Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Garden Progress

Just after the bob-cat has done it's bit... compare this pic to the ones from 18 April! The fence that continues from the left side of the picture to the road is gone (not pictured) and the area where the gate house and new path will be is plowed. Now I just need to finish the bricks, which I've not gotten up because La has had this weird cold-virus thingie and been Sir Clings-N-Sooks-A-Lot. Retainers need to be put up against the edge of the garden bed on the left. Once the bricks come up, we'll remove a thin layer of the existing dirt to make it level and low enough for the sand and gravel, brick edging and patterns.

I've not taken a picture from this vantage point before but basically the big tree limb on the left is the big sweet pittosporum (the tree La is sitting on in my 12 March post) so I'm standing roughly in the middle of the yard, facing to the right of the house. This is the first stage of shaping the trees... several pest trees were removed (and you can just barely see the bonfire in the center mid picture as a little red blip) and a bunch of work removing undergrowth. It looks absolutely fabulous!!! The trees will continue to be reshaped, suckers removed, deadwood removed and the edges of the garden beds redefined and dug so they're easier to go around on a mower and retain the mulch.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

On a completely unrelated note, for those of you who like chooks, go check my chook blog!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lately I've been just so frusterated NOT being pregnant. Boy, I never thought I'd say those words! I went through La's pregnancy threatening to spay myself after if the doctors wouldn't - give me labor any day! But feeling a bit sad now as everyone around me seems to be sporting big beautiful baby bellies currently - including a number of people who didn't want or plan to. And then there's me, another month come and gone and feeling really just... empty and a teeny tiny bit jealous I'm not whinging about morning sickness as well. Granted I spend every day reminded how blessed I am with my beautiful boy, who is such a fun and loving little person (...never mind the 50 trillionth time I've finished mopping up the milk he dumped, when I'm reminded chubby-cheeked cuteness is a survival tactic...) and I'm feeling my typical autumn-reflection from spending so much time out in the garden in the sun and enjoying life... but in a sense that just reminds me how wonderful two would be yk?

The good news is Nic is (slowly) moving towards his drivers liscence. He's set himself up with more lessons and hopefully one of these decades is actually driving himself to work.

Those musings aside, today has been a very good day - a fair bit done here but also the day we went to look at a large set of aviaries hoping they'd be what I was looking for and at long last... yes, they WERE! :-D

I've been on the look out for a breeder selling out in the size/numbers I wanted since last year because it's literally a fraction of the price, where buying them new, having to custom order would be about $5-6K. X_x (I'd love to delude myself into thinking I had the skills to DIY but the reality is I am the LAST person who should ever consider such...) So a few days ago we located a parrot breeder who was moving and we bought a bank of ten. In a few weeks (allowing time for the current inhabitants to be sold and tearing down) I'll have a lovely bunch of ten colourbond aviaries, each 1.2 m W x 3.5m L x 2M high and housing a breeding team. I am SUPER chuffed! I loves my chookies~ LOL
Noice eh? (Hn. My internal voice is speaking in Michigan/Canadian Border Resident cross Bogan... too much wine, time for me to go to bed!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Misty morning

I shot these pictures from the car after dropping Nic off to the train station in the morning, lovely misty hills disappearing into the fog and everything looking soft and faded as a departing dream. I love mornings here...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I think today I am feeling almost-completely-back-to-calm again and have spent most of the day just glorying in being in my garden and all the good stuff that is "our life" you know? I know it seems a bit of a contrast to go from my writing about how totally freaked out I am to 'back to the garden happenings' but I think I need a good dose of normal to ground myself so to speak.

I took up a lot more bricks and there is satisfaction in taking all that nervous energy, putting it into something physical and seeing something physically achieved at the end of it. Here's the progress so far - the path started on the other side of the porch where the black pram is and swings around the corner and toward the lower right corner which is still brick path. The bricks are stacked in several piles for re-use later on.

And this is in the front corner of the left corner of the garden, the road being on the other side of the brown fence. If I'd taken a before shot you'd have seen a yucky varigated pittosporum where the splodge of a stump is now in the lower lefthand of the picture. It's now firewood! The area on the other side of the tree that's forming a V will be a natural sand pit (to be turned into a pond when the kids are older) and fern grotto and where the varigated pittosporum was removed we'll put Laurent's Wollemi pine.

I also got two new "toys" today - a purdy John Deere ride-on lawn mower! (The neighbors cows LOVE this new toy because we're giving them all the grass and come trotting up to the fence for it! LOL) And a neat-o spiffy Stihl whipper-snipper. We got one in the commercial range, so it should have a good bit of grunt to it. ^_^

And last but not least a random shot of my gorgeous ducks. I'll put it in my chook blog too but he was just looking so nice I couldn't resist putting it here too.

We're now sitting down to a yummy dinner of tomato soup made with homegrown tomatos, herbs and stocks; chicken, artichoke, onion, garlic and cheese omlet also made out of mostly home-grown produce... artichoke and the cheese being from local small producers and about to go curl up near a bon-fire under the stars. (So have to go to the America store - I'm dying to get some graham crackers for bonefire s'mores!) There is just nothing like the taste of fresh, home-grown food is there???

And the other day we planted a bunch more salad greens, spinach, broccoli, asian greens, spring onions etc. I have to hurry myself up to get some garlic and the beans and peas in!

Friday, April 18, 2008

the photos I promised the other day.... of my 'serendipitous sunflower'

and my very favorite little person with Noir (the most patient cat on earth, maybe second only to Jayne's cat)

and our garden improvements, still under way now that I'm not-kicked-out of the country!

Okay, so here is a wide shot showing the back of the house, the driveway and the rather sad remains of the last folks attempt to keep the garden bed in check. The little wood edge was the first to go. All the plants that were in the way were dug up and are awaiting transplant. The rusty looking ate on the far right, is actually period and with a good sandblast and some paint will be good as new! The bobcat is plowing a new path through the garden bed, to enlarge the bed area for the maple in the right corner which currently only has a small strip and can't get enough water. All the bricks are being ripped up and recyled as edging. There will be a gate-house insterted and a pretty post and heritage wire fence. To get an idea of the kind of gate house I mean... check at the bottom of this page: I love the pretty finials, gable ends and barge boards! Fence will be like this:

Here is the start to the new path. A bolt on the bobcat wheel broke so they only got the first meter or so of it done. The oak leaf ivy (green mound on the edge of the dug bit) is being retained as a heritage plant.

This shows better the area that will be changed where the bricks are. The curves show the new edges of the bed while between them will be a path of lilydale toppings (not those though, one that's similar but more sustainable) and the circle-in-a-square represents where I'll be putting a big urn that will have plants in it as well to act to block people from entering through the mudroom entry which is just beyond the bins but instead keep them coming along the path to the front door. There will also be screening put up to hide the gas tanks and bin area.

Last one, basically quite similar, just showing mostly how the view will look from the new path. The post in the middle of the pic is ripped up and is going to be the center-point for the new path and center of the view from the gate-house.
Hi everyone, sorry to have everyone freaked out not writing all day - yesterday was a very long and exhausting day but... good turn out. Or as good as can be expected anyhow so all your good thoughts and prayers must have been busy at work!

Bridging visa was granted in compliance office after a bajillion calls between departments, so at least I'm not an illegal alien on the run now. What happens after that is a bit more up in the air - I may need to go onto a different type of bridging visa or if things don't go in our favor then no visa would be necessary - just the plane ticket... but hopefully doesn't come to that.

Down to see case officer, though it's out of her hands officially now apparently, because it was officially rejected, she is the representative for us 'in' the department and recognized us from previous visa (prospective fiancee and the provisional-perm) application photos. From the mig. legal aid dude I talked to about 30 mins after getting the letter, she is a good one to have as she's willing to work with people as much as she can. She is supposed to be calling us back later today to let me know more preliminary information on what happens now from their end. She was also pretty shocked at the stuff we'd been told and luckily since we'd noted down who'd told us each and at what times, was able to tell her who and her supervisor wanted to know who also.

As a slight positive, she said that when she inherited the case file and had gone over it initially she'd assumed it would be granted because we met all the requirements and the only reason it was rejected was because of them not being able to locate us (because of the previous agents snafus)... Hopefully the good previous case history and our meeting all the other requirements as well as our cooperating with the complicance office and contacting them as soon as we knew there was a problem (literally 30 mins later, after contacting mig. agent) all work in our favor.

Meanwhile we will be following up with our migration agent/lawyer from the previous 2 visas. She's in the US but she has all our case-files and history from the previous ones. Also US consulate etc so at least they're alerted. Plus getting La his passport, just in case etc etc etc etc etc etc etc

I'm just buggered. Still trying to absorb everything. We got home yesterday evening and it hit me like bricks, major migrane and just collpased for awhile going from, "everything humming merrily along" to the rollercoaster of 'your application has been rejected', 'it's lost and we can't tell you who your case agent is', 'we thought you'd left the country', 'we cant guarantee you won't be deported immediately' Good heavens!

Well, I suppose the bright side is we'll have colourful stories for the grandkids eventually.......

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It has been a long, gruesome day of heart-failures. Suffice to say, my visa is stuffed up and I recieved a letter from medicare stating they'd contact from Dept of Immi stating my application was rejected. Spent all day trying to find out what was going on and what my status was - got 50 answers from 40 people including - the file was lost, they didn't know who my case worker was, the old case worker had quit after messing up some paperwork, they thought I'd left the country, they couldn't tell me anything - at all - period, I needed to come in and they couldn't guarantee deportation etc etc etc. Meanwhile I'm hysterical, terrified of La being ripped from my arms for months on end as they march me off to the next flight out, being forcefully weaned and loosing his mum in the same swipe, how Nic will cope with not only my being forced out but having to deal with La and everything on top of work etc. and how Cade, Sierra, Hope and Veri cope, chooks etc

Call to the complaints and complicance depts as well as the ombudsmen quickly caught attention. The long and short of it is they "lost" a bunch of paperwork (read: they have no record of our phone calls - none of them, they have never recieved our changes of address sent in and "have been trying to find us a year" - despite not doing something really radical and y'know - ringing our mobiles. Or solicitors. Or migration agent. Or just noting the phone calls and forms sent in AFTER we replied to the case managers first query so the whole mess was avoided) and because there was nothing there for them thus to approve on they automatically denied it. So we were told to go asap to complicance in the dept of immi, which we were told the nearest office was in Dandenong. Rang them only to find out they closed in half an hour but more importantly - they didn't have a complicance dept there, I have to go to Lonsdale for that.

Only bit of good news is I've got some good people batting for me and the last call we got was my case worker saying (after noting she might still have to 'arrange for me to leave to an off-shore facility' and heartily disavowing we'd ever called them or notified them of anything or that my previous case worker WAS a case worker despite the paperwork I have in my hands for the previous 2 visas proclaiming her as precisely that and the envelope I have with her name on it listing her as case worker for my file) she would put me through for a bridging visa. So I have to show up there first thing tomorrow and hope she was being accurate in saying she can do a bridging visa and the other several people with more dire pronouncements were wrong. Mostly, that means hoping the ombudsman is doing a good job investigating what has happened to cause everything to be so damn muddled.

I'm still having horrific nightmares of La being pulled screaming and bawling out of my arms as I'm escorted to the plane and the bridging thing being incorrect advise when we show up there tomorrow. Certainly wouldn't be the first time what they've said and what happened vastly differ. I know it's probalby just my mind playing out worst case scenarios but it's chilling and unreal and absurdly real and terrifying all at the same time.

Anyone with good thoughts, prayers, wishes, hopes, energy etc to spare about 9 am tomorrow
and in the following weeks would be most appreciated.

Monday, April 14, 2008

We had a lovely weekend - Saturday, a lovely day at KCC at a herding workshop with Karen Sherlocke, which left me motivated to get fencing quicker! ;-) Then Sunday back, just as lookie-loos, to watch the more advanced classes have their play. The bonus was that C (18 months) was there as well and so La had a little playmate to help keep him busy while running around like an absolute loon. Better yet, C appreciated the special fascination of every. single. plane. that flew overhead had far more than any of the adults. LOL

I think La definitely needs to spend more time around kids though. At one point when I kept 'bothering him' by not letting him wander off I got a cross, "Go MAT, DOWN mum!" He panted every time I offered him something to eat. (A la Hopie...) At one point he crawled into Hope's crate and howled on all fours). And poor C kept copping pats on the head, like a puppy! LOL

I came back Saturday night to find two potted baby trees and a bag containing an Italian cake, magazines and a package of asbolutely ace wooden toy trains for La on the front porch with a thank-you note from a couple whose car had broken down in front of our house a few weeks ago. They were a lovely old German couple who'd grown up in the country but now lived in a suburb and so came out to Emerald for tea on weekends. We'd invited them in while they waited for the RACV as it was cold and rainy, and happily so as we don't get too many visitors. So I was just floored to come home and find such a generous gift of thanks!

Today I ran around trying to get everything taken care of and for the most part did. We had a lovely experience at the John Deere center. Having been to 3 other places and walked out annoyed at the staffs inability to answer questions I decided to go with a brand I've known for years. I got onto this lovely old Hungarian gentleman, who I immediately just liked and ended up having a good chat with. At any rate, La had been attempting to climb all over everything (picture it - a whole store of nothing but BIG green things that go BROOM! LOL) He took him around and was showing him how to 'turn the wheels' and explaining things, waving off my attempts to reel in the little wild-bean (since most stores tend to get rather upset when a 2 year old starts clambering all over $20K of stock like a jungle gym...) with "Ah, he won't hurt anything, let him have his fun. It's good for children to be children, they learn this way yeah?" Then as we're going out the door, he reaches over and plucks one of the John Deere toy tractors off the shelf - which sell for $20 and just hands it to La as a gift. La is enraptured, he's actually zonked on the couch atm, tractor firmly in hand even while zonked! LOL

Tomorrow I'm having Colin come with a bob-cat to plow the new front garden paths. At the same time Jamie is going to come out and do a combination of removing deadwood/shaping the trees (involving a harness to go way up high in the trees... hence my not doing it!) and further mapping out some rudimentary garden plans etc. Very excited, despite the slow going of tearing up bricks (seriously slow, it's taking up the old brick garden path with a shovel, chisel and hammer...) so I'm glad it's getting going! Even if they do insist on starting at the unholy hour of 7:30am....... ;-)

Will also take a picture of our sunflower tomorrow. It just sprouted up out of no-where in my tomato patch to be a little bit of cheer. It survived despite my thinking it was a weed and I should just pull it out. Despite the winds that blew over full grown trees all over the area in one of the worst windstorms in decades. Heck - despite a rather chance planting - best guess is one of the birds must have visited a feeder, left with some seed in it's beak and dropped it in the veggie patch! LOL

Monday, April 07, 2008

Scenes from the day

A captive audience is quickly acquired when there's a snack to be had.

but when the snack runs out the massages aren't half bad! (La is entraced in a Charlie & Lola episode...)

After a rowdy game of fetch the squeeky football (spikey thing near Hope's paws) it's time for kisses - which apparently tickle a lot!

A drowsy moment after a full day

Sunday, April 06, 2008

''Mum, da chookies sez 'bwok bwok bwwoook', I gives dem food, food, foooodddd!!!'' The three Wyandotte boys in the foreground are from my September batch.

And they are such funny chookies!!!

This one is from today, at the ASCV's Funday. They had a mini-agility course set-up and the tunnels were VERY popular not only with the dogs they were intended for but with La and Bubba C who had fun crawling back and forth, playing peek a boo at eachother and gettingPublish Post (carefully!) rolled around in it!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sheepdog retreiver trials... coming to an arena near you?

The new sheep have had their first few sessions with a dog and they've done pretty well, they're light but not so light as to go flying at the merest suggestion of a dog.

They were Hope's first time on sheep in an embarrassingly long time (months and being the meanie I am I won't even let them fetch me the neigbors cattle...) and the first go went interestingly. I sent her out and she is doing semi-decent despite being a bit spazzed over being cooped up due to the nasty weather and finally having sheep here again. Never the less at one point, one of them dashes off and I sent her to go turn it around. The sheep is heading towards the dam, which was a favorite sheepy trick of the Texals, so I fully expected the sheep to go AROUND the dam. Nup. Not this sheep!


Straight off the little ridge and into the water. Huh. Didn't see that one coming! Two steps behind it, Hope did a good impression of a Labrador Retriever and launched in after it. (Argh! Why, why, WHY did I leave my camera inside!?!?!) Sheep attempted to evade, dog attempted to follow and after a few zig zags the sheep exited the other side and rejoined it's friends.

Maybe it's one of those things you have to be there but I was laughing all the way up at the sight they made and I reckon it'd be a cool new sport - sheepdog retriever trials! ;-p

Thankfully subsequent times out have been less eventful and the little black dog is even starting to *listen* when I tell her to cast BACK instead of coming all the way around to my side, doing fairly well heeling next to me until I release her, stopping (with sheep between me and her), sitting (again distance) and walking up slowly. Now if I could just push her out to go AROUND them instead of cutting in front of them or through them... LOL

Ah, so good to have sheep here again! The best part is these guys have the most lovely tempers to handle (up close, sans dog) and beautiful little ringlet fleece that should be lovely to spin!