Thursday 28 January 2010

Familiar Roads

Some time ago, a ferocious gust of wind blew the tarpaulin off the cold display fridge we had bought for sweet pies, and with it - the front curved glass.  It was a dark morning, when I went up to the shop and found scattered, shattered glass lying around the base of the motor.  The Machinist had to make a template and post it to a glass repair business in Sydney.  Today, we went to pick up the new piece of curved glass.  We also intended to purchase pie warming ovens and perhaps even a freezer (for the right price), and what did we come back with? Just a new piece of curved glass for the cold display fridge. 


We also returned with a lot of information regarding kitchen equipment, brands and warranties, and I am more confident, focussed and resolved in what needs to be done and bought; -  knowledge which is more valuable than a few minutes of an accomplished salesman's charms and an unplanned purchase, even though the price was very attractive.

Taking the trip with the Machinist along the familiar highway caused me to reminisce about the many times I had travelled alone, or with the children, either dropping our recently manufactured commercial trolleys off for zinc-coating or picking them up.  We would often go to the 'city movies' either after the drop off, or while waiting for finished products.  Precious memories and trips that we may never make again, as many of the businesses we dealt with are either closed down or have moved, and beautiful souls who are now Young Adults and have their own committments and general busy-ness.

This evening is one of melancholy and I fear I am being a silly old sentimental bear (or old fool!).  Is this pure exhaustion or common emotion indiginous to business owners.  Or both?

Saturday 23 January 2010

Extreme Measures

"Mam, Maaaammm!"
I only just heard her shouting to me above the noise of the washing machine as I was folding clothes.  I looked out of the window, and Sarah had hoisted herself up and was balancing on the top of the picket fence, holding onto an arbour.  Between our herb garden

and the arbour leading to the pool area, she had '...spotted the tail end of a small snake...'

I rushed to the phone and rang the Machinist up at the Shop

"Snake!  Quick!"

Within minutes, the Machinist walked through the front door, long handled spade in hand "Where? How?"  He went down the deck steps and cautiously poked at a clump of catmint, which was poking through the fence from the shrubbery garden within the 'Vegetable Garden'. 

What Sarah thought was a small snake, turned out to be much bigger. The Machinist took three whacks at the slithering reptile with the spade

Site of the whacking: arbour leading to the 'Pool Room'

The snake slithered away.  I stood on the back deck, watching and feeling physically faint.  I watched it slither under the gladitsia bush, past a purple rose, then under a row of baby's breath, then....where?  It had totally disappeared.  We knew that probably injured, the snake would be angered.  Due to the midday sun and heat, along with shadows from shrubs and bushes, Slithering Houdini had made his getaway... The trouble is - our garden is totally fenced in (goodness knows where he and the other villain entered in the first place).  "They always travel in two's, Helen" I can still hear mam advising me on numerous occasions. 

The dogs have spent the day indoors.  I will not let them out until the snake is found.  The Machinist insisted I go into town to buy aspirins.  He has been told, from a reliable source, that crushed aspirin, mixed in a bowl of milk, will attract a snake from it's hiding position and kill it.  While I took the trip into town, the Machinist whipped up four 'dish guards' from square mesh, to put over the bowls of milk, and thereby prevent the kitties from supping up the deadly concoction. 

Extreme situations call for extreme measures.

I returned with the strongest of aspirins as well as Napthalene blocks. After the Machinist had crushed them and spread them around the perimeter of the dogs yard, we could detect that nasty moth ball smell from the front driveway.  Even while we were still in the car.

The dogs will have to spend their days in the Grand's fenced in, snake-proof garden and nights in our house during the next few days / weeks - until we can assure their safety in the back yard. 

In other news, we've applied three coats of clear epoxy to the 100 square metre plus gallery / cafe floor, as well as three coats of a coloured composite resin to the 45 square metre kitchen floor. Oh, and we've started moving the kitchen equipment in, too.  You can read about it at .

 I have a shift at the winery tomorrow. And so, for me it's - to bed!

Saturday 16 January 2010

A Love Story

Twenty days after my birth, in cold sleet and sloshy England, my husband was born in the humidifying heat of South Africa. Miles apart. Nevertheless, already hand picked by the Creator of all, by the Lord, Who puts the lonely in families. Years later, because of the forever itching feet of my father, and the complete optimism of my mother, I came face to face with my husband, in a sleepy country town, in the state of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

We met while we were both in school; Andre was on school holidays, with his mom and together they were staying at a friend's house in my hometown. The local pool and cinema were great highlights of our days. The minute I met him, I knew I loved him. I didn't even know him, but I knew.

We endured being apart during school, as he lived and attended school in another town. We endured being apart during my Technical College and his apprenticeship years. We endured being apart during the first half of his National Service in the South African Defence Force. And then - four months after the completion of his compulsory army service ~ we married. Childhood sweethearts, now joined as one.

The early days of marriage were filled with joy and excitement. We started off with a piece of carpet on the floor (which we used as our bed), a couple of blankets and one pillow. We slept fully dressed in winter, as two flimsy blankets aren't enough to keep the freezing damp air at bay. Friends and family donated furniture and accessories, and before long, we were piecing together our first nest. We would feast on rice with onion gravy, followed by coffee and Ouma's rusks. Now and again, we would treat ourselves to a chocolate bar and a trip to the two Rand drive- in, where we would park the Yamaha 175 and lie under the stars, enjoying every minute of being together. There's much to be said in building up a home together. Building it together. Not marrying into a fully furnished, pantry well-stocked, efficiently heated home, bur rather, doing it Hard Time.
Before long, and just after my husband had left for a stint in the army, I discovered that I was carrying a new life. Emma was born with large, dark eyes and little hair - blonde fluff, as we called it. We weren't in hospital long; we wanted to be home. The three of us were together just three weeks before Andre had to leave for a three month 'border duty' camp. Each day, I would write to Emma's daddy. Each day, Emma would sleep in her pram next to me, while I wrote and told him of every little insignificant thing that we lived through. And then, as the letters were completed, we would post them, hoping that there would be a return letter for us in the mail. Letters from my husband were few and far between. Those that we did receive were censored by army officials.

A year after the National Service my husband qualified as a fitter and turner. This meant more in the pay-packet and a chance to go forward in life. We were able to buy good food and lots of it. We were able to buy a new bed. We were able to buy many items that we had waited so long for. Despite our house developing into the cosy home we had long desired, it wasn't enough. My feet were itching, just as my father's had years ago. My husband's feet caught the same fever.

"It's the land of milk and honey, Helen...." my father would tell me, referring to the country in which we now live - Australia. "Things are going to get worse here. You'll have no regrets. We'll follow you soon. I promise."

Three years later, we had packed up our home and were waiting at my parent's home for the day that great Silver bird would take us to a foreign land. My parents and brothers promised me that they would only say a 'quick' goodbye. They lied. The day of our departure dragged on. I felt as if my heart was about to jump out of my throat. I ached all over; physically and emotionally. My mam slipped a book of verses by Helen Steiner Rice under my arm, as she squeezed me and implored me to "...go now, Helen" I read this on the flight, as the tears streamed down my face.

Time is a great healer. It's true.

My father was true to his word and joined us six months later.  We have lived close by each other ever since.

With two more little Aussies, Sarah and Samuel our family is complete and the Love Story continues through generations.

Slowly. Almost There

Any mother will tell you that the last few weeks - even the last few months - of pregnancy go by very slowly.  The same is true of my new 'baby' - our pie shop.  It's been about a year now, since we started work on renovating the building - mainly on weekends or stolen hours in between our regular business.  The only tradesman we've hired is an electrician, because we've had to. The rest is all DIY, Baby.

It seems to have gone even slower these past four months, - ever since the family have taken on extra shifts elsewhere. While it has been needful, financially, for us to take on more work, everyone is so very tired when they are at home on those odd days off from outside work, catchup has been the priority.  Add to that a holiday season and constant guests ....

"Babe, I don't want anyone staying next week, ok?" the Machinist pleads, as we work together in the kitchen.  "Please Babe?" as he turns the gluten free sausages in the Jamie Oliver pan and I load another tray of dishes into the (commercial, thanks, Machinist!) dishwasher.

I assure him that I feel the same way. 

Later, sipping coffee the Machinist asks me "What are we doing for Australia day?"

"I may have to work at the winery"

"Bummer. I thought we could ...."

Tuesday 12 January 2010

How Our Dog Survived a Tiger Snake Bite With Vitamin C

Bobby : 7 year old Staffordshire Terrier, weighing 35kg

Sometime on Friday the 18th December 2009, our Staffordshire Terrier was bitten several times in the head / neck area by a tiger snake. We didn’t know he had been bitten, as he showed no signs of distress as we enclosed him in his kennel, - along with two 8 month old Shi-Tzsu puppies on Friday night around 11pm. It was only on Saturday, 19th December, around 6am that we noticed and suspected that he had been bitten. His pupils were large and clouded, he showed signs of agitation, he staggered when he walked, he seemed generally disorientated and reacted slowly. We found the mangled tiger snake near the colourbond gate later in the afternoon.

We felt it important to move him indoors, keep him quiet and peaceful, cool, well-hydrated and with as few stressors as possible. It was handy to have lots of newspaper, blankets and old towels on hand. Later, we bought disposable toddler nappies (for up to 30kg), which made life much easier. Several times per day, we would change the bedding and newspaper. A temporary bed was made with a thick blanket doubled over and used as a mattress, which was inserted into a couple of large black dustbin bags. On top of the waterproof bin bags, we placed a large dry towel. We would also bathe the dog with warm water and Dettol, drying him gently and thoroughly. When the temperature reached almost 40 degrees, we sponged him down and placed a fan near him for a short period of time, until he had stopped panting. We moved him regularly, from side to side during the day, to avoid cramping.

We only started to feed Bobby on the third day of his recovery, as he couldn’t lift his head and could hardly swallow. When we did begin feeding him, it was with runny food in small amounts during the day, - firstly via a syringe and later, by spoon, very carefully and slowly to avoid choking. Each time we fed him, we had to hold his head, to allow him to swallow.

Each time we handled Bobby, we wore rubber gloves and sterilised all utensils.

Below is a summary of how we treated our Bobby with Vitamin C and strong black coffee, along with thoughts and observations on his daily recovery. At the time of writing (12th January 2010) Bobby has recovered completely from his ordeal. He has lost weight, and the bone in his ‘buff-head’ is protruding a little, but his appetite is as healthy as ever.

Saturday 19th December (8 or more hours after snakebite)

6am = 20ml vit C and ½ cup coffee

7am = 10ml vit C

11am = 20ml vit C by mouth (10 x 1000mg crushed Vit C in 150ml water)

1pm = water

8am = 20ml vit C and ½ cup coffee (4-5 teaspoons)

9.30am = 1 C water & antibiotic

3pm = ½ cup coffee

4.30pm = water

6.00pm = water

8.00pm = 10ml vit C

11.00pm = water

Able to move only slightly. Paralysed by late afternoon, although his tail wagged a little late at night. Lay on stomach in ‘frog’ fashion.

Sunday 20th December

8.00am = ½ cup coffee and water

9.00am = 10ml vitamin C & antibiotic

11.00am = water

12.30pm = 20ml vitamin C by mouth

Water throughout the day

Mainly paralysed. Minimal eye movement. Pupils smaller. Minimal tail wagging. Brown urine. Incontinent.

Monday 21st December

10ml vitamin C

Water throughout the day every 1 1/s hours

Vitamin C by mouth

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed followed by water in syringe to wash down

Not much change.

Tuesday 22nd December

10ml vitamin C

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Water throughout the day every 1 ½ hours

Vitamin C by mouth – 20ml

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Swallowing water much better. The noise of the syringe encourages him to move his tongue, ready to receive. Good appetite, but only small amount of food administered by tablespoon (about 1/2C each time). Tail wagging. Eyes have lost that blank stare. Vigorous kicking of back legs when turned over to new position.
Wednesday 23rd December

10ml vitamin C

1.5ml vitamin B

Weetabix x 2 and cold milk

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Water throughout the day every 1 ½ hours

Vitamin C by mouth – 20ml

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Same as yesterday.

Thursday 24th December

Weetabix x 2 with cold milk

10ml vitamin C

Weetabix x 2 with cold milk

Water throughout the day every 1 ½ hours

Beef soup with carrots celery and pumpkin (mashed, not processed) – spoon fed, followed by water in syringe to wash down

Good appetite. Stonger tail wagging. Eyes have lost that blank stare. Tongue movement increased. Able to swallow chunkier food. Actually seeking food that had spilled out. Hot and panting. Cooled with damp cloth over body. Worked his way off the bed onto the cool tiles.

Friday 25th December

Weetabix x 3 with cold milk

10ml vitamin C

Chicken soup


Chicken soup

Moved Bobby into the lounge for Christmas. Peeing a lot, change of urine colour from reddish brown to normal. Able to eat alone for most of his meals. Prefers to lie on belly, commando crawling.

Saturday 26th December

Chicken soup

10ml vitamin C

Chicken soup


Chicken soup

Able to eat himself. Crawling on belly more and more. Getting stronger holding his head up for food. Able to roll off his side onto his belly. Having difficulty getting his paws from under his forearms. Had to put two nappies and a pair of old tights, cutting hole for tail. No poos for three days now, previously runny stomach. Much more responsive and wags tail at the sight of us, without even speaking.

Sunday 27th December


10ml vitamin C



Beef, pasta, veggies

First day outside. Staggering on his feet, wanting to pee himself. Staggers, falls, gets up and walks, then staggers. Lifting his head. Drinking water by himself. Eating by himself from a dish. Quite content to be outside, even though heavy rain. Slept in the laundry.

Monday 28th December

Weetabix and bacon

10ml vitamin C

Beef, pasta, veggies

Spent the day and night in the kennel. Able to walk for longer distances. Prefers to go down the garden to ‘toilet’ area.

Tuesday 29th December

10ml vitamin C

1.5ml vitamin B


Water from bowl

Cut up pieces of meat

Spent day in kennel, although very receptive to fuss, returning straight to kennel (for recuperation?). Eyes still a little weepy, but a lot better. Right eye is worse. Drinks lots of water from bowl. Comes out of the kennel when called.

Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st December

10ml Vitamin C

Regular meals and water

As above. Loss of weight

Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd January

10m Vitamin C

Regular meals and water

Good appetite. Very mobile. Barking and playing with other dogs. Still a little wobbly on legs and becomes tired and has to lie down for a while to re-charge. Right eye still weeping, but is able to open it fully.

Tuesday 12th January

Fully recovered. Needs to gain a little more weight. Still receiving 10ml Vitamin C by injection, as well as weekly 1.5m Vitamin B. We will administer this for another week, making it one month since being bitten.

Sunday 10 January 2010

Reason, Season, Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. Thank you, Reader, for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.


Wednesday 6 January 2010

The Old School Room

Yesterday, I showed you pictures of the disorganised section of my office.  It wouldn't be right not to show you the rest of the office.  I say office lightly, as the Machinist has booted me out of the Machine Shop office, and I haven't gotten around to eleviate this old School Room from - well - it's schoolroom atmosphere. 

Poster depicting Australia's history from the Australian War Memorial

Another poster from the Australian War Memorial

Yet another poster from the Australian War Memorial.  I particularly liked this one, because I like the mention of jobs.  Especially when I have to give them away to another...

Precious cards - stuck on the wall above my computer

A dumpable mess.  Keeping it real...

Reference books on business, cafes and interiors.  My budget tin, and memorabilia from home-school days. Sigh....

My shelf of decorating magazines: - inspiration for the Daily Pie's cafe / gallery

This is going to be one of the backs for the cafe chairs - designed by the Machinist.

More memories from the Young Adult's childhood days... sob....

Yet another wall of memories.  I really HAVE to change things in this room! Always loved the printer's trays, though.  Oh, and all the books on this shelf - are my favs.  Some read, some waiting patiently for me to turn their pages.  Below this shelf, we used to have a whole wall of desktops.  Now that was a bit too much...

Part of my bookcase, - all non fiction.  Gardening, Cooking, Health, Home Education, Cleaning and Organising.  What a freak I am.

I hope you've enjoyed your mini-tour. The Machinist would love to replace all this with a flat screen tv and sinkable couches.  Hmmm... that doesn't sound too bad, given the way I feel right now, after FIVE hours vacuuming dust at the Daily Pie.  See update here.

Tuesday 5 January 2010


As always, one of my children have left me in awe.  Read this child's thoughts here.  I am so blessed!

Monday 4 January 2010

An Organiser's Dilemma

Woke at 3.26am this morning.  Who needs an alarm?  Our son, Sam, starts work in town (temporarily, as part of our BIG plan) at 5am and the Machinist or myself drives him in.  Sam will be staying at a friend's house for his 3 days 'on'.  When I ask the Machinist 'who will be taking Sam tomorrow?', he always responds "Whoever is awake".  Well, that's an easy one; - it's always me that's awake - before the cock crows (not that we have a cockerel - just very generous hens).  The Machinist has this knack of being able to spring out of bed at the last minute, wash his face and ready in a flash to take his turn by driving Number One Son into work.  This talent never fails to make me smile...

I cannot go back to sleep until the Machinist has returned home - safe and sound - and use this time for reading or blogging.  One of this morning's 'visits' was with a gal I've known for years - who wrote about her recent malady: an 'organising bug'.  Now I know this may sound freakish, but I LOVE to organise and clean.  It brings me great peace when I know where things are.  However, at the moment, I have to shut my eyes to disorder, as this is what I see each day, as I enter the room which I now use as an office for both businesses; our old schoolroom:

These are the smaller items we've collected for the pie shop.  Some of them are brand new, some second hand.  Some are great bargains off Ebay.  I can't wait to move them to the Shop and free up so much space here at home.

Sometimes, I can't remember what we have stored in all of these boxes.  I know what we still need to purchase, though. 

Well, at least I can see the mixing bowls, a few pie pallets and the cash register.  Ka-ching!

All the larger equipment is kept either in the barn, on our back deck, out the front of the Machine Shop or inside the Machine Shop.  The Machinist and I have this 'knowing', that soon, very soon... we will be rewarded with our respective 'work areas' and lots of space back again...

Can't wait!!

Sunday 3 January 2010

Reflections on the Festive Season Past

I've been working a lot at our local winery over the Christmas / New Year period and although I enjoy it, I have to confess that it has been hard leaving home each day, as there is so much going on here.  The Young Adults have been very Social Beings and have either had friends stay, or accepted invitations to go out.  On each day, the Machinist and I have had to coordinate Who Is Available to help at the Shop, as there are certain jobs he cannot do on his own (see right hand side bar for updates on The Daily Pie Shop renovations).  Furthermore, somebody has had to care for the pets while we are all coming and going. 

We've hosted Christmas and new year's eve dinners.  We've hosted a morning tea for my darling Mam's birthday - which was on the 31st.  The most memorable time, though, was when the Machinist and I stole away from all the action at home and nipped over to the Grand's house for a nice and peaceful visit with them - just before we had to get ready to celebrate NYE across the road at our country hotel with our children.  Although we hardly ever drink anything alcoholic, the Machinist packed a basket with a beer, lemonade and a bottle of Merlot.  He poured mam a shandy, and a glass of wine for the rest of us. We sat in their cosy loungeroom, with the lights off, curtains open, a breeze blowing through from the kitchen to the lounge and only the light of the full moon shining in.  Blossom, my parent's Pekingnese, was doing her rounds - sniffing and snorting (as her breed does), finally settling next to me, flashing her Betty Davis Eyes.

My parents often want to help in our busy-ness, and I know they must feel helpless at times, but if only they knew how much they do help - just by being 'available' to chat with, confide in and do all the other tedious little jobs like sewing rogue buttons back on garments, stripping and polishing old window latches, peeling vegetables when a wholesome meal is needed, and not to mention - sweeping collective spider's webs from our windows and eaves.  I am going to make a point of letting them know their value to us regularly this year.

The house is quiet as I write.  Emma has just left for work, Sarah and the Machinist are having a lie-in ; - they'll be working at the Shop today, fixing a 'boot' around the exhaust where the exhaust 'meets' the tin roof.  Sam is at his young lady's parent's house - due to come home early to help at the Shop as well.  Shortly, I'll put the coffee machine on, then get ready for work at the winery.  Tomorrow, the Young Adults will all be at work, and the Machinist and I will be FULL SYSTEMS GO! determined to finish the big stuff on the Shop before the end of January. 


Storms and Dogs

When a storm is on it's way, and the charcoal clouds pile up, the dogs start throwing their furry bodies at the back door (sliding glass).  Sometimes we hear them, and tell them off.  Other times, we feel sorry for them and let them in.  They come indoors and have an anxious look on their faces.  It doesn't last for long, though, as they bound down the corridor, then through the lounge, then into the tv room, around to the old schoolroom, now office.  They are constantly in search of someone to fuss them.

Bobby is doing so well.  He is up on his feet now.  He stands, walks, feels a bit wobbly on his legs, panics and dashes to his kennel.  We have to talk to him "it's ok, Bob, it's ok" to sooth him.  Each day, though, you can see he is stronger and stronger. This evening, with the threat of a storm in the air, he was trying to jump through the laundry window, as we didn't hear him at the door.  His next best bet was to climb into the laundry, through the kitchen, then around to the tv room, where the Machinist and I were watching Murphy's Law.  Emma heard his attempts at jumping, took pity on him and let him in.  Works every time!

(I will be publishing Bobby's treatment schedule on the blog, so that others who have pets which are bitten may have some hope in saving them).

Anyway, more later.... xx


 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....