Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our beloved friends and family!

The business of rebuilding after the fire has taken a lot of time since August.  I am incredibly busy with the Speech Team, and Kelly is doing great things at the bank.  Mum arrived on November 23rd, just in time for her birthday.  All of the above has kept me from blogging, but I'm hoping to return to normal soon, especially as our house is close to being finished :)  I have a week's break from school for Christmas, so we will start moving furniture and 'stuff' back in.

Here is a quick clip of Mizzi, especially for Zac, Jordi, Mia and Emma. xxx

Mizzi in Snow

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


At midnight on Friday the 7th August, Casey called Kelly while we were at his parents' place having a lovely time with the family; Lori and George were visiting. Our house was on fire. Casey heard the smoke alarm upstairs but thought it was a car alarm somewhere in the neighbourhood. Sinead eventually went up to check it out but only got as far as the stairwell before she realised how bad things were. She told Casey, who went upstairs and tried to turn the light on. He thought the globe was out, but really the whole upstairs was filled with thick, black smoke and extremely hot. He went back down and kicked out the flywire on the basement window. Then he helped Sinead and her cat escape before climbing out to safety and calling 911. We rushed home and waited on the lawn till 3 am when the firemen and the fre marshall finished putting out the smoke. The kids went to Christina's house and we went to visit Kelly's parents. Understandably, this horrible incident brought up a lot of awful memories for Terry whose parents both died in a house fire when the kids were little. Then we tried to find a hotel room but ended up sleeping at Blue Creek. The current estimates are that we will be out of our house for 6 - 8 weeks and it will cost $100,000 to repair our home and replace things. The fire seems to have started near the tv cabinet when all the furninture was stacked in the dining room as I was finishing the hard wood floors. Thank God I put the lids on the highly flamable floor stain properly.

We are still pretty shaken up and daunted by the propsect of putting our home back together. Of course the main thing is that Sinead and Casey are safe. It is also a great comfort that we have good insurance and will not be out of pocket. But the little things that upset me are the time and effort I put into painting the house and handmaking the drapes. Even worse will be if the home movies are ruined, or paintings by dear friends. Apparently anything made of plastic or leather can't be salvaged, and I hate shopping for shoes. Everything is covered in a greasy petro chemical soot that Kelly and I have come to loathe as the smell of danger and destruction.

But we'll be ok. Everyone has been so kind and supportive. We are well insured and we have each other. It will just be inconvenient and tiring, with a few traumatic flashbacks from time to time.

So check your smoke detectors.
With much love

This is where it most likely started, around the tv cabinet

Friday, July 31, 2009


What do you think of my yellow and orange? Cheerful? A little bit Zen? That's what I was going for.

Now I want to pull up the carpet and re-finish the hard wood floors.

Crystal Lake

Last weekend Kelly and I hoped to go camping at West Rosebud, a popular spot not far from Billings where a river runs into a lake, so there is fishing and swimming. Our friend Kenny went up ahead of us to claim a spot, but was rained out and returned to Billings at midnight the evening before we were due to head up. A last minute plan was hatched with Mom and Dad to find Crystal Lake out of Lewistown, over two hours away. Casey and his friend Hank came too, so we headed off in a three car convoy. I enjoyed quizzing Kelly along the way and got lots of information about Montana, his family's farming history, and summer jobs he had as a teenager ... like the time he got a summer job with Robbie Clark in Roundup climbing up poles to salvage telegraph lines. Robbie was dating a local girl who broke her curfew one night, and the boys had to exit hastily in their pick up truck while the girl's mom unloaded a shot gun in their direction! Anyway, a much more serene setting was waiting for us at Crystal Lake.

I got to cross off an item from my wish list for this holiday because I camped by water and woke up to the smell of a pine forest. I even took my yoga mat and did sun salutations amongst the beautiful trees. We had the forethought to buy a little inflatable raft. Casey and Hank floated across the lake as we walked around it, loving the views and the wild flowers. Then we swapped.

A national forest volunteer came by to warn us that a bear had been spotted in the park the previous night, so we were careful to pack up all our food before we went to bed. Kelly had his 357 pistol by his side in our tent. I don't think any bears came by, although the boys had trouble sleeping because of various noises in the night. We did have a doe and fawn hanging around before dinner, and they were very happy with potato chips. Mike said it would be the salt they craved.

It was such an incredibly beautiful place to camp. On Sunday morning we did a little hike to the top of one of the hills and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the lake.

This camping area is only open for a few months in summer. In winter it is snowed in, and a popular spot for snow mobiles and cross sountry skiing. The lake itself is actually spring fed. There are a couple of spots along the side of the lake where you can see and hear the spring water bubbling up through the stones. The water there is freezing cold, oozing out of the mountains as the winter snow pack thaws and feeds the lake. We filled our water bottles here.

On the way home I had to take a couple more pictures. These are a few of my favourite things - Montana's abandonned farm houses / ghost towns, and the ribbons of gold formed by road side sunflowers.

Home Sweet Home?

When school broke up in early June, Kelly and I only waited a weekend before jumping on a plane and heading 'home' to Oz. He stayed for two weeks and I stayed four. We packed it in on our first return visit: Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, Adelaide/Aldinga and Alice Springs. Then Kelly had to get back to work, but I pushed on with Freemantle to catch up with Cathy et al, Adelaide again, Sydney and Gosford. I wasn't very systematic or organised with photography, but here is a selection.

Assorted Murphies in Rye

Vic and I squinting into the winter sun

Kelly on one of our wonderful beach walks at Aldinga

My country

Lhere Mbantua - my beautiful river

Mia (right) sitting in the 'star' at her pre-school graduation

Emma cons Mizzi out of another ride on the merry go round

playing with Emma's new ABC puzzle

BFFs on the ferry in Sydney

I saw as many people as we could fit in, I followed the nasal twang of Kath n Kim around supermarkets just to revel in the accent, I ate Arnott's bisuits and fish n chips, watched SBS and the ABC, wallowed in the love of family and life long friends ... I enjoyed the homeness of home. Still, when Kelly had to come back to Montana, I missed him, and returning to our little place on Yellowstone Avenue was just as exciting as landing in Australia. So I guess this trip really reinforced that we are blessed to have two homes, but mainly that home is Kelly.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Blue Creek

Check out our little place in Blue Creek. We went camping there on the Memorial Day weekend with friends and family.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It's beautiful, warm, vibrant spring in Montana, and this will be my last post before Kelly and I come 'home' to Australia for a visit. Easter makes so much more sense in the northern hemisphere. Just to prove it, check out Kelly's new buddy who lives in our back yard.

People get really excited about being outside and planting. All around the neighbourhood there are splashes of colour and happy gardeners out on weekends and the ever lengthening evenings. Seasonal gardening shops reopen for the spring. Just in the last week, all the trees have sprouted their green canopy in perfect syncronicty with the warm days.

Kelly started his veggie garden as a 'grow operation' under lights and warmed by a heater overnight in the garage. That way his seeds could get a head start during late winter and early spring. Otherwise the little plants are too vulnerable to the late freezes.

All transplants are doing well, and the swiss chard (silverbeet) just grew back where it was planted last year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Day 09

At dawn, here on our hill at Blue Creek out of Billings Montana, we remembered the fallen and prayed for peace. We were joined by PC, a mate of Kelly's who served for 28 years in the US Navy, including Vietnam. Lest we forget.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Calgary and Ice Hockey

For Kelly's birthday, we met up with Sam and Justin in Calgary, Alberta Canada, to watch a game of ice hockey. Kelly's predictions of a great atmoshphere were proved right as we joined 20,000 Calgary Flames fans cheering their boys to a victory over the Minnesota Wild.

Kelly and Justin represented the Alice Springs Fighting Frillnecks with pride. This was a team that played in inline roller skates on the concrete rink behind the Alice Springs Youth Centre. Starting off with just a few guys from the base, it turned into quite a good scratch match most weeks, and a whole lot of fun. Their brighly coloured Aussie jerseys made is easy for me to pick them out of the crowd as they made their way back to our seats in the top of the dome with more beer :)

Calgary was great. They have a cool downtown area where you can walk around in these walkways over the streets, protected from the cold weather. You end up walking all over the city, shopping through malls, looking out on the streets without having to go outside. We checked out the museum which had great information about the First Nation people known as the Blackfeet, as well as fur trappers, mounties and much more. Canada felt like a cross between the US and Australia, with Queen Liz on the money, temperature measured in Celsius, a familiar flavour of multiculturalism and a cheeky sense of humour. Next year we might go and watch a hockey game in Montreal so I can speak French and we can go to see some Cirque du Soleil at home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost Spring

A busy school term has flown by, and Patrick’s Day is fast upon us. January was very cold with more snow and icy roads. I helped organize the Montana State Speech and Debate Tournament here in Billings, and after that my coaching responsibilities wound down, thankfully. Here are a few of the kids ready to make our last big road trip to Bozeman in January.

In February, I cashed in my Christmas present which was a spoily weekend with Kelly at Chiko Hot Springs. Nestled in mountains out of Livingston Montana, Chico makes use of geothermic hot spring water. There is an Olympic size swimming pool through which they pump the wonderfully hot water. It ends up being totally flushed every 8 hours. The hot water is then fed through a system of pipes and used to heat the accommodation. Kelly and I booked massages on the Saturday, followed by a long soak. Did I mention the poolside bar and my margarita? Amazing!

On Sunday we stopped in Immigrant for breakfast at the old saloon. I enjoyed a sensational American breakfast under the watchful gaze of no less than 10 mounted animal heads, mostly deer and elk.

Last night we celebrated the feast of St Patrick a few days early … we are too old to go to work with hangovers. It was wonderful fun. We over-catered of course. Plenty of corned beef and cabbage, beef and Guinness pie, smashed taters, and Sinead’s chocolate Guinness cupcakes.

Brothers Mick and Kelly

Sinead, Tera and Megan

Casey, Grandma and Evan

Fireside Chats

Now that I have finished some online study as well as Debate coaching, I have enrolled in quilting classes. My plan is to make a story quilt for our bed with Australian boomerang themed material and an American print to show our homes and hearts are entwined in two beautiful countries.