Friday, 31 January 2014

A Trip to the Hairdresser's

My hair was getting long and scraggly. I was tired of it always being in my face, so I was very excited when Mum rang up for hair appointments. I decided I wanted my hair to be cut short, like my big sisters'.

"You will have your hair cut on Wednesday," Mum told us.

Wednesday dawned. I hurried to finish my jobs before we had to go out.

"Time to go!" Mum called.

I grabbed my shoes and ran for the front door.

The hairdresser's is not very far away. We could walk there in a few minutes, but we were running a bit late so we took the car.

Mum drove down the road, turned a corner, crossed the bridge, went down another street and parked across the road from the hairdresser's.

Soon Charlotte, Gemma-Rose, Mum and I were entering the hairdresser's .

"Hello!" the hairdresser said. "Who's first?"

Gemma-Rose stepped forward excited. She loves getting hair cuts. Gemma-Rose only wanted a trim. She is growing her hair.

"Wow, your hair is thick," the hairdresser said. She says that every time we go. All of us girls have very thick hair.

I waited for my go impatiently. It didn't take very long for the hairdresser to be finished with Gemma-Rose and soon I was walking over for my own haircut.

I sat down on the twirly seat and the hairdresser put a black cape around my shoulders to stop all the hair falling onto my clothes.

"How much would you like off?" the hairdresser asked.

"I would like it above my shoulders," I replied.

"Do you want to be able to tie it back?" 

"Not really. I don't normally bother with ponytails," I told her.

The hairdresser started to cut my hair. I watched my hair fall everywhere. I couldn't believe how much she was cutting off. Would I have any hair left?

The hairdresser was very quick and before I knew it she was looking for the hand mirror to show me the back of my head. Then I looked into the big mirror. I beamed. My hair was perfect!

Charlotte went next. "Could I have my hair cut like Sophie's?" she asked. I grinned. We would be twins.

The hairdresser got to work. Very soon Charlotte was smiling too. She looked really pretty.

When we left the salon, our necks were much cooler, but the hairdresser's floor was covered in our hair. (It's such a pity hair cuttings aren't useful.) The hairdresser would have a hard time cleaning up.

"That length hair suits you," Mum said. I grinned yet again. I like it a lot better than the length it was before. It is so much easier to look after.

What length hair do you have?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Experimenting with Manual Mode

"Oh I'd love a DSLR camera," I said, so Andy bought me one for our wedding anniversary. 

"I'll work out how to use it," I said. But I didn't. For the last 6 months I've been using the camera on 'Auto' mode. That's cheating, I know. It's also easy. I kept thinking about turning the dial to 'Manual' but deciding what aperture, shutter speed etc to use seemed beyond me. 

"I haven't got time to work it all out," I kept telling myself... until the other day. The other day I turned on the camera, found some children willing to be photographed and started experimenting. I watched a few Youtube videos and skimmed a couple of books, and I think I might actually be getting somewhere. Oh, I know I've still got lots to learn. But I'm beginning to understand how everything works. 

Here are a few of my successful photos...





Andy being silly



Casey and Callum

I'd love to have some better photos to share with my blog posts, so I'll keep on experimenting and learning.

Do you have a DSLR camera? Do you have any photography tips for me? Please share!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Our Australia Day Baby

Ten years ago today Gemma-Rose was born. She made an appearance just a few minutes past midnight on the 26th January, making her the first Australia Day baby to be born in our hospital. By the time the news crew arrived from the local newspaper to take photos of mothers and Australia Day babies, we were no longer there. I'd eaten breakfast and then Andy had arrived to take us both home.

Today we celebrated Gemma-Rose's birthday by visiting a native animal sanctuary for a picnic. Going to see Australian animals on Australia Day seemed a very appropriate thing to do.

Happy Birthday Gemma-Rose!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

In My Disney Place

Once in a while I get the urge to go to my Disney place. It’s a place full of princesses, magic, fairy godmothers and dragons. I have no idea what other people do in their Disney places, but Imogen and I write novels. We are writing our own fairy tale together.

It’s full of magic, has a couple of curses and a dragon. Most afternoons we sit down with Imogen’s laptop and open our document. Then we put on some Disney music, mostly from Tangled or Frozen, put our fingers to the keyboard and go to our Disney places. Then we take turns to write, with occasional pauses for giggling at what we’ve written.

Princess Rosalia

I decided to draw a couple of characters out of it so that we could visualise them while writing. So I whipped out a drawing book, found a pencil and started sketching.  Sometime later, we had a happy bubbly princess ready to dance and a hero to fight the dragon at the end. Other than small details such as hair or eye colour, Imogen lets me do whatever I want to the characters. If I wanted to give our princess pink fluffy slippers and a feather boa, then I could, though she’d probably request a sensible version as well.


We’ve always wanted to write a story together but this is the first time it has actually worked. Several times we have actually started writing a story but gotten bored before we’ve even finished the first chapter. This time though we are determined to finish. We love our characters, the plot is hilarious and we can’t wait for the dragon at the end. 

After the Bushfire

On 18th October 2013 a power line fell down in heavy winds, in the next village along from ours. A fire was soon burning, and it spread very quickly to surrounding bushland. The fire burnt for many days, destroying thousands of hectares of land, before being brought under control.

We first suspected something was wrong when we heard siren after siren, as the fire trucks swept through our village. We walked down to the park at the end of our road and this is what we could see...

The fire was burning in our local bush. A few days later, the following photo was taken by the RFS Southern Highlands Team. It shows all that remained of the bush to the east of our village.

On November 21st 2013, Imogen walked down the main fire trail, and took some video of the same area of burnt-out bush. These are some snapshots of that video. They aren't very good quality but they do show how everything was still very black and bare, a month after the fire. There wasn't much regrowth at this stage.

Last Friday, three months after the fire, the girls and I headed down the fire trail again, to see if we could spot any changes in the bush. We first had to walk through the green band of bush separating us from the affected area. We passed through the fire vehicle gates...

... and down the track, under the leafy trees...

... until we came to the area that was burnt out last October. It was still very black but we could see leaves sprouting all along the trunks of the trees and new plants were shooting up in the undergrowth. 

The photos aren't very good because I took them on my old camera. Also, I took a few directly into the morning sun.

The bush is well on its way to recovery. In a couple of seasons' time it will be hard to tell a fire ever went through this area. The blackened trunks of the trees will remain, but they will hardly be noticeable amongst all the green. The bush will be back bigger and better than before.

It's just a pity houses don't grow back too, isn 't it?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

In Fear of Interviews and Interviewing

This week I interviewed one of my friends for an article I’m writing. I love writing articles, putting the words together in the right order and polishing it until it flows perfectly. But I’m terrified of interviewing people. The very thought of asking someone a bunch of nosy questions fills me with fear and dread. What if I do it wrong? What if I forget to bring my notebook? What if I can’t use any of the material in my article? Or worse, what if I have to redo the whole interview? Going through all that again would be a nightmare!

For a whole week before the interview I write and rewrite all the questions, right up to the very day. Should I write the bare questions? Or should I try to write them in such a way that I can read them straight into the conversation? I decide to record the interview with my phone so that I can listen to it later. But then I worry about whether it has enough memory to record a whole interview and whether it’s going to pick up the voices well enough. This preparing for the interview is hard work.

The day arrives. I’ve got the name of the café where I’m meeting my friend. I check my bag about fifty million times. Am I sure my pen’s going to work? I’ve got ten of them, just to be sure. Phone? Check. Notebook? Check. I make sure I leave the house extra early. What if I’m not able to find the cafe and end up being late? That would be terrible! Instead I turn up at the café a whole quarter of an hour early and have to sit in the hot sun outside, waiting. Well, better safe than sorry, isn’t that right?

In my head I rehearse how to start the interview. It needs to be just right. My friend arrives just as I get it worked out. We go into the café together. I don’t think I’ll have coffee. I’ve got enough to think about without trying to have a drink at the same time. What if I spill it all over my phone or notebook and mess everything up? It’s time to begin the interview, time to pull out that perfect start I prepared. Help! I’ve forgotten it completely. I stutter the first question out. What a great way to begin.

A street performer plays the guitar right outside the café. Cars drive past every few minutes or so. What if they block out the sound of our voices on the recording? Every few minutes or so I inch the phone closer and closer to my friend, hoping she doesn’t notice. My sweaty hands slip on the pen and dampen my notebook pages.  And then, finally, it’s all over. I sit back, turn the phone off and take deep breaths of relief. I’ve done it! I can stop worrying. Until the next interview at any rate…

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Mad Fliq; Beyond The Rollerdrome

Some while ago, I watched a movie called "Whip It". This movie was about a small town girl who finds new friendship and self confidence through the sport of roller derby. It made roller skating look like a lot of fun. The crowds were huge, the sport fast, the girls were smart and brash and self confident to a fault... it seemed like the only thing needed to transform oneself into a fast-talking, gorgeous sportswoman was a set of wheels attached to one's shoes.

Of course, movies are often misleading. I was smart enough to realise today, when I went rollerskating (plus husband), that I probably wasn't going to wow anyone with my speed and grace. I simply thought it sounded like fun. And in a session specially for new learners, surely I wouldn't stand out too badly?

So I paid for my hire skates, slipped my feet in, tied my laces, and went to stand up. Ooops. Back I crashed onto my chair! My first challenge was to stand up. Then to shuffle towards the rink. Then to veeeeeeeery sloooooooowly step into the rink. And finally, to grab onto the rink side like death, panting, and wondering why the movie didn't spend more time emphasising just how hard it is to balance on eight wheels that want to roll out from under you.

Ok. I wasn't going to get very far. Time to think it through, step by step. Stand up straight.... check. Slowly roll feet forward, one at a time.... check. Madly try to lift other foot forwards, lose balance, have both feet roll away from me and end up on my bottom.... um, check!

But I am a stubborn person, and though my sense of balance seemed to have fled from me completely, I got right back up and tried again. Funnily enough, it seemed to be easier when I let go of the wall and relied on my own balance. Slowly, I got into a rhythm. I was going slowly, very, very slowly. I was still making wild sporadic grabs at the wall occasionally. I was still wobbling. But I didn't fall again.

All around me, small children were racing and whirling and gliding. Poor Graham hovered by me, balancing surely on his own skates, unable to leave me to my own devices. I got hot and bothered. But I didn't fall again. In a whole hour, I had fallen just once. I was determined to make it my last. And as our hour came to a close, I could stop scowling in concentration and start to smile. The rollerdrome had not beaten me.

I think I might go rollerskating again soon. I have to beat it. One day, I might be one of those graceful people who whirl and glide around the rink. Until then, look for the rainbow haired girl shuffling around the edge of the rink. I might be scowling, but don't be alarmed.

I'm just concentrating. And I may possibly have a sore bottom.

Sharing Books with Gemma-Rose

A few days ago we went to the library. I couldn't wait to find some good books.

"Sophie, will you help me find some books, please?" Gemma-Rose asked. I was bit surprised. Normally Gemma-Rose asks Imogen and Charlotte for help.

I smiled and pulled out one of my favourite books and passed it to her. "You will like this one."

As I looked at the shelves I found another good book which Gemma-Rose would like. I passed it to her and she grinned. "Thanks Sophie!"

I was soon finding heaps of good books for both Gemma-Rose and me. 

"I think that is enough," Gemma-Rose told me.

"Ok," I answered. "I will just find myself a few more books."

I looked into my bag and counted up how many books I had. I smiled. That should keep me busy for a few days.

Mum walked over. "How did it go?"

"Fine, Sophie found me heaps of books!" Gemma-Rose told her, excitedly.

"I hope you don't mind me borrowing some," I said. I was surprised again. A little while ago Gemma-Rose wouldn't have been interested in what I was reading, but now we seem to be able to read the same books, just like Imogen and Charlotte.

"We will have to start sharing books," I told Gemma-Rose.

She grinned. I felt like I had made her day!

It's good having someone to share books with. Do you share your books with anyone special?

Image: Me, Imogen, Gemma-Rose and Charlotte having morning tea outside the library a while ago

Monday, 13 January 2014

Felicity, Callum, Imogen and Charlotte Sing 'The Leaving of Liverpool'

In my cupboard is a basket, and inside that basket are dozens of mini- cassettes. They are camcorder cassettes, full of happy memories of special family moments. I’m not sure exactly what's on each cassette. Birthdays, Christmases, first steps… stuff like that. I’ve never actually watched any of my videos. They need uploading to my computer and burning to DVD and somehow I’ve never got around to doing that. But I have decided it’s time to get my videos into some kind of order. I want to watch them!

Yesterday I chose a random cassette from the pile and uploaded it. Then I watched the video and I got a lovely surprise.  Felicity phoned home this afternoon and I told her all about it.

“Guess what I found on one of my camcorder cassettes? Do you remember singing The Leaving of Liverpool with Callum, Imogen and Charlotte at a homeschooling camp years ago?”

Felicity did remember.

“I’ll upload the video to Youtube and put it on our blog,” I said. “Then you can see it.”

So that’s what I’m doing. Perhaps you’d like to see it too. Be warned though, the quality of filming is terrible. There’s lots of jerky zooming in and out. You might feel sea-sick by the time the video comes to an end. Somebody did an awful job with the camera. (me!) But the singing is good.

I filmed that performance in April 2005. All the children have changed so much since then. Callum was just a young boy. I bet he sang alto in those days, certainly not bass like he does now. Imogen had glasses. Charlotte looked so very cute. She must have been about 7 or 8 years old.  Felicity had light brown hair! Listening to the song, I remember how Felicity and Imogen especially, liked singing together.

Have I tempted you to take a look? I hope so. Enjoy!

Dancing Galahs and Dripping Lorikeets

Hi everyone! It's really hot here - over the weekend it was in the mid 40's (celsius scale). My two birds, Clive the dancing galah and Leela the one-eyed lorikeet, were hot and bothered, so we put them outside in the breeze. They seem much happier outside, so I took some photos and video of them today. I hope you enjoy seeing them!

Clive, my husband and I bought off a lovely family who didn't have time to care for him properly. We don't know how old he is, but I think he's fairly young and silly. He isn't hand trained and has a tendency to nip people, so he stays in his cage, which is very large. I think we would work on training him more if we didn't also have two large dogs who think birds are fun playthings! 

He has really made friends with my father-in-law, and will groom his beard through the cage bars. However, he doesn't like Graham, my husband, very much and has bitten him a few times. I think he's jealous of the attention Graham gives me.

Leela is a rescued lorikeet. She was probably hit by a car, causing her to lose sight in one eye. Being half blind doesn't seem to bother her at all, though. She loves to play, screech and splash in water. She used to have a friend lorikeet called Loopy who shared her cage, but he tragically died about a month ago. I think she misses him. We may see about finding her a new companion sometime in the future, but she seemed content today to play alone.

This is Clive, my galah, or rose-breasted parrot. He's a very cheeky, friendly bird. We know he's a boy because he has dark brown eyes. Female galahs have red, rosy eyes.

Clive loves scratches and talking to people. But we have to beware of him, because he has been known to nip people unexpectedly!

This is Leela, my rescued lorikeet. She was brought into a rescue shelter with only one eye. It appeared that she had been hit by a car. I volunteered to take her home, and she has become a happy, playful bird.

Leela really enjoys water. She will dunk herself into any water we place into her cage, and has a cat bell that she will ring and toss into water as well.

This is Leela grooming herself after soaking herself in water on a very hot day. 

And this is Clive, doing a little dance for me when I sing for him!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Watching Wives and Daughters

All of us girls like watching period dramas.

We love watching Jane Austen's romances over lunch. We've watched most of them.

We also like North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. And last night we started watching Wives and Daughters. That is also by her.

Even Dad pretended to watch from behind his tablet.

We passed the chocolate box round and we all chose one. Then we all sat back to watch. All except for Dad who put his headphones in.

We kept calling out when we recognised an actor from somewhere else. Occasionally one of us would burst out laughing.

The chocolate box was passed around again.

When the first part of the mini-series was finished Sophie and I went to bed. We couldn't stop quoting the movie. Even Dad said it was a great bonnet drama and he wasn't even watching it.

It was great and I can't wait to watch the rest of the mini-series tonight.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Choosing to Write about Dolls and Not 'About Me'

When I was a child my favourite doll was a Tiny Tears doll. She drank water from a bottle and wet her nappy and I thought she was wonderful. Unfortunately I no longer have Tiny Tears. She is no more.

When I was a child, my parents decided to leave Australia for an extended trip to England. Tiny Tears couldn't come with us. She was packed into a box, and together with all our other belongings, she was put into storage. I thought I’d see her again one day. I never did.

While we were overseas, Australia had wild and stormy weather. It rained and rained and rained some more. As houses disappeared under rising water, everyone began to wish they lived in an ark. Of course the storage unit, where Tiny Tears was packed away, went under water too. Boxes and furniture were tossed this way and that in the fast moving water, and many things floated clean away. Of course I wasn’t there to see what happened. I'm using my imagination.

When the rain stopped and the water levels went down, the storage unit manager accessed the damage. He tried to recover as many items as possible and return them to their rightful owners. But the boxes were damaged. Labels had washed off. It was difficult to decide what belonged to who. I remember my parents receiving a small box of recovered belongings. But Tiny Tears wasn't in that box. No, she was never returned. Instead some strange masks from Papua New Guinea were given to us in her place. Did someone else receive Tiny Tears? Was she given to another family by mistake? Or did she float away never to be seen again?

I have never forgotten Tiny Tears. I don’t suppose I ever will. She was a good doll. My favourite.

“I’m writing a post about dolls," I say to my daughters. “What doll is your favourite? I could take some photos of them if you can find them.”

While they were looking for their favourite friends, I searched my computer files for some more doll pictures, like this one...

This is 4 year old Felicity with Esabel. Felicity loved her so much she almost wore her out. I had to sew up lots of holes in her soft cloth body. One day Felicity was sick, very sick. Poor Esabel ended up dirty and smelly. I picked her up very carefully by two fingers and deposited her in the garbage bin. "I'll buy you a new doll," I said. I came home from the shops with a brand new beautiful baby doll but Felicity didn't like her one little bit. No doll could replace Esabel. In the end I rescued Felicity's favourite doll from the garbage bin, washed her and returned her. Felicity was delighted. We still have Esabel. She's in a box in the garage. I wonder if Felicity remembers she's there. I wonder if she wants her back.

"I no longer have my favourite doll," says Imogen. "She was the doll with the rainbow-coloured hair, the one we got from Vinnies."

"What happened to her?" I ask.

"She ended up back at Vinnies."

Imogen made the little mermaid doll she's holding. It was Gemma-Rose's favourite doll for a time.

"What's the mermaid's name?" I ask Gemma-Rose.

"She doesn't have one. Her name keeps changing. She has a different name for every game."

Felicity also made Gemma-Rose a doll. Actually she made her lots of dolls. This one was a favourite for a time. She is called Hannah Edith and was sewn entirely by hand.

Gemma-Rose's current favourite doll is long-legged Mary Katherine. Sophie made her as a Christmas present.

Baby Charlotte is Charlotte's favourite doll. I made a whole wardrobe of clothes to go with this doll, and gave them to Charlotte as a Christmas present, many years ago. I can still remember how excited she was when she saw her gift.

Sophie's favourite doll is very similar to Charlotte's. She wanted a doll just like her big sister's. Sophie called her doll Baby Junior. She probably wanted to call the doll Baby Charlotte but a big sister probably protested. There's another picture of this doll at the top of this post. The doll hasn't changed but Sophie has!

Even Duncan has a favourite doll. Of course his is called Wallace.

And my husband Andy has one too. Imogen and Charlotte knitted this doll for him as a graduation present when he completed his Masters of Teaching degree. They were still finishing the doll while we were driving to the graduation ceremony. Andy was unaware of all the work that was going on in the back of the van. By the time we arrived back home, the doll was finished. The girls presented it to Andy who was delighted with his unexpected gift.

Here's a few more photos of dolls I found:

So I have come to the end of my post. I wasn't supposed to write about dolls. I was given orders to write an 'About Me' post, but dolls are far more interesting, don't you agree?

Now I hope you'll stop and tell us about your favourite doll. What's its name? Do you still have it? And why is it so special?