Cousins are Important

Last night we got together with the cousins on Andrew’s side of the family. We enjoyed a collection of food of magnificent proportions that grew as each carload arrived through the front door to make their contribution. The stars of the night were Uncle Neil’s lamb chops, Sister Sarah’s scalloped potatoes, Cousin Megan’s roasted pumpkin and pinenut salad, Auntie Jan’s brown rice medley and Nana’s  homemade lemon merangue pie.

We gathered around the table with sisters and cousins and aunties and uncles and nanas. We talked about what we have done since we were last together and some of the heartbreak. We talked about cats, dogs and chickens, a common theme among Andrew’s relations. We talked of nothing mind-blowing or world-changing. We joined with people we were stuck with. People connected by blood and marriage. We did not choose to be related but we chose to be at the table together.

Outside, in the back garden, was the next generation of cousins. Why outside? Because they chose it. After 5 minutes of “Bohemian Rhapsody” being sung at full volume by cousins of mixed musical ability, we understood why it was good they were outside and wondered what the neighbours must be thinking.

Cousins are important.

Most of the cousins, from last night, will be joining us for our family outing to the Perth Zoo. Once it was all decided and the meeting place and time were set they must have remembered that they forgot to invite the parents.

I am sure they will have a great time.

You know, cousins are a big part of why we took this flying part of our trip. Our kids had cousins they have not met. That should not be.

Cousins are important.

The biggest heartache of last night was talk of one of the cousins who married a woman who has severed ties with the family. A nana that will never see her grandchildren. Cousins that will never meet

Cousins are important.

I was closest to my cousin, Terre. Her parents had split up and she was making life difficult for Aunt Fran. Terre came to live with us in high school where my mom snapped her into shape. Anyone who knows my mom can effortlessly imagine this, I am sure. I am so glad that Terre came to live with us for those years. It has been so nice to see her grow from troubled teen, to beautiful young woman, faithful wife and doting mother.

My cousin, Terre, died of cancer last night. I was woken up by a tap on the shoulder from an unknown source at the moment of her death.

She is survived by her husband Mitch, together for 29 years, her  boyscout son, John, and she just missed her daughter, Ruby, becoming a teenager.

Cousins are important.


Squatter and Kermit

Have discovered a traditional Australian game that we love. Jules introduced it to us. It is called “Squatter”. It is a game about sheep farming that replaces the american optimism with lots of doom, despair and misery. They say it is “realistic”. I guess it would be with footrot, broken fences and  almost continuous drought. We do love it though. The game ends when one player gets their sheep to irrigated land and fully stocks the pens.

We have also been enjoying all the beautiful birds. There are colourful birds everywhere. Green, yellow, pink, all the colours you are used to seeing only in cages. When we go out for walks the girls will rush to identify the local birds or feathers.

The bird above is named “Kermit”. He is Lisa’s bird. Or she is Oscars personal chef. Who knows. Oscar is wild and he comes to visit several times a day. He announces his arrival with his “squeeky toy song”. He entertains with additional songs and dancing on the bannister. If the food and water are low or if he is wanting an addition to the diet, say, a slice of apple, he squacks until his treat is delivered. Lisa says she used to have a budgie in a cage but found it too sad. She much prefers a wild pet who is free to fly about at will.



We made it to Australia! Sorry took so long to post but I had to wrestle Andrew away from our only living computer long enough to get my photos and write this post : ) I do hope you appreciate all the trials and tribulations I go through for you.

Well, the journey has been long but we did make it in time for Andrew’s mum’s 70th birthday celebration. Yippee!

How happy does Andrew’s mum look. Actually she and Sarah are looking like they have just been posing for a photo shoot as upscale models. Lisa and Andrew seem to be sensible bookends to all the silliness.

Time for the Jones side of the family. Another motley crew that we gladly claim as relatives.

Some highlights of our time in Australia so far.

We were picked up by a large hairy man. Appropriately, he goes by the name “Fuzz” . They have a house completely full of items deemed necessary for big parties. I mean, why have one BBQ when you can have 2 and feed twice as many people. They even have a huge table that fuzz has made extensions for because a sit down meal for 20 just isn’t as much fun as one for 50, or 60, or more. You gotta love that logic.

We played tourists for the day. Took a “Rivecat” (waterbus) to…….

the Sydney Opera House, of course. I mean some tourist things you just gotta do.

Grandad Brian took the kids for a walk in the local cemetary, as you do, and look who they found.

He had friends. Apparently wild kangaroos come in to the cemetary because there is water and green grass to eat.

We have been staying with old friends, Graham and Fleur Blick. They are the much loved parents of Maggie, Cindy and Jules who we have been bumping into all over the world. Graham is here feeding TJs hunger for all things of nature. She is the family expert now.