Family

Ameristraliano

by Elizabeth on April 14, 2014 · 6 comments

in Australia, Family, Life

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Last week was a huuuuge one at our house.  With just 10 days notice Tim was invited to attend a ceremony to finalise his Australian citizenship, and so ended 6.5 years of his status as a Permanent Resident.  He’s been working towards this day for about 8 years!

His ceremony was a small catch-up event which was designed to ease pressure on the city councils who had huge waiting lists.  This meant that he could only take 2 guests and there were no gifts handed out.  But it was still a beautiful venue to take the pledge and become an Australian.

Tim’s family was too far away to join us, but luckily my Mum was able to come down from Brisbane.  It was a beautiful rainy day and very exciting to be reaching this milestone with Tim.

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Once the ceremony ended Tim (sadly) had to hurry back to work.  Mum and I made a quick stop to buy him a very important piece of national attire and then we raced home to set up a little Tuesday night party in his honour.  Pretty much everything went wrong that afternoon (including me burning my hand with boiling sugar, and heavy rain that threatened to push the party inside) but by the time my extended family arrived we had pulled it all together and the rain hadn’t washed everything away.  We ended up  having such a great time together, and Tim passed the ultimate Aussie test by barbequeing for everyone in the rain.  One of us!

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Oh, and see that little tree up there in the middle of the table?  When I found out that Tim’s ceremony wouldn’t have any gifts I was a little bit sad, since I’ve always pictured him receiving a little native tree with his certificate.  So Mum and I went out and bought one instead.

I love that someday that little tree will be planted in the garden of a house that we own, and we will remember the night that we sat around it and celebrated Tim’s big day.  It’s been really special for me to see how my immediate and extended family have fully embraced Tim over the years, especially since his own family is literally on the other side of the planet.  He misses his people a lot, but at least he is surrounded by people here who really love him to pieces.

So a big congratulations to my Ameristraliano.  Still every bit American as when he arrived*, but now a fully-fledged Aussie too!

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* except for all those times when he said, “thanks mate” to shop assistants and waiters when we last visited the USA!

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by Elizabeth on March 21, 2014 · 0 comments

in Family, Life, Stuff

I feel like I’ve been limping towards this Friday since about Tuesday morning. It’s been the kind of week where we’ve done way too much, but it’s all been good stuff so I don’t get to complain about the exhaustion.  The very definition of a first-world problem.

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  • We ate at Rosetta, a Neil Perry restaurant at the Crown Casino.  It’s his first stand-alone Italian restaurant, and the food and service was nothing short of perfection.  We were happy that we chose to be there on a Sunday night because the restaurant wasn’t totally packed and we were able to take our time.  This place has earned a special place in my heart alongside Taxi and Nobu.  They make their pasta and ricotta fresh every day.
  • I had my very first cello lesson.  God, I can’t wait until I can zoom all over that fingerboard effortlessly!  It makes the prettiest sound in the world and I am really convinced that this is an instrument I want to pursue seriously.

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  • Tim bought me a ukelele!  (Can you tell that I’ve been trying to put an end to my muso drought?)  It’s a concert grade instrument with a pickup, and maybe one of these days I might record my progress so that you can laugh at my expense.  My neighbours must count their lucky stars that we moved in next door.
  • It’s been a pretty big week for presents: pretty flowers delivered to my office, a classy bouquet of Caramello Koalas (!), a necklace and… a pony!  I don’t have to remember to feed it and it even came with a matching plastic stable that stands about 20cm tall.

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Meanwhile, while I’ve been living it up for my birthday there’s been a lot of worry for my family in Brisbane.  Last night my grandmother spent her first night in a nursing home, and it’s been a pretty big decision for all involved.  It’s the first time she’s really needed help to get by – she was happily doing her thing until a couple of weeks ago when she fell and broke her collarbone.  She already knows most of the staff from years of visiting her sister, and she was lucky to be given a room just nearby.  Mum & Dad found her a beautiful antique desk/dresser for her new room and put up lots of her photos and paintings to make it feel like home.

She (thankfully) sounds really happy about the decision and we’re all happy that she can hand over some of the boring chores to the staff there.  She was recently diagnosed as being 103, and the treatment is not having to clean your own bathroom anymore.

 

Happy weekend, everyone.  I’m looking forward to putting in some serious hours for the stuff on my list – more updates on that soon!

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Life and other catastrophies

by Elizabeth on October 17, 2013 · 4 comments

in Family, Life

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My name is Elizabeth and it has been 51 days since my last meaningful blog post.

In many ways 2013 has been a bit of a hard year, and the past couple of months has been especially rough.  Unless you know me really well you wouldn’t have even noticed, but life took a bit of a nosedive a little while ago and I’ve found it kind of difficult to claw my way back up.  It’s nothing serious I guess; just a bit of life stuff that left my heart bruised.  I’m really grateful for the love of a couple of close friends who have listened and reassured me that people, generally speaking, are good.

Last weekend I fell back on an old, reliable trick – I set myself a mission to throw away a bunch of stuff that we no longer needed.  There’s something about restoring order to my house that clears my mind, and it works every single time.  Every beautiful, useless ornament that landed in the donation box made space for something functional.  Or it just made space; some silence for my eyes, for my mind.  I’m no minimalist, but I’m so much more at peace when my floors are clean and my surfaces are clear.

I hope that some of the things I donated become treasures for somebody else.

 

Lots of good things have been happening too.  A few weeks ago we flew up to Brisbane to see my baby cousin marry his sweetheart, and that quick getaway overlooking the Glasshouse Mountains felt like a real vacation.  I stayed an extra couple of days to spend some quality time with my Mum and caught up on some sleep in my old bedroom.

And some exciting news for us: last week Tim sat his Citizenship test (and aced it!) and we’re hoping that he’ll be able to seal the deal with a ceremony on Australia Day when his dad is visiting.  We celebrated that night in the most Aussie way I could think of – at the Portland Hotel with crocodile spring rolls, emu dumplings, and James Squire beer that was brewed on site.  It was amazing, and just quietly so is he.

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It feels good to be writing here again.

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Taking stock.

by Elizabeth on August 15, 2013 · 4 comments

in Family, Home, Life

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Little blog.

Sometimes I want to write here every day.  When my brain is full to the brim, bursting with news or stuff to share, I want to write here every day.  If I had the discipline to harness all of my inspiration this blog would be published eight times per day, so isn’t it lucky that I’m lazy and easily distracted instead?

And then there are other times when I don’t want to write here for weeks on end.  Sometimes I just get sick of my own ‘voice’ and just want to spend my time reading other peoples’ stories and filling up on their energy.  Sometimes life is busy to the extreme and I can’t find time to write.  And other times, like right now, it just means that I’ve needed to live for a while without writing about it.

I never stop thinking of this place though, even if I’m not saying much.

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I thought I’d write a little taking stock post to help me dive back in.  Thanks to Pip and Kate for the idea!
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Making:  the best of a crappy situation this week, or trying to.
Cooking:  chicken for my dog’s dinner every night while he recovers from surgery.  He’s a sweetheart, so we don’t mind.
Drinking:  my day looks something like this: COFFEE!  WATER!  Cooooooffee.  waterwaterwaterwaterwater, waterwaterwater.
Reading:  a few new blogs that I’ve come across lately (Don’t Lick the Ferrets and Young House Love) and old favourites too (like Foxs Lane, Elise Blaha Cripe and Joie Butter)
Wanting:  a couple of long weekends to fill with painting and hobbies.
Looking:  at the “before” photo of my bathroom, which is being retiled over the next 10 days.
Playing:  lots of Animal Crossing.  (Hey nerds, let’s swap friend codes – yes?)
Wasting:  valuable sleep time by driving to the gym at 5.30am just so that I can shower.  Why do bad things happen to good people?!
Sewing:  nothing yet, but I’m tempted to break out my Gran’s sewing machine for the first time this weekend.  Wherever she is now, I hope she can’t hear the swearing that will undoubtedly ensue.
Wishing:  I owned my own house.  Especially right now, when we seem to have so little control over what’s happening in our home.
Enjoying:  these sunny, wintery days.
Waiting:  to find out whether my dog has nerve damage in his eye from last week’s operation.  Fingers crossed it’s something less serious.
Liking:  last night’s Offspring finale, and the return of Breaking Bad.  (Mr White, what have you done?!)
Wondering:  which thing to tackle on my “to do” list after I publish this post.
Loving:  my gorgeous friends – especially J, who never stops amazing me with her intuition and unprompted support.
Hoping:  that the media doesn’t win our federal election next month, because holy crap is there some unethical “reporting” happening here right now.
Marvelling:  at my new robot vacuum, aka love of my life.  I think I’d better write a post about this thing.
Needing:  to put a big chunk of my 101 Things in 1001 Days list behind me because I am way behind schedule.
Smelling:  my neighbours’ wood fires every night in these last weeks of winter.
Wearing:  the same five outfits over and over, because thanks to a water-damaged wall we have no wardrobe.  It’s pretty great*.
Following:  the recent surge in the marriage equality debate with interest.  I feel like Australia is finally on the brink of change.
Noticing:  that the days are starting to get longer.
Knowing:  that my sky high black patent heels aren’t very good for me, but wearing them anyway because phwoar!
Thinking:  about painting, and why I haven’t been doing much of that.  (Answer: too many hobbies)
Bookmarking:  photos of trees, hands and faces so that I can paint them someday soon.
Opening:  my new RSS reader every morning while I have my first coffee (I’m using a paid version of NewsBlur right now, which is just okay, but FeedSpot is showing a lot of potential as a replacement for Google Reader)
Giggling:  about the ridiculous rainbow layer cake that I made last weekend.  If you follow me on social media you’ll be way too familiar with the result, since I Instaspammed the whole thing.  Sorry guys.
Feeling: Everything.  Seriously… and perhaps that’s why I’ve had trouble quieting my brain for long enough to write lately.  I’ve been feeling the highs and lows a lot more recently.
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*actually wait, what’s that word that’s the opposite of “great”?

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Home for Christmas

by Elizabeth on December 28, 2012 · 7 comments

in Christmas, Family, Harry, Life

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Tim and I are pretty accustomed to big Christmases.  Our very first Christmas together was spent with his family on the other side of the world, and since then we’ve usually hosted one or both sets of families with us.  This Christmas (our sixth?  geez!) was pretty quiet in comparison to the others.  We saw my extended Melbourne family for lunch (an incredible feast which featured three roasts, baked fish and salads) and lavished attention on my cousin’s new baby girl.

The rest of the time we were on our own.  Christmas felt different this year, and not really in a good way.  In previous years I’ve kind of craved a quiet Christmas for just the two of us but the truth is, the reality was less exciting than the idea.  I missed my family; I missed Tim’s family.  We’ve spent so much time with all of them this year that it felt weird to be without them on such an important day.  We had phonecalls and skype, but what we really needed was our people – for realsies.

We need to do something about that next year.

Anyway, it wasn’t doom and gloom.  Tim and I had a fun Christmas morning opening our presents, and we were both pretty spoiled.  Tim gave me the Manfrotto tripod I’d been lusting after, and something I had no idea I wanted – a SodaStream!  That thing is FUN and although I’m not a big soda/soft drink fan I do love my water carbonated so it’s going to get a workout this Summer.  Tim got some boy stuff – a Playstation game, a voucher for some new running shoes and a big pile of books that he’d been hoping for.

Mum & Dad gave us a Sony HD handycam.  It was probably their way of saying, “HEY. Give us back our video camera!” but that doesn’t matter because it’s awesome.  It has a cool little projector on it too so that you can play back your footage in a dark room.  It’s probably the closest thing to super 8 film that my generation will ever see again.

So that was Christmas.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was still a reminder of how incredibly lucky we are.  Just a 30 min drive from my house one of my best workmates was facing her first Christmas without her husband.  Somebody else I care about spent the day watching their relationship unravel before their eyes.  Tim and I had each other, our silly dog and some thoughtful gifts, and our loved ones were just a phonecall away.  We know we’re pretty blessed.

Hoping that your Christmas was wonderful, even if for you it just means a bit of a rest from the everyday grind.  I can’t quite believe that we’re about to head into a new year but I have a really good feeling about 2013.

And I’m never wrong about this sort of thing.

* No reindogs were harmed in the making of this blog post.

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Goodbye, and thank you.

by Elizabeth on November 23, 2012 · 2 comments

in Australia, Family, Life

In a final interview for Penguin, the man who has regularly been Australia’s most popular novelist said he was going to die at precisely the right time, while he still had his intellect and energy. ”The time is right, it’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous.”

Bryce Courtenay passed away today after a battle with stomach cancer.

I have only read a few of his books so far, but there are scenes in The Power of One that are so deeply embedded in my mind that I know I’ll always carry them in my memory.  I read the book when I was barely a teenager, and when I discovered the sequel Tandia I devoured it in a weekend.  I just couldn’t put it down, and that was a thrilling feeling when I was 13.

I often wonder how those books would stand up now that I’m an adult.

 

When I was sixteen I worked for a family as a nanny for a few months travelling all over the world.  Our final stop before home was a short stay in Sydney, and by the time we arrived there I was jetlagged and exhausted from head to toe.  I’d hoped for a sleep-in that morning but the kids had other ideas.  Their body clocks were confused and they needed to be fed and entertained.

We got dressed as quietly as we could and snuck down to breakfast in the restaurant in the foyer of the hotel.

I remember taking the two smallest children up to the buffet to help them choose their breakfast.  They were pointing wildly at all the sugary foods that they weren’t allowed to eat at home, and as I filled up their plates there was a lot of negotiation and compromise going on.  I was slowly inching my way backwards along the counter while we talked, keeping an eye on their little hands in case the temptation of chocolate for breakfast was too strong.

What happened next was like a cheaply-written sitcom.  I took one backward step too many and bumped right into a man who had been doing the same thing from the other end of the buffet.  It gave me such a fright that I almost overbalanced, and I would have taken both plates of food to the ground with me.  The man instinctively stuck out a hand to steady me, straightened me up and we both apologised at exactly the same time.  The kids had the giggles because it was so ridiculous that we’d collided at such a slow speed, and the laughter was infectious.

When my embarrassment had finally subsided I looked up from the ground and realised that the grinning face in front of me was the same as the one in the dust jacket of my books.  I was doubly mortified and made a swift exit after apologising a few hundred more times.

He seemed amused.

 

My grandmother (right) and her sister.

But Bryce Courtenay wasn’t the only wonderful person that the world lost today.  This afternoon another wonderful storyteller took her last breath and left behind some pretty heavy hearts.  She didn’t have a chance to say her goodbyes like Bryce, but perhaps that’s a blessing of a different kind.

She’ll be so badly missed, especially by her sister – my grandmother.  They’ve been next door neighbours for 17 years, and best friends for 97 years. My grandmother has been a widow for longer than she was married and in January she will turn 102 without her best mate by her side.

We’re so worried about what’s next for her.  She’s seen two world wars, the sinking of the Titanic and buried her own husband.  But how do you survive another broken heart when it’s been working hard for more than a century?

 

Every day is such a blessing.  I hope my grandmother will find the strength to live many more.

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It feels strange to be crossing this item off my 101 Things to do in 1001 Days list, as though it’s something I’m pleased to have gotten out of the way.

The truth is, crossing this one off is hard and I have written this entire post with my bottom lip protruding.  I love my Americano, but the sad thing about our relationship is that wherever we go, somebody’s family is always going to be on the other side of the world.  I often think about how great it would be to have Tim’s family nearby so that we could share our day-to-day stuff with them.  We’re all missing out because of that.

We spent most of this year planning and anticipating our stay with Tim’s family and now that it’s over we’re missing them like crazy.  Our trip to the USA was incredible for so many reasons, but mostly because of the wonderful people that we shared it with.

Let me show you some of my favourite people.

 

Why isn’t teleportation a thing yet?

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Great Ocean Road-trip!

by Elizabeth on April 23, 2012 · 2 comments

in Australia, Family, Life, Photo Posts

 

If you’ve ever driven the Great Ocean Road you already know how beautiful it is.  The beaches are rocky and rugged, the wildlife is abundant, and the waves kick up enough salt and mist to make the sunsets even more spectacular.  It’s truly one of the best stretches of coastline that I’ve ever experienced and the journey is always worth the slight motion sickness that I get towards the end!

A couple of months ago my big brother told me that he was going to be in town for his friend’s wedding, and he mentioned that he’d never seen The Great Ocean Road or the Twelve Apostles.  Obviously we had to make it happen, so we packed the car (and the puppy) for a long weekend and made a road trip out of it!

We’re lucky to have friends in Apollo Bay who run a bed & breakfast, so planning our trip was a breeze.  The accommodation is incredible and I’m going to have to devote an entire post to it!

 

Our trip down the coast was just spectacular.  It was clear and sunny, but not hot.  Harry was calm the entire way, and approached each stop with enthusiasm and a waggy tail.  It was a really happy day.

How’s that for a sunset?

By this stage of the journey we were almost at our destination.  We were having our friends up to the house for dinner so we knew we had to get there and unpack quickly or they’d be starving!  However, we couldn’t resist one last stop when we noticed a bunch of cars pulled over on the side of the windy road.  It could only mean one thing…

Koalas, in the wild!  It was about this time that I realised what a city kid I have become, as the only koalas I’ve seen in the past decade have been in zoos.

(Don’t believe what you see on TV, Americanos.  Well, except for the kangaroos.  We all have one of those to commute to work.)

 

So that was Day 1 of our wonderful long weekend.  More photos to come!

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Archie: the exclusive photo shoot

by Elizabeth on January 15, 2012 · 1 comment

in Celebrities, Family

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@elzxbth) you’ll already know about the tiny celebrity that we’ve been hosting for the past week.  We’ve been looking forward to meeting this young man for months but like many we were nervous about his reputation for unpredictable outbursts.

During his stay we hoped to interview the 5 month old known as Archie, and ask him how he felt about his notoriety.  Was there any connection between his nicknames (Fuzz Nut, Bubba Chubs, Drools Flannigan) and that stint in juvenile detention?  Who is that mystery brunette he’s often photographed with?  Any regrets about that Wiggles tattoo on his backside?

We were disappointed to discover that he was completely silent on these issues, and after our months of preparation his refusal to answer even one of our questions was a crushing blow.

 

So I suppose it was to be expected that when it came to the photo shoot Archie was just like any other celebrity on set.  He showed up late and brought a sullen looking entourage.  He also insisted on wearing his own absorbant underwear for the shoot (we couldn’t help but notice his compromised motor control on the day) and half way through the shoot he simply removed them entirely.

The crew decided to press on with the shoot despite Archie’s vulgar behaviour.  These exclusive photos are a revealing account of one young man’s spiral of disgrace and disrepute.

 

After the shoot there were tantrums when he discovered that his sippy cup had not been filled with dew collected from the morning’s roses, as had been specified in his backstage rider.  I guess somebody also forgot to remove the brown M&Ms from the bowl in his dressing room.

Disaster.

Thank God his manager was able to calm him down before he called in the lawyers.

 

Archie is my cousin’s latest masterpiece, and is actually a lovely little bundle of smiles and toes and wobbles.  Auntie Liz misses that face very much, and hopes that he and his entourage come back very soon x

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Our little Christmas

by Elizabeth on December 28, 2011 · 1 comment

in Christmas, Family, Life

Whew!  What a month this has been.

Our little Christmas was perfect, but just a few days later it’s hard to believe that it’s all over!  This month has been full of preparations – not only for Christmas Day itself, but for the enormous party that we threw for our extended Melbourne family on December 23.  Plans for our outdoor candlelit dinner party were thrown into disarray at the last minute when the forecast mentioned thunderstorms and a heatwave, so we quickly sourced some trestle tables and turned our living room into a Christmas wonderland instead.

But, in true Melbourne style the forecast wasn’t correct.  There were no thunderstorms that night, although they would have been very welcome to break the sticky humidity!  It didn’t really matter though, we still had a lovely meal in front of the airconditioner and it was a really happy night.  My cousin broke some exciting news too, so there was an extra reason to celebrate (although she had to toast with a glass of water!)

Once the happy chaos of the big family dinner was behind us things were a lot more relaxed.  We celebrated Christmas Day with my parents, who are staying with us for 2 weeks, and it was such a perfect day.  We all had a great sleep-in, I made breakfast, and while we opened our presents we had phone calls from my brother in London, my grandmother in Brisbane, and Tim’s family in the States.  The presents were thoughtful and it was great to have our little group together.

 

 

I had hoped to be writing here more while my parents are in town, but I’m finding that I’m enjoying having them around too much to spend time on my computer!  We’ve been doing lots of shopping, day tripping, eating and catching up on each others’ lives.  Dad has been doing odd jobs around the house that we have ignored (hooray!) and the furmonster has been desperately trying to track the movements of the extra two members of the household.

It’s all very exhausting, but it’s lovely.

Aside from all of the festivities I’ve also been thinking a lot about next year, and making some plans. One of my big projects will be another round of 101 Things in 1001 Days and I am working very hard to complete my list before January 1! I’m going to have a section of my site devoted to my new list, but it might be a few weeks before I will find time to build it. My 1001 Days begins next week though, eek!

Anyway, it feels good to have checked in here and to share some news. My parents are here for another 8 days, and then my little cousin arrives with her tiny baby for a week-long visit! So excited about meeting baby Archie and kissing those chubby cheeks of his. Also? Look out Chapel St, my cousin is on a mission and that girl intends to SHOP.

I hope your Christmas has been as wonderful as ours!

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My Gran

by Elizabeth on September 8, 2011 · 3 comments

in Family, Life

Today was Gran’s birthday, and the first one we’ve spent without her.  It’s only been six months since she left us, but in that short time she has already missed meeting two brand new great-grandchildren that she would have adored.  In those few short months her house has been sold, her belongings divided amongst her loved ones, and two handsome baby boys entered the world all because she was born on this day, 88 years ago.

 

Yesterday I glanced through the search terms that my visitors have been using to reach my blog, and discovered that somebody had found their way here via this phrase: ..dear gran i miss you very much.

Whoever you are, I’m so sorry that you miss your precious Gran.  I am missing mine terribly, especially today.

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Gran’s desk

by Elizabeth on August 21, 2011 · 2 comments

in Family, Life

This little secretary desk used to belong to my beautiful Gran, who left us suddenly in March this year.  It was a pretty difficult time for our family (especially Mum and her siblings) because instead of being able to pause and grieve her passing, they were thrown into suddenly packing up her house.  Gran had sold her house only a couple of weeks before she passed away and to meet the settlement date my Mum, Aunt and Uncle had to work pretty hard.

I spent a week helping Mum at the house after Gran’s funeral and gained some insight into the enormity of the task.  It wasn’t only Gran’s things that we were sorting, packing and sharing amongst the family.  It was also the things that belonged to my Grandpa, and my Gran’s brother Uncle Gordon.  There were moments when I just need to stop and take in the book I was holding, to read the inscription, or to close my eyes and remember what my Gran used to serve in a certain crystal bowl.

Somehow there was enough “stuff” to fill three houses, and yet their house never seemed cluttered.  They had the sort of storage space I could only ever dream of, though.

Mum asked me, before this process began, if there was anything I wanted to have to remember my grandparents by.  I remember saying that it would be nice to have a special book, maybe something from Grandpa’s desk, or a little crystal trinket from Gran’s dressing table.  Nothing big, just something from their daily lives to carry with me as time marched on.

Lots of Gran & Grandpa’s belongings were already intended for certain people, and Gran used to talk a lot about who should have what.  What was left was put on a big table for the extended family to choose from, and my cousins and I were told which pieces of furniture were going to be given away.

I think each of us was able to take away something special.  My special thing wasn’t just the trinket I had originally asked for, it was Gran’s desk.

 

Washi tape, and hoop art from Gretel Girl Draws – Etsy / MadeIt / Blog

 

31 Photos in 31 Days

 

When we were kids my grandparents lived in a coastal town called Caloundra, a bit over an hour’s drive from Brisbane.  They lived a block away from Shelly Beach and some of my favourite memories of my cousins were formed in that house.  There was a backyard to play in, and Grandpa’s workshop down the back was always full of mysterious projects and smelled of sawdust.  There was a high stool next to his workbench for curious grandkids who wanted to see how to french polish a chair leg.

My brother and I, and three of our spunky cousins

 

Good memories.

The “hub” of the house for Gran was her little desk.  If we asked to borrow a pen or a piece of paper, if she needed to know somebody’s telephone number or their birthday, this is where she would find it.  Mum told me recently that Gran was so excited when she got her desk, that she had wanted it for a long time.

 

I left it to my Mum to go through the contents of Gran’s desk when it was time to pack it up.  Ordinary objects, like scissors, pens and old unused stationery was put in one pile, and my Mum said I could keep what I wanted.  Not much of it was terribly noteworthy, but it was Gran’s.  Her old scissors, never replaced because they still worked.  A vintage pack of Redheads matches.  A stripey, double-length pencil that Mum said would have been as old as me.

It seemed important to me that some of these little things stay with Gran’s desk.  I also kept a mismatched collection of unused envelopes, because I know that Gran would have intended to use them one day.  There were a couple of old, yellowed writing sets and notecards still in their boxes.

Tucked in between Gran’s old letter sets is a stamped, self-addressed envelope in my Gran’s handwriting.  I really like knowing that it’s there.

 

It might sound like I’m keeping this desk as a shrine to my Gran, but I promise I’m not.  Aside from being full of memories of her it is a beautiful and functional piece of furniture in its own right.  Her little treasures sit alongside lots of my own things – my collection of blank journals, boxes of beading supplies, my paper trimmers and some of my washi tape.  I’ve mixed my own letter writing sets in with hers, and I feel like that has breathed new life into some of her old things.

I feel very lucky to have Gran’s desk.  And I’ll never replace those old scissors as long as they work.

 

I’ve been meaning to write about this desk for a long time, and had been putting it off.  I want to say thank you to Melissa Goodsell for writing about her own little desk today, and giving me the inspiration to finally write about my Gran’s!

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Hip Hip, Hooray!

by Elizabeth on August 9, 2011 · 2 comments

in Family, Life

31 Photos in 31 Days

We had plenty to celebrate today!

A certain boy of mine turned thirty-two (hooray!) and we marked the occasion with this incredible flourless chocolate & brandy cake (and the Australian Census).

Meanwhile…

… the newest member of our family successfully completed his first day ever in this world.  A sweet, chubby-cheeked tiny boy with a mop of hair.  He’s a perfect little mix of his mum and dad, and he was lucky enough to inherit the world’s best big brother.

Congratulations to my little cousin Trisha, Dave & Jack.  We’re so in love with this little person and can’t wait to find out what his name will be!

 

What a day.  Happy birthday, birthday boys.

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My brother and me

by Elizabeth on August 8, 2011 · 1 comment

in Family, Life

This is my big brother.

We were born six years apart (almost to the day) and when I was a little kid I thought he was amazing.  He could do tricks on his BMX, he could turn his bedroom into outer space (with lego, glow in the dark stickers, torches and bed sheets) and he could hear any song and figure it out on piano.  Being this guy’s little sister was a Pretty Big Deal.

Our age difference was a bit hard on us, though.  We always lived on streets where there were lots of boys his age, but never any girls for me to play with.  And boys in groups were never all that good at playing games that included little sisters.

(Yesterday I discovered that the Slovenian word for “brother” is brat.  Coincidence?)

 

1986 was the only year that we were both at the same school – me in Year 1, and him in Year 7.  I used to visit him at lunch time and the Year 7 girls used to fawn over me and tell my brother how cute I was.  He tolerated my visits only because of the attention!  I missed him like crazy when I started Year 2.

The next year my family moved from Brisbane to Toowomba – 90 minutes away – and my brother decided to become a boarder at his school.  Being so close meant that we were constantly driving up and down that mountain range to attend his school events, but even though we saw each other all the time we haven’t actually lived together full-time since I was eight years old and he was fourteen.

There were times when I felt like my parents had two “only children”.  Our different childhoods meant that we grew up to be very different people.  It drives me crazy sometimes, but it’s not usually a problem now that we’re older.  I notice that as adults we try to concentrate on the things we have in common (like our hilarious family) instead of our differences (see: politics).

 

Last week my brother packed the last of his things into suitcases, and set off on a new adventure with a one-way ticket to London.  It’s something that he’s been working towards for a long time, and I know that this is the beginning of a whole new chapter for him.

He’s had a lot of success in his life, but he’s also known some very sad times.  I think this is something he really has to do.

So safe travels, Superbrother.

Use your powers for good.

 

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Dear Grandpa

by Elizabeth on March 28, 2011 · 10 comments

in Family, Life

 

Dear Grandpa,

There’s something I need to tell you.

It’s been two years, three months and two days since we lost you.  You slipped away just a few hours after Christmas Day in 2008, finally free from the cancer that caused you so much pain in those last few months.  We all felt so relieved that you had been released from your deteriorating body, but your absence has been felt deeply ever since.

We miss you so much, Grandpa.

If you were still here we’d have thrown a beautiful party for your 90th birthday weekend before last.  Maybe we’d have hung lanterns from Mum & Dad’s mango tree and decorated the garden for your party, or chosen a beautiful restaurant for lunch.  You’d have been surrounded by your children, grandchildren and great-grandchild (and the sweet littlest one on its way).

We’d have hugged you tight as you left, with Gran’s arm in yours as you carried her bag to the car.

Before you died, we promised you that we would take care of Gran as you did for so many years.  Your children worked tirelessly to give her the support that she needed to keep living in her home, to give her companionship when she needed to talk, and space when she needed her independence.

You’d have been so proud of your children for the way they guided her through those rocky years.  With love, and dignity.  We couldn’t replace you, but we all took such good care of your girl.

Before you died, I made one last trip to see you in hospital.  You had lost so much weight, the skin of your little arms had lost all its elasticity, but you lifted them to hug me several times.  We talked and talked while I held your hand, and I told you that I loved you.  You cried when I said goodbye, but I managed to keep smiling until I left your ward.

Grandpa, I didn’t get to see my Gran before she left us today – suddenly, and without any pain.  I didn’t get to squeeze her tight and tell her how much I loved her, and to thank her for creating the magical memories that I carry with my cousins from our childhood.

I didn’t get to say thank you for becoming such a wonderful friend to me in my adult life.

Maybe you could tell her all this when you see her again, Grandpa.  Let her know how much she was loved, and how blessed we were to have you both in our lives.

Take good care of her Grandpa.

We love and miss you both so much.

Love,

Miss EJ xxx

 

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