Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An early bird's mystery tour

I am not usually an early bird.  I am usually a night owl and therefore often a foul fowl until at least my first coffee of the day.  But there is no daylight saving in WA (a mystery to me) and by 5am the light is streaming through our uncurtained and uncurtainable rented bedroom window.  So I push thoughts that I am turning into my mother out of my mind, get up, and go for a walk.

Even though it is early I first slap on some sunblock - it is a mystery to me why so many people still believe in the myth of the "nice, healthy tan".  Since moving here I've seen enough noseless old ladies, earless old men and cornflake-skinned people of all ages to know that there is no such thing.

Today I did a swift lap around the perimeter of the local golf course which gives a pretty typical taste of what it looks and feels like around here, including a few pretty mysterious things.

First mystery is the width of the streets.  They are barely two cars wide.  There is no space for parking on the road but the enormous verges are usually plumbed in with "retic" (reticulated sprinkler systems) so folk get mighty grumpy when you park on them.  At Open Homes (known here as Home Opens) I've given up asking "where would all our guests park when we have a party?" because then I inevitably get the agent's best "you're a crazy lady!" look.  I get that look a lot here.  It is still a mystery to me where our hypothetical party guests would park at any of the three hundred and twenty seven Home Opens we've viewed so far.

Just along from here a man popped out from behind some bushes and bellowed "what's the camera for?"  How I resisted giving him a smartypants answer is a mystery. His sprinklers were on full blast in his lush, thirsty, tropical garden even though today is not his allocated one day a week to water. As a water-wise gardener I met here puts it "this town has more palm trees than you can wave a chainsaw at".  Given that the native wildflowers of this region are unbelievably beautiful, attract visitors from all over the world and once established and mulched need almost no watering, it is a complete mystery to me why there are so few in suburban gardens.

Typical house on my side of the hill: brick, tile, pink driveway, lawn, retic.

Typical house on the other side of the hill: McMansion usually with all manner of garden statuary. I thought the style of Carbo's house on Packed to the Rafters was just some set designer's joke until I moved here.  It's no joke.  Carbo has lots of houses here; he even has whole suburbs! Mystery.

Every walk is chock full of wildlife sightings including at least a dozen species of birds, thousands of black millipedes crossing the footpath towards the dry, hundreds of tiny albino snails crossing the path towards the shade and kangaroos grazing in any vacant sections.  Sadly the only shingleback lizards I've seen so far have been squished on the road.  One house always has a grumpy-faced cat on the driveway and loads of ibis on the roof.  The most we've counted is fourteen.  They are only ever at this one house.  Mystery.

I spot another ibis having a mysterious moment of its own - "but is it art?"

At the top of the hill I solve the mystery of that house with the strange attic extension,

and get a glimpse of sea.

I spot an interestingly named boat (at another Carbo's house) and could not agree more as by now I'm hot, sweaty, and harassed by hundreds of tiny flies trying to feast in my mouth, on my eyeballs and up my nostrils. Time to head downhill towards home.

Spot a house with multi-coloured brickwork and a dolphin ornament and wonder Whywouldya?

Oh that is my rental house.  Best go in and put a pot of coffee on so I'm a bit less foul by the time the rest of the family get up in only another hour and a half.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Car shopping

Today I am car shopping.  I am using an online site called Gumtree where I flogged these real pictures of real vehicles for sale near me. Usually I find Gumtree joyless, grim and annoying as I am used to the far superior Trademe, but today I am rather enjoying it.  That is because I live in the wild west of Australia, where bigger is better, OTT is an unknown concept and there is no such thing as a WOF.  I have been tuning in to the various popular and tempting transport options. Here is the shortlist.

There is the stretchy look.

The hot look.

Gumtree is a bit hopeless for the hugely popular "my car cost more than your house" look, but it is quite useful for the related and just as popular "my car is bigger than your house" look (where is my biro when I need it).

There are also numerous tempting "think outside the square" options.

(Very tempted by that last one given that one of my children thinks my name is "What'sfortea?")

Whatever I buy I could then follow a popular West Australian custom by attaching real animal horns to the obligatory bull bars and an interesting sticker (sorry folks but this is by far the tamest of the many doozies I've snapped.  Lots of interesting conversations with the children since moving here).

Right.  Best stop dreaming and get back to it.  Thankfully given my budget and true requirements the "Nana's shopping basket" look is the most popular of all in Mandurah.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hot, hotter, hottest

After several weeks of the sort of glorious yet comfortable weather I could happily live with my whole life, things cranked up a bit on the temperature front this week. Monday was hot, Tuesday was hotter and Wednesday was a stinker with 37 degrees recorded in Perth. 

Like many people, I can merrily handle stinker days when I'm having my dream-life.  If all I'm required to do is read a novel while lying in a hammock, drink umbrella drinks, swim, take siestas and eventually slope off to a restaurant for tea, then I can pretty much handle any temperature in style.  (Cripes, the last time I did that was 1994.)

But I'll freely admit to being a bit hopeless where hot temperatures and real-life get combined.  Fetching and carrying groceries on foot, minding hot/bothered/exhausted children, push-mowing the lawn, ironing, doing the frenzied pre-babysitter-cleanup, cooking an early dinner then getting spruced up and rushing to a posh 6pm do - all done in temperatures scarily close to my age - tends to turn me into TheOtherDeidre.

One of my children is a wilter too.  On Tuesday night when we were still recovering from the heat of the day, we saw on the weather forecast that Wednesday was going to be even hotter.  Even when I explained that it is always a couple of degrees cooler here than in Perth, this poor child got teary eyed.

So on Wednesday afternoon after the two people in this household with places to be had rushed off to do their thing, TheOtherDeidre and TheOtherChild decided to actually enjoy this weather instead of just endure it. We ignored all the things we should have done and instead headed to the place we call "The Town Baths" (part of the estuary surrounded by floating walkways to make an area like a swimming pool).  After snatching just an hour of dream-life cooling our bodies and our brains, we both got it together enough to cope well with the rest of our hot, busy, real-life day.

On the forecast last night we saw with some relief that today would be back to lower temperatures, but he and I agreed we no longer dread the many stinker days yet to come.