Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Catch up

It's been a while but let's not linger on that.

There's nothing quite like old friends is there?  Friends who've seen you in your hideous brown cow school uniform, with your spotty face and greasy hair and in the throes of your first mad love with the amazing boy who turned out to be not so amazing.

In the past few weeks I've reconnected with some old school friends and last night had dinner at the gorgeous Bistro Vue with a very special old friend.

As I looked at her across the table, I could see the same girl that took me out in her first car, a red MG, and we hooned down the deserted roads outside the country town we lived in. I told her again how much it meant to me when she bailed up another friend of mine after I'd got engaged at 21 and told the friend who was questioning why I was settling for a "provincial life as a wife" that she knew nothing because "You don't know F"  (my hubby to be).

We talked of old loves, old friends, heartbreak, the loss of her beloved sister, the awful days after my father died.

Today is Anzac Day and the sun is shining for the march. Many old friends will be reminiscing today and thinking of those times, long past, when mates saw them at their very best in the very worst of times.

x Jo

Monday, 14 January 2013

The lucky ones

A friend of mine is in Africa on her first big trip overseas. She's gone to South Sudan, with a bunch of other women, to construct an orphanage

What she is doing, what they have done so far, is amazing.

Today she sent this message after meeting a little 9 year old boy:

"Gadisa is 9 years of age and doesn't go to school because he is profoundly deaf and the local school can't cater to his needs. This boy has never seen a doctor for his disability. We had the privilege... of visiting him in his home today and he proudly showed us his writing book, in spite of this. His writing was beautiful and his maths exercises all correct. This dear little boy works on his reading and writing most mornings and tends a neighbors cattle in the afternoon, earning around $1.20 per month."

This little boy sleeps on a mattress on a dirt floor shared with a brother and sister. One tattered blanket covers them at night. Their father has TB, their mother works in the hotel where my friend was staying as a housemaid making nearly $5 a month.  She invited the women to her home but was ashamed she could offer them nothing to eat or drink. She had nothing.

It's been on my mind all day. Last night, I had terse words with my husband and daughter in the supermarket because I'd taken a chicken out to roast and my daughter had complained. It's probably her least favourite meal but with a wedding to pay for, I'm trying to be more economical. My husband had also questioned another purchase, and I'd lost it, hearing words I recognised from my mother "I'm not running a restaurant".

Cooking meals isn't the issue for me so much, it's the never ending planning. So I've drawn up a roster and told them all I'm cooking what I'm cooking and they'll eat it or make their own.

I wonder what Gadisa would make of a roast chicken.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Life's a beach

I have just had a delicious lie-in after a late night and have spent the last hour trawling through lovely houses by the seaside.

It is my fervent wish to live there full-time and have a beautiful room like Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give looking out over the ocean to write in, unlike the old table in the corner of my study which looks out on a forlorn little corner of my garden.

So today we're going poking through some houses in the area we'd like to live and will sit by the seaside and eat ice-creams. It is decidedly cooler today, the smoke haze has cleared and fire fighters all over the state will be breathing a sigh of relief I expect and finally having a good sleep.

Yesterday something quite extraordinary happened. I felt the earth move and for a while, it seemed I was the only one who did.

I was home alone, at my desk (again), the dogs barked (again) and then there was a weird unearthly silence. I know no other way to describe it. Then the big whoop and the house gave itself a shake. Shortly after another smaller one. I didn't move, but thought both times that it was an earthquake and being a modern lass went on the facebook and twitter to alert the nation. No-one else seemed to notice. Who knew I had such sensitivity to the earth's crust? Remarkable.

It has been a good weekend. Went to a milestone birthday celebration for one of my oldest friends, who became my friend when we were tiny babes and we moved next door to her house. We started school together, spent summers swimming and mucking about together and she was in my wedding, I in hers. When we were four and playing hairdressers I cut off one of her pigtails with scissors requiring her long hair to be cut short.  She has forgiven me.

It has been a tumultuous year for her. Her marriage to a controlling, difficult man has ended finally after a series of attempts and she is finding herself again after years of doubt. It was grand to see her so happy about the future.

And last night, dinner with another group of old friends, celebrating nothing more than our long friendship and shared history and adding another layer of memories.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The day begins

I've been up early this morning, it rained during the night and everything smells fresher.

I'm on a mission this year to look after myself better, put my health and my needs up the line a bit thought the gods are conspiring a little to throw me off my game. Not going to let it happen.

I had a bit of a scare last year, so did my family, when my blood pressure spiked and got very high. Dangerously high. I don't want to go too much into it here on my lovely blog, but I've been working with a bully for the past few years whose behaviour towards me has been disgraceful.

The blood pressure spike finally made people sit up and pay attention and it's now being addressed. It's not a perfect working situation by a long shot but it is better.

So, taking medication and taking better care of myself. Trying not to get drawn in to negativity at work and looking at my future with a view to getting off the working every day, on-call grind. In the meantime, there's a wedding to help pay for and an elder daughter who has moved back in....hence the gods mucking with the plans.

So this morning, a good walk/run on the treadmill watching Sunrise and getting mightily annoyed that three stupid teenagers kept deliberately lighting fires in NSW. Can't fathom it.

A cuddle with my sleeping teenager and the two dogs, some good coffee and a softer, cooler day. Worth savouring.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The best and worst

I dread turning on the news or refreshing news websites and yet I do. Fires are burning and more are to come and although we're all trying to just get on with daily life, the tension is real and its palpable.

Three years ago I worked for an Australian Senator. Two days after Black Saturday tore through several beautiful Victorian towns, he asked to meet with survivors and hear their stories to lobby for financial aid for them. I went with him to Kinglake.

I will never forget driving up the swooping hill to the town that was no more. Meeting the two firefighters that fought back the flames - one of them a young girl really, just 19 - while 300 terrified people sheltered inside the fire station, little more than a tin shed.

Imagine the responsibility. Many of the 300 had run the gauntlet of the fire, were injured, in pain, frightened for their lives. And the two who stood between them and the flames with a dodgy generator, hoses and courage.. even now, their bravery makes me want to weep.

Driving down narrow roads and seeing crumpled swing sets and warped trampolines. In one street more than a dozen people died. It was quiet, deadly quiet, and the hazy smoke still hung in the air, a smell that seeped in to your clothes and smelt like fear and pain and death.

The CFA man that took us around answered lots of questions and sometimes none of us could speak at all.

That Saturday morning, there was a palpable anxiety amongst family, friends, neighbours. I can feel it building again. What lies ahead for us, who knows. My youngest is at school in the Dandenongs, the peace and beauty of the school surrounds and the nurturing qualities of the staff there  a big drawcard for many of us. She's been evacuated once before because of a fire. We're mindful it could happen again.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


It's a little cooler today and the bushfires burning in another state of my beautiful country have died down a little but the devastation is immense. More than 80 homes lost but thankfully only one life. Maybe we have all learned from the horror of Black Saturday and people have got out early. The massive river that runs through much of this state has again proved a lifesaver, enabling people to stay away from dangerous roads and get away from the fire. So many on Black Saturday died in their cars trying to get away.

I'm reading  Hadley Fielinger's book and deciding what to make for a work colleague expecting her first baby. I love to knit, and Hadley describes perfectly the joy it brings to make something and how it soothes the soul.

I'm finding my soul needs a little southing at the moment. A challenging situation at work and high expectations with lack of resources is making it difficult for quite a few of us to do our jobs properly and it grates on the perfectionist in me.

Ideally I'd like to pull back a little, have less demanding work and more time to explore other loves like writing what I want, crafting, cooking, home, and family without work pressures intruding.

I need to make it happen. Financially, I have to find a way.

One event bringing us all enormous delight is my wonderful son's engagement to his long-time partner. I'm so proud of him for the lovely way he asked her to be his wife and know there is much joy ahead for them.

Friday, 4 January 2013


Yesterday was stinking hot, unbearably hot. So hot, my breath got snatched away and  left me gasping for air.

It was just another thing to add to what has been a challenging few days. It's true that your kids never stop being your kids, but you just can't fix everything like you can when they are little.

My eldest has been dealt a body blow this week and has had to move back in with us. She's terribly disappointed, hurt, bereft. It's gutwrenching to see her like that and we've had to re-accommodate her both physically and mentally into the day-to-day rhythm of the house while she deals with it.

I continue to be amazed at the way some people can treat others and I'm disappointed that I allowed myself to get riled up at the person who hurt my daughter and vented my spleen a little. Usually when I'm angry I become the Ice Queen as my brother says, all clipped and cold. This time, to my own shock and surprise, I let rip and in the process disappointed my youngest daughter who heard me.

It's not only the hot weather that's left us gasping for air this week.

Today we go and retrieve her belongings and hope for calm. The weather is not as intense, neither are our emotions now. My eldest goes on, a little wiser and sadly a little more wary.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The walkers

Most days, on my way to work, I see them.  An older man and a younger one, walking. Perhaps father and son. 

Sometimes the younger man is just several steps ahead of the older, but often the time I leave dictates when I see them on their journey and they are often coming up the big hill near our house and the older man is quite a way back.

They never walk together, always the younger one ahead. Which is kind of weird but the younger one is fit and healthy while the older man sort of plods along, head down. No-one knows them in our street but we all notice them and have talked about them. The general view is that it's son and dad, and that dad has to walk for his health.

Last week, I passed the older man sitting on a railing at one end of a small park that cuts through between two roads. The younger man was nowhere and I almost stopped my car but kept driving. I hesitated at the bottom of the hill and almost turned back and then I saw the younger man talking to another man.

I wound the window down and heard him say "forgot his specs, silly bugger" and felt relief wash over me. The younger man gave a bit of a wave and started back to meet the older one. All seemed right again.