Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas tidings

So many thoughts about Christmas. Today, Bliss and I went to her Aunty Lyndall's and Uncle Rodger's house for lunch with the cousins. We met AT and Clancy there, and AT's girlfriend, his father and stepmother.

AT, Bliss, Clancy, Epi

This was the first time I had met AT's girlfriend. Why would I choose Christmas to do that? Well, Christmas chose it. Everyone has told me that she's lovely. Of course she is, AT has great taste in women...

We met and we sat opposite each other and all was good.

Why do children have to choose which parent to spend Christmas with? Why can't they spend it with both?

I know I haven't done the separation thing according to "the rules" but I figure whatever works for the four of us is good and others can have their opinions and thoughts and express them and we can be free to ignore all well-meaning suggestions. I've also taken a few leaves out of the book of one of my dearest friends who used to spend Christmas Eve with her children and her two exes, so they could all enjoy a meal together. It sounded so civilised, and it is.

We had a lovely lunch and ate too much and had a few drinks and now Miss B and I are sitting outside (our favourite place in the evenings), listening to music, having a refreshment, plotting and planning future Christmas celebrations and revelling in being on holidays.

2014 has been rather a big year. I'm sure 2015 will be big as well. They all seem to be lately.

Hope you had fun.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Road trip

The teenagers and I went on a road trip yesterday to Bathurst to visit their Grandad and Grandma. The worst thing about having family everywhere is that we are never in the one place at the same time and due to a scheduling issue, we needed to see them before Christmas.

We had a lovely Christmas dinner last night but it's a crazy way to for four hours, have dinner, sleep, drive another four hours to arrive home.

Anyway, all good.

While I was there I painted a watercolour of their lemon tree, which grows in a pot. They built their house about 15 years ago and it's been lovely to be able to go visit a few times a year ever since.

Tonight I went out with my most gorgeous friend Simone for a Christmas drink. I love my friends so much and I love the support we have given each other over the years.

Surprises today for some of them with their bosses involved in the Federal Ministerial reshuffle. Hope the outcomes for them are timely and good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Heartache for Sydney

Sydney is my town. Growing up in country NSW with parents who were born and raised in Sydney meant childhood holidays in the NSW capital. My mother was adamant that growing up in a "cultural wasteland" would be interspersed with trips to the big smoke.

We would go to art galleries, museums, David Jones in Elizabeth Street, the Opera House and anywhere there was something going on. I remember how she taught me the names of the city streets that run down to Circular Quay. George, Pitt, Castlereagh, Elizabeth, Macquarie.

My dream growing up was to live in Sydney. I moved there in 1989. My children were born there. Whenever I visit I know I am home. In recent years I travelled to Sydney often for work and used to stay very close to the Lindt Cafe.

The journalist in me knew that the siege would end badly. It did.

Religion is used for many purposes. I used to think it was an opiate for the masses, to keep them in line, to control their behaviour, to reign in wild urges.

Not any more. Religion is used by so many as the cover for their evil intent. What a sick and sorry business.

My heart breaks for the two hostages killed and the others who had to endure this madness.

My beautiful Sydney is already healing from within, with an ocean of love and flowers in Martin Place.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Reunited after all these years

Whoever thought it was a good idea to lose touch with good friends from high school? Life gets in the way sometimes, but with the kind assistance of Facebook I have been able to find some of my lovely friends from long ago.

And so tonight I had the most wonderful time with the gorgeous Jan Richards and her husband Mark.

Jan and I belonged to the nerdy group at school, which meant we weren't the cool kids, but we always had each other's back.

She has been living in England for more than a decade and last year married the lovely Mark.

We have spent the past few hours chatting, drinking wine and eating delicious food. She's invited me to stay with them in England and I must and I will.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas

Oh goodness. Christmas. What a mishmash of emotions, terrible events, bad memories, good memories, new traditions.

Today, Miss B and I bought a real Christmas tree, the first one we have had in three years. It was bittersweet to decorate with the trinkets and decorations collected during many years with Andrew.

Tonight, I went and had Christmas drinks with a neighbour. We have many mutual friends and lots in common, but we have not sat and had a drink in 12 months, despite living four doors from each other.

Anyway, it was good and we are good and he has bought the place he was renting (yay!)

Soon it will be Christmas and I will spend it with family and then I will go to the beach and RELAX.

Thanks to my gorgeous friend Linda.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

You must remember this

Miss B learns dance and twice a year there is a concert at the Playhouse in Canberra. It's always lovely to go to see the results of the efforts expended week after week.

I have wonderful memories of events in my childhood when I was on the stage or performing or competing in front of a crowd. Those were the days without smartphones or video cameras or anything other than memory. In your brain.

I sat through today's concert behind two people who viewed almost the entire thing through the screens of their smartphones. No brain memories for them.

Miss B's dad and I were eight rows from the stage, so the people in front were seven rows from the stage. It was a pretty good view. But as they filmed, they watched their screens. At one point, one of them put her head sideways to glance at the "live" action.

The concert is filmed by professionals and a DVD is on sale shortly afterwards. Why not sit and enjoy it and create your own memories, and not distract those behind you with your screens?

Please don't talk to me about family members or friends who were not there. It's like being made to sit through a wedding video. No one is interested, except the happy couple, or maybe just the Bridezilla.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday night

Friday night was always pub night. When you work as a journalist, Friday signifies the end of the working week, which means drinks aplenty.

Life, of course, changes when you become a parent. But when Andrew and I moved to Murrumbateman, Friday night returned as pub night. Not every week, but it was great to go to the local Murrumbateman Inn with the children and buy tickets in the meat raffle and have dinner.

There's something about seeing familiar faces at the end of the working week that gives you a sense of belonging.

Since moving to Canberra almost two years ago, Friday night is like most nights. Home with the children. Which is entirely divine, but just sometimes I would love to be at the pub at the meat raffles talking to the locals.

Obviously living in Canberra that doesn't happen. It's not that sort of town.

The working year is meant to be winding down but this week has been as full-on as every week this year.

I've done good. The year ends on a good note, although my lovely Mystic Medusa reckons there is time for things to change between now and 2015. Bring it on.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The time warp

I have a beautiful friend Colleen whose partner Ross is in a band. His band was playing tonight at the Hellenic Club in Canberra and Colleen and I went along.

We had dinner in the Chinese restaurant, which was good, then went and stood downstairs to hear the band. They are actually pretty good and the music was 80s, 90s retro. The crowd loved it.

I love that the crowd loved the music but I felt as if I was in a time warp. I wonder what life would be like to be satisfied to never seek a greener pasture, to always be content with things being the way they were, with finding happiness in the ordinary. You could go out to a club and wear chiffon and fake eyelashes and play the pokies and get excited about hearing the same songs you have heard for 30 years. The outfit de jour for men was T-shirt and jeans. For women, it was anything that revealed boobs.
There were quite a few who were swaying to the rhythm.

Good on them all. They were having such a good time.

Colleen and I had lots of laughs but eventually I had to call it a night.

An ordinary life. It's not for me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

'Tis the Season

It's Christmas. I went to my first Christmas party of 2014 tonight and it was delightful to take Miss B with me and have Mr C drive it was OK to have some wine.

Andrew and I are shareholders in Ethos CRS and I'm on the Board. They are a great bunch of people and our little company is making some headway after a few tough years in Canberra.

It was really lovely to sit and chat with such a diverse group of people. We had Secret Santa. Turns out the only people who didn't buy what was on people's lists were Andrew and I...some things never change. I got a lovely bottle of Christmas bubbles.

Now sitting outside at home and watching another lightning display. The summer storm season is upon us.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

4 December

I just sat down to write about my interstate day trip to Melbourne (for work) when I realised that 4 December is a far more important day. I hadn't thought about it until now. Blame it on the 5am start to get to the airport for a 6.30 flight...

Today is the anniversary of my cousin Kate's death. She was 37 when she died. I was 37.

Here is a photo of Kate in April 1997 when she came to our Marrickville house to meet Clancy. (That's me in the background, with Baby Clancy.) Kate already had two beautiful boys of her own. They have grown into fine young men, handsome, talented, artistic and adventurous, just like their mum.

Gosh I miss her. Sometimes I have dreams where she talks to me. Sometimes her mother does as well.

I miss them both. I miss my mother, who was Kate's aunt. When I dream about my mother, she doesn't speak.

Lucky they live on in beautiful memories and messages from beyond this mortal planet.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Memories of Macksville

When I moved away from Macksville virtually no one I met had heard of it and fewer still knew where it was. Halfway between Sydney and Brisbane gave them a vague enough idea that it was a long way from any capital city and near the coast.

Today, more people than anyone would want know where Macksville is. Today Macksville farewelled its cricketing son Phillip Hughes. From all accounts it was a tremendous send-off to a young man who would have given so much more, if it weren't for the tragic accident that ended his life. His family appeared to cope with immense grace, as did his friends and fellow cricketers.

I watched a bit of the coverage and then I watched the funeral procession inch its way from the high school down Wallace Street. I walked that way home from school most days for six years. I knew every garden and who lived in every house and I would watch as the school buses drove past, with the students who lived at Nambucca Heads and Bowraville and other parts of the Nambucca Valley.

I hated walking past the school buses when they were stopped at the Macksville Public School, so I would wait as often as I could to time my walk when there was no bus picking up the littlies.

My mother and I used to walk around town on Sunday afternoons. She would point to pretty houses with nice gardens and tell me that if a person could meet someone locally and marry and live there forever, they could have a good life, but that was never going to happen for me or my three brothers.

She was right. She and my father moved away with my youngest brother and I stayed behind as I had a cadetship on the Nambucca Guardian News.

The best part of growing up in Macksville, it turned out, was being an outsider. We were told within a week of moving there that we would never be considered locals as none of us had been born there. It certainly made leaving an attractive option, and I worked hard to do that.

I've kept in touch with very few people from those days. Some of my school friends have got back in touch in recent years thanks to the wonder of Facebook. It's nice to see that they are doing well, leading interesting lives, many with children.

Growing up in a small town made me determined that my children would not be brought up in a small town, any small town, wherever it was. In 2002 we moved to Canberra and in 2003 bought a house in Murrumbateman, so they did grow up in a small town, but have attended school in Canberra,  40km away. They had the space and the brilliant night sky and the chance to meet the locals and have friends beyond school so they know what a small community can be like.

The children and I moved to Canberra two years ago and I would not be surprised if after school they become citizens of the world. They have seen their father travel the world for his work and they both have had friends from within the diplomatic and expat communities, so the world to them is a small place. Not like for me growing up in the 1970s in Macksville where other countries may as well have been outer space.

I have no sense of nostalgia for the town where I grew up. I'm still not sure where home is. It will become clear one day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Summer

Canberra likes a big sky and tonight we got this God cloud and a lightning storm. If you are going to mark the beginning of summer, it may as well be with a light show.

Today I have been to three supermarkets, gone to work, protected a colleague from a spider, taken Miss B to dance and collected her, helped finish her skirt for Textiles (imagine how much easier that would have been if the teacher had provided instruction), cooked dinner for the teenagers, fed the cat and have just sat down to my own dinner.

No wonder I've lost weight this year. Haha. And my beautiful GP wants me to give up wine. As if.