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Thursday, June 30, 2011

This time last year...

This time last year, DH and I were on holidays in Tasmania. It was a really special holiday as we were not only sightseeing but also we took the opportunity to meet up with friends; all former Queenslanders who had moved to Tasmania. One friend lives in Hobart and she and I had been childhood friends as we lived in the same street. We went to their Swiss style home in South Hobart and were treated to a Swiss style meal featuring baked potatoes and melted cheese...yum!

Another friend we visited lives near Launceston at Evandale, a charming town which is described as ‘Georgian’ in the tourist guides. Lynn went to the same primary school as DH and I and she was in the same class as one of DH’s older brothers. Her little sister was one of my classmates. Years later we both worked at the same school; myself as a teacher and she was one of the best teacher aides that I’ve ever worked with. She is also a mad keen knitter! She married a Tasmanian but when she was widowed she came back to Brisbane. She pined for Tassie so ended up going back there to live about 12 years ago. I’d missed her big chuckle (it was would laugh too!) and wonderful friendship so it was great to see her again.

Lynn and I at a lookout overlooking the Tamar Valley
We spent a weekend in a motel in Launceston and Lynn took us out sightseeing both days. So we got to see some places that tourists often miss including some beautiful spots in the Tamar Valley as well as the area around Devonport.

Our other friends lived in Burnie and both Andy and Marion had been former workmates of DH in the AEC. They took us to a charming restored pub for a lovely seafood meal and a long evening of ‘catching up’.
Andy and Marion
We went to the usual places on our holiday such as the Cadbury factory, (where I bought a veritable mountain of my fave ‘Turkish delight’ which were seconds and came in large 600gram bags), the Gardening Australia vegie plot in Hobart's Botanical gardens, Port Arthur, Richmond, the Huon Valley, Queenstown, Strahan, ‘The Wilderness Wall’, The Gordon River Cruise (best ever day as we saw whales close to the boat as well as unbelievable country!), Don River Railway, Cradle Mountain National Park, Cataract Gorge. We spent 12 days there and even tho’ Tassie is small, there was still a lot of country we didn’t see.
The motel we stayed in in Launceston was a former bakery. (restored by the Newman family whose son was our Lord mayor until recently)

Part of the huge suite we had in Hobart; this motel had been  a former school!

Our little hire car; my little car, Mitzi, is also a micra

The Botanical Gardens; the famous vegie patch for gardening Australia

Close to where the boat turns around on the Gordon River cruise

Eaglehawk Neck

Whales frolicking near the boat, just before we headed inland up the Gordon River

We stopped briefly in Campbelltown as DH's grandfather was born here; he enlisted in the Tasmanian army to fight in the Boer war

Now if I ever go to Tassie again (and a few people have told me of an event in November which is like a ‘Markets’ crawl’) I have even more people to visit! Through Facebook, a family of ex-pupils have found me and they live in Devonport. Then, in my knitting group, Knit4Charities, I’ve ‘met’ some other Tasmanians. Also, I reckon I’d like to meet a fellow blogger who lives not far from Lynn I think...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I went back and edited yesterday's post...

This morning I took the opportunity to do a little work on the garden at the back. Firstly I planted the seed potatoes I bought a few weeks ago and which are finally sprouting. A fortnight ago I prepared the soil, digging over the area and then adding cow manure,compost and some gypsum as the clay is still a problem.
I only used a fraction of the potatoes, so if any one lives in Brisbane and would like some seed potatoes, you only have to ask via the comments' box!

The prepared garden bed was almost completely covered in fallen leaves!

Then I made a start of raking up the fallen leaves which blanket just about the whole backyard. The culprit is a chinese elm tree which is really a weed here in Queensland and they seem to be everywhere. I'll put some of the leaves into the compost bin to provide some carbon content, the rest I'll put into a black plastic garden bag, along with a few handfuls of manure and blood and bone, and leave for quite a few months so it breaks down.

The 'naked' chinese elm tree

The path from the back gate is a carpet of leaves!

One of my raked piles

And finally...
Yes as the title suggests, I went back and edited some of my post from yesterday...I mentioned a magazine called 'Forum' which I said a friend had lent me some copies way back in the mid 70s. I said that the mag had been described as 'soft porn', but this was a description used by the detractors, and it was probably a bit unfair. My friend lent me issues with medical articles in them as in the 70s we didn't have the luxury of the internet and Google.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A friend's birthday...

Last Friday night DH and I went to a local sports' club to help a teaching friend of mine celebrate her birthday. Sue joined the staff at my first school in the mid seventies and we became mates due to both of us owning and loving cats! Her cat Tweety (?) had done 'country service' with Sue at Marlborough and they were both enjoying being back in the city. Sue looked almost nerdish and a bit straight laced but underneath, she had a wicked sense of humour and you are going to be horrified by what I say next....she lent me her 'Forum' magazines!!! Those of you who have never heard of this publication, let me just say that the term 'soft pornography' has been used to describe this magazine. However this term was used by its detractors and really doesn't describe the publication objectively. Sue lent me issues which dealt with 2 things that were the bane of my life then...cystitis and thrush. Admittedly  I learned about things I didn't know about before I read them, lol! Anyway I have digressed again...

THEN:Sue is at the righthand end of the front row; I'm the shorty in the back row hiding my 7th month pregnancy!

Eventually transfers in the early 80s meant we were no longer working together but we stayed in touch. Sue was a good friend...when my first daughter was little, Sue would let her sit at her piano and 'play'...not everyone would let a toddler loose on their piano.
Then in 1998 I took a teaching contract at an innercity school called K G. And of course the year 6 teacher was none other than my old friend Sue. We had a few changes of principal in those years and the last person appointed was quite formidable. This person's personnel management skills featured  variations that could be termed as bullying. My friend was one of the targets. I agonised about what to do and then one day decided to do something 'unMarialike' and speak up for my friend and the others. I wasn't alone...but it was to be an error of judgement . In this case doing what I felt was morally correct, resulted in a transfer to a less salubrious school. Seven people were transferred immediately and my transfer was 2 months later. The person who was bullying was rewarded with the acting position becoming permanent.

NOW: Celebrating a birthday at the Broncos Club

Four of the 70s  'Newmarket' gang! LtoR, Sue, Maria, Margaret and Carmel. (the latter 2 are behind the principal in the previous photo)

Sue retired a number of years ago but we've stayed in touch. At her birthday bash she made ID cards for each of us to wear.

This was mine...I don't like the term 'insubordination' but I guess that's a reference to when I tried to stand up to a bully. In the years directly after the 'incident' I'd ask myself whether I would do it all again...and suffer the consequences...the answer was always yes...nowadays I'm not so sure..
Sue leads a very busy life these days, with her choir , her work with a volunteer radio group as well as her new career of teaching English.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The weekend...

DH and I headed off to the Gold Coast mid morning on Saturday and an hour later we reached Harbour Town which is a shopping centre of outlet stores. The Colorado store is in the hands of an administrator and people were swarming around the racks looking for bargains. DH had a look but came out of the store empty handed.  We are looking to replace a pyrex dish which broke recently and we went into the David Jones Outlet Warehouse hoping to find something to replace it with. Didn’t find anything but we bought some silicone bake ware at 70% discount and some cute baby ‘stuff’ for gifts.
Next we drove to Robina centre where we found more evidence of businesses going to the wall. Both Borders and Angus and Robertson bookstores were having ‘administrator sales’ and DH had a look around them to see what was there...nothing he wanted as a matter of fact. We had lunch at Robina and then bought a sympathy card, flowers and a contribution to afternoon tea for our next stop. We were heading to Banora Point to visit some friends who retired to that area. Banora point is actually just over the Queensland border and in New South Wales.
Sadly M’s mother (92 y/o) had died during the week so our planned social visit was now a condolence visit. A and M’s older daughter, her husband and baby daughter are living with them while her new home is being built in nearby Pottsville, so we got to catch up with them as well as our friends and their younger daughter.
DH and A talked golf etc while M and I talked about her mother’s passing. Ten years ago I experienced that loss and many of my experiences were similar to M’s. We stayed much later than we planned and I’m so glad we did. It was also delightful to see A and M’s delightful little granddaughter.

It was dark by the time we got to our accommodation which was in Tweed Heads, NSW. ‘Outriggers’ is part of a large club complex known as Twin Towns Services Club. There are 2 towns known as twin towns due to their close proximity, Coolangatta (QLD) and Tweed Heads. There are always packages offered by the club featuring various combinations of dinner, show, breakfast, accommodation. We hadn’t pre booked a show but after dinner we sat and watched a band perform for free downstairs. What I like about this part of the Gold Coast is that it’s still so similar to what it was when I was much younger. The glitz and glitter is farther north at places like Surfers Paradise.

Surfers Paradise in the distance with all its high-rises
View from Razorback

From Razorback

The pathway from the carpark to the top of Razorback

Driving into Surfers
The next day we decided to visit some of the beaches and other natural attractions of the area. Our first stop was ‘Razorback’ which is an area of high ground overlooking Coolangatta. The view is wonderful from up there. Then we drove along the beach front towards Surfers Paradise with a detour along Currumbin Creek Rd with its unspoiled natural beauty. Our last stop was at the Carrara Markets , then we headed home.
The apartment blocks at this end of the coast are not so high

Looking down from our balcony

Looking out to sea from the balcony

One of the views from our balcony

This motel is across the road from our tower; it represents an example of the 'old coast' of the 50s and 60s

Another view from our balcony using the telescopic lense as we were a block back from the beach
The view at Rainbow Bay

DH in his cowboy hat bought in Pendleton, Oregon
A tacky sign near Surfers
Knitting update:- This photo was taken last Friday but today's (Mon) measure was 125 cm. I don't think I'll make this throw 170 cm as I think it will look long and thin...probably make it 150-155cm instead...

PS I did not buy and fabric or yarn; there is a first time for everything! lol

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On my changes

On Sunday it's our wedding anniversary. Many of our friends have had their 40th wedding anniversaries in recent times but for DH and I, it's the 7th. He has booked us into 'Outriggers' on the Gold Coast for Saturday night and we'll have a lovely time 'playing tourists' enjoying the atmosphere but no swimming at this time of year! lol

At our wedding I gave a little speech in which I talked about how people 'make memories' and how that each of our families had memories which could be, re-lived, revisited and recalled at will and that this new partnership would not destroy that. In my conclusion I stated that ,'...second marriages should not be considered second-best...only different.'
So how has this marriage been different? I think it is all about maturity...and personality. In my first marriage I endured subtle and not so subtle 'put downs' and I did nothing about it. DH is very encouraging and supportive and would never demand that dinner be on the table by 6pm...he doesn't shout at me, he doesn't need me to fill out his tax form or pack his suitcase for holidays...he'll tidy the kitchen after I've cooked dinner and he'll insist I sit down while he does it (we have a division of labour; I cook he cleans up afterwards...I love it!)! I used to come home from work and immediately start peeling vegetables; DH taught me that it doesn't hurt to sit down for a while with a cup of tea. He also taught me to share my problems...and gee that feels good! He is extraordinarily patient and supportive of my children of which I am so grateful.
His saying...'How do you eat an elephant sandwich? Ans. a little at a time' has helped me enormously in my life.

DH regularly tells me how I have brightened his life too so I guess he's talking about that home cooking and the fact that I don't mind cleaning the bathroom which he hates!!!! lol
If someone 20 or even 15 years ago had have predicted how my life would change so much...I would have told them they were 'dreamin'

Canada is calling ....

For most of my years as a teacher I would also supervise student teachers who would do practicum blocks at my various schools. In 2008 and 2009 I supervised 2 students from Canada who were studying at my old uni, QUT. I had lots of conversations with these ladies about their homelands and they mostly told me how cold it was! Paula, my student in 2008, told me that in winter the temperature can drop to -30! This low temp is quite unheard of here in Australia...let alone sub-tropical Brisbane. I started to get interested in perhaps visiting Canada one day after my late MIL holidayed there in the late 1980s but Paula's description of her family's cabin near a lake  made that desire to see Canada even stronger.

Last year some good friends of ours suggested that DH and I might like to accompany them on a Canada and Alaska holiday which they had just booked. We read the brochures and it looked very good value for money and then we looked at the dates...we would be away for my 60th birthday. I've been away from family on my birthday before and it was just ok...but for the 60th I thought I'd like to be we reluctantly said no.
DH then planned our US trip instead and we were home in plenty of time after having a wonderful holiday.
When we were in San Francisco we stayed at the Hotel California and each evening they had a Happy Hour at 5-6pm on the mezzanine level where there was cheese, crackers and carafes of Californian wines. The first night DH and I went down to Happy Hour we met a couple from Vancouver who were having a short break in SF. Joanne and Bruce (yes another Bruce!) had driven down as it was school holidays in Vancouver; Bruce is a teacher assistant who works with special needs students.

A photo of DH and I enjoying Happy Hour at the Hotel California; photo taken by Joanne and emailed back to us

Well we hit it off straight away; they were just such a lovely couple. Like DH and I they also had a 'blended family'. So we would meet at breakfast and at happy hour and we talked about our respective countries. I told Bruce and Joanne that I was on Long Service's an alien concept to people from Canada (and US too). They don't get 13 weeks leave after working for an employer for 10 years. They don't get holiday loading like Australians do and most jobs only have 2 weeks annual leave allowance...Travelling really can help you appreciate what we have here in Australia.
We exchanged email addresses and have kept in touch. One day we'd like to visit them in Vancouver and we've extended an invitation to Bruce and Joanne to visit us when they come to Australia!

Bruce and Joanne

When our friends, Liz and Glenn arrived home they told us it was the best holiday they had ever had. The Fairmont hotels where they stayed were all beautiful; the cruise was magnificent and so was the rail part of their trip.

The lovely Mountie which Liz and Glenn brought back for me!

DH is already working on a contract for the Australian census to start our Canadian/Alaskan holiday fund. DH and I did actually go to Canada this year in April but it was only for 2 hours on the day we went to Niagara Falls...but that really doesn't count does it?lol

What an iconic photo DH took at the town of Niagara, Ontario

Looking through the spray of the falls towards Canada

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Photos, photos and more photos....

Regular readers would know that DH and I went to the US earlier this year. I uploaded photos most nights on the trip using the laptop which we took with us. I still have to put some of those photos on to the portable hard drive to clear up space on the laptop. Some photos are also on a USB that travelled with us as well as it had knitting patterns on it!
DH waited until we were home before he uploaded from his camera. After deleting a number of photos he ended up with 1486. He wondered whether he would have them printed...I guffawed at that idea I'm afraid. Nonetheless he tried organising printing online using Big W's ( a large store similar to Target) offer. Maybe it was the sheer size of the order but the ordering process just wouldn't complete. Then a local electrical retailer had a digital picture printing special offer of 9cents per print, so armed with the  pen drive full of photos down he went and organised the printing.
A day or so later he picked them up. My goodness, you should have seen how many photo folders were in the two bags!! DH bought some large albums in which to put the photos; 400 prints per album. He thought that each package/folder of prints would be all the one date and it would be easy to arrange the photos in chronological order. But no!... they're not! We have 1486 photos which are quite jumbled up...good job we're retired!!!! lol

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More about the seventies...

In yesterday’s post about my twenties I forgot to mention some things which also happened in that decade. Firstly, I got my driver’s licence in my early 20s; I originally got an automatic licence but got sick of all the teasing from friends that I was only licensed to drive a ‘pedal (toy) car’ so I went back and had lessons in a manual car, then did the test again. I have never driven other than an auto...but I could if I absolutely had to! Getting a licence meant so much freedom. It was also something that my mother and most of her friends did not have.
 Another thing I did in my early 20s was to start wearing contact lenses. Soft contact lenses had just become available in Australia in 1970 and I got mine in October 1971 after working for a while and being able to save the money for them. In May that year I took my first flight in a 'big' plane when I went to Melbourne in a DC9; no direct flight then, so changed planes in Sydney. So that was something else that I saved for because compared to today's fares, flying was very expensive in the 70s!
This baby rug/afghan was crocheted for my nephew born in 1975 using paton's totem.
Some comments left on my blog yesterday started me thinking about women’s rights in those days. I gave the example of not being considered for a loan at the Commonwealth bank because I was a married woman but would it have been the same for an unmarried professional woman? In 1968, when I was in Grade 12, one day our modern history teacher came in and told us excitedly that women teachers had just won the right to equal pay. It was brought in gradually and by the time I started work in 1971, we had equal pay. Near the end of 1971 I had to apply for permission to continue to teach after my marriage in January 1972. Obviously I was allowed, but not long before that, women had to resign on marriage. Male teachers did not have to get the same permission let alone resign...interesting huh!  
However I feel that my generation benefited from the efforts of women earlier. As well as equal pay, female teachers in the 70s were able to take unpaid maternity leave and their jobs were there when they returned. But I also know that in many other non government jobs women did not have this right and were often forced to resign if they fell pregnant.
The young people today find these scenarios unimaginable! Still I think today’s working conditions with work contracts are also a worry. More and more we are creating a group I call the 'working poor'.
Knitting update:- The throw is now 85 cm long but I plan to spend the evening knitting...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Being in your twenties in the seventies!

The year I turned 20 was quite an exciting one. For the 4 ½ months of 1971 before officially leaving my teens, I started my job/career and was a bridesmaid twice; once for a friend I made at 12 when we were both in hospital and the second time was a friend I’d made at Red Hill kindergarten before we moved to Newmarket! My kindy friend Donna had had a lot of drama in her life as a youngster and she and her brother Lindsay were eventually made ‘Wards of the State’ and were put into the care of their grandparents Ida and Albert who lived at Newmarket. So we ended up going to school and Sunday school together as well! Donna and her husband are still together but sadly my ‘hospital’ friend Lorraine’s husband died of cancer in 2005.

Donna, with 'us girls' and an old family friend who 'gave her away'.

Lorraine and Chris's wedding
Mid-year of my 20th year my fiancĂ© finished his printing apprenticeship and came to Brisbane. So wedding plans went into full swing. A friend’s mother who bought and sold houses (as a hobby I think!) offered us the opportunity to buy a little house she had recently bought at Newmarket.  There were tenants in the house whose lease had another few months to go but eventually we not only bought the house but my future husband was able to move in. It was a little 50s style house, lowset with 2 bedrooms and cost a whole $9600 making it a medium priced house for that time. It wasn’t our dream house but we realised that it was a good start. On weekends we painted, I sewed curtains and I haunted the local secondhand store for furniture bargains.
January 8 , 1972

In January of the next year we got married on a rainy day which fined up as we left the church. It was a budget wedding as to get the loan for the house I had had to put most of my savings into the deposit. It was still a lovely day and we didn’t go away for our honeymoon because money was tight ; we just stayed in our little house.  So life started to revolve around mortgage payments, work and marriage. Gradually though we started to have a bit of money left over and I realised that I could afford to buy wool for knitting and crochet projects. So I made lots of jumpers, cardigans, rugs etc and even crocheted some tablecloths. I also donated quite a few items to street stalls that the parent group of the school used for fund-raising. On a short holiday to the Northern Rivers District of NSW I discovered a book called ‘Mon Tricot 1100 Stitches Patterns’ in a newsagency. I can remember at the time thinking it was too expensive to justify buying it but the price is $2.50! lol I obviously did buy it and it opened up a whole new world of designing my own knitting projects.

Crocheting a tablecloth

I took up other hobbies during my 20s, golfing (only for a few years) and clarinet

We also started buying tickets to the theatre to see plays and musicals as well as going to concerts at Festival Hall to see such artists as Liberace and Cliff Richard (sigh). Through our respective work places we also went out with other staff to dinners and theatre restaurants. So I guess this was when we discovered ‘eating out’ but it was usually in the city not out in the suburbs.
In the 1970s we wore long dresses for all sorts of occasions

We also had some good holidays in the 1970s. I’ve mentioned Northern Rivers, we also drove to Corowa to see my mum’s family, Melbourne to see my husband’s family as well as a driving holiday to Cairns. In 1975 I saved up so we could both have a week at Brampton Island at the resort. I also did a bus tour of Tassie during the long school holidays at the beginning of 1978.  
In 1975 we investigated the possibility of building an extension on our little house to make a third bedroom. I asked a lot of questions of fellow staff who had been through this process. In those days the council building inspector would come out and draw a rough site plan for you, which I did organise.   We then got some quotes and then I went to the bank where I had had an account since I was 14 and applied for a loan. The bank manager, an older man, smiled at my request and then refused as he said that I needed to bring my husband in to apply for the loan as the bank did not lend to married women...apparently we would go off and have babies and couldn’t repay the loan. (I have told this story over the years and young people nowadays cannot believe it happened!) The reason why I was applying for the loan was, quite simply, that a teacher earned more than a printer.
Feeling a little bit dejected I told my colleagues in the staffroom the next day what had happened. One of them, John, (who also bought and sold properties as a hobby like my friend’s mum did) suggested I try the Teachers’ Credit Union which I did and got my $4000 loan. We had to watch our pennies again and I find that in those situations I have an overwhelming need to be creative. So I made my first patchwork quilt...although I had started it a few years before. It was Suffolk puffs now known as    ‘yo- yos’. A friend gave us an unused double bed so my quilt had a home. We not only got a new bedroom but also a laundry as the old laundry was small and dark. The building plan had a fold-back wall between the 2 rooms so that it was possible to open up the doors and dismantle the bed and have 1 big room for parties and we did do that a lot.

My first patchwork quilt

Not long after we were married my mother’s MS flared up and remission was over. This happened a number of times and she was also having mysterious blackouts and would find herself on the floor. Eventually she was diagnosed as having a form of epilepsy and medication was prescribed. I worried about her a lot as she didn’t always eat very well and there was a lot to ‘going back and forth’ to check on her. The year I turned 28 it was obvious that she was most unwell. The house next door to us came up for sale, so we organised to sell mum’s house and buy that one. Her’s sold straight away but the owners of next door prevaricated and eventually withdrew the house from sale. With hindsight we should have then bought a house with a granny flat but we liked to do things the hard way. We raised our house and built a granny flat underneath. While that was being built, mum and her belongings squeezed into our house.
In 1979 (I was 28) I was on the steering committee which organised the 75th celebrations of my school. We organised so many activities, culminating with a huge fete and open day on the Sunday...but the school had celebrated all week! I crocheted a large quilt/afghan which was made up of octagons and squares. It was a mammoth task but worth it when the raffle made $500. Also I directed and produced a pageant ‘Strolling down the Years’ which was written especially by my friend Kath Filmer. This show involved the Year 7 classes and featured characters, events and music from the 7 decades the school was opened. We did a number of performances.

My colleague Ken and I wore historical dress for the whole week when the school turned 75!

The year I turned 28 I also fell pregnant. Sadly the baby miscarried at 13 weeks in the October. My mother was convinced that it must have been something I had done as she had never had a miscarriage! My husband was not able to handle it at all but in those days no one acknowledged a father’s grief. His behaviour was hurtful to me and it took me a long time to realise that it was his way of grieving. I found that by turning my attention to gardening, I was able to gradually get myself out of the ‘dark place’ that I had found myself. We had started gardening in the first year of buying the house but it became a real passion in the latter part of 1979 and even today there appears to be no waning of that passion.