31 October 2013

12 : My Zebra's Arrived - Something New

Zebra L46 Pleco
Such an exciting day today!  I woke up to a message on my phone, which was sent at 4am from a fish breeder in Melbourne, letting me know that my first two Zebra pleco's (hypancistrus zebra) are on their way.  The Zebra L46 Pleco is a species of catfish that are endemic to Brazil and found in the Rio Xingu River.  These fish and others native to the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon River, are threatened to become extinct.  It is thought that the construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the Xingu River in Brazil will cause severe reduction in flow of the river, threatening the natural biotope for these fish.  These catfish were first discovered in the early 1990's and were exported in high numbers due to their popularity.  The Brazilian government but a ban on their export early in 2006 and since that time their prices have increased dramatically, they remain one the most popular catfish amongst aquarists.  The only available specimens in Australia, and many other countries, are those that have been tank bred and their prices are extremely high.
I had always thought that these fish would be impossible to find, however, I have since found a community of fish breeders that are currently breeding them and managed to purchase two so far.  I have a few more on hold from a different breeder, which are currently growing out big enough to survive the plane trip to my house.  They are long lived fish, 10 years plus all going well, which makes them extremely slow growing and slow to mature to breeding age.  Therefore, when I received my morning phone call to let me know they had safely arrived at the airport this was a very exciting call.
So far so good, both fish are healthy and were very active immediately when unpacked from their foam box.  They are now settling into their new tank, I even managed a few photo's before they inevitably go into hiding.  They are an extremely shy fish and their natural habitat is deep in the river where they reside amongst caves and rock crevices.  Fingers crossed my two survive their experience of flying interstate and settle well.  I'm hoping in a few years time they may even decide to breed, fingers crossed, they are approximately 2 - 2 1/2 years old and about 5-6 cm long.


30 October 2013

12 : Puppies - Something Old!

Boxer Puppies
Four years ago our Boxers had puppies!  It was both an incredible and daunting experience all at the same time.  Our female, Roxy, was already five years old and we figured probably too old to have pups when we got our Boxer male, Aragorn.  Apparently not, within a year Roxy looked suspiciously fat.  A check up at the vet confirmed little puppy skulls on the ultrasound.  She was pregnant!  Exactly when she would have them was anybody's guess. 
Our dogs are just that, dogs!  Therefore, they reside outside where nature intended, but I wanted Roxy and the pups at the very least to be warm and safe and separated from the male dog - just in case.  We also had another older desexed dog named Rusty, a Cocker Spaniel and Jack Russell terrier cross, relatively harmless but we didn't want to risk it.
I'm not sure how I knew but I sensed when she was ready to have her pups.  Maybe having six kids of my own helped, however, I had never dealt with a pregnant dog before.  We have an area around the side of the house that we could separate the dogs and we coaxed Roxy there, setting her up with a lovely warm bed.  Nothing happened that night but during the next day things began to get moving.  My son came home from school to check on her.  Despite the fact I had only just checked her an hour before, he came racing back into the house with the news I was dreading!  Roxy was having her puppies and one wasn't moving!
Great!  Worse nightmare taking place before our very eyes.  Her first born pup was perfect and a good size, but he just wasn't moving.  We wrapped the pup anyway just in case he was slow to start, but he never did recover, he was dead.  Throughout the rest of that night we agonized over watching another seven puppies birthed.  She did a great job and was a natural mother, doing all the right things exactly as she was supposed to.  It was absolutely amazing to be a part of this experience.  The whole family was gathered around to welcome each new pup and will it to live.  All seven pups were born alive and Roxy was healthy; exhausted we all went to bed.
Unfortunately the next day my son found another dead pup, it was the runt of the litter and when he was born we had not thought he would survive.  I had already buried the first pup, and there I was digging another grave.  This was not how I wanted to experience puppies, we had pictured fat little puppies bounding around the yard with their parents.  Instead one by one, a day at a time, I was burying poor little puppies.
After the second pup died we noticed a third pup being excluded from the group; we removed her and began to hand feed her.  We cared for her for an entire day and night but eventually decided we should return the pup to Roxy.  Unfortunately, despite only being back with the litter for a couple of hours she did not survive, it was my son yet again who found her.  It wasn't meant to be, it was survival of the fittest taking place before our very eyes.  It was cruel and horrible to witness and I was left to bury a third puppy.  I vowed never to go through this again; one litter was heartbreaking enough.
After constant checks on the pups every few hours, buying and installing a heater for them outside, the remaining five pups seemed to thrive.  As Roxy was truly an outdoor dog she panicked when we tried to move her and the pups into the laundry, she began to throw her pups around frantically trying to find a safer place for them.  We quickly moved her back outside and she and the pups settled again.  It was just so bitterly cold, we were worried for them all.  The heater definitely helped, and we put up sheets as a wind break for her cozy little area.
It was damn hard work helping Roxy raise those five very boisterous Boxer puppies as they grew, feeding several times a day when they were able to eat solids.  Cleaning and caring for them, but it was a wonderful experience all the same.  All the children thoroughly enjoyed cuddling the puppies as much as they could, all our pups were raised with children from the day they were born and have grown to be wonderful calm family dogs for their new owners.  Turns out one of them grew up to be a bit too fond of people, she pines all day long when her owners go to work and has to be babysat by an elderly grandmother!
Four years on and we still get to enjoy one of our pups all grown up.  My eldest daughter kept one of the pups, Ruby, who comes for visits to see her parents quite regularly.  I have been sent photo's of the other puppies with their new owners over the years which has been really nice.  I am quite thankful that there have been no more pups as, even though we all enjoyed the experience, giving them up at the end was truly heartbreaking.  We all really developed a bond with them and it was so rewarding watching them grow and progress.  I must admit I even miss opening up the laundry door each morning, only to be bowled over by five Boxer pups pushing their way past me into the house.  All the children and I would race around trying to catch them one by one.  I'm sure each of them would wee on the floor about three times each before they could be scooped up and encouraged back outside ready for their breakfast.

28 October 2013

11 : Turquoise Discus - Something Blue

Discus Eggs
Red Turquoise Discus guarding his eggs

In the world within my discus display tank nature rules.  The tank is located at the entrance of our home and the fish have to put up with strange humans madly dashing past, big and little, and occasionally stopping to stare at them.  They also have to deal with food falling from above at regular times throughout each day, rather than searching and foraging for themselves.  Their environment may not change much day after day, but their world is buzzing with activity with many species of fellow Amazonian fish.
The tank may look like a natural fish paradise to us, and for these discus it is, yet it is not quite the same as swimming in large shoals amongst twisted tree roots in a semi dark world where they would be naturally found in the rivers of the Amazon.  However, my discus get to experience for the first time in their lives swimming amongst submerged tree branches and aquatic plants, they have natural rocks and substrate on the base of their tank and best of all can hide from the world when they feel they need to. 

These fish are often kept by well meaning enthusiasts in bare bottomed plain tanks, on display at all times which goes against their natural instincts to hide, yet makes it easier for the aquarist to keep their tank in pristine conditions.  These fish don't get the opportunity to learn how to hide and to look for morsels of food hidden amongst the natural crevices of a tank, their tanks are vacuumed clean after each feed and their tank water can be changed from anywhere between 50 - 100% daily!
Although my tank cannot ever be truly like the amazon, the lighting is the biggest detriment.  If I kept the tank darker then I would miss out on the opportunity to be able to witness these magnificent creatures.  My discus are friendly and used to me and feed from my hand, they recognise me when I walk past their tank, I do try and keep their environment as natural as I can.  If I wanted to breed these majestic kings of the aquarium I would separate the pairs that have formed naturally as they grew, and move them to a much smaller bare bottomed aquarium with one single breeding cone in the tank for them to lay their eggs on.  In this environment they would be free to raise their babies without predators and I would have multiple discus fry to raise and to sell.
However, I do not want to do this.  I cannot justify taking my discus pairs from their home tank and causing them stress by removing them away from their natural environment.  I would dearly love them to be able to successfully breed in their display tank but the chances are remote.  There are simply too many other predators in their tank, including the other discus who love the taste of fresh discus fry and discus eggs.  Despite all this, my Discus do keep insisting on breeding and laying their precious eggs on natural tree branches or sometimes on the glass of the tank and guarding them fiercely.  None have made it much past the wiggler stage, but this is nature at its finest...

27 October 2013

11 : Memories and Time - Something Borrowed

A Reunion of Memories and Time ...
Last night was our 25 year High School Reunion, it was a night of lots of hugs, laughter, tears and reminiscing of old times.  Even though a quarter of a century has passed since those final school days it feels like just yesterday when we were last together.  Time is an incredible concept, the world keeps spinning and the clock keeps ticking and yet our memories remain the same. 
It's hard to know whether we are all exactly the same in reality, or whether we simply become exactly the same only when with each other; feeling like we are teenagers once more.  The difference is now we can boldly walk up to the bar and order an alcoholic beverage without fear of being asked our age.  I almost felt like I should pull out my ID last night, and then smiled to myself when I knew I didn't need it.  Actually, it would have been a privilege to have been asked.  It would mean that a stranger also thinks that I still look as young as I once did, and not just my friends that assure me I look exactly the same.
How on earth can you make up for 25 years lost in only a few hours?  The answer is you can't possibly, however, you can certainly enjoy trying.  I just loved to hear what everyone was up to, I felt happy that all my friends were doing well and living their lives, each in different and interesting ways.  All of us have experienced both hard and good times over the past quarter of a century, but the night of memories concentrates on the good times and recognising how far we have all come. 
For a short while the world stood still and let us catch up again, it allowed us to relive those early years and fill in some of the missing gaps.  But memories are just that, moments in time already lived and then you move on.  The night moved on too before we could stop it, becoming a new memory for us all.  A fresh memory to add to all the others, one that we can access whenever we want to be with our friends again.  When we want to feel that special connection and remember that we have people in this world that care for us.  People that actually think of us more often than we could have ever appreciated, that genuinely want the best for us and are proud of our achievements quietly from afar.  That is something so special that even time can't take that away, memories belong to us forever and connections will remain unbroken. 
It felt wrong to say goodbye, it was hard to believe I wouldn't be seeing them all at school again on Monday, but those days are long gone.  There will be school on Monday, but not for us, now that privilege belongs to our children.  There is no such thing as goodbye.  When we next see each other it will be tomorrow, no matter how many years away tomorrow will be ...

24 October 2013

11 : Brother Baby Bear - Something New

Baby Bear's Brother Found...

It is with regret to announce that Baby Bear who featured in week 9 Something Borrowed blog http://ajmaaa.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/9-baby-bear-something-borrowed.html has officially been declared a missing bear... 
It appears that he made another naughty choice 48 hours ago when he snuck into the car for a routine visit to Granny's house and her specialist appointment at the hospital.  Master 4 reports that baby bear was up to his usual antics and tagged along for the majority of the day, it is unknown at what point he disappeared.  It appears he may have attempted a dangerous parachuting game where he attempted to fling at high speed out of the rear window of the car.  Unfortunately, as baby bear was not wearing a parachute this stunt has ended in tears.  Despite internet searches, multiple drives up and down Main North Road searching for his remains and visits to the hospital, there have been no signs of baby bear.  Unfortunately baby bear chose to perform his most dangerous of stunts on a day of extreme weather conditions.  Wild winds were blowing huge trees across the state onto roads and houses, therefore, a small panda bear didn't have much of a chance in these conditions.
Both boys have been in tears and hoping when the weather improved that baby bear would find his way home.  Despite officially missing for 48 hours we were unable to fill out a police report; due to his previous mischievous behaviour the police were not confident he was actually missing.  It is thought that he may, in fact, be simply off on another of his adventures. It is indeed possible and the boys and I have decided most likely, he is probably so busy on his new adventures that he may not have time to make it home at all.
We spent the morning searching eBay for other missing panda bear adverts and found, by complete chance, baby bear's brother!  He is also from China, just like baby bear, and has been cared for by an American family.  Due to brother baby bear's bad behaviour they have put him up for sale.  The boys decided that they would love to welcome him into our home and are eagerly awaiting his arrival.  Due to international flights he may take a few weeks to arrive, we are hoping that he doesn't also decide to go off on naughty adventures like his brother.
Farewell baby bear, we will always fondly remember you and miss you and hope you enjoy your new adventures.  The boys are looking forward to explaining to your brother just how naughty you were and teaching him how to play all your games with your two best friends ...

forever in our hearts baby bear ...

23 October 2013

11 : 25 Year School Reunion - Something Old

1988 - 2013
This weekend is my 25 year School reunion from our last year at High School, of which I didn't actually attend!  It was 1988 and I decided that school wasn't for me, after only 1 week of Year 12 I decided to move on and attend Business College instead.  I was awarded Dux of my class at Business College and qualified with a Secretarial Diploma in one year.  This was an interesting twist of fate as I found myself pregnant at the end of 1988 and needed a job, due to my qualification I managed to gain a position as a secretary in the Commonwealth Bank.
It's so hard to contemplate that an entire quarter of a century has passed since those school yard days.  Its incredible, thinking back, how the people that you only knew for a fraction of a lifetime managed to influence your life.  It was a time when the opinions of your friends mattered more than anyone else.
The school I completed my education at was a senior school that only went for 3 years, some of these people, basically the boys, we really only just got to know before school was over.  However, the feeder school was an all girls school from year 6 to year 9.  I joined half way through year 6, so for me I spent just over 5 years with the majority of my group of friends.  Some came and went along the way, but for me it was the longest period of schooling life that I ever spent with the same group of people. 
I moved many times as a child and attended many different schools.  I had the very unfortunate experience of attending year 1 in three different states of Australia over 2 years, due to different rules in each State.  The early years of school were extremely confusing to me and I soon learnt to give up making friends altogether ...
This is why it was really nice to have had the opportunity to stay with the same group of friends throughout the final years of my schooling.  Despite being taken away from the freedom and the warmth of Darwin when I first moved back to Adelaide, and enrolled into an all girls school, I managed to make some great friends and have some amazing schooling adventures. 
During the early years at my all girls school we got up to all sorts of mischief, who could forget those fond memories of  turning our classroom into a scene from Excalibur the movie.  We all imagined that the Lady of the Lake was living in the carpet, and we would leap from our chairs to the door, losing points if you touched the carpet.  I remember when we made our own letterboxes on our desks to fit all the notes we would pass around the class, even nominating different posties to post them bumping around on our chairs. 
Although looking back I realise we were particularly mean to some of those poor relief teachers that dared show up at an all girls private school, we certainly had some fun at their expense.  The look on their face when they would walk into a class where all the tables and chairs were facing the back wall, with us all sitting in unison, assuring the teacher that this was how we always sat in our school.  Then there was the perfectly timed stand up; where we would all just stand up at a pre organised time or start clapping, the baffled teacher would ask what we were doing but we would only assure them that we were doing exactly as we were asked.  Watching the poor relief teacher ride away on his bike with no idea of the fresh chalk marks all up the back of his suit jacket was always a giggle... 
It was that camaraderie and friendship that only school friends can have, it's a time in your life that it's you and your friends against the world and you believe no one else could ever understand your daily dramas.
The last time I saw many of my school friends was at our 10 year reunion, 15 years ago now.  It's going to be very interesting to see how much we have all changed and find out how everyone has spent their last 25 years.  What an amazing opportunity to reconnect with those people that, even if only for such a short time, were so important in our lives and to each other... 


19 October 2013

10 : Buckets - Something Blue

Fish Buckets

Blue buckets drying in my sink is a familiar sight in our house, it means I have been changing water in the fish tanks again.  A very regular occurrence when you have 5 fish tanks in your home.  These simple cheap 10 litre buckets I bought at the local shopping centre have come in handy since I've started keeping tropical fish. 
One of the best tips I picked up on when researching how to keep fish was to ensure you have buckets specifically for the fish.  The idea is that you use the buckets for one thing only, changing fish water.  That way there are no risks of contamination, the presence of products like detergent can kill the fish and destroy the carefully maintained eco system.  They have come in handy during fish emergencies, such as when you suddenly need to find a home for all of your fish when their tank springs a leak.
We have had that twice, believe it or not, since I started keeping fish last July.  The first was because the tank was the wrong kind, a turtle tank, not a tropical fish tank and couldn't cope with the 200 litres of water.  That night the buckets were very handy, keeping the fish safe in their own water for a while until I could find something better.  After rummaging through the laundry cupboard I found a very tiny old 10 litre turtle tank that managed to hold all the fish, after a quick clean, until we could get a more suitable tank the following day.
That very same little old 10 litre turtle tank became my new baby fish tank and lasted for a while before it also sprung a leak.  Lesson learnt, don't use any turtle tanks to keep fish and if your tank is going to leak it will definitely happen at night!  The baby fish had to survive in a blue bucket until another trip to the shop found a new tank for them.  Actually having a disaster like this made me realise the benefits of keeping more than one tank, at least now I have options to move fish from one tank to another if there was a need.  I'm not sure it gave me the excuse to get another 4 tanks, but think how prepared I'll be.
I recently developed a new system to change water in my largest tank, my discus display tank, as bucketing 100 litres of water every 3 days was becoming hard work.  I bought two 50 litre tubs, a length of aquarium tubing and a pump.  I connect the tubing directly to the Pura tap in the kitchen then run the length of tubing up the steps and into the front entrance hallway, the tubs are filled directly in front of the tank.  I mix heated kettle water and water conditioner directly into the tub, matching the tub water to the 29 degree tank water.
The pond pump works efficiently, sucking the water directly from the tub and forcing it up through another piece of tubing and replacing the tank with fresh, clean de-chlorinated water.  The only problem I haven't solved is siphoning the water directly out of the tank and into the garden.  I'm still bucketing this out manually and pouring it on pot plants when the weather is hot.  However, I can bucket water out at the same time I'm filling up the big tubs now, so I am at least saving time.
If I actually had stopped the buckets all together I would miss out on my regular exercise. Other people may find the gym helpful, I don't have the time or the money for that, so fish bucketing is my thing.  Lucky for me I still bucket the water out of the other 4 tanks = plenty of exercise!
Clean up after the first tank disaster during the night...

18 October 2013

10 : Can I Borrow Your Pen? - Something Borrowed

It's My Pen!
It can be amusing to witness the exchange between two Paramedics involved in 'pen borrowing' during a case.  The reaction can vary from genuine happiness of helping a fellow colleague in a time of need to one of utter amazement that someone would allow their pen to run out of ink during a shift.
The generous colleague that happily conjures up a spare pen, carried for such occasions, appears truly happy to have been able to help out.  Alternatively, when the request is met with stunned silence and hesitation, it's fair to say they are reluctant to meet the request.  Regardless, they find it hard to think of a realistic reason not to hand over their most prized possession, even as it is peeled from their grip.
Pens in health care are treated as though they are lined with gold, finding a pen without its owner hovering closely behind is extremely rare.  Unlike items such as stethoscopes, pen light torches and shears, the most valuable item a Paramedic can possess is a working pen!

15 October 2013

10 : Vinyl is Back - Something Old is Now Something New!

LP Record Players are Back
Apparently all those old record players we ditched 20 odd years ago are now back in style, and in a big way!  There will be many that will reminisce and kick themselves for selling their old record collections, or even worse throwing them away.  Turns out vinyl is back in fashion, owning original LPs will become more valuable than ever.  Apparently it has been cool again for some time, I seemed to have missed that memo.
When I got a birthday request for my son's 19th birthday I was very surprised.  The last thing I expected a techno geek physicist student to be asking me for was an LP player and some new vinyl records!  I didn't think I would even be able to buy any modern vinyls, I was wrong, there are so many old and new ones to choose from.  His sleek, new modern LP player is one that can actually convert LP records to iTunes to play on your iPhone, iPod or iPad if you so wish. 
We found ourselves last night having a 19 year old explain to us - diagrams and all - just why vinyl actually has a smoother sound than the digital music available today!  Don't ask me to repeat how or why, it just is.  I must admit after we cranked it out yesterday - to test it of course, I whole heartedly agree.  It was as though we stepped into a time machine as the sounds of my old Platoon movie sound track LP boomed through the house, scaring the hell out of Master 4 and all the fish.  I had always believed sound must have improved with digital media, turns out there really is nothing quite like listening to vinyl LPs.
Now we know what we are getting ourselves for Christmas...

13 October 2013

9 : The Golden Rule - Something Blue...

Feeling Blue ..
I have always been a big believer in the following eleven words, also known as the Golden Rule:
'Do unto others as you would have others do unto you' 
It simply means you should treat everyone else just as you wish to be treated yourself.  Hopefully this is with kindness and respect.  There are so many kind and wonderful people in this world, hopefully more than there are that are cruel and unkind.  Unfortunately, we seem to put so much more time and attention toward those that treat us badly and upset us, rather than those that help us feel appreciated and happy.  We are kinder to complete strangers than we are to those we are supposed to love the most. 
It may be a very simplistic view of life and human behaviour, yet surely there is still hope that good will win in the end...

11 October 2013

9 : Baby Bear - Something Borrowed

The Very Naughty Bear...
We have a very naughty bear in this house, a battered panda bear sporting several sets of stitches, evidence from some of his trysts.   He is the naughtiest bear in the house by far.  He has been accused of many things over the years such as drawing on the walls in crayon; stealing biscuits; leaving food behind the lounge in the playroom; turning the TV off in the middle of an argument, breaking the TV and generally making a mess.  He is often found to be the cause of many fights between my two youngest boys, but more often the cause of most of the fun.  He is a wicked little bear and apparently very, very funny.  He even fell into the toilet recently at the exact same time Master 4 was taking a whiz.  Imagine that for unfortunate timing.  He looked ever so smart after his visit to the laundry where he trialled both the washing machine and the tumble dryer.
Baby bear is often found in hot pursuit of the boys, who are running wildly through the house,  flying through the air smashing into furniture or 'accidentally' stomped on when he falls to the ground.  When you hear those high pitched squeals of delight, that only little boys can make, you just know baby bear is involved somehow.  Yes baby bear is a very busy and active bear but amazingly resilient.  Sometimes he is so naughty that he follows the boys into the car, rarely putting his seat belt on, and trying his best to be left behind wherever we go.  You really have to watch this little guy or he may get lost, he really is that naughty.  Thankfully he is pretty good at going to bed, usually at the exact same time as one of the boys.
I really can't recall when baby bear came into our lives, or how he got his name.  All I know is he is obviously leading my innocent boys astray, all the while making it seem like loads of fun.   Still, he is part of the family now, and no matter how naughty he is or how much he makes the boys squeal with delight, he is here to stay. 

10 October 2013

9 : Something New - Finished!

A Night of Good Dreams ...
Today I have woken up refreshed and positive, for the first time in as long as I can remember I actually enjoyed good positive dreams last night.  My dreams usually consist of crazy analogies that make me wonder what on earth is going on in my brain.  Last night, however, I was able to actually swim, not just wade in a pool, but swim strongly in waters teaming with sharks and  crocodiles.  Normally if I have to swim in these waters I am too afraid to get in and become fearful, sure that I will be eaten.  Last night, however, I put on my goggles, dove in and swam.  Although I hesitated for a moment when I remembered the sharks and crocodiles, I decided I didn't care and just kept swimming.  I swam stronger than I ever had before, I was able to cut through the water using powerful strokes that I remembered I was capable of.  I was able to make it to the other side without anything bad happening, I felt strong and powerful.
I also found myself in another dream where I was on a family holiday, I would normally become terrified during one of these dreams just as I began to realise it was time to pack for the airport.  I have a fear of flying which I long ago identified as more to do with not feeling in control, rather than actually being in danger of dying in a plane crash.  Normally in my plane dreams my plane either can't get off the ground or begins to plummet to the earth as it begins the ascent.  This is usually after I have spent most of my dream being frustrated, trying to organise for the trip back home but continually running into problems.  For example, I suddenly can't find the passports, or the tickets, or the phone won't dial, or my watch breaks and we are running impossibly late for the plane.  In last nights dream, however, I was the most organised person on the trip.  I was fully in charge, in control and ready to go, so much so that I didn't even need to step foot on the plane this time as I was no longer fearful of it.  
The only thing I can attribute such positive dreams to is the fact that I have just completed my first draft of my first novel.  It is a real achievement for me to have completed an entire novel in less than two months.  I still have work to do on it of course, but I've actually finished my story.  I had an idea, I turned it into a plan, I dedicated the time to writing it and now it is finished.  Finally I can concentrate on finishing my other novels that are still incomplete and begin to enter some short stories to hopefully be published. 
I just hope I keep enjoying good and positive dreams.  It is so much more refreshing to wake from having succeeded in your dream rather than spending all night trying to sort things out and feeling like you haven't slept at all.  Maybe I'll even get to run and fly in my dreams once more.  When I was a child I would dream of running so fast that I could literally take off and fly.  I have always loved those dreams and can't wait to be able to soar above all of my earthly problems in the land of dreams once again ...

08 October 2013

9 : The Two Pound Coin - Something Old

The Mystery of the Coin

Well it certainly is a mystery how it got there, and why, but because it did it saved us a lot of money.  This 2006 two pound coin mysteriously found itself wedged in our washing machine causing it not to drain.  I had spent many a wash in the last week clearing and draining the water manually, taking nearly a full day to get each load done.  Very frustrating.  In the end I had decided just leaving off the emergency drain cap was the only way the machine would work, allowing all the dirty water to spill onto the laundry floor and down the drain.  A real mess, but at least the clothes were being washed.
When you find yourself head down on the laundry floor watching water spill out of your machine, just so you can see if the little water pump spoke is spinning, you know that things have got out of control.  There was going to be no other choice but to get someone in to fix it, or worse still, to buy yet another washing machine.  Not something we can afford right now, especially with Christmas looming.
In the process of trying to work out why the washing machine would not, or could not, pump the dirty water out, I examined the outlet hose.  Unfortunately I found out that it was actually cracked, and the more it was touched, the more splits appeared.  It had deteriorated rapidly. I couldn't understand why there hadn't already been water all over the floor from this problem.  Maybe it had just happened.  If water had spilled out of this area it would not have been such a good result.  We keep all our dry dog food in a tub in the sink beside the washing machine which would have been ruined.  Also the spilled water would have made a bigger mess on the floor and risk moving the washing machine off balance, causing more problems with the spin cycle. 
My husband and I looked at the machine and were stuck with any more ideas.  He decided to tip it on its side when I was at work and see if he could see any problem where the outlet hose attached. This is when the coin came out.  A 2006 English two pound coin of all things.  We can only conclude it must have been wedged behind the outlet hose, where we couldn't visibly see or reach it, stopping the flow.  Absolutely unbelievable, I have found a few coins over the years which have found their way into the filter basket or stayed in the machine rattling around, 5c and 10c coins, sometimes even $1 and $2 coins.  Never, have I found a foreign currency coin, especially a larger one like the two pound coin.  I can't even imagine how it managed to find its way, not only into the washing machine, but to wedge itself to stop the flow of water.  None of it made any sense.  But there it was, the evidence was clear, the coin lay suspiciously wet and covered in grit on the laundry floor.
As all things seem to happen for a reason, even minor things like a washing machine not working properly, this coin actually led us to find out the hose was cracked and needed replacement.  We had tried repairing the hose with tape, but it was too far gone and cracked even more.  A quick trip down to Bunnings on a public holiday and a mere $18 later gave us a brand new hose. 
Fingers crossed this was the only fault and whilst I went to work last night my husband replaced the hose and ran through two loads of washing.  Worked perfectly both times, no beeping, no manual removal of water and no leaking from a broken outlet pipe.  It was fixed, all for $18, and all because of a mysterious two pound English coin.
We have been to England twice in the past 5 years but the last time was 2 years ago.  It is a true mystery how and when the coin became stuck, but because it did it led us to find other problems which in the end probably saved us a lot more money.  I guess we should be thankful to the mysterious two pound coin.

06 October 2013

8 : The Power of the Mind - Something Blue

Congratulations You Won!
This week's Something Blue story features an amazing use of the power of the mind.  It is only a small thing that happened, we won a sports bag.  I know that doesn't sound very exciting or particularly mind blowing, the thing is though, I knew we would win before we actually did.
It was on a sunny Sunday one week ago at Master 7's very first soccer sports presentation, he proudly received a trophy for his season's efforts.  There was the typical fundraiser raffle being run in the background, as you would expect at these kinds of events.  Something that normally I would steer clear of and avoid buying a ticket.  Yet on this day I somehow 'knew' without a shadow of a doubt that it would be me that won.  I really wish I did know how I knew, but I don't.  All I know is that the very moment I heard the word raffle my ears switched on, my eyes focused on the prize and I suddenly knew I was going to win.  I had to get a raffle ticket.  They were only minor prizes, a nice picture of the Australian Socceroos getting into the World Cup and a club sports bag.
I told my husband about it and he looked at both prizes and decided the bag would be the most useful for us, I told him we needed to buy tickets because we were going to win.  I was just wondering how I could buy a ticket when a girl appeared before us tickets in hand and ready to sell.  Before I could reach for my purse my husband was already pulling out his wallet to buy 5 for $2, scribbling his phone number on the stubs.  I hesitated as I had planned to actually buy the winning ticket myself, I thought about if for a moment and decided that it was all good, we would still win.
We left and went home whilst the other teams came in one by one throughout the day to receive their trophies.  It was early afternoon when my husband received the confirmation SMS informing him that he won the sports bag!  He was totally amazed, what I had predicted had actually come true. 
What I don't know is why we won.  Was it a total coincidence and had nothing to do with my self assurance that we would?  Or, did I somehow influence the results with my positive thinking, is that even possible?  There are many that believe that we can influence the world around is in positive ways by simply thinking about them, that we have more power in our minds than we ever thought possible.  It is such a surreal and nice experience to be involved with something like this, to be so sure and confident of something that you have predicted to happen in the future, and then have it happen. 
It would be great if we could truly understand the power of our minds, to understand intuition and our abilities to sometimes predict the future.  Even when it is only for such minor things such as winning a raffle, it makes you feel great and restores some faith that maybe you are capable of so much more than you ever thought.  If only it would work when I picked lotto numbers! 

03 October 2013

8 : A Little Boy's Dream - Something Borrowed

The news every Mum wants to hear...
Normally Master 7 tells me how fantastic his dreams are, he dreams of a world filled with dragons, dinosaurs and most recently Ben 10 aliens.  He has enviable dreams travelling through port holes of time, finding himself in wonderful lands where dinosaurs are his friends and dragons are real.  To even tap into his imagination for just a few moments would be an amazing experience.
However, when Master 7 told me that he dreamt about starting school, my heart sank just a little.  I was already wracked with guilt after we decided to change his schools last year, in only his second year at school. It was a big adjustment for him and the guilt we felt as his parents was palpable.
He told me that his dream was about starting at his old school.  I wondered where this was heading, expecting tales of how he missed his old friends.  Instead he went on to describe, screwing up his nose as he did, that he didn't like his old school.  He hated wearing the stiff buttoned up shirt and tie which was too tight, the hard shoes that he couldn't run properly in and the jumper that made him itchy.  Most of all he remembered how he always had to work so much and so hard all the time.  He described his dream as having to do so much school work all day and all night that he fell asleep on his desk.  Wow, I hadn't expected that. 
He went on to tell me how much he likes his new school, where he can wear comfortable clothes and he can do his work without falling asleep.  He told me that the dream reminded him how happy he was at his new school.  Maybe that extremely stressful move, forcing him to leave behind a group of good friends, was worth it after all.  We couldn't keep our son at a school where near enough wasn't good enough.  Expecting little children to reach and maintain such high standards or simply repeat the year if you couldn't, was not what we wanted for our clever little boy.  Moving him to a public school where he enjoys a mixed level class and is taught to the level of his ability, never told that he isn't doing well, only praised, helped and encouraged to do his best.  Where his drawings of magical creatures are hung up for all the children to admire instead of being told to get back to work.  Sometimes children excel in ways that aren't appreciated in a private school setting.  Not every school is right for every child. 
Having my child reassure me that he is happy, after just five school terms at his new school, makes all the indecision and heartache worth while.  I have never lived my life with regrets, I can't see the point.  However, this particular decision has come the closest yet to me admitting to feeling some regret.  I hope his next dream is about his new school and how much fun he has with his ever growing group of friends.  Even better I hope he dreams of his beautiful land full of magical creatures that are his friends, before he grows up too much and forgets.

01 October 2013

8 : Time for Writing - Something New

Ahhh that's a good sign... time to write!
Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything I want. I'm trying to get my latest novel finished so that I can meet a mid October deadline.  I am submitting a book proposal to Hay House for a chance to win a publishing contract.  When you work, have kids and have 5 tanks of tropical fish, sometimes scheduling time for writing is not so easy.
I can usually find some time to dabble during the day, checking in on my social media outlets, however, finding time for actual writing is very difficult.  Lately I find myself here in the Zen Den, where I enjoy doing most of my writing, after 10 pm each night tapping away at my keyboard.  It takes this long to get everything done for the evening so I can spend time on what I want to do.  With tea cooked, little boys bathed and in bed, reading and spelling homework done, dinner washed up and packed away, dogs fed, fish sorted its finally time for 'me'.  The whir and clanking of the washing machine hasn't stopped, that keeps buzzing along no matter what the hour.  Unfortunately I think it is on its last few spins, I'm constantly having to go in there and pull it apart to stop the incessant beeping.  Fingers crossed it will at least get through this latest load, and then the next, and the next...
When my husband is home I sometimes get opportunities to sneak away and write undisturbed, which is fantastic, especially when I manage it during daylight hours.  However, life rolls along with all of its bittersweet joys and you just try and make the most of each and every day.  If I can achieve a little of something each day, then I am content. 
I certainly don't write from 10 pm every night, some nights I have to go out to work as a Paramedic and other nights I get to enjoy a rare night in with my husband.  Watching television in bed with some freshly popped popcorn is a rare and special occasion for us, whether I need to write or not, those moments aren't worth missing.  Writing will always be there and, most of all, I want to always enjoy what I do and not have it turn into a chore. 
I love being able to express myself and I especially love to type as fast as I can think.  Typing is something I have always loved, it is what I used to do as a job when I worked in the bank as a secretary.  I never tired of it and would have preferred to type all day long rather than perform any of my other duties.  I also ran my own typing business from home for many years and the hours I would spend just tap, tap, tapping away were my most relaxing.  However, I much prefer to type my own work, gone are the days of rye necks from turning my head to decipher someone else's work while I touch typed it into something legible.  Now I get to type straight from my mind, it's almost as though my brain is connected through my fingers to the keyboard and my very thoughts appear as words on the screen.
I'm a very lucky person to have the opportunity, and the time, to do what I love, to write, write, write...  

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