Friday 5 August 2011

A Woolly Distraction

In our quest to solve the lack of signage on the local section of the Highway to advertise The Daily Pie, the girls door knocked roadside landowners who may be prepared to 'lease' us a section of their land to erect a fixed sign.  They also put notes in letterboxes, making their plea known.

A resounding 'yes' a couple of 'maybe's' as well as a few 'I'll have to think about its' were received and noted.

The Machinist and I went to visit the Farmer who was eager to help and who had given us full permission to check out his paddocks which run alongside the Highway, in order to find the best visual spot for passing traffic.

An Australian cattle dog met us, panting excitedly, running from the car back to his master on our arrival at the Homestead.  The dog's master walked towards us, holding something long, floppy, bloody and covered with amniotic (glue like) fluid.  "This is Julius, named after Julias Caeser, as I've just delived him by caeserean section.  I had to put the mother down, as the crows had been at her backside and she was in a really bad way..."

Said in the true spirit of Aussie nitty gritty-ness!

"You can have him if you want, but I don't want to get involved if you both disagree", he said, looking from me to the Machinist.

"We'll have to find a blanket or something, Babe" The Machinist didn't hesitate
"So it's affirmative on your part?"
"We need a sheep to keep the grass down in the paddock next door"
"Yeah, that's true"

In the meantime, the Farmer had nipped off to find an empty sack "You can put the lamb in here, as you carry him home.  I'll just nip indoors to see if we have any spare poddy lamb teats"

And that, as they say, was that.

Wilson is kept in front of the fire, inside a make-shift 'play pen'.  He bleats, drinks, sleeps, craps and pees.  But we don't mind.  It means that he is working perfectly!

Wednesday 3 August 2011


The Machinist had disappeared from his 'post' as pie filler and I wandered outside to see where he was and what he was doing, so that I could haul him back and chain him to the stainless steel bench.  Alas, he was talking with a Highway Patrol officer.  "Oh no!", I thought (the usual 'what's the matter now' feeling you get when any type of Policeman enters your premises, even though you're not guilty of anything he could possibly be there for).  On closer earshot, I learned that we had been 'officially informed' that we were not allowed to put our signage for the pie shop out on the Highway.

And so now begins the tedious task of many communications with bureaucracy....

Monday 25 July 2011

Good Help

The Machinist helped us a LOT at the Pie shop over the weekend.  He is so willing to help, but insists that we always have something for him to do 'next', as he despises waiting around.  What's so cool about the Machinist helping out at the shop is that we get to have breakfast. Because the Machinist makes us breakfast.

We've discovered a new brand of DOUBLE smoked bacon for the pies, and always order a bit more for us.  The Machinist was grilling the bacon for our new Brekkyinapie breakfast pie.  After retrieving it from the oven, he cautiously picked up a rasher, held it above his head, lowering it into his mouth.  Chewing and mumbling at the same time, he asked

"...Anyone else for Aussie spaghetti?..."

Saturday 9 July 2011

Fridges, Flights and Axes

The Machinist is up early.  He and Number One Son are going to Sydney to pick up a cold display fridge that I bid on and won. Usually, the Machinist and I do the Sydney trips together, as we consider them a bit of business and pleasure.  Pleasure being the opportunity to EAT out. Today, however, I have to make pies.  Lots of pies.  If I'm good and actually finish making the pies the girls are going to let me go home, so that I can chisel away at the mound of paperwork currently sitting before me as I type.

My Mam and brother are going to the UK in four days time.  I'm all nervous.  For them, and for me.  I don't want my Mam to be stressed and tired, or worry about anything (as she often does).  I want her to be calm and peaceful and enjoy her visit with her sisters and my brothers.  I'm hoping my brother doesn't get too tired with all the arrangements and responsibility of the care for both of them (he has Tetralogy of Fallot aka 'Blue Baby Syndrome').  And for me - well - I'm gonna miss them.  Seven weeks is a long time.  Oh, and the goodbyes.....

Grandpa will be staying home. At an impressive 85 years he doesn't fancy the trip.  He will be coming into the cafe each day for his coffee(s) and looking after "Blossom", their 8 year old Pekingnese.  Blossom will need a lot of care.  Yesterday, our Sarah took her to the vet and she has a heart murmer, is acutely obese, has a tired liver and possibly, even doggy-diabetes.  Grandpa assures us that he will NOT be chopping wood for his fire, and he will leave that to us.  (Even though he secretly bought another axe when he handed over his rather large axe to us).  Several trips to the outpatients, due to axe trauma doesn't really bother him.  I'm convinced he has his fingers crossed behind his back when he promises he won't EVER chop wood again, nor seek 'kindling' on the hill behind his cottage.

Thursday 7 July 2011

All Creatures Great and Small

We have a lot of windows at the front of the Cafe, and they are usually kept clean and sparkling.  While this is pleasing to the eye, it's havoc for some of our wild birds, as they fly straight into the glass, knock themselves out and fall to the ground. Unconscious.  Oftentimes, we scurry to find boxes for the concussed birds to lie in while they recover.

Last week, a brightly colourful Rosella collided with the glass and while he was recovering, his mate fluttered nervously around him. Eventually, they flew off together.  Happily Ever After.

Standing at the sink and gazing sleepily out of the window, a movement, just below the windowsill caught my eye.  A Grey Shrike-Thrush was fluttering and then lurching his tiny body at the two hot water tanks, servicing the kitchen and bathroom.

The Thrush would flutter, lurch and then land on top of the tanks, croon his head and peck....

"Would you like a cup of tea, Babe?" the Machinist asked as he clicked on the kettle.  "What are you looking at?"

I pointed to the curious activity of our avian friend. "He's picking flies and bugs out of the cobwebs", the Machinist continued.  "I watched him just the other day.  See?"

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Mathew 6:26 KJV

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Disco, Disco, Disco

We've been talking a lot about music and how our tastes vary.  When we were young, back in the late 70's and early 80's, disco dancing were the 'moves' to be had.  We love to tell our children how the floor was cleared as we strutted.  Chilly's adaption of "For Your Love" (originally performed by The Yardbirds 1965 - not that I had heard of them) was, and still is, one of our all time favourites.

The Machinist confirmed this today.  He took an early shower (brought on by the ferocious wind and rain) and came through to our home office, wrapped in a blue towel, looking somewhat like the Union Jack with his partly heat-scalded red and white (well, flesh coloured) torso.  I watched his face light with recognition of the song and immediately he started to strut.  And shuffle.  And strut some more.  And then, a few popular disco moves like "The Exit" and "The Mousehole", as well as "The lawn mower" and "The air hostess".  It helped that the previous day we had checked out (and practiced) some sweet disco moves

Getting back to the group, "Chilly": - we didn't even know who they were or what they looked like.  TV invaded homes in South Africa around 1975.  There was only one channel and it was conservative, as expected.  I sometimes think it was better that way, as music and rhythm and lyrics were loved (or hated) for what they were, not what they looked like, or the image they portrayed.  After all, who, pray, could enjoy shimmering lycra, lots of pale blue eyeshadow and perfectly (page boy) styled hair worn by women (and men).

Nowadays, I often prefer remakes of older songs, as the older ones sound so 'tinny'. Take "Funky Town", performed by Lipps Inc, and later, performed by Psuedo Echo for example.

Ok, so now, I'm going to strut my stuff...

Yeah, Baby....

Monday 4 July 2011

Not On My Lounge!

A long time ago, when I was pregnant with my Emma-Lee, the Machinist and I went shopping for a bed.  We came home with a brand new lounge and dining room suite, but no bed.  We've kept both suites in immaculate condition over the years and are still in possession of them to this day.  However, I've always longed for a leather lounge set; two doubles and two triple seaters, - in dark brown (of course).  Earlier this year, the Machinist bought us a new leather lounge.  To cut a long story short, the two two-seaters were taken to the Cafe, and placed in front of the combustion fire, to sit on and linger with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Today, after the Machinist had put the Cafe signs out on the highway, we sat together with Sam, and his girl, Hayley.  A young woman walked over to the leather lounges, plonked her baby down on one of them and proceeded to take the baby's pants off and change its nappy.

I couldn't take it any more.  I had to get up and flee to the kitchen.  This week, the two seaters will be removed from the Cafe and taken back home, where they belong. 

We have no changing table.  We have no parents room.  It is a FOOD establishment.  Whatever happened to changing your own child in your own car?

Which leads me to the next train of thought....

There are a lot of young women today - young mothers who carry on as if they are complete heroines for actually giving birth to and raising a child.  Some of them think they can turn on fertility (or lack of it) like a light switch, at their own whim. 

Mothers of old never abused this blessing of child bearing and rearing.  They were honourable and would never impose their motherly duties on anybody.

Just saying....

Signing off,

(A wee bit) Cranky in Collector....

Sunday 3 July 2011

Winter Days

Winter is here in the Tablelands.  We've had lots of frost, but no snow as yet. I'm hoping we get snow, as it's the perfect weather for roaring fires, books, hot drinks and thick woolly socks.  Of course, I don't get to do that much nowadays, but I remember.  Oh yes, I remember well.

The Pie cafe is changing. We're learning all the time, tweaking our business plan, attempting to make things simpler, yet more effective.  (I read an article which stated that oftentimes, business owners are efficient, but not effective).  The transition we are planning is challenging, yet exciting.  More on that later.

The Machinist has acquired more equipment for the workshop, as we have taken on new clients, who require a lot of manufactured items.

We have two new staff members, who are learning VERY FAST to become multi-skilled and very flexible.  On any given day, they can be chopping wood for our fires as well as the Grands, loading woodchip onto our garden beds (in preparation for spring, and the weeds that it brings), helping out at the cafe in either wash-up or waiting or even -  emergency barista. 

My mam has been for an eye operation and it was absolutely thrilling to hear her say "Helen, I can actually see.  It's like being re-born".  In two weeks time, she will be visiting her sisters as well as having a reunion with three of her four sons in England.  I sometimes imagine us all being together and the heart longing can be so strong, but in my 'head' I know and accept that this seldom comes to pass in the reality of life.  One day, though, I would love to take my own family to the country of my birth.

The Machinist assures me "our time will come, Helen.  You'll see"

For now, though, I will continue on  here where I am needed most.

Monday 11 April 2011

Relaxing After Work

After a long and customer-busy day at the pie shop, there's nothing more relaxing than couch potato-ing it next to the Machinist.  Our usual viewing line up is 60 minutes followed by Silent Witness on a Sunday.  After this, we flick and flick, looking for snippets of shows that we may be interested in.  American Idol flashes a full view of all three judges...

"Is that his real face?" I ask the Machinist of Steven Tyler.
"No nips, tucks, pinches or stretches?"
"I don't think so"

The dogs are all over me.  Polly either at my feet or the chair next to me.  Big Black Bob between the Machnist and I with his big head weighing heavy on my lap.  Peppi curled up in a tight ball, on my lap and Lilly - laying across Big Bob's neck and onto my left side.

"I don't get it", says the Machinist "I feed and water them, administer medicine and care for them when they are sick, yet they're always sitting with you or on you.  You're their Idol"

He's always making me laugh...

Sunday 20 February 2011

True Perspective

"To withdraw for a brief moment from the hurly-burly and distractions of everyday affairs will afford both relief and fresh incentive; it will enable us to determine whether we are on the right road; it will give us the true perspective" - J.C.W.R. 

We went out for dinner last night with fellow business associates, business owners and friends.   Although the meal was scrumptious (antipasto, followed by rib eye, reduced red wine gravy, baked garlic, baked potato and then onto panna cotta), it was secondary to the company we kept.  We spoke of other countries, childhood days, family, music, health and well being.  And we laughed.  We laughed a lot.

Throughout the conversations there was a 'knowing'.  A knowing that we each understood the other's lifestyle, sacrifices and responsibilities.  We all 'got it'.

On the way home, the Machinist had the windows open, driving down the main street of the city.  The streets were filled with Youth, - deciding on their next move or destination.  Mostly, -  mere girls, looking beautiful with high heels and mini skirts that would make their mothers cringe (surely?).  Here and there - a few groups of boys - well - they looked like boys -  dressed very casually in T's and jeans or T's and shorts, seemingly no match, appearance wise for the girls.

Cars passed us, filled again with Youth holding beer cans or Maccas burgers, windows wound down and a 'doof, doof, doof' coming from their costly fully-sick sub woofas.  And then, out of nowhere at the traffic lights (the Machinist still calls them 'Robots' from his South African days) a car full of Asian boys pulled up beside us.  I watched them, wondering about their life and family and whether they were born here, and if they were happy and whether they called Australia 'home'. Instead of the beer bottles and cans and general junk food passed around, the front passenger passed around an amply filled plastic bag.  Each of the back seat passengers took from the bag.

"Look, Doll... look what they're eating...."

Then, laughter.

In tune with their intrinsic culture, the young Asian boys were passing around a variety of fruits.

It truly was so refreshing to withdraw from every day affairs....

Thursday 17 February 2011

Melbourne Day 4

We happened upon this beautifully laid out nursery on a main street in Brunswick. 

We enjoyed the variety of metal art the owner had on display.  I felt like Inspector Cluso with my camera taking these pics. I tried to snap them when the staff weren't around.  Otherwise, they could have thought i was one of those secret shoppers....

More sneaky product pics...

Aaah... customers.  Now I can take a few more shots

I have a 'thing' for this kind of gravel on garden paths. I love how neat it looks and the crunching sound it makes when you walk on it.

The Machinist is a poser.  When the girls saw this pic of him, they declared that all he needed was a little white collar and he could pass as a Catholic priest.  Naturally, the Machinist couldn't see it...

Melbourne Day 3

This is Brunswick street.

It's an extremely LONG street by small country village standards and we walked the length of it several times. There were so many boutique / alternative (as they say) shops in this area of Melbourne and we LOVED them. Clothes shops, factory outlets, perfumery, coffee, boots, art, coffee, junk, goth, coffee... You catcha ma drift....

After shopping, we ventured back to South Wharf, hoping to see the movie "Hereafter".  The girls went to buy the tickets, but were told that the whole cinema was booked out privately.  And so - a dash for a tram, then another, then a train and we stepped off the station at South Yarra.  The streets were packed full of people, bustling down narrow pavements. After a (very) brisk walk, we arrived at The Jam Factory (a mall) and on entering couldn't fail to see a Stan Laurel look alike figure hanging from the big hand of the massive suspended clock.

I could do with this skylight at home.  I'd need a mansion to house it, though.

The city is beautiful at night.  Full of lights and stained glass windows  and solid stone decorative buildings like this one on Collins Street:

And this one, too....

And finally, bronze statues offering the European flair (and Atlas)

Melbourne Room With A View

View from our hotel room, early morning, City of Melbourne:

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Melbourne Trip Day 2 (Part c)

 In which we - yes - we talked to the (stuffed) animals.... Hey, let's sing it now:
"We are the world"

 "We are the children"

"We are the ones who make a brighter day"

"So let's start giving"

"There's a choice we're making"

"We're (not) saving our own lives"

"It's true - we'll make a better day"

"Just you and me"

"la la la la la la......."

"Just you and meeee........"

Melbourne Trip Day 2 (Part b)

Just inside the museum's doors stands this early 1920's van.  I couldn't help but think of my mam, as she had to drive a laundry van at the young age of 14.  She always knew that she could run much faster than the van, but felt priviledged to drive it anyway. 

Through into the science section, we passed through a series of dinosaurs.  Like this party animal overhead:

...And this well-grounded bro down below.  Either way, they creep me out and it's a good job they don't roam the earth today. 

The Machinist took my camera and snapped this shot of me.  Need I say more?

Up close to one of the specimins.  Even though they were behind glass, and most were dead, it would still be "Goodnight" for me if one was to fall on me, or take a stroll over my foot or land in my hair.  I can't even begin to imagine one landing in my hair.  I've got goosies just thinking about it.

Now these crawlies I don't mind watching.  They were alive and well and eating their nom noms. They are the good guys, munching away at dead tissue and thereby cleaning the bones.  Friends of the Curator dot com.

When their bellies are truly full and feasting comes to an end, this is the type of finish they end up with.  Oh and by the way - this is the skeleton of a magpie. (I just can't imagine this guy swooping me)

Melbourne Trip Day 2 (Part a)

We knew we wanted to visit the museum, but didn't know that it resided right next door to the Imax Cinema.  Not sure what the girls are engrossed in, but would you look at the Machinist?  He's checking out the general fabrication.  Again.

The huge Rubik's cube in front of Imax cinema

We actually thought that this building was the museum.  It's not.  It's Australia's first Parliament House.  For your information and interest, of course.

Check out Parliament's dome.  These old buildings never cease to amaze me.  They had less, worked harder, and the buildings were greater by FAR.

Alas, we came for the museum, and here it is.  Excitement! (I'm such a nerd)

Melbourne Trip Day 1

We recently flew to Melbourne on an overdue, longed for and promised mini getaway.  Arriving early in the morning, we dropped off our bags at the hotel and took a tram over to Queen Victoria Market, housed under a massive awning type structure.  The Machinist just HAD to check out the welds, angles, ID and OD thicknesses, as well as comment on the magnificent radiuses used 'back in those days...."

I was there for the food, especially the cherries at $3.99 per kg.  We pay around $15 per kg in our neck o' the woods. (I sound like my mother).

While the girls were enthralled by artists and handsome thickset Kiwi men, the Machinist and I had a coffee here:

Later in the day, we took a taxi over to South Wharf and the Crown Casino, DFO shopping, dinner and movies (The Next Three Days)


 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....