Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Little Birdie Told Me

Little Indie (our not-so-small-anymore kitten) is starting to bring us home... gifts. His mamma (Asparagus) has brought us a rat and a baby rabbit before. Both of which are fine because they're pests here. She also brings us lots of skinks. Not good, because when she eats them, they make her sick. Plus, I'm tired of picking up wounded skinks and releasing them into our hot house. And I'm not happy with the cats killing native species either, but a cat is a cat and we knew this when we decided to keep the two of them.

The first thing Indie brought me was a Green Rosella. I chased him down and forced him to drop the poor thing. Thankfully, he's not yet realized how to properly catch things or kill them, so the poor bird flew off immediatly.

Then he brought us this little Silvereye.

Well, more brought it in the house, and Phillip noticed it, forced Indie to drop it, and asked me to pick up the poor stunned thing that was now sitting on our living room floor, missing most of its tail feathers.

I put it in the pocket of the fleece jacket I was wearing (it seemed to like that), mixed up some sugar water, and walked out to the chicken shed, and let it cling to the front of my jacket. Poor little bird must have been quite stunned, as it did nothing for about 7 minutes but sip a few drops of sugar water off my finger. It then seemed to suddenly realize where it was and what was going on because it took off quite suddenly.

Indie was punished and not allowed to go out the rest of the day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A gift from the bottom of my... ocean

Well, now that I've heard back from my mom and dad, I suppose I can show what I've been working on (very very slowly, in between other projects and my laziness) for the past few months.

It's hard to think of gifts for people in general. It's even harder if you try to think of something to send home that people just can't get back home. Or get easily. There's always the fall-back of Cadbury's chocolate. While that's more British than Australian, there IS a Cadbury's factory on Tasmania. So what we send back is more Australian? (And to answer your question, Malory, YES, when you visit, we WILL take you there).

However, there is only so much chocolate you can send back, and it's a gift that can quickly dwindle to nothing. Also, I think they've changed the recipe, and it doesn't taste nearly as good as it did 2 years ago. (Except the Dark Bubbly. That stuff is AMAZING).

Then there are the things you can buy at tourist shops. Which are EVERYWHERE. And all carry about the same stuff. Tee-shirts, wood work done with Tasmanian timbers, crafts, paintings, "authentic" aboriginal instruments, and then all that knick-knacky stuff. None of which I really want to burden my parents with. I was told outright they didn't want any anyway.

So, wanting to send something truly Tasmanian (or at least Australian), and something somewhat special, I set out making these:

I saw a chime similar to these in some shop being sold for $20+. I honestly didn't pay much attention to the price, as much as I loved the thing, because my instant reaction was "I can make that". After much surfing the web and Etsy, I figured out a pretty basic way to do it, and, well, did it.

So yeah, they're pretty beginner, and not that wonderful looking, but I really really like them, and hope the family members I gave them to did too. (Or DO, unless they tossed them out). I made each with shells Phillip and I have collected on our many walks on the beach. Mostly a simple white, some-type-of-snail shell, then throwing in some others. I just liked the simple white with the driftwood (also collected on our walks). And then I threw some broken ones in there, just because I liked the worn-out more natural look it gave the chimes. And they sound very nice when they clink together in the wind! Very... beachy.

For my dad though, I needed something a bit more.... manly. So he ended up with a jar of "the poison thing that lives in a shell, that spikes you when you pick it up." (Check out Come to Australia You Might Accidently Get Killed. It's hilarious, and we played it at our wedding...) It's a book end. Or paper weight. Or something cool he can put in his office next to his Emu egg and people can come look at and go, "wow, that's neat!" (only not for my amazing artwork and brief info written about the conus, more about the fact that there is such a thing as a venomous snail).

It's a Conus shell, though I haven't truly for sure identified what KIND of conus. And no, I didn't get them fresh. I'm not stupid. (Though most of the types of conus here aren't deadly, they just make you really sick).

**All shells used were cleaned VERY well in hot water, then either bleach or methylated spirits, then rubbed with oil to give it a tiny bit of shine. Driftwood was quarantined for months.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So Long, Farewell...

All our American guests are gone (picture a very sad face maybe holding back some tears).

The Rules left Wednesday afternoon, and the boys left early this morning. Though, not as early as they were meant to. But, before I tell THAT story, I of COURSE have to relate our wonderful walk yesterday, to wind up their trip.

It was in the rain. And not just the normal rain that we get here, like, 90% of the time (I'm only sort of joking about the 90%...). It was a DOWNPOUR. And beautiful. Most of the day the clouds teetered between pouring buckets and just plain hard rain.

But, around 5, there was a small break in the rain, so we decided to go for a walk.

By break, I mean it was just regular raining. And by break, I mean a few minutes because our walk went for almost two hours, and we all came back absolutely drenched.

It was worth it though. While it may have been ridiculously wet out, it was warm enough that it wasn't annoying to be that wet. That, and we were moving quite a lot, so the drenching kept sweating at bay.

And it smelled wonderful out there. We walked up the back of the Paradise property my in-laws own, through forestry property. So lots and lots of large pines, ferns and moss and blackberries and native other undergrowth. Mix all that with the general freshness of the air here, and clean hard rain, and it smelled just... divine. The clean smell of pine and plants and rain and fresh dirt....

Taking the main road home

Not one inch dry.... but it was fantastic!

So, Irish stew was eaten, goodbyes were said, and off we went. But not before the two Anthonys got some more quality time.

Home we went, and then they packed. Well, MATT packed, I packed Anthony's bags since I had gifts to send home that I didn't want breaking. Matt checked the flights, and their first one from Tasmania (out of Launceston) was delayed to take off at 9:30AM instead of 6:30. Which wasn't terrible news because the 6:30AM flight meant we needed to be up by 3:30 in order to wake up a tiny bit and drive to Launceston to make the flight. 

Phillip and I checked it around 2:30AM though, and it was delayed until 10:30 (because of fog, which is a risk you take when you fly out of Launceston). Not nearly enough time for them to make their second big flight from Melbourne to Chicago. So dear tired Phillip spent time online and on the phone trying to figure something out. After a few more hours of sleep, and some more calling, he finally got hold of someone who was EXTREMELY helpful. The Qantas airline ended up putting the boys on a Jet Star flight that left earlier. Then Jet Star ended up just putting them on a flight straight to Sydney to catch up with their big flight to the States. 

All worked out ok, as far as we know. They should be in the air right now, and Phillip and I will be working on catching up on two weeks worth of lost sleep (to a very good cause!), and getting used to a quiet house again...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Simon Martin Whips

Today we got to fulfill one of Anthony's requests for this trip: A visit to Simon Martin Whips in Devonport.

Anthony says he just googled "things to do in Australia" (though something tells me he made it a bit more specific to our area) and found Simon Martin amongst all the attractions.Phillip and I drive past the place all the time (or at least the road that leads to the entry to it) but have never ventured in. Phillip's mother, however, knows him, and used to buy her leather craft things from him. Back when she did leather craft, that is.

So she knew him well enough to call him up and warned... I mean... told him we would love to stop in, would he be willing to show Anthony a bit about how he made the whips? Oh course, showing some true Tasmanian hospitality, he said yes.

So when we stopped in, he almost immediately knew who we were and got to work showing Anthony his craft, and answering his MANY questions. And even gave us a bit of a show cracking his whips!

He didn't do it for nothing, though. Not only were we all pretty impressed, but Anthony ended up buying a nice (handmade Simon Martin original) Australian Stockwhip (it's quite pretty), and one of his DVDs on learning how to crack whips.

We finished our day with a late lunch/VERY early dinner with some fish n'chips. At the beach, of course.

Fish= Flake, a kind of delicious shark

Ocean Time!

For the end of our conference (Monday, now two days ago) we went to the bluff out in Devenport for just some "hanging out" fellowship time, and so that the visitors could enjoy the beach.

Unfortunately, most of the time most people were there was during high tide. Fortunatly, it was beautiful, sunny, and the ocean just doesn't ever seem to look... bad. In fact, high tide means better waves most of the time, and it's still just absolutely beautiful. So while tide pools weren't really visible, it was still nice to be able to relax with everyone at the beach.

However, because of the violent eppisodes of vomiting that have been making their way through our little group, along with a lot of late nights and early-ish mornings, most people were just wiped, and went home after a few hours. Matt, Anthony, Phillip, Danella, and I decided to stick around some more since the tide was making it's way out.

So, YAY, we got to show Matt and Anthony some tide pool wonders! As well as bring back some nice photos, shells, and memories.

Woo! At the OCEAN!

After building two sandcastles, the boys (and kids, not pictured) threw rocks at the wall built to keep the water out. 

Let the splashing of Danella start!

Boys decided to take a dip in the cold water. Thankfully, you adjust pretty quick to the temperature and its LOADS of fun!

Danella and Matt looking in a tide pool

Matt made a friend! The crab sat on his finger for ages

Anthony and his starfish

Monday, March 12, 2012


Well, between getting ready for conference and then being horribly horribly sick, I've been a bit too preoccupied to blog up on our guest's adventures.

But anyway, Matt and Anthony's second day was spent at Marakoopa Cave, the lower tour that has you go past pretty pools and rock formations (but, because it's ending summer, the pools aren't really full).

Yes, you CAN take photos! If only you actually remembered the camera you borrowed when you went anywhere.

"David's Harp"

This might look solid and hard, but it's quite delicate sand and silt that is very easily disturbed by touch,

Granny with her gun (Don't remember if that's the actual name)


I was pretty much unable to take a nice photo of all three because of the darkness and goofiness

Stopped on the road at the not-as-cool wildlife park to take a photo with the giant Tassie Devil

At The Honey Farm! Boys weren't too impressed with the chili honeys, but seemed to really like the ice cream

Day after this we just gave the hall a good scrubbing to get ready for conference, and then went to the in-laws and had a really nice dinner.

Day after that though, the boys were horrendously sick. They missed the first evening of conference, unfortunately. They were fine the next day, but my husband and I spent that day trying not to turn inside out. 

Vomiting all night is NOT fun. We're praying that not everyone gets this. It seems to be making its way through the ranks, though. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Walk in the Park

Our guests are here! And have been for two days now. My cousin, and one of our friends, are here for nearly two weeks. Which, honestly, isn't much time when you go to Australia. But, it's what they can get off work for the moment, and what an anonymous gifter gifted them, so we've been praying we could make the most of their time.

Since we only have one car, and I'm still not very good at driving stick, or knowing my way around Tasmania (other then getting to Sheffield and Devenport), we really hoped he would have days off (or shorter work days) so we could take Matt and Anthony to fun touristy places. And, thankfully, Phillip has had the past two days off work! And has the rest of the week off (unpayed leave) for our Bible conference.

Of course, we did the most awesome things we could think of with these days off. Well, the most awesome and ACCESSIBLE things.

First day here (yesterday): Wings Wildlife Park. Where you can feed and pet kangaroos, wallabys, emus, and some animals no one cares about because you can find them anywhere (like rabbits and goats) (unless you're a kid, and then anything furry and with a tail is the most wonderful thing ever).

What was new this time we went (my husband and I were there almost two years ago, BEFORE we started dating, but during my first visit to Tasmania) was that you could pet young Tasmanian Devils! And KOALAS. I went all giddy at that information. And when we actually got to touch them.

King of the mountain!

Handler and an 11-month old Devil. We got to pet him on the back!

Matt feeding a kangaroo that did not want him to leave.

Baby joey having a feed

Matt feeding a Golden Pademelon. It also loved him. For his food.

We fed emus! One giant snap for the first mouthful, then they're as gentle as chickens picking up the rest from your hand

Matt petting the koala
"I want a blanket made out of something that feels

like that."

Anthony entertaining the koalas

I got to pet them!!!

Matt and his little pademelon friend. It tried to follow him out of the enclosure!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Second-Hand Project

In our second-hand store searches, we've sort of made friends with the owner of one of our favorites. It's not that we buy a lot from this place (or any place, really) but the people that run this particular place are more particular about what they buy and sell. And they price to SELL. And seem to love to bargain.

Our favorite store was moving though, due to expensive rent in an area that had frequent break-ins. SO he had a "garage sale". (A term that, here, seems to apply to businesses as well as homes. As long as you have a garage and it's open, you can have a garage sale.) The more he sold or got rid of, the cheaper and easier it would be for him to move locations.

As I said, frequent drop-ins to his store has made us somewhat familiar with each other. He's even stopped us to talk about how we met, got married, told us about his own New York girlfriend... he's nice, and remembers us. So when we went in to his garage sale, he GAVE us six chairs because we said we were looking for one.

They're not great chairs, and are pretty wobbly in fact. And it looks like they were someone else's refinishing project at some point, as only two were sanded down to bare timber, and the rest are stained a kind of redish brown.

But they're chairs, they were free, and we put them to good use. After, of course, I got m y crafty little hands on them.

Turns out, spray paint was on sale. So for $10, we bought enough paint to do 2 to 3 of the chairs, to do a little experiment I had in mind.

First, layer of blue.

I intended to put on a layer of off-white, and then sand it down in a few places, around the edges, so you could see the blue. But, probably because I didn't use a primer, or for some reason that paint does stuff like this, the off-white layer ended up splotchy.

Not the neat "wear and tear" look I was going for, but it saved me from having to spend hours sanding, and, my husband and I think, looks pretty nice the way it turned out. We like the blue more than the white anyway.

I only managed to finish two of the chairs before things like canning apples, blackberry jam, and cleaning up the gardens took up my time and I have to wait for a later date to finish the other four.

What are we doing with two worn looking chairs? At the moment, they're making some interesting and lovely looking bedside tables in our guestrooms.