Wednesday, 31 January 2007

reaching out into the fog

I have spoken about the fog before. I do love the fog, and we are certainly gifted with many a foggy morn, in our part of the world.

When I look out my window and see the world through the gauzy veil, I don't just feels like the world is wrapped in a cozy blanket; shrouded... protected.

We live near a river, in an old fishing village, and if you listen carefully on a foggy evening, you can hear the mournful sound of a fog horn in the distance. Instantly I feel transported to the river, where imagine I can see a fishing trawler with a cautious fishing crew at the helm. The boat creeps along the silent, still, dark waters, blindingly navigating the fog, journeying through narrow waterways searching for safety and rest, in the dock yards.

It has been foggy for the best part of a week; not just in through the mornings either. Sunday happened to be foggy the entire day.

In part, the fogginess mirrors my current physical state. I am on the better side of the flu now, and am recovering.

Today, I took my son back to pre-school for the first time since the dreaded lurgy hit us. I was still rather groggy, which only became apparent once some one spoke to me. I was off in my own little world, staring off into the hazy distance of thought, while waiting for the school doors to open. Then reaching out to me through the fog, I heard a voice, a second time. The person was standing right there, but I had failed to even realise that they were talking to me.

"Hey, has your family been sick too?"

I apologised for my lack of awareness..."Yes, yes. Sorry. We have all been sick. I am not really with it, quite yet". I shook my head at my own stupidity. I usually have the observation of a hawk, the fog can affect such things.

I guess I also like the fog, because I am forced to used senses other than sight, to get my bearings, which tends to bring other kinds of awareness to light. The fog tends to bring out the details of nearer objects, since we are not able to be distracted by the distant scenery.

Yesterday, for example, I looked out my bathroom window. The old cedar in the backyard bore a single dewy droplet on the end of each of its spindly twig-like branches. The sun was straining through the fog, an iridescent white disk staring like an eye in the sky. The sun was angled in such a way that the droplets appeared like hundreds of tiny white fairy lights were adorning the sad, winter-bare tree. It was so beautiful against the grey.

Yes, I do love fog, but I will be more than happy to welcome back the clear blue skies and warmth on my back, when winter gives way for spring - in its own time.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Dear Me Project

Misc Mum, has started an interesting little project that certainly provides food for thought The "Dear Me", Project.

Misc Mum writes:

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? That if you could, you'd warn yourself not to date that man, or wear that outfit or hairstyle? To look after yourself better? To be kinder to yourself or others? What did you learn from these experiences? What can others learn?
Or would you like to gush about your wedding day? A party? Your children? Spoil the surprise, naturally, but celebrate what's to come.
Well, here's your chance!

Check out the Dear Me Project link above, if you want the full run down.

I read about this project a few days ago and umm'ed and arr'ed about what I might say. Should I even mention anything? For truly, it is our experiences, good or bad, that ultimately shape us and give us wisdom.

As I started to write though, I thought, sometimes we are still that person re-living some historic trauma, only in the here and now, once years and sometimes decades have passed us by. These experiences just seem to cling to us like mucus to an infected lung.

In fact, such a letter is not all that ridiculous when you think about it. We do the time warp every single time we disallow ourselves to reach forward; take a good risk; put ourselves out there, because of some unfortunate event or set of circumstances, that happened eons ago.

Well, I need to let go of some stuff.

So if you are game, read the post below....

August 1988

Dear Me (August 1988)

I shake my head at what just took place; of all the shit things to do to a young person... I am truly sorry you were put through that today.

Who am I, you ask. Well, I am you, almost 19 years on. It is true. I have chosen this pivotal moment to stand up for us, for once in our lives, albeit 19 year later. I simply can not take this bull shit any longer. You are worth so much more than this misguided synopsis foretells.

I have wisdom that comes through experience, which I am willing to share. So listen very carefully.

The reason The Parents sent you to a vocational psychologist at age 14, was not because they “fear you will spend your future in a dole queue” – that is a load of bollocks. They have their own issues, and unfortunately you are being used to explore these issues for them.

The pressure for you to commit to any vocation, at this age, is ridiculous and overwhelming, I know. Whatever you do, do not rush into anything just to appease others; it is you who has to live with it, not them.

I know the psychologist’s report was not exactly glowing; in fact it reinforced much of what the teachers have been regurgitating your entire schooling career – basically, that you have the intelligence of a dung beetle. I know it hurts, and I know it is confusing, when deep down, you know this just isn’t so.

Even with the passage of time, I can not understand why you presented or were misrepresented that way. For you certainly DO pass year 11 and you DO pass year 12, although when the expectation is that you are intellectually incapable, there seemed little sense in doing anything other than the bare minimum, to pass.

Should you take this letter to heart and actually put in some effort on the school front, please chose the subjects you would enjoy, rather than those you think you SHOULD do. It sure would make the time pass in a less excruciating fashion. You might even enjoy it a little.

But you know something – for all the pain, and anxiety the school experience has given you, the grades you achieve in year 12 will have absolutely no bearing on your future.

To this day, I still carry around a lot of anger about those years, so please do us both a favour and let it go. Aside from a handful of “lifer” friends -you know who they are- this school thing sucks, and in the future, the treatment you received through your school years should be given as little reflective thought as possible - because this is not who you really are.

Having said that, work is a very enticing option and your confidence will begin to grow when you find employment, but for the time being, stay in school. You will connect with someone very special in your Year 12. I won’t say who. He attends the school there with you, but amazingly, your paths have just never crossed before.

By the way, you may be interested to know that Mr Psychologist over there, wouldn’t know his arse from his elbow regarding the university thing. When the time is right, and I stress, when the time is right, you WILL go to university, and you will shine GIRL!

You believe you have to work harder than everyone else to pass, but you more than pass. You even write a thesis that you will be proud of, for many years to come. The topic? I can’t tell you that. You need to discover your passion for learning, and you will, but only when you have the freedom to do so.

I know you are not really your self right now. A certain bloke has turned your head in a big way, but seriously- he is a first-class prick. He doesn’t respect you, and the mixed feelings he is sending out are doing nothing for your confidence. Enough is enough. Please don’t waste another minute on this guy – you should have put an end to this cycle of misery at the start of the school year. Seriously, this experience with him is destroying your soul, and you know it.

What other wonderful assumptions did the good Mr Psychologist have to say?
Oh yes….Apparently you will be unable to look after yourself, so you need to live close by The Parents.

Yeah, good one Dr. Chuckles.

Rest assured, you never allowed yourself to even entertain such a possibility. You will be more than fine on your own two feet. You even have the opportunity to travel, with your beloved – it’ll be fun. In fact, it’ll blow your mind.

And one more thing before I go. In many years to come, you will meet a woman and you will become great friends with her. She will eventually have a baby, and all you will want to do is head for the hills screaming. I understand, motherhood goes against the embedded career pressure thing, but please don’t shun her. Be a good friend and help her. You will actually learn much from her, and these skills will settle your own fears and anxieties when it becomes your time – and that day will come, or has it come already hmmmm I don’t know…you’ll just have to wait and see.

You are blessed beyond your wildest dreams. You are a good person, and you are most definitely worthy. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different.

Hugs and love
Me (January 2007)

Friday, 26 January 2007

Happy Australia Day

Well, if we were in Australia, Australia Day would be over and done with by now, but here, it is still January 26th! Yay. Not that I feel in a very celebratory mood.

That niggly feeling in my throat, mentioned in the previous post, turned into an all out flu.

My husband took the day off, Wednesday, to look after me and our two sick kids. I figured I couldn't feel any worse than I did Wednesday. WRONG! I was a complete rite-off yesterday. I had to call my husband home from work, I was in such a bad way (oh the humiliation).

Once he was home I lay in a vegetative state till I got up this morning. I think I slept for a total of 15 hours yesterday; in between hacking my lungs up and alternate bouts of freezing and sweating with a fever - oh what fun.

I do feel slightly better today- perhaps 50%. I will try to get into the doctors office today.

Next year I am definitely getting us all the flu shot. I kind of regret not doing it this year. hmmmm.

Well, with that little drama aside. I thought I would post a little tribute to Australia Day with a funny video by Aussie comedian Adam Hills.

For years, perhaps decades, Australians have complained about the dreary music that accompanies the words to our National Anthem - Advance Australia Fair. Well Adam Hills has come up with this suggestion, which is sure to get a few laughs, if nothing else - Advance Australia Fair, to the rocking tune of Jimmy Barnes' (of Cold Chisel fame) Working Class Man. I can just imagine John Howard rockin' down to this one.

Happy Australia Day.

Australian National Anthem - (Working class Anthem)

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

The importance of sensible shoes

I went off to my Nordic Walking group last night.

I started getting a niggly feeling in the back of my throat - it could have been the beginning of the dreaded lurgy that Mister had, but I chose not to allow that fact to provide me with a much too convenient excuse, and pike out.

It had snowed the week prior and so I was bundled in a million layers and wore snow boots for the occasion. Stupidly, I wore the same rig-out this time.

Last week I went in the beginners group, a group made up of mostly retired people, a fact that didn't worry me in the least.

I got to talking with many in the group and it was quite an enjoyable first experience. The walking poles were next to useless though, since we were keeping pace with the snail, but I had a good time.

Nevertheless, the instructor suggested I give the faster group a go. "Sure" I said, and happily made the move over to the darker side.

Once we were off and err...walking, the walking poles began to realise their potential; we were motoring down the side walks, burning rubber BABY!

Actually after a short while I began to grow rather uncomfortable swaddled in my tonne of clothing. Boiling heat was radiating from every inch of my being, sweat pouring down my face and my feet. Oh feet. I think I could probably strike a match on them. Burn Baby Burn, that was for sure. I could definitely feel a blister developing on the sole of my foot. Snow boots substituting runners - what was I thinking? YYYYOUCH!

I persevered. Gritted my teeth, puffed, panted and groaned my way through the lactic acid build up. I winced and whined as I dragged my sorry butt up English Bluff and down again. We passed a pizza shop on the way back, a fragrant mix of garlic, herbs and hot fresh bread wafting, teasing, luring me by the nostrils, MMMMMmmm....FOCUS!

By the time we made it back to The Run Inn I was speechless and tomato red. I staggered gingerly back to the car and slumped into the drivers seat.

One of the marathon runners wandered passed with a cheery relaxed look on her face. She smiled knowingly at me, she thought I was a runner too. I could tell. I composed myself for those few moments of telepathic communication we shared..."get a grip was a damn WALK", I scolded myself, after she was out of view. God I am unfit!

By the time I reached my front door, my entire body felt like lead. My feet burned, calves screamed in shock and for some reason my kidneys felt like the little silver ball inside a pinball machine must feel, after a few frantic games.

Once home I retreated up to the shower and thought about the experience.

Last week was relaxed and social - boy to I need social. This week was more serious. It was all about fitness - boy do I need fitness. I have a decision to make. Social V fitness; fun V hard work hmmmm decisions decisions....It is a no brainer really.

I once saw a quote, which has always stuck in my mind. I do try to live by it. It read:
The easy road leads to the hard road.
The hard road leads to the easy road.
Given the choice - take the hard road.

Fine then... I will persevere with the exercise road, and who might even lead to something social as well, one day.

So with that, I hang up my blister-making-snow boots come walking shoes and drag out the old, neglected in the back of the cupboard, covered in spider webs, regrets.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

when NOT to encourage sharing

I have two kids, one is 4 years and the other, nearly 3.

My four year old goes to pre-school.

I help out one of the working pre-school Mums, by allowing her to drop her child into my house on Wednesday mornings. I take care of him for the hour or so before school; take him to school with my son, and drop him to his baby sitters after school.

I know it is not much. This particular mother has had a really hard time since going back to work - some unbelievably bad strokes of luck; major car trouble, unprecedented school closures, snow storms, major wind storms, anyone of her three kids sick at any one time, out of town family deaths, you name it. So I am more than happy to help her out and ease a tiny bit of her load.

The week before Christmas my kids were sick.

There had been a nasty virus going around, and of course, schools seem to breed such things in plague-like proportions. Unfortunately for my youngest, her illness turned to pneumonia, but she is ok now.

Last week was the first week after the holiday break that I had taken in the previously mentioned boy, for the pre-school run. The week prior her eldest son's school bus broke down AND there was snow, which caused further head aches for the boy's Mother- anyway the little boy didn't go last week.

My son and this particular boy get of very well, in fact this little boy is quite a sweetie, but he turned up to our place last week with a gut churning, lumpy, bumpy and chunky cough. If anyone was going to cough up a lung (and more) it was going to be this kid!

It was perhaps 15 minutes after the drop off, that the boy made his first attempt at stifling the unstoppable cough. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

The mother hadn't said a word about it, but considering the difficulties she has been experiencing in actually getting to work on time, or at all, I can understand why she might have chosen not to have mentioned it.

I did voice my concern, since his cough sounded so painful and utterly dreadful.
"Are you ok?!!!" I asked.
"Yep", he assured me.
"Were you sick over the holidays ?" I furthered.
"Nope", he informed me innocently.
"Well that cough sounds just awful!" It was quite obvious he HAD been sick.

Yesterday my son awoke and wasn't really himself. He kept telling me he was tired. He was also unusually quiet all day. He kept crying over meaningless things, lost his normally insatiable appetite, then finally, last night, he informed me that his head hurt when he jumped up and down. He was coming down with something...

I gave him some Tylenol and suggested he sleep for as long as he wanted. This morning he woke at 8am with a fever, runny nose and an awful cough, one that echoed that of his little friend.

Time to stock up on the Kleenex - AGAIN. Sigh....

Sunday, 21 January 2007


I enjoy watching the ducks fly.

I live in an area known as the Fraser River Estuary. It is a major migratory bird sanctuary.

If you are like me, and you appreciate birds - although I am no expert - you will enjoy the general area of the Fraser River Estuary. There are plenty of birds to see.

Throughout the area, there is an ever present population of Mallard ducks, but due to their reliable presence, they tend to be the forgotten species; ignored in favour of the more exotic, more splendid and seldomly seen, birds.

But I like the Mallard, and as I have already mentioned, I enjoy watching them fly.

They are not really noted for their grace in the skies. In fact, I read a book to my children just yesterday, which stated only that "ducks waddle", and of course, if you have ever observed a duck walking proudly upon its webbed feet, they do indeed waddle, but they also swim, and they also fly, when the need arises.

I watched a Mallard fly today. It certainly wasn't even as graceful in the air as a seagull.

The duck flapped its wings furiously. A stiff icy breeze ensured it did not linger long with its wings outstretched, nor did it venture far from the ground.

The duck appeared to apply notable effort toward its avionic endeavour, and yet, lacking the grace and comparative skill of other birds, it still chose to fly.

Friday, 19 January 2007

What are you trying to tell me....

Ok, this takes the cake!

I stumbled across this odd little website called The Psychic Book Project.

The site asserts that Madame Lola and her robotic dog, Pietro (yeah...) will psychically select a book "that will shape your upcoming destiny". All you need to do is fill in the psychic survey and "Madame Lola will then use her intuitive powers of divination to find the book you need".

So, curious as I am, I decided to fill in the questionnaire, to see what Madame Lola and her robotic dog, Peitro might churn out.

The book Madame Lola and Pietro felt was suitable for me, was none other than - One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest - I kid you not. Intriguing...

Take a look for yourself and see what comes up - it'll be good for a laugh, if nothing else.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

stimulating conversation

It has been difficult for me to meet people since arriving here to Canada. For one, I have no one to introduce me into an already formed circles of friends, and people seem a little suspicious of new comers around here. It is a fairly tight knit community.

Slowly, slowly I have edged my way in and begun connecting with people in such a way that they have let me into their lives, but such occurrences have been few and far between. For the most part, I have been left feeling like I have been wading through almost set cement.

On Monday I took the kids to McDonalds. The weather was terrible, so I thought they could burn some energy in the play area after they were done eating. (I feel like I am having to make an excuse about taking them to McDonalds).

Anyway, I noticed two mothers from pre-school - their kids were playing in the play area too.

These mother's had been friendly to me, but merely in a "hi, how are you", in passing kind of way - nothing deep had I been able to really extract from them.

After the kids finished their lunch they ran off to play with the others, and I was all alone. The woman siting facing me smiled, so I mustered all my awkward courage and asked if I could join them. "Sure", they replied.

God, it was uncomfortable. I really felt like an intruder. I was sorry I had asked. I tried to make conversation, but my efforts only went so far.

I think my poor, if not, failed attempt to socialise became apparent when the two women started discussing how irregular their bowels were, and how much fibre they required each day to keep themselves regular. Man!

I was obviously giving them the shits.

Passion and sorrow

You need to have passion to end sorrow,

and passion is not bought through escape.

It is there when you stop escaping.

J. Krishnamurti in, Gerber M.E (2005) E-Myth Mastery, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, pg 12.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

The seemingly unforeseeable II

Chefs generally have the reputation of being pretentious, cranky, old primadonnas (apologies to all chefs reading this blog), but now I can understand why.....

They have a hundred things on the go; they are trying to keep it all together and create this wonderful master piece; one that their guests are simply going to rave about and extend a multitude of complements, all the while working with a staff, which always seems to consist of one, who just doesn't seem to understand the concept of teamwork, and consistently turns out to be an incompetent nitwit.

Mister and I embarked on the not so dramatic or demanding task of making a simple chocolate cake.

We assessed our pantry stocks carefully and determined that we had just enough ingredients for one cake.

We had never made this recipe before, but were confident that our combined expertise would result in a job well done.
I arranged all the ingredients we needed and measured them all out. Alex tipped them into the mixing bowl and stirred. I poured the completed batter into the lined cake tin, and Alex licked the spoon.

40 minutes later, we turned out the perfect chocolate cake - well risen, rich in colour, moist appearance, and the smell....divine. Magnifico!

While the cake cooled we found we could bear the sweet aroma no longer, so we retired our chefs hats, bundled up Missy Mopps, and went out for a run on the sport field next door.
Upon our return, we whipped up a batch of decadent chocolate icing and lavished the cake in glistening chocolaty sin - Perfecto!

The kids licked the spoon once more, but this time, they were required to do so in the kitchen, as a bit of a mess was made in the family room with the cake batter spoon.

I left the kids to it, and retreated from the room for about 5 minutes, comforted by the thought that the kids would be safely occupied for the next little while. However, this seemingly harmless assumption proved to be a fundamental error on my part.

Oh why was I unable to foresee the events that were about to unfold? Oh why had I not considered all the looming possibilities for disaster an iced cake, sitting defenceless all by itself could hold?

Upon my return to the room, I heard a cluttering sound coming from where the kids were standing only moments before, but they were both sitting quietly on the couch. A sense of panic began to stir in the pit of my stomach.

I rounded the corner, only to see Cobie, our eight year old Jack Russell, on top of the kitchen counter top, eating our marvellous creation!!!!!

Profanities were uttered at rather alarming decibels, but alas, it was too late. For only a handful of crumbly remnants remained. He had eaten the entire cake.

The doggy door was opened, and Cobie was indelicately booted outside. It was fastened to prevent his entry for a considerable time - he was in disgrace.

All in the household were bitterly disappointed that we would not be tasting the fruits of our labour. Everyone that is, except Cobie; for the time-out, the yelling and screaming, the silent treatment and the dirty looks, nothing, NOTHING... seem to wipe the look of contentment off that bloody dog's face.

A "wuss"...who me?

I was reading Tracey's back to fitness posts over there at Crazetrace. She was saying that things had gotten in her way to prevent her from sinking her teeth whole-heartedly into her fitness regime.

I really want to get fit too.

I have written it before, and I will say it again.... I am NOT fit and am not too good at sticking to a fitness regime. I don't have much spare cash, so buying a gym membership that will inevitably be neglected after about two weeks of committed use, is not a good investment, for me anyway.

Well, it is the new year, and as always, there is that dreaded "resolution" word that gets bandied around throughout the first month.

I never tend to make resolutions - like rules, they are meant to be broken. Instead I have blinkered myself and have set about making some positive changes in my life, that would seem to resemble, very strongly I might add, the dreaded old new years resolution.....but for fear of jinxing myself, they aren't. OK?

I want to get our finances sorted. I want to start a savings plan - DONE. My husband and I committed our first allotment into the not-so-easily accessible savings account. This account has been opened for almost two years now, but until yesterday, had secured and harvested only spider webs, moths and salt damp.

The plan is, that this money be used for the purpose of holidays. We both love to travel, but since the kids have entered the scene, we have gone nowhere the frequent flyer program could not take us...and now that we have depleted that little avenue for escape, we had to take matters into our own hands, and save like every other person has to do - sigh!

The other thing was to get some regular exercise.

I am a bit of a homebody; bit of a social boob; very shy and tend to prefer anonymity. While I could while away the hours reading, writing, thinking and other such stuff, these activities don't do much for ones sense of groundedness.

A marathon running friend of mine was telling me about her running club. I hate running. I am terrible at it. All the runners reading this are likely shaking their heads - it is just one foot in front of the other, right? How hard can it be? Well I find that I can run about ten metres before I begin chanting "I think I am going to die". My lungs burn and my brain feels like a dehydrated walnut rattling around in my head with each thumping jolt of foot upon pavement - "TAXI".

I do like hiking though and walking. These are activities that calm me.

Anyway, my friend was telling me that her running group also had walking groups. One was Nordic Walking. I had never heard of it and figured it was a hiking group and that the Nordic part was merely their club name. I was clueless to the fact that this was a style or walking technique.

Nordic Walking was developed to aid the training needs of alpine skiers during the summer months.

The walking is done with poles to work the upper body.

Today was to be my first day of the group...but it snowed and I was telling Tracey that I was tempted to use my weak Australian constitution as an excuse for not going....but I didn't.

Thanks Tracey for holding me accountable. I went. It was GREAT and I certainly feel a whole lot better. I even got to talking to some of the others in the group, which heightens the experience, for me anyway.

I am thinking, this walking group might even give me confidence to try something a little harder down the track.....a LONNNNNG way down the track, perhaps even the walk to run group.

I can do this!

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Warning: possibly offensive

A neighbour came over recently and announced she was having a party, adding that it would be great if I could come. I don't know this neighbour very well, in fact, the only time she has spoken to me, was to sneer and hiss at our for her to suddenly extend of the hand of friendship was rather unexpected.

"ALL the neighbours are coming", she gloated.

Of course, it was going to be one of THOSE parties.The picture on the invitation showed three women in party hats, wine in hand, streamers falling about them and party blowers - these "parties" are never like that.

Over the years, I have attended my fair share of sales gatherings (I refuse to call them PARTIES). I have been invited to events promoting the sale of books, cosmetics, tupperware, toys, linen, tealight candles, lingerie, crafts, and much much more. Many of these sales gatherings have been put on by very close friends or family, who I have been happy to support - we all have to make a buck somehow now, don't we?

I do have one friend however, who I only ever heard from when she was having a "sales gathering". She tended to ring me at the last minute, usually the night before, to inform me she was having an event, not many people were coming, so could I please come "to make up the numbers". I guess I am probably a bit oversensitive, but I can't help but be offended by that. "What... your real friends couldn't come?"

I must say - I would actually prefer it if I weren't invited to such events. I certainly don't want to sit around for two hours talking about plastic containers that cost the earth....sure, they have a lifetime guarantee (sigh...whatever, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz). I always feel obliged to buy something - even if I don't want anything, and I don't really have the money to fritter away needlessly.

On the rare occasion that I have the strength to NOT buy anything, I wind up feel guilty that I enjoyed the hosts hospitality, nibbled on the chips and dip and generally wasted the sales reps time...I guess that is the effect that these organisations are kind of aiming for really.

I am also constantly amazed when I attend a sales gathering, and I witness other invitees getting so into it. They scan their glossy brochures with glassy eyed enthusiasm, pencils poise, ready for swift circling action when a desired item appears, not unlike a hunter preparing to snare a prized beast. And they discuss the items with such concentrated interest and expertise as if they are about to purchase a valuable rare antique.

"So....the three tiered pineapple piece dispenser...does it really guarantee to keep your pineapple fresh for up to 8 weeks while draining it of unnecessary liquids...I am impressed! I MUST have one of those." Oh please!

Or when the sales person starts the pitch, "just look at the quality ladies.... you won't find quality like this in any store. This egg flipper will turn a perfect fried egg every time or your money back". To which the hypnotised nod in unison, mesmerised by a bit of old plastic while frantically circling the item in the glossy brochure.

At the end of the night, invitees tally the cost of their selected items, have a minor heart attack, review the list and conclude that they simply can't go on living without a single one, especially the pancake flipper that comes with a pair of novelty oven mits, even though it looks suspiciously like the egg flipper, which is ESSENTIAL after all. They then extend a quivering hand, holding a cheque made out for a small fortune, and leave with an impending feeling of being ripped off, while the host salivates over the limited number of uninspiring host gifts and "free" sales target prizes.

I have NEVER held such a sales gathering. To me, there is something unsavory about inviting friends and acquaintances to spend their hard earned cash on items they could possibly find in a store, if they REALLY needed it..if not, SURELY they could call the appropriate sales gathering rep and place an order without having to endure the blessed "party".

Since living in this street, I have been invited to a Tupperware party, which I couldn't attend because had something else on (oh damn); two tealight candle parties, both times I had NO spare cash to fritter away on something I could never imagine ever using. I already have a couple of tealight candle holders, and honestly, two is I didn't go to either of those events.

I have noticed however, that the tealight candle neighbour refuses to acknowledge my existence, so I think my declining to attend was an offence - oops.

So.... in the spirit of being neighbourly and a good sport, I decided to attend the grouchy neighbours bloomin' sales gathering. I have no idea what product is on offer "Spirals Gourmetware - wire home decor" the invitation reads ( me).

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Where the Bloody Hell are we?

Where the bloody hell are you? If you think these words are offensive, you are not alone.

Would you believe this is the slogan chosen by the Australian Tourism Commission to entice international travellers to make the costly and timely journey across the ocean to our fair land? Well it is.

The ad made its debut quite a number of months ago, but at the time, it set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons...if you know what I mean.

The ad was banned in the UK for its "bloody" reference; a phrase that is as commonly used within the Australian take on English, as "umm", "err" and "barbie".

We might not be an overly sophisticated bunch, but we do like a good laugh. So, of course the hoo-ha over this very Aussie ad was spoofed many times, just to highlight how much worse it could have been. I will refrain from providing a link to such spoofs, erring more on the side of good taste, although I have to admit...I was just a little bit tempted.....ok, more than a bit.

Anyway I am completely off track , if you'll pardon the pun, for I was going to talk about navigation, driving and gender pride concerning both.

Women stereotypically get a bad wrap concerning both touring tasks. According to blokes, there is scientific proof that women are bad drivers. Men might even go so far as to claim that good driving requires a gene, which women lack. Either way, the joke that "women are bad drivers", sees men across the generations, jumping into the driver's seat of the family vehicle, practically without question; without comment or even notice - unless of course, alcohol is being served at the other end, then suddenly all confidence is placed into the sturdy sober hands of women.

Under normal circumstances, when alcohol is not in the picture, the idea that women are bad drivers, leaves women to handle the map and guidance duties, which we are also, supposedly, notoriously bad for.

Basically, women can't win whatever task we volunteer ourselves for, or are relegated to do. We are destined for criticism, failure and disappointment.

My Mum ONCE navigated my Dad into a cul-de-sac - do you think she has EVER lived that down?

I don't know about you, but I resent this boys club mentality concerning driving.

I was initially taught to drive by my Dad in his beloved Holden "ute". It was a manual column shift arrangement (groan).

My Dad taunted, sighed in frustration and yelled at every possible opportunity and with evey bunny hopping jolt I nervously made, to the point where I could take his antics no longer; stopped, exited the vehicle and walked away with his tormenting blaring into the back of my skull. After a few moments of this, I responded, using rather terse words, with the suggestion that he might like to stick his ute where the sun don't shine. Soon after that it was decided that I have a professional teach me to drive - much to everyone's relief.

I still can't drive a manual vehicle. I have tried since.... but I became panicky when I didn't change gears as smoothly as I would have liked. I did the time warp, returning to that wounded 16 year old being scolded and berated by my Father. Next came a rather comical display, of me, flying into a shameful, insane rage on the side of some street; repeatedly sinking the boot into the tyre of that poor unsuspecting vehicle. It is not a moment I am proud of....

I am a good driver, albeit in an automatic only. After that I have flatly refused to EVER get behind the wheel of a manual vehicle.

A hiking friend of mine (another manual driver) asked whether she could teach me to drive her car. I declined the offer. To entice me, she attempted the guilt trip, asking what would happen if she should injure herself on one of our hikes, preventing her from driving. I told her that she would be stuffed! Not very compassionate I know, but my nerves are shot as far as the manual vehicles go, and I didn't want to frustrate her nor embarrass myself with a repeated episode of wobbly chucking, as I did the last time.

I do, however, feel I am pretty good at navigating. I know how to read a map, WITHOUT turning the map upside down when we turn a corner (another fabled claim about women navigating), and I can't remember a time when I have lead my husband, or anyone else, down the wrong path. In fact, I am very confident in my navigational skills.

My husband is also a good driver, he is more assertive than me , and so when we drive together I don't mind letting him take the wheel. His navigation skills, on the other hand, are not as good as mine.

On a UK trip from Grimsby in Lincoln shire to Birmingham in the West midlands, he somehow managed to direct us to Norwich. With each suggestion that perhaps we were going the wrong way, he assured me that we weren't. Until we got to a sign that suggested the seaside was approaching and I was forced to stop and check the map for myself.

It took us a good hour to right that little wrong, and I let him drive after that. So with that memory firmly in tact ,I asked my husband - for experimental purposes, which touring duty he felt superior in: driving or navigating? In hindsight, I think he sensed a trap. For he hesitated for a moment and replied in a rather uncharacteristically defiant and gritted-teeth tone, "BOTH!"


Why is it so hard for men to give ANY credit to a woman's driving skill or to admit slight weaknesses in their own, albeit the driving or the navigating? Test it out. Ask your beloved if you can take the wheel for your weekend drive together. How does he react to your request? And if you get that far, how does he behave while you are behind the wheel? Is he relaxed and chatty or sulky, overly critical, super cautious or snitchy and on edge? How is he with the map? Does HE turn it around when you turn a corner? Is every street a cul-de-sac?

I have a theory....blokes take the wheel, because they aren't so good with the map, or....perhaps they don't like it that they are not in control when the woman is behind the wheel. Oooohh, did I say that out loud?

Friday, 12 January 2007

The Birth House

I am almost done reading The Birth House by Canadian author Ami McKay. I have to say - I love it. In fact, by page 9, I was in love with it.

I don't want to give too much away about this book, but I would imagine that this story would appeal to many woman, mother's in particular.

It is a fictional story set prior to, and during World War One. The main character is a woman - Dora Rare, who is trained and practices the traditional healing arts concerning women's health and child birthing practices - the way it used to be done, by women, before science ousted such practices and demonised both those who practised it and those who prefer and trusted it as a health option.

It is kind of mystical, and also explodes many of the "innocent", stuffy-coated Victorian notions of women during those times. I like that many of the female characters in this book are complex - not all, but many.

I also liked reading about the superstitions and practices of "those in the baby business" and also laughed at one supposedly scientific method to assist "hysterical" women.

I will say no more, other than to recommend all who may be interested to read it and don't forget to let me know what you think. Go on...give it a go ;)

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

more snow

Once again it has snowed in the town that "NEVER sees snow". It has snowed all day- large clumpy snow, then small soft globs, almost like hail. This will have been our third significant snow for the season.

The snow really is beautiful as it falls.

I like the large clumpy flakes best, it is as though the Gods are having a pillow fight and the pillow contents are fluttering down to earth.

I have decided that snow is a living thing.

When it is born it is so fresh and light, and brings much joy to so many, especially the young and young at heart. Many can not help but stare at it in wonderment, oohing and arrhing and wondering about its future...will it still be there in the morning? How long will it stick around? Will it cause much destruction? How high will the snow pile grow?

Once it stops, we are left with the reality of it - a messy mass, that won't clean up after itself, quick enough.

Then later on, as it dies, the once crisp white fluffy snow; so pliable, enchanting, delightful in our hands, turns grey, and kind of decays into a slushy, muddy, repulsive slop. It is not fun anymore and we wish it would soak into the ground so our lives can return to normal.

As I look out at the pretty snow falling in such fascinating and erractic swirls, I kind of think it unfortunte that many, myself included, will be cursing natures little gift - the life of snow.

think people

Early last month we had a rather unprecedented snowstorm. The unexpected weather then snapped even colder, freezing everything in its wake.

A large cedar on our property suffered terribly. It was not uprooted, nor did a large limb come crashing down upon our house. Rather the tree split in two; one half ended up in the carpark, while the other half remained standing.

Since then, we have become a little nervous about our tree, especially when the wind starts to blow.

We have endured 6 quite severe windstorms this season - today we experienced yet another, and one more large limb went down for the count.

The limb did not break off immediately, it simply hung on by its bark and swayed violently for about 10 minutes before dropping to the ground. Of course this occured just as the kids began emerging from the nearby schools.

Many of the kids were fascinated by the rather precarious looking branch, and stopped to gawk up at it from a safe distance. Others wandered along in a daze, treading under its unstable path quite unaware of the threat hanging over their head. Then there were other kids who dared creep as close as they could to it, and tug at the caught limb to see if they could bring it down; nature took care of that in the end.

Next I know I have a raving woman on my doorstep informing me of the fallen branch.

"I know", I tell her, "I saw it".

"Well it nearly fell on the kids", she says as if I had somehow set it up as a prank or boobey trap.

"Yes I saw that", I tell her, quite at a loss as to what I could have done - we were in the middle of a bloody wind storm after all, "I have rung the council about removing it" (and they could have cared less).

"Well its dangerous!" she rants, glaring at me for a moment before turning on her heel and leaving. Her kids looked back at me accusingly - the same kids who were pulling the branch only moments before.

If you let your kids tempt fate with suspicious looking tree limbs in the middle of a raging storm, they might wind up getting hurt. Now why is that my fault?

Tuesday, 9 January 2007


My old lounge suite is made of a very poor design.

The back cushions easily fall off and are frequently removed by the kids. Whereas the seat cushions are fixed.

The stupidity of such a design is that everything falls down the back of the lounge, without any way of retrieving it.

Many an item has vanished into that black hole, and whenever the lounge is moved, for whatever reason, there is a jingle and a jangle of all sorts of mystery items.

Yesterday it all came to a head.

My daughter lost one of her beloved littlest pet shop animals down that icky abyss, and the wailing was simply too much to bear.

So I lifted the couch onto its end, sending a tinkling of bits of pieces to the bottom. Then I took to the under fabric with a sharp knife.

I was actually dreading the thought of putting my hand into the gooey glizzards of that lounge to fossick around for the lost toy; there would probably be enough crumbs and lost food items down there to feed a nation of mice (shudder).

Nevertheless I did the nasty deed and rescued the toy. I also found three matchbox cars, a toy motor bike, several puzzle pieces, two odd socks, four crayons, a pen and a brown pencil, a Boots the Monkey figurine, numerous crackers and Cheerios, a dogs worth of fur, crumbs galore and one blue Smartie. The vacuum cleaner did a good job of syphoning up the crusty bits, so now the couch is a little less ...well, funky.

While I was more than a little repulsed by the whole exercise, the kids were delighted to be reunited with the long lost items, and eager to replace the missing puzzle pieces with the corresponding puzzles.

So we ventured upstairs in search of the puzzle boards, which happened to be laying under an elephant's weight of assorted unlabled boxes, sitting idle and unopened since we moved from Australia, almost two years ago.....or more.

We decided to go on a search and discovery mission and find out what was in all the boxes. Much of the stuff my children had not seen before, and so their excitement was well worth the clean up effort after we were done.

I found a box containing the headpiece from my wedding day, wedding shoes, bridesmaid dress material, leftover invitations hymnials and thankyou notes, but also in that box was a newspaper clipping of a letter I wrote fifteen years ago. The letter was in response to some sour grapes and rather prejudiced views by commentators and public alike, who found the 1992 Australian of the Year - Mr Mandawuy Yunupingu - to be an unworthy recipient. I begged to differ.

There was also another newspaper clipping. This one included a photo of my Grandfather, who passed on almost three years ago. He was handing out an award to someone, of behalf of an organisation he was involved in.

In another box I found a variety of long lost jewellery, collected or given to me over the course on my lifetime. I even found a silver Humphry B Bear pendant, which has to be nearly thirty years old.

I found purse given to me by my late Great Grandmother. In it were one of each denomination of Australian coin; every one dated with the year of my birth and wrapped in a note from my Great Grandmother, urging me to keep her hand collected gift. The note was dated 1977.

There was also a bamboo flute, which my Dad made for me from my Grandparent's bamboo ...umm....patch. It too, must be close to thrity years old.

We carted down a pile of board games, which intriged my four year old no end. Most of the games had a recommended age of ten years on the box, but this didn't deter his interest, and next I found I had Monopoly set up and was involved in a lengthy discussion about the game's objectives and rules....that was until Missy Mopps kicked the bankers tray over and scattered the meticulously arranged and colour coordinated real estate cards - then she was all over red rover and I was now having to stem the lead up to world war three.

With Monology packed up, Chinese Checkers followed, then Kwatro and then husband came home. It was 6:30pm and dinner hadn't even been thought of. Where DID the time go?

We had fun sorting through all that stuff. I am glad that I lugged that chest full of memories and moments halfway across the globe; past connects with generation to the next. Let the games BEGIN!

Sunday, 7 January 2007


Do you ever get the feeling that you are on the cusp of something?

Most of the time we fail to analyse this "feeling" too much. But we feel...something, and with great anticipation, the nervous energy surging through our veins... builds.

Have you ever observed a dog who has to sit still while his owner retrieves the leash prior to a walk? The dog seems to know what is to come. He knows that it has to be better than the narrow confines and boring predictability of his daily drudge, but he can not make his owner retrieve the leash any quicker, and he would probably be scolded for voicing his impatience, thus diminishing the sweetness in attaining his wish to be set free...however fleeting the moment. So he sits...kind of...practically quaking with excitement and wanting with the thought of being let out, into what and to do what? Who cares... it is just a different scene, an opportunity, and he has faith in the protection of his master.

I'm feeling a little bit of that may pass without a whimper, it may not.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

My kitchen window

Our house is situated next to a public car park.

Such a location is fortunate or unfortunate, depending upon your perspective.

It is unfortunate, I guess, because it becomes rather noisy in the summer when the softball season is in full swing. Cars are often lined up down the street catching the overflow of the car park and there is additional traffic to contend with.

Some are annoyed by the rhythmic lulling of tennis ball upon court and racket and the till-10pm cussing of players after a bounty of missed shots.

There are more annoying occurrences to suffer, such as the clutter of drunken teens fooling around between the buildings, talking tripe into the decibels and dashing their beer bottles against the pavement once they are done.

Or perhaps the more sinister noise of junkies with their thump thump music turned up too loud, circling the neighbourhood in their clapped out bombs while they wait for their dealers to drop off an "order".

For me though, it is all fodder. Many a strange thing do we see when casually gazing out the kitchen window and into the car park next door. For example.....

-Portable dunnies ablaze (don't ask)
-Dancing drunks
-Kids on a massive Easter egg hunt
-A strange well dressed woman who stops in to use the public toilet at least twice a day 7 days a week then takes a swig of juice and has a piece of chewy without fail before driving away (weird)
-Shoes and sweaters mysteriously found high up in our tree
-School sports day
-The pre-school teacher skidding into the car park and scurrying in doing the pile of paper and coffee balancing act not two minutes before the kids arrive each morning
-Dog fights
-Grown men racing remote controlled cars
-Old men falling off bikes and hobbling home (dear me!!)
-A maniac driver plowing into the fence across the road...then speeding away
-And other things that are too intriguing and wonderful to describe in detail.

If only I were an artist... I could paint you a picture of the two people I saw crossing paths in the midnight rain while walking their dogs.

They were talking, seemingly oblivious that they were soaking to the skin. The scene was lit only by the glow of a single orange street light, reflected numerous times by surrounding puddles.

Slower and slower they moved together until they were in each others embrace, and although they arrived at that spot from different directions, they left the scene together.

I witnessed this while rocking a cranky baby to sleep one night. I was looking down from above. It was strange.... almost like a scene from a movie. I guess you had to be there.

Friday, 5 January 2007

The seemingly unforeseeable

We trundled off to playgroup today - just for something different, it was freezing out after all. When we arrived Mister and Missy Mopps went straight for the water table as they do every time.

The water table is a tub of water on legs with a scraping of the wet stuff at the bottom; just enough to gather a little into a small jug if dragged along the tub floor. The water is then poured into a container with a hole in the bottom, which makes a wheel spin around.....but this blog isn't really about the water table, it is about paint.

We were at the water table when one of the coordinators wandered over to inform us of a 'foot painting' opportunity over in the far corner of the playgroup hall. "Okay....thanks," I hesitantly replied.

A little later, a second coordinator came over. She too inform us of the foot painting. I glanced over at the foot painting area; it was as I had feared it to be - a long piece of butchers paper, surrounded by some trays of paint (if you can call three pieces of tin foil with paint slopped in the middle, 'paint trays'). At the end of the butchers paper was a bowl of water of questionable stability, presumably placed there to wash one's feet afterward.

"Do you want to do a foot painting?", I asked Mister in a bored tone, so as not to excite his imagination too much.

"No!", came the reply, much to my relief. I looked at the coordinator and shrugged, "he doesn't want to do it. Sorry". She wasn't heartbroken, believe me.

Later into the session, I was playing cars with Mister and Missy Mopps. Many of the other women chatted together, content that their children had settled enough to go play with whatever took their fancy. However..... this satisfying mid-session calm was about to be brought to an abrupt halt!

A woman who brought her neighbour's child to the group, gasped upon noticing that the fourteen month old was covered in bright orange and blue paint - all eyes were momentarily on the woman and child as she blurted "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"

Bracing ourselves for what we might see next, the room slowly turned and we lifted our eyes toward the foot painting area (hee hee!).

Evidence demonstrated that the little girl had indeed traipsed through the paints and had contributed her own set of prints to the masterpiece. But she did not stop there - no sirree!

She had sat in the paint, and stomped around the perimetre of the butchers paper, all over the wooden floor.

She had also toppled the precarious looking bowl of water. The grayish river fully soaking one end of the painting and spilling under the locked cupboard door running alongside it.

To top it off, she then managed to make she squelchy way around the room with her paint sodden feet, to where she now stood, in front of a throng of mouth gaping caregivers.

The foot painting was a write off. It was seen scrunched and discarded in the corner of the room after the rest of us grabbed towels to mop up the water or scrub paint off the floor, while the horrified caregiver scrubbed the little girl - who no doubt, had a lovely time!!!!

It was a priceless moment really, but why no one could have foreseen such an incident occurring between a room full of 0-5 year olds and a largely unsupervised paint project, is beyond me.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

You Rock!!!

Mister is mad about rocks. He has a large box of them in his wardrobe; rocks he had retrieved from all over the neighborhood.

The sight of Mister's rock collection provokes recollections of that Lucille Ball movie The Long, Long Trailer, which sees a newly-wed Lucy and Ricky on an absolutely riotous and disaster stricken caravanning honeymoon, across the USA.

In the movie, Lucy takes a rock from each resting stop, as a souvenir of their journey. By the end of their honeymoon the couple are looking at divorce, and the caravan, overloaded with rocks, or should I say boulders, nearly tips the couple over the edge - literally.

Well I really don't mind Mister having a rock collection; my brother had a rock collection as a boy, and I had a seashell collection, still do.... somewhere. The problem with Mister's rock collection was well....all the rocks were the same - road base gravel, and he had filled a whole wooden box with them.

He would get them out and look at them often, and ask me which of the similar looking blue chunks "was my favourite"?

Well.....errrr...."that's a hard one, mate", was my tactful reply.

I did try suggesting (gently of course), that it wasn't the greatest collection of rocks. Sure they were different sizes and shapes, but they were all essentially the same. Mister couldn't see my point, or rather, I couldn't see his. God, what a big meanie I am!!!

Yesterday we went on a walk around the block with the dogs. Mister usually rides his bike, but mid-way, got off his bike to collect rocks - more boring blue road base. Noooooooo! (sob).

The only way I could avoid more road base in the house was to suggest we make a trip to the beach.

We did, and with container in hand, we gathered rocks of all different shapes and sizes. Mister collected purple ones, green ones, orange and black; spotted, striped and oddly patterned. Mister was so over-joyed with his new treasure that he allowed the road base to be let loose beside the road where it belonged, without so much as a prayer, and excitedly thrust the glistening prizes into his father's face moments after he had returned home from work.

This morning he got out all his rocks and named them. Mister's favourtie is a small bright red rock called "volcano". My favourite is the purple one with white speckles. We named it "the milkyway".

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

The Worst Present EVER

I am not normally one for complaining about gifts. I tend to side with the notion that it is the thought that counts, regardless of whether little thought appears to have gone into a particular should always be thankful and gracious.

But when I read about The Worst Present EVER contest on Mama Rant's blog, I was surprised at how quickly some lovely items sprang to mind.

My Mother-in-law appears to have a gift at finding each and every person's vulnerable spot and then going for the jugular over it. Take one's weight for example... I am not the slimmest person in the world, in fact I might go so far as to suggest I might not even be in shape....AT ALL (see where I am going with this). Needless to say, I don't need to be reminded of this observation, neither in subtle nor unsubtle ways, but my mother-in-law seems to think it well within her rights to point out to me ,and others, when she thinks we might be a tad err...non-skinny.

Having said this, the worst present ever was not presented to me - well not directly anyway. It was a birthday present my husband received from his mother, when he was in his mid-twenties. Now many of her gifts prompt the imaginary question mark to hang over the head like in the comic books, and this was no exception.

MIL hands her son his birthday present and all stand around gawking while he unwraps the gift.
MIL is positively jumping with excitement as the card is read and the wrapping torn away.
And there, for all to see, were two bottles - hair restoring shampoo and hair restoring conditioner.

Onlookers went silent and quickly diverted their eyes. My mystified husband asks her why she bought him hair restorer. "I thought you looked like you were starting to lose your hair", she says before turning it over to me. "Don't you think he is starting to lose his hair?, she asks. "NO!" I say defensively.

My husband is clearly offended, but instead of dropping the subject, MIL begins to point out the imaginary areas on her son's head where she feels hair is a little lacking.

And so, what started as a simple birthday gift between mother and son, has since turned into fear, obsession and paranoia regarding husband's imaginary hair loss.

Gee thanks Mum!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Highway to hell

I lived on a farm in a remote little rural town, called Geranium, which at the time, boasted a district population of 80 people.

Our farm consisted of cereal crops, sheep and .....pigs.

We went to the local Area School, which catered for kids from the general region, from grades K-10.

My Mum would drive my brother and I to school in the mornings, but we would take the bus home. We were the first stop on our bus route.

I must say, I never really enjoyed the school bus ride. I was a painfully shy child, and my brother and I were the youngest kids on our bus, which would have otherwise been filled with rowdy intimidating high schoolers.

For the entire 5 years I rode that bus, I barely said a word.

Occasionally, I would be forced to speak; like when I would ask Mrs Clothier- the bus driver, to please drop my brother and I off at Grandma's house. Grandma's house was the next property over, perhaps a mile or so down the road from our place. Nevertheless, practically every time I was expected at Grandma's, Mrs Clothier would forget my request, and drive right on by.

On such occasions, pangs on anxiety would shoot through my chest, my mouth would suddenly dry up and I would pray that Mrs Clothier would suddenly remember my request.

Usually she didn't. She was probably on autopilot, trying to tune out the boisterous shenanigans going on in the back of the bus.

Somewhere between my Grandmas house and the next town I would drag myself to the front of the bus to remind Mrs Clothier, with the eyes of ridicule piercing my back and snickering from the other kids clanging in my ears . Never did any of the other kids speak out for us; perhaps they were having bets about how long it would take for me to fess up.

Our place resided alongside a highway. The bus would normally drop us at the front gate of a large circular track that wound its way to our home.

In the summer there was always a lingering fear that a brown snake was lurking in the scrub and bushes beside the gate; sometimes this was the case. Mostly, any rustling in the dry grass was put out of mind...out of sight out of mind.

If this weren't enough, my brother and I had to suffer the predicable taunting and humiliation that went along with being pig farm kids.

Whenever, the bus doors flung open for us to exit, a relative chorus of booing and hissing would spring forth from the older kids on the bus, which sounded something like this "PPPPPOOOOOOOO, YOU STINK!"

This chorus of discontent was generally followed by roaring laughter and a gaggle of teenagers falling over themselves in self-congratulation about how funny they were.

I never looked back; never said a word....just descended the bus steps and kept on walking, day after day, after torturous day.

No one ever mentioned it at school or taunted us in the school yard, but knowing that 9/10 bus rides would ultimately result in the same scenario, and bracing myself for that kind of humiliation, every single day from the age of 5...well, it just lead me to HATE THE GODDAMN BUS!

Monday, 1 January 2007

the drawing potential of snow

I love snow in Vancouver. We don't get a whole lot in the city. Generally, one needs to venture into the mountains to have a decent experience. There have been some notable exceptions though....

One needn't travel two hours to Whistler to enjoy a spot of skiing, although Whistler is regarded as THE place to go.
Vancouverites can enjoy a spot of winter sport and fun in one of three mountians, all within 30 minutes of the city: Mount Seymour; Grouse Mountain, which requires one to journey to the summit via gondola (excellent, but quite pricey); and Cypress mountain.
What I enjoy about snow in Vancouver, is its apparent ability to recapture ones youth and draw out the inner child, even when no snow was ever present in our pasts. I find that quite an incredible phenomenon.
Yesterday was a nice clear day; the best weather day forecast for the entire long weekend. Consequently, we decided to bundle up the kids and head for Mount Seymour.
On the way we stopped into Canadian Tire to scoop up a couple of the few remaining "toboggans" of the season. Yep, winter has just begun, but we have learnt that winter accessories really need to be purchased in early November. Nevertheless, the toboggan, though basic, worked as well as anything else, so who cares!
No one in our family has ever tobogganed before - remember we are Aussies and come from Adelaide, a place where the locals shudder and shiver if the thermostat hovers in the low teens CELSIUS.
We began our day by experimenting on a piddly patch of snow with an inclination of about 10 degrees. It helped us all gain confidence. It was fun. Much laughter was interwoven with screams of exhileration and glee. And as I looked around at other participants on the mountain yesterday, I noticed a majority of happy, shining, smiling faces and hundreds of families enjoying time together.
This vision of adults and children laughing and playing, made me realise the gift that snow is.
Many family experts and discussion boards speak of the importance of quality family time and play, and snow appears to offer the perfect opportunity to get out there, spend time together and let loose.
I saw a mother and her 13 year old son tandem tobogganing. They were travelling rapidly down the more thrilling slope, we eventually graduated ourselves to. At the bottom, they crashed hard into a snow wall barrier and fell into a heap of tangled arms and legs. After a brief moment, they gathered themselves together, looked into each others eyes with a surprised expression and then collapsed into a roared of laughter. "That was the BEST ride of the day, WOOOO!" said the mother. Her son agreed, and they began their ascent toward the top for another slide down...another joyful experience.
We also had a lot of fun. Our 4-year old, is normally quite a timid fellow, but by the end, he was very willing to slide down by himself, running back to us each time, enthusing,"did you see me, did you see that!" Of course we did.
I took our 2-year old down. Once, my hat fell over my eyes obstructing my vision. I felt us travel up the curved snow wall barrier at the end. I was holding her....we stopped motionless.....then we tipped and rolled. I landed on my side, and lifted my hat up so I could see. Our 2-year old was face down in the snow. When I picked her up, she appeared to be covered in little frozen diamonds. Her face was red from the cold, but her eyes twinkled and she wore an expression of sheer delight, which prompted a big hug from me. "Was that fun? I asked, knowing the answer. Big nods of the head followed before she ran off to repeat the experience.
I know you don't need snow to enjoy time with family, but there is something magical about the snow, and it could be my lack of experience talking, because we are rarely inconvenienced by it, unlike other communities.
Even still, whatever fate shall bring me, and however long my life, I reckon these snowy family experiences will shine out in memory like lanterns on a bleak night.