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

kids

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.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Binned!

I just finished the book Power of Now by Vancouverite, Eckhart Tolle. I must say, I think this book has had a bit of an impact on me.

In the past, I have been quite a reader of the "spiritual growth" type books, but soon tired of them once most of them started saying the same type of thing... while I occasionally stumbled upon something helpful, the majority weren't really doing it for me anymore.

A very good friend of mine gave me "The Power of Now" for a birthday back in 2004 and for whatever reason, I just wasn't in the right place to read it back then. Even still, I basically only plucked it from the bookcase, because I had nothing else to read one night, while sitting with one of the kids as they fell asleep.

Tolle's words are helping me to let go of the anger I have too long held anger over the SIL and MIL incident. His words are helping me move on from past disappointments and hurts, especially about the career I planned, but never had. His concepts are really helping me let go of "stuff", which is symbolic I think, of this release of emotional baggage. I feel more capable of going with the flow, regardless of the uncertainties that still reign unclear at the present moment. I am reminding myself "in this exact moment, everything is perfect"...because it is. The past is gone, both 15 seconds ago and 15 years ago, and the future has not yet happened, this moment really IS perfect.

We have been sorting through all this stuff. We don't have that much stuff really; we are quite minimalistic people. But man...there is still all this....stuff. I love sorting through stuff I no longer need; clearing the path so to speak. It seems like it is just stuff, and yet it has always felt so freeing for me to do that.

We are having a garage sale in a couple of weeks and so there are piles of miscellaneous goods stacked in the corner of our lounge room. Tonight we have gone through the office cupboard. Every house, it seems, has a dumping ground. My parents chose their pool table. We tend to throw papers and foreign objects into the office cupboard with the intention of sorting through the clutter and filing it properly, in the ill defined time of later.

Tonight, while going through a stack of notebooks and paid bills, I found, yet again, the diary I kept while in year 12; I spoke about it a couple of weeks ago - the one that was filled with teenage angst and unintentional hilarity. I threw it out. I don't need it. Yeah, it holds some of my history in it. For sure, it talks about the emotional pain I was in at the time. It talks about parental frustrations, school struggles, boyfriend issues, stupid pranks played on school friends, bad poetry and other stuff, but why keep it? For 18 years I have kept that diary as a reminder of my youth; as a material snippet of my journey thus far; perhaps even as a testimony to or evidence of my very existence.....I don't need it anymore.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Carth

My son is completely obsessed with anything to do with the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. I am not really sure how he became aware of the movie. We didn't take him to see it at the cinema, but when the posters began to emerge advertising its release on DVD, he begged for a copy.

We got the movie, unsure of whether it would hold his interest, but it did. He loves it. He even pretends to be Lightning McQueen, who actually helped him out with some pre-school bullies when he found, while pretending to be Lightning McQueen, that he could outrun all the kids in his class. Since then he has been progressively collecting all the little die cast car characters from the movie. He has t-shirts and pj's emblazoned with the Cars theme, even his sandals and undies have Cars on them.

Leading up to kindergarten, Mister has been less than enthusiastic about starting something new (read: outright defiant). Last week however, I managed to find a Cars backpack, lunch kit, drink bottle AND pencil case, so now he is impatiently counting down the minutes until he is able to use all his new Cars stuff and show it all off to his new school friends. Hey, whatever helps.

Recently his best buddy has been enthusiastically collecting cars and they play well together with their cars and swapping characters with each other. This week his best bud got a number of new cars and excitement over these toys reached fever pitch as they plotted together which ones they wanted to collect next. Upon hearing this for the entire week, I went on the net the other day and searched out some hard to find characters that we NEVER see in the shop and won an eBay auction for some of them. I wasn't sure how or when I was going to give them to him, until today....

Mister has a bit of a speech problem; he quite badly th'usses his ess'es, and unfortunately Missy Mopps decided to copy him even after she had originally started saying these sounds correctly. I once spoke to a speech pathologist about it, and she told me, if the rest of his speech is fine, especially if he can say his z's properly, then his th'ussing is merely a habit - "a habit that will be difficult to break", she assured me. Thus far, she has been right. We have tried everything to help him out of the habit, but he would become so frustrated that he would simply refuse to co-operate or he'd intentionally th'uss at us with exaggerated defiant emphasis.

Today we bribed him. "Practice saying your ess'es correctly and once you have them down pat and spoken without a second thought, we will get you a couple of hard to find Cars characters". Well! Never before have I heard him so enthusiastic and excited by a challenge. I was impressed. We corrected and reminded him for a good 2 hours tonight, without one wobbly cracked - he was really trying. As I said...whatever it takes.

Guess who he wants to be for Halloween?

Friday, 31 August 2007

My happy place

Ok, we are officially sold. Yep. SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD. So sold we broke out the champers. So sold the stager lady took back all her stuff (boo hoo).

For a week our humble abode lived up to its potential. Its inner beauty shone out to all the world and said - "this was what I was born to be". Now it is a mere skeleton of what it once was; a mish mash of unrelated objects, and a chasm of echoey space.

Hand over day is October 7. We have a back up plan to move into the skanky motel, if required. Otherwise I am feverishly scanning the postings at craigslist for a reasonably local sublet, short term lease, vacation house or furnished dwelling that allows pets: so far no luck. Just for the record, I will in fact consider it a minor miracle if I do find anything that suits - just being realistic.

Surprisingly we aren't at all panicked. We have plan B, so what could go wrong? The household items will go early; our financial commitment each month should be slightly less, and then we have a free week up our sleeves. We are thinking of using that week, not to pack up the house and have a minor nervous breakdown, but instead, to chuff off after the dogs leave; arrive a week earlier into LA and do the planned Disney trip BEFORE the American thanksgiving. Originally, we had stupidly planned our trip to the happiest place on earth, oblivious to the fact that Thanksgiving week was notorious for being the most crazy weekend of the entire year oops. We are thinking of checking out San Diego or San Fransisco over Thanksgiving week instead, though still leaving for Australia the same day as originally planned. Sounds like a plan to me, don't you think. Its Only the details once BACK in Australia that are entirely vague and sketchy, but then again, we have plenty of time to work through those issues once this debacle...I mean, well hashed plan are home and hosed.

Its a test of faith...remember.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

On the prowl

We had the building inspector go through today. It all seemed to go ok; mostly positive. The realtor is confident that the sale will be finalised tomorrow - yay.

I looked into renting the house in the next street, but had no luck. Most places around here seem to be leased for 6 months to a year minimum. I did look into a motel in the next town; it is in a really good location - by the bay, but its a bit of a humpy! I can already imagine the inside of it - one word "skanky"....ah, who cares. We need a place that offers reasonable short term rates and a willingness to accommodate our dogs - such finds are few and far between. This one meets our minimum requirements AND has a kitchenette, so beggars can't be choosers as my Mum would say, we'll live. If we were to go with that motel, it would mean sending our stuff back early, which is actually a good thing. It also means that Ashley could stay in his job a week longer than anticipated (I am sure he will be thrilled with that possibility). It also means a bit more of a run around with the school and pre-school drop offs and pick ups, but I am sure I will manage.

I might hang off booking that motel and wait for the local paper to come out tomorrow. They might have someone looking for a house sitter (sure) or a sub-letter during the exact times we will be needing it (fairyland, I know).

I guess there is always a tent.

Up There, Cazaly

I am re-submitting this post because, for whatever reason, the video I had attached was no longer available...so here it is again, video AND accompanying post....

Yesterday the kids were looking for items to play dress-ups in. I scoured the cupboards to see if there was anything appropriate, for that purpose. All was almost lost until I peered into one of Ashley’s drawers, rummaged around a little I found two Australian Rules football jumpers.

One was black and white, with the Port Adelaide Magpies team emblem emblazoned on the front; the South Australian team of choice for both my husband and I, prior to Port Adelaide forming a national team –The Power, and opting for the colours black white and teal (there was already a national black and white Magpies team - Collingwood boo hiss).

The other jumper was red and white striped, baring the moniker of the Ramblers Football Club or “The Roosters”, as they were known; a jumper Ashley had commandeered from the golden days of his country football playing youth.

For the moment I sat clutching those rough, synthetic knit guernseys, an array of football memories bloomed forth in my mind, like imprisoned buds on a sunny day.

I am not a sport fanatic by any means, but football is so ingrained in my personal history that I have possibly developed or inherited some kind of appreciation gene for the game.

Aussie Rules Football is quintessentially masculine. The game is rough and the culture surrounding it inspires a similar coarseness. I grew up with the passion for the game all around me; both grandfathers were players, as was my father and brother, along with most men in my community. But for me, football was more than a game; it was, and still is, a multi-sensory, multi-layered experience.

Football brought our small community together during the winter months. It brought excitement and activity to the town and surrounding region. To me, as a child, football meant long family drives in the car, as we travelled to remote towns within “the league”, to follow the football.

It meant hanging out with my childhood friends and wandering around the ground to the sound of cars honking their horns on the sidelines, whenever a goal was scored. You could hear the harsh voices of men and women screaming, “come on, get up ya useless bastard”, and other profanities, to umpires, opposition players and supporters, along with their own team players; voices that were hoarse from too much yelling, too much alcohol, too many cigarettes and too many hard knocks.

Then there was a whole other harmony. The sound of thundering feet scrambling after an erratically floundering leather ball; so unnerving was the collective sound of nearby galloping feet, panicked and urgent voices; that it sounded like a herd of screaming, stampeding brumbies were about to hurtle through the sidelining crowds, to trample us wee ones in their frantic, fleeing wake.

There was the thumping sound of leather against damp soil during the centre bounce; the smack and slap of a boot walloping the living daylights out of the ball, and of course, the shrill reverberations of the umpires whistle.

Then there were the smells of the game. Such as the sickening, yeasty pungency that wafted through the air, signalling to all that the bar was open for business, and the amber fluid was flowing abundantly; the suffocation of cigarette smoke catching in our small throats, making us splutter and gag; wet leather; bruised damp grass.

There were other smells too, ones that lured children from the snug quarters of the family car; meat pies and pasties, the hot golden buttery goodness hanging in the air like the sun on a winter’s day. That smell taunted us kids, and we would pester our mothers until we had each managed to secure one of those heavenly pastries in our eager hands, along with a packet of salt and vinegar chips, and an extra 20 cents jangling in our pockets for a white paper bag brimming with an assortment of homemade cupcakes, for later on.

There were also the games – not just the bone crunching, mud bath battering and clash of men on the official ground, but the sidelines games; the climbing in trees, hide and seek in the bamboo forest, the escape into a fantasyland of kings and queens, sisters princesses, “Gone with the Wind”, castles made of bridal creeper and moss, and hanging out in the playground, inventing new tricks on the monkey bars.

Now, as adults, my husband and I would make a habit of cozing up on a winter’s night to watch a game together, whether it is fish and chip Friday with a bottle of wine, or another time when our team was playing. It was the history of our involvement with the game that drew us to it, week in week out, season after season.

Here in Canada we rarely see a game. Occasionally we might see a game telecast on FOX sport, but it isn’t live; the results of those games are already known. I can not watch it, not without the vibe, the hype and expectation, speculation, and subsequent jubilation or commiseration with my fellow country men, living in the moment that is fresh footy lunacy. Consequently, my passion for the game fell into hibernation, and receded into a mere glimmer of its former blazing self, and I told myself that football wasn’t all that important to me.

But when I handed over the football guernseys to my children, they slipping them on and running around in them, the sight made me smile, but I shrugged and happily went back to what I was doing, until they inquired into the history of the “soccer jumpers”.

”Oh! But these are not soccer jumpers. These”, I declare proudly, “are Australian Rules Football guernseys”. And at once the stories of football and my passion for the game unfurl like an exquisite Japanese fan, and my enthusiasm was eaten up and absorbed by two wide eyed children who announced that they would “like to see that”.

And since it is impossible that I take them to a game here in Canada, and there was no telecast showing today, I downloaded a song long regarded as the unofficial Aussie Rules Anthem; a song, that has, for generations, inspired many a young Aussie lad to dream of playing footy on the big grounds, with the big boys and the crowds – that song is Up there Cazaly.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Calling ALL Snowbirds

We are still in the cooling off period of selling our house. The deadline for the buyers to pull out is Wednesday...so fingers crossed that doesn't happen. They are getting the building inspection done on Tuesday. We have only had this house for two years, so I can't imagine that is has suddenly started to crumble under foot during that time; especially considering all the work we have done to the damn thing.


We have just one smidgey-didge of a dilemma in selling this house; we are being turfed out six weeks earlier than we had planned....I know we are fools for accepting such conditions, but the offer was a very good one, so we would have been just as foolish to have turned it down. We have our plane flight back to Oz already in our hot little hands and our dogs are firmly booked for their 30 day stay in the Spotswood quarantine centre in Melbourne (it is supposed to be the best), AND we have family coming to visit us at the end of October, so we can't leave Canada any earlier.


I am not too worried, Muse suggested we rent an RV for 6 weeks and send our stuff back early...might have to do that if we get desperate....Anyone need an honest, reliable and very responsible family to house sit over October and most of November...(preferably located in the Greater Vancouver region?) No? Drat!


Our neighbours across the road gave me a contact for the house behind them. Apparently it is a rental and the current tenants are planning to vacate. If that works out it would be quite a coincidental and wonderful feat. We would love to remain in the area until we leave; especially with the school year about to start next week.


We would have had to have found temporary accommodation anyway, so perhaps we will be able to stay in our temp accommodation until we officially leave. I am choosing to see this minor hurdle as a test of faith...we have a few weeks up our sleeve to find an alternative arrangement anyway. Wish us luck.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Cooling off....

Holy smokes Batman!

Looks like we've already sold the house.


KA-POW!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

open house

It has been one of those day, you know. After the realtor took the photos for the website, he casually informed us that we already had our first cabs of the rank, as far as tire kickers and beard pullers go; "6:30pm". "Gee thanks", I replied. It looks like evening showings are going to be the norm; everyone works around here, so I guess they have to come after work or risk leaving it until the weekend, when the place might (HAHAHAHA) already be sold.

As soon as the realtor put the sign up, we had people on the prowl, doing the drive-by, rubber neck style. One couple even parked next door in the car park, got out and cased the joint; peering over the fence and what not. I was making dinner at the time, and it was most disconcerting to have a couple of strangers grinning at me through the kitchen window (now I know how the gorillas at the zoo must feel). I must say, it was a bit exciting to see people interested in the house, but then again, they were probably just sticky beaks agog that the place is on the market so soon. The neighbours have been awfully friendly all of a sudden, coming out for a chin wag and a pry...even got asked to Saturday lunch...that NEVER happens. Boy, am I an old synyc today!

Anyway, after the realtor's look-see at 10am, we had three appointments lined up:6pm, 6:30pm and 7:30 pm. Dinner was screwed. We ended up ordering a pizza and eating it in the park, then letting the kids play in the playground. It was a huge novelty for them.

It would have been great to be able to go to a restaurant and have a nice dinner, but we had the dogs with us. They are quite unbearable to most people- they yap and howl and jump up on people's legs; tearing stockings and planting muddy foot prints on pristine white slacks - no manners whatsoever - so we have to take them away when prospective buyers are on the scene.

Not only the dogs are we carting around town, but also the smelly old dog bedding, as they camp out on the floor of our room. We also have our portable microwave on the front seat. Oh, you didn't know you could get portable microwaves - you can't. We have two microwaves. We bought a cheapie when we moved into a friends house for the month prior to moving into this house. This friend had no mod-cons whatsoever, even his kettle was of the heat on the stove variety. Anyway, when we moved into the house, we found the built-in microwave to be lacking a handle, and of course, that particular size was no longer made by anyone, anywhere in the world. The only way to open the darn thing was to jimmy it open with a steel ruler....no thanks, so the cheapo microwave stayed and took up precious bench space, thus, it must be removed during showings.

Last week, Ashley had a brain wave and took a handle off one of our old cupboard doors and managed to cut up a white light switch surround, and somehow managed to secured the handle good and tight. The microwave opens now, but I am too afraid to use it in case the thing blows up or something equally ironic, and we will have to replace it anyway - at $500...no thanks. So the cheapo, counter hogging microwave, which I quite prefer by the way, stays, and these days gets to go on trips every so often (dear me).

Tonight's three showings went well apparently, though no one made an offer. We have another group coming at 6pm tomorrow. That means we have to stay away from the house all day again - the kids can't make a mess if we aren't there.

We did have a reasonably good day out today though. I had to go into the next town to pick up some shoes, which didn't happen (oh well). Afterwards, I promised to take the kids to the park. The kids played there for about 90 minutes, before we headed off for a walk through the gardens. Mister chucked an enormous hissy fit after playing the entire day and insisted upon sprinting around the 400 metre running track they have alongside the park. He was determined to run the entire 400 metres in lane 5 (because he is 5), and he insisted that missy mopps and I run too, in our own lanes. Missy mopps was tuckered out and wanted to be carried and to be honest, I really couldn't be stuffed, but because we didn't play the game, he chucked a monumental wobbly. Then another after I convinced him that we would just watch him run the final 100 by himself, during which he confused the track lines and veered out of his lane. He was insisting he start the race over again (for about the fifth time) when I managed to lead him to the car, screaming, but not kicking, where more wailing and gnashing of teeth occurred amidst laughable claims that he was "not tired". "suuuUUUuuure!"

Needless to say, it has been a long day - for us all.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

the results are in

Okay. Here are the photos after the stager finished her handiwork. Most of house was a mish mash of bits and pieces that were struggling to fill the space provided. The lounge room literally only had a couple of sofas in it and that was it, as you can see from this first picture.
I was quite happy to have a stager come in and do something with the area, since we aren't into buying more stuff mode, what with the move back and all, and the lounge room is the first room one arrives to upon entering the house, so it is important to make a good first impression.
Anyway, the whole point of staging is to draw attention to the house, rather than the things in it, or the ugly wall paper; hideous overly mirrored walls and dog piss stained carpet...as was the case when we bought this house. Yes, the aim is to give it enough that a potential buyer can see themselves living in the space, rather than picking up the owners vibe i.e staring at their wedding photos; checking out the diplomas on the wall and the books in their book case etc. It all has to be inviting, pleasant and reasonably impersonal.
The stager was actually at our place for a good four hours, which surprised me. The other surprise was that she not only did the one room, like she said she would, but she added a couple of bits and pieces to most of the room to tie it all in (I guess so people weren't immediately struck by how one room looked suspiciously lovely while the others looked so so).
The stager used many of our own things, but arranged them in different ways. She mostly added lamps and pictures to our vacant walls, and added a few other decorative pieces.
In the end the changes she made were quite subtle, but made a dramatic impact. She brought in the ottoman for the living room, which gave the room a great grown up look - that room was formally dominated by the kids and their stuff.
She also gave us a kitchen table which is not pictured here. She moved our own table into a space in the lounge room to make it into a formal dining room (pictured here). The kitchen table she gave us is a little rectangle one which gives our kitchen a look of so much more space. She did a really good job.
I think the biggest surprise came from Ashley's reaction. He wasn't sold on the stager idea. In true blokey fashion, he couldn't really see the point and did not appreciate the potential power of soft furnishings and a few well chosen pieces of furniture, but he was suitably impressed.... I am glad, because I just kind of said "we are doing this" and this was it.
To answer Muses query, the kids were great about the new furniture and stuff. The stager didn't touch their rooms, which was good. It is all a bit of a novelty stillm so they are presently respecting the rules about the new things. I do know, the longer the place takes to sell, the harder it will be to maintain the pristine look, so I am praying that it sells quickly so we can give this stuff back and get back to being the uncultured slobs we normally are, ha!

Monday, 20 August 2007

pre-wedding jitters..kind of

I took my daughter to ballet this morning, and upon my return was shocked to see a for sale sign leering at me on my front lawn - forgot about that bit. I feel a bit of the ole panic stations setting in and I am not really sure why. I am as nervous as crap, like I am staging an event or a wedding or some such theatrical performance where timing and atmosphere and all that was rehearsed must go according to plan or risk a bout of luke-warm reviews from potential ticket holders, or grumblings from the disgruntled guests who brought the expensive presents.

Speaking of staging, a friend offered to have the kids while the stager was here; she is here now. I asked her what I could do, but she shooed me away and told me to relax and make myself a cuppa. I must say, I feel entirely useless and don't really know what to do with myself (typical), so I thought I would blog instead. I could read a book I guess, but I don't think I could concentrate anyway. I promise I will post a piccie of the staged room in the next post.

I just hope the place sells quickly. We have been slaving away like who knows what trying to get this place looking like a vogue magazine on a TV week budget. I have ditched piles of stuff...one really doesn't need a whole lot to get on in this world, so why cart a whole lot of useless stuff around the globe only to have it sit there gathering dust readying itself for its next international voyage (God forbid).


Yesterday I stumbled upon a pile of suspicious looking folders. Upon opening them I found they were in fact my entire catalogue of school report cards from 1979-1990 (shudder). I remember my Mum giving them to me one time when she moved, but I don't think I have ever read them. Of course that led me to waste the next two hours as I scanned the horrors of my early academic history.


Actually it was a bit of an eye opener to read them all at once. There were some definite themes that perhaps should have been addressed: "struggles to comprehend written instructions", "extremely slow at working things out", "gets frustrated", "makes silly errors", day dreams", "needs to listen more carefully", "careless". I have long wondered if I am actually dyslexic, as such themes have continued to be issues for me - particularly the comprehension aspects. I tend to have a private panic attack whenever a timed written comprehension test is presented as part of a recruitment drive. Time and time again, this will be the part in the test that sees me exited from the program. But then again, what good is worrying about that now - the horse has bolted so to speak, and this is who I am - stick to what you are good at kiddo!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Dear Diary

Dear Diary is the theme of this week's Sunday Scribbling.
I have kept diaries of sorts since I was perhaps 15 years old. I threw out my first ever diary due to its shamefully embarrassing and juvenile content, but I kept my second one, which just so happened to be a school project we had to do as part of our year 12 English curriculum. I doubt any teacher actually had a read of its content; it was written by a dopey 16 year old after all, but had anyone chanced a bit of a skim through, they might have been surprised, for I never said a word in the majority of my classes at school, and the diary content, in hindsight, is both riotously hilarious (though not deliberate) and tragic (perhaps melodramatic is a better word...or angst-riddled maybe).

It did pass my mind to share one of the more laughable moments in that second diary, but I refrained from doing so, instead I thought I would share this little tid bit. In hindsight I think perhaps I might have suffered a little of the old post natal depression in the aftermath of having my babies. I was quite depressed and despairing for quite a while afterward... then we moved to Canada and the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of support was almost unbearable. To make matters worse, I then endured Vancouver's wettest winter ever; a winter that just would not let up. The darkness, the lack of vitamin D and my already questionable mental state saw me plunge into a deep dark hole, one that I could not see my way out of......until I travelled by myself to Australia to attend my friend's wedding. It was the break I needed; the beginning of my turn around. You'll be happy to know that I am in a much better place these days.

This is a diary entry of my landing in Sydney after my "great escape". It is a bit of an emotional rant - I hope you can follow it:

2nd March 2006 – Sydney Australia - 27 degrees Celsius

What a tumultuous thirty-six hours. Talk about stress and serenity; life and death; darkness and light; turmoil and peace; sanity and insanity; warm and cold.

What would a numerologist say of this state of being; highs and lows and opposing thoughts, feelings and experiences?

I love my family, but my soul has been dying and I have felt like one of those ships lost in the Bermuda triangle – having mysteriously disappeared without a trace, with no hope of ever being seen again –soul off the radar.

Actually the red light is still flashing on the navigation screen. It signals that all is well; all is registering. Life and the vessel are following the straight path to its destiny. Perhaps the vessel might encounter a storm or undue turbulence, perhaps the people on board are a bit bored themselves; they might feel a bit uncomfortable for a while, but they know it isn’t for long; they know that there is an end to their suffering – they can generally count down the hours on one or two hands. So for them, it is mostly…. well, bearable. I don't know where I am going or how long it is going to take. It is as though I boarded a ship without an itinerary and have unwittingly boarded one that has simply been set adrift.

My dreams have stagnated and rot due to a lack of reflection. They fade away like the colour of a bright red t-shirt left for weeks to dry on the clothes line during a heatwave. The brilliant red grows duller and duller; the garment stiffens and becomes unshapely with each rain and scorching it gets, hanging there neglected and forgotten.

I really did have dreams once, but I don’t remember what they are now….
Actually I do remember, but the fire of possibility has long been extinguished, the winds that fanned the flames – exhausted. What remains is the ashen remnants of an idea.


Everything starts with an idea – sure, but passion, desire, inspiration, hope and opportunity are needed for an idea to sprout forth. Nourishment enables the idea to gather strength and strive toward its greatest potential. We all need a little visual progress from time to time. Don’t you think?

I often find myself sympathising with the jailbirds – the prisoners. I can’t think of a more debilitating place in which to gather hope for a better life; of believing deep down that one is a worthy human being, with talents and gifts to offer the world, but are prevented from achieving this end. I often feel that my life is as restricted, lonely and confined as a prisoner – but at least I can get into my car and roam. It is not my physicality that is being held prisoner as much as my mind. I am a slow thinker – considered no more clever than an ass, when I were at school. In reality however, I really just needed the time and freedom to think.... I am not at school anymore. I am at home, but I still need that time to collect my thoughts and arrange them on the blank pages of my mind. But today I am not at home. I have managed to escape.

Alone I took a plane to Sydney Australia from Vancouver Canada. I think I spent most of the journey in a state of shock; my mind was numb, confused and unaccustomed to peace. I felt paralysed during that flight, not knowing what to do with myself and this yet unrealised freedom. My mind only seemed to switch back on as I exited my plane - like a child's forgotten toy that had suddenly been gifted a fresh battery.


I have been away from my family for 24 hours now, and I have barely spoken to a soul; customs guy at the airport; train ticket girl and the waiter here, in this glorious cafe that I now find myself.

For the first time in ages...years, my mind is observing its surroundings; it is reflecting, absorbing and watching the energy that is this peripheral life with all its activity. I am enjoying the silence, the stillness, the ability to just be...uninterrupted within myself.

I feel free.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

in the darkness....

I was thinking today, about a good friend I had in high school. She was adopted. I don't know why I started thinking about her really. We lost touch years ago. She undertook her latter high school years in a boarding school in the big city, and while we tried to maintain contact over that time, life took over, as it does. She moved, I moved, her parents moved and my parents moved....she could live in the next street for all I know. Nevertheless, we were good friends at the time. Her parents owned and ran a local motel, and I was invited regularly to stay over at her place; we were even allowed to stay in a motel room if one was vacant.

The motel was close to the local swimming pool. One summer we spent practically ever day at the pool (a fact you might find surprising if you had read the story, two posts back). This friend even invited me to stay with her at her Aunt's place in another town, over the winter break. Her Aunt owned a corner deli and we spent most of the week working in it, which was a huge novelty (for me anyway).

We did a lot together, this friend and I. I remember one night, creeping out from one of the motel rooms we were staying in and walking to the all night truck stop (roadhouse/diner/servo) for hot chips; scrambling over neighbourhood fences and into foreign backyards, then walking back through the local cemetery eating hot chips from a wrap of butcher paper, while trying to make out the inscriptions etched into the old leering Gothic style monuments. This friend was there for me during a difficult time in my life. She was funny and crazy; a risk taker and a bit unpredictable...a welcomed distraction, and just what I needed at the time.
Despite all this, I realised it was quite difficult to get to know this particular friend. There was somewhat of a wall that she placed around her that forbid one from really getting to know her. Humour was her best defense; whenever things go a bit intense or serious, whenever the deeper or the tougher question were raised, she expertly sidelined all and any expectations of a genuine or heartfelt response. Never did I learn her hearts crush, while we were at school together, although she told me of the her crush in her new school, he being at a safe, unlocatable and unidentifiable distance - a mere abstraction to me, a fictional character in a novel or a cartoon upon which to wonder and imagine, but never know.

One night however, when laying in our respective twin beds in the motel, darkness draped upon all forms, our voices rising up in the night, unencumbered by the intimidation and bounds of body language suggestions, my friend started talking about her adopted older sister and how, when her sister became upset with my friend, she would tell her that she wished she "had never chosen her" at the hospital/orphanage. I asked my friend when she had been told she was adopted and while wrapped in the safe shroud of night, she told me that she had always known. Her mother was unable to have children, and her birth story was that her parents took her older sister to choose a sibling, and her sister was said to have proudly chosen the prettiest baby in the establishment. My friend seemed happy to recount this story to me. It was a comfort to her; it made her feel loved and wanted, like she belonged for she was chosen.

On the back of this discussion; seizing the moment and perhaps being both rather insensitive and a little daft of age, I then asked my friend if she ever thought about her birth mother. "No", came the abrupt reply, a reply tinged with disappointment and hurt, "and I will never look for her. She gave me up. My parents are the only parents I know. They are the ones who love me. I never think about my birth family." And with that I felt a door close. Silence descended like a rock in a still pond - hard and fast, fanning ripples the only sign that something had occurred...I heard her muffled sobs in the darkness, and it broke my heart to think that I had brought this pain to the surface, for it seemed apparent that this was something that she had often mulled over in the private corners of her inner being. We never spoke of it again, and she seemed happy with that, but the conversation stuck with me, as has the memory of her quiet stifled tears and I have wondered about her and where she is today and whether there really is some part of her that seeks, and longs.
*Photo by Olivier Follmi - "A Tear of Coldness at 4200 Meters, Ladak".

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Jet - Are you gonna be my girl ?

We are well into cleaning over drive here - even cleaned the oven (HA). We have the place spick and span, and I even took Jeanie's advice and neatly organised the INSIDE of the bloomin' cupboards in case some sticky beak happens to take a gander inside.
The realtor suggested we put some nice mood music on for when he brings people through for open inspections - last time we went all Enya...it was that type of a house...I am not sure what we will choose this time around, this is perhaps not the sound he was anticipating, but I did drag out the old Jet to get us all into the cleaning mood - the kids went wild for it. They loved this song in particular, but rather than clean, they dragged out drums, guitars and noisy toys to pretend they were part of the band and preceeded to jump around giggling hysterically - it was a riot!

friggin' bathers

Today I got rid of my abhorrent swim suit. Yep! I threw that thing in with a whole bunch of other garments and unnecessary household items and off loaded the whole darn lot into the charity bin at the local servo.

I have spoken before about my un-love of bathers/togs/swimwear (whatever your choice phrase for such an item might be).

My old swim suit was an embarrassing two piece; an electric blue tankini with attached skirt to be precise, or perhaps something akin to what grannies might have worn in the 1970's, if you like. It was a scary thing in hindsight, I have to admit; a $15 investment made over a year ago. But since I have bought that swim suit, I have dared enter the water of my local pool to take the kids in or to just do a few laps, without constant reminder or fear that my lilly white, luminous, jiggly, thunder thighs might be causing an array of poolside perusers to gasp and shudder at the very sight of me, but alas, I had a reality check a couple of weeks ago. We were in Whistler. The accommodation we stayed at had a pool (oh dread). For some reason my friend's 5 year old son was very eager to check out every one's swim suit. "Can I see your swim suit?" he asked me one morning. "Nah, its not very interesting", I told him, feeling more and more intimidated about the big, scary swim suit reveal by the second, "you'll see it later".

The first time we all went swimming, no one said a word about my swim suit, but then again, I didn't make eye contact with anyone either, sending a definite message of "I don't want to talk about it - OKAY!". The second night though, my friend's son innocently asked me, "is that an old swim suit?" To which I was so embarrassed, laughed and chose not to answer, because, as I have just revealed, I bought it only the year prior, but the style beamed like a neon sigh old lady. This boy was not content with my non-reply however, and my choosing to remain tight lipped about the bloody thing only caused him to gather his own theories about the confusing item I was wearing. And his conclusion? "Yep, I'll say that's got to be a really old swim suit!" he tells me while nodding, eyebrows raised, smiling from only one side of his face.

Oh dear. There is nothing like a child to tell you just how shite you look. Actually, I tend to trust such opinions a little more; children tell it how they see it, without malice or consideration of another's feelings, but I thank him for his opinion, however embarrassing it was to hear it - it was the truth. The swim suit was way too big for me, and it was darn awful. On top of that, it was probably doing the exact opposite of what I was going for, which was to blend in with the scenery and disappear. So into the charity bin it went, where some other overly self conscious person or granny is likely to pick it up for a bargain basement price.....or perhaps it might be burned as something that should never again see the light of day (as it should be)...who knows.

Ironically, I then went over to the local pool and donated half a pack of swimmer nappies (diapers) to the local pool; my daughter no longer needs them. The pool staffer was very grateful, and as fate should have it, gave me a complementary pass to the pool as a thank you. Now Ashley is having a week off work right now, and it is summer over here, so naturally Ashley, seeing the freebie that has just been thrown my way, suggests we go to the pool in the afternoon - "yay", yell the kids excitedly, running off to retrieve their swim suits from the cupboard in readiness. "Oh, you can take them", I casually replied to Ashley. But Ashley insisted we all go as a family "it'll be fun", he reckoned. So I 'fessed up that I had just tossed the scary suit in the charity bin, so I unfortunately, had to stay home. Baffled, he pressed me into explaining why, which brought me to relate the whole Whistler incident to him...so what happened next? He MADE me buy another swim suit, right then and there. He was even willing to drive me into the next town where there is more selection.

I must say, I wasn't very motivated to buy another swim suit. For a start, I wasn't confident that I would find anything I would even half-heartily like, nor did I intend on spending very much money on something I didn't intend on wearing too often, but on Ashley's insistence, I agreed.


I suggested that I might be able to find one in town, so Ashley drove me to each store and waited with the kids in the car. Its the end of the season as far as swim suit buying goes, so it was pretty slim pickings, but since Ashley was adamant that I not used the old, "damn, I don't have a swim suit excuse" (again), I caved and reluctantly bought a suit that was acceptable enough - it only cost $25.

So in the end, I went swimming and we all did had fun - I just hate the getting in and getting out part of swimming.

I wish I didn't have all this angst about body image. It makes the very idea of activities, such as swimming, extremely difficult for me to entertain.

A friend once told me, "if you look around, there is always someone bigger and there is always someone skinnier, so forget about it and have fun." I liked that piece of advice, though I wasn't wearing a swim suit at the time. For me though, it isn't about the sizes of other people at all. It is about the level of comfort I feel in myself, and that, unfortunately, has nothing to do with size.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Let the show begin


Had a talk with the home stager today. I was expecting her to be all pretentious; turning up her nose at our very humble abode, while then preceding to pick the shit out of it, after which she might nominate our modest digs for a spot on Canada's Most Sad Arse Interiors...or something along those lines, but alas, I was rather wrong.

The stager was very thankful that ours was a vacant look problem, rather than hordersville.
Basically she told us that she could work with most of what we already had, move our lounge suite and dining table around a bit, add a kitchen table, coffee table here, some side tables there, lamps and a couple of trinkets and "done". I was really surprised. She was rather complimentary really - wanted to know who chose our paint colours - "moi", I said, batting my eyelashes. She reckoned they were great. Also said she wouldn't change a thing upstairs, and even gave some good practical hints for when selling a home; such as always remembering to put out white towels, because it make the room look cleaner; take all personal effects of the bathroom counters, dunny lid down; remove everything from magnetic from the front of the fridge; let the drapes hang to the sides, rather than tying them back, for an updated look, etc...

The cost for her services seemed very reasonable too, so I think we are going to go for it. I might even post a before and after picture when it is done, so you can see what you think - (silence will suggest "me no like"). Anyway, I just hope ME like, and potential buyers like!

We might even put the house on the market a week earlier to get a head start before the new school year stalls proceedings a little, but then again, there is a baseball grand final taking place on our street next weekend, so that might not make the best impression...we make the final decision tomorrow.

I am actually feeling a little nervous about the big sale. I think because once the house is sold, then we are officially moving back. In a way, up until the official sale of our home, we always have the option of changing our minds...not that we are in two minds about our decision to move back. I guess it is more the fact that our Canadian experience will officially be over, and as I have said before: I already fear that I will wake up one morning and think, "hey, did that really happen? Did I really live in Canada for nearly 3 years?" It seems I am already dreading that moment, and I feel I am trying to scramble at something intangible that will hold this experience in me, but I am not sure what it is that I can take or grasp; souvenirs and stuff don't quite cut it. So how DO I absorb the essence of my experience here, and hold it forever? Perhaps I already have, time will tell.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Tinker Bell Movie Trailer

Mister has revealed his intended future vocation - I hope you have a large cup of coffee on hand, because he wants to be.... a vet (to farm animals and giraffes), a farmer, a car mechanic, a marine biologist, a fire fighter, a Dad AND a professional runner.

After his big reveal he paused, wondering, then asked "how can I do all that?" Indeed.
He is only five, and I am sure his list will change over time, but for humours sake, I suggested that he get Daddy to help him learn about cars, practice running now, start saving up to buy a farm, perhaps just a hobby farm. I told him he would have to go to uni to study to be a vet and maybe he might have to choose between land animals and marine life, but I guessed it might be possible to do both, and then he could be a volunteer fire fighter, because that takes quite a bit of training in itself. As for the father thing, I said he could be a Dad once he found the right girl (a loooong way off into the future) - phew! He thought all that was quite plausible and do-able - ha.

When I was 5, I remember the teacher asking each of us what we wanted to do when we grow up. The first girl to be asked said she wanted to be an air hostess; I think every girl then responded with the same answer. Man, I am 33 years old and I STILL don't know what I want to do when I "grow-up".

Missy Mopps is three. She wants to be Tinkerbell when she grow up.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

panic stations

I got yet another preliminary taste of what is to come, yesterday, when the Real Estate agent rang, 6pm on Thursday night, to ask if he could bring around another interested party, the following morning. So, like the gal in this ad, we had to act fast.

Actually, it was nowhere near as bad as the last time. I had just gotten a guy in to clean the carpet that very day, and I had scrubbed all the bathrooms the day before that, chucked a whole heap of useless crap from the cupboards over the weekend, and had even cleaned the fridge, so all we really had to do was re-organise inside a bit (hide the dog beds and microwave) wash the floors, fold the laundry and a bit of gardening, which wasn’t too bad after our big clean up the last time. Ashley had even poisoned some of the persistent weeds and stray grasses that insist upon growing through the cracks in the driveway; these had died off and were easy to remove.

So what was the verdict? It was a woman looking for a place for her parents, who live in another province. I don’t think the house is going to be suitable for them. For a start, it is a pretty big house for an older couple; it even seems too big for us, but still the woman reckoned her parents would want to put in a new kitchen (nothing wrong with the old one, other than being a little on the snug size); they would want to knock out a wall somewhere too (bit extreme), and they want to double glaze all the windows, which is fair enough. The woman also didn’t like the idea of a lit tennis court out the back either. I have never actually noticed any adverse effects coming from the lights to tell you the truth, so last night I went outside to see if they interfere with our yard, but the only ones we can see from our yard are beaming out the other way, so I am not sure what she is talking about really, it is not like they play all year around anyway. If these are the buyers concerns for the house, then why would they bother buying it? She took some pictures to email her parents anyway, but I doubt we will hear anything more. The realtor sounded a bit disappointed, but it isn’t even on the market yet, so it is no biggie. It is also good to get some feedback ahead of time.

I think we are going to get a stager to come in and do a little something with our L-shaped lounge. We have only a couple of sofas in it – sparse is an understatement, and we are neither in the position nor the mindset to buy more stuff at the minute. Sounds like fun. Actually, I wouldn’t mind having a go at doing something like that myself. I love doing that kind of thing….

August 20th is the week we officially go on sale, so it is creeping up quickly. It is a long weekend over here at the moment. We are going to hit the garden shops and plant colourful stuff. Hope you all have a good weekend too.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

distracted

I have lost the plot a bit lately, not sure if you all have noticed.

I can't seem to write. I feel totally consumed with the changes taking place in my life right now, the uncertainties are a little overwhelming, although I know I will be back in Oz on the 26th November. The many questions that have no answers, revolve around selling the house, finances and relocation costs, how the dogs will cope in quarantine, Ashley's yet to be determined job, finding a house, stress reduction and family balance, and the all inevitable foggy future.

Getting fit or fitter, seems to be something I can at least control and push ahead with, while everything else seems to have stalled, or is floundering.

My other obsession at the moment; South Australian real estate, seems all consuming. Nightly, I scan the likes of http://www.realestateaustralia.com.au/ and others, searching for something that will likely not ever be. It is only August, and we can not realistically do anything about housing until December anyway, but I can help but look; scanning the pages of houses up for sale; wondering what we might end up in; what is available on the market within our imagined budget. Then there is that vague, yet lingering possibility that we might prefer to build.... but where? Wouldn't that be fun....Wouldn't it? We have even chosen a possible house plan, and yet I keep going back to the real estate pages on the web, viewing floor plans and checking maps to see where these possible places are located - more often than not, these supposed possibilities already have a contract on them before the week is out. Nothing is lasting long on the "for sale" lists, and when it does, I begin to wonder what is wrong with it. I should post some of the shocker interior photos I have stumbled upon - hilarious, although there is always that risk of offending a reader who will comment that their bathroom/living room/kitchen/whatever, looks exactly like that. (oops).

There is always the renovation possibility, but to tell you the truth, we've been there and done that and as rewarding (I suppose) as it was this time around, it has taken us a good two years to get this far, and we aren't wishing to repeat the experience, at least not this soon after this rather traumatic experience. Put it this way, if we were to purchase a house in a similarly hideous state as this bugger was, it will have to be structurally sound and dirt cheap. So that is where I am at at the present moment. I miss my interaction with the softly spoken natural world. I really miss it. I understand that I am driven and focused on a future time, which is not recommended I know....well, a time when the future seems clearer and more certain, or at least when the structures around us have ceased to be beach sand; us attempting to build a castle from it without water - (we seem to have some of what we need in order to make it, but are seriously lacking the crucial elements so our structure fails to take form. I know it will all come together in the end. I am ready for it, raring to go in fact, but at the moment, this lack of clarity is distracting and frustrating, and I long to be settled in a state of calm, once again.