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So much for living in weather paradise, the past month has been so darn rainy! We had the 3 lovely days last weekend and then it’s been raining again since. It was so bad, I know this is going to make you cry, Hugh’s golf game was cancelled on Friday! Say it ain’t so! I suppose I shouldn’t complain because further south (south of Brisbane and down in Sydney), they’re having horrible flooding. Yesterday we went out to Cawarral to pick up the leather item my new favourite leatherworker Rob (yes, the 3rd Rob in our lives here) made for us. Leather Rob (as opposed to Young Rob, aka Zoop, and Melbourne Rob) has lived here his whole life and he said he’s never seen rain like this before. Hopefully it goes back to bright blue skies again soon, we’re having flashbacks to the grey skies of southern Ontario! I’ve even had to hang my laundry to dry INDOORS this weekend – it won’t even dry on the covered patio because the humidity is so high. Life is hard 🙂

The leather item we had made was to use magnets to clip a towel over a towel bar. In our ensuite bathroom renovation, a certain person-who-lives-with-me-who-shall-remain-unnamed purchased the wrong length of towel bar. The towel bar was being hung where we have a wall panel, so it’s not drywall where you can just fill holes to correct errors – you’d have to replace the entire wall panel. After the towel bar was hung up, I kept looking at it trying to figure out how I had mis-measured the space because there was no room to put a hand towel. I’m usually so precise with measuring, I was quite upset with myself. Then I decided to measure the towel bar and discovered it wasn’t me who made the error :). So anyway, now I had to figure out a solution for getting a hand towel hung. The towel bar is too long for a bath towel by itself but not long enough to fold a hand towel over it as well. So I knew we had to clip the hand towel to the bar in some way. My first solution was to stitch a piece to each hand towel that could be buttoned onto the towel bar. But Hugh (now that it’s positive, I’ll share his name :)) came up with the idea of using magnets so that we didn’t have to stitch anything to the hand towels. Brilliant! So we had Leather Rob make this little magnetic towel strap for us:

It’s totally perfect! And it’s made from kangaroo leather, how Aussie is that :). The unexpected challenge he ran into was trying to stitch the magnets in between the leather strips – when the base of the sewing maching is metal :). Leather Rob also makes really nice belts so Hugh bought one from him and also had him shorten one of his old belts (all the golf, pickleball, cycling, and yard work here has Hugh becoming quite svelte :)).

Speaking of the bathroom renovation, do we ever miss Aaron and Hope! We knew we were spoiled having them do all our work for us over the last 15 years, but since dealing with the crazy system here, we REALLY miss them. Here there is a “builder” who does the structural work and then coordinates all the other trades. So to do a simple bathroom renovation has required 6 different collections of people (saved from needing 7 because Hugh has become quite handy at painting). Removing a toilet and capping off the water to the sink faucet requires bringing out a plumber. Installing a bathroom fan requires bringing out an electrician (but thankfully, somehow the electrician was allowed to vent the fan outside without bringing in an HVAC person). Installing a new mirror had to be done by the glass and mirror people. Caulking and tiling is done by the tiler. Drywall by the plasterer. Fortunately, the plumber, electrician, and tiler were all excellent. The first plasterer, who did the work in the back bathroom, was really nice but not good at plastering. The next plasterer, who did the ensuite, has a large ego and when I asked him a question, he would turn to Hugh to answer it – he would never talk to me. Very few things can get my blood boiling like that kind of misogyny! And he also did sloppy work, so I’m not sure where he gets his ego from. The builder is good but it’s usually his apprentices doing the work and while they’re very personable young fellows, their attention to detail isn’t the best. So I’m just having to let go of my desire for the perfection I’m accustomed to with Aaron’s work. Where we’re at right now is waiting for the plasterer to come back to fix one section of wall he did that is peeling off (and also fix a spot in a wall in the spare room where somehow the builder or one of his apprentices pushed a nail or something right through the shower wall into the wall on the other side) and waiting for the tiler to come back to do the final caulking. The bathroom was ripped out on January 22 and was supposed to be done within 28 days but between managing the schedules of 6 different groups of workers and then the builder (who moved here from Brisbane in August) not being accustomed to rural life where you can’t just order something one day and pick it up the next, it’s going to be another couple weeks before the bathroom is fully done. At least it’s useable now, as long as we place a towel along the glass shower panel to stop the water leaking out while it’s not siliconed. Hopefully I’ll be able to post photos for you in 2 weeks!

Oh, thought you might like to see a photo of another 100kph road here:

In other exciting news, we found low dose aspirin in a bottle on! Pills are all in blister packs here – it’s surprising how incredibly annoying this becomes over time. Not to mention the waste. This blister pack is as long as my hand and holds 15 small pills:

I’ve been googling to see why blister packs are so common here. Mostly it seems to be to prevent overdoses (although I’m quite sure I’m not terribly likely to OD on Crestor) but maybe also to better manage humid conditions. But my thyroid medication comes in a bottle and my low dose aspirin comes in a blister pack and I’ve only had one occurrence in the past 11 months (just this morning after a week of rain) of a pill dissolving before you swallow it and it was the blister packed aspirin. My cynical take is that when they have only been allowing prescriptions to be dispensed one month at a time, it looks better to have a big package to house 30 pills. Maybe now that they are allowing you to get 2 months at a time, some bottles will appear, I guess we’ll see. But in the meantime, back to popping blister packs we go. Maybe they should figure out how to put pills in bubble wrap so you could have fun stomping on them to get the pills out!

In more good news, the birds are definitely returning to our bird bath! I guess they’re travelers like other Aussies and spend their summers elsewhere. When I got home from work the other day (apparently one of the few sunny days this week), a magpie and a juvenile pied butcherbird were hanging out together in our front yard. The magpie hopped over to the bird bath:

And the juvenile butcherbird flew up to the spike of the new frond on one of our palms:

I once again get to wake up each morning to the Pied Butcherbirds singing their lovely song for me! Their song truly is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard.

And with the return of the birds also comes some scrapping. We had a couple lorikeets enjoying a bath (as I look at these videos, apparently there was another day with sun this week) but they felt that there wasn’t enough room for the blue-faced honeyeater:


The honeyeater flew over to hang out on the purple plant at the right and one of his friends joined him, while other lorikeets patiently waited for the 2 bullies in the bath to give others a turn:


Eventually the honeyeaters took over the bath and the remaining lorikeet gave up trying to fight them off:


In other wildlife encounters, Hugh sent me this photo of 2 kangaroos watching some kids tee off at the golf course on Monday (it’s school holidays right now). Cracks me up with both of them looking to their right 🙂

And then this photo of what I’ve determined is the kangaroo’s natural position (in North America, they always show them hopping or boxing, but in reality, they seem to recline a lot – can’t blame them, although maybe if they boxed and hopped more, there would be fewer kangaroo-leather items…):

I missed an opportunity yesterday to get a photo of 2 kangaroos and some domesticated geese hanging out together in a front yard in Cawarral!

Our white bougainvillea is blooming like crazy right now:

Just need the 2 fuschia ones to catch up (we planted them a couple months after the white one) and hopefully all 3 will soon start cascading over the retaining wall. We bought the smaller/tamer variety of bougainvillea so they don’t take over the yard (they get ENORMOUS here) and they were also supposed to not be as thorny – but they’re still thorny. Have we mentioned that this country is full of things that will maim or kill you?? Even the lemon and lime trees have thorns, sheesh.

Friday night was another Music Bingo night at Yepp Brewery with our friend Leigh. There’s always a good mix of Aussie songs included so it’s fun learning ones I haven’t heard before and coming home to add them to my Spotify list. Dumb Things by Paul Kelly and the Messengers is a catchy one.

A more sombre one, which a lot of world leaders could use to listen to today, is I Was Only 19 by Redgum. There’s an interesting story behind the band and the song.

Speaking of Vietnam, I’m writing this blog early today as we’re heading out to the yacht club later this afternoon for a drink with our friends Kevin and Joanne who have just returned from an amazing trip to Vietnam and Thailand. I saw their photos on Facebook and it seems incredible – can’t wait to hear all about it! And we’re also seeing our friends Rob and Lynn (Melbourne Rob) as they’ve just arrived from, you guessed it, Melbourne.

Tomorrow we head off on a little adventure so hopefully we’ll have some new and interesting things to share with you next Sunday!

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