Monday, August 20, 2012



I really should take you  back to the beginning.  Well almost the beginning, after all what Ma-in-law is ever privy to such intimate moments.    The photograph above is as good a place to start as any, and one I'm sure my daughter Jen will  approve.    Chris the prize winning artist.  The pair of them in Brisbane, deservedly holding a generous cheque in their hot little hands.

Was I proud of him?   You betcha.

Like any stage mother I held hopes my artistic pair would continue on in that field.  I had visions of Tom Roberts,  Frida Kahlo...or even a young Cezanne.   But my hopes were dashed.  Jen and Chris had itchy feet and Tasmania, that badge shaped island to the south of Oz was destined to be their next stop.

I wasn't all that distraught.  Having never set foot in Tasmania before I now had a legitimate reason to visit... again, and again, and again.   After all mothers-in-law are always welcome aren't they.  By their sons-in-law at least.

Did I mention as well as being a talented artist Chris was also a dab handy man?   Here he is at work transforming their first house into a comfortable home.  That meant pulling down walls, putting up new ones, moving bathrooms and plumbing and fixtures and replacing windows and verandahs.   

Whew!    Lots of hard work.

 Trouble is Tasmania can be awfully cold in the winter, for that matter in the summer as well.  Even I had to agree on that.  As you can see  in this photo with Chris on top of Hobart's Mt Wellington, I can hardly keep my teeth from chattering.

Clearly, after enduring some years of cold a move to warmer climes was needed, and so they moved back north to Kyogle on the New South Wales border with Queensland.  Another lifestyle, a dilapidated house to revamp but curiously a winter almost as cold as Tassie.

And heaps more fiddling with hammers, saws and levels.

For Jenny and Chris it seemed their lives were heading in the direction of all work and no play.   So after a longish taste of the country life in Homeleigh they decided to make the big move.  Overseas.  To Ecuador.  Slap bang on the equator true, but some miles above it.

By now mother-in-law me is seriously excited.  South America, Ecuador, long visits.  Wow!

Of course we,  me and my reluctant traveller hot footed it over there as soon as we decently could...and fell in love with Cuenca.   The colour, the vibrancy, the people.   To myself I hopefully harboured ma-in-law thoughts... aha Cuenca absolutely reeks with inspiration, the perfect place for artists to call home.  But no, this footloose couple had other ideas and decidedly lofty ambitions.   And that meant more work for Chris the super handyman.

With a seriously desperate deadline to meet and an engaging  crew of local tradesmen, Chris sawed, and sanded and hammered until voila,  a Kookaburra emerged from the ruins of an old neglected mansion, taking Cuenca by storm.

It didn't matter that 'Kookaburra' in the Ecudorian vernacular meant something else entirely,  an Aussie accent had been introduced to Cuenca and the sweet taste of success had taken over their lives.

But both were pining again for the big open spaces, mountains and country side, free range eggs and milk straight from the cow. A stroll through the countryside, communing with nature.  Something like this...

Chris nurtured visions of slow days spent with friends,  of climbing amongst the high Andes mountains, of again taking brush to canvas.

Ahead stretches days, months, perhaps years of renovation and improvements.  But this time they reckon they have found their paradise on earth...and it doesn't really matter how long all the prettying up takes.  They have each other and that is all that matters.

With wide open spaces like this to enjoy I guess they can take as long as they like...


Ma-in-law Mortimer August 2012