Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Microwave - do I need one?

My microwave oven died tonight and my immediate thought was "I guess I'll have to go and buy another one tomorrow." But will I? Just thinking about what I use it for, and how much, started me wondering if I really need one. I sometimes thaw meat in it, only very occasionally cook a few green vegies, thaw an odd slice of bread when I can't wait 5 minutes for it to thaw naturally, heat the milk on the cereal in winter, cook rice and a few jacket potatoes, warm up the Playdough for my grandson when I take it out of the fridge, and very little else. A couple of hundred dollars seems rather a lot to spend for just that.

I wasn't too disappointed by its demise as I know it hadn't cooked evenly for some years. So rather than have another 'appliance panic' perhaps I will wait a few weeks and see if I really do need to replace it. The last 'appliance panic' I had was about 3 years ago when I brought home a large frozen turkey for Christmas. I opened the freezer to see a sea of liquid in the bottom of it. After a hasty phone call to a repairman revealed that the problem was 'fatal' I managed to squeeze the turkey into the freezer of the drinks fridge in the garage. Next day I bought another freezer; admittedly only about half the size of the old one. After I'd salvaged what food I could, and thrown away that which was already about 3 years past the used by date, I stopped and asked myself why I really needed a freezer.

We had no children living at home, I had a freezer in each of two fridges, I live 3 minutes walk from a supermarket, and there are other supermarkets only 5 minutes drive away that are open every minute of the year except Christmas Day. It's just that it was convenient to have six loaves of bread in the freezer instead of having to buy a loaf every 3 days, and heaven forbid that we should use the last scoop of icecream and not have another carton to open immediately. I could have put the rarely used clothes dryer in that space in the laundry taken up by the freezer, too.

So, back to the microwave. I guess most of my readers have a microwave, but do you use them to their full extent, or are they just there to heat the water for coffee or the milk for the Weeties? Both of which can be done in a kettle/jug or saucepan.

Perhaps I don't need a microwave - and I sure could do with the extra bench space. Please help me make up my mind.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Carefree Shopping

Val has chronicled the woes of supermarket shopping in Australia in the mid 1970s. Her post made me think of shopping when I was a child in the 1940s and early '50s. I lived in the country, at a time when very few women drove cars. Indeed, there were several families on nearby farms who didn't even own a car, therefore most of the household shopping was home delivered.

Mum would ring up the grocer in the nearest town, which was 12 klm (8 miles) away, on Tuesday morning with her order for the week, and this would be delivered by the owner of the grocery store on Wednesday afternoon. Colin would bring in the groceries, all stacked in a wooden box, set it down on the kitchen table and unpack it. Then he would check through the order again to make sure it was all there. I remember that he always wore a white apron and had a pencil tucked above one ear.

On Monday mornings Mum would ring a butcher in another town about 22 klm away with her weekly order. The meat was delivered by the mailman on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and left in the mailbox together with the mail. Mum bought meat from that same butcher for more than 20 years and never once visited the shop or met the butcher.

Bread was delivered Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from the bakery in the local town. The bread was left in a large wooden box at the entrance to the farm. Our house was 400 metres from the road so one or other of the 7 children would need to walk down to the road to collect the bread or meat and the mail and carry it home in a hessian sugarbag on their back. We sometimes ate most of the inside out of a loaf of bread on the way home, leaving just a crust. You can imagine how happy that made Mum! She used to rouse at us, saying, "If I gave you bread to eat with nothing on it, you wouldn't eat it. Yet you'll eat it before it even gets to the house."

We collected milk from our own cows and butter was brought out once a week from the milk factory by the milk carrier. At one time we would go through 7lbs (3.5 kilos) of butter a week.

At various times a greengrocer would call with vegetables and fruit. We had many fruit trees of our own on the farm, although Dad would often buy whole cases of apples and oranges from orchardists in the Mildura area. These would be sent down by train. At other times, two of my brothers grew vegetables and sold them to Mum for half shop price. This meant that Mum had cheap vegetables and the boys earned some pocket money. What they couldn't grow, Dad would usually buy during a weekly trip into town.

None of this shopping was paid for at the time of purchase. At the end of the month each business would send a bill in the mail and Dad would write out a cheque for each one and post it off.

In the late 1950s supermarkets started to appear in Australia and we began making a fortnightly trip to a larger town for groceries and vegetables. However, meat and bread continued to be bought as before.

In the early 1970s, before moving to Canberra, Richard and I, and Michelle and Tanya lived in another small farming community which had a corner store (see photo), where most groceries could be purchased. Many of the goods still came to the store in bulk and had to be weighed out by the storekeeper. Sugar, salt, a range of dry goods, and biscuits are some of the things I remember being sold in this way.
Michelle developed a liking for Monte Carlo biscuits so it didn't matter which sort of biscuit I asked for, Malcolm would always include 2 Monte Carlos for her. At the same shop you could buy hardware, gift items, and stock feed. A typical country store.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

The Royal Canberra Show

I know that when you see these photos taken at the Canberra Show today, it will come as a complete surprise to know that I come from a farming background ... lol.

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More photos on Flickr - eventually.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

While the cat's away, the mice do play...

...or in this case, while the husband is housebound with a sore foot, the wife has free rein in the vegetable garden.

Well, almost free rein. Since Richard operates the vegie gardens on a five-year rotation, I had to ask what type of plants I was allowed to plant in each particular bed. So in the last two days I've carted barrowloads of compost and dug it in, spread dry manure and blood'n'bone with abandon, planted lettuces, cabbages, cauliflowers, rocket, beetroot, leeks, capsicum (probably too late) and silver beet, watered them like there's no restrictions, and artistically decorated the beds with snail bait. I'm hoping for a couple more coolish days to give the seedlings the best chance of establishing. They were all grown from seed by Richard and some had gotten a bit long and lank. Still, they're in the ground now, with more hope of survival than they had in a plastic punnet.

Richard spends Spring and early Summer all enthusiastic about the vegie garden but as time goes on things get let go a bit and empty beds don't get replanted (which drives me nuts), so I was pleased to get the chance to do some planting while the weather has been a bit cooler.

Oh, I nearly forgot, I restacked the compost heaps too. What a feeling of satisfaction to see all that material on the verge of becoming garden treasure.

Monday, February 20, 2006


I did it today.
I've never done it before.
It wasn't as daunting as I thought it might be.
I tried things I've never tried before.
There were several other people there,
and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves.
I didn't get as tired as I thought I might.
I'd like to do it several times a week.
In fact, I'll probably go to the gym again on Wednesday.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Dear Michelle ,
you didn't really think I would
pass up this opportunity to embarrass you, did you?
Not after doing the same to Sara anyway.

I hope you do have a lovely birthday,
either today or whenever you have time to celebrate it.
Have a great day at Uni. and remember that
even if it's a tiring day,
it won't be nearly as tiring as it was for me ** years ago.

No, I'm not going to write a 'Birth Story'
- I belong to the old school -
but I did enjoy your story about Shay's birth.
I love you and thank you for being the wonderful daughter that you are.
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Darling Shay -
Grandpa and Grandma hope you have a
Have lots of fun being a BIG 5
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Friday, February 17, 2006

Amendment to Meme

After completing the Three Meme a few days ago I began thinking about special days from my childhood, and one came to mind that definitely was a unique day for me.

When I was in Year 7 at high school in 1955, I was a member of the school choir. One Saturday the choir mistress took the entire choir on the train to Melbourne, a trip of 60 miles (96klm). On arrival in Melbourne we went out to Station Pier and had a look all over one of the ships in port. I can't remember its name or what type of ship it was.

Next we visited the Botanic Gardens and ate our lunch on the banks of the Yarra River. It was like having a special picnic with so many schoolfriends and our teacher. I think we discovered that Mrs Wells was actually human that day.

After lunch came the real purpose of the trip - a visit to the Melbourne Town Hall for a concert by the Trapp Family Singers, who many years later were the subject of the movie 'The Sound of Music'.

I can still picture Maria von Trapp and the adult children dressed in Austrian National Costume on stage in that wonderful building. Baron von Trapp had died some years earlier, in 1947. We loved the colourful costumes and the joyous singing.

We had tea in the Alexandria Gardens before catching the train for the trip back to Drouin. For me it was such a special day, not just the ship and the concert but also the train trip, spending the day with friends doing things and seeing places that were new to me. We lived on a farm and had practically no social life so this was one day that has stayed in my memory all of these years.

Tuesday view of Lake Ginninderra

These are some of the photos we took on our 3klm walk around part of Lake Ginninderra on Tuesday morning......

.... and home for breakfast. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 16, 2006

So Many Ideas!

A very interesting couple of hours spent with the Landscape Designer this morning. Lots of ideas and advice but even more importantly for us, confirmation that our ideas, for the most part, are feasible.

Now we have to knuckle down and put a detailed plan on paper to submit to CB, who will then make any necessary adjustments and together we'll work out how to bring it all to fruition.

Lots of work, but hopefully the end result will be worth the effort and expense.

I'll definitely keep you posted - in writing and pictures. Before it's finished you'll no doubt all be wishing that I would just go away!


Since I have nothing else to post here, following is a photo for each season.





Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Garden Makeover

Yippeee. We're getting a garden makeover.

No, not quite. I rang a landscape designer on Tuesday and asked if he would come and give us some advice concerning some large areas that we want to change. I thought he would probably say that he could come in about two weeks, but no, it's two days. So guess what we've done since Tuesday lunchtime? Worked like crazy to tidy up the deck, pot plants and the garden. Just like a housewife who cleans and tidies the house before the cleaning lady comes.

So now it looks neat and tidy, and best of all, there's a thunderstorm happening right now AND IT'S RAINING!!

View from the bottom of the garden looking up to the road. That house is actually across the other side of the road.

This once was the back lawn. It meets the bottom of the previous photo. All of the area in these two photos was originally meant to be lawn, but we don't need that much lawn anymore, nor can we afford the water to keep them looking good. We hope to reshape this area and plant trees, shrubs, groundcovers, maybe even have a bog garden at the lowest point. It will be interesting to see what ideas the designer comes up with.Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tagged by Three

ShellyC has tagged me. The things daughters will make their mothers do, like dusting off old memories, etc.

What were three things you wanted to be when you grew up? (When will that be, I wonder?)

1. The perfect wife, mother and housekeeper. (Richard says, "You achieved that." I told you he had a weird sense of humour.)

2. A Dressmaker. (I did achieve that to some extent but found that trying to make money from a beloved hobby changes its character into something much less loved.)

3. A World Champion - at anything.

You can relive one day from your childhood. Which one will it be?

I think it would be the second last day of each Primary School year. That was the day (night) of the school Christmas concert. The excitement and anticipation was the highlight of my year.

You have two minutes (and a mover with you if you need heavy lifting help!) to grab 5 things from your home before it morphs into a polka dotted hobgoblin and hops away. What will you take? (Food/drink/family/friends excluded).

1. Photos

2. My 38 year-old sewing machine. I can always buy a new one but I can't replace my old one which I use all the time.

3. A change of clothes.

4. A pillow and a blanket.

5. The polka dotted hobgoblin in the hope that I could convert him back into all my stuff.

You have to paint one quote on your kitchen wall. What is it going to be?

"Don't write on the walls."

What is the one thing you want to have accomplished by the end of the year?

To have all my garden looking like it's finished (says she, laughing hysterically).

You are moving to the moon for one year and can only bring one flower with you. What kind will you bring?

A sprig of gum leaves. The perfume is much more noticeable when you are not surrounded by thousands of other eucalypt trees.

You just received word that aside from one flower you can also bring five books with you. Which ones will you bring?

1. The Bible

2. The biggest Og Mandino book that I can find.

3. Like ShellyC, a large journal and a pen.

4. A History of the World.

5. Gardening Australia's 'Flora'. (I might as well learn all those botanical names whilst I have the time.)

Tagging 3 lucky people:




Thursday, February 09, 2006


We all wish you a very happy birthday, Sara.
This little collage is just a reminder of
how gorgeous you have been through the years,
and still are.
Although we can't be with you today,
we hope that sharing the day
with your friends in Barcelona
will make your 23rd Birthday very special,
and one to remember for years to come.
We love you and miss you.
God bless you always.
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Spring Bulb Festival

In a comment on Marion's blog I said that I would try and post some photos of Floriade in Canberra, which is held from mid-September to mid-October. (I apologise for the quality but these are photos of photos.)

One of the many beds of annuals. Posted by Picasa

Valerie F. - you are an absolute genius. The posting of the photos worked like a charm. Thank you.