Friday, 28 November 2014

What Happens When God And Mother Nature Mix It Up

One of the main worries I had when I finally got around to setting up this blog was if I would ever find the time to write it!  You may not have realised it but I'm aiming to publish a post every Friday and this realisation may have escaped you because I think, so far, I have only managed two Friday posts.  Many, many, many things get in the way of my writing a post and I won't bore you with the details suffice to say that it is mostly "mammy stuff".

Now one of the things I hadn't featured in hampering my plans for world blog domination was God.  I have often wondered as to his actual existence or at the very least if he has a hearing problem but in general I'm happy to accept he's out there somewhere and, wisely, staying out of my way.  So, this week I managed to jump all the "mammy stuff" hurdles - including my mobile phone dying and  a spat with our real estate agent and it was looking good for a much anticipated Friday post.  And then God got involved and sent this doozy.

Gigantic storm cloud in shape of a jellyfish
The Beast!

It would seem, however, that God didn't cook this baby up all by himself but also had the help of mother nature.  At least that's my explanation for the fact that two storm cells came together and formed The Beast - A Supercell Thunderstorm.  It hit Brisbane late Thursday afternoon just as I was about to sit down and write a post.  One minute I was out the back of the house in blazing sunshine and sweating my tooshie off and the next I was looking out my front door, with my jaw on the floor.  "Oh dear," I whispered as I stared at the sky with cold blasts of air rushing over me, "what's this?"
Within seconds, a strange cracking sound started, then a blast of thunder exploded over the house. The sky was totally dark by now and it was as if night had descended but not for long as streaks of lightning lit up the sky.  And then they came - golf ball sized hail stones fell out of the sky and pummelled everything around them.  The noise was deafening.

Now, it should be said I'm from an island on the west coast of Ireland and am no stranger to the fury of mother nature.  Storms on Achill are brutal and fierce and I've experienced some of the worst. However, in all my days, I have never seen hail stones the size of golf balls!  And we were lucky, as the storm intensified, hail the size of tennis balls fell in other parts of the city and how it fell!

supersized hail in palm of hand
Golf  Ball Sized Hail

It rained down mercilessly, like God was emptying his Eski (local slang for cooler box.)

A pile of giant-sized hail in post storm Brisbane
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Nothing was safe and the damage has been extensive.

black post-storm damaged car
Post-storm Car

Cars, in particular were badly damaged.

photo of back window all smashed in beige coloured saloon car and dents from hail damage to the body of the car
Smashed and Dented

Many houses had their windows smashed and the office blocks of the CBD (Central Business District) also suffered.

damaged office block building in brisbane CBD after storm
Beat Up Office Building

Many people took shelter in the CBD only to find themselves being showered by hailstones and glass!

At about 5pm this is how Brisbane CBD looked.
Apocalyptic looking storm over Brisbane CBD
The Beast Comes To Town!

Now if that's not apocalyptic looking, then I don't know what is!

As the hail abated the wind intensified and ripped through the city tearing up trees and taking roofs with it as it went.

Photo of apartment with its roof ripped off by the storm
Bye Bye Roof

Photo of  Ute crushed by Tree
Bye Bye Ute

Back in our part of town the hail had thankfully turned to rain and it was sheeting down.  Things were starting to look a little more like a "normal" storm.  Of course, power outtages and internet blackouts followed and so yours truly had to abandon all plans for posting on a Friday - again!
However, having seen all the post-storm damage I'm incredibly grateful that we came out of it totally unscathed and that nobody was killed.  And of course it provided me with  material for a great post! Ah the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Eye-like storm cloud in background, houses in the forefront
I've Got You In My Sights - Brisbane In The Eye Of The Storm

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Life - It's a Funny Old Game

Over the years my Dad has regaled us all with stories of when he was a young boy growing up in Ireland.  He was born and reared on Achill Island in Mayo, one of the most beautiful places on this planet but a harsh place to grow up in the Ireland of the 1950s.  His stories vary from fishing expeditions, shooting rabbits and chasing sheep to days and nights spent out on the mountains caring for cattle.  There is, however, one common feature to all of his stories - they all have the same ending that goes like this: "and we did all that and no shoes on our feet."  It's become quite a catchphrase in our family.  Of course, we can have a laugh and a giggle about it safe in the life that my parents provided for us where we didn't have  to contemplate a life without shoes.  However, as much as I might smile to myself when I recall some of my Dad's stories, I'm still very grateful and happy that I never had to go barefoot.  It's with some irony then that I watch my children happily wandering the local streets and parks in Brisbane with no shoes on their feet!  By choice!

photo of bogs in the foreground and slievemore mountain in the background
Slievemore on Achill Island

Now, Australia is home to the flip-flop or thong as it is known over here.  So it's not as if my children have to contort themselves into boots or spend precious minutes lacing up shoes.  Oh no, all they have to do is slide their toes between a piece of rubber or plastic and they're off.

australian flag flip-flops or things
Aussie Thongs

But why bother doing that when you can just go barefoot eh?  And it's not just my kids, it's all of them!  I don't mind my kids running around barefoot at the park but I usually put my foot (with some form of footwear on it!) down when it comes to walking along the streets with no shoes on. However, on Friday La-la insisted her feet were cooking inside her sandals and begged to be allowed to walk home from school barefoot.  It had been a long week and admittedly it was boiling so, figuring this wasn't a battle I needed to have as I dreamed of reaching the shelter of the air-con,  I acquiesced. And so it came to pass that the daughter of the man who wandered through his childhood with no shoes on his feet, came to watch her daughter walk along the road home with no shoes on hers.  Life - it's a funny old game.

black and white photo of child walking barefoot
La-la - Barefoot & Blissful

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Brisbane G20 - Welcome To The "Hippest City" In Australia

So it's all eyes on Brisbane this weekend as the leaders of the world's twenty most powerful nations descend on the city for their annual pow-wow.  Coming along with them are all the admin, support and security staff and of course no international backscratching event would be complete without the accompanying posse of media.

It's estimated that Brisbane can expect an influx of approximately 10,000 visitors over the next few days.  So, what will they find when they get here?  Lonely Planet recently named Brisbane "the hippest city" in Australia - no mean accolade.  Having lived here for the past two and a half years, I have to say I agree with them.  Brisbane is one cool town.  G20 attendees will find streets with jacaranda and bougainvillea in full bloom.  Having a sub-tropical climate the city is known for its al-fresco dining and it's pretty unbeatable when this takes place along the river such as at the Eagle Street precinct.  When it comes to after-hours entertainment much of the action is to be found in The Valley - home to some pretty cool bars and music venues.

mural on building housing 4ZZZ radio the valley brisbane
Mural In The Valley

The Brisbane river is the life-blood of the city and affords the visitor one of the most effective and fabulous ways to see Brisbane and to connect up with its many diverse neighbourhoods.  One of my favourite things to do is hop on the Citycat (the highspeed catamarans that go up and down the river day and night) and let the wind tug at my face as we zip from stop to stop, looking at all the amazing riverside properties. 

picture of blue yellow and white citycat ferry on brisbane river
                                     The Citycat - Brisbane's Premier Mode of Transport
One of my favourite places to head to on the Citycat is the Southbank area with its city beaches.  Yes you read that correctly - beaches in the middle of the city.  Originally developed as part of  Expo '88 the area has since been re-developed and improved and provides an amazing place to meet, chill and relax in the heart of the city.

shot of beach at southbank brisbane
Southbank and Its Beaches

With Temperatures set to soar to 40+ degrees over the weekend - that's 105 Fahrenheit! - I'd be willing to bet you might find a few delegates cooling off at Street's Beach.  This is one of the things I'm not crazy about Brisbane - the extreme temperatures in summer.  Last summer saw some of the highest temperatures ever recorded in Australia and it looks like this year isn't going to be any different. 

If there is one things the G20 delegates won't find in Brisbane this weekend however, it's a Brisbanite.  The past few months have seen a heavy emphasis on security and traffic restrictions with road closures.  The city centre is on lock-down and the locals have been given the distinct impression to stay outta town! 

Picture of police on streets in Brisbane
6000 Police on Brisbane Streets This Weekend

We even have the day off!  Which means only one thing to a Brisbanite - the chance to get to their beloved beaches on either the Sunshine or the Gold Coasts - which offer an embarrassment of riches when it comes to golden sands.  All roads led out of Brisbane last night and this morning.

The Bruce Highway - Chocca!

And they were chocca - as my Aussie friends would say.  Brisbane city centre is effectively a ghost town.  Realising they may have gone overboard and empty streets aren't exactly the image they want to portray, city officials have recently announced the availability of 1000 free car parking spaces over the weekend.  In a city where it costs $30 per hour for parking - this is rather generous of them. 

That's one thing all the delegates will find in Brisbane - shocking prices for food, drink and taxis.  Then again hip and cool was never cheap.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Deja Vu

Okay, I know I'm Irish and in Ireland we tend not to call on each other before ten o'clock in the morning.  We like to give ourselves the chance to have breakfast, a cup of coffee or two and shake the cobwebs off before attempting any sort of meaningful interaction with each other.  So instead of looking like this

Young female executive asleep on laptop with coffee in hand
She Should Have Drank The Coffee

We look like this.

Healthy woman jumping ion the air for joy full of energy
Now, She Had Her Coffee!

I've been in Queensland for two and a half years now and  I know things operate a little differently here.  The birds start singing - you get up.  People make arrangements for lunch at 11am!  Which of course in the rest of the world is morning coffee time!  It's okay, I get it, the sun is blistering through the curtains anyway and who can sleep through that.  I've even embraced this local approach and am often sitting at my computer at 6:00 am - by the latest. 

Magpie in flight
One Of The Local Alarm Clocks

As avid readers of this blog will be aware I'm prone to flitting around the house at the weekends in my nightie and got caught rotten last week when I had to answer the door in my rinky-dinky slinky number.  Looking something like this.

Rihanna happily walking down the street in her nightgown
If It's Ok For Rihanna....

To be fair, it was well past lunchtime - in any part of the world - when I had to answer the door to my unexpected caller, so it served me right.  Taking in to account the early rising nature of the Queensland populace, my new policy is to aim to be dressed (fully!) on weekends by about 9:30am.  So I'm still keeping it a little on the Irish side but you know, I'm prepared to make concessions.  And so it came to pass, this morning, that I heard the birdies singing, got up, threw on a dressing gown, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed for the computer.  An hour and a half passed and I was joined by the kiddies.  They became one with the T.V. and I decided to grab another precious hour to work.  It's still only 7:30am, so I figure I'm safe enough staying in the dressing gown.  I'd just settled back into my chair, when I heard it - that ominous sound - the knock on the door!
This is pretty much how I looked at this stage.

As a sense of deja vu crept over me, I couldn't believe that only a week later the same thing was happening AGAIN!  At least this time I wasn't in my sexy seductress garb.  However, I have to tell you - the dressing gown isn't one of those, button down, neck to  floor numbers you might find your granny swanning around in.  Oh no.  It's a kimono style affair, in a waffle-type material.  The type of dressing gown you wear in a high-end spa, the edges of which are barely held together by a belt.  And with my curves...... well you get the picture.

I sat there hoping I'd mis-heard.  The neighbor was up, doing some gardening, maybe he was banging on something, I told myself.   And then it came again, that unmistakable sound (and one I'm starting to have an adverse reaction to) of a human being's fist connecting with a door.  I tugged at the edges of the dressing gown, put my, "it's no big deal" face on and opened the door.  Yet again - and I know some of you will think I'm making this up - a workman stood in front of me, telling me he was here about trimming the bushes!   Seriously people - I couldn't make this stuff up! 

As is customary now, I invited him in so that he could go out on the back deck and eye up the bushes.  I swear, I'll hack them down myself at this rate.  I moved in such a way as to apply minimal disturbance to the edges of the dressing-gown.  That is to say, I tried to walk without moving!  Not easy but I believe I pulled it off as much as any human being is ever going to pull that particular feat off.  Shane eyed me up - but I'm not sure if this was due to flashes of flesh or my strange motion or the fact that he just realized I was in my dressing-gown at 7:30 in the morning - a true shocker for a baked-in-the-early-morning-sun Queenslander.

I'm sure the word must be getting out now amongst the working men of Brisbane, so I'm afraid I've had to review my policy.  I'm taking no chances and so if you come calling by, don't be surprised if you find me looking like this.

A nun with hands clasped in prayer

:-) The Mad Mammy

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Trick or Treat - That's Me.

One of the great things about being home in Ireland was a chance to visit the lingerie and nightwear department of Marks & Spencer's.  The Mad Mammy is now fully stocked up on bras and bloomers for another while.  Whilst I was there, I also availed of some new nighties and even treated myself to a pretty, slinky, satin number.  It basically looks something like this:

Nightdress black satin

However, my nightdress has a pattern on it.  Please note the use of the word "nightdress". 

Now since I returned to Australia the weather has warmed up and I enjoy nothing more on a Saturday morning than flitting around the house in my nightdress, which helps me to achieve two things:

1.  It's so light, it keeps me cool.
2.  It's so gorgeous and slinky, it makes me feel like a glammy mammy.

To be honest, I like feeling cool and glammy so much that I have to confess to sometimes wearing the much loved nightdress well beyond breakfast time.  And it just so happened yesterday was one of those days......

So I'm sitting at my desk, happily checking something on my computer when I catch a flash of something outside the window.  It looks like someone is coming to the front door.  Now the kids are in front of the T.V. and Big Daddy is out on the back deck.  None of them hear the knock on the door.  But I do.....  However, I'm in my nightdress.  My slinky, satin nightdress that looks perfect for a dirty weekend away - not answering the door to strangers, possibly even the neighbours!

Another knock comes on the door, louder this time.  "Crap," I think to myself, "this person really wants something" and the crazy thought goes through my head that maybe it's a court summons for something and do I really want to receive a summons dressed like a post-Christian Grey, Ana Steele?


The answer is no!  So I dash into the downstairs bathroom and hope the mysterious caller will go away.  Then he knocks again - much louder this time.  Now for those of you who don't live in sub-tropical Queensland, one of the ways we deal with the heat here is to have as many windows and doors open as possible.  Of course this poses a security risk, so the doors in particular have what is like a second door - it's basically a screen with a metal frame incorporated into it that looks like this:

You may notice that you can see right through it!  So, there I was in the bathroom,  with the option of going back into my office where my unwanted caller could look through the window and see me and wonder why the hell I wasn't answering the door or I could make a dash for the back deck also giving the unwanted caller the chance to see me and wonder what sort of weirdo was living here.   I stayed put, hoping he would either get fed up and go away or one of my audibly challenged family members would finally hear his knocks.

Janet Leigh in shower from Psycho
Things Were Starting To Look Like This
No such luck.  He knocked again and this time there was a certain insistence to it.  Fiddlesticks.  What to do?  I looked down at my nightdress and this is where I decided that it didn't look all that different from an actual dress. I reasoned with myself that the pattern gave it a "dressy" kinda look, as in daydressy.  And the fact that my frilly black bra was visible from underneath the "dress" wasn't an issue at all.  Spaghetti straps and sundresses mean you see bras all the time in Queensland. "So," I chided myself, "stop acting like a ninny and just answer the bloody door."

To be fair to the man, he didn't bat an eyelid at first but I think that's because it may have taken him a few seconds to fully appreciate the sight before him.  I should probably mention at this stage that I'm somewhat on the curvy side, you could even go so far as to say extra-voluptuous. He explained he was here about trimming the bushes (don't even go there!) in the back garden.  So, I invited him in and it was at this point he hesitated......  His eyes shot to the floor and it occurred to me he might be wondering if he had a sex maniac on his hands who loved nothing more than when unsuspecting workmen turn up at the door. 
"Er, you can talk to my husband about it," I stuttered.

He let out a sigh of relief and came in.  It was only after he left I realized he had studiously avoided eye contact with me the whole time he was here.  After his departure, Big Daddy suggested I might want to slip into something a little less comfortable.  I looked at him.  "This does look like a dress right?" I hopefully enquired.  The snort was all the answer I needed.

Sorry Mr. Bushman - I'm not sure if the sight of me in my "dress" was your idea of a nasty trick or a bit of a treat.  I hope I'm not running around in my bikini when you call again.