6. Drive to Hobart
Fran trying to figure out what the hell it is 🙂
6. Drive to Hobart
Fran trying to figure out what the hell it is 🙂
Okay here is my new baby!
After a lot of research on the internet I had narrowed down my choice of machine to 2 different Janome machines. I also liked a Bernina, but apart from winning lotto or saving up some more cash for another year, it was out of my price range. I had looked at the prices of these two machines on an Australian website, so I had an idea of what price they would be. I had also prepared my husband by showing him a machine that cost $6000 first, so imagine his relief when I then said one for half that price would probably do 🙂 .
I had a big think about which features were important to me. As my current machine was about 30 years old, It was a fairly basic model and has done a lot more than it was intended for. One of the features that I liked was the needle stopping in the down position. I loved the idea of this and I could see it would save me time. I also wanted the inside area, between the needle and the right side of the machine to be wider, as this would make it much easier to sew a larger quilt. The differential feed, (walking foot), was high on my list as it makes quilting easier and neater. I had bought a walking foot for my current machine and liked how it worked. The knee lift was an interesting idea and since mucking about with it I can see it will be a great asset when I have my hands full of quilt and need to turn it. Another feature that came with the machine is a button, which when pressed, cuts and pulls the thread through to the bottom side of the fabric. Now that is what I call a time saver. The hours I have spent pulling the threads through to the other side, well no longer will I need to, my handy dandy machine will do it for me, all at the press of a button!
I headed off to the first shop on my list. As soon as I saw my machine I fell in love! Then I saw the in store special price and that was it, I was a gonner. The very pleasant lady explained the features of the machine, gave me some scrap pieces of material and left me to play. I must have been there an hour, asking her questions from time to time. Because it is electronic I was a little worried about pressing buttons and ending up doing something to the expensive machine. But once she explained a few things it was really easy. I was impressed with the way it just purrrrrrrred along, not quite as much clunking as my old machine. The foot pedal is huge, which makes it easy to use. Lots of impressive stitches are available at a press of the button, and you can programme your favourite stitches into the memory making it easier to select. Lots more features on this little beauty but at the risk of boring you to death I will forgo a longer list. Maybe after I have sewn something with it I will tell about some more but for now just admire the pictures
We lived in our 30 ft caravan for 4 years. Dad made a solid door for the annex for security and put a small shed in the middle of the annex. In this we had a porta pottie, a godsend in winter I can tell you, and a dryer. This was after two years mind. Until then I would have to sit in the laundry and do my homework while making sure no one A: took out our clothes and put theirs in using our money or B: took our clothes! It was worse during the holidays too. People do the most amazing things while on holiday. I learnt to pick the lock on the dryer box. Sometimes it would be pouring with rain, so instead of having to trudge back to the van for more coins, I learnt to pick the lock with a hairpin. It was a wonderful day when the dryer was purchased and put into the shed. I had the middle room in the caravan. My brother’s room was at the end. Instead of walking to the end of the annex and accessing his room through the door there he would just walk through mine. At first it didn’t matter, but as I grew older and more sensitive about my body, you know what I mean girls, I hated it! The arguments we would have over him just strolling through my room. When we did move into a house it was so nice to have a room that wasn’t a pass through for my brother.
We lived a free and easy life in the caravan park. Apart from the usual list of chores after school and having to be home by a certain time, we had plenty of time explore. The bush on the way to the beach was full of wonderful hidey holes and was criss crossed with lots of little tracks. We had a ball in that bush. I remember we found a nest of new born baby kittens. Their eyes were closed but they still hissed at us when we patted them. Not sure where mum cat was, but in hindsight it was probably just as well. I vividly remember being attacked by an over zealous seagull. I was walking along the beach and could see a large dead fish on the beach in the distance, with a swarm of noisy birds overhead. One of the seagulls decided that I must have been a threat and decided to swoop me, even when I took cover in the bushes. I had to crawl a long way to get away from that crazy bird.
Albany is a beautiful spot on the south coast of Western Australia. It juts out into three bodies of water of water on one side, King George Sound, Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour, and the Great Australian Bight on the other. The main street in Albany is called York Street and it faces the Princess Royal Harbour. The wind blows up that street and can chill you to the bone. It is called the Albany Doctor by locals. I was always cold in Albany. I had come from living up north in 40 degrees plus temperature and I think my blood must have been very thin. While everyone walked about in shorts and t shirts I had jeans and a jumper on.
My first job in Albany was an after school job down at Emu Point. I worked in the Emu Point Tearooms and Shop. One part was a shop that sold icecreams, drinks and take away food and the other section was a proper sit down restaurant area. The lady who owned it, Mrs Mays, was jewish and made sure we didn’t over use anything. She would make beef and vege soup on a Monday, it would turn into pumpkin soup about Wednesday and then became Pea and Ham by Saturday. My big tip was, buy soup on a Monday lol. On a trip to Albany with my husband we went to have a look at the tearooms. It is now two businesses. One is still a shop and the other is now a Japanese restaurant. Mrs Mays would be rolling in her grave! It is a beautiful spot to sit for a bite to eat, with views over the water.
I learnt to swim in Albany at Emu Point. The “pool” is a wooden structure like a jetty in a square u shape. The mouth of the u faced the beach. The water was always cold and sometimes choppy. Did I mention it was cold??? It is still there but the children of Albany can now learn to swim in the nice warm indoor pool they built close to town.
Because I moved around each year I never had a friendship group. The great thing about Albany is I stayed there for all of my high school years. I formed friends with a great bunch of people. We were a group of independent thinkers, and I liked that about them. We were not the “in” crowd at all, but I think that was okay as we didn’t follow along like lame sheep. Didn’t get the cool guys either but hey their all fat and bald now so who cares :). I am still in touch with three of my school friends to this day.
One boy I made friends with was Brian. He was English and had moved to Albany with his mum, step dad and brother. His step dad didn’t like him very much and would abuse him verbally and sometimes physically. Brian was a sweet boy and very clever, he got A’s for everything. By the time he was in year 11 he was living on the streets. I tried to help him but at such a young age I couldn’t do much, and eventually we lost touch. I didn’t go to our school reunion but a girlfriend did. When she told me that Brian had died at nineteen I was devastated. It still upsets me to this day to think of the loss of that sweet hearted boy.
When you look back on your life you start to see the links that have led you to where you end up. I think Brian was a link in my chain of life. I work with special needs children and love it. I like to think that I give them a voice to show people what they can do and not what they can’t. I think about the home lives some children have and if they need someone to talk to I try to be there for them. I want them to come to school and know it is a safe place to go. In some way I hope that it will stop one of them ending up like Brian.
I have a large collection of buttons which I have been collecting since my early 20’s. I sort them by colour, mostly. Sometimes they are by sort, such as the baby buttons. Some are buttons that my Mum had used for clothes she made me. I inherited these when she passed away. It helped to boost my collection. She had hers in a large round tin, probably held biscuits originally. I can remember running my fingers through them when I was little.
I use to buy buttons from our local op shop, they also had a huge tin full of buttons. They were very cheap to buy that way. Then a new lady came to the store and decided to parcel them up into groups and sell them at a rather large sum of money each bag. What to do…. well then I bought clothes from the op shop with buttons on that I liked. They were much cheaper than the small bags of buttons too. I would cut off the buttons and put the item back into the recycle box. This way I got some buttons, and they got to sell the item again. In my twentys I worked for a large department store as a floor manager. One of the areas I had under my management was the Haberdashery department. I just loved that area. It was like having my drug of addiction handed to me on a plate! I had materials, patterns, buttons, more buttons and ribbons etc. My sewing box expanded to my sewing cupboard, then it just spilled out to a whole room! Anything that went on special was just too good to pass up. Most women sneak clothing and shoes into the cupboard, hiding them from their husbands, but for me it was crafty stuff. I was going through some boxes the other day, sorting out my new sewing room in my recently moved to house, when I came across one of those acquisitions. It was a book on how to crochet doilies! I couldn’t believe it. I had just been admiring a blog of Linne’s which had some beautiful doilies on. My good friend, Fran, who also has an excellent blog, had expressed a desire to make these. So into the post it will go, to Fran, and she can ponder on whether she has time or not. Notice I said good, Fran, not old lol :). Anyway, Linne wanted a photo of my buttons, so I will attempt to post them with this post. Wish me luck 🙂
We moved a lot when I was young. A few moves saw us back in Perth. I can remember one xmas staying in a flat with my aunty Faye. I don’t know why we were all there but it would have been crowded. As I remember it was a 2 bedroom flat and it had to fit Faye, her two kids, Mum and 4 of us kids. I can remember the xmas tree being surrounded by colourful packages. We were all excited about those gifts and would have a look to see which package belonged to us. Melissa and I both recieved little cowgirl outfits. I remember running around with the kids playing cowboys and indians. I loved that outfit lol. But the gift I loved the most was a little sewing machine with its own cover. It was the biggest box and I was so excited to discover it was mine! Paul got up early on xmas morning and woke us kids up. Mum was sleeping on the couch so we had to open our gifts very quietly. But of course she woke up. I don’t know what time it was, probably very early. It felt great to be having xmas with family.
When I was in grade 3 Mum decided she had a gutful of the North and moved back to Perth. Dad was meant to have finished too, but they asked him to stay on for another year. Mum wasn’t going to stay so we rented a house in Woodlands. It was a two bedroom house, with wooden floorboards, a wood stove and a leaky wooden fireplace in the lounge. It was owned by an Italian guy so he had the usual grape vine out the back. Mum didn’t drive back then so we walked everywhere, or caught the bus. My primary school was within walking distance, so Patrick and I would walk to school, Pete would catch the bus. I don’t think Paul was with us then. He was still having treatment at the Clontaff Boys School. I hated that school with a passion and couldn’t understand why we just didn’t bring Paul home. At that time treatment for someone so young with Schizophrenia was nonexistent, so this school was deemed the best place for him to be.
At the back of the house was the toilet, laundry with original copper and a sleepout that Pete had as his room. Sometimes he and mum would argue so he would slam his door and put his records on high volume. Usually it was “Thick as a brick”, I think because mum hated that record. She would yell at him through the door but he had it locked so she couldn’t get in. Unfortunately it had a lock on the outside too, so mum would lock him in. Ah the joys of being a teenager and a parent. It was such a cold house in winter that we would drag our mattresses into the lounge room with the fire. The fireplace did leak but we managed to fix it somehow. Probably Pete did, as he was the “go to” man while dad was up north.
I made friends with a girl who lived next door. She was Italian and went to my school. She would invite me for lunch sometimes. This is where I discovered Italian grappa. We had a little crystal glass to drink from. I thought I was very grown up, until I tried to get up from the table and found the earth moving! It was homemade and lethal to an 8 yr old who hadn’t grown up with it. The house is still there and I often drive past it.
Once Dad came home we moved to Balcatta. The front of that house had the most beautiful rose bushes, but mum and dad were not in love with them, so out they came. We lived opposite a family with a little girl called Sally. They became friends with our family. I wasn’t too keen on Sally, she was a bit bossy for my liking. Probably too much alike lol.
The thing I loved about going to school in Perth was the free milk at recess. I thought it was the most delicious stuff. It came in little glass bottles and had cream on top. Having lived on powdered milk up north it was heaven. What I didn’t like about going to school in Perth was having to wear shoes. Up north we had bare feet or thongs, period! In Perth you had to wear socks and shoes. My feet were like leather and closed in shoes were so uncomfortable. I would hide them on the way to school, which resulted in several notes home. I remember mum had a pair of black boots which laced up on the side. I use to love wearing those boots and pretending they were mine. So mum bought me a little pair of zip up ankle boots to wear. She had no trouble getting me to wear those to school. My parents must have come to an agreement with the school, because they were not usually allowed.
Near the end of grade 5 dad was posted to Albany, so once again we were on the move. Mum and Dad decided to buy a caravan as we were going to be there for 2 years and they liked the idea of the caravan, instead of GEHA housing. GEHA stands for government employee housing association. They were usually old houses, and years later when Bruce and I moved to the country, they still were. So off to Albany we went. All our worldly goods packed into a 24 foot caravan and a station wagon. By now it was just mum, dad, me and Patrick, plus our dog Shelaighly. Peter had joined the navy and Paul was out and about doing his own thing.
I had an idea about us putting our thoughts down about our early lives. I didn’t feel like I had much of a family when I was growing up so it would be nice to share our memories now that we are more in touch with each other. Any stories we have from our parents would be interesting too.
So here goes….
One of my earliest memories is at Nanna’s house. I was probably about 4 yrs old. I can remember going inside the house to have a drink. My brother Paul is with me. I can see down the hall to the kitchen. My Mum and Nanna are sitting at the kitchen table. My brother is telling me I can’t go down there and I’m getting upset because I want to go to the kitchen but he is holding onto my arm. Nanna looks up and asks what’s wrong. My brother is telling me they are aliens and will make me drink glass. I’m feeling really upset and not really understanding why he is saying these things. Mum and Nanna are coming up the hallway now so my brother lets go of me and runs screaming into the backyard. It is the first time that Paul had one of his “Episodes”.
My early years were spent living “Up North” in the dusty red earth of Western Australia. We had a pretty carefree life playing in the heat and dust. We spent a lot of time at the pool. My brother Paul was pretty good in the pool. It was about the only thing he was better at than my brother Peter. Peter was always very competitive, about everything, but Paul could beat everyone hands down at swimming. Another early memory is taking Paul to his swimming coach. It was early in the morning and I’m pretty sure we were in Perth because we used to play at the windmill in South Perth. He could have gone to the olympics but once again his schizophrenia prevented him from going.
I have fond memories of living up north. The only thing I hated were the cockroaches! I can still hear the sound of them scuttling into dark corners when you turned the light on. For many years I had a fear of them, and to be honest I still do to some extent.
In the years before I went to school I spent a lot of time with an aboriginal guy called Robert. He would give me rides around the backyard in the wheel barrow. His job was to get rid of the big rocks that littered our yard. Mum and Dad were never much into the gardening so it surprises me that they even bothered! I guess they wanted somewhere for the kids to play. I remember him telling me stories about the ants and such but can’t remember what they were as I was only little. Mum use to like telling the story about when I first saw an aboriginal, apparently it terrified me and I screamed my head off.
I have some great slides of us living up north and hope to get them put onto a disc. We also have photos of every road between Port Hedland to Wyndham, they seem to be Dad’s favourite shot :). One of Dad’s jobs was the Ord River Dam. He was the Mechanical Supervisor for the PWD, (Public Works Department), which is now defunct. We have some great photos of the dam before and after it was opened. The boys got to swim across it when it was filled with water. I think Dad was quite proud of his involvement and was presented with a piece of Tiger Rock from the bottom of the dam as a memento.
Mum used to work in the local grocery store in Wyndham. Every week the old Aboriginals would come in to get their supplies. They were issued with vouchers which they could use in exchange for food. Mum reckoned they didn’t get enough so she would slip a few more items into their bags. They couldn’t speak any English but I think they developed a good understanding anyway. There was a crocodile farm up there, I think it is still there, and one day a big croc got free. It managed to make it’s way into town. Unfortunately for Mum it went into her shop. All she could do was climb up onto the counter and scream for help! She would laugh about that story years later but I don’t think it was funny at the time.
I have some great photos of us wearing clothes that Mum made, and of Melissa when she was living with us. If I can work out how to put photos in this blog I will put them in.