Saturday, 8 October 2011

Returning to my home-town - wildflowers and memories

Have you been back to visit your home-town lately?

I am back in Eaglehawk, to visit my Mum.

It's been beautiful weather and the scent of eucalyptus and wildflowers has been colouring the air. We have had a peaceful evening. Mum's in bed early now, resting her tired body as it recovers from the hip-replacement. She's doing well, getting stronger every day.  She ate a good serving of the chicken curry I prepared for dinner. Now I have a little time to relax and write.
Eaglehawk.

I like coming back here. It's the town where I grew up, just out of Bendigo, settled in next to the whip-stick forest, with its town hall standing proudly in the centre. I can be gone from here for months or years, but always feel at home in a special way when I return.

This morning I went down the street to pick up some groceries from the local IGA supermarket, and I couldn't resist walking down to have a quick look at the Town Hall and the gardens. We had many special times there. School concerts, band concerts, my sister's deb ball and my own deb ball. I remember walking down to the hall from home in my deb dress, with my partner Tony who was decked out in a suit for the first time in his life. Getting cross as I stepped onto the dusty road and held my white dress up so it didn't end up brown. Such glamour! Hardly.

Lots of processions saw me following the route from the top of the hill to the bottom, where the town hall sits. First I did this in the decorated bikes event as part of the Dahlia and Arts Festival, as each year I would be dressed in an array of ever-more embarrassing costumes. After that I joined the Eaglehawk Citizens Brass band - marching in a starchy blue uniform, keeping in step and playing the trombone in procession after procession.

On hot summer evenings we would wander down to the hall, sitting on the big cannons that adorn the court-yard, next to the war memorial, riding them like horses as the snow-gums swayed gently above us, our stately protectors.

***

Mum's new house sits by a strip of bush-land, a great place to walk in the afternoon. There are flowers blooming right through it - brilliantly coloured gazanias, spreading themselves out into a delightful patch-work quilt. They're not an Australian native flower, but they certainly seem to thrive in the wild. Ever-lasting flowers (statice) line the wandering paths, their papery yellow blossoms leading the walker through the bush, and i pass a little creek where frogs are making their cute little gurgly sounds.

We'll head back tomorrow, down the freeway, to my little house, the beach, my dogs. But I'm sure it won't be too long before I'm back, to say hello to my Mum, and to Eaglehawk, again.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sister


Sister



n

sister [ˈsistə]


1

the title given to a female child to describe her relationship to the other children of her parents She's my sister; my father's sister.


2

a type of senior nurse She's a sister on Ward 5.


3

a female member of a religious group.


4

a female fellow member of any group We must fight for equal opportunities, sisters!


adj


closely similar in design, function etc sister ships.

Hmmmm. Sisters.

I miss my sister. Sometimes I feel like she died, even though she's still alive.

I feel like I used to have a sister, but she disappeared.

I used to blame myself. What did I do wrong? Why wasn't I prettier, smarter, richer, more sociable, less shy, better with money? Why didn't I make choices that she would have been proud of?

When I was little she was my hero. If I fell over in the play-ground, I would call her name and someone would bring her to me, to pick me up, to nurture me. Then I would feel better, I'd be okay.

When I was a teenager, she came and brought me home from the park, where I was lying in a drunken mess, and made sure I was safe.

When I was at uni, I flew to America to see her, because I missed her so much, when she had been travelling around the world on the Young Endeavour, the tall ship. As an adult, she told me that I'd 'ruined her life' by coming to America to see her.

I guess she had to detach herself from my co-dependency.

We used to wait for the Easter bunny, laughing under the blankets together.

We used to wait for Santa, giggling and giggling, jumping up in the morning way too early.

We used to lie on the floor laughing, tears flowing down our faces.

She came to the birth of my son. I wanted her to be my sister during the pregnancy. That didn't happen. She sat with my husband and they refused to let me name my own son.

I still love her.

I am here if she decides to be my sister again.

And I've realised now that there's nothing wrong with me, that no matter who I was things would probably still be the same.

Some famous sister quotes:


When I was a child I thought I saw an angel. It had wings and kinda looked like my sister. I opened the door so some light could come into the room, and it sort of faded away. My mother said it was probably my Guardian Angel.
Denzel Washington

If you don't understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.
Linda Sunshine


There is a touching scene in the movie, "A League of Their Own," where the two sisters are saying goodbye. The younger sister says:

"Do you ever hear Dad introduce us to people? This is our daughter Dottie, and this is our other daughter, Dottie's sister."

Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.
Margaret Mead

I wonder if we'll grow up one day? That would be awesome.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

To Mum.

Mum, you're about to go in for a big operation, a hip replacement.
I called you before, and you sounded so calm. You have a strong spirit, and you are an amazing woman.

Today I was thinking about a little girl called Rose. You know who she is, you know very well. Rose's mum was a heroin addict, and little Rose was born an addict as well. I watched as you had Rose come to your house, where she would play with the basket of toys you put together just for her. She loved all the activities you did with her, loved your attention, soaked in your smiles.
When you talked about Rose, I could tell that you loved her.

I wonder if that was part of my inspiration to become a social worker, a subconscious push to offer people love, guidance and support. I saw you treat people kindly, many times over.

You watched patiently (at least on the outside!) as I tried to work out who I was. You didn't push me, you didn't nag me, you didn't hassle me. You just let me grow.

I know you haven't had an easy life. It was hard for you to leave Dad, but you knew you had to do it to give us all a chance to have a decent life. Now that I've experienced divorce myself, I am starting to understand more fully how hard that was . Having to watch us leave each fortnight, and not knowing what we were going to would have been dreadful. But you also never stopped us having a relationship with our father, and I thank you for that, because although he and I are not close, I still treasure the time I spent with him on access visits.

You weren't really one for getting sick, Mum, which must make the pain you've had from your back and hip all the harder to handle. Sometimes I felt sad when I was growing up, because you would send me to Grandma's when I was sick, and I just wanted you to look after me. Grandma was a good nurse, but it wasn't the same as having my own mum there.

But I forgive you for that, I understand that you were working hard to build a career for yourself, you were determined to provide for your daughters and to not have to beg anyone for money. You were great at what you did, that was for sure, I know your students loved you very much.

I always had a clean, freshly made bed, clean washed clothes, plenty to eat, clothes to wear, and the chance to do things I wanted to do. You always helped out when I needed money, helped us through the tough early times children and babies and unemployment, the later times when I just didn't have my act together. You were always there when I needed you, just a phone call away.

Mum, you are sweet, creative and loving, highly intelligent, a great writer, an avid reader.

My kids tease me now for having 'phases'... my Harry Potter phase, my religious phase, my spiritual, relaxation no-T.V. phase - maybe I got that from you ... cake decorating, golf, bike-riding, gardening, dinner-parties, canoeing, travel around Australia in a camper-van, motor-bikes. You worked in partnership with Jim, going into business together at Sun Siesta Caravan Park in Mildura.

You worked like crazy and kept the place running as Jim got sicker and sicker. Boy have you worked hard over your life-time - amazing determination! I was always envious of your fitness and organisational skills.

I am thinking of you now, Mum, as you prepare to go to hospital in the morning. You always said 'I know I'm a terrible mum', and we always said 'no, you're a great mum'. I meant it then, I mean it now. You're the best mum. You probably won't read this, because you're not really into computers, but that's okay. I tell you I love you all the time, I don't think it's any great secret.

All the best, lovely, beautiful mother.
I hope the operation brings you relief from pain.

From your youngest daughter, with so much love.

Copyright Sue Oaks 2012

Saturday, 24 September 2011

My chocolatey heaven

Yesterday I walked for hours around the Chadstone Shopping Centre Melbourne with my daughter. I was fulfilling the promise I'd made to her after her sister and I had our city trip some time ago, and as she had a student-free day, I took the day off as time-in-lieu and bundled her off for some spending.

Working to a budget of $200, we enjoyed exploring the fashion shops, avoiding the ones with one or two eagle-eyed sales-women breathing down our necks and instead heading to the more open, bright and cheerful shops, particularly the ones were the marketers have gone to the trouble of creating a teen-friendly atmosphere. She has a good eye for value, and was happy to search for cheaper options of dresses she liked and to try on a range of clothes. I took it pretty easy, trying on only a couple of things every now and again and providing a positive commetary on her choices when required. I was attentive to staying calm amidst the hustle and bustle, noise and lights, and made sure I sat for a rest on the odd occasion.

By 2.30pm I was getting pretty tired- we had done a lot of walking by this time and the noise and stimulation of the centre was starting to get to me a bit. So was I excited when I spotted the Lindt chocolate cafe? You BET!!!! Heaven just made for me! We feasted our eyes on the range of brightly wrapped delights, before I sent her on her way to finish her shopping while I lost myself inside.

Although I am following Weight-Watchers at the moment, I am allowing myself the enjoyment of good quality chocolate every day, knowing that this is good for my general well-being. Lindt, to me, is the epitome of deliciousness when it comes to Chocolate. I took my time and chose a few delicious, hazelnutty, creamy delights and ordered a skinny de-caf cappuccino to have alongside... mmmm, time to find a seat and day-dream about chocolate!

I have a lot of memories of chocolate. The first ones would, like many of use, be related to Easter ... that glorious morning when you get up to see if the Easter Bunny has been - and get to over-indulge in chocolate - thanks Mr Bunny! Mum, Helen (my sister) and I lived in Puckapunyal for a short time when I was in grade 2. We would have had very little money, with mum still studying primary teaching and I think she was on her teaching rounds while we were there. That Easter the Easter Bunny left me a beautiful egg shaped like a chicken, with full detail on the wrapper. That stands out to me, for some reason, and I actually savoured that one gradually - unusual for me, they usually went down the hatch pretty quickly! My grandma, when we were a bit older, began to buy my sister and I Ernest Hillier Eggs and chocolates - delicious and very memorable. All Easter eggs, though, are very yummy.

The movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a great favourite with us as kids. We only ever saw it on television, usually screened once a year, and it was a real occasion, as inevitably there would be some chocolate to enjoy while we watched the movie - making it a multi-sensory experience! I still think the original movie is a million times better than the more modern (and more creepy, I think) version.

These days it is much better for me to eat little bits of chocolate at a time and really savour it - the temptation is far too easy to scoff down bars and blocks and boy does my body become a tell-tale sign of my greed! Lol. So easy does it now, but I plan to enjoy chocolate, in its myriad of forms, for many years to come.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sunday stroll in the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens




A gorgeously unfilled Sunday in Spring - what to do? A stroll in the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens is on the cards, so off we drive.

The gardens are a work in progress. The main section, which we enjoyed today, is called the Australian Garden. It was designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean, with Paul Thomson, whose aim was to share the 'beauty and diversity of Australian plants'.

Some of the features of the garden include the Red Sand Garden, which is quite beautiful (it is not aessible to the public, but is a lovely welcoming feature to the eye), the exhibition gardens which give examples of how Australian plants can be used around the home garden, the arid garden and eucalypt walk. Sadly, the rockpool waterway and escarpment wall are a nice feature but devoid of water, which was disappointing, considering our recent rainfall has been pretty high.

We stopped for a cappuccino in the cafe which was lovely, overlooking the gardens. The table we chose was decorated with a mini water-garden pot, a lovely feature. The Gardens shop was also well worth a look, with a great selection of botanical books and plant-themed products. David bought me some lemon-scented gum and Boronia incense cones and a gorgeous little decorated egg.

The morning was completed as we drove back out to a secluded picnic area towards the front entrance, and ate some freshly made sandwiches that David had lovingly prepared. What a great Sunday morning!

Friday, 16 September 2011

If you feel like you look good, you look like you feel good.

You've all seen her - that average woman doing her grocery shopping at the local supermarket. She isn't thinking about herself. She didn't dress to impress. In fact, she didn't even put her makeup on that morning. But she's stunning, glowing, and beautiful. Why? Simply because she's comfortable in her own skin. She's proof that the tongue twister is downright truth. If you feel like you look good you look like you feel good.


Confidence is the magical ingredient. Many beautiful women never get noticed because they have insecurities about their looks. Confidence doesn't mean that you are focused on yourself. Instead, it means that you are so comfortable with your looks and that you truly believe that you look great, that you can forget about yourself and enjoy caring about others. Insecurity focuses on what is wrong. It is introspective, looking in and being frightened by the thoughts that your looks don't meet the mark. When you believe that you are just right the way you are, you can stop thinking about yourself and look out and around you at the excitement and wonder in the world. People notice when women are confident, when they care about others, and it translates into opinions of beauty.


People think of beauty as being a set in stone guideline, but it isn't. We think it has to do with the shape of features and the color of hair and a certain height, but beauty is defined very strongly, but subtly to our eyes, by confidence. Countless celebrities and fashion models aren't what is traditionally considered good looking. But these women are world renowned beauties simply because they've embraced their looks. They accept the long nose or the space between their teeth or the thick eyebrows, and everyone raves about their striking, gorgeous appearance.


When you accept your looks and know that you look good, no matter what, dressing becomes effortless. In big cities, traditional fashion rules are broken all the time, and it always works because of one element: confidence. This isn't to say that you should pair patterns with each other. But if you want to, if you feel like that sort of thing, or any deviation from regular fashion, is suited to your personality, go for it! If you are confident in what you wear, you can pull anything off.


Remember to be yourself. Trying to be something that isn't you won't prove your confidence, but is just another way that insecurity shows itself. Choose clothes that you like, not ones that are trendy. These clothes best display your personality and self respect. You'll have an easier time being confident and not thinking about yourself if you are comfortable in what you are wearing. The right clothes give you a step up. People always make opinions on their impressions of your appearance, whether they want to or not. So wearing clothes that both suit who you are as an individual and flatter your body gives an impression of good self esteem and feeling great.


When you combine the confidence that the body you were born with is the perfect body for you with the flair that dressing well gives you, you become unbeatable and beautiful. You feel like you look good, and everyone will see you and think that you feel great


This article was contributed by Moose Mountain Trading Company. http://www.moosemtntradingco.com/ Moose Mt. focuses on clothing for women and carries a wonderful collection of  http://www.moosemtntradingco.com/designers/barbara-lesser.html
Barbara Lesser Clothing.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Do you like the dog slobber on the floorboards?

Dogs can be messy, loud and demanding. But would we live without them?

We have two, Ellie the border Collie and Ernie the poodle, as well as a gorgeous grey and white cat called Hershey. The dogs are hilarious when they wrestle. They started it when they first met and Ernie was introduced to the concept of rough-play -  and he has never looked back!

Just as I try and create some peace, sit back after a day of work and a long walk, off they go on a wild wrestling match across the lounge room. It's extremely funny to watch. And now they're lying exhausted on the floor and the couch - Ellie always goes for the floor, being so much bigger, while Ernie, still ruling the roost, hogs the couch.

Life would be so boring without pets! I think Ernie is my all time favourite - he found me and it was instant love! Other favourites have been my old cat Garfield, who I grew up with, our labrador Bill (who bit me but I wouldn't let mum get him put down and he never forgot - loyal as). Our black cat Ricky who ended up with 3 legs and living with mum at Sun Siesta Caravan Park in Mildura - he was an awesome cat. Our old sausage dog Christy - cheeky and naughty but very lovable. I loved the way she used to cover our chihuahua with a blanket each night - talk about nurturing

They're all gorgeous, and give back way more than we ever give to them - despite all the vet bills, and hey, that odd puddle of slobber on the floorboards.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Is Peace a dirty word?

The end of Stott's lane is a rough dirt road, and the sign is at first elusive, however after a brief false start I found my way to Brahma Kumaris in Frankston South. It is set in 20 hectares of bushland, and from arrival the feeling is one of peace. A little bridge leads down to the front door of the building, where visitors are guide by a flag waving gently on a pole. Inside, the foyer is clean and simple, with lots of light entering the building through the large glass windows which are a feature throughout.

I am welcomed and signed in, and guided downstairs to where thick woven wool rugs line the floor, and a Coonara wood heater is warming the room. Balinese style chairs are placed simply around the sides of the room, a piano sits in the corner and coffee tables with paisley-patterned wood grain add to the earthy and clean feel to the place, and potted cyclamen add a touch of colour and life. There is definitely a positive vibration here.

A man named Chris introduces himself and shakes my hand as I make myself a cup of tea in the dining room, which is found down a set of stairs on a lower level, and then I take my cup of tea and a home-made shortbread biscuit up to sit down and wait for the start of the retreat day.

As I sit, I take in the quiet. The chirping of birds and a sweet woody scent is calming and I become aware that I am quite tense inside. Indian-style meditation music begins to play gently. I later learn that the music is played for one minute, every hour, to remind us to be at peace, to just be still, to feel the power of the supreme soul. As I sit, my eyes fall on a tree which leans against the large window, and I notice a bird playing on its branches. Then I see it is tending to a nest - a mother bird tending to its young. Hence all the chirping! The mother bird is joined by another, and I watch the parents tending to their young with care and persistence. This becomes a symbol which returns to me throughout the day.

There are a few married couples here and a few on their own, like me. I wonder if David would come here with me? I would like to photograph the parent birds but know this would be intrusive. I think about David on the plane to China, and send him wishes of safety and peace. I am still feeling that sense of panic that comes with his departure for me, it has always been hard. This is something I want to work on. I need to find my inner strength.

We are directed upstairs into the meditation area, which is a carpeted, simply furnished room, with an amazing painting lit up at the front of the room. It is a spiritual painting, representing the supreme soul, and it becomes a focal point during the meditations we are taught. The retreat is run by women in white clothing - regular pants and fleece vests, but white. Their hair is grey. But there is a colourful, warm feel which embraces us, like a gentle, comforting hug.

From a selection of Virtue cards I am given one which says 'TRUTHFUL - I am straightforward, tactful, genuine and unbiased in all my dealings.'
I reflect on this a while, and feel that is highlighting my need to be more tactful in my communications. I think about how I behaved with David the day before and the emotional games I was playing, based on my own fear of him leaving, the fear of being with myself, the fear that he won't return. I know this fear comes from way back, from examples I learned as a child, from experiences in my life. But it is something I want to address, to move away from co-dependency and instead be confident in being ME.

One analogy used during the day was of the difference between ants and birds - as ants would walk over each other to get to the food, while birds were flying above everything to see the bigger picture, and would work as a collective. I found this to be a strong image and one that I would like to return to in the future. I learned a number of things during the morning. That ten minutes of meditation in the morning becomes your foundation, then during the day making time to be conscious of the higher self continues to 're-charge' our spiritual energies. The phrase 'I am a peaceful soul'.

I am a peaceful soul.
Animals can see the soul of people.
I need to come from my authentic self.
I will let go of attachment to what I thought I was.
We need to come first in our spiritual endeavours - for what do we have to give to others if we have nothing ourselves?

Lunchtime and we are asked to make it a lunch in silence. The food was vegetarian - simple and nourishing, rice, curried vegetables and salad. I was confronted with my anxiety of sitting around a dinner table. This comes from my experience of being criticised at the dinner table as a child and adolescent, on many occasions, from adults. I did have some positive experiences - birthday parties, my grandma's dinner table (smaller and more intimate). I have chosen to have a round table in my house, I feel this removes the 'hierarchy' that can dominate on a rectangular table, and it is more peaceful, mandala-like. I am creating a happier feel in the home in which I live.

After lunch there was half an hour to browse in the bookshop, and I purchased a couple of books and a poster for myself ('Self-empowerment' by Bridget Menezes and 'The Gift of Peace - thoughts for a peaceful world (a Brahma Kumaris publication). The poster is of the Supreme Soul giving light and power to us through the universe. I also purchased a set of Cd's and a book of healing for Mum, which I will send to her for her birthday. She has been very unwell, with terrible, debilitating arthritic pain. I hope this helps.

Once again I removed my shoes and made my way up to the meditation room for the second half of the day. During this half, I got to know some of the other participants more intimately, as we had time for small group discussion. The first quality I chose was purity, and we discussed why we had chosen this and felt attracted to it. We agreed that we each felt innocent, despite any of the wrong-doings we had been involved in. We also felt attracted to the purity of animals, of babies, of goodness itself.

We were then asked to sit near a quality which resonated least with us - most of us went to 'Power'. This was a really good discussion and one in which I felt I learned the most. For me, power does not feel like a natural virtue and the discussion helped me focus on the need for me to be strong, to not lose sight of the power that can come from love, peace, purity, sitting in silence, or speaking out in love. The power that is worshipped in society is not a real power (money, materialism, status). Real power is far quieter, far more peaceful.

The mention of a book called 'Slaying the three dragons - overcoming doubt, worry and fear', reminded me of the book I read when I first had a spiritual experience, a book called 'The dragon doesn't live here anymore.' A connection? Yes, I definitely believe so. I would like to order that book, all in good time.

Seven steps of silence:
Listening
Reflection
concentration - one single thought  'peace' 'love' etc.
connection - with self as soul, spirit and light
absorption - re-claiming my original spiritual inheritance
filling
donation - because I have been filled, I can then give.

Always go back into the peace.
All things depend on him for life.
Body consciousness into soul consciousness.

After the meditation, I drove back Debbie and Lior, two fellow participants, to Frankston, then headed back and started to cleanse my home space, with an inner smile. Renewed!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Before my buddhist retreat

I'm about to head off to a day of retreat. I haven't been to this place before, so it's going to be a little 'scary'.... not much time, but briefly - I am feeling kind of excited, a bit anxious. David left this morning for China, but we had a lovely warm night together last night, and the kids were over which took my mind off him leaving. (I'm normally hopeless!) I think I'm getting a bit better at this separation thing, but it does make me realise how much I love this guy.
Anyway - took the dogs for a beach walk this morning, had a yum breakky of egg, toast and salmon dip, a cup of tea and an orange. What will the day bring? Here I go!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

That darned border collie!!!!!!

Sitting down at the table, reading my emails and sipping a cup of tea, I didn't take any notice of the quiet rustling sound from near the pantry. I mean, it's not unusual for the cat to be playing with something, or the dogs to be sniffing around with their chew toys. So when I got up and walked to the pantry, ready to start dinner, I was a bit shocked when I saw the mess - and a great big border collie finishing off a big tray of muffins!!
A chocolatey nose and a sore sore tummy .. guess she has to learn somehow, and after a bone outside to clean off the teeth, she's snoring away on the floor-boards, feeling sad and sorry for herself.

Dogs.
Gotto love them, even though sometimes they can be a bit naughty! A bit like kids, I guess, and partners - even myself!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Strawberries, ginger-beer and roasted pumpkin Sunday

Happy with my efforts this week, after jumping back on the weight tracking wagon, I've lost 1kg, hooray! Will try and keep up the effort, warmer weather is upon us and it would be great to go to Central Australia in October feeling good about my body. Might even get a spray tan, woo hoo!
Another aweseome Sunday, so relaxing. Out in the garden a little, went for a big walk to our local market which is held on the foreshore once a month, and found some fantastic Mr Men pjs - originals from 1997. Know what I'll be wearing to bed tonight.
So, father's day. Brings up so much stuff! I still have a big question mark over who my dad really is, which is kind of weird - my mum having admitted that my dad might not even be my dad in 1997. That came at a time when I felt I was finally getting closer to my dad, after years of tricky relationship stuff, going on access visits (mum and dad splitting when I was about six years old). So anyway, deciding to cast doubts to the wind I tried to call him yesterday, texted him today and no response. Oh well!
Really, when I was growing up, my Grandpa was my father figure. He was amazing - community minded, loving and smart, with plenty of time for his two grandchildren, my sister Helen and I. Boy I loved that man! He came to all my piano concerts and competitions, winked at me across the table when my step-dad was being mean, taught me to play Euchre and took me to the market with all his 50 cent pieces he would collect for me. And that's just a tiny sample. We were all devastated when he got cancer, and his death was the saddest moment of my life.
So I'll dedicate today's father's day to the most awesome Grandpa in the world - Arthur Ernest Birrell - may his memory live on forever!!!!!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

He's doing the dishes :)

Am I bad to be enjoying the sight of my lovely man doing the dishes, whilst I sit on my behind doing some blogging? Am I bad to have enjoyed a lovely fresh piece of salmon and some delicious steamed veges, lovingly prepared by the same lovely man? Hell, I probably am. Am I lazy due to my positioning in the family, as youngest daughter? Well..... I am a bit more organised than I used to be, these days, thank goodness, but still have a few slack moments. Relaxing is an art-form that I am trying to develop. I work hard during the week and have to be thinking about pretty heavy stuff, so it's a relief to let it go on the weekend. What weather! Today has been so warm and the scents of blossoms are everywhere. Dogs had a great walk at the beach, Ellie (our border-collie) was so cute, splashing in and out of the waves and chasing Ernie (our poodle-bischon) in between. All was well until we spotted them rolling in something fishy and disgusting.... so home to be washed.... be the foresaid lovely man... (whoops, i am a bit lazy, aren't I!)

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Why do I always have to diet?

So, once again I looked at my body and decide its too fat. I hesitantly stood on the dusty set of scales, to find that I'd absolutely stacked on the kilos over the last year.

Depressed, I looked online and signed up to yet another weight-loss plan. So here I am on day two, having followed it pretty well, knowing that the novelty will soon wear off and I'll be wondering why I keep on following the same old path.

Time to ponder the day ....highlights:

1/ The smoke alarm going off at a client's house as he burned the second lot of toast he was cooking for his couch-bound wife - struggling to breathe through the room of smoke and finding it so funny I almost couldn't stop laughing.

2/ Taking a 12 year old boy to the youth centre, with him being so polite and loving, and enjoying it so much - talk about appreciation!

3/ Finding a new Mr Tickle on special at Toyworld (large plush one, with book, in a display box), couldn't resist adding it to my collection!

Having thought about the day, I'm feeling better already, though the chocolate addiction is pretty strong here. Just have to track, and track and track - until I'm so bored with the journey I fall off the cart once more!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

BRING ME CHOCOLATE!!!

A little rough start to the night last night, due to hormones and being tired at the end of the week. My non-subtle hints for a decent box of chocolates were just not understood! The block of Whittakers would normally be okay, good for a week-day munching as I type up case-notes. But not last night! So I ended up trecking down to Ritchie's to choose a box of chocolate. Limited choice, I must say, but in the end a box of Cadbury's Milk Tray looked quite appealing. Took it home, and worked through some grumps, then watched a great DVD - Stranger than Fiction. Boy that was watchable, a really clever plot, great characters, touching romantic moments. Slept well and got up early - a beautiful day! Spent the first bit eating delicious pancakes cooked by David, spreading poo around the garden and planting bits and pieces, tossing a bit of Blood and Bone around, finding the dogs' disgusting old bones buried in a big pot. Lol. Looks like it will be an awesome weekend. :)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Early musical sparks

Sitting in the car, waiting for a meeting that seems to have no-one arriving. I'm kind of hoping no-one shows, as I am TIRED! Last night I had a bit of an anxiety attack, I guess you could call it. I ended up going to sleep around 2.30am, I think. Not so many hours in between then and 6.00am. How I love listening to classical music. I have been playing relaxing guitar music at work, head-phones in, and am finding that in an open office set up it's so much easier to concentrate. Sitting here now I have ABC FM in the background, I work really well to it. Helps me focus - so much different to listening to other WORD flying around. Music is so soft for the ears, the brain. It excites though, too, it delights, it is a vehicle to transport you away. When I was little, we lived on a property in the Whipstick Forest near Eaglehawk Victoria. I spent most of my time outside there, making emu-farms and detective stations out of anything I could find. We had an old piano, and it was there that I started to pick out melodies and tunes by ear, and as i showed an interest, mum signed me up to piano lessons with Elizabeth McConnell. Elizabeth (Miss McConnell) and I built a strong relationship over the years, one which only began to unravel a little in my later teen years. Amazing that it lasted that long! But playing the piano was a constant in my life, the practice, the routine, the dreadful torture of piano competitions. But I loved it. I love music still - more for itself than the 'ego' side of it which takes away from its beauty.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Plans thrown from the window!

Why is it that so few of my planned activities happen after work? I finish just after 5pm, drop off something to a client on the way home, get home about 5.20pm. Dogs are panting at the door, so I drop my bag and folders, pop them on the lead and head off down to the beach. A fun walk, though when Ellie's lead breaks and she leaps at a car, it's kind of mortifying. Luckily she returns and I manage to get her back on the lead in some shape or form, despite the broken attachment. Back inside, I'm tired and tightly wound, run myself a bath and lay in it for a while, trying to relax. Starting to relax when the phone rings, it's David, have a quick chat then the mobile rings, Jordy coming over to play on x-box while Dad is at theatre practice, can I pick him up? Finish chatting to David. Make something half edible for dinner, pick up Jordy, eat my dinner. Stupid work phone wasn't turned off, client leaves a ten minute message about her woes. I have to listen now it's started. Worry. Turn off the phone. Ok, where is the camera cord - I desperately need it. Big hunt. Finally find it tucked under other rubbish. Look for a label so this doesn't happen again, can't find the stupid labels. I'm tired. Get on the computer, chill out at some emails, down-load some photos. Where's the time gone? I'm going to do my relaxation CD and then write something that's hopefully more interesting! Arrrghh!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fire and Smoke

I smell of smoke? Why? A home visit and a big bonfire out the back, with smoke streaming inside around us.. that would be the reason! Smoke is such a pungent odour. Having the smell of it around me brings back memories of Black Saturday. My anxiety was so high that day as Victoria was burning away like mad. On the end of the phone was my mum in Bendigo, with reports that a fire was out of control in Long Gully and on its way towards them. I had the ABC radio on and reports of towns being burned out were flowing in fast. It was scary, and I wasn't even directly involved. It seems like ages since the fires were a topic of public discussion. I wonder how the people who were directly involved feel when they smell that pungent, ashy odour. A visit like today's for someone who had had their house burn down, their pets and livestock hurt or killed, or worst of all lost their children or families in the fires, could be highly traumatic. Scary stuff! And with the sunny weather is always that fear of fire as the sun blazes into the surrounding bushlands.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Contented Kitty

I am heading to bed shortly - but boy is it hard with a purring grey and white bundle of gorgeousness on my lap! He finally go his food delivered, after sulking all weekend and refusing to eat anything else. The creators of Hills Science Diet sure know their stuff - I think it's actually addictive! Lucky that when I was secretly pinching the dry dog food from under the tanks as a kid that they weren't full of that stuff! I know - yuck! :) Great day at work - boy is it quiet when I'm the only one in the office! Back to busy normal tomorrow. Not much to add tonight - changed my name at the bank and it's starting to grow on me now - no pun considering it's a tree. A new relaxation CD to try tonight - progressive muscle relaxation. I'm going to try and fit it into my work-day somewhere too. If only we had more hours in the day. Looking forward to a circus-performance tomorrow night by my son, should be a lot of fun. Off to bed now!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

On our way to Melbourne City!

Well how handy, I can write as my partner drives ... luxury! Had a good morning today, sorted out a few relationship 'glitches' last night. Took the very glam looking dogs for a walk to the pier and back. They were too glam for the beach - which generally ends in very wet, sandy messes and a wash back at home. No time for that today!

Pink on the radio - not a bad singer at all. I might get her CD one day. I know, CD's, old-school! We did have an Ipod at one stage, but it ended up being more hassle that it was worth. I like Pink's values, she's a strong woman who won't let anyone walk all over her. She's also not scared to have her own style.

This is the life - happy people, driving on the Peninsula, travel mug of tea to sip and choccie to melt in my mouth. Dogs being very well behaved  in the back seat. A beautiful, sunny, day. Awesomeness.

Yesterday, official notice of my name change arrived, so I changed my license details. It feels exciting, like change is in the air and the old me is now synchronising with the new me. I don't expect anyone to understand that - it does seem a bit waffly. I think I'm one of the luckiest people in the world. I have had some amazing experiences. Haven't been around the world or anything, but in the scheme of things have had the chance to do plenty of things.

For a start, some of the jobs I have had have included: check-out girl, deli-bird, old-people's carer and entertainer (playing the piano for them and helping transport them out), massage therapist at Hepburn Spa and John Curtin Hostel, secondary school teacher in Mildura and Melbourne at a range of schools (Catholic, Public, Lutheran), private English tutor in houses around Peninsula and Melbourne, Social Worker, writer! It's been amazing - challenging at times, but exhilarating at times. I've met so many people and continue to do so.

Will continue with other amazing experiences some other time!

Holly and Sue's train Blogging

cat

H: The cat man this morning - there were 5 cats following him down the road. All the cats come from other people's driveways and follow him down down the street. I don't know if he notices he's the cat man - he walks and all these cats just follow him. He walks really slow, and the cats one at a time just follow him. They are other peoples cats.

S: Hershey's mouth is healing, we're not sure what happened but most likely he had a burn, from trying to lick something on the stove top! He is very friendly with the next door neighbours cat. I was remembering how Puss would never accept another cat, but I think Hershey would be okay.

Hospital

H: Waiting for four hours for Danielle in the hospital. Then finally they said that nothing could be done for a broken toe anyway! She had broken it in a drain playing volley-ball. Poor love.

S: Last time I was in a hospital for myself was when I had a glass splinter in my thumb. The doctor said 'you won't faint if I give you a needle in your thumb to numb it, will you?' I said 'no, I've given birth three times, the last one was 11 pound 12 with no drugs' and of course i then proceeded to faint all over the place. I thought I wouldn't get out of that hospital - was still fainting in the foyer!

Swinging

H: We made a swing at the camp - it was in the trees. I made it for Laura and Jordy and you would jump onto it. Jordy fell out of the tree trying to go on the swing, it was funny. He was crying but he was fine.

S: My bum has often been too fat to fit in swings over the last 15 years. When I lost weight I ftted into swings for a while, but it's unlikely I would fit into one at the moment due to my renewed attraction to all things chocolate.

Coke

H: Auntie Polly went to Gold Class for the first time with her friends, and she spilt Coke all over herself at the start - so she had to watch the movie all wet.

S: I have not had coke for a while - have been off caffeine. So no coffee, no coke! But i've started to enjoy diet soft-drinks, like diet Ginger-Beer. Yum!

Love

H: A dessert that represented love would be an Oreo Cookie. I could fall in love with Oreos.

S: A dessert that represented love for me would be a rich chocolately pudding, with a creamy side dish and Baileys.

Bitch

H: Erica. She is just randomly being a bitch, she thinks she's too good for everyone now. She has a boyfriend and now she just flirts with anyone. Charmaine is upset cause she can't get a boy-friend and Erica just pretends her boyfriend is nothing.

S: Bitch was when I was bullied by some girls at school. Becuase i held hands with a guy she liked, she then set out to attack me at every opportunity. She and her friend would hide behind the toilet doors and attack me as I came in. They wrote mean graffiti about me on the toilets. My friends and I wriote mean graffiti back at them. It was stupid. The bullying stopped when i told a teacher about it. Yay! She's one of my facebook friends now, no names.

Kiss

H: When I was with Daniel and I didn't want to kiss him because of his braces. Then i asked him and he said he hadn't kissed a girl before - I ended up being his first kiss, even though he was in Year 10 and I was in year 7.

At Bliss n' Esso - a really good song was on, I was on Jackson's back so I was the same height as everyonee. I was leaning down and I kissed Nova, and it was really cute.

S: My first kiss was at school, next to the oval, with this guy - can't remember first name but surname was Bice. His mum was a country and western singer, Olive Bice. We were sitting on the edge of the oval, watching other kids run around, and he kissed me. It was cute.

Perfume

H: I wanted these apple perfumes for Christmas. Polly got me different apple perfumes and they were even better. Dansy never used me use her Curious perfume, for three years, then finally this year for my birthday she bought me my own.

S: my mum always wore the same perfume. She first got some duty free when we went to Fiji with Alison. Then when she married Jim, he bought her the same perfume each year. I had to laugh when David bought me a new bottle of my perfume when it wasn't anywhere near finished.

Whisky

H: Dansy thinking she was being risky and drinking some whisky at our house in Dromana, she took a sip then ran outside screaming 'Oh my God!', and spitting it out.

S: I used to drink Jim Beams and Cokes when i was in my late teens - the smell of it now makes me want to throw up immediately. Yuck. Whisky - not much experience. My favourite liquer is Drambuie - the most sugary alcholic drink ever!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Dogs' makeover

Well, two dogs do smell and look rather posh tonight! Picked them up from Peninsula Pet Clips looking rather divine... though I wish I'd remembered to tell them to lay off the perfume (eww.. ) Ernie had to be carried inside at the start - he's been there a few too many times, not a fan after having his ears poked over the years from ear-infections. Ellie looked inside rather curiously at all the other customers in their various stages of grooming! Probably won't need to take her again for 12 months, Ernie, though, will be ready to go in 3 months, if not before.

Getting ready for a special night with Holly tomorrow in the city, big shopping day then staying in a hotel. Can't wait! Will be exhausting but fun. Mother may need a couple of rest-breaks along the way, I feel! Teens have way too much energy, usually to expend on dodgy happenings. Anyways, will have an early night and report soon! :)

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Starfish saga continues

Well, it took three days this time, but my daughter has now been suspended due to her 'extreme lightening-strike hairstyle' (head of campus's words). Phone message - heart sinks. Call back - no answer. It's so obvious that she's in the wrong place. I stayed calm. So tomorrow I will be having a chat over at the school and we're considering some other options - one might be to live with her Grandma for a while and attend school in Eaglehawk. Will wait and see the outcome of that one.

I have set a date for my name change party and am starting to use the name Oaks everywhere. It's really exciting! I feel a lot of energy about me and it is amazing feeling. Is that selfish? Who cares. I haven't been selfish for so many years. Having kids young has been hard. I love them to pieces but keeping hold of who I am as a person has been struggle after struggle. I now am working in a job I love, and what a feeling that is, to go to work each day looking forward to it! Such a contrast to how I felt when I was teaching - when I couldn't let go of the anxiety, would wake with tension and go to sleep at night feeling the same or worse. It became so that I couldn't even recognise that it was not healthy. Of course this work has stressful days, lots of challenges and days when I think 'why am I doing this?' but on the whole I love it. It's amazing how much reward it gives me.

I bought a net-book today to help me get back into writing - plan is to carry it with me everywhere and do lots of blogging, lots of writing. I'm putting off completing the last two subjects of my social work degree until 2012, so in the mean-time will have lots of little spaces to fill with writing.! JOY!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

savage on the outside, soft on the inside

I was driving home tonight and happened to notice a tough-looking guy being pulled along by a couple of equally tough looking dogs, ready for the kill. I pulled into the drive, shut the door, then a flash of white caught my eye - and boy did I laugh - one of the dogs had picked up a big white teddy bear in it's mouth and was trotting along with it proudly. The poor guy on the end of their leads looked mortified - we had eye contact, and he called out 'She just picked it up off the road up there' - it was hilarious.

One of the funniest things I ever saw an animal do, was when my dog Ernie picked up a pair of play false teeth (the ones they sell for Valentines Day), and looked up at me - it looked like he had this big geeky grin, teeth and all. SO funny. Pets can be a crack-up. These ones make me laugh every day, many times. Watching Ernie and Ellie (poodle x bichon and border collie) wrestling, with Ellie's legs in the air, is a sight to see. This cat, too, gets himself in the strangest positions, chases laser beams, drinks straight from taps and from the toilet - just the trick to bring out a smile.

Promotion of caesareans is scary!

On the weekend, the Age carried an article which was promoting an upcoming study sponsored by the Gynaecologists and Obstetricians Society. (non-biased, of course, not!) This study is to look at the birth journeys and follow-up well-being levels of 1000 women, 500 who have had natural births, 500 caesareans. The article basicaly implied that caesareans are 'the new birth'. I will paste my reply to that letter below (not sure if it got published, doesn't really matter, it was a good chance for me to let off steam - it's a hot issue for me.

Your article titled 'Caesarean births a better option for mothers?'
has made me very angry. Women are being pushed into accepting the
agenda of obstetricians and gynaecologists, (mainly men), who stand to
gain much financially if the rate of caesarean births continues to
increase (as stated in the article, a 20.3% increase since 1997). The
article deliberately pushes the bias of these specialists and gives
women themselves no voice. I was particularly peeved with the 'cheeky
guy' at a 'recent meeting' (of obstetricians and gynaecologists, I
assume), who spoke about doing away with labour wards to save hundreds
and millions of dollars'. Is this what women have become? Read your
facts women - natural birth is better for you and your baby, short and
long term, in most cases. How about an article which looks at the big
picture, including a time-line of the institutionalisation of women's
birhing experience and it's co-relation to post-natal depression? And
by the way, a study of 1000 women is not going to provide the
'evidence' you seem to be panting after so desperately.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Star-fish on my daughter's head.

My 14 year old daughter had a star-fish shaved in her head yesterday. As i dropped her off at her  school today, (late as usual - you try getting her out of the bathroom!!!), we were already anticipating the phone call that would come later. This follows recent hair-colours of bright red, black, brown, blue, a nose-piercing and a collection of mainly do-it-yourself ear piercings from top-to-bottom and before this, a half-shaved head.

She used to have long, brown, curly hair, which was amazingly beautiful. But hey!!! So far, no phone call, and i'm not at work so i've got time to ruminate. Some replies i've thought of so far to the phone call from the uppity head of campus?

'Yes, I agree, this child has broken your school hair policy. However, can you please show me where you are meeting the section on the school policy and mission statement which states that students will be encouraged to expand their knowledge and interests, will be extended if they show talents in different areas, and that you do not allow a bullying or harassment culture in your school? And I was wondering why, when I gave you sensitive information last year about drug trafficking which was occurring in the school-yard, did you refuse to take me seriously or follow it up, and it is still happening on a day-to-day basis? In fact, you have promoted the student who is growing and marketing marijuana around he area. Interesting?
And can you pelase explain why my daughter was reprimanded (and harrassed) about her nose-ring, when another student came in to the same teacher, at the same time, with the same nose-ring, and was ignored, and when the teacher was queried politely by my daughter as to why the other student was not reprimanded for the nose ring, the reply was 'I didn't notice that she had one'.

I am growing to hate this school, and in fact the entire school system is striking me as inadequate! Where is the encouragement and support that students need? The recognition of talents, such as leadership qualities which were blossoming in primary school but trodden on in secondary school? It makes me angry.

And that's my gripe for my first post! Bring on star-fish hair-styles in schools and whatever students choose to express their creativity and explore their developing self-image. Surely there's bigger issues to address.