Plundering Pirates – Part 3: Gymkhana

Wow it has been two weeks since I last posted on my blog. Thank you for a couple of amazing friends who have been asking for new blog posts! I love that my blog is being read and missed when I am “slack” :)

On Thursday the 15th November we had Granddad’s funeral. It was a harrowing day. My Dad did a wonderful, beautiful job on the eulogy and one of my Aunties wrote a lovely poem that my Uncle read out. It is sad that it seems you only see extended family members at weddings and funerals, and always large periods of time in between. It was lovely seeing all my cousins and their children, but I was in no state to socialise.

Even though we were celebrating the Michelle's Labyrinthlife of my Granddad, I knew at home that my baby Makita wasn’t going to last very long. My 13 year 5 month old Rottweiler was shrinking (hidden by bloating) and shaking all the time because of the pain she was in. Makita passed away on Friday 16th November, and this is the main reason why I haven’t posted to my blog. I have started writing a post about Makita because she was a huge part of my life and I loved her very much, but you will have to wait for me to gather (and scan) the photos I want to share before I publish that one.

During the past couple of weeks I have spent some time with family and also busied myself in making cakes for the Wanneroo Show – which I will write about in more detail in another post. I also may have done some investigation into a new family member – of the furry kind. So watch this space on news about that! Now as promised in my last post, this one was to be about cakes! But in this case, it is about why I made a pirate cake for the Gidgegannup Show :)

I am curious how many of you knew what gymkhana means when you saw the title of my blog post? According to http://dictionary.reference.com/ (one of my favourite websites as I know lots of words, just not how to spell them!) a gymkhana is a field day held for equestrians, consisting of exhibitions of horsemanship and much pageantry.

My Mum’s next door neighbour has ponies and Shetlands and is a Carriage (Harness) Driving enthusiast, who also competes. For the past few years she has held a “Fun Day”, a gymkhana, on her property around the end of October. This is the 3rd year, and my parents and myself have volunteered each year. I am now the official score keeper.

Michelle's Labyrinth

Each year there is a new theme and Michelle's Labyrintheveryone dresses up to that theme (humans and ponies!) and this year’s theme was ‘Pirates’! This is why I made the pirates cake, since the gymkhana was held a week after the Gidgegannup Show. I also made a fruit cake so it would last and of course ensured there were ponies on the cake.

 

Michelle's Labyrinth    Michelle's Labyrinth

On the day they hold various events such as barrel racing, a precision course (where the pony has two minutes do a number of actions to earn points, such as a timed halt), a race (2 ponies race, but they also have to drop balls in buckets at certain points) and a timed obstacle course through cones with tennis balls on them (you get penalised if the tennis balls fall off the cone). So it isn’t necessarily the fastest or biggest pony/horse that wins. It is the most precise, well behaved pony. You’d laugh at how afraid they are to go over some carpet!

Michelle's Labyrinth   Michelle's Labyrinth

This year it was a stormy weekend. I thought it may be called off for safety reasons (yes the mining industry drilled that into me!), but everyone loves the day so much that most of them turned up. So Mum, Dad and I ended up getting soaked and hailed on! At one point we were timing a race, keeping our backs Michelle's Labyrinthto the west because the rain was coming in so hard and we noticed all the other competitors under the verandah with cups of coffee! Cheeky bleeps :) I had my Lumix camera (as opposed to Canon SLR) so I risked capturing the weather coming in, and also a few of us stuck under a tree during a heavy shower!

Michelle's Labyrinth

But we got through the day and still had fun (including a pony that was being trained to wear a harness – see picture below!). We didn’t do one event and did them all before lunch (we usually do the obstacle course after lunch) because we knew no one would want to go back out into the wet once they were semi dried.

Michelle's Labyrinth

Everyone was super impressed with my pirate cake. Mum told most people that it came third at the Gidgegannup Show. I cut a good chunk off the cake for Dad to take home and most of the jetty part of the cake was demolished! So I was pretty happy with that.

Mum told me a story a few days after the gymkhana. Her next door neighbour’s husband threw a wobbly about the cake. She was going to take the ship part of the cake to a club meeting the next day and he said he didn’t want her to take the whole ship. He wanted some. He mentioned how my Dad got to keep some, so he wanted a portion! So she had to leave half the ship for her husband to eat! I will take that as a big compliment that my fruit cake was yummy! :)

Oh, before I forget… Captain Jack Sparrow made an appearance at the gymkhana! He was put to work, although I am unsure if he was used to it!

Michelle's Labyrinth              Michelle's Labyrinth

Michelle's Labyrinth

 

 

 

 

Roller Coaster Week

Last week was a very trying week. I had a fair bit of bad news and a few bits of exciting Michelle's Labyrinthnews. I haven’t felt much like writing a blog post about cake decorating or geek stuff until I got this off my chest. I had planned on writing a blog post at some stage about all the roller coasters we have been on around the world (like California Screamin’ at Disney California Adventure Park), and this week is not one of the roller coasters I wanted to talk about. So here is my Monday-Sunday of last week.

Monday morning started fairly well. I wanted to get up early and go dress shopping. I had left buying my outfit for the Melbourne Cup until the last minute. But I was so exhausted, so had a little sleep-in. My dress shopping was a success – found something after only trying two dresses on! Then a lovely lady helped me buy my first fascinator, and I already had shoes to match! Yay!

Monday early evening I received a call about some bad news. One of my loved ones has cancer. It is not my story to tell, but we are optimistic that it can be removed and it was found early enough.

Tuesday was a fun Melbourne Cup day – my first one outside of an office! My hubbie had organised for his team at work to go to Ascot Racecourse in the Yellowglen tent and paid for me to go too – well I have done some work for him! We had a lovely lunch, the smoked salmon entree and chicken main were divine, and lots of sparkling wine – Yellowglen of course! One person won a bet on our table, but hubbie and I had no lucky gambles at all!

Wednesday and Thursday I had great card making mornings. Nine Christmas cards done! The afternoons I stayed home, did some cleaning and cooking and spent some quality time with my puppy Makita. She had started bloating on the weekend and it was making it harder for her to get up. Now I say puppy, but she is almost 13.5 years old, which is fantastic for a rottweiler. But I say puppy because she is my baby. Thursday afternoon I e-mailed the mobile vet to come and see Makita. Wednesday night we went for a walk and she only made it to the second house down. Michelle's LabyrinthShe just laid down and I was worried we weren’t going to be able to coax her back up! And Thursday she flatly refused to go for a walk, which is a first :(

Also Thursday night I remembered to pay for another purchase for my studio – a Mad Hatter doll. I had asked the artist in South Wales UK on Sunday to hold it for me while I got some credit card details (as I had to cancel my credit card that weekend because it was hacked!). I finally remembered to pay her Thursday night, as I had been somewhat distracted during the week.

Michelle's LabyrinthI woke up at 3am on Friday morning. My mind was buzzing with a couple of ideas, so I got up to write them down. I then checked Facebook and Twitter and saw a post about a gallery in New York who was showing Brian and Wendy Froud’s Trolls. I already have the new book called “Trolls”, I pre-ordered it months ago. But I somehow managed to find a catalogue of more than 100 Full color pages of over 100 paintings, drawings & sculptures including many published pieces, the lost Labyrinth collection, and new sculptures from Wendy & Toby. So I ordered it, because I have a collection of all of Brian & Wendy’s books.

Since I was on the AFA gallery website (http://afanyc.com/) I thought I would have a look around, and found that some of Wendy’s sculptures were still unsold. It said that for original art that you had to phone up for prices etc, but since it was in New York I thought I would shoot them an e-mail. There was one particular sculpture I liked called Sap Dancer. I got a e-mail back very quickly, but it had the price and a picture of one of Brian drawings. So I wrote back with a picture of Wendy’s sculpture and said that I was after the “doll”, not the drawing. I got a quick reply saying Sap Dancer was definitely available and the detail on him was incredible.

At this stage it is 4:08am. I thought the price was extremely reasonable for an original piece of artwork. So I had to make a decision, do I check with hubbie first or just order it. I thought about asking if they would hold it for 24 hours while I checked with hubbie, but it would be Friday night our time by then and I may not feel like phoning New York. Plus I really really wanted it – I never thought I would be able to buy an original Froud piece of art! So I called New York!

The phone was a bit crackly to start with, I had to ask for Carol three times and said it was Michelle and I had just e-mailed her. I waited a few moments and this excited American voice said “Is that Michelle from Australia?” She was so excited, she said that once she knew I was after the Michelle's Labyrinthsculpture that she ran downstairs to make sure he was still there. She then asked me if I had met the Frouds! I am like no :( It would be an unbelievable experience. She said that she had filmed one of Wendy’s sculpture workshops and it was amazing. She said she just wanted to put the camera down and get involved in the clay. She also said her boss had a chateau in the south of France and Wendy occasionally held workshops there. She then asked if I had the new “Trolls” book, I said yes I have all of his books. She then asked me about some specific books and I am like yes I have them all, I have everything except for Wendy’s Sculpture Workshop DVD. She said that I must be a big fan then… Yes :)

I had a lovely hour drive on Friday, with my convertible’s roof down, to visit my friend and her 3 month old. One the way I thought about my new purchase. I was so excited. I thought that I could almost go back to work now for a bit, since I have fulfilled a dream.

I had a great day with my friend. We chatted, then went scrapbook shopping. I had given my friend the idea on a previous visit to start a scrapbook of her baby girl. She is very creative and likes to be active. Under doctor orders she isn’t allowed much physical activity at the moment, so I thought scrap-booking would keep her occupied. She also has rottweilers and we had a fantastic talk about Makita and what the near future may hold.

Friday afternoon the vet visited Makita. Makita has a chip on her shoulder about being touched (unless it is cuddling or patting!). The vet was awesome and understood some dogs are nervous and just let Makita be. He prescribed some pills, which Makita is taking with a spoonful of apricot jam. It is the only way to get her to take tablets – jam! It took us about 11 years to work it out too. Tried cheese, ham, peanut butter… and when she started going on daily arthritis medicine I had to find a better solution, and jam just seemed to be it. There was no sucking the jam off and spitting out the tablets like other methods. I also always think of “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…In a most delightful way”, a song from Mary Poppins, when I give her jam.

Friday night I spent with my youngest sister. We went and saw Paullina Simons – our favourite author! She did an hour talk about her latest book “Children of Liberty” which is a prequal to “The Bronze Horseman”. Then she did some book signing. She is a beautiful lady, completely down to earth and she makes time to speak to each person and she loves Perth! I think it is wonderful she comes to Perth and I think she said it was her 5th time!

The highlight of Saturday was dinner at Rockpool with some ex-colleagues. It was great to catch up with them and have a girls night out. The Wagyu Bolognaise was extremely tasty, but I would buy the main size course if it is going to be your meal. I almost went with entree size, because their entree sizes are pretty big, but I am glad I had main – to soak up my cocktail :)

Both Saturday and Sunday morning I was up pretty early and went outside to have breakfast, read and soak in some sunshine. It was truly peaceful and I had Makita next to me sun-baking as well. I was listening to the birds chirping, the occasion squeal from the kid next door and just breathing in the fresh air. My mobile rang just after 9am on Sunday, which is extremely odd since most people know I like my sleep-ins. I knew straight away what had happened.

Michelle's Labyrinth

Source: http://www.army.gov.au/Our-history/Traditions/~/media/Images/Our%20History/Traditions/Remembrance%20Day/R10713831.jpg

My Granddad passed away early Sunday morning. Remembrance Day. I knew he was not doing well, as he had stopped eating earlier in the week, but it is still a shock. I was also worried about my Dad, as I know he has been so busy lately. Of course you start to then reflect. There would be no more cheek from Granddad; no more being asked which country you were calling from (or acting surprised if you were actually in Australia); or that you should be a belly dancer. You then remember your younger memories of him: the sliding cut off thumb trick; the poking out of his false teeth; that his fridge was always stocked with lemonade and he always had Arnott’s biscuits ready for his visitors.

I thank Granddad for my nose, my tardiness and my addiction to chocolate. But of course also for my Dad and for his love of his family and pets. I’ll miss his Geordie accent, which I could understand most of the time, unless he didn’t have his teeth in! I will always remember our Friday night visits to Nanna and Granddad’s and how Dad’s Geordie accent was always stronger after visiting his folks. And I have a couple of mementos to look upon.

Michelle's Labyrinth      Michelle's Labyrinth

Remembrance Day will now hold an even stronger meaning for me. I always thought of Granddad during our minute’s silence on the 11th of 11th. Granddad was shot and then captured as a prisoner of war in Germany during WW2. He used to tell us stories about being a POW. He only told us the more fun moments though. He was well liked by the guards, once hit by lightning, pulled out of fist fights and he even escaped. He just kept his hat down, said goodbye in German to the guard and just walked out. He was picked up a number of miles down the road though. He said that the guards were just human, like him. They were just doing their part of the war and as long as you respected them, things were okay.

I think he was well liked then and now because he loved to laugh. When my sister and I last visited him he was so happy to see us, even though I think he was confused a couple of times which grandkids we were. And he said that laughter is the best medicine. I have always believed that myself, and since Granddad made it to 93 and a half years old there must be something in it!

Granddad lead an interesting life as hinted above. He was born in 1919 so was a post WW1 baby. He was father to 5 children, post WW2 babies. Granddad and Nanna emigrated from Newcastle (England) in 1963 on the ship Canberra, with hopes of a better future for their five children. Granddad and Nanna’s names are engraved forever on the Welcome Walls of the West Australia Museum in Fremantle.

If my maths is right, Granddad was grandfather to 14 and great-grandfather to 22! So he will surely be missed. But he is now with Nanna. He has been without her for over 17 years and now they are together again. So we must smile at that. If you have a moment, please listen to “Hit The Road Jack” by Ray Charles and reminisce about your grandparents, whether they are still here or up above.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8Tiz6INF7I

I am not sure how I would have coped if I had been working and totally stressed to start with. The world works in mysterious ways, that is for sure. I am sorry if you found this blog post long and unsettling – life can suck sometimes. To help cope I indulged in a huge slab of fruit cake and a lemonade yesterday, in honour of Granddad, and I am munching on some chocolate while writing this blog post. Back to blogging about cake decorating next time! :)

 

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