which is just as well, because we've pretty much got a house full of them at the moment.  It's all starting to catch up with me though, the time spent wandering and pondering each with a cup of coffee in my hand.   I'm starting to think maybe I can pull this off.

Five to finish and pack before we leave at the end of June, about a week's work on each left to do if all goes well (and where would be the fun if it did?)

I should be out there now, but I'm icing my shoulders and thinking of other things, like why I choose to paint at such a large scale with such tiny brushes.  Besides I have to go to the big smoke today, I have an appointment with Lily and her cousin Mr Three.

I suspect that as winter starts to arrive, my days may get longer.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Darkness Descends

After the euphoria of the birth and the continuous round of congratulations, visitors and sleepless nights, the stillness of being home alone is almost too much to bear.

Is it any wonder a kind of gloom sets in a few days after the arrival of a new baby.

Life is tough being a grandparent.

I tried to phone, but they said she was sleeping.

It's OK I'll see her again in a few days, and Mr Three filled me in on how tiny she is.  That won't last long though, she's put on 100 grams since last we spoke.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Secret Women's Business

Another of life's great questions answered.   

Exactly how many mothers does it take to change a new born baby?

You've seen it here first!

A happy mothers' day.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

More Lily

If one was to presume that Lily was going to be a one day wonder, then one had best think again.

I know I've mentioned it before, but one of the nicest things my Father ever said to me happened when we were standing outside the hospital nursery"shop window" peering in through the reflections at one of the little lumps of wrapping a few metres away.  That was how one viewed one's new born progeny thirty years ago next Monday week, if one was male. 

We were accompanied by the then Miss Two, and now the mother of Lily.

Lily's Mum had just done or said something terribly two-like and wondrous, and I mentioned to my Father how wonderful it was, watching as every day at the changes happened in her life and the joy those brought to us.  I asked him when did that stop.

He looked at me with the merest hint of a glisten in his eyes, a bit like I suppose mine appear when I look at this photo, and said:  " It hasn't yet."

He was right.

And when the son-in-law wakes at 4:30, and thinks to himself that it's probably too early to visit them in hospital just yet, one can be sure it isn't going to stop for a long long time.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Lily the Pink

She's arrived and we think she loves us, nothing else matters in the whole world!

I keep being asked how much she weighed?  Who cares?  She's here and she's a beaut!


Thursday, May 06, 2010

It Works!

It's been a bit of week thus far, but it seems my new fangled method for rearranging dates worked as planned.

Our morning peace was shattered some time well before respectable roosters had commenced crowing, in fact I'm not even sure that the first sparrow had broken wind by the telephone jangling us into the new day.   In a fog, all I could hear were words like "water" and "broken" and naturally assumed that there was a plumbing problem somewhere, and then words like "labour" were being used and I guessed they'd got a chap in to fix the problem.

It's no use, I can't keep myself in suspense any longer, at some time just before the ABC news tonight, Lily Kate turned up, bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for a life!

We can't see her till tomorrow of course and we were all too excited to find out about things like how much she weighed, but we know she's got hair and we heard her cry when she was less than half an hour old and then we did too, but she couldn't hear us.  Guess who won't be sleeping at all tonight?

It seems that my calendar modification theory works very efficiently after all, just swap the dates and there she is!

Amid all the tension of the day, the pacing and anxious patience, I FORGOT to take a photo although I did manage to rough in the painting above, which I'll call "Waiting" which doesn't at all represent our demeanour of late at all.  While all the excitement was building and events unfolding beyond our control,  our people did get the formal confirmation from their people that all seems to be humming along with the contract, but who cares about any of that stuff right now anyway?

Welcome Lily, try to get some sleep because tomorrow we'll be there and there'll be no chance after that.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Chewing like mad

The sun set this evening on the Home of the Bitingmidge, perhaps for the first time with an unconditional contract of sale, perhaps after nearly nine months, we have a binding contract in place. It wasn't spectacular, just a dull red glow and a sort of fizzle. Today was the day that the building and pest report condition expired. We heard nought, notwithstanding that a note arriving at a minute to closing time may not have got to us. That should be a very comforting sign, but I am as restless as a wattle in a willy willy, just waiting for the next turn. I suspect those emotions too will fizzle in a day or two.

Others in the street who are not quite as advanced with their contracts have no certainty at all, and the atmosphere in the neighbourhood is "interesting" to say the least.

We have a lovely old blue car that no one wants to buy, but I'd rather that than a house.

Joan observed that I perhaps have bitten off rather a lot at the moment, but while chewing like mad from my perspective it seems I've been force fed! My subconscious is working on the problem though.

Last night I dreamt that the calendar was one of those puzzles with tiles that can be slid round to change the order until a word or picture is formed. It was terrific, I neatly slid the "17" date/tile to yesterday and woke up with a new granddaughter born exactly on time, but with two weeks left to get to the point where the seventeenth once was, thus saving us an anxious two weeks but not burning any of our life away.

I think I might have invented a revolutionary new time management system.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Space to get lost in

As I turned out the lights tonight I couldn't help but sigh and be grateful for the time we've had here and the "selfish" spaces we were able to create.  Sure I'll accept that I can't really fire up the table saw or find a book while I'm painting, but short of building a purpose built studio, having a workshop actually located inside the house and beside the study to boot, has it's advantages.

I know one of us doesn't share my enthusiasm when there's a "making" project happening and sawdust seems to find its way to the kitchen and beyond with monotonous regularity, and if I forget to close the door sometimes the tele becomes a bit difficult to hear, but heck it's a great space to play in for days at a time, and the sewing machine makes a noise too.

Now if only the natural light was a bit better......  

Monday, May 03, 2010

Lost in Space

It's called "Lost in Space", it's 150 cm square and I can't believe how much of a struggle it's been for something that doesn't even have a background!  If the next takes this long I'll be locked in my shed till Christmas!   There is still a bit of tidying up to do but it was such a relief to have it working as intended that I figured I could just push it out and pretend it's done.  Perhaps another day and it will be.

Alone for a few days while girls get some mothering, the shed should be a hive of activity, but I just have this propped up in the living room with a few of it's incomplete mates, and walk around them scratching my chin and thinking I must do something.

It is Labour Day after all.

Note for Cara:  Although there's no sign of a stencil a spray can or for that matter a cheque for quarter of a million pounds I can't deny the "Banksyesqueness" of this piece!   I actually considered not proceeding with it for a time, specially after Mr Banks began pumping out his "smiley face" meme, but I figured the  original photograph that I based it on was a "sign" that I should just do it!

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Our sleep habits are starting to get a bit like they do before Christmas when there's too much going on for one brain (or even two) to process in the number of waking hours suggested as reasonable in the reference texts.   We were both awake before dawn me thinking about why I haven't thought about what needs to be arranged before we leave in less than two months and just chewing over the current painting in progress which for more than a week has frustrated me with its unwillingness to come together and I can't afford delays like this and we need to find a house and why won't my mind stop I'm starting to feel as though I have a dose of the Kerouac only without the chemicals!

The photo is very similar to one posted before on this blog, and it's there because today was quite special in another way.  Today the University of Queensland returned by hand, my father's slides and a brand new hard drive onto which they are now copied, scanned to archive quality TIFFS.   All nine hundred of them, for posterity and for cross referencing into the State Governments' Places programme.

To make the whole incredible project even more incredible, they expressed a good deal of pleasure at the fact that amost eight hundred of them were fantastically suited for their archiving purposes, so my efforts in scanning the first hundred or so have paid off in buckets.

Now to sit down with the dear old Mother and caption them all for the record.   Not a small job, but now a lot smaller than it was going to be.

Now to get them onto Flickr for the world to share.

Of course the painting turned a corner too, tomorrow looks like it will be even better than today!


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Right on cue

I may have mentioned a few days ago that the stingrays would be back soon.   Here are the first of their open cut mines for this visit.  Within a day or two the beach will be more hole than whatever it is that isn't a hole, and all of the little balls of sand left by the soldier crabs will be gone, along with their makers.

It's all so inevitable, but I think I've managed to avoid creating another metaphor.

On an entirely different note, today we have been contemplating the expression "to lose by a landslide".  We decided that it had been a while since we'd been for a drive in the country, so pottered off to Montville via Palmwoods.   We managed to get to within six kilometres of our destination when we came across an illuminated sign telling us that the road was closed due to a land slip and that we should use an alternative route.   Just why the sign wasn't located before the point of no return, or even before we had to backtrack the twelve or so kilometres to get to the alternative route was not explained.   

So we turned around, and retraced our steps, deciding to head in an entirely different direction, from Nambour to Kenilworth via the Obi Obi range.  Nine kilometres into a twenty one kilometre trip, and about half a kilometre past the point where the winding road splits into a one way direction, we came across another sign which advised the road was closed in twelve kilometres.   Another slip apparently, but why again at a point where just to do a U-turn was a five kilometre trip?

Perhaps the Main Roads Department really is our nemesis.   

Not to worry, the bakery pies were good and the custard tart superb.
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