Sunday, September 22, 2013

Something unexpected

I've been hiding a little secret for several months. It came as a shock to me when I first discovered David was going to build a float for the Toowoomba Carnival of flowers this year. Because he's one of the organisers for the Dr Who Club of Australia, local group, he thought it would be nice to enter a float to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the BBC's television program.

And didn't it take a lot of organising to do it! Luckily he had a swell of eager helpers in the local group.

The TARDIS (or blue police box) took pride of place on the float. It is being modeled here with one of the group members, who dressed as the newest version of the Dr's nemesis, the "Master". Okay, so it wasn't the prettiest float in the parade, but it sure got a lot of attention when it finally came to a standstill. The crowd huddled around to take pictures of the life-sized TARDIS.

The TARDIS itself has a remarkable story to tell. It was built by one of the local members of our group, before the group was even formed. It then went to a few conventions (even used as a prop in a photo shoot, for one of the actor's who played one of the Dr's companions) where it eventually caught the attention of another enthusiast. The TARDIS then moved to its new owners possession. When David put the call out for the Carnival float, the new owner carted it from two hours away on the day of the carnival.

Here is the twist. A few hours into the parade and David learned the new owner had been taken to hospital, not long after helping to erect the TARDIS. He had some previous health concerns which unexpectedly took a turn for the worse. He had his wife and young baby with him at the time. Thankfully, the guy who originally built the TARDIS had arranged for them to have accommodation and David is going to check-in with them today. If it wasn't for this guys charitable heart, there would be no pride of place on the float. So we are ever so grateful and hope he returns to good health soon.

There are dozens of stories to go along with the coming together of this float. Like my daughter, Sarah, here on the float. She was so excited to dress up as one of the Sibylline Sisters, from the "Fires of Pompeii", episode, and even had another member of the group create their own costume too (hello, V).

Unfortunately, as I was to learn after the float came to the end of its journey, Sarah nearly passed out while it was en route. Amongst all the commotion and excitement that was preparing for the float, we had forgotten to eat and drink enough. Sarah had been staring straight into the afternoon sun, when she started to feel feint. They had to stop the float temporarily, and she was reassigned a seat at the back. This is where I took the photos afterwards.

But I knew she was back to true form, when she hoed straight into the free chocolates and lollies being offered by the float next to us. This was after eating a sandwich I had packed, and forgotten to give her *oops*. Peter and I had spent most of that day, waiting for the parade to reach the end, so we could see them come down the final stretch! There is something surreal about seeing a giant police box pass through the backdrop of trees, on its way to Queen's park!

I must say, Peter was an absolute champ. He didn't cry once as I prammed him here and there.

But it was an incredibly long day, and little boys do have their limits too. I think we all went to bed that night, feeling an enormous weight lift from our shoulders - after playing a family card game of Sarah's choosing, of course. Because one of things we had to sacrifice as a family, getting this float to happen, is time spent together. David was out of the house for months. Every day off from work, was spent in some fashion, organising the float.

Of course it wasn't a lone mission either. The float wouldn't have happened at all, if it wasn't for the person who donated their time, to do a CGI of the float to submit to the Carnival committee - or the grandparents who wanted to give their grandchildren the ultimate Dr Who experience in Toowoomba, by donating the use of their 18ft trailer.

Failing to capture an image of the actual car used, to tow the float
I have the replica, David built for the model

Then there was the Landrover enthusiast, David managed to find who donated their time and their 1970's Landrover, to tow the float - in memory of the UNIT Landrovers which starred in the show around the same period. And let's not forget the poor family who agreed to loan us their backyard to build the float!

*a salute to God for giving the building crew, perfect weather too*

Of course, the ultimate winners (we hope) are the Starlight Children's Foundation, for whom we attempted to raise funds for, throughout. David put his Chef'ing skills to good use, running a few food stalls and sausage sizzles to raise money for the cause. That's where some of his days-off work went.

I know his intention was to bring the Dr Who community, a little closer to the mainstream one, and I think he succeeded. We hope all the local members who donated their time and resources feel a great sense of accomplishment. We didn't just build a float together - we built a little more community.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Uh-oh and yay!

Just as I went outside to capture some pictures of the strawberries I managed to plant (finally) I stumbled across a crime scene...


Something had pulled the strawberry plant up and dug another hole nearby. Thankfully it was only one plant out of the ten. I know we get bandicoots, but I suspect the culprits are bush rats. They always attack the strawberries and tomato plants at this time of year.

It wasn't hard to plant it back in the ground and I won't lose any sleep over it. We've had to live with native animals since we moved here - it goes with the territory of choosing the bush as our home. The kangaroos have even managed to crush some new bulbs I planted this year, due to them moving into the garden during winter/spring when there is little feed to be found elsewhere.

Sparaxis tricolour

Here is one of the bulbs which managed to flower (not sure how many will) and its a sparaxis. I was very excited to see it's little cap peeping out from the garden, to shine some colour on my day. Ever so enticing to look at, I even decided to use it as my new header image. There was a mixed collection of bulbs of this variety, so I wonder what colours will emerge next?

A Callistemon variety, named after Australia's first saint
~ Mary MacKillop ~
"I am not afraid of any of the difficulties, they rather make my courage rise" (26/3/1873)

The "yay" part of this post, has to do with the other flowers which are just starting to emerge. Right now it has to be the beautiful callistemon shrubs which are stunning in the morning sunlight. Their red bristled flowers are dripping with nectar, and don't all the honey-eaters love it! I have the Mary MacKillop and Kings Park Special variety flowering at the moment, and of course, many grevilleas which seem to flower all year round. I love seeing the different kinds of birds visit the garden, and it makes struggling to grow anything here, all the more worthwhile.

What is a garden after all, if you cannot share the delicious banquet with other living creatures?

Hardy ground covers

I'm also happy to have discovered two hardy ground covers which seem to do well in our climate. These are the Rhoeo and the Verbena candy cane. The Rhoeo (more commonly known as, Moses in the Cradle) is in the foreground of the image and took a season or two to really settle in. Some kind of small leaf-eater, would attack it every winter but it somehow managed to bounce back - now it has very few predators and needs no attention from me at all.

I love the colour of the verbena too (so happy) and it's as tough as old goat's knees, as the saying goes. It spreads really well, which does wonders for providing natural mulch in this area. Verbena has many different colour varieties and I also read, do well in containers or hanging pots. I love a no hassle, attractive plant.

Anyway, it is the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers this Saturday, and I'm hoping to take Peter to visit the beautiful parks and gardens for the very first time. David and Sarah will be pre-occupied with something else, but I'll share more on that after the weekend.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spring time and spiders!

I knew spring would be here, when it was time for our new baby to don his Spiderman suite. David is an avid Marvel Comics fan, and purchased this suit on special, long before Peter was born.

It has been waiting patiently in the cupboard and finally the weather has warmed enough to bring it out!

This is the kind of spider I like to have around the house.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Trying to...

I have been wanting to return to the garden since Peter was born, but he's not an easy baby. Not like my first. He's struggled with wind so sleeps very lightly. It's not uncommon for me to spend most of the day with him. Because of this, much of my attempts at gardening look like...

Luffa sponges get recycled back into the ground

Half finished strawberry plants waiting to go into the ground. I have a wonderful little area which I've been planting in this year. It's kind of an experiment. I would love to share more, but it's so very slow in the making. It's a small area, incorporating an old wheelbarrow (and a few concrete blocks) nestled into the side of a slope.

Attempting to create a better micro-climate

The wheelbarrow is planted with herbs which are growing really well. I love having fresh parsley and chives in my scrambled eggs again. Herbs tend to shoot to seed very quickly for me, as it gets too hot here. But utilising the slope and a few spindly trees, it does manage quite a bit of shade during the day.

I look forward to sharing the success of this particular area, and hopefully when Peter is a few months older (fingers crossed) I'll have more time to do it. I know this season of baby raising will pass soon enough and I'll get to enjoy the garden full-time then.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Australia votes

It's about 2 more days until Australia votes to decide who will form the next Federal government. Then we will have to live with the effects of their policies for the next 3 years. I don't want to discuss personalities or concepts of right and wrong - but I am interested in exploring the policies and what they will mean for Australians.

Today the Opposition released their costings for their policies, and one of the big surprises is how they intend to reduce money set aside for foreign aid - to the tune of 4 billion or so, to help pay for much needed infrastructure in Australia, like roads, public transport and the National Broadband Network. This investment in infrastructure will help grow the economy, so we can afford to be more generous with foreign aid later.

I'm sure this is a policy many Australians will shake their heads at. I'm personally dismayed to consider we wouldn't be able to help those who are forced into refugee camps due to Civil War and persecution. Cutting into increasing foreign aid in order to pay for more infrastructure in Australia, seems terribly selfish. And yet choosing where the axe will fall, will surely have to be a trend for the future?

Dwindling fossil fuels, and the eventual demise of the baby-boomer driven economic cycle, will ensure the diminishing return will have to be made up for, in either incurring larger debt, or a reduction in expenditure.

It was refreshing to hear the Opposition talking within limits today, because going into increasing debt to meet financial obligations, is only avoiding what the rest of the world is currently experiencing - limits to growth. We would be borrowing on future Australian tax-payers money in order to increase foreign aid at this point in time, while still not having enough to meet the growing trend in aging population and the health care they require.

As I watched one of the debates between the two main political party leaders, and questions were taken from the audience - I couldn't help but notice how each question centered around how much more money the government needed to spend on various sections of the community. Nurses and caring for the aging, dairy farmers, women wanting to have babies without losing their income, etc. These are all very valid issues, and yet no-one discusses how much is enough. Because in reality, everything we have in Australia is presently balanced through debt we've borrowed from overseas. Will we get a choice as a voting population, once the borrowed money runs out though?

If we're currently experiencing the woes of not having the means to stretch the budget today, how much more will we be lamenting, when we've maxed out the credit? While I loath the thought of the axe ever falling - surely it must fall on something? We cannot have real growth in this country, until we start living within our means. Otherwise we're merely working to pay our debtors.

This will probably be the trend for Australian voters for a long time to come, as comfortable policies are not the way of the future. We are looking at many outside influences we cannot dodge forever. We may have allegedly dodged the recession the rest of the world had to have, but we don't seem to be doing much with it other than dreaming about better entitlements, paid for with continued debt. A technologies innovation much hailed as our economic saviour, even if we do come up with something better than solar panels - they will still have to be paid for by (you guessed it) borrowed money.

What will be left of the world which can possibly afford to buy it from us?

No matter what side of politics talks about growth in the economy, the reality will either be spending less (cuts) or borrowing more (debt). Our family has taken measures to reduce our own expenditure because we haven't always been living within our means. We make our budget stretch with the help of family tax. That particular entitlement could be on the chopping block at a later date, so it's why we have decided to take action to make savings to pay back our debt.

It hasn't been easy, in fact, there has been sleepless nights on several occasions. But it's better to get in and start early, than simply let who gets into government decide for you. Because one day the axe may fall on you. I know both sides of politics tries to avoid that kind of speculative language, preferring us to believe the only boogie-man is whomever is in opposition - we, the electorate are otherwise safe. Which inevitably leads voters to believe there is no down side at all, or there is no downside which could challenge their idea of security - so long as they vote against their perceived boogie-man.

Anyway, in the spirit of giving (if you can) please support the various stalls at voting booths this Saturday, to raise money for charity and schools. These are run by members of the community, freely giving of their time and resources to help a local cause. If nothing else, I think mandatory elections can bring community closer together. We may not all vote the same way, but we all genuinely care for our community.

How are you feeling about the impending election?