Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We Survived The Great Storm of Perth 22/03/2010

Yesterday, we experienced our first real rain in months. As fate would have it, yesterday's rain turned out to be part of the worst storm Perth has seen in almost 20 years. It snuck up on us, going from dark clouds and lightening to golf-ball-sized hail in a matter of minutes. And then there was the deluge. The noise in the extension was deafening as hail pounded the tin roof. Stephanie snoozed away in a late afternoon nap, while Ellie watched with mounting trepidation as the storm raged. Around our house, the hail heavily battered trees and knocked down lots of small branches and leaves (it was closer to dime-sized here, thankfully; the worst was downtown and the heavily damaged UWA campus). Watching the hail hit the pool was amazing, and it was kinda fun watching it bounce around on the trampoline. Once we knew Markus wasn't being beaten by it on his bicycle, we were able to relax and watch it go.

At the end of the day, it was your average summer thunderstorm in the Southern US, only they aren't used to that kind of weather here.
At all.

The mayhem it caused was horrific. Unfortunately, many areas were far worse off than we were. The storm caused a mudslide in King's Park that ran into some luxury apartments. UWA had a lot of devastation. Several houses had collapsed roofs or broken windows or skylights, letting in tons of rain and damaging ceilings. Other homes flooded and many cars were totaled by the hail. In our area, there wasn't too much damage to speak of, but we learned a few things about the house. The skylight still leaks, for one. The indecision about The Mushroom Room was fortuitous; it flooded again, just as before. We lost power in all the outlets in the house; the safety switch tripped repeatedly from water leaking into the electrical system somewhere. The rest of the house lost power a couple of hours later anyway. For bonus, the drain in the laundry room floor backed up and filled the room with smelly yellow water, leaving first that room and then the whole house smelling like a public toilet. As I cleaned up this morning, we discovered the source of our electrical woes when I unplugged the washing machine and water poured out of the outlet. Markus stayed home to help me tame the mayhem, and everything is back to order now. The house looks and smells spanking clean, and the power is fully restored, though not in time to save the contents of the fridge.

I looked up a news story about it online this morning, and I was raw-ther amused to know that over 11,000 people spent their evening last night setting up and joining a facebook group called "I Survived the Great Storm of Perth 22/03/2010." It was a thunderstorm, people. With golf ball sized hail, I grant you, but still.
I have to wonder how large that facebook group will be when the 150,000 people without power get back online.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Actual crime in the bubble

We often refer to our life in Perth's western suburbs as bubble living, because really, it is such an isolated, protected little bubble. Personally, I love the fact that we are raising our two young children in a place where the biggest woes include parking challenges and objectionably bulbous fences. But today we have actual crime to deal with, and I tell ya, I'm not used to it anymore!

There is a criminal at large in the western suburbs. I found this out the hard way (since I don't do TV or radio) on my drive from Ellie's school to Stephanie's playgroup. We went through Swanbourne, or at least meant to go through but couldn't because of roadblocks. Stuck in traffic near a good cafe meant I stopped and let Stephanie run around for a while. That's where I learned that a dangerous (and presumed armed, though that wasn't certain) carjacker that led police on an almost day-long car chase yesterday (in three different hijacked vehicles, as he crashed or was blocked in various spots) escaped from the hospital where he was being treated for injuries. Those injuries can't be too severe, because he's had the police after him all day. I heard helicopters as of 7am and wondered what that was all about. Now I know. He was in Swanbourne for a while, so they completely closed that area down. Now, he's apparently moved along somehow because I've had notice from Ellie's school in Mosman Park (two towns over) that they have locked down the school. I can still hear helicopters, and it's 1pm. I have no idea where he is, and apparently the police aren't doing much better. Apparently, there are over 100 police officers on his trail. Either this guy is very smart or the police are really inept (sorry guys, but the thought is there; you just aren't used to this sort of thing). Whatever the situation, I really hope they catch him soon. I'm supposed to pick Ellie up from school in a little while, and I'd love to be able to do so. He is welcome to take my car if it came to that, but the idea of him trying to do so with one or both of the girls in the back...it makes my blood run cold. I'd rather him be behind bars, thank you very much.

45 minutes later, a new text from Ellie's school saying "lockdown is over, offender apprehended". Way to go, boys in blue! An earlier news report said that the man was not restrained or handcuffed at the hospital when he made his escape. I'm betting that's a mistake they won't be making twice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sculpture by the Sea

This morning, Stephanie and I had another playdate with our friends. This time, we met at a playground near the beach in Cottesloe, and then we strolled over to take a look at the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. Call me an uncultured swine, but I'm not much of one for modern art. When I look at some big, angular metal thing, I just don't get how that is supposed to be about human angst and the suffering that connects us all or some such nonsense. Sorry, but I'm a classical art girl. I like subject matter to be straight-forward. But I can and do appreciate technique, skill and sheer effort that goes into creation. There were some sculptures that were not my cup of tea, but some were downright awesome. Follow me along this one from the side, to an angle, to the front:

This one was a clever thumb at all the (real) bureaucratic signs that litter the beach.

It was a beautiful day to be out. Yesterday was a picture-perfect early autumn day, which left today with a lovely cool start. Summer may be slowly drawing to a close. I brought home a happy but quite tired baby Stephanie, and she soon went down for a nap. After a few minutes of protest, she was quiet. I made myself some lunch and wrote a long overdue letter before I heard her talking to herself. She'd been in there for about an hour, but she hadn't been asleep. I opened the door to the extension and immediately was hit with a powerful scent, almost like disinfectant but milder. With lavender? Was it a new soap in the bathroom? I couldn't place it. Then, I was greeted with this sight:

See how shiny she looks in the flash? That's because she'd found the tub of Baby Vicks (gently scented with lavender) and smeared it all over her face. It was a few centimeters thick in places. It was all over her hands, in her hair from twirling...and she was very proud that she had done it all by herself! I had to laugh. Bathtime! And now that she's dry again, I can tell that it's still all in her hair. How am I supposed to get that out?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A worthy quote for worn-out mamas

"I didn't want to pass anything on to them, anything they'd be better off without. At those times, I would lie on the floor in the dark, with the curtains drawn and the door closed. I would say, "Mummy has a headache," "Mummy's working." But they didn't seem to need that protection, they seemed to take everything in, look at it straight, accept everything. "Mummy's in there lying on the floor. She'll be fine tomorrow," I heard Sarah tell Anne when one was ten and the other was four. And so I was fine. Such faith, like the faith in sunrise or the phases of the moon, sustained me."
--from Cat's Eye, by Margaret Atwood

Art time inspired by Collage Collage

Recently, sharilyn of lovelydesign wrote on her blog about a wonderful shop in Vancouver called Collage Collage. I wish we had a shop like that here! I want to open one myself! I felt mightily inspired looking at pictures of the place, so I decided to replicate it on a small scale at home. I have soooooo many art supplies that I've collected over the years from necessity (buying my own stuff when I was a teacher) and personal obsession (I really love new supplies). Markus will vouch for the fact that I never throw anything away, so (much to his chagrin) we have stuff coming out of our ears. The really shameful conclusion was that I didn't even know what I had. The Great Mushroom Room Reintegration started me digging through it all, and Collage Collage showed me what to do with it. So far, I've used all the pretty glass jam jars I've been saving, but I think I will need to add larger jars to my collection to finish up.

This afternoon, I set up the kitchen table for an art project while Ellie was at school. I spread out a cheap plastic tablecloth and selected some cardstock, glue and two jam jars of goodness. The girls were thrilled! Although we got home relatively late (and cranky) due to a long (fun) playdate, their faces lit up when they saw the table and they got right to work.

Markus and I were so stunned by Stephanie's precise, careful painting of the glue that I had to make a movie of it. I made sure to include Ellie's work in the end too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fever...with Muppets

Markus has been listening to Michael Buble as background music lately. It's nice, mellow stuff, but I always start to giggle when the iPod settles on "Fever". Every time I hear that song, I see Animal and Rita Moreno in my head. Now, courtesy of YouTube, you can see why I giggle too:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spoiled, but not rotten

This morning, Stephanie and I went to the beach and played in the sand with friends after dropping Ellie off at school. It was a beautiful day, and we had great fun!

On the way home, Stephanie was asking after Ellie and Markus ("Where Ellie? Where Papa?"). When I told her they were at school and at work, she asked why. "Because today is a school day and a work day," I explained...and I was struck with the realization of how blessed and lucky we are to be able to spend the morning playing at the beach while others go to work and to school. How spoiled we are!
And then I realized it would be more spoiled to have these opportunities and not take them.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dentist visit

After more months than I care to admit, we have finally been to the dentist for a check-up, all four of us. Ellie was geared up and ready to hate it. She was stressed and tense and waiting for the right moment to have a total meltdown. We could see it brewing, so we sent her in with Markus so she could watch his check-up and cleaning. Then, we decided it was Stephanie's turn. It was Stephanie's very first visit to the dentist, so I sat in the chair and she laid across my lap and put her head in the dentist's lap for her check-up. She wasn't sure about it, but she didn't fuss and all was fine. Then, it was Ellie's turn. Don't you know there was a clear look on her face that said, "Dammit, now I can't have a fit because Stephanie did just fine!" She reluctantly climbed into the chair and even more reluctantly cooperated for a check-up.

I have to give at least part of the credit to our new dentist, Sally, who is young (younger than me, which made me feel pretty old) and super-cute (check her out on the left of Ellie's photo). She was completely non-threatening, and the girls were charmed by her. We'll attempt the cleaning next time.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Artsy spree

As part of my reorganizing and reintegrating mission with The Mushroom Room, I've been going through all my extensive arts and crafts materials. I feel so inspired! At first, I was thinking it would be a lovely quiet reading space, but now I want to turn it into an art room. I think the new carpet is just begging to be destroyed in that way, yes?

Friday, March 05, 2010

The mushroom room

Six months ago, we came home from our week in Sydney to find the study looking like this:

The carpet was ripped out immediately and the built-in wooden box was removed. Then, the room sat unusable until the slab dried out and a decision was made about what do to with it.
As of yesterday afternoon, the room looks like this:

The carpet men installed a new carpet, in the last activity of room repairs that began two weeks ago (including sealing the slab in hopes of not repeating the process this winter). Now the dusting and reorganizing begins, and we can reintegrate that space into our home.
Hey, it only took six months.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Assembled quilt top

Last Monday, there was a break in the quilt class due to Australian Labour Day. Thank goodness is all I say! I have been a headless chicken ever since I started that class. Mucking up our evening routine on Monday nights (always the most challenging night of the week anyway) has done me in completely. The timing takes me past my window of tired, so I end up staying up way too late and the whole week is thrown off.
I am happy to be learning what we are learning. It is what I wanted from the class, and I'm happy to have Markus's support in doing it, despite the crazy. And last night, I finished my homework from two weeks ago: I finally assembled my quilt top (pre-border, which I still need to choose and buy).

This quilt will be slightly smaller than a twin-size bed, so it's more of a lap quilt. This will not be the quilt for Ellie's birthday, which allows me to learn with impunity. I don't fret about imperfections. I don't fret about fabric choice. It's very freeing, actually, and ya know what? It's quite pretty. When I finished my work on it last night, I held it up for Markus to see. His reaction? "Wow!" He really likes it.
Bless him, I think he was surprised.

Hidden update

I wrote an update on baby Stephanie on her birthday, but I didn't hit "publish" until a couple of days later when I had the pictures organized. The date of the post is her birthday (Feb 27), so you can scroll down to have a look and get to know her better, or you can simply click here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Camping (or The Woe of the Unhappy Camper)

The Fremantle Doctor (the wind that blows in across the sea from near Fremantle, so named because it makes you feel better) was away for the past week or two, and the weather was most unpleasant. Last Thursday was particularly appalling, and my delicate flower self got heat sickness (migranes and other details you'd rather be spared). The wind, when we've had one, has been hot and not at all refreshing. We went from eating three meals a day outside to none, from swimming every day to avoiding even the pool because the air was so burning hot. The outback was outside. Yow. It makes you appreciate what England did to her prisoners by dumping them off here so long ago. What a harsh place! Thank goodness, the doctor has returned. The doors and windows are flung open to the refreshing wind, and we can breathe again (and sleep and relax and enjoy...).

Despite the fact that February had one of the coolest starts on record (lovely 70s), the overall summer has been one of the hottest on record. We know we are in trouble this winter, because (at least until last week) we didn't find it all that bad. We didn't even use the air conditioner much. We actually don't like it anymore, and we only turned it on in the hottest evenings to knock the worst out of the house before bed. Of course, if we aren't finding summer too hot, that means we've adjusted to the warm and we're probably going to find winter very cold indeed. The hot weather got a lot of locals moaning about longing for the end of summer. Bring on winter! Bring on the rain! I'm ready to be cold, they said. Not me. But I tell ya, I will look forward to the end of bug season.

Maybe it has been the heat, but we have had ridiculous bug populations this summer. Flies, mosquitos, cockroaches and spiders...they are taking over my sanity. The cockroaches have no shame and skitter boldly around until I make Markus finish them off. Mosquitos dive-bomb my head in the night as I try to sleep. I don't know where they come from, but I can't seem to keep them out of the house. Aussie flies are particularly ballsy and do not respect personal space at all. And then there are the spiders. A couple of weeks ago, I opened the bathroom drawer only to hear (yes, he was solid enough to make a sound!) a white-tail spider plop from the top of the drawer onto my toothpaste tube. White-tails are nasty poisonous. I was most unthrilled. This came a few days after doing in a sizeable redback on our back table (also nasty poisonous). I'm not writing this to put off any potential visitors (the numbers are unusual, mind you), but what I am saying is that I am no longer interested in camping indoors. Too many bugs in my house! Too much HOT in my house! If I want to go camping, I will pick a beautiful remote location in the great outdoors. I do not wish to camp inside.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Delicate flower

Oh Jane, I feel you.