Tuesday, 25 July 2017

My girl, Tess


The camel man was a dread locked, barefooted, open faced kind of bloke, handing out helmets and moving calmly around the animals. He introduced my girl as Tess and another as Diane. The brindle staffy chained to the trailer obviously adored him as she ran toward him tail wagging every time he wandered nearby. The reddish pitbull laid in the sand and flicked her ears, not bothering to look up. A young camel tied to the truck was bellowing in a way that seemed agitated, the wind whipped across our faces and on the almost deserted beach there was a man with a kite. I'm not sure if he was flying the kite or attempting flight himself.
The camel man led the front camel into the dunes and across the beach with the rest following behind. The camel behind me took every opportunity to make a grab for some beach grass and would raise her head for a lazy chew right alongside me, expertly dodging my hand every time I reached to feel her springy coat.
It was a longer and calmer ride than my last one , nearly ten years ago.



Monday, 24 July 2017

Driving Instructor

Sea Cliff Bridge, part of last week's drive


Today I realised that I have been teaching the offspring to drive for the last six years! Six years and I'm not done yet! Young drivers have to accrue 120 hours of supervised experience in varied conditions before they can even take a test. First I taught my oldest son, who was always a little over confident. I didn't allow him to take the test when he was technically competent because I wanted to supervise for as long as I could. Eventually I couldn't fudge any longer and he took a test. Then another and another. One of the examiners told him he was fabulous with the gears, clutch etc but terrible at taking care. And so he was. He passed on the next  try.
With my twin girls they had to accrue their hours concurrently because who ever heard of one twin getting their licence significantly earlier than the other? 240 hours of instruction is a lot! The younger twin got her licence and the older waited a few months because she was going to have to share the car anyway and thought she might as well just be a passenger a little longer. They both passed easily although there were a couple of panicked moments.
The first to take the test went to the centre with her brother and as the examiner looked over the log, he pointed out that I hadn't signed every page of the log book. My daughter tearfully called me and explained, then she took the test while I drove, very sedately, to the testing centre to sign everything before the test was finished. The second daughter to take the test checked all the details the night before, not to be caught out with some overlooked detail. It was all good. In the morning though, a brake light had mysteriously failed and we had to beg the local mechanic to replace it with only minutes to spare: a safety issue with the car would mean instant disqualification.
My second son is still not licensed, he was nervous about driving and while there was all that competition for my supervision time he chose to ignore the whole thing but now we are working on his skills. He is careful and has a natural feel for the car. I took him on a long drive last week, on steep and winding roads, through suburbia, freeway and country roads. He did well. That's three hours down!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Sub-optimal


Every Tuesday, Anne has us laughing and crying and tearing our hair out at the antics of her mum who is finding life as a widow challenging because she now has to organise and wait for things like repairs and yard work. She encapsulates the situation by saying "we don't know whether to thank Dad for taming the beast or curse him for creating the monster."

It got me thinking about the things around here that have needed fixing. You see, my husband is a very talented Mr Fix-it/ home mechanic/ handyman but he also demands that he be the only person to take on these tasks which has made for some good stories.


  • There was the time the hot water system broke down in the middle of winter and I bathed myself and my four small children from a boiled kettle and bucket for three weeks before we got the new system installed.
  • The new gas oven we got 17 years ago and which was never calibrated. It has to be set at a temperature at least 30 degrees higher than the recipe states to get the stated cooking time.
  • The car which had to be parked on a hill for a roll start for a number of weeks, the kids used to push it out of the garage so I could do a clutch start as it rolled down the drive. If I missed the clutch start we were screwed because the car would get stuck in the gutter.
  • The oven light that wasn't replaced for years.
  • The shower screen which shattered inexplicably one day when I was home alone and not in the bathroom. We haven't had a shower screen for at least 15 years.
  • The microwave that was out of action for about three years before the simple fix.
  • When we moved into the house there was no light in the main bedroom because the circuit had been used for a fan. We got a light after I tripped in the dark and had a tantrum about it.
  • The school teacher who used to constantly ask the kids if the car was working this week.
  • The new light bulb with a three year warranty that blew after a week. It hasn't been replaced yet.
  • The new stairs that have posts for a hand rail but no hand rail.
  • The spa/ hot tub which was drained for cleaning at least six years ago and is still empty.
  • The window that had a soccer ball go through it and was covered with cardboard for a couple of years.
  • And my current favourite is the dishwasher. The door has been broken so it doesn't latch properly, without latching the machine won't run so I jam a chair against the door to make the machine go. Sometimes the chair slides out from the dishwasher just enough to stop the machine and then I have dirty dishes when I least expect them.
It keeps life interesting.