JUstDreamInparadise.......JUDI living in Paradise

Saturday, 28 December 2013

A quick demolition

A few posts back I mentioned that we were getting rid of the old vegetable garden and building a new one.  I mentioned that the old one was ready to fall down.  Well, it has…..with a little help from the weaners.
We came home from Christmas to find that the weaners had pushed against the back wall of the vegetable garden and it had collapsed.  I would love to have been there when it happened because I'm certain it would have scared the living daylights out of those cattle!
Thank goodness a few weeks ago I took everything out of the garden that I wanted to save and transplanted to a new area, because anything that I left behind was eaten.  Who would have thought that cattle liked turmeric, ginger, tarragon and chilli because that was all that was left in that garden!  Asian cattle?

And down it came!
Anyway, it is now time to do a full demolition of the old stables/vegetable patch and look forward to the new vegetable garden after the wet season.

One of the little fellas got into a bit of a tangle with some baling net

Devouring everything in sight!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas 2013

I love christmas and everything that goes with it.  The buying of gifts. The wrapping of those gifts. The tree with those presents neatly lined up underneath. The house adorned with fairy lights.  The hanging of the christmas wreath that my gardener so kindly made for us. The grocery shopping of all the things that are not considered healthy the rest of the year.  Going to our local butcher to pick the perfect ham.  Going to church on Christmas eve to sing carols that I sing as loud as I can because I know them all by heart.  The wonder of it all.
The christmas wreath made by our gardener
Christmas this year was spent at Palm Cove.  We arrived on Christmas Eve and as soon as we unpacked our suitcases for the two night stay we headed to our friends apartment that was a five minute walk away.  After a delicious two course dinner cooked by our friends,  K and I drove to Kuranda for the christmas eve service at her local church.  The men decided that the beer was a better choice!  It was not a late night so we were in bed early so that we could make the most of christmas day.
Christmas Breakfast
No Christmas is complete without Rum Balls
We again headed to our friends for christmas breakfast and champagne.  Yummm.  My favourite meal of the day!  After breakfast hubby and I drove home so that we could give the dogs a feed and a run.  It is an easy 45 minute drive.  We were back in plenty of time for lunch at the Grand Chancellor at Palm Cove.
Wow.  What a feast.  Everything that you heart desired.  Seafood, Hot and Cold Dishes, Desserts of every kind and a fantastic cheese board to round off the meal.  Drinks were included in the price and we complained that the service was not fast enough but then again there is such a thing as responsible service.  Ha ha ha!
I was lucky enough to win the lucky door prize at lunch…... a night for two at the Grand Chancellor with breakfast included.  We will look forward to that in the new year.
Hubby and I at the Grand Chancellor Palm Cove
After lunch and a little nanny nap we headed to the pool for a splash around with the kids.  It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.  After the swim we went to the cool of the apartment for nibbles and drinks.  No large dinner for us as we were all still full from lunch.
K and Hubby enjoying a joke

A unique use for a swimming noodle

Ice Cream by the pool
It was the perfect christmas.  The only thing missing was my son and DIL who couldn't get away from home because of the lingering drought.  We did however have a nice chat to them that certainly made my day complete.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The little blue heart.

On Friday we gathered with hundreds of other friends and family to say goodbye to a little girl.  A little girl taken too young….just eleven years old.
As I talked to the parents after the funeral I wanted to say so many things to them, but in the end all I said was "there are no words".  Because I know that there are no words that can help you through the devastating reality of losing a child.
I would have liked to have said to the parents that time really does heal even though, when it was said to me I wanted to scream at that person "how much bloody time"! But most of all I would have liked to tell them about the little blue heart.
Sometime after we lost our eldest son I was lying in bed trying to talk myself into getting up.  It was one of my lowest points.  I just couldn't find a reason to get out of bed and go through another day filled with sadness and grief.  I found myself staring at a hat stand in the corner of the room.  It had been standing in the same place for almost twenty years.  It was covered in hats and belts and handbags and anything else that I could fit on that stand.  But something caught my eye.  It was something twinkling at me.  It was blue.  I slowly rose from the bed and walked over to the hat stand, and there it was.  It was a blue satin heart with the words "I LOVE U MUM" stamped on it.  I burst into tears.  My son had given me that little blue heart when he was about six years old.  He had bought it at the school fete and when he gave it to me my heart almost burst with love.  I had hung that little blue heart in the hat stand and it winked at me all the time, but fifteen years later, that little heart had been buried under hats, belts etc etc.

Of course the question "How did it suddenly shift to the front of everything on that stand" came to my mind.  But I knew instantly.  It was a message from my son.  He was telling me that he loved me and that even though he was not physically here he was most certainly spiritually.  I think it was about this time that I started to heal.
This extract of a sermon by Henry Scott-Holland (Canon St Paul's Cathedral 1847-1918) was sent to us via fax shortly after we lost our son.  I put it aside for a long time but now I read it quite often.  It is beautiful and comforting and something I will send to the parents when I think the time is right.

"Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!"

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Muso at the local Pub

Our local pub is called the Highlander and I am reluctant to call it a pub because it is so much more.  Recently the owners renovated the (I shall call it) Tavern to include a huge deck area.  It is furnished with very comfortable dining chairs and tables and a cozy corner complete with armchairs so that you can sit back and take in the breathtaking views.
Last night they had a muso playing there.  A few of the yoga ladies had heard him play at a wedding earlier this year and were very much taken by how talented he was. We all decided to take ourselves to the tavern for dinner and to listen to him plan.  I was slightly reluctant about going by myself, but hey, beats sitting home alone!  I am so pleased that I went.  The muso was  incredible.  He had the most amazing voice and could sing anything…..in fact he kept asking for requests.  There were not many people there so he set himself up in the "cozy corner" and we simply  gathered around him whilst he sang.  It was extremely interactive and we found out a lot about him and his lovely wife who was also there.
He lives at Julatten (who would have thought!) and they live on a farm where they grow cocoa and make their own chocolate.  They are the only people in Australia that produce chocolate from the seed up.  They sell their chocolate at the Port Douglas markets so I will make a trip down there on Sunday to  buy some. We asked if he had brought along any samples, but alas, not.
Wouldn't you know it, I left my camera at home so all I had was the iPhone and it was almost out of battery.  The video moving around is me bopping to the music!

Here is a short video of the muso singing "Sylvia's Mother"

Thursday, 12 December 2013

A new bed

When we moved into our new house seven years ago (this christmas!) we bought a new bed.  We loved it.  We were thinking of our "old age" when it might become difficult to get in and out of bed so we chose one that was low to the ground, so low in fact that I couldn't get a broom or vacuum cleaner or mop underneath it to clean!  The only way I could clean under the bed was to take off the mattress (which weighs a tonne!) and then move the bed.  This was a big task so consequently not done often.  I started thinking about all the dust mites that might be living under that bed and it really "bugged me" (pardon the pun).  Besides, the bed we had chosen all those years ago was too dark for the pastels in the room.

 So after surfing the internet for months I finally found the bed of my dreams…..well not exactly….I would have loved a solid brass bed but the price was way beyond my budget.  But, this is the one we choose and love.  It has a little bit of brass and porcelain knobs that look so pretty.

I purchased some sheer curtains from Big W that were on sale for $5 per drop…$20 all up..WIN! I would like a new bedspread/doona but as yet haven't found the one I love.  I know it is sitting on a website somewhere just waiting for me to find it.  I just have to keep looking.
 I kept the bedside tables and painted them the same colour as the bed.  I am still to paint the drawers at the end of the bed but I need hubby home to help me move them outside.  They are very heavy.
The room looks and feels lighter and brighter AND I can now vacuum and mop under the bed!
We took the old bed down to Mossman Lifeline who were thrilled to receive the donation.  They apparently "on sell" them to second hand dealers making it a win/win for everyone.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Breakfast ritual

I find breakfast to be the most enjoyable meal of the day.  I really take my time over it, sometimes an hour.  I almost always have some form of protein for this most important meal, usually bacon and eggs. It is my favourite and something I never tire of.  I am an early riser and find it difficult to eat breakfast straight out of bed so I take the dogs for a walk and then hop on the quad and move the cattle that need to be moved.  This  takes me about an hour if things go smoothly so I don't sit down for breakfast until about 7.30 - 8 am.
Breakfast is always eaten outside at the table on the veranda.  We have spectacular views so I make sure that while I am eating breakfast I simply breath in the beauty.
After I have eaten breakfast I take out the iPad and read the paper, blog posts, email and twitter.  I also play on-line scrabble with my mum and a few friends so this is a good time to catch up.
This is my everyday ritual and I love the routine of it all.

The view to the left of the veranda

And the view to the right.  

Feels like xmas when you place  tinsel and candles on the veranda table!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Wouldn't you know it…...

after months of very little rain we had over 250mm in 10 days.  I really wish I could have sent this rain west but it's no use wishing for the impossible.
My lawn exploded out of the ground with all the lovely rain. Time to mow the lawn.  The lawnmower has been sitting in the shed for months with very little use so I should have known there might be a problem but I fuelled it up and set about the mowing…..for five minutes.  The blade engage cable snapped.  That was the end of the mowing.
I had almost stepped on a snake a few days prior so I new that the grass really did need mowing.  There was nothing to do but call "ghostbusters" the "Groundsmen".  Two gardeners arrived with the biggest meanest looking lawn mower I have ever laid eyes on and a garden trimmer that chomped the edge of my garden like it has never been chomped before.  After two hours my lawn was the best it's ever looked.
I'm tempted to hire them on a regular basis, but because I really do love mowing, and they are quite expensive, I've refrained.
When hubby was home on the week-end he replaced the cable on the lawnmower and then proceeded to tell me that there was nothing holding on the front wheel! Another parts order.  Maybe it would be cheaper to employ the groundsmen!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Mossman State High Movie Musical

Our photography group was asked to attend the premier of the movie "Divided" that the students of the Mossman State High wrote, produced and acted in…..an ambitious task that took them all year to make.
The photography group were asked to come along dressed as paparazzi and to take photos of the actors as they walked the red carpet.  Six photographers from our group turned up to have a lot of fun while taking photos.  We dressed for the occasion with most of us donning a pork pie hat complete with our press tags.

On sale before the show were the usual popcorn, chips and drinks.  

Everyone involved in the movie walked the red carpet to the cheers and whistles from the audience.

The movie tells the tale of a pair of star-crossed lovers, their love thwarted by their feuding family and friends.  The movie is set in the small rural Shire of Douglas and the lovers themselves belong to the waring Mulloy and Douglas families.  One family lives in Port Douglas and the other in Julatten!

The movie was a musical and the talented singers brought tears to my eyes.  It was a lovely night and I was so pleased to be part of it.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Potager Garden

The back of our house has been a little neglected in the way of garden.  The original owners had planted a few alexander palms, native trees and shrubs and one enormous umbrella tree.  Now, we all know how invasive the roots of the umbrella tree can be.  Even though it is some distance from the house the roots have been reaching closer and closer to the house.  After a talk with my gardener we drew up a plan for a potager garden…..in other words, an ornamental vegetable/fruit garden.

Our Potager Plan
The first thing we did was poison all the lawn and then it was a call to the tree-loppers to remove the trees.  They are a fantastic team.  We have had them come here several times to trim up wayward and unwanted trees.  They work extremely fast and in no time at all the garden was cleared to make way for the new garden.  The added bonus is that they also left us with a mountain of green mulch that we will leave to break down over several months.

I love that we now have a clear view to Black Mountain….when it's not covered in cloud!  We would also like to build another rotunda on this side of the house to take in the views.  That is in the ten year plan!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

From one extreme to another.

I told hubby that I would bring the rain with me.  I had a feeling in my bones, but alas, after three days of looking at almost cloudless skies, I admitted defeat.  It was on my last day at Julia Creek at 3am that we were woken by the sound of rain, not just light rain, but serious rain.  At first we both just lay in the bed listening and thinking it will probably just pass.  By 6am it was still raining and we were out of bed and drinking our third cup of coffee!  Beautiful, wonderful, earth-soaking, RAIN!  We measured 75mm.  It is not quite drought breaking but boy it's a start!

The view from the house went from looking like this:

To this:

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Drought Feeding

I haven't seen my husband for six weeks so I decided to make the trip out to Julia Creek to see him.  He had been sounding down so it was the right decision.  Drought is never easy but, we in the west, take it in our stride.  God knows we have had plenty of experience at it.  Drought is cyclic and seems to hit us with a really good one every ten years.  The last one in 2005 was, however, nowhere near as bad as this one.  What has made this one so bad is the price we have been receiving for our commodity, i.e., grass feed beef.  And, you know what, we wouldn't mind if the average household could benefit from the glut of beef and the extremely low prices we received (well below a dollar a kilogram), but I visit the supermarket, over here on the coast, each week and I never ONCE saw the price of beef drop.  WHY, is the big question and more importantly, WHO, is raking in the profit.  The answer is of course the processor and the supermarkets.
I followed hubby around with the camera to try and record just how difficult drought feeding is.  It is just so damn relentless.  We have almost 4000 hungry mouths to feed and that means tonnes of feed but as we also have a lot of the very invasive weed, prickly acacia, we have been using it as our protein source for the cattle.  The men go out each day and cut down the trees.  Once they cut the trees they then spread poison (Graslan) to kill any trees that will undoubtably pop their ugly heads up when it rains. It is a dreadful weed, but, it is keeping our cattle alive.
Here are a selection of the photos that I took at Baroona.

As soon as the cattle hear the chainsaw they come

First tree of about thirty that are cut for this mob

A young prickly acacia is full of thorns but as it gets bigger the thorns get a little less

Hubby decked out with gloves, chaps, steel capped boots and a well greased chain-saw! 

It's dangerous work amongst all those thorns.

The cattle not only eat the leaves but strip back the bark of the tree to get their protein

The poison is spread around the trees once cut.  It is activated with water so when it rains it starts working.

Looking to where the trees were cut the day before.

The cattle seem to enjoy the feed and the thorns don't seem to worry them at all.

The cattle are not fat, but still strong.

After all the trees are cut, loose lick mix is then given to to the cattle as a supplement.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Vale Dugall Bell

Today I found out that a good friend of ours had passed away tragically in a house fire.  You can read about it here.  I first meet Dugall and his wife Elma when they lived on "Arizona" Station north of Julia Creek.  They had migrated from Scotland a few years prior and after spending some time living in Townsville they decided that they wanted to live on the land and become cattle producers, hence the move to "Arizona".
We got to know them through my in-laws and we spent many a night as guests in their home.  They were wonderful hosts and we had many "fine-dining" experiences with them over the years.  Elma had been a student of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris and was an extremely talented cook.
Their son Jamie came to work for us as a jackaroo and stayed with us for quite a few years.  He was a "hard as nails" worker and we enjoyed the time that he worked for us.
Elma and Dugall eventually sold "Arizona" and bought "Jackton" at Kynuna.  They immediately changed the name of the property to "Angus Downs"….a very scottish name!  They stayed there for quite a few years before age caught up with them and they decided to move to a milder climate at Mulgowie.  We purchased "Angus Downs" from them.
 I will always remember the "boozy" lunches that we had at "Angus Downs" and then the long nap in the afternoon before starting all over again that evening.  Dugall always awoke after his nap and because it was usually so damned hot he donned a sarong…... and nothing else!  I remember feeling so embarrassed the first time I saw him in this attire,  but I have to tell you he wore it so well!
I have so many fond memories of Elma and Dugall.  It is hard to believe that they have now both passed on and my deepest sympathies are with their children Victoria and Jamie.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Transporting the kids around.

I was just reading a post about babies crying in the car.  We were fortunate that our boys were extremely good travellers in the car.  Perhaps it's because we lived so far away, but we always started our journey very early in the morning,  sometimes as early as 3am, so for the first few hours of our journey the boys slept.  By the time they woke up we were usually somewhere interesting so they had plenty of things to see.  No DVD's to keep them entertained back then.  Just a few toys or books and there was always "I spy".  That was good for at least an hour!
I remember taking my boys home from hospital in a bassinet strapped haphazardly in the back seat.  No capsules back then either.  In fact that was how the boys travelled in the car until they could sit in a "car-seat".  Now, they were "state of the art" with their sheepskin lining.  The seatbelt looped through the back to hold the seat in place and I still question how safe they were, but they were all that was on offer.
My youngest in his car seat 32 years ago.  He looks like he's enjoying it!
Once the boys outgrew their car-seat they graduated to a booster seat.  When I think about those seats now, I wonder why the boys never complained.  They were hard (seriously hard) plastic with a thin sheepskin cushion (if you could call it that!) but the boys were happy that they could see quite easily out of the window as we were driving along.
So we have come a long way in transporting kids in the family car, and I' m sure baby capsules are a much safer form of transport than a bassinet but, boy oh boy, the babies were comfortable in them!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

An active social life!

This week has been unusually social.  It started with Tai Chi on Tuesday followed by our christmas break-up morning tea.  It was there that I was invited to Ladies Lunch at the Julatten Tavern the following day.  This is a new initiative to get the ladies in the area together for a bit of a chit chat.  It was well attended and will be a monthly occurrence.  At the lunch I ran into an old friend who now lives in Julatten but is ex Julia Creek.  She told me that she was having some mutual friends from Julia Creek coming to visit her the next day.  Of course I asked that she invite them to drop in here on there way past, which they did.  It was terrific to catch up on all the news.  Unfortunately most of the news is about the continuing drought and how everybody is handling it.  Lets pray that we get some substantial rain soon.  Hubby has now been at Julia Creek for five weeks and will stay until it rains.....lets hope that is soon.
On Friday some friends from Cassowary rang to invite me to join them for dinner on Friday night at the Julatten Tavern (yes, I'm becoming a regular and they now know me by name!)  Once again it was a lovely night.  I clicked with Di the moment I meet her at photo club and her husband is a real darling.  I'm sure the four of us will enjoy lots more dinners next year.
Saturday was election day for us.  We are one of the four shires across Queensland that is de-amalgamating.   Last week I went to Mt. Molloy to hear the council candidates talk about the ideas for the future of the shire so I had a good idea where my votes were going.
Last night was the Julatten Theatre Group night of "One-Act" plays.  What a great night it was and I really wish that I had the courage to get up in front of a group of people and act.  Sadly that is not going to happen!  Mount Molloy State School put on a fantastic supper with all food grown in and prepared from their Stephanie Alexander garden and kitchen.  What a wonderful scheme that is. I had the privilege to photograph their delicious produce for a competition that they were entering.  I will tell you about that in another post.
Back to the plays.  The first play was "12 Angry Pigs"and it was a spoof of the award winning movie "12 angry Men".  The difference being that the jury are pigs and the accused is the "Big Bad Wolf"

Mt. Molloy Students performing "12 Angry Pigs"

The next play was "A Dollar" and it was set in the early 1900's.  It was about a troupe of stranded strolling players, tired and destitute and end up haggling over a dollar bill that they find.  

The third play was called "A Matter of Husbands" and it was my favourite.  Just two very talented  actresses took centre stage.  The story was about a young woman who suspects that her husband is having an affair with a famous and glamorous actress.  She decided to take matters into her own hands and confront her with the evidence.

The last play was called "Sandra's Shadows".  Sandra's plans for a dinner party are upset when her invited guests cancel.  How the rest of the evening develops brings some interesting revelations when she is confronted by her inner-selves. the "Bitch", the"Slut" and the"Perfectionist".

L to R "The Bitch", "The Perfectionist", "The Slut" with Sandra in background
Sandra eventually decides to toss out "The Perfectionist" and live more comfortably with the "Bitch" and "Slut"

The plays were held at Geraghty Park Hall at Julatten.  Nothing fancy about this hall.  It is all corrugated iron and no ceiling but it has a fantastic atmosphere.  This is also the hall where I go to yoga each week.