Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There seems to be some craziness going on with the sidebar of my blog - all the information is at the bottom of the page.  I have been trying to fix it, following directions from the help page, hasn't helped.  So, read on and enjoy.  Hopefully I will be able to fix it soon!!

Finally figured out what was wrong, without any help from the stinkin' help section of blogger I might add!
I am now signing off to go do the happy dance

Surrounded by Nuts

After it being rainy yesterday, we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning.  We packed a picnic lunch and headed off to Stanley.  This was one place that Jim really wanted to go and see, so we thought that this would be a good sunny day to do so.  What to they say about the best laid plans??

Stanley is a beautiful historic town on the far north west coast of Tasmania. The most popular attraction in Stanley is The Nut, which provides a great view right along the coast. Historically, Stanley was known for wool production and fishing. Fishing is still the dominant Industry.

The Nut itself is 152m tall. It was formed when lava cooled to form basalt rock. It is possible to either climb a walking track or a chairlift can be used to reach the top. The Nut was known as Moo-Nut-Re-ker by the Tasmanian Aboriginals, and by 1851, sailors had come to know it simply as The Nut.

The old wharf was designed in colonial times to fend off the fierce seas which batter the cape. Although always a fishing town, crayfish and shark have replaced whales as the most popular catch.

Historic buildings are another large attraction in Stanley. Many are over 150 years old, and including the birthplace of Joesoph Lyons, Australia's only Tasmanian Born Prime Minister. Close to Stanley is the Highfield estate, an elegant 1830's homestead including a chapel, cottages and farmyard buildings. These Buildings were built for the head of the Van Diemens's Land Company. This company had been set up 10 years previously to make the most of the North West coast's wool-growing potential, but although a large farm was established, financial losses forced the company out within 30 years.

As we drove to the Nut it started to rain. It rained fairly heavily, but when we arrived it slowed down to a drizzle and then stopped. We ate our lunch and then bought tickets to take the chairlift up to the top of The Nut. Jessica chose to walk up. Jim and Joshua both hate heights, but they decided to go up the lift. Sam has no fear and I quite enjoy heights.

Some views from the top of The Nut

When we got to the top, we had a brief moment of no rain, and then it started to drizzle again.
Sam absolutely loved the puddles and splashed in every single one.

Jim and I didn't walk quickly enought for Joshua and Jessica, so they took off ahead of us.  They didn't have to wait for Samuel to jump into every single puddle!

The rain got heavier and colder. 
We got very, very wet. 
I usually do not whinge and complain.
I will admit to a bit of whinging.
We were so wet, my pockets filled up with water.

There goes Jim and Samuel down the chairlift.

Going down was a bit different than going up......

It seemed much steeper going down.

I found it invigorating and wanted to chat about the experience.
Joshua didn't have much to say on the way down.
I suspect Jim didn't either.

Poor Jessica had a difficult time walking back down.  All the rain made the path very slick and we watched her slip and slide all the way down.

They had a nice little gift shop at the bottom and they had a nice big wood fire burning.  We had a change of clothes for Sam, so we got him dried off and warm.  We dried off as much as we could and browsed around.  Then we headed off to Burnie to see my sister Gayle.

Of course, as we were leaving, it stopped raining and the sun came out.

We had a good visit with Gayle.  Her son, David, Daughter-in-law, Denise and their little boy Freddie, came by.  They bought Samuel some wonderful Australian children's books.

We called into Auntie Lyn's in Penguin, she had some fish for us and that was going to be tea tonight.  Just around the corner from Auntie Lyn lives Yvonne Dudfield.  I grew-up with her daughter Angela and spent a great deal of time at their house.  We popped in to see her and catch-up on her news.  She is a very proud Mum and Grandmother!

Then it was home to dry off and relax for the night.
We pretty much had the same routine every night.  Cook tea, play with Samuel, play a few hands of Spades and Tim Tam Slam.

My favorite thing about vacation time is spending time with Jim, Joshua, Jessica and Samuel.


As a little side note, I can't resist the urge to tell you of a funny experience when I was going to pick Jessica up from school today. I was driving down Hwy 92, minding my own business. In front of me was a rather beat-up red van. A scraggy looking guy gentleman was riding his bike down the other side of the road. The rednecks people in front of me must not have liked the gentleman riding the bike because they all leaned out of the van windows and flipped made a rude gesture at him. They were so busy doing that, the driver didn't pay attention and drove the van off the road and into the ditch.

No rednecks were hurt in this story - otherwise I would not have laughed

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Penguins, Waterfalls and Caves

Wednesday was a bit of a drizzly day, but it was the middle of winter in Tasmania, so we couldn't let a little bit of wet weather deter us!  Today we were going to have lunch with my Auntie Lyn.  She is my Mother's youngest sister and my favorite aunt.  Auntie Lyn lives in Penguin.  Since we were last in Tasmania, all the towns now seem to have something tacked onto their names.  Latrobe is the platypus capital.  Penguin is all about......well, penguins!

This penguin has been in the park at Penguin since I can remember.  I think there used to be penguin eggs around its feet, but I could be wrong!!

I have never seen a penguin crossing sign anywhere but Tasmania.  If someone has seen them somewhere else, let me know!

The more you look at this penguin, the creepier it gets.  The eyes.....they follow you......creepy penguin eyes.

The penguin doesn't get very much respect from its fellow birds.

Apparently, not respect from anyone.  Who thought this one up?  That's one big Santa suit.

Once again, not the best picture.  I had to crop this one from another set of photos as well.  This is my Auntie Lyn.  She is my Mother's only surviving sibling.  My Uncle Wilton died during WWII, Auntie Val died a couple of years ago and my Mum died 11 years ago.  Auntie Lyn is the kindest, most fun loving person you would ever want to meet.   She had the most delicious stew made for us and......Tim Tams for dessert!  It was wonderful catching up with her.  She showed Jim and the kids photos of the family and she filled us in on all the family gossip.  Her Grandson, Brett, popped in while we were there.  I used to babysit him way back in the dark ages!

After lunch we took the scenic route to Gunns Plains.  My parents used to own a farm there, it was before I came along, but the kids wanted to see it.  I had only been there a few times and it was when I was a little girl.  My family gave me wonderful directions......1/2 way down Gunns Plains hill, or 1/2 way up depending on which way you are going.  Around the big curve by the black know what I mean.  We didn't find it, but we saw some beautiful scenery.  I love the dirt in Tasmania, it is a nice rich red.

The kids wanted to look at the Gunns Plains Caves, but we were a little early for the tour, so we went and looked at a waterfall that was close by.  Jim, Joshua and Jessica went and looked, Sam was asleep in the car, so I stayed with him out of the rain.

It was a very windy, narrow road to the waterfalls.

We were in a big car.

Jim drove a little fast.

We survived.

Inside the caves.
I didn't go down the caves, have seen them hundreds of times and Samuel was still asleep.  
 They are now run by the State Parks, but when I was a kid, they were privately owned and my Dad knew the person who owned them.  We would often take people touring around the area and my Dad would go knock of the guys door and he would come and take us down the caves.

We drove back down to Ulverstone a different way and I was able to point out a lot of different places that had played a part in my life growing-up.  The house I had grown-up in had changed quite a bit.  I had a huge playhouse in the back.  My Dad had built it for me, it had working lights and a working oven.  It was gone.  That made me sad!

Staying in Ulverstone bought back so many memories.  Going to the movie theatre on Saturdays.  It cost 50 cents to sit in the balcony and that is where my friends and I always sat because if you sat on the lower level, people would throw stuff off the balcony and it would land on your head - chewing gum, yuk!  For 10 cents you could get ice-cream and a mixed bag of lollies during intermission.  The movie theatre was made a grocery store quite some time ago, so we would then catch the train and go to Devonport to see a movie.

My friends and I would ride our bikes everywhere.  We had such fun.  It was a different time, it was safe to let your kids go out all day and run all over.  If I ever did anything wrong, my Mum would know about it by the time I arrived back home.

Everything changes.  Some things were the same and some things will never be the same, but it still feels like home and it is good to see the people that love me.


Monday, September 28, 2009

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan....."

On Tuesday we woke-up to a beautiful day.

When we looked out the kitchen window, sheep were grazing in the paddock.

We could hear the laughter of a kookaburra and when we went outside to look for him, he was in a tree right by our unit.

After pottering around a bit and getting ready, we headed off to see my sister Gayle who lives in Burnie (above picture).  My brother and sister are quite a bit older than me and were grown and gone by the time I have any real memory of them.  Gayle did come back home to live on and off and I have some fun memories of that.  I remember having a photo taken with her, not sure how old I was, but she had made a blue evening dress to go out somewhere.  She had her hair all done up and I thought she looked like a princess!  I called Gayle by the name Sissy.  In fact, I remember when I found out that her name was in fact Gayle, and not Sissy.  I was in shock!!  Gayle lived and worked in Melbourne for a while, one time when she came back home, she gave me a little tea set.  I still have it and it sits on the windowsill in my kitchen.

Me, Gayle & Jim

In April, Gayle was married 39 years.  In April, just before her anniversary, she left her husband.  We were all shocked that she had left, but not suprised.  Does that sentence make any sense???

Joshua, Sam, Gayle & Jessica
Take a good, hard look at this photo.
What is different?
What has happened that is a very rare event?
Jessica is smiling for the photo!!!!!

Just in case you missed it!
I love my girl

It was wonderful to see Gayle again.  Across the road from her house was a little bakery.  We spent a lot of money on some very good Australian take-away McDonald's hands down!

Jim, Joshua and Jessica stuck with the tried and true Aussie meat pie

Sam and I had sausage rolls

I couldn't resist getting a Vanilla Slice - heaven

As I said, I love my sister Gayle, but she can be a little bit of a morbid streak at times!  Every time we saw her, Gayle mentioned, "We need to make the most of this, we will probably never see each other again."  Now, I know this could be true, but.........
Gayle also made a point of calling everyone and telling them this little tidbit.  Her intention was to push the point home that they needed to make the effort to see us as many times as they could.  We teased her considerably about this, well, Jim did.  Everytime she said the words, "This could be......" I remembered a poem I learned in 3rd grade.  We had to memorize it for the local eisteddfods.  We also had to memorize one about a cat.  I can't remember that one very well except for the phrase, "The cat came back the very next day."

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

Gayle is very like my Mum - in looks, mannerisms and a sense of the morbid at times!  Gayle tells it like it is!

After leaving Gayle, we headed back to Ulverstone.  On the way we stopped at a little town called Penguin.  My Auntie Lyn lives there and so does my stepmum, Birdie.
Birdie lives in a nursing home called Coroneagh Park.  It is very nice there.  Birdie was very much the same as we remembered.  A little older and slower, but still a very loving and caring person.  Unfortunately, we couldn't find Auntie Lyn's house, but we would be going there tomorrow for lunch.

This is not a very good picture of Birdie, but remember that I do not have my camera and am relying on photos taken by Joshua.  I had to take this one from a luncheon that we had and crop it!!

Penguin is a beautiful little town.  We took the scenic "old" highway back to Ulverstone.  There are beautiful flowers all along the road and railway tracks.

We decided to go to the Bluff in Devonport for the rest of the afternoon.  It is one of Jim's favorite spots in Tasmania.  We went there several times, so will share the photos on another day.

It was definately good to be home and to see people that I love and have missed so very much.


Monday, September 21, 2009

"It's a Clue!"

Tonight I am sitting here filled with love and gratitude for my little boy Sam. I spent an hour settling him down before he finally fell asleep. We brushed his teeth, said prayers, he didn't want to read a book or sing songs tonight. Most of the hour was spent arranging every "silky" blanket just so. The quilt had to be pulled up to his chin and tucked around him and his silkies. The closet light had to be on and his sippy cup of chocolate milk by his side. His puppy silky wasn't in the mix, so we had to locate it and start the process all over again. After several more false starts, Sam finally announced, "Night, Night", and was asleep in 5 minutes. The routine rarely varies, except in length.

Last month Samuel was diagnosed with autism. Since that time we have been navigating the many twists and turns you take as parents trying to find what is best for your child. I was feeling very overwhelmed one day and found the following as an introduction for a workshop that was being held and Brigham Young University Women's Conference. These few words bought great comfort and I think they apply, not only to those who are affected by Autism, but by all of us who have any sort of trial in their life. I love the phrase, "By celebrating what's right, we find the energy to fix what's wrong."

Dewitt Jones, a photographer for National Geographic coined the phrase, “By celebrating what’s right, we find the energy to fix what’s wrong.” For so many of us, autism is what is wrong. These days, autism frequently hits very close to home. It defines a son, a daughter, a neighbor, a niece, a student, a friend, a husband, or even oneself. We grieve with each new diagnosis, we exhaust our resources trying to research and reverse its effects, we weep through sleepless nights when it pierces our aching hearts. And then to our surprise, we rejoice and celebrate the unexpected gifts that autism has brought us. We find that though autism challenges us, it doesn't take away our happiness. In fact, through our eternal perspective, we find more than comfort. This adversity has taught us to “be of good cheer, and…not fear, for...the Lord (is) with (us), and will stand by (us).” D&C 68:6. Come meet the faces of autism. Learn not only what autism is, but how much we enjoy the unique and powerful gifts from our autistic loved ones. Celebrate with us what is right with the wonderful faces autism, and together we can fix what’s wrong.

Sam loves "Blue's Clues". He will be walking along and then all of sudden will slap his hand down and say, "It's a clue! It's a clue!" Just like they say on the TV show. Like most Mums, I've always been sensitive to how people judge my children. I think that trait has become even more evident with Sam. As I watch and hear people make a judgement on what they perceive to be bad behavior, my urge to protect him kicks into overdrive. To be honest, the urge to share my nastier side bubbles to the surface as well. I want to tell them to "Get a clue!"

I love walking into the study and finding all the sticky notes unstuck from the sticky note pad and lined up along the desk. Whatever is left on the kitchen counter is usually lined up precisely along the edge of the said counter. We don't have Stonehenge on our kitchen floor, we have Sodahenge. Sam loves to spell words and sing songs. When I have the hiccups, on every hiccup he tells me, "Say pardon me!" He loves to help around the house and is very passionate about french fries. Samuel takes my hand and says, "Show Mummy." As we walk hand in hand on this journey I hope that I can remember to celebrate what is right and always find the strength to fix what is wrong.

Samuel is a gift

I love him