Friday 31 October 2008

The Daily Pie (And An Ode to Nancy)

It is over fifteen years ago since we moved to what we now consider our "home town". The house that we call home was once a rural petrol station, which sold all manner of items for the traveller, and catered mainly for the truck guy. One of the main attractions of our petrol station-now-home were the pies they sold here. Interstate travellers and reps used to refer to it as "the old pie shop". To this day, when I try and explain where exactly we live, people often say "oh, I know where you mean - the old pie shop that was once on the main highway".

One particular villager would always urge us to re-open the shop. "How can we open a shop in our home? We live here... We homeschooll our children and work here, too" we would respond.

But that was a few years ago now. Things have changed.

Our children are grown, and are no longer formally 'schooling'. They are all working, and allthough we have never opened (or re-opened) a shop in our home, we've often thought about it. We've even considered building a little hut in our front garden to act as a retail outlet for metalwares, needlecraft and surplus fruit and vegetables that have grown in our back yard.

But there's no need for that now, either. The hut, that is. Not now that we own the (other) old petrol station up the road.

It's still unbelievable to us - to actually own the other petrol station! In the early days of country life, we would shop and collect our mail from the petrol station (the shop), as well as fill up the car. Then it closed down and was void of human life for many years. Grass, weeds, bushes, blackberries, creepy crawlies and vandals invaded. Our job has been, and still is, - huge: to restore the building to some of it's former glory, as well as change it where appropriate.

Each and every time we work on the building, we think of it's former owner, Nancy - a single mum who cooked, cleaned, made burgers, chips, coffee, sold newspapers, milk, cigarettes, ice creams, sorted and handed out mail to local residents and also served petrol to motorists.

How, pray, did she do it all?

So here's to you, Nancy. Wherever you may be, whatever you may be doing. We hope it was all worth it and that you are happy and healthy! Good job! We promise we will take good care of your former home and business and do our best to turn it into a famous pie shop; The Daily Pie, which in our opinion is long, long, overdue.


The Machinist's Wife

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Progress On The Outside

I thought you might like to see progress on the exterior walls of the Shop To Be Known As METALSMITHERY AND THE DAILY PIE CAFE.

This is the eastern wall of the Shop. We have used a fire proof covering, as there will be a slow combustion heater inside.

Another shot of the eastern wall. To the left, the old fence which surrounds the Grand's cottage, to the right, part of the fire proof wall.

The eastern wall again. This time, you can see the walls, having been rendered, which keeps the whole building uniform. This shot is taken from underneath one of the car bays. The windows you see on this side of the Shop will remain glass.

Moving around the corner now to the front of the shop, which faces north. That writing on the windows has been there for over 14 years. Over time, vandals have broken in - hence - boards at the windows.
The full, northern frontal. This is where the bowsers were situated. There were two doors; one for the restaurant and one for the general store.
To the right of the front door, there were two entrances to the ladies' toilets, as well as a window. We boarded them up, ready for rendering.
Looking at the shop from the north west. This is how it looks after rendering.
The western wall. The door on the left was the gent's toilets, boarded, ready for rendering. The door on the right will be replaced, but this will become the kitchen entrance, for all food deliveries.
A longer shot at the north western wall, after rendering. See that cute ball of fluff? That's Blossom, with ears blowing in the westerly breeze.

This is the southern wall, which will also become the rear kitchen / bakery wall. Hot water systems, pumps, gas bottles and other utilities will be hidden here.
I hope you've enjoyed this mini tour of before and after rendering. The building still needs a lot of work, both outside and inside, but we're taking it all one day at a time.

Creepy Season

There's been plenty of paperwork - for both businesses - arriving in our mailbox of late, so instead of me doing the weekly grocery shopping, I sent my middle girl to do the honours, while I completed the FOURTH day of MYOB (Mind Your Own Business accounting software) catchup.

My firstborn girl had taken the Grands into town mid-morning, and later met up with her sister, who brought the Grands back home. Each time the Grands go into town, their sweet little Pekingnese, Blossom, comes to play with our dogs, so before the Grands go home and settle down for the night, they have to pick up Blossom from "daycare".

Today was no different.

Blossom and I met the Grands as they pulled into our driveway with my middle child. There was much chatter about what had transpired on their shopping trip. There was also a discussion about the brown snake and other creepy crawly things.

"'Tis the season to see creepies, tra la la la la la la la la ...."

Mam proceeded to tell us how she had moved a piece of old fencing in her garden (we're busy putting up a new fence for the Grands), so that whoever was to mow the lawn would have a clear run, and in moving the piece of green plastic lattice fence, almost put her hand on "...something big and brown, with a fur coat, AND a waistcoat - with legs thicker and meatier than my own ...".

"And what did you do, Granny? Where is it now?"

"I don't know and nor am I going to look for it. It was so big and furry that if I had a brush on me, I could have combed it's hair.."

So beware, folks. Beware of nooks and crannies and especially old fencing....


I didn't hear the knock at the front door, but my girl did and soon returned to the kitchen with a look of disgust on her face - "Mam, that was Helen. She came to tell us that there is a large brown snake up at the bus stop, and thought that we would want to know".
I trained my girl well!
Very soon, the brown snake was common knowledge throughout the family, not only here at home, but up at the shop as well (which is directly across the road from the village bus stop, and home to the Grands). The Machinist and my lad went up to check 'things' out, but the snake had already met it's demise; somebody had ran over it with a car.
Most farmers in our area won't tolerate snakes. Even though they are protected by law, (the snakes, that is), there is a common bond and understanding of 'relocating' deadly snakes. That understanding is not to capture the snake and relocate it to another area (from which it will return to it's last port o' call - ie - probably an unsuspecting resident's garden), but rather to relocate the snake's head from it's body with a swift flick, clout and chop, using the average garden spade.
I'd hoped not to hear any snake stories for at least another couple of weeks, but it seems that the "Whispering Smiths" (as my mam calls them) are truly up, out and about. I'd also hoped to do more gardening before the heat and serious Ali-G's (allergies and hayfever) set in, too. In fact, just to whet my gardening appetite, my middle girl took this photo last week. She knows I love the rain and she knows I love to garden. These photos were taken by her just before large storm clouds billowed over our village:
Granny's bonnets, lambsears, catmint and a rosebush - struggling through the mass hysteria

The golden ash I planted in the olden days. I had no idea how large it would grow.

Our above-ground pool, like a small oasis, surrounded by fruit, berries and vegetables. Hmmm... so much gardening to do, such little time, too many snakes....

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

When I awoke this morning and headed to the bathroom, my daughters had already started mixing a cake. I wanted to investigate as to what type of cake was almost ready to be put into the oven, but The Machinist ushered me back to the bedroom, in order that our family tradition of birthdays could ......... well ............ continue as a family tradition.

(The birthday girl or boy has to wait in their bedroom, until the rest of the family come traipsing through, bearing gifts, or not, with mis-buttoned pyjamas, dishevelled hair and sandman dust in their eyes. Then, the croaky throated chorus begins, followed by a 'hip-hip-hooray') Aaah... this is surely the stuff legends are made of.

The Grands came over for my birthday morning tea, and we scoffed down the gluten free Medeira cake, complete with vanilla icing and thick, clotted cream. Grandpa was introduced to the game of "Jenga", and after a bit of poking and gentle tugging, to acquaint himself with how it works, there was no stopping him. I'm not playing against him again! Never let age fool you.

We went to see a matinee. Get that? A matinee. A daytime movie that older people go to. The content was great, though. Even though it left the three of us girls with mixed feelings of sadness and annoyance: . Our Emma later asked me "Aren't you glad you weren't born in the olden days, ma?"

The tone changed much later after dinner, though, as we went to see another movie in another part of town, really intent on living the high life (like Pinnochio in Pleasure Island). The Machinist and Son were with us, and there was no way we could drag them to another girlie movie. Instead, we settled for .

The Duchess or Arab terrorist action?

Hmmm... that's a hard one.


Tuesday 21 October 2008

The Call of the Garden

After weeks of post-nasal drip, cough, headaches and snot, hayfever season is upon us. First comes the itchy area around the eye, and then, very sneakily and randomly, there's a little sneeze here, and another there....

Hayfever or not, I cannot resist the garden.

Stumpy rye grass has pushed through the bales of hay, which was laid as mulch beneath the apple and nashi pear trees in the orchard. The puppies love to join me in the orchard, because they love the grass that grows there. Both Bobby and Polly sit at their own clump of grass, pulling blades free from interwoven roots. Euphorically, with eyes half shut it seems they can't tug fast enough. Suddenly, Bobby coughs and splutters, half-choking, opening his mouth as wide as possible and depositing a frothy ball of droopy, soggy grass. Evidence of him biting off more than he could chew.

I hear the side door to the workshop close, and the Machinist's footsteps, as he walks towards the garden tap. Water splashes onto the stained compacted ground under the tap; stained from years of hand washing with degreasing cream. I have the insane urge to leap out of the undergrowth and give the Machinist a scare, as he passes by the "Lilly Marlene" rosebush, but I refrain. After all, the rain clouds are approaching fast, and there are a LOT of weeds and grass clumps to pull. "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today", I can hear my mam saying in my auditory memory library.

Several piles of spring-green grass, prickles and other weeds begin to form throughout the orchard. Rain clouds loom overhead. Not that a bit of rain hurts anyone, but daylight is diminishing fast.

The kitchen door slides open and the Machinist's voice booms through the thick growth of apple leaves and raspberry bushes

"Do you want me to turn the heat down on the potatoes? I think they're done...."

Friday 3 October 2008

Off To Town

I love days like this.

Spring days. Days of hope and anticipation. Renewal of life in so many forms and in so many species.

We are all having an early mark from work. The Machinist is taking us into town. Oh, either of us could go to town at any time, but it is so much more FUN when the whole family go together. We'll probably have a late afternoon tea or early supper.
Maybe do some early Christmas shopping
There could even be the chance of a late movie

Must go - everyone is ready. And waiting for me....


 Table talk amongst our children is and always has been, -  a rabbit warren . We start off in one hole and end up in another -  quick smart....