The Sticks.

by Lori Dwyer on April 29, 2013 · 8 comments

I find myself occasionally feeling as though I have to defend my decision to live contentedly here in TinyTrainTown– in the sticks. Semi–rural. Bush. ‘All the way out here’.

Each and every courier, tradesman or journo who’s ever come to the TinyTrainHouse comments on how far away it is from anywhere. How very small the town is. How they’ve never even heard of TinyTrainTown before. The tradies who get lost on the way here are always the most disparaging, their good humor eaten up by un-curbed roads that seem to stretch forever and all kind of look the same.

“How did you come to live out here…?” People are generally mystified as to why anyone would want to live where I do. I stare back at them, equally bemused, amazed that they’re unable to see what I see.

I guess it’s true, it might seem slightly isolated. TinyTrainTown is at least an hour and half drive from Sydney. We’re fifteen minutes from the nearest service station or major supermarket, probably forty minutes from any larger stores or services.

The road into town is eight kilometers of scrub and barely used train tracks. The population tops about 700 people (and that seems an over-estimate, really). As I’ve heard said, TinyTrainTown is so small it ‘doesn’t even have a pub!’

The town is not particularly quaint or pretty. It’s so nondescript that you could literally drive through it and not realise you’d been here. The mobile reception is nonexistent, and even the land-line home phone and ADSL internet crackles and drops out terribly if it happens to be raining. Or windy. Or, you know, Wednesday. Whenever.

But that’s the worst of it. The tarnished view of the penny, the dark side of the moon. There’s always more to things than that. And if nothing else, I tend to be an optimist.


It’s quiet here, peaceful. There is no din of constant traffic, no continual thrum of people. I like that. When I was little, growing up in Paradise, it was so quiet at night you could hear the rumbling boom of thunderstorms far out at sea. I remember, as a child, staying at a relative’s house in the middle of the city suburbs and being unable to sleep for the never ending noise coming from the streets outside. The cars. The horns. Music. People. It’s never quiet, not really. You get used to it, I know that. But I’ve grown accustomed to the silence again. The only thing that desecrates it is the occasional passing car.

While the town itself is nothing much to look at, the scrubby eucalyptus bushland of the national parks that surround it are soul-soothingly pleasant. A thousand different shades of green. There are parrots and cockatoos, possums and sugar gliders. Sandstone caves and tiny creeks. Snakes and spiders, too, of course; but I don’t think any kid is really that much worse off for having a basic knowledge of them (‘basic’ rather than ‘intimate’ being the key wording here).

People know people, in TinyTrainTown. While I’m never really been a rah-rah-community-spirit kind of person and I tend to keep to myself, I know my neighbors by first name and the local shopkeepers by sight.

We actually do have shops here, though they’re as easy as anything else in the town to miss. Three of them, in fact- a fish and chip shop; a small supermarket; and post office/newsagent/grocery/DVD hire. All the shops are overpriced and sell short-dated stock at the tills, but you can still get all the basics you need. 

We walk to the shops, most days, when we’re not in a hurry and the weather’s favorable. Some days we walk home from daycare and school. The round trip never takes longer than half an hour by foot, no more than four minutes by car. If it takes longer than two minutes to drive there… it’s probably not in TinyTrainTown.

It’s safe here. It feel secure. It feels like a wholesome place to bring up small children. And most of the time, it’s just a nice place to be.

None of this seems to sway anyone’s opinion. “Yeah but, love… it’s just so far away!”

I find the only answer anyone gets is in the language everyone seems to understand.

“Uhhhh… The house prices are cheap. Three bedroom house, big backyard…”

And that makes logical sense to most incredulous tradesman who’ve made the hour trek to TinyTrainTown. It’s easier to see the appeal in that; in choosing between a tiny flat or a huge mortgage an hour closer to the city, or having a house of my own and dealing with the occasional inconvenience of living ‘all the way out here’.

I made the right choice– I rarely ever doubt that. It’s just other people, I find, that take some convincing.


Tastes Like Teen Spirit.

by Lori Dwyer on April 3, 2013 · 0 comments

When I said I was only doing cool giveaways from now on… this is one of those. Because, as we know- I love music. Music-ness brings happiness. Or something. And concerts are good for everything that ails you.

And sometimes awesome stuff shows up on my doorstep. Like this…



Why yes, those are bottles of juice that have been grown to the strains of different types of music. Check it out. We’ve got…

Blue Suede Juice– made with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and all those groovers.

Baby I Was Grown This Way– serenaded by Lady Gaga, Madonna, Katy Perry and various other popettes.

And, my personal favoriteTastes Like Teen Spirit. Influenced by the Seattle sounds– Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Pixies and so on.

Why, you ask…? Well. They’re all Made By MOG, Telstra’s new music streaming service. There’s this theory that plants who are played music make better, tastier fruit, and therefore better, tastier juice.

I’m a big believer in all that hippy stuff, as we know. Music and moods make the world go round. Little thoughts can have big effects. There’s a whole school of thought and experimentation called ‘ecosonics’- music for your plants. Which ties in beautifully with the concept of ‘Noetics’ based on research that suggests that the collective thoughts of people actually produce enough physical energy to cause identifiable effects on their environment. They have online experiments you can participate in– its one of those things on my “I’m gonna do this, eventually” list.

The jury’s still out as to whether or not playing MOG music has had any effect on the taste of the juice itself. And I’ve even got control samples for this experiment– Cedar Creek Orchard, where the apples were serenaded, is an institution in TinyTrainTown. It’s just up the road. So close, in fact, I even got you a photo to prove it.




Anyway. Taste aside, the juice certainly looks happy. And that’s what counts. Although, having said that, free juice– and a $100 admin fee to write this post– certainly contributes to both musicality and happiness. Or… something.

In honour of music being awesome, I’ve got the following stuff to be won, just for you, my jellybeans…

Ten x 1 month MOG subscriptions.

One x $100 TicketMaster voucher.

To win, I want to know– if you could flavour a beverage with music, what music would you choose? What song, do you think, would taste good?

Go in the draw to win by filling in the form below- if you can’t see the form, click here. Answers that particularly tickle my pickle at the time of drawing the prizes win. Entries close midnight AEST on the 10th April, 2013. Winners will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before their prize is redrawn. My decision is final and no bitching, whinging or circle-jerking shall be entered into.


The Thing With Cats, Part Two.

by Lori Dwyer on January 23, 2013 · 2 comments

Someone commented on Twitter a few days ago that, just perhaps, TinyTrainTown is very bad juju for cats. The TinyTrainHouse, in particular.

I’m thinking they may have a point.

I guess the easiest way to break this is to say I have both good news, and bad news.

Let’s begin with the good news, shall we…?

You may remember George, bless his little white socks. Just a week or two after losing George– still unable to tell my children the truth, as I still am now, unsure of what good thatt kind of honesty could possibly do– I got one of the most awesome, bizarre, uncannily coincidental emails.

Another one of those coincidental things that happened so perfectly, it doesn’t feel like a coincidence, not really. Not at all.

This email came from a reader of my blog and fellow resident of TinyTrainTown. I think we’ll call her WonderWoman. WonderWoman originally commented on my BookFace page, saying that her family had actually adopted George’s brother from the TinyTrainTown vet a week or so before we took George home. George’s brother’s name was Floyd… and he wasn’t getting on with her older, nearly geriatric other cat at all.

I know, I know… I believe I did, at one point, say ‘no more cats!’ But really- when the Universe offers to fix a problem so practically, so perfectly… why on earth would you say ‘no’?

I didn’t. I said a silent thank you to Whoever’s In Charge and emailed WonderWoman straight back to tell her that, if she ever needed to re–home Floyd, we would be more than happy to take him in.

And WonderWoman, being awesome, allowed us to do just that.

So that’s how it came to happen that the myself, the Chop, and one more than slightly confused Bump found ourselves at WonderWoman’s house. And returned home with Floyd. Who is the very spitting image of his late brother George, except for the teeny white socks on George’s paws.



WonderWoman is a mum herself and has a handful of WonderKids– to be honest, between her kids and my kids and the running and the yelling I have forgotten how many WonderKids there were. But the oldest WonderKid… I think I’ll remember her forever. Her name is Chloe, and she’s just… beautiful. A tween–aged eleven year old, she was pretty and smart and caring and honest and if my Bump grows up to be anything like her, I will be a very happy mum indeed.

Chloe was Floyd’s rightful owner, and, being the very mature young person she is, she made the decision to allow him to come and live with us and see if her family’s other cat– and Floyd himself– would be happier living apart. There were a few tears shed, and I promised Chloe I would give her baby lots of love, cuddles, good food and a human to annoy in bed every single night.

Floyd and the Chop

Floyd and the Chop

I’m pleased to report to Chloe- and to you, jellybeans- that Floyd is well and truly settled in here. He and DimSum the Godfather are quite good mates– DimSum, while old and crotchety, missed his mate George badly, and is patient and tolerant of even the most annoying of kittens.

Which is a good thing. Because Floyd is the very cat–devil himself. He pounces on unsuspecting soft fleshy feet from behind corners, claws at lounges, slinks in to steal food from your plate when you’re not looking, and uses Dimsum’s long, flicking tail as a plaything.

And we all very, very much adore him.

I don’t know quite how to thank WonderWoman and her family enough for the gift they’ve given us. Floyd fits in so well, it’s like he’s been here all along.

In fact, if you ask the Bump, you would think he has been here all along. Poor child is thoroughly confused by the whole cat-swap, and has to be corrected every time she refers to Floyd as ‘Georgie Peorgie’ (But having said that, I also have to correct her every single time she picks up a banksia seed pod and brings it to me saying “Look mummy, a money bank!!”)


If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me lamenting and whinging a few days ago about my cat being missing. On returning from Melbourne, I discovered my house sitter had lost both his sense of sanity and proprietary over the weekend and left the TinyTrainHouse mostly un–sat. Mailbox full, plants un–watered… ‘other’ cat (that’d be DimSum) missing.

I’m so ridiculously accustomed to losing pets, I assumed DimSum was dead. Don’t think I’m just being macabre– he’s twelve years old, and the temperature here hit 48 degrees Celsius (that’s 118 degrees in American) on Friday while I was in Melbourne.

And besides that… there’s that horrible, pitch dark road.

My mum did a quick scan of my yard and a slow drive-by of the Very Dangerous Road. No black, fluffy carcass. Which was nice. But in the back of my mind, I was waiting for a skinny, pitiful, ragged creature to drag himself back home to die, the way Tigger had done years ago.

Which was why it was such a huge relief to hear his familiar loud “Mauuuuu!!!” and the reassuring thump of his bulk climbing the lattice at the front steps.



He refuses to divulge details on where he’s been, or what he’s been up to. He was a bit hungry and a bit thirsty but other than that, no worse off for his adventure. Whatever that adventure was. And he’s resumed his usual position of laying like a huge big fluffy lump on the cool concrete of the backyard, with next doors cat’s occasional sitting a respectful distance away from him on either side, like minions or hand-servants or hench–cats or something.


For the reader who asked the (very reasonable) question of whether my vet would like DimSum to lose a bit of weight, if he’s unhealthy heavy. The answer is, believe it or not- no. He’s actually quite skinny, and getting skinnier as he ages.

He’s just… big.