MBT Menu Tabs JavaScript

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Things to Do in The Hills for (almost) Free (Meme)

I don't even know what a 'meme' is but having read Eglantine's Cake most recent entry I decided to get in on the action. So, here are some things you can do in the Dandenongs.

1. I recently discovered the Burrinja Gallery at 351 Glenfern Road, Upwey (Melways Ref: 75 B12). They have gorgeous exhibitions of indigenous and contemporary art, you could catch a show in the performance space (though that would cost money), they have a lovely little cafe for food, coffee, wine, cake - whatever you would like and it's very cheap. I haven't taken my little one there with me but I would.

2. Puffing Billy - Australia's century-old steam train is still running on its original mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook in the scenic Dandenong Ranges, just 40 km east of Melbourne. Now to be fair, you do have to pay to get on it, but we have just been to the station and had a good look at the train itself and have sometimes driven to it's various stops to get out and watch it go over the picturesque old wooden bridge on the Emerald Gembrook Road.

3. Sassafrass - between Belgrave and Olinda is the township of Sassafrass. Here you can wander up and down the streets window shopping, you could peek into Geppetto's Workshop - a wonderful toy store on the main drag. They happily let you play with their toys without having to buy anything. There is also the wonderful Oracle - a shop with more than its fair share of curiosities both New Age and staff based. Lovely for a little relaxing gazing around and they are very tolerant of kidlets. You can choose a lovely free 'Oracle' for the day from the hands of the lovely Angel in the front of the shop. If you are tired and in need of a sit down (they have high chairs) there is also Miss Marples , a well respected 'Tea Rooms' famous for their Devonshire cream teas. Bit pricey though.

4. Walks - that's what the hills are famous for. Pack a picnic, catch a train up from Flinders Street in the city to Belgrave and walk to Sherbrooke Forest (which is just a shortish walk from the hight street, up Terry's Avenue). There are many tracks to follow, you can choose one based on your physical fitness but rest assured that all of them are beautiful and peaceful and full of bird song. You could also get off the train in Ferntree Gully and do the 5km-return 100 Steps and Kokoda Memorial Walk. The walk was created in memory of the men who fought on the Kokoda Track in World War II. Tree ferns, misty gullies, moss and secret valleys - just glorious. For more information on walks go to Parks Victoria.

5. Camberwell Market - Ok, not in the hills by any stretch of the imagination but I love this place. Just browsing the stalls of brick 'a' brack is good fun, as is the clearly mental Elvis impersonator who cannot sing a note on key but dresses for the part. Definitely worth a look and there is plenty of hot food available for veggies and non veggies alike. Don't go past the hot doughnut van, Yummy.

6. My house - all welcome. Coffee, Tea, Herbal Teas, Water and Juice all available and if you let me know you're coming I'll make us some soup.

There are of course numerous other amazing places to visit like a plethora of gorgeous gardens or the William Ricketts Sanctuary which I absolutely recommend anyone who comes all the way out here visit. It's so beautiful and the aboriginal art is incredible. However, all the other things I can think of cost money.

I have included the rules below (as set out by Penni) for anyone else who might want to get in on the freebie action. Hope someone finds this information useful.

Here are the rules (because it wouldn't be a meme without rules):
1. List (at least) five things to do for free in your city or town, not just well publicised touristy things, but things YOU might do too!
2. Write it with a visitor in mind.
3. Tag three people* - extra fun if they live somewhere you'd like to know better or you're going to sometime soon.
4. If you're anonymous/coy about where you live, choose another town or city that you know.

The Third Plague of Egypt

One of the Ten Plagues of Egypt by John Martin

Well the day has gotten off to a rollicking start. Already I've cleaned the towel and linen closets out, rearranged and pruned all the clothing shelves in the wee one's bedroom and her closet, I've rearranged her boots and shoes and I've even cut out and stuck up her recent artworks on her bedroom walls, where she can bask in the glow of her own unfettered creativity. Obviously, I did all of this while she was otherwise occupied with my husband and so the whole thing will last oooh, say, 10 minutes tops?

On top of all of this, I've managed to do another two loads of washing ( in addition to the 5 loads I did yesterday) and rotate the drying a wee bit. I have also, with the help of hubby, unbogged our car which, complete with trailer, was stuck in the mud outside our gate, unloaded said trailer (twice) and carted heavy pieces of furniture up the driveway to store under the eaves to air. And as hubby sailed off into the sunrise to return trailer, was instructed that he wanted to clear the porch of all the furniture we have recently acquired, wash it, sand it and paint it, and put up our new girls single bed (which used to be her daddy's) when he returns. We will probably have to paint that at some point in the future too as I want to keep her room light and airy, (especially given that our house is a riot of pastel shades and so her room is currently Lavender with a hint of '1982'). So, we are busy little bees indeed. I am now due to clear off my desk in order to accommodate my new (salvaged) desk which is currently one of the items in need of a good clean on our porch.

Before I go though, as if recent events weren't enough (being visited by fines, flu and general pestilence), things got a lot darker on Friday night, let me tell you. It all started with me stating that I had had a very itchy head for the last two days. I asked the hubble to look at the base of my neck to see if there was some sort of a rash or bite. Well - suddenly he froze and said, "I see something." Little did we know how lucky he was to have seen something. He plucked the offending article from my neck and showed it to me. A louse - and not the 'cheated on his woman with her best friend' type of louse. The horrible many legged kind that lays up to 9 eggs a day and survives by sucking your blood. I tried not to retch into my cuppa. After more investigation the prognosis was confirmed - we had been visited by the *Third Plague of Egypt. Yes, for the first time in 38 years I had head lice. (Cue skin crawling and frantic scratching in the manner of cartoon dog). Ugh!

So, I immediately broke out my essential oils and into 100ml of Almond Oil, I put the following: 40 drops of Rosemary, 20 drops of Lavender and 20 drops of Geranium, plus about 5 drops of tea tree as this is all that was left in the bottle. You can also use other things like Sandalwood which is good for the skin (and smells delicious) and Lemon which has great antibacterial qualities. I then slathered said mix all over my head and hair and all over the hubble's. Beanie was sleeping and so missed out on all the fun. I know that I'm going to sound like a great big Jessie when I say this but I was actually a bit freaked out about being the host of my very own headlice party. It just made me feel dirty. I mean, I know that it's not about the cleanliness of the hair or the house (and thank God they can't live for more than a few hours off your head - I could not face having to try and delouse my furniture and beds and everything else), they live on blood, so anyone's blood will do. I also know that freaking out about it (albeit mildly) is not going to get the head de-loused. Still, it was creepy and I mean literally - there were who knows how many little beasties creeping around my scalp, shagging, laying eggs and sucking my blood - and for how long had this horror been going on? (Pause for quick scratch). I only know that my poor daughter must have bumped heads with another little anklebiter and swapped more than the usual cold germs - hence mummies first visit from the louse fairy in her long 38 years.

The next day's dawn saw me shipping a greasy headed husband off to the nearest health store or pharmacy for a couple of brands of lice treatments that I had found on the Choice website. He bought back a herbal brand called Wild Child. We then showered out the oil, dried our hair, applied copious amounts of the white conditioner like treatment and combed through with a lice comb. Can I just say here a hearty 'GAH!' Lily took umbridge at having her golden locks pronged and slathered and promptly vomited into her chair. (I think this has more to do with her current ill state than the product). Then the Nit Family AH had a shower and hoped to the Holy Heavens that the populace was, if not decimated, than severely reduced. We have to repeat the treatment in another 7 days. Oh joy of joys. In between times, I have to do one or two treatments with some plain white conditioner and the nit comb. The recipe is: Apply white (cheap) conditioner and comb hair with nit comb. Wipe findings on a tissue and repeat until you have been over the head about 5 times. This apparently is good for getting rid of eggs AND lice. In fact,(according to the internet) there are many families that swear by this treatment rather than fancy pants lice treatments which may or may not work.

Things to note about lice.
They cannot live for more than 24 hours (at the outside) away from your scalp so they will not infest your bedding or furniture etc. Though washing your pillow on 60 degrees and putting it in the tumble dryer will make doubly sure of that. Hence the HUGE amounts of washing I'm doing this weekend. I wanted to leave no stone unturned.

They lay up to 9 eggs a day and not all the eggs are removed with the treatment and the lice comb, so you have to treat your hair more than once to be sure of killing them all. Two treatments 7 days apart is recommended with 1 or 2 conditioning treatments in between as mentioned above.

You can use the essential oil treatment for your hair as both a preventative measure and a conditioning treatment. Rosemary makes hair smell herby and gives it a nice shine. You can even use a combination of a few drops of each as a hair rinse in your final rinsing water after washing. You don't need much for a rinse though, maybe 5 drops of each max in a jugful of water.

The Ten Plagues by Farm4 on flickr

Anyway, as a result of this further brush with pestilence and it being of the head lice variety, I now feel officially initiated into Club Real Mom. Not to say that anyone who hasn't dealt with head lice is a fake mum, far from it - its just that (in my humble opinion) dealing with childhood illnesses, infestations (which are
extremely common unfortunately) and other sundry catastrophes that regularly afflict families (and by that I mean mothers, as most dads are out at work all day) are the very things which make us a real mummy. Our unconditional love and ability to cope sanely with with the horrors, the vomit, the shit, the snot, the weeping pus-filled escapades, of our children, is what makes us a real mom at the end of the day. So, shudders notwithstanding, our too many trips to casualty, our way too many high temperatures and snotty colds and hacking coughs and now the yuckiness that is lice, have all served to finally, after much resistance and complaint, plonk me down into the me that is now a real mom. I have been baptised with the fires of experience in the fields of childbirth and child-raising and am now a new woman who is happy though slightly pertubed as she really doesn't quite know what to expect next. Perhaps a visit from one of the other 9 plagues is imminent.

*The Ten Plagues of Egypt were rivers of Blood, Frogs, Lice or Gnats, Flies (or Wild Animals - translation is unclear apparently), Disease on livestock, Boils, Hail & Fire, Locusts, Darkness and finally, Death of all of the First Born of Egypt.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not Waving but Drowning

Well, today has been no bloody fun at all. For a start off Lily drove me so mad with her incessant nagging today that I had a major meltdown at 7am this morning. There are only so many times I can stand 'mamma' being chanted at me (when I'm standing right next to her) along with shouted demands that I cannot meet in the second that she needs them, before I feel like bloody killing myself. I then went into the shame spiral that is my internal dialogue about my shit mothering skills because I was, once again, unable to control my temper with the one person who needs my stability the most. So today, again, I hate myself for being unable to control even one aspect of my unruly personality when it matters the most. I worry that her next sentence will include the word 'fuck' or 'fucking'. Seriously.

I am horribly hormonal in that way that had me crying at Elmo counting backwards from 10 to 1 this morning. Don't ask. If I am not pregnant, then this is the worst PMT I've had for a while. I think I will quiety excuse myself and head under the duvet for an extended period of time. Perhaps until next Winter. I feel like the dam could burst at any moment and I might actually drown in my own tears. Stupid I know.

On top of all of this I realised this afternoon that I had forgotten to take back the DVD's and incurred a $16 fine. Then ,when I got back to the car, I had a parking fine of $113. It seems my befuddled brain had completely misread the sign and so it was deserved. The word 'fuck' seems warranted here. Or at least 'bollocks'. Sometimes only a good swear word will suffice.

Anyway, in an effort to alleviate this misery, I am going to post up some recent photo's. The first is of my Organic booty from yesterday's vegetable shop. I felt like such a 'Hill's' woman with my basket. The lemons are from our very own tree. Yum.

This second image is a shot of the hubble hangliding - my present for his birthday. He completed a whole day of introductory training in Torquay and is thinking of taking it up as a hobby. The wind was up but it wasn't the best day for hangliding unfortunately. Still, he had lots of fun and we were all a bit windswept and interesting at the end of the day.

These two shots were taken by Lily.

I love them. I really do.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Chicken is for Life, Not Just for Christmas

What can I say? This is the kind of people we are...

Who you callin' chicken!

Mamma - I've had an outbreak of spots...

At Christmas in the UK we were gifted these funny little hats and masks by my Neices' daughter, Ashleigh. You gotta love family!

And as always, everyone comments on Beanie's beautiful blue eyes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Snotterbox and the Villainous Lurgy

Yes indeed. It seems that it's not only DocWitch that has been afflicted with the evil lurgy. Alas the House of AH has been visited by the Pox Fairy also and we are currently snoring, snorting, snotting and overheating in equal measure. Poor Beanie has been worst afflicted. She had a temperature of 40.6 last night and a nose that dripped into her mouth almost all the time that she was upright. She also has the hacking phlegmy cough of a $2 hooker. When my beanie is sick she will not let me leave her side and last night this meant that she was sandwiched inbetween my hubble and me in our big bed trying not to spontaneously combust with the reflected heat of our two bodies plus our 13.5 tog winter duvet from the UK (where they know about cold). We did not sleep. We tossed, turned, snotted, coughed, neurofenned, cried, snored and demanded water at regular intervals all night. At 6am my poor knackered hubble carried our sweaty little bundle of bung into the kitchen for a spot of sultana bran and let me disappear into the delicious oblivion of sleep for a couple of hours. He is SuperDad, and I love him.

This morning, with a surprisingly chipper little snotterbox, we crafted and painted the morning away. She then demanded some biccies and 'Ya Ya' whilst brandishing a homemovie of herself from aged 9 to 18months. She proceeded to eat said biccie whilst intermittently shouting 'mamma' 'daddn' and 'yaya' at the TV. Here are a couple of her recent accomplishments.

Horsey Horsey

Why did the Chicken?

Now if I could just convince her that the paints are not, in fact, made by Max Factor, we'd be getting somewhere.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The End of My Happiness?

Beautiful Beanie

And so, this post completes my 30 Days of Happiness extravaganza. It has been a really interesting journey. It's actually a lot more work than you would imagine but what I really like is that it requires a level of awareness in daily life that we don't normally exhibit. I enjoyed being a bit more 'in the moment' which I normally find quite difficult. True, there were days when it all felt a bit of a chore to try and record what gives me happiness and there are days when you cannot photograph what brings you joy, but the fact that I did it served to make me more aware every day of those things that do. I smiled more as a result of my undertaking and I really was amazed at how much joy and happiness my daughter brings me every day. This was a very special gift for me and one I will cherish.

It turns out I'm pretty easily pleased. The things I really love, my Beanie, my hubble, my spiritual journey, my fire, a hot chocolate, nature, a good book or 20 - are all things that don't require any great sacrifice of time or energy or even money. They are things that make me feel safe and at home and they can all be with me wherever I find myself. The revelation of this is that my needs can really be reduced to just these few simple things which create for me a sense of comfort and peace. This is another gift to cherish. We live in a world which encourages us hourly to buy more, to do more, to have more. I found in these 30 days that the things which give me real joy cannot (for the most part) be bought (books and hot choccie aside). I know, it sounds like a cliche but I do not need the latest fashion or a bigger bank account (although that would be nice, I'm sure) - I don't even need a slimmer figure or more perky boobs. All I need is my family and a few home comforts to make me truly happy and that's something to be remembered when I get caught up in the frenzy of life again.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 29 & 30

Happiness is...

Spending two days exploring the Tarot with one of the world's experts on the subject, Rachel Pollack. The wonderful Tarot Guild of Australia brought Rachel over for some work all over Australia and their courses are very good. Plus, the food they put on as part of the workshops - scrummy!

I was a tiny bit disappointed in the full day workshop on Saturday. Not with the subject matter which was The Hanged Man and the minor arcana suit of Swords - both of which I enjoyed exploring. More that there was too much talking with not enough practical enjoyment of the cards and spreads, which is where I think I learn the most. I got a bit bored half way through the day and it never really livened up after that. Given her level of expertise and knowledge, I really expected a bit more practical stuff. She also has a very distracting vocal tick which sounds like she's phlegmy.

The Rider-Waite Deck

Most people start out learning Tarot using the Rider-Waiter Deck and i was certainly no exception. They are easy to interpret and full of symbolism. However, sooner or later, you find yourself salivating over other, more artistic or colourful or outlandish packs and eventually one chooses you and demands that you buy it and take it home.

I am a bit of a Tarot whore. I have many packs. I have the Thoth pack by Aleister Crowley. I love the artwork by Lady Freida Harris but they are so heavily symbolic that it can be a bit of a chore to read with them.

Thoth Pack

Priestess Card from the Thoth Pack

I used these cards for readings for a very long time but eventually wanted something more lighthearted. I chose the Witches Tarot and then, not long after I bought that pack, the beautiful Druidcraft Tarot by Stephanie and Philip Carr-Gomm
sang to me like a Siren and I was lost. I simply HAD to have this pack.

The High Priestess

The Lovers
I adore this image. It's so sensual and so absolutely what the word 'lovers' conjures up for me. The sleep of spent passion. The abundant nature all around the two makes one feel wild and uninhibited again. Just beautiful.

Cernunnos (Horned God, Lord of the Green Wood). (The Devil card in traditional packs).

I love this card. The Devil card is generally about self-imposed bondage and the fear of fear itself but here this idea is turned on its head somewhat, with the beautiful Horned God energy so present. Yes, there is still a tremor of fear in this card, who wouldn't quake in the presence of Pan himself? Yet, there is again that feeling of freedom, of wildness, of power in the raw and I love it. The lovers are there again in the foreground. I like to think that it's his energy which has led them into their passionate embrace. Dark and mysterious yet so natural.

This is just an overview of some of the major arcana. The images are so lush in this pack, I just want to eat them up.

Aside from Tarot packs, I also have a few Oracles such as the beautiful Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and Hrana Janto.

Isis - the card of mothering

Kali - one to call on when cutting away things you no longer need.

Couldn't resist this image - sorry.

I used to have a real problem with the image of the Sheila Na Gig (a Goddess found on churches and mystical sites all over Ireland until they systematically destroyed them with the fire of Catholicism), until I realised that she was (and is) a very potent symbol of feminine power. The power to give life, to birth it into the world as babies, as ideas, as new life in all forms. The thing that most people struggle with is that in this image she is an old woman. I think that as a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, we really find it hard to accept that there is still power in the Yoni of an old woman and that she might want to use that power in her life. It's such a confronting image but I do just love it. Sometimes confronting the power and beauty of our own bodies (at whatever age) is what we most need to do to find peace and step into our own wisdom.

My favourite mythological personage - Morgan Le Fay - witch sister of Arthur and Priestess of Avalon.

I am curently working a little with the Spirit of The Wheel Oracle.

It is more of a shamanic deck with gorgeous medicine shields of animals and titles like Ripe Berries Moon and Long Snows Moon. I like the Native American feel to this deck and I am using a card daily to connect me with the power of Great Spirit.It's lovely to work with and has a little prayer at the end of each card explanation that is lovely to say daily.

The Tarot is a very valuable tool for self-exploration and self-growth and need not be held purely in the realm of psychics and fairground Gypsies. I find it useful as part of my daily meditation practice to just tune in to my cards, choose one for the day and then see how accurate its message was by days end. It also attunes me more deeply to my cards so that I can use them more effectively when I read for other people.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 28

Happiness is...

A day at the Zoo.

It was Hubble's birthday on Thursday and as he is off work on holiday, we decided that a trip to the Zoo with the Beanie was in order.

We saw Lions and Gorilla's and Bears, oh my. (No Tigers for us).

Lazy Lion

The Lions made a big show at the end of the day, lots of pacing and roaring - I was a tiny bit worried that it might give Lily nightmares. The sound is so intense and terrifically loud that it shakes your heart in your chest. When they are standing mere inches away with only a mesh fence between the two of you, it is all the more powerful!

The magnificent Silver Back Gorilla

Bears glorious bears....how I do love them.

Not to mention Otters and a very persistent Peacock that just kept popping up everywhere we went. So beautiful.

Perky Peacock

Playful Otter

This is Lily trying to break into one of the Kangaroo compounds. She was skillfully diverted but insisted on saying goodbye to them... "bye bye boing boing.'

We saw some amazing Snow Leopards and a gorgeous Black Jaguar. I love being able to see animals that I adore up close but there is always such a sadness in me that they are here. I feel sure that they must be longing for the lands of their birth. I mean, Snow Leopards (traditionally found in Tibet) in Melbourne where it never snows?

At the end of the day, after 5 hours of walking round without a break, we bumped into one of my friends and Lily's playmates. The kidlets then spent a good half an hour running around in the Orangutan enclosure screaming madly. The perfect end to a lovely day.

Lily, Daddy and Abbey (from left to right).
Is the one in the back pack not enough for you man?

30 Days of Happiness - Day 27

Our local Baptist Church...

Yes, you did read correctly. I have become a closet Baptist. I discovered their musical kids programme called Making Music courtesy of our local maternal health nurse and went along with hubble to see what I could see, see, see. It was a revelation (of almost biblical proportions). Big room, lots of music and instruments for the kids to play with during the musical part of the session (which lasts about 30 mins). The lyrics to the songs were all projected up onto a screen so we could all sing along with the kids and do the actions. The kids then got some fruit, biccies, water and sultanas before having some 'free play' while the mums (and dad!) got scones with cream and jam and hot coffee or tea. Result!

The hubble and I are now firmly in the Baptist camp. Anywhere that serves scones gets vaulted to the top of my list. We will definitely be going back - Lily had an absolute ball. Plus, did I mention the scones?

Cutest thing ever was watching my daughter play with a magical pink castle with another little boy, each taking their time, no snatching, no contest of wills, no tantrums, just calmly and very pleasantly enjoying a shared moment with the wizards and princesses.