Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hey to those who are dropping in here to check up on the blog...

I will probably leave this one alone for a bit as I have started a new one which is going to basically be my travel diary for our big drive north to the top of Australia.

If you'd like to visit it, check it out at...

Or click on the link to the right of the page "Duchess on Tour".

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Testing, Testing, Testing...

12 months on and I find myself sitting at the computer trying to find, for the life of me, on the world wide web, some sort of records of previous flood heights because we find ourselves being surrounded by water, yet again!

Either I am not asking Google the right questions, or the records don't exist. So, then I got to thinking about my blog and if I might have written anything about flood heights from the previous year. Lo and behold...I have.

Now, I will record here this flood event and at least that way, I can remind myself a whole lot easier, of what a major flood event meant for the town. I see that I had recorded that we were expecting a 6.9 metre event, though I cannot remember if we got it.

At the moment, I have a very wet front paddock, which is slowly draining after we had a record 170mm in the past 7 days. The lagoon is now well over its banks and we once again have water views from the house. At least, today, the sun is out and shining!

The BOM is currently predicting a major flood here on Sunday, exceeding 6.7 metres and peaking at 7 metres on Tuesday. We are currently seeing local water and by Tuesday the water that will force the peak up will have come from further up stream.

Whilst, I know all of this might sound boring...its going to help me in the future as I remind myself of how the flood was. I will also go and take photos as well, yes, I will post here too.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Helicopters, A Flood and a night out...

We're still isolated. Sure, the water has gone down enough and you can get out if you really need to but now, we're just waiting for the flood water from further upstream to completely isolate us once more. Basically, we're going to be here for at least a week. If you were to take a look at the graph of the river height, you'd see that it has held at a pretty high level and hasn't moved much at all.

It is a bit of a laugh to hear those who are desperate to get off the island! I'm sure that Ganeida can laugh with me on this!

Some women I know are off to see Bon Jovi in concert this week. In order to make sure they get out, they have arranged to leave their cars at friends who are on high ground and if need be, they'll get a boat over the water. (They could wish for a helicopter ride but I think that the SES won't spring for that!) Others have accomodation booked for the Christmas holidays and want to know that they can get to it as they fear that the cost will not be refunded because they were flooded in.

Meanwhile, food and people are getting moved around by helicopter as the flood continues to stop the normal human and food movement via the roads.

Over the weekend, I decided to take the Chevy for a run and it certainly needed it! One of my stops included the local SES shed where I wanted to ask about the shop deliveries getting through. One of the crew for the helicopter was there and we struck up conversation. Soon enough, he was inviting me down for a good look at the machine which of course, I was willing enough for! It seemed a fair swap anyway, a ride in the Chevy for a look at the helicopter!

After a good look around, some good chat about BK117 helicopters versus Airtractor Ag planes, along with some chat about the Rural Fire Service (which the machine is actually contracted to) the rest of the crew arrived for their afternoon work. I got invited up for a fly but refused, mainly because I was concerned that it would not look good in the eyes of the SES. I still think I've done the right thing, even though the crew want me to go up! I was happy to take photos of the machine as it took off.

Later, when the crew and their machine returned, I was asked to join them for dinner, which was a hilarious and fun evening down at the local pub, where there was an 18th birthday party that Seth was attending. I can assure you, when kids started arriving in fancy dress from another party, the pilots and crew didn't let them get away with it! In many ways, it felt very natural to be around these men and I realised that it was something that I miss. It was an honour and a privilege to have been able to spend some time with them. At this rate, we'll be entertaining helicopter crews for some time yet, that's for sure!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Time for no words...

Mark Robert Harlen 24th July, 1962 - 9th December 2006.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The media lies...and the SES incites panic...

So, just a quick one for my readers but if you've heard about the latest in the flood situation here, you're probably wondering if everything is ok.

Everything is ok!

Today we received a message from the SES automated system (but yes, someone had to punch the button) telling us to "prepare for evacuation now". Many people in town believed the order to be to evacuate now! I can see why.

Meanwhile, the order to not evacuate and just prepare for it came a good three or more hours after the first one. Not quite good enough, NSW SES. There were calls to MPs and Ministers made. People will be questioned over this event. There is even talk now of people being demoted.

Whilst it may have been a simple mistake and over did upset a great deal many people...about 1700 to be exact. It had children and teenagers worried unnecessarily and then there are the elderly who were in distress. There is a way to get an evac order or preparation order out...this was not it.

So, meanwhile, we're ok here. The water is not even lapping at the bottom of the levee bank behind my home. Whilst it might go to a 6.9 metre major flood, it has yet to even come up the levee. The water I saw today was moving very fast, which was actually a bit of a surprise. In a way though, it is good to see it is moving fast, as that will mean it is getting away.

The forecast for the incoming weather has us looking to the skies again, however.

If you think of us...think of sending some mozzie repellant...we're going to need it!!

(The helicopter in the above photo belongs to Precision Helicopters and is parked in my neighbours front yard.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It is written...

This is Joe's Hut, up in Coolah Tops. It was a great example of Aussie bush building. Talk about rustic! The men who lived in this shack had to be pretty tough, I reckon!

Well, my first attempt at serious journalism has begun. Today marks the day I sent off my first story with pictures to a magazine. I don't know if it will even get published but just the thought that it might get considered is enough for me for now. In a way, I kind of hope that I get some feed back about my story, at least so as I can know I need to improve on it for next time. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

We spent the last weekend up at Coolah Tops. That is what my story was written about, our trip away with a bunch of like minded camper trailer owners. I probably drove my fellow campers mad with asking them to pull up while I took photos of them doing things but they were generally all pretty good about it. I mean, who doesn't want to see a photo of themselves in a mag!?(Apart from me that is, I'm more than happy being on the other side of the camera and keeping it that way. It's not fame I want, just a good story!)

It was a great weekend, one you'll have to wait to see if it gets published to see what it was like! Sorry!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dusts off the blog...

Well..its still here I see! I'd have thought that blogger might have zapped my account or something, seeing as the blog hasn't been written to in a while. The only thing that reminded me about it was an email notification that someone had recently posted a comment. (in the last few months that is!)

So, here's a shout out to those 4 faithful followers of mine! lol. I guess you might get a notification that I've finally pulled out a finger and wrote here. If not, well, won't you get a surprise when you decide to check in on me!

Anyway, I could use the writing practice I guess, seeing as I've recently signed a contract with a magazine publisher to be a freelance travel writer. Not that that means much, as I'm yet to actually write something for them! I guess what it does mean is that they will accept submissions from me and might pay me for them. If you want to see my articles, you'll have to buy the magazines...I'll tell you when I get one in so as you can rush out and get a copy, as I'll know you'll want to! lol.

I'd start with practising writing 2 thousand words but I think I'll tackle that one for later...for now, I might just use a photo as they say it says a thousand words...and if I put up two, I'll be over my limit...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Thousand and Ninety Five Days Later...

But it could as easily be one thousand and ninety five seconds later...or one thousand and ninety five months later...I won't say years because I'm pretty certain if that many years have passed, then I'll be well and truly reunited with my love in Eternity!

Bit of an intense start to a post when I've not been posting for so long I know...but whilst I originally had other ideas for my blog, it had become more of a "what have I done today" kind of thing which wasn't really where I wanted it to go. Yes, I know, great for keeping family in touch with my happenings this way but I wanted it to be more a beacon of light out there in internet land for others to perhaps see and be attracted to. However, not knowing the best way to really push a blog out there, other than being a big blog reader and doing it that way, which I just don't have time for, I can't see any other way for this to develop into what I was hoping for.

Anyhow...having said all that...for now, I wish to say the following...

Today, marks the 3rd year since Mark's aircraft accident, it marks the third year I have been without a husband, the third year my son has been with out a father, the third year a mother has been without a son, the third year a brother has been gone from his siblings...

I travelled today to the site where the aircraft crashed and spent a bit of time around where it had been moved to and buried. With the passing of time, the mound has become a little less but not by much...mostly because a big metal plane won't deteriorate underground real quick, so really its only been a settling of the dirt around it. There are actually some nasty holes up around the tail end of the aircraft that you wouldn't want to fall into...

So, I took a good look at the site as I really want to do something in regards to a memorial "rock" in the coming year. And after having a look at various angles and options came up with what I think is the best place for something...and that is at the base of the windsock that is close by to where the plane is. In fact, in the picture I took today, the windsock is actually pointing at the plane. find the right rock and the right words to put on it...

Tonight, a few friends will gather on the back deck, raise a glass or two in memory of a good friend, father, brother, son and lover and not forgetting, greatest ag pilot in the world...oh ok...add to that cheeky bugger too..*big grin*.

So, if you read this before then or even if not...raise a glass and remember Mark Harlen with us...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dropped Off the Face of the Earth...but found my way back...

May has been a crazy month here. And although I have sat down several times now to write to the blog, I've not managed to actually post it up!'s what I had started to write at the beginning of the month...

Just back from a quick trip to Sydney. The main reason for going was to get to Cafebiz, an industry trade fair for...well, cafes! A friend was doing a reopening on Saturday of their small roastery and cafe that had suffered from fire damage and it seemed like a good excuse to go down a day earlier. When I got the invite to head out to Western Sydney for the Top Fuel Nitro racing...NO hesitation!

I had asked my friend, who employs me to make coffee, if she wanted to come and she was keen to join me. So, we managed to escape from work mid Friday afternoon and had a quick trip to Sydney with a stop for a lovely dinner in the Hunter Valley. Its always nice to show your friends your favourite haunts, I think! Merredith was very impressed with the Brokenback Bar and Grill. We had tapas, which I think is a million miles better than any fast food outlet and although you probably could have eaten several times at one for what we paid at the restaurant, there is just no comparision, I'm afraid!

Saturday morning saw us heading south to Sylvania for some good coffee and me catching up with both new and old friends. Mostly people I know through the Coffeesnobs forum, but also good industry people who are great to know. You can never have enough people to get ideas from. And I know that Merredith was soaking everything up like a sponge too.

She was also brilliantly patient with my seemingly whirlwind tour of Sydney! I warned her though, that we'd be crossing most of it. And we did!

We really wanted to get to Ikea for a bit of retail therapy and my mum wanted to join us as well. She was keen to get some drawers for her bedroom. Me having the pickup down was just the way for her to get all those boxes home! So, on our way back north, we stopped at home and got my mum. I really was expecting Ikea to be incredibly busy, which it was but I was expecting more people there. Often, I've been during the week, which is the best time to go as its so quiet! So, we managed to get through it pretty quickly, I thought. After taking our things and mum back home, we then did a quick unload and got back into the car to take the drive out to Western Sydney.

The drag racing was just so much fun and we had a great host who had been in a past life, a competitor on the drag bikes. Yes, you heard me, they even drag race bikes and some of them are even nitro powered. We were told that they can get to 100 kilometres an hour in ONE second! Now that's acceleration. It was a great night out and we even got to wander around the pit lane. This makes this sport very friendly and family orientated, I think. You can get up close and personal to the machines and those who are working on them. I was amazed to be invited into one pit garage so as I could get some photos. If they didn't want you wandering that close to their machines, the crews had set up rope barricades. But you were still close.

When the nitro cars finally made their runs, you found yourself trying to clear your eyes which were tearing up badly, holding your earplugs in even firmer and trying to take a photo! The fastest accelerating machines in the world and the fastest run that night was done at 500 kilometres an hour. In under 8 seconds. Just astounding and I would be absolutely hopeless at describing the noise that is associated with going that fast. Suffice to say, its a huge sensory experience that rattles right through your body. No wonder people go back time and again to see this spectacle!

SS Camaro

The next morning, I wanted to have breakfast out and of course, our favourite breakfast haunt over the years has been Cronulla. So, we dashed off down to the Buzz Bar and enjoyed coffee and brekky overlooking South Cronulla. As Sunday was the day of Cafebiz that I'd planned on attending, we reluctantly dragged ourselves away from the view of the beach to head up to Randwick, where we'd have a view of the racecourse instead! Cafebiz was a great day, I caught up with friends from the industry and helped out on the Coffeesnobs stand. I successfully managed to make myself the butt of a joke all day because I had been suckered in to using a small roaster that only had instructions for use in Korean. Sadly, I don't speak Korean, nor do I read it. So, I could hear the beans going into the final cracking stage and as jumping about trying to stop the machine didn't work either, I had to find another way to stop the roasting process. Winding the dial all the way back seemed to work but it was too late for the beans and they were only one step back from ash. Anyway, it was good for a laugh. I know that they got bagged up and had "Scoota's Blend" written on it, whilst there was a small pile on display for all to admire. Which they did!

Monday was our day to drive home but first I had to go via Brookvale and Manly, north of Sydney. At Brookvale we picked up my new fireplace and at Many we visited our coffee supplier. So, we were well caffeinated up for the long drive home! And by that stage, the pickup certainly was coming into its own! Not only was there a fireplace and a new flue kit in the back but my mum had given me her old cedar tall boy as well. At Belaroma, they gave us some of their barricades and an umbrella, along with twenty kilos of coffee! So, the car was well and truly loaded to the gills. We had a nice smooth ride home, I can assure you.

So, the following week of being at home, I worked at getting the fireplace installed. When down in Sydney, I'd asked mum if she had had any slate tiles from the house left over. She did and told me to take what I wanted. With some help from Seth, we tagged teamed chipped the old tiles off the hearth and with help from my mate Davo, I layed the slate down. After grouting and then sealing, we finally lifted the new fireplace into its home. The hearth is not finished however, I am still to get some new timber edging and grout out to it. But the fire is in and is working a treat at keeping the entire house warm.

Fireplace replacement

Hearth redone

Fire is IN!

The next job on the house is the bifold doors which are still on their way but should have made the mainland this week. They were manufactured in Tasmania, and so are made from recycled Tassie Oak. I can't wait to see them installed as they will make a huge difference to the back of the house, both in weather proofing and looks.

Well, I'm going to leave this post here...and continue the rest of the news over another post. Can't tell you all now...otherwise you won't have anything to read later!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It is Finished...But I Don't Eat Cake...

YES YES YES! Joy oh Joy...

( this point I will say...I am being very careful and responsible...)

This might not be so exciting a revelation for some of you and there might be some who are a bit worried. But, don't worry...

The bitumen has finally been laid down on the Bingara Road up to Sawn Rocks.

This might mean nothing at all to you. And well, that's fine but it means a heck of a lot to me, so much in fact, that I decided I shall blog about it. Seems like the responsible thing to do...*laughs*.

So, on the VERY next day that that last stretch was put down (and I actually received an official text message from one of the road builders that it was completed!) four of us took a ride up over the hill and over to Bingara. was good...I enjoyed every minute of it.


Just to prove to you that we made it to the top of the hill. The yellow Ducati is my bike. The red one is a friends. It's currently being stabled with mine under the house as the rider lives out of town on a 10 km dirt road. A bit hard to navigate on a sports tourer when the dirt is wet. And Desdemona doesn't mind the company I think. (That'd be the Ducati's name in case you're now totally confused!)

As far as going fast on two wheels goes...there's no real point in my opinion. To me, the faster you go, the quicker the road goes by and so the less you are able to enjoy the moment. On two wheels, concentration triples with every ten kilometres over 100 kilometres an hour...I find that tiring and not enjoyable. I like to travel at a speed where I am comfortable and generally speaking, that is at the speed limit.

I mentioned four riders and I know, you can only see two bikes. The other two riders were so excited about the new road, that they just raced on ahead and didn't really appreciate the momentous occasion it was and so weren't about for the photo. Luckily, we did the responsible thing and stopped to record it.

Now, I'm just trying to get another free weekend to do it again!

Last month, I had another birthday so I decided to have a small gathering of friends. We went out to the local winery for a late Sunday arvo lunch. It was a great afternoon and nice to spend it with friends. Being not a big fan of cake, I decided to go the little cake option and made a bunch of raspberry trifle cupcakes and chocolate fudge cupcakes...everyone else ate them...some had more than others...

It's My Birthday and I'll...

I also went out on my first callout for the Rural Fire Service recently. As exciting as it was to be on my first official job as a firefighter, it was disappointingly a false alarm. On the upside, I got asked if I'd like to drive the truck back to town after we turned around. OF COURSE I said YES!

For those of you wondering about miss Crash and how she is doing...

Miss Crash Kangaroo

She is growing up, I think that she would be 12 months old now. She still lives in a shopping bag but I've changed her to a green one because she was getting too hot in the blue cooler one during summer. She has taken to chasing cars though, which is a bit of a worry because she's not a dog...

And for those of you wondering about Seth...

He's had a pretty good first term at the new school. I have had the pleasure of receiving two letters of commendation from them. One for English and one for Food Technology. The Food Tech commendation went so far as to say that it was looking good for him to do well in his school certificate at the end of this year. Here's praying that Seth continues with the good work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Then and Now...

Which, I think is an Eric Clapton record but seeing as I'm no Eric Clapton fan (that was Mark) I'm not really sure. So, if you think I am an Eric Clapton fan, allow me to destroy that thought. Because I'm not.

But I am a Star Wars fan.

A long time ago, in a town far far away...

Well, it could be the start of a story but even with Star Wars, its not really is it? I mean, we actually find out that what is the first movie is really the fourth and that what we believed to be the first movie is actually the twenty fifth chapter or something...anyway...

Its not really the beginning of the story but there is a beginning involved, infact, I would have to say two beginnings. Now that I've got you really confused, here's what I'm talking about.

Years ago, about 10 or so now, I sent a cute little boy to school. Here's the photo I took from outside of the front of our house.



Isn't he cute? All together now...Awwww...


In a recent shock decision (well, it was before Christmas so recent enough) I decided to bring said lad home to finish his schooling at the high school in the next town to us. The boarding school was sad to see us go...I was happy to see him home.

So, I thought I should do another photo. Now, don't bag me out because the front door doesn't look any different. There are differences, I'll point them out if you want. And besides, its a work in progress. So there. If you've never been a home renovator, then you have no business in bagging out my front door. At least some things are consistent around here anyway. Even if other things aren't.


And no...I don't like the length of the shorts. But at least they're not hanging down around his bum like some boys do...

But the lad is happy to be home. Loves his mother's cooking, likes having his own space and room. Is even okay about feeding the kangaroo. So far, I have only had to shake him out of bed once to get to school and I think that was because his alarm had failed him. Good thing I've got a fantastically annoyingly reliable body clock (which prevents sleeping in...ever) that has me awake at 7am every single morning.

And before the photographers get stuck into me...yes...the white balance is out in the second photo. I know!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Beach and Retail Therapy...

Well, all I really wanted to say is..."More photos" but I'd better just fill in with a few more words as well!

I'm still in Not-So-Sunny-Queensland...or Beautiful One Day...Raining the Next Queensland or just plain old Queensland. I'm near the beach and that's all that matters! I will be here for another two weeks, just bumming about, doing some more beach and a bit of retail therapy. Seth is up at Tunnel Ridge Ranch doing some volunteer staffing for the youth camp.

And, if I haven't told you already, Seth is not returning to boarding school this year. Instead he will be going to Narrabri High which is a half hour bus ride from home. We're keen to be a bit more of a family, as I have felt like I've been losing that a bit since Mark has gone. So, here's praying that we can get along ok, all of the time!

If you're new to blogs...and you stumbled in here because I sent you a link in a Christmas letter, well...Welcome!

Here are some photos! I'll be back soon! (or whenever I get prodded by my sister in law...*giggles*)

Kite Surfers 7

Kite Surfers 1

This is my niece who was doing a sand sculpture...I was a bit sorry she didn't get to finish it...


Beach Flags

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not here...but I'm actually here...

A very good friend of mine might get that title. Every time I get a call from him, he says..."Me here." and then there's a whole dialogue we go through after that.

For now, I'm at the beach. Well, near enough to it. It's very good to not be behind the coffee machine for a while. Four weeks actually. And boy, do I have an absolute pile of reading to do!

Meanwhile...enjoy some scenery!

Beach Detail


Sand Crab Standoff

Sunday, December 7, 2008

St Lukes...They Came...They Saw...They Ministered...They Went...

It's been a week of highs and lows...

High water but not as high as it could have been and certainly lower than expected!

Ok...I'll stop trying to be funny now.

There were floods about but nothing that stopped us from doing anything we wanted to do. It has held up some of the harvest still. I know that there are a lot of farmers who will just be glad to see the end of this harvest. The rest of us had to deal with some inconveniences but generally speaking, it has been GREAT answer to prayer that the rain and water has finally come. I know many farmers were pumping as much water as they possibly could. The first decent water in what seems like many years! And I don't think that the rain has finished with us yet.

So, it was a rather bemused local who sat in a 4wd during the week, surrounded by excited citysiders who were acting like true tourists and taking photos and video like mad of the minor flood that had crept up behind one part of the levy bank. Then as we cautiously and slowly drove through the .4 of a metre water, my mind was cast back to an earlier flood, in an older 4wd and going through a much deeper causeway.

It was back in the floods of 1998 when Crop-Jet was still operating on the cotton farm to the west of town. The floods had prevented us from using the normal way to get to work as the road was near the river. So, we had to take a big drive around the farm to get out and back home. And that drive was not all dry either as one of the farm levy banks had failed and part of the road was cut, meaning we'd have to tackle the water in the Landcruiser.

My experience of driving through water up to this point was not all good!

When Mark and I had been courting, we had gone down to Boat Harbour near Cronulla in Sydney. It was a known four wheel drive park and we went in there late one night after a date. Actually, I think it was part of the date...well, I know still a strange place for a date. Mark was determined that it was going to be my four wheel driving lesson. And it involved water.

So, my first experience was not good. It ended up badly with me getting cranky that we seemed to be getting deeper and deeper into the water, as it was coming freely over the bonnet of the old 40 series Landcruiser and it was seeping in through the foot vents and door sills. Not good. With Mark beside me, er...encouraging me to "keep it going", I think I finally managed to stall it trying to climb out of the deep ruts and up onto what I could see as dry land. Remember, all of this happened in the dark!

After that, I flatly refused to drive through any more water and actually handed over the driving to Mark. Yes, willingly, I relinquished control of the vehicle to Mark. Amazing but true. But let me reassure you...only for a short time and only to get him to get us out of the mess he'd let me drive into!

Well, here we were, leaving work this day together. As Mark is telling me which way to go to get out of the farm, that in itself an interesting experience given his ability to navigate from the air was far superior to his ability to navigate on the ground, we finally come across the flooded road. The road at this point, is not actually a road in all reality. It is just a tractor graded track into the black soil, which is notorious for turning into the worst kind of mud ever on the entire planet!

We come to the flooded road and immediately, I want to bail. I'd rather walk across than drive the car. Even with its four wheel drive capabilities. Mark is beside me, telling me its easy and that I can do it. The man has complete and utter faith in me and reckons that I can do it. I don't even want to think about doing it, let alone do it! He reassures me that everyone has been driving through this floodway for the past few days and that there won't be any problem. It has a gravel bottom, not a black dirt surface like every other road. I'm still not convinced and insist that he takes the wheel and drives us across. Mark insists that I need to learn how to drive through flood water and that nothing will go wrong. At this point, we could have been arguing this for about ten minutes or ten hours...the truck wasn't getting anywhere!

The trick with floodways and flooded roads, is that the water is not still and is actually travelling somewhere itself. Usually, gravity is pulling it fairly quickly down stream. This is the thing that most people forget when traversing this sort of water. Still water is simple because it is still and not going anywhere. All you're having to do in your vehicle is push it out of your way. With water that is moving, it is wanting to push you out of its way.

This is the scary part of floods. Many people have been pushed out of the way by flood water and they've not always been rescued or returned. Of course, they've also forgotten that cars can become boats before becoming lead weights and sinking to the bottom like a stone.

Finally, I think we got across the floodway. Otherwise, I wouldn't be telling you this story I'm sure! I think as we drove across, yes, Mark at the wheel, I felt the car get lighter and move slightly in the wrong direction. The cool headed pilot kept his head and kept the car on the go, never slowing or going too fast, the nervous passenger gripping the grab bar in front of her and watching in horrified fascination as the muddy brown water swirled all around us. It was deep water, I can't remember the exact depth but certainly deeper than .4 of a metre.

From that time on, I swore I was going to be going to work in far better style than driving through flood waters. And yes, the next time it flooded, we got airlifted to work in a helicopter.

So, back to the present with the happy tourists and myself sitting in the rear seat of a car, driving once more through flood water. We were heading on out to Cuttabri, a place known as the oldest licenced wine shanty in Australia, for dinner. The signs on the road warned of the water and I was a bit surprised myself to see so much there but the river was after all in minor flood! We made it through no problems, not even with a bow wave, like Mark and I had done in the Landcruiser all those years ago. But still a fun experience and rather exciting for those who'd never done what we in the country do get to experience every so often.

So, St Luke's visit has come and gone again for another year. This year, the team got to see the country at some of its best. Lush and green with plenty of things to bite you! And that's not just the mozzies I'm talking about!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Official...

Today marks another milestone in the saga that is my life and was Mark's.

It is today, that I am officially allowed to talk about what was in the final report from the ATSB on the safety issues that may have been brought up by the accident that Mark had.

One thing to keep at the forefront of your mind when reading anything from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is that their brief is to find a safety issue. If you find yourself trying to make sense of this report for any other reason, well...I'm afraid you probably won't make it. These guys are trying to find if there was a safety issue that needs to be addressed so that this type of accident does not occur again.

Sadly, there was no safety issue found that they could address so as it won't occur again.

If you would like to read the report in its entirety please head over to...

Remember, that this is a report that has been written with safety issues in mind. It is not a report that has been written to give conclusive answers. Those may never be found or given. The hard reality is, we will most likely never know the full picture of what Mark experienced in those last minutes of his final flight.

What I can say with absolute certainty, is that Mark is where we can only dream of being at this time, and that is with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Be Inclined...

To watch the way of the rain,
When it falls slow and free...

I can't take credit for writing those words, except for here, as they are someone else's. I do however, have a fondness for them.

And so it rains here!

Has been for a whole day or so. While other parts of the country are being bombarded with high winds and cyclonic conditions, we're just getting steady rain. Which is how this country needs to take it. Slow and soaking.

Of course, you can't please everyone. Those who are yet to harvest a winter cereal crop are probably watching their income go down the tail drain. Its sad, as many of these farmers are yet to get a good go. On the upside, if this rain continues, then they won't have to worry too much about the future. As there will finally be one!

Personally, I think that the rain is great. The garden will just continue to look great for the next few months now, even if we don't get a whole lot of follow up rain. And of course, it means grass and feed for the horses. It also means weeds but I've got something I can do about them!

If it continues to rain like this then maybe, just maybe, we'll get a flood.

I wouldn't mind a flood...a flood means a lot of things to me. One of them is...water views!

Bring on the flood...I think I'm ready.

Rainbow Sky

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Self Portrait...or Two...

Gesh...probably the hardest thing that any woman and maybe even any male for that matter, has to do is take their own picture. I found it difficult to get my mind around and then to figure out how to do it without showing any of my "ugly" bits...and I'm not talking about the private parts here!

So, another challenge and seeing as this time, I have not got a willing subject of the human variety, I have bit the bullet, or in this case, put the camera on a tripod and taken some photos of myself...

After an initial kind of "what the heck am I doing?" reaction, I came up with the rather, (well I thought so) brilliant idea of dressing up for the camera. I've got plenty of costumes! So, I had ideas for Cowgirl Tam, Pilot Tam, Biker get the picture...

Cowgirl Tam was NOT all that good...didn't quite get what I wanted you may not see any of those shots. There were two versions of Pilot Tam...One with a pilot helmet and a green military style jacket, the other with the classic sheepskin jacket, a Pratt & Whitney cap and a pair of aviator sunglasses. Now, where on earth would I get such props you wonder! Not...Pilot Tam v1 was not really very good because of the focus issue and a big white helmet, I'll probably give that one another go at a later date. Pilot Tam v2 was far better.

Anyway...after lots of hits and miss, the hardest part was actually setting up the camera. Time and again I had to go back and try to get the focus right. In the end, I figured out to leave it focused on a spot and move myself closer or further away.

The point of all this?

Well, the challenge is for lighting. So, in effect, I had to set up my own little photography studio and use some reflected lighting. Lighting is something I get. I love using any props or lights for more lighting. Lighting is what I did as a teenager for theatre. And if it hadn't been for Teen Ranch, I'd probably still be sitting in the dark somewhere, doing the lighting! So, lighting this was easy for me.

Although an overcast day outside, there was still a very nice bit of light coming in through the window...actually, a window that I'd like to block the light out of! Maybe not now I've been playing around with self portraits! And with a big piece of white card, I managed to get some good light onto the side of me that would have been in shadow.

Without further are the results...the one's I'm happy with.

EB Lesson 7 - Light and Reflectors

If you look closely, you'll see the reflection off the white card in the sunglasses and in the next one, its quite clear in the helmet visor.

EB Lesson 7 - Light and Reflectors

So, as much as I'm serious in these photos, there were one or two where I tried laughing but its pretty hard to laugh at yourself when the camera is loudly counting down the seconds! I had put on a funny dvd on the tv and turned it up loud but I couldn't really hear it over the beeping camera and the airconditioning!

Anyway, don't be surprised to see me revisit the self portrait. I have to admit, after I managed to get over myself, I had a bit of fun and am enjoying the results. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When all is quiet...

Roses at Rose Street Garden

Coffee in the Garden1

Whew...what a couple of weeks...

I've been very busy making coffee...

The ABC Open Garden scheme came to our town and several gardens in the district were invited to open. One of the gardens is just two doors down from the bakery cafe where I work. My employers were approached to do coffee and light refreshments for visitors over the two days. Reluctantly they agreed.

So, a commitment was made to purchase a smaller coffee machine that would do the job. I was enlisted to research the right machine for us and I only had a week and a half to get it! A big call and by Friday, the day before we were meant to be at the open garden, my boss and I were wondering if we were even going to be making coffee! Well, at the last hour, it seemed, the delivery truck backed into the driveway at the rear of the shop and we unloaded a rather large box.

We were the new owners of a brand new machine. It was kind of exciting and when we took it out and put it on the bench, were in awe of all the shiny bits that greeted us!

The weekend went well, it wasn't too hard sitting around a garden for two days. We made a few more coffees than we'd expected and sold quite a few of the Portugese Custard Tarts and Lemon Poppyseed Muffins that we'd made as well.

The following Friday, the community was holding a Relay for Life, a huge charity event for the Cancer Council that involves teams of people walking a large circular track for eighteen hours straight. Of course, we were there to keep them all awake with coffee!

Over the period of fifteen hours we sold over 240 coffees and hot chocolates. We left tea for someone else to take care of. I was busy enough with the coffee! I had a laugh when I had at least two people ask for the "chocolate biscuits" I had. They weren't chocolate and would have tasted more like sour coffee! People thought that my coffee pucks were biscuits. Actually, a bit of a compliment really as it was nice to see that when I did knock the puck out of the portafilter, they stayed a whole "biscuit". That is what could be seen in the knockbox, so I could forgive the uninitiated for thinking they were edible.

Anyway, its been nearly three weeks of mostly work and finished with a weekend of three days off. Which made for a pleasant change...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What on Earth is Going on...

With this CRAZY weather? I mean, it's boiling hot one day, freezing the next! So far, this spring we've had hot, we've had cold, we've had rain, I've heard of sleet and hail in some districts and we won't mention the wind! Mainly because I really hate the wind, it drives me nuts.

I think that having exceptional hearing is a bad thing because when it is windy, you are adversely affected by it. I really avoid being out on windy days and today was no exception. It is days like these that I'm glad I work indoors.

We spent last weekend out in the heat of the day, well, it wasn't meant to be stinking hot but it was. We managed to dig over twenty holes with two tractors and some helping hands. The posts are in the holes, now I'm just working on setting the posts. Sort of one post a day at the moment. The wind doesn't help there either...


That is the end that I've finished with. All that is needed are the rails.


This is the long side. I've done three posts on it. Only so many more to go...

Its a project that has been long time coming and its been good to get it done. Slowly but surely, I will get this place looking like it should! And it will be great to finally have a proper arena fence. Who'd like to come and sit on it for a while with me? You're all welcome!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We Have A Winner!

Before I get razzed on for not updating...

Here goes.

The photo I entered in an online competition WON!

It was well deserved I thought. Here it is again just to remind you...

Tribute to a Pilot

As for the didn't do so well. But, it was its first outing in something like a garden competition and I didn't think it would actually be that good first time round. Especially, as there was a great lack of information as to how or what needed to be done. Anyway, if the garden looks as good as it does now next year, I'll consider putting it again.

We've also started on the horse arena fence. Yesterday, a group of friends and I spent a few hours with two tractors, a post hole drill and afterwards, lots of fluids! So, the posts are in, they just needed to bedded in. Over the next few weeks we'll get the rails on and it will be looking very TIDY! And like the horse arena it should look like...