23 December 2013

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, Your Baubles All Are History

A dancing cherub on our Victorian pot.
We keep it outside so it has lots of nice
lichen over it.
At the mountain stronghold we have 54 acres of mostly rainforest, but towards the bottom of the mountain there is a nice little grove of pine trees.  I know that technically pine trees are weeds in this area, but they still look nice.  So every year, for some years, we have harvested our own small live Christmas tree.  We have a lovely large Victorian terracotta pot with cherubs dancing around it and some beautiful glass and fabric baubles, so it all looks festive and appropriate to the season. 

But that was before we started living with Bengals. 
Bengals like to climb.  Bengals like to pull things down, play soccer with them and then tear them to pieces.  Tiny little pieces.  In short, Bengals cannot resist the temptation of a fully decorated Christmas tree and what results is a messy disaster.  It never happens when you’re looking – nosiree, when you’re looking everyone is positively angelic.  After the first time they are growled at for investigating this new toy too enthusiastically, they make sure to walk a wide circle around it whenever you’re looking. 
Caleb took a great liking to the Steiff leopard we
brought back from our buying trip.  When he
wasn't dragging it around the house by the
throat, he was cuddling up to it.  But it was not
destined to be his, and it has now gone to a
good home where it won't be mauled.
But you can’t keep looking forever, can you?  Bengals know this.  Eventually you will be worn down.  Eventually you will relax your guard.  Eventually you’ve got to sleep.  And then they strike.  Hard and fast, make your kill, dance triumphantly all over it, and then scatter and try to pin the blame on Klaatu.

Look at this sweet boy - he's no tree shredder.
But Klaatu is a good boy who sleeps at the end of the bed every night, and it takes a whole lot to get him out of his spot.  And anyway, I know who the culprits are, and they’re spotty.  

There is no overt naughty behavior going on, they genuinely seem to think that every single new thing that comes into the house is for their pussycat pleasure.  So what can we do?  We are again in a Christmas Tree Free Zone this year, which is disappointing.  Next year I’m trying again, and hopefully they will have grown up a bit by then.  I live in hope.

Now that's a tree shredder.
Meanwhile, we’re only new at the Peregian Beach Market, but so far it’s working out well.  Our second Sunday was even better than our first outing, and we sold a much wider range of goods.  A number of people also expressed an interest in our new shipment, so things bode well for the 29 December Market.

Quarantine gave us grief, as usual, but in a new development this time they made noises about laboratory testing all the items in our new shipment that could conceivably be used for food preparation.  Testing for what wasn’t clear – 100 year old French germs?  And suddenly Customs was back in the picture, demanding that we tell them what people use our kitchenware for – actual cooking or for decorative purposes.  So could the thousands of people to whom we have sold kitchenware over the past few years please contact us and let us know what you’re using the stuff for?  No, don’t really, but you get the idea about how impossible it was to comply with this instruction.
Here is a close up of one of the six fabulous
French cross-roads crosses that we brought back
from our buying trip.  French angels look very
different to English angels, usually with much
bigger wings and always with good hair.
These were new demands from both Quarantine and Customs that we’d never encountered before so we weren’t exactly sure what their game was.  It was a given that it would involve us paying them vast sums of money, of course. 

But one skillset that Doug and I share is knowing how to create a paper trail that can be used when escalating issues to more senior managers and, dare I say it, the Minister’s Office.  Having worked for two Federal Ministers, I have a good idea of how to compose a very polite slap that is likely to see off lesser bureaucrats.  It must always be very, very polite, but with just a touch of snarl – ever so polite snarling can be surprisingly effective.

So hurrah, suddenly Customs cleared the shipment, Quarantine ditched the laboratory testing idea and now we have most of the goods in our hot little hands.  The rest is awaiting fumigation, and we're not likely to get that for at least another week, customer service standards being what they are.  But we still have plenty to be going on with.

A small selection of new items in our red cabinet
now in Oople.  We did some incredibly good buying,
so we're offering terrific things at around half the
price that we had to charge in our old shop.
So the Christmas period will see us doing a whole heap of waxing and polishing and cleaning, but it means we will have a fabulous vintage French kitchenware stand at the 29 December Peregian Beach Market.  Plus we have put a small cabinet into Oople, the nice little shop a few doors down from our old shop in Eumundi, and that will hold a good selection of nice things.  And so far, so good – we put the cabinet into Oople on Friday and had to restock it already by Saturday.  Over time I might put some French glass out at Peregian Market as well as Oople, but we have lots of stock to choose from and we’re starting with kitchenware at the Market.

This is the park at Peregian Beach on a non-
Market day. When the Market is on, our stand
is just about under the pine tree on the right
Opposite, under the shade cloth, is a skate park
that attracts some quite skilled skaters.
Unlike France, in Australia skate parks tend to
be dominated by dudes on skate boards, rather
than scooters.
So hopefully our third time at Peregian will build on the success of the first two outings.  Last time was seriously hot, so thank goodness for ocean breezes.  And because we’re learning what works better each time, we decided that we’ll need a tarpaulin to provide extra shade for us at the back of our stand.  The marquee covers the stock and keeps the area nice and cool for the customers, but we were seriously baking out the back.  So we’ll fix that next time.

The view up river from our table at our
favourite breakfast cafĂ©.  The pelicans have
taken to sitting on poles where
they can't be snuck up on.
And you know that an extra-good Sunday at the Market deserves a reward, so on Monday it was back to our favourite breakfast spot along the Noosa River.  The pelicans were still there, but this time they had wised up and their vantage points were unassailable so there was no shoving each other around.  Then it was off to Peregian Beach for a quick stroll.  As Doug says, it’s good to do these things to remind ourselves about why we moved here in the first place.

This is one of a pair of matching French
terracotta stylized pineapple
finials that I wrote about a few
blogs ago.  It dates to about 1840 and
stands almost 40cm tall.
Because we're now selling
wholesale it's $190 - an utter
bargain because that's somewhat
cheaper than reproductions.
Have a lovely Christmas, everyone.  And to all of you who don’t have the fun that ratbag Bengals bring to your lives but do have Christmas trees that are not tattered and strewn around your home, enjoy your tidy homes.  We’ll enjoy our mayhem.



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