Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Day Has Arrived

Today, one chapter closes and yet another opens - that's life. And with those deep and meaningful philosophical musings out the way, I will tend to other thoughts....

For those who do not know, these past two and a half years have been spent living a dream - to live and immerse oneself in another country for at least a year - I have spoken about this dream before. Today, this particular dream ends and we commence the journey home to our native Australia - before indulging in a childhood dream of going to Disneyland.

We are merely tourists now. Prematurely, in the midst of psychological displacement concerning ones whereabouts, I entered into a museum guest book, under the heading of address "Australia". I have no address there as yet, but we had recently sold our family home and I was confused as to where I belonged. Do I belong in Australia? I don't know, we'll have to see. I have felt displaced for so long, and have spoken about this in the past also.

One thing is for sure, I am ready to settle - ready to commit to a locale, a residence, a community and a people - home is where you make it. Is it not, and under such pretenses, Canada....or more precisely, Ladner, British Columbia - quietly poised on the Fraser River Delta, has been home for us for the past two and a half years. Our children have grown up there, we have made some very good friends there, we have had experiences there that we would not have had otherwise. We laboured over a rotten house and made it respectable. I am going to miss the friends I have made and I am also going to miss the land.

On Friday I attempted to taken in the surroundings of Ladner one last time. It was Mister's last day of school and all my errands had been done, Missy Mopps and I had only to kill time before picking Mister up from school. It was a bright Fall day, clear blue skies and a fresh breeze that stung my cheeks. We meandered along the school route alley way that ran behind our old place, the poplar trees had recntly dropped a million leaves; it was like walking upon a thick golden carpet. I sighed and said "thank you", acknowledging the uniqueness of the moment.

Yesterday we had a terrible wind storm. The power was out from 6:30am until 10:30 am. We could hear things being tossed about in the gale. Early in the piece, curiosity got the better of me and I ventured out from under my cosy bundle of blankets to witness the trail of destruction first hand. Neighbouring trees bent unnaturally, in the wind; autumn leaves whirled frantically against the fury of the wind, like panicked villagers scrambling for cover admist a surprise ambushing by henchmen and plunderers, while low dark clouds raced across the sky like a team of wild horses. It was a delight upon the eyes and all I could do was stare in wonder.

I had hoped we might yet experience one last snow, but we are leaving just a tad too early, but if I allow myself some quiet time, I can see the white world outside that, which was once my window, and I can hear the dry crunch of snow and ice under my heavy boots as I walked, and the eerie stillness of a land shrouded in a cold blanket - the memory goes with me.

The lush green of this land; its vibrant boating and fishing community; the birds, particularly the geese and mallards, I will sorely miss. In the stifling heat of an dry Adelaidian summer, I have these images to reflect upon, and only experience will tell me if these thoughts, under such opposing conditions, become points of torture or relief - nonetheless, I am grateful of these experiences; of the opportunity to discover and live these moments and to take away these and many more memories. I will miss Canada, and hope to return one day soon, but for now, goodbye and thankyou.

Friday, 9 November 2007

panic setting in

Fatigued, over-whelmed, panicked, helpless, stressed - just a few words to describe the state of my being just now.

We have hit the final stretch; Misters last day of elementary school, Missy Mopp’s last day of pre-school yesterday and final ballet session today; Ashley’s last day at the office. We leave on Tuesday, and thus far, do not have a place to stay when we land in Adelaide on the 19th. Yes! You heard that right.

I feel that I have scoured all the Internet sites looking for something appropriate, but I am finding, as was the case in finding our current abode, finding affordable, furnished, short term family accommodation is bloody near impossible. As yet, I have been unsuccessful. I don’t really know what we are going to do. We need something for about 4 weeks till we get ourselves sorted, by this time I am hoping that we will have bought something to move into permanently.

There are still a few options that I can look into, but I now have to wait until Monday when the offices open again; these are student accommodations. I am hoping, with the end of semester looming, there might be a place to rent till Christmas. Most of these places are being advertised for the new school year and are asking for a 6 month or 1 year contract, so basically...I am seriously praying for a miracle.

Pray with me.....

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

morning in White Rock

"So, how are the new digs?" a friend innocently asked. She knew we weren't living the desired scenario. "It's Okay", I responded. "small, but we'll survive".

And that is the truth. The place is acceptable, comfortable... nice even. It might be a long way to drive to school, but what it lacks in convenience, it sure makes up for in scenery.

Saturday morning I woke early and felt in dire need of a good walk. As luck would have it, I had the foresight to snatch up my camera on the way out - you never know what you might see along the way. I was mighty glad I did, because it was a glorious morning with a fiery sunrise to welcome in the day.

Would you believe, these first two shots were taken out the front of the place we are staying in. Breathtaking.

A fine mist curled up from the pond like steam from a coffee cup. A Great Blue Heron rested in a meditative pose on the edge of a nearby bridge, and an approaching train wailed in the distance.

During my walk, I stopped to watch the water birds - one last look at the Canadian Geese - they would be migrating South for the winter soon, and so will I.

Many walkers and thinkers were out that brisk morning. It seems the morning truly does have some kind of magical property - the energy of awakening - a buzz that comes with a new day, a new beginning and a new opportunity.

I returned home as the sky, now soothed of its raging oranges and reds, after walking the length of the jetty; stopping briefly to watch the tethered sail boats bobbing in the icy water. The tranquil sound of the lapping water was interspersed by the hungry call of circling gulls and that fore-mentioned train; now snaking its way along the coast. I wondered what the train driver must see along his journey, and whether this section of the journey brought him as much delight as it did me - what a brilliant way to start the day.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Just a few jobs I've had....

I have had my fair share of jobs. I got my first taste of the employment when I was fourteen.

I spent a week with a friend at her Aunt's house in a rural town near a popular seaside haunt. Her Aunt and Uncle lived in a little house out the back of a corner deli, which they owned and operated.

As part of our keep, my friend and I were to help Uncle and Auntie here and there...it was not stringently enforced and my friend attempted to weasel out of the commitment whenever she sighted an open avenue for escape.

It was a fun week...I had a ball. We even went to the old pre-dawn fruit and veg market on Rundle Street in Adelaide (known as East End) - that really was a great experience - to witness such a frenzy of confusion, energy and activity - the market smells, the haggling, the forklifts gliding from pallet to truck and back again, the frosty morning air, the orange glow of poor lighting, the accents ...it seemed that the world was there, and all this, while the majority slept; unaware of the energies that had gone into ensuring one had fresh bananas in store, ready for breakfast.

That first good work experience lead me to seek out similar work a couple months later, in the local roadhouse/truckstop. I enjoyed working there, but I was a junior to many senior women, who would have preferred to have been anywhere other than that place. These women worked because they had to, and so I, like most of the young part timers there, became the target of their resentment, and was treated with about as much respect and consideration as the rat shit under the shelves in the store room.

My next taste of employment came in the weeks after finishing year 12. Ashley and I took a job in an apricot orchard as fruit cutters and pickers. It was an incredibly sexist environment. Women and kids were paid to cut the fruit, and ONLY the men were allowed to pick it. "So...who cares?", I hear you say. Well, back then, the men were paid $10 per hour to pick fruit, but the cutters were paid $1 per tray of cut apricots. Now I tried the apricot cutting by hand. It was not easy, especially if one wanted to make decent money, and lets face it, why would anyone be there otherwise?

I would cut as fast as I could all day and only manage a rate of $4 per hour. Yep, it took me 15 minutes to complete one tray, and that was working at top speed while cutting my hands to ribbons in the meantime....what a complete waste of time.

I did have a win in that establishment though. I complained to the boss that I was very slow at the hand cutting and the boss' wife started me up working the cutting machine - this task paid $10 per hour.

Ashley left me in the middle of the season to start his apprenticeship, but I battled on and pestered the boss to let me pick the fruit with the men (anything but the hand cutting). He always promised to "think about it", but with each day came disappointment. On what was to be the final day of the season, I had yet another win....I was asked to come out and pick fruit. I felt triumphant in my quest to have once again avoided the drudgery that was hand cutting.

The team was made up of a dozen or so men ranging from their early twenties to late sixties. It was a bit of a farce really. They basically stuffed around the entire time, smoked cigarettes, took turns sitting on their bums while telling lewd jokes in order to embarrass me; all the while I slaved to prove my worth. I was proud of myself when the boss told me I was a fine worker and how he would be happy to have me back again next year - he concluded his note of approval by telling me I was "just as good as any one of the blokes"....what a bloody insult!

After that job, I moved out of home and into the city. It was the 90's recession and jobs were scarce, but I managed to get a job in a cafe. It was unchallenging, but the boss was nice, so it was enjoyable enough until the business was sold. I don't know why my new boss agreed to keep me on. He seemed to resent my being in his employ, and on my nineteenth birthday I was unceremoniously sacked for being too old - I was no longer a junior you see...best birthday present ever - in hindsight of course - I was free to find something better.

The best job I have had - to date - was found in a seaside tourist town where my parents lived; it was in the local video shop. You might think that sounds like a bludgers deal, but this was a HUGE video shop with over 6,000 titles. It was also the local recorded music shop, and later a photo processing shop as well- I was so busy I barely knew what to do first. It was great. The best bit was that I often worked in the place by myself, especially during the dead of winter. I treated that place like it were my own, and my bosses, a married couple, placed their full trust and confidence in me, which was a great feeling. Of course I endeavored to never let them down. They were an interesting pair. The wife was so lovely. She treated me like a friend rather than an employee. The husband was frequently hilarious - though he was quite oblivious to this fact. I remember one time the local pharmacist barged in accusing me of mishandling his "standing order of football tickets" - (we were also a ticketing agency for various events, and football tickets were a hot item that year; often selling out within minutes of them coming on sale). The pharmacist suggested that I was deliberately not processing his ticket order, because his "friend" had bought them recently and had said there were many remaining. In my defense, my boss simply and unapologetically informed the pharmacist "ya mate's pullin' his pud" - which, to the untrained ear, is Australian for - I am sorry Sir, but you are sadly mistaken, and your male friend appears to be a masturbator - I could barely contain my hysterics, while the stuffy old pharmacist quickly retreated from the premises in a humbled dither.

I think the worst job I ever had was the sales clerk job for a jeweler. Sounds glamorous, but most of the time was spent pacing the seldom frequented shop floor, stalking and casing the joint to become the first to snare anyone who dared venture even halfway into the front door. The rest of the time was spent cleaning all finger prints and face marks off the glass, both inside and outside of the shop.

In order to meet your monthly sales target you had to sell big time, and when times were lean, you really didn't care if it was the ugliest piece of crap you had ever set eyes on and had previously shuddered at the very thought of any fool trying it on, let alone buying the odious object - but when under pressure, suddenly everything "looks STUNNING on you, darl". Having to lower myself to such cheap and deceitful tactics was perhaps the most degrading aspect of the job, and I have never let myself forget that. I quit when I was accepted into University and although I was asked to return for the Christmas sales period, but I declined...I still felt dirty.

I have never set the world alight on the career front, but I wouldn't change any one of these experiences - for they all have truly coloured my world.

For more job expereinces check out this weeks Sunday Scribblings.

Monday, 8 October 2007

The Temp

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. We aren’t doing much. We don’t have an oven to cook a big meal – much to Misters utter disappointment, they tend to make a big deal out of Thanksgiving at pre-school and Kindergarten, so it will be a pretty dismal “so, what did you do for Thanksgiving” sharing come Tuesday, what can you do? On that note, you might have guessed, we have officially moved out.

It was a strange week. The movers didn’t arrive until the Tuesday so essentially; we commenced our week much the same way as every other week – routines intact.
Tuesday morning was a whole different ball game. Basically I drove around with a car full of kids and animals in an attempt to keep out of the removalist’s way. By mid afternoon on the first day, I returned home to find the entire contents of our home – boxed. When you see the material collective of your life gathered in such a way, you realise just how insignificant all this “stuff’ really is - I am going to be without this stuff for at least 2 months.... meh!

By the end of the second day, I returned home to find all but our beds wrapped in brown paper packages; discernible shapes clad in uninspiring shrouds. By the end of the third day, all that remained was dust, fluff and a few marks on the walls, and by the end of the fourth day, everything was gone - including us.

I must admit, there was something unsettling about Magic Erasing the marks off your three year old’s bedroom walls; marks caused by the scraping of toys against the wall; crayon stripes that I had previously blown my stack over; splayed little finger marks and other unidentifiable scuffs. I found myself acknowledging the fact that I was actually washing away all evidence of our presence in the house – “shouldn’t the new people do that”, my five year old asked, more due to the fact that he was growing more bored by the minute and wanted to leave, than any other reason, and it occurred to me that perhaps they really should be doing it themselves - it was they who would likely want to remove our energy, but I cleaned anyway – “no one wants to move into a new home and clean. They will just want to unpack and settle in”, I told my son. He accepted my reasoning. It was true. Cleaning the place you have called home is the right, even if monotonous, thing to do; it is a courtesy.

Upon leaving, I had a quiet word to the house. We dragged the place out of its, neglected, technicoloured and mirrored hell, and brought it into the 21st century, as far as warm colours and new furnishings goes. We didn’t get to some of the bigger home improvements i.e. New furnace, new roof and improved fireplace and chimney, so I thanked the house for its protection, security, memories and loyalty (meaning that I was thankful that the ancient furnace didn’t die over the winter, and the roof didn’t leak in a storm and the crumbling chimney didn’t blow off). I apologised for not fully finishing the job we started, but Murphy’s Law always tends to see multiple things break down soon after one moves into a new abode. I liken this to a spewing forth of the previous energy – out with the old and in with the new...so to speak. Have you ever noticed that? I dare say, the new owners of our place are likely to be up for a furnace sooner rather than later, or if they are wise, they will be putting one in before it goes on the fritz.

The temp accommodation is working out well. The kitchen is a little on the teeny side, but we have been creative with the space and it is going to work out fine – faith prevails. Ashley has FINALLY been given a verbal nod to a job back in Adelaide. Yep, not sure if I mentioned that before, but we decided to move back on a whim (well considered whim). Yet another test of faith, one that we began to sweat about over the last two weeks, because there was no “official” position being offered back in Adelaide and time was ticking away, but we wanted to go home and that was the main priority. The office back in Adelaide was very keen to get Ashley back, but ultimately, it wasn’t up to them. It was such a relief to get the nod about the Adelaide job; we feel we can plan things with greater clarity now. We have even decided to return a week earlier. By doing so, we avoid the American Thanksgiving madness in Disneyland, and since we no longer need that week to pack up the house, we will be making better use of our time before Ashley starts the new position; hopefully we will have some firm housing plans teed up by then.

Having said that, real estate seems to be getting pricier by the week – bit of a worry. The situation with the US economy has made me feel nervous all year. We are thinking of building.....not sure if that is the wisest thing to do either. We really have to be back there to get a proper feel of things. So that is the state of play for now. All of our wares are on a slow boat to Australia and the loose ends are being tied. All things said – life is presently good.

Monday, 1 October 2007

"on hold" is good for something...

Thanks for checking up on me, I know I have been overly quiet, in fact outright silent - MUTE! I apologise to my regular readers, but right now chaos reigns in our house.

We are packing up to leave this week. The international removalists are coming tomorrow to commence the three day ordeal or packing, wrapping and loading all our wares into a shipping container.

I haven't had two seconds to scratch myself these past two weeks. "So how is it that I now have time", I hear you ask. Well, I am am currently undertaking the monotonous task of ringing all those utility companies to terminate service - yep, I am in for a long morning stuck on hold.

Meanwhile I have caught up on some of my favourite blogs and now what.... hey, why not write a post myself - how novel! Not sure when I might have time to do it again, so here is my chance.

So do you want to hear about the drama? Well there hasn't really been too much drama. Drama is really about how you perceive things, in my opinion, and I prefer a nice peaceful life. So instead I chose to discuss the hiccup in PLAN A, which was to move out of our current address mid-November, jump onto a plane and fly off into a candy coloured sunset bound for Disneyland, before departing back home to good ole Australia.

PLAN A was scrapped when the purchasers of our house wanted to move in 6 weeks sooner than PLAN A had allowed. So with no furniture, two dogs and two kids in tow, local temporary accommodation had to be found. PLAN B was to find a local, fully loaded sublet, and camp out in LA LA Land, oblivious to the worlds turmoils. Like a true idealist, I posted an ad on the all important craigslist, requesting our needs and wants, but sadly - no takers to match our needs or dates.

Onto PLAN C. Plan C consisted of staying in the infamous Beach Grove Motel, in nearby "sunny" Tsawwassen. It looked dingy, but the guy assured us it had a kitchen and a fridge and would suit our situation. Suspiciously however, the guy at the front desk could never find a suitable time for us to view the room we were to occupy for 7 weeks. Last week, with a week to go, I turned up early and unannounced, requesting a viewing. I could see from where I was standing that it was vacant; the cleaners had the door wide open. What could he do?

Let me paint the scene for you....
The place was the size of a shoe box - two beds were in the room, one was in the kitchen/lounge. The so called kitchen consisted of a free standing stove and a sink - no preparation area. The fridge was a bar fridge. There were no tables and chairs and the bathroom was a woeful display of dank, soiled and mouldy ceiling, half a corroded bath and the place was an ice box on a PLEASANT day.

After I had recovered from a fit of insane laughter, brought on by the realisation that this joint was going to be "home Sweet home" for the next SEVEN WEEK!!!!!!! It wasn't going to work. How was I going to prepare meals in there? Where were the kids going to play when it rains? Where were we going to sit to eat? Where were we going to put our 8 suitcases? And above all else - what about my cousin and her daughter, who are coming to visit us at the end of October?

Previously I had joked to her that it was possibly going to be like a scene from a cheesy cops movie - you know those scenes....the suspect is on the run hiding out in some cheap motel with a flashing neon sign complete with dodgey wiring, flickering in the background like it has a nervous tick. I did offer to put her up in a B&B, a mere walk away from the BGM. It looked very nice, and I knew she'd be more comfortable there, but she was in happy to experience hell along with us (bless her). Upon inspection I dare say the BGM was perhaps a little below the movie scene cheesy motel - she was sparse to say the least!

PLAN D - panic. Didn't last long. It sort of arose after the shock wore off. And so I set about trying to find ANY place offering furnished, short term rental that accepted dogs. A place was found in a town about 20 minutes further out. It is small, but about double the size of the BGM. It is clean. It is comfortable. It has a normal sized fridge and a laundry room, and it is warm. When I went there the following day to drop off the deposit, the landlady told me that she would actually be going out of town the week after we arrive and will not be returning until the day before we leave - perfect! So PLAN D it is.

Autumn/Fall started last weekend. It constantly amazes me how in sync the seasons are over here. A couple of weeks ago we were at the beach; sun shining, larraping sun screen onto our bodies. Today we are inside shivering, watching the gold coloured leaves float to the ground.

We had our garage sale on Saturday. My friend helped me out as I didn't think I really had enough stuff to warrant a garage sale, but needed to off load some stuff anyway. My friend's contribution certainly lifted the inventory.

The day was freezing. The coldest day we have had since last spring. I think it topped 10 degrees and threatened to rain the entire morning. It even snowed at Whistler. The weather kept many of the "garage sailors" away, and even the usual dog walkers that traipse around our streets were few and far between - smoke curled out of many a chimney top as we stood embracing our mugs of coffee, inhaling the steam to prevent our noses from succumbing to frost bite.

8am - 1pm, that was our sale time, and the hours meandered along begrudgingly. I have had garage sales before and they are always so boring - an hour seems like a week. The slow procession of minutes and hours made me wonder if it had anything to do with the unwanted items I was surrounded by- all those unneeded and burdensome goods and chattels; layers of the unnecessary, rejected and rendered useless - NULL AND VOID, dragging us all down.

We sold a few things. The sale didn't turn out too bad. One guy bought two laundry baskets of kids toys and items, for his soon to be born baby. It is nice to think our old unwanted stuff might get some new loving. Our next dilemma was what were we were going to do with the remnants - The Thrift Shop, the charity clothing bin and the dumpster - keeping it was OUT of the question. Arrrh! I feel lighter already.

Ok, I have gotten through to all the utility companies now, so I guess I had better get back to packing. I hope to post again soon. Thanks for hanging in there for me. Cheers.

Friday, 14 September 2007


The last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy.

Mister has started kindergarten and LOVES it. Missy Mopps has started pre-school and LOVES it. WIN!

We started the fall season of gymnastics; Mister chucked his seasonal hissy fit, running away and refusing to join in his group, protesting loudly and laying on the ground, like I am the most torturous mother on earth...which is ultimately what I ended up being. After about 10 minutes of his antics, I thought "Bugger this!" Got down to his level and muttered that we would be coming to these lessons every week for the next 10 weeks whether he liked it or not, so he had better get used to the idea because there is no way in hell he is getting out of gymnastics. And yeah...I have noticed that he only carries on like this while I am present so perhaps next week I will leave him and go and do something else for the hour, and come back at the end. Mafia style tactics prevailed and he eventually participated. Predictably he ended up loving it - like every other time (why me????) and can't wait for next week, because one of his friends ended up in his group. Missy Mopps on the other hand was champing at the bit for her lesson the same afternoon and had a great old time, minus the self-inflicted drama.

Speaking of Missy Mopps, I actually had a great day with the kids today. We are getting used to the new, frantic routine, but today turned out perfectly.

At present, it is still lovely weather out, so we have been making the most of these warm sunny days in dwindling supply and have spent most of this week outdoors.

While Mister was in kindergarten Missy rode her trike while I walked. Her trike is pretty cute. It has an umbrella top and a handle so I can push her when she gets tired (and to save my back). This trike pulls a lot of attention and she loves it. A little old lady was walking by when we were heading back from the park. The lady asked Missy if she would give her a drive home if she sat behind her on her bike. With a wide eyed nod of the head, Missy agreed to ride the lady home on her trike...melted that lady's heart she did. "Oh, you are sooooo cute", she crooned. She really is. My little missy mopps is so sweet.

Funny ting happened at the store today. We were walking along the pavement, heading toward the area where they keep the shopping carts. Along the way there is this great pile of dried bird crap - there must be a nest high in the rafters or something, because no other mounds of crap were visible. On the way back to the shop entrance, cart in hand, I notice a little boy, probably about 7 years old, standing, staring at this great pile of dried bird shit; he appeared totally mystified by the vast quantity of shit heaped on the ground. As I passed him by, he spoke, trance-like, as if speaking the private thoughts of his own mind, "did some bird die there or something", he questioned to no one in particular. I lost it - cracked up laughing. It sure did look like some one had blown the shit out of some bird.