Sunday, September 12, 2010
We had visitors!
I got a phone call on Friday from Terri, who I've known for ages through Andromeda Spaceways and similar SF stuff. Terri was also at WorldCon, hanging with the Twelfth Planet Press folks, and it transpired that she was planning a trip around Tasmania with her family in the aftermath of the Con. Naturally I pointed out that Chez Flinthart had plenty of space to park a campervan, and suggested that she and her mob would be welcome if they happened to come by.
So the phone call was about a proposed trip up Ben Lomond, which is Tassie's one-and-only ski mountain. Terri figured they might drop by afterwards. I thought about it, and asked what size the campervan was. Turned out the thing was a six-metre plus monster... and I had to break it to her that the switchback road up the face of Ben Lomond simply wasn't going to accommodate the thing. There's a shuttlebus that runs up the road apparently, but since we had a walloping rainstorm last Saturday, Ben Lomond has no snow, and the bus doesn't run under those conditions.
Thus, Terri's mob checked out Launceston, then breezed into the Flinthart Zone.
It was fine, meeting the Terri family. The three 'kids' were actually well into the grown-up category, the youngest being fourteen and the eldest nineteen. That didn't stop the two boys making a headlong charge for the trampoline, though, and in short order there was an all-in scrum on the thing, with the smaller Flinthart lads generally getting the worse of things -- but very much all in fun. Meantime, I took Terri, Brett and their daughter on a walking tour of the place.
It was useful for me, too. I haven't actually had time to walk the property since before going off to Borneo, and there's been a lot of weather since then. I've got a great deal of work to do around the place -- a lot of wattles to fell, just for starters. And the vegie beds need to be worked over thoroughly, and restarted: there was this triffid thing that had once been a Chinese cabbage... now a giant stem with flowers all the way up at my near-two-metres height. Dangerous stuff. Cabbage shouldn't be man-height, I feel.
We found a nest of jack-jumpers up by the water tank, which was useful: meant that the visitors now know what to look for so as to avoid probably Tasmania's most dangerous critters. It also meant that I went back up with a container of petrol today, and gave the little bastards a dose of ugly hydrocarbons. I don't like jack-jumper ants.
Down at the spring, I discovered that the recent rains have blocked the outflow pipe, and water is now running over the edge of the pond. That's not a great idea. I'll have to fix that in the next few days, which will be one hell of a cold, wet, muddy job. Has to happen, though. Can't have the retaining wall of the pond being eroded. That would be very inconvenient indeed.
The swimming pond was also super-full, and flowing so fast it's cut itself a new streambed. Happily, the platypus was on duty, much to the delight of Terri and her daughter, who hadn't actually seen a platypus in the wild. Our mild-mannered monotreme put on a nice show, paddling slowly around on the surface of the pond, diving, returning. Very decent of him to stick around for the visitors.
Dinner went pretty well. I'm no good at moderation, so it went to four courses: poached scallops on croutons, then chicken and sweet corn soup, then Singapore mee goreng, and finally an American-style apple cobbler with whipped cream. By the time that lot was done, even the three teenagers were lolling about, clutching their bellies and sobbing gently... but they recovered in time for us to watch Kung Fu Hustle and eat bowls of hot, buttery popcorn up in the loft. Yay! Terri's mob didn't quite seem to know exactly what to make of Stephen Chow's bizarro kung fu antics, but they knew how to deal with the popcorn. And the Mau-Mau adopted Terri's daughter, spending the entire film sitting on her lap.
All up, it was a pretty successful visit, I think. They took off this morning, loaded down with pancakes and bacon, aimed in the general direction of the East Coast. Of course, we still have at least one jacket here, belonging to a teenage type... but I'm sure we'll be able to sort out a means of returning it. And, you know: when a family goes on holiday, there's always a debris trail. That's just the way it is, if the holiday is actually any sort of success.
I was glad of the visit. It was a nice reminder of the whole Con thing, and it's good to have the chance to consolidate friendships made at SF events and over the 'Net and all. Nice to attach faces to imagined persons, and discover names and personalities. Terri's lot were good value: sharp, thoughtful, good-humoured, and good-natured. My kids were delighted, and even Natalie (who is often a bit socially challenged when the numbers of visitors start to climb) relaxed and had a good time. She's even talking about bringing kids/family across to Perth in Easter next year, what with Natcon/Swancon happening.
That wouldn't be a bad idea. Of course, they wouldn't be doing the Con. Young Jake may have slipped neatly into the SF scene, but I can guarantee that neither fandom nor the rest of my family is ready for one another. Happily, Nat's mum is over there in Perth, and Natalie hasn't seen her in quite a while. The kids need to see their grandmum now and again, I think, just to build a few memories.
Prob'ly won't happen, though. Arranging family holidays for Easter is damned difficult. And Natalie's priority is, of course, the National Folk Festival at Canberra. On the other hand, personally I'm glad that Natcon 2011 clashes with the NFF. Means I don't have to work too hard to come up with an excuse to avoid five days in Canberra dust, surrounded by somewhere between ten and twenty thousand folk music junkies...
Whups. It's late. I'd better pack this in and go to bed. I'm damned tired, and tomorrow is another big day...