Sunday, February 07, 2016

A Yarn from 1982 - or why my mother didn't have a breakdown then, I will never know.

Do you know, children, that once upon a time, we didn’t have devices?

Not just no devices, but no computers, no mobile phones, our watches only told the time and the top-line portable entertainment unit and was about a tonne of buttons, dials and switches (you could read about the new LCD technology being used overseas).

Ahh.  Good times!

So anyway, back in such olden days - 1982 - there was this breaking-in school at a neighbour’s place.
The neighbour's place was about 20k away, or 40 if you went around the main road.
There were about 14 (about heh – exactly 14) kids aged 8 to 16, and a half-dozen or so parents.

It was hot and there was a break between the morning session and the afternoon session and the adults were all doing something to do with the heady stuff of competitive horse sport in Australia politics.
It was really hot and we had a swimming pool at home.
It was really hot and we had a swimming pool at home and I HAVE NO IDEA IN THE WORLD HOW but somehow some of the kids asked the adults if we could go down for a swim and somehow the outcome was what we believed was the adults saying “yes”.

I see a lot of parents of this era shuddering at the concept.

14 children under the age of 16 being allowed to pile into one land-rover, drive on bushie-surveyed dirt roads through cattle paddocks to a backyard swimming pool 20 km away with no adult supervision what-so-ever…
Mind you, we were 14 children who were also enrolled in a week-long breaking-in school working with unbroken horses (or ponies in my case) and riding barely-broken steeds(and in my case being bucked off repeatedly by the b-i-t-c-h) (but my pride was recovered greatly by the fact that she also threw the teacher).
So either we were super responsible, super grown up country kids;
Or our parents were eargerly thrusting us into the path of destruction and doom.

Either way, 14 of us had sprung a few hours off to cool in the pool!

Meanwhile, at the OTHER end of that road...

Let me just say that my mother is the most beautiful woman in the world.
She is kind and she is smart and tolerant and wise – and she is purr-ingly contented when she has her own space and no sudden surprises.
Of course, she set herself up when she married my father - who doesn’t actually grasp the concept of any form of inaction and who cannot see that his constant, effervescent actions are rife with surprises…
Unfortunately for her, the majority of her children have occasional tendencies to take after their father in that regard.

So anyway, Mum's gorgeous day of absolutely no other person in the world around for a whole day in the middle of nowhere
14 children under the age of 16 falling out of one land-rover - to use the pool.

So instead of the nice apple and book after lunch before tackling the tasks that it was good to have children out of her hair for across the hours of the afternoon -
She had over a dozen children in and out of her space, splashing in the pool and wrecking her serenity.

No text warning.
No Instagram of 14 children in a land-rover to alert her.
No tweet, No hashtag #breakinbreakout for her to freak out.
Mind you, luckily there was also no google-able guide that would have advised her to go off her trolley and no message-board to have warned us that this was likely or indeed possible.
There was no facebook meme regarding the hard done by status of the unwary mother and no several hundred internet randoms turning up to join us.

There was also no Higgins Storm Chasing to let us know a Super Cell was set to unleash fury.
There was no Emergency Text Service to alert us of flash-flooding.

There was also no conversation with our adults far away regarding the effect this chain of events would have on our plans.
I mean, they KNEW we wouldn’t be stupid enough to go out driving in that weather.
The same way we KNEW they would fix our horses up for us.

So again my mother’s afternoon got shifted sideways, as out of the lightning and rain squalls huddled 14 children under the age of 16.
Suddenly quite hungry - and the few treats she had baked in the morning to set us up for a week’s upcoming mustering got devoured.
Wet and unwilling to put back on the dirty yard-clothes they had worn in the morning and borrowing all of our clothes.
Her work-space was taken over by card games.
The pool table got cleared.
The pool table got cleared!  You have NO IDEA what that simple phrase actually means to the psyche of our family – which was an integral flat surface in the topography that was quite a complicated organisational system.

And then the storm was over as quickly as it began.
1982.  We still had party-line phones that required a drive-along after every storm to see where it had snagged or broken this time, so no-one could ring and advise its brevity.

Luckily it had cleared enough for the UHF radio to work, and it was relayed to us that a convoy of parents were on their way down to collect their offspring, and so 14 children under the age of 16 had the sopping sunshine in soak the delights of a rare afternoon off for country kids - in numbers they rarely dreamed of.
Feeding the horses and dogs that afternoon was a group activity, and one filled with hilarity and adventure.
Tractors were climbed.
Nearby paddocks explored – on foot, as motorbikes and quads were things other people may have had.
Eileen, Safety Dance, Antmusic, Who Can it Be Now, Jessie's Girl, Jesse and Whip It were sung out loud and with abandon.

By the time that the convoy arrived, dark was falling –a few crossing were a bit rough so they had to go the long way around and so the other parents joined and no doubt the camaraderie of the track had affected a few of the designated passengers – and my father jovially offered drinks and declared it was an excellent night for a barbeque – and why didn’t everyone join us!

So lets look again at the litany of "surprises" for my mother:
  • 14 children under the age of 16 arriving;
  • Swimsuiting somehow the hordes and surreptitiously supervising such mayhem;
  • No apple and book;
  • 28 muddy paws across her swept floors;
  • No time or space to mop as planned;
  • Her whole morning's baking for the week ahead decimated;
  • A large portion of her childrens' wardrobes being worn;
  • A large portion of her childrens' wardrobes being worn in the mud, in the sheds, with the dogs and the horses, on tractors and haystacks whilst Countdown was recited;
  • An additional dozen adults arrived, some half-cut;
  • Her husband offering hospitality; - and 
  • Her hopes of a quiet dinner of L.O.T. (leftover tea) thrown out the window.

Luckily, my mother was a very modern woman, and she had already purchased the very latest in kitchen gadgets and so the wonders of microwave technology meant she could thaw several kilograms of various barbecue-able bits from the deep freeze - in the time it took a half-dozen adults to whip up salads out of whatever vegetable matter and the leftovers could supply. (Unfortunately un-pinterested)

Luckily for my mother, she had recently upgraded to a machine that only required her to save water by switching hoses at five specific times  during the cycle (a major improvement on the twin-tub or indeed mangle that had preceded) and when it wasn't raining it was excellent drying weather.

And no doubt luckily for my mother, she had budgeted a weekly sanity phone call with her mum on Sundays, where she could be soothed by tales of the good old days where Grandpa was transferred every six months by the bank and Grandma had to pack up children, sell houses and find sub-standard accommodation in far-flung towns of Queensland during a housing shortage and thank her lucky stars that she would never be required to move from this serenity...

Thank god for the technology, hey?

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Different Kinds of Fairy Tales and Philosophy

Against all good advice – or, apparently, judgement – I have a history with – well, with texture and drama at certain points – and I won't go into that too much in depth except to say I am unable to honestly tick the box foretold in the fairy-tales, the childhood sweetheart.

I know, brazen, wanton hussy that I am, admitting that OUT LOUD, IN PUBLIC.

But to be frank, once you are past the juncture where you can feasibly attain such an object in your life, the requirement to DREAM about it as an ideal is actually futile…

In fact, to continue to search for the possibility is viewed by polite society to be downright immoral and illegal!

And yet – and yet we keep on pushing the notion, the Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet – a reality that, frankly, very few of us end up cashing our chips in on.

Not that I have anything against those of you who found contentment and delight in the first swain to have troubled your doorstep when said doorstep was still shared with your parents.

However, there are many other possible pathways to take in this silly little world we inhabit for however brief a moment in time, and to disallow other possible pathways as plausible in the dreamscape of childhood is narrow, for there is joy to be found in these other avenues also…

The moment of falling in love – deeply, irrevocably in love – with a background of other spectacular moments of falling into deep, irrevocable love in the past isn’t necessarily a lesser thing to that moment of falling in love for the very first time. 

It is a DIFFERENT thing, for sure.

But you see, one is impossible with the other - but not the other way around...

That moment of feeling your heart break in new ways over days or weeks or months of mourning for what was not possible in such a relationship.

That moment of realising that, although your heart breaks in new ways, it is healing and embracing what life has to offer.

That moment of understanding that you can be alone in this world and be okay.

That moment of realising you actually are enjoying complete self-reliance in whatever sphere of your life.

That moment of discovering answered needs for a myriad of things in life from a myriad of people in life that proves being part of a community can be buoyant and uplifting.

(Perhaps not that moment of fear of unwanted attention and ill-conceived borders, but hey, they’re not a given.)

Another – and another – and another moment of falling in love…

Although – although as a married woman now, the most staid (and indeed stayed) I have ever been in my life – there are moments in such a life where you do discover other, new moments of falling in love in such a scenario that I would never have imagined in other phases.

The “oh I never noticed” moments, the "I never noticed that" moments, the “oh that is why” moments, the “ohhhh, THAT is why” moments, the “oh? That’s why?” moments and the “I dunno why” moments.

And I would imagine in the amount of growing and changing that takes place between then and now, there would also be renewed falling in loves for such people who number the childhood sweetheart component of the audience.

You would certainly hope so, at least, because they sure as dodo eggs are a declining market - there is a pretty finite market to begin with, and an attrition rate.  Anything other would be detrimental to their whole survival – we need them around to study!!

Oh - and the fairy tale game would well and truly be up!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Don't let the men in the white coats frighten you... a tale without pictures

Apparently, there are people in this world who naturally remember their dental routine and have a good and noble relationship with their dentists.

Then there are those in this world who express public disdain for all dental convention yet maintain a pristine dental landscape with seemingly nary a care.

And then there are people like me.

I was only thinking, tonight (while on step eleventy-hundred and five of my mainly theoretical dental movements in D major).

I do that – think while going through the motions.

It often distracts me from the task at hand, but I have found it can be quite useful.

Anyhow,  I was only thinking, tonight that while I am on occasion accused of being an over-thinker,
the majority of my over-thinking is concerned with worrying that I only think that I am over-thinking,
and the rest of humanity is having a bit of a guffaw at my expense,
and perhaps it is an extremely obvious amateur performance of life-skills that I cumbersomely wield
and the reason that they don’t appear to be thinking is that,
to them,
no thought process is actually required?

You think that you’re confused?

Anyway, one of the OTHER things I was wondering was how it was determined that it was to be thirty minutes before putting anything in your mouth after a dentist visit.

I have an enquiring mind that takes a scientific bent at times, so this immediately took me to the whole process of making that decision.

Do they heighten the rats heart rate;
give it the adrenaline rush equivalent to that of overcoming dental phobia (and the maths involved in that dosage must be boggling);
make whirring and grinding noises and perfume the air with occasional whiffs of ground enamel;
give a few shots of the good stuff through the roof of their little mouths after making their nerves jangle dangerously close to “holey frack fat cat, do we want to take this outside”
and THEN put the smells of good caffeine or sunflower seeds and illicit cornflakes around the poor little rats to entice them and document the effects at various intervals to determine the moment when it becomes safe to shove anything into your gob after torture?

I can see that there are those of you who are thinking “she’s talking about LAB rats.  We shouldn’t joke about LAB rats.  It’s NOT FUNNY.”

You may be right.

But again, I have an enquiring mind that takes a scientific bent at times, so this immediately took me to the whole process of making that decision.

I mean, how do you really know?

Have you read a report where someone has had my work read out to the poor little rats to entice them to react and documented the effects at various intervals to determine the moment when it became safe or was it indeed torture?

And then did anyone think to document whether this was worse than going to the dentist in the first place?

I have an enquiring mind.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Well will you look at that - an obligatory end of year overview, tidings and reso - reso - R - E - S - O - lutions...

2015 was a bizarre year for us.  A lot of life doesn't get blogged about because it is the minutae of getting by.  A lot of life doesn't get blogged about because it is personal.  A lot of life doesn't get blogged because it is boring...

 We started the year on the other side of the world and it was strange -

- then we came home January and it was stranger...

February we embarked upon strange new routines... (unblogged was a rather tough go-round in circles of medical hell for another)

March saw us all climb a few mountains (and probably rolled down a few slopes)...


April was another interesting month (and in unbloggable news, V got kneecapped by an expert!)

May and June will forever remain mysterious, as they were completely uninspiring.  They were there.  We got through.

July and the long run downhill at the end of the year began.  I even blogged it.



October and I got along a little better.  Of course, that is all relative...

November started to tune up the "busy" in our lives...

And December - well, it was good all told, but the fact that it was still officially in 2015 was its main drawback.

But - I just saw the fireworks for 2016 - and 2016 is going to be a better year.

None of that pithy little "I don't do resolutions" BS - its reload and get out there territory here!

To achieve this, I am definitely toning up a few things (including muscles).

Attitudes are going to change.  Life is going to be better.   Eat better, sleep better, be more conscious and less anxious.

Try not to sweat the small stuff but maybe break a sweat working on the larger me.

Value time better - and make it matter.

Value friends and family better.

Value me.

Be more present.  Step up (which is different to "volunteer for everything").

Think more.    Thank more.

How is 2016 going to be different for you?

Monday, December 07, 2015

I-I-yi-yi-yi - or "The Scrabble Game that Had to be Blogged"

I am currently in a paradise that is away from Paradise, sharing a house with a dozen old friends of an old friend.

In other words, I am on a five day, four night cruise away from responsibility and care – by the beach.

So - to set the picture - a lot of food, a lot of laughter, a lot of libation, walks along the beach, fishing, being tempted by the ocean - and a few games.

 And - well - there was this scrabble challenge, see. 

A lady called J~~ – J1 and a lady called J## - J2 – and I – well, I generally refer to myself in the first person – sat down to play.

And in this scrabble challenge, perhaps had life been kinder in its tilt of the tile bag towards me, this post would not have been writ.


I started well.  J1 drew a B.  A B is pretty good.  

I drew an A.  An A is even better.  

J2 drew an N.  An N is not.


Now, I must admit that I was pretty cocky at that point in the game.   I could consider it IN. THE. BAG.

I began my combat with a modest 16.  Making 16 points out of a 7 point hand is pretty impressive for an opening parry.

And then both Js responded with the EXACT SAME scores. 


Do you know that slow, comfortable lethargy of friendly competitiveness?  Yes, well, I thought THAT is what fell upon the game.


My next thrust was a triple-word score (I almost typed “tripe-word) 24 – to be rebuffed with two mid-thirties jabs.


Now, I would hate to say that I am any colour of sore-loser, but when I reviewed my options at the next juncture, I knew that it was all over, red rover, for this little black duck….

Yes folks, that is a J, an E, FOUR (count them) Is and an O.  For Oh my goodness, I have nothing...

 I had started to corner the market on the second-most useless vowel in the modern day alphabet – neatly accentuated with the letter J.

I will tell you one thing about a J (the letter, not the two ladies I was playing).

It does not occur naturally without a U.  

Or An A.  Or on its own.  Or in anything.  Or at the end of anything.

The sudden realisation that the limitations of my lot would lead to my scrabble purgatory. 


Do you know that slow, comfortable lethargy of friendly competitiveness? 

Yes, well, THAT was gone.  There was a momentary panic, followed by an attack of the giggles.


I did try.  

I contemplated inventing a totally new language to incorporate the possibilities of such a range. 

The Js were forgiving enough in their refusal of such blatant abuses of the rules as they could see from my demeanour that it was useless to be stern.


In the end, I managed to exchange one I for a paltry 4 – and even that 4 was a better placement suggestion by J1 than the 2 I had found…


I then got to observe the most gorgeous battle between the Js, with my role being to make about zero per cent influence on the game outcomes.

There were spelling and meaning challenges.  There were two- and three- way word solutions, there was even a 7 tile-word on a triple-word score.   The 50 point was regarded a bonus and not a word-score.  

This mattered much less to me – whose words occasionally got a little bit more than 5 points – than it did these two goddesses of scrabble.


In the last sweep of the bag, I managed to find something to save me from a double-digit demise.

I bet it was the biggest effect the rupee has had on the outcome of an Australian game

(although cricket die-hards would possible argue that).