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Thursday, 29 August 2013

First of the Month Fiction - September

Rules & examples here. Quick version, 100 words exactly, or less than 30. Put it in the comments then link your blog so we can see what you do when unrestricted.

Mine is again of the 100 word variety, and of course, the misery or creepy variety, as I just don't seem to have the knack for the happy ones. I will try my hand at a happy one again December, but I really wasn't pleased with the one back in July, so this was one of the others that evolved from that idea of the gift of a flower...


The Gift

He had forgotten my birthday that year, so what he did next stung all the more. He'd been too busy with work, he apologised. “I understand. It doesn’t matter” I offered.

Yet all she had to do was mention a book she wanted to read and he rushed out, the very same day and got it for her, delivering it to her door on the way home. “I was in the shop and saw it. It’s no big deal.”

But it was to me. I could no longer make any more excuses. That was the day he broke my heart.



Also, for those that didn't win the Ubud writers festival story prize, but want to share their story, I'll do a special link up for that instead of Octobers FOTMF. So should you not be in Ubud, you do a link up from here. Anyone who just wants to write a story of any length can link up too. (This time a little differently, post your story on your blog and do the link up here so we know where to read it - will explain on the post next month.)

Have a great September everyone! Linking up With Some Grace

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Spring


You make me feel so young
You make me feel like spring has sprung
Every time I see you grin
I'm such a happy an individual

There is something about Spring - it really does put a spring in your step. The warmer weather signifies the winter is over and swimming is just around the corner.

In the harbour city, the water sparkles and the dining is out of doors.

The flowers come out adding colour to our day, and in the urban sprawl, green leaves hide the ugliness a little.

Australian Spring is also footy finals, which is great or painful, depending on  your standpoint; it is Halloween, we get a long weekend, and there's a race that stops a nation.

Then it's Christmas and holidays, and the long hot summer.

There is definitely something mood enhancing about Spring, and I guess part of that makes me feel young. Maybe that's really why I like it so much.

Linking up with #IMustConfess

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

What have you been up to?

I gave my husband and his friends a lift to the rugby on the weekend, and one of his friends, who I've not seen since last year asked "And what about you, what have you been up to?" I had no answer. I was completely blank. I mumbled something along the lines of 'busy, but nothing of particular interest'. Then announced I went to the Blue Man Group this week, and liked that. It was a little odd and very lame.

We'd all been talking about the new jobs of 2 of them, and a recent trip of the other. Why, when out of politeness that it came my turn, did I have a blank? I don't work at the moment, but haven't for 5 years, so I should have a better handle on this question. Yet I always seem to baulk at an answer, when asked.

I could have pointed out we'd just had a weekend away, just had a birthday party, had friend down from Brisbane, had SIL 50th, been to a number of movies - but I was actually blank. I could have even talked about entering some writing competitions or teaching ethics.

I could have even talked about what I've been doing with the kids - sports carnival, book parade, one just turned 5 and so on.

But I literally could not think of a single thing to say.

Do you stumble at this question? Why do you think this is? (I know why, but I'm meaning why do we put less value on what we do, if not framed within paid work?)

Just a little housekeeping - I'm off on a jaunt for a week so may not be online until Conversations over Coffee next Thursday - and the First of the month fiction will be ready to go Friday 30th. So have a good weekend and I'll see you all then.

Linking up with Talk to Us Thursday and hopefully With Some Grace on Friday (if logistics allow it)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Linking up with Kirsty for I must confess on sport - Timely because it is Superbowl Sunday. I'm going for the Broncos but my heart isn't in it with these two teams...Anyway,  I love sport. There is never enough in my book. Bring on the Winter Olympics where we get 2 weeks of 24 hour sport...YAY!! Then World Cup where I traipse around town at all hours to watch games live. So into the archives for some pretty pictures, on how beautiful sport can be.
 

I love motor sport - not all motor sport, but in particular the Dakar Rally. Every year, come January, I follow closely live coverage through the web, and everything must stop to allow me to watch the highlights in peace. Smart daddy knows the kids must not be allowed to disturb this 30 minute window each evening.

I run a sweep, and harass 39 people to give me money to be in it, purely so I have people to discuss the race with. Some are gradually moving over to love it too. Most just humour me, delete my emails unread and are happy if they win money.

I have gone to great lengths to get playmobil service trucks from Germany, French Terry Sabine boardgames from the '70's and other such collectables to brainwash my kids into liking it. Santa even likes to bring everyone an item of Dakar clothing, and I have a complete Dakar luggage set, as you do.

I've been watching a number of riders and drivers evolve over the last 20 years - and my interest has evolved over time too - I used to only like the bikes and cars, and big name professionals, but now I LOVE the trucks and amateurs.

There is nothing as beautiful (or terrifying) as watching the behemoths tear through the dunes. They race through the most awe-inspiring and often vast deserts, and bring far corners of the earth to my little urban home.

One interesting thing that has evolved with the advent of facebook and twitter, is that the information one can follow the race with is exceptional. The drivers themselves tell you what's happening, even before the press releases go out.



These photos are of the Mongolian Rally, and come via Teruhito Sugawara, who gave me his permission to use them all the way from outer Mongolia (literally) this morning - in a real time conversation.



The Hino Trucks are my favourite, as the senior Sugawara, 71 year old Yoshimasa(-san), has been in over 30 Dakars, and obviously every single one I've followed. Still determined and still going strong, he's inspirational as the Dakar is not the kindest of conditions. The lure of the Dakar from the armchair is the stories that go with it. There are always fabulous backstories of courage, generosity or determination.

While most people find it odd, I've discovered many of my ilk through the social media. We all see the race through the same tinted glasses. Come January, we like to find others with the same interest & passion, to share thoughts and chat about the day's events.

But I think there's a lesson in the converse. It's something to remember with other people. There will always be people that like things you don't understand, kids especially. But maybe from time to time we need to try to see things with their eyes, or we need to explain what we love to them in a language they understand. Maybe a new door will open, a new interest or a shared hobby. Or maybe it won't. But there's certainly no harm in giving it a try from time to time.

So next time your kid sits down to watch something stupid or play a computer game or whatever it may be, why not join them for half an hour? You never know until you try.

(I understand this post may have limited interest to 99 percent of you, but I defy anyone to not see the beauty in these photographs! The first is of the bivouac in Mongolia; the refuelling one I like because whenever they talk about not having enough fuel for everyone at the fuel stop, it took me a long time to understand there weren't petrol stations in the middle of nowhere...so the image of the fuel truck makes me smile at my own stupidity. The last one, I can not look at without grinning - it's elating to watch the massive trucks literally fly through the dunes, even in a still shot!)



Wednesday, 14 August 2013

They don't make them like that any more, but they should!

I want to talk about a friend of mine, so bear with me.

My former neighbour has lived in her house her entire life with her brother. She's a lovely outgoing old lady, but her brother had always paid the bills (she gave him the money, but she didn't have a credit card or cheque book), when their parents died, he dealt with the estate and he had a car, and she never learnt to drive. He organised the tradesmen and basically did it all.

He passed away last year, and for the first time in 89 years, she is living alone. She has managed astoundingly well, and has some very good neighbours who have helped her organise tradesmen, and set up bank accounts and a good friend helped her deal with the lawyers and will etc.

I like to visit once a week, or do some grocery shopping (as the 'heavy stuff' is difficult for her), but she has a good group of friends. We've started going to the free movies at the library together as an evening social outing, but I've even dropped her & picked her up when I haven't been able to stay and watch with her.

All these things are difficult in themselves, but when you imagine you've lived your whole life having never done them, it's mind boggling. She's a fairly chipper lady, and tends not to let it get her down, or at least not show too much.

The anniversary of his death was yesterday, and she'd made a plan to see a friend, as another friend had offered to drive her to the cemetery today. I rang in the morning, just to check the plan hadn't fallen through, and it had. Her friend had suffered a loss of her own during the night (we have all this to look forward to, my friends). So I popped around for a cup of tea in the sunshine.

She was a little upset but keep saying "I'm sorry, I'm in a bit of a muddle". That was all.

The thing of note in this tale, is she mentioned how she signed up for the council transport trip to Floriade. It's overnight, meals and transport included. I looked at the itinerary and it's busy but at a pace for those in wheelchairs to manage too. I mention the wheel chairs, as while she's on her feet, she's slow and needs to stop and rest from time to time due to issues with her legs. While we were talking about it, she mentioned she'd not been away by herself in well over twenty years.

This is what awed me. That she has the get up and go, or gumption to sign herself up to do a trip like this, by herself. It will be lovely to see all the flowers. There will hopefully be some fun lovely people for her to eat with. I hope she has a great time. I just can't imagine, at 90, having to suddenly face life alone for the first time ever, that she's so courageous and ready to throw herself into situations that would be out of a lot of people's comfort zone, regardless of age and physical issues.

I'm so proud of her, and she really is becoming a role model for me. I hope I'm still living large when I'm her age, no matter what my situation.

And I guess, that's really what a passion for life is all about. To keep on going when your world shifts monumentally on it's axis. By not just going through the motions but making new happy times, by finding enjoyment in the little joys the world can offer.


Monday, 12 August 2013

Sing, Sing a Song (Part 2)

So for those of you who missed it (WHAT? you don't hang on my every word???), I set myself the challenge of singing a rap song in public. I went with Kanye & Jay Z's totally awesome Otis, and sang both parts (as you do). (Original post here but not really necessary).

I am white, old, and can't sing for s$%t. So, how did it go?

Well, the girlfriend of an ACTUAL rapper (and I mean with a record label) was there, and hopefully only taking photos of me, not filming (I've been too scared to google 'sad old lady tries to be cool' on utube). So that was, needless to say, slightly distracting, and threw me a little every time I looked in her direction.

One old guy said "How are we meant to sing along to this?" I had to bite my tongue not to say "There was no rule it had to be some sh*t song from 40 years ago".

So self esteem not at an all time high. HOWEVER, the challenge was to sing it, and I did - got all the words out in time, even danced a bit (stop laughing).

I was told later, no one could hear me, because I refused to use a microphone. I say, the task was to sing a song, not to be heard.

The young people (25 year olds) came over to me afterwards and told me I was great. I know I wasn't but what they were saying was I picked a great song. So I'm happy with that.

Of course, the next task is a duet. (Seriously, why am I in the song club?). I am doing this song (from the Gatsby Soundtrack - everyone go and buy it, it's great):   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNg3-AmSC00

Again, I'm singing both parts, because that's what you do in the car, right? (I have a friend who says she doesn't do this, and that she sits silently and waits for the part she's singing to come back on. I don't believe this at all. Questionaire below). If you're wondering how I'll manage to sing this, I work on the theory that if it's too high, just go really deep with a 'sexy' southern drawl. (It's getting better, right?)

I'm thinking I'll use props to show the difference between Q-Tip




and Fergie*.


Might even work out a dance routine...cos if you're skating on thin ice, you might as well tap dance.
Stay tuned. I need to point out, everyone else just holds lyrics and sings into a microphone, but what can I say? I saw Chicago as a young child and Razzle Dazzle lyrics stuck with me:

"What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll never catch wise!
 
Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you've got no talents?
Razzle Dazzle 'em"


So does ANYONE on the planet, when singing along to a duet in the car, only sing one of the parts? (or is my weirdness showing?)

*I went to Gin Mill Social and got this fan because I was totally into the whole Gatsby thing. I now want to use this fan in day to day life, as my signature affectation. But I know that's a little extreme, even for me! So I'll just have to suffice with creating excuses to drag it out.



Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)

11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check)
13. Trampoline adventure
14. BMX Riding (check)

Linking up with Jess for IBOT.

Do you sing both parts of a duet in the car? Or do you just sit silently waiting your turn?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sing, Sing a Song (Part 2)

So for those of you who missed it (WHAT? you don't hang on my every word???), I set myself the challenge of singing a rap song in public. I went with Kanye & Jay Z's totally awesome Otis, and sang both parts (as you do). (Original post here but not really necessary).

I am white, old, and can't sing for s$%t. So, how did it go?

Well, the girlfriend of an ACTUAL rapper (and I mean with a record label) was there, and hopefully only taking photos of me, not filming (I've been too scared to google 'sad old lady tries to be cool' on utube). So that was, needless to say, slightly distracting, and threw me a little every time I looked in her direction.

One old guy said "How are we meant to sing along to this?" I had to bite my tongue not to say "There was no rule it had to be some sh*t song from 40 years ago".

So self esteem not at an all time high. HOWEVER, the challenge was to sing it, and I did - got all the words out in time, even danced a bit (stop laughing).

I was told later, no one could hear me, because I refused to use a microphone. I say, the task was to sing a song, not to be heard.

The young people (25 year olds) came over to me afterwards and told me I was great. I know I wasn't but what they were saying was I picked a great song. So I'm happy with that.

Of course, the next task is a duet. (Seriously, why am I in the song club?). I am doing this song (from the Gatsby Soundtrack - everyone go and buy it, it's great):   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNg3-AmSC00

Again, I'm singing both parts, because that's what you do in the car, right? (I have a friend who says she doesn't do this, and that she sits silently and waits for the part she's singing to come back on. I don't believe this at all. Questionaire below). If you're wondering how I'll manage to sing this, I work on the theory that if it's too high, just go really deep with a 'sexy' southern drawl. (It's getting better, right?)

I'm thinking I'll use props to show the difference between Q-Tip




and Fergie*.


Might even work out a dance routine...cos if you're skating on thin ice, you might as well tap dance.
Stay tuned. I need to point out, everyone else just holds lyrics and sings into a microphone, but what can I say? I saw Chicago as a young child and Razzle Dazzle lyrics stuck with me:

"What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll never catch wise!
 
Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you've got no talents?
Razzle Dazzle 'em"


So does ANYONE on the planet, when singing along to a duet in the car, only sing one of the parts? (or is my weirdness showing?)

*I went to Gin Mill Social and got this fan because I was totally into the whole Gatsby thing. I now want to use this fan in day to day life, as my signature affectation. But I know that's a little extreme, even for me! So I'll just have to suffice with creating excuses to drag it out.



Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)

11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check)
13. Trampoline adventure
14. BMX Riding (check)

Linking up with Jess for IBOT.

Do you sing both parts of a duet in the car? Or do you just sit silently waiting your turn?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

BMX Bandit

Okay, okay, I've already outed myself as an old lady, as I suspect BMX-ing is akin to saying I was listening to the hitparade on the wireless...but I'm old so humour me. (I read yesterday, on Moms who drink and swear, that she says 'don't make fun of me. I'm old in my head' - that could be my new mantra)

On the weekend, we stayed at the wonderful Bundanoon YHA, all 42 of us (those who are aware of my social ineptness, might be confused by this, but big crowds can be good to get lost in). One of the highlights of this YHA, is that it has a BMX track on the grounds. So guess who went BMX-ing? And got air?!

The track has some fast corners, and some big obstacles - which I'll admit I was too chicken to do, and was put to shame as I watched 10 year olds mount them with ease. But seriously, no amount of looping the track would get me the courage to ride up this:

 
 


I kept practising, getting speed (and air on the small jumps) but at the last minute I'd chicken out of giving the three difficult obstacles a go. Finally, after a few last minute swerves away, I stumped up the courage and I made myself do this one:




I was so proud of myself - alas no one was there to witness my feat of courage - which was probably good, as I didn't do it very well - I mounted the logs then chickened out and slowed right down instead of shooting over them. But the important thing, with all these Torshlusspanik challenges, is not doing them well, it's just doing it.

The interesting thing, while tearing round the track, was that as I approached the scary jumps, I would feel very fragile, like my bones would break if I fell. Which given some of the kids had massive stacks, without breakage, I guess is part of aging - lots of fear, no logic.

While I say I got air, it probably wasn't as impressive as it felt. I don't mean this kind of air:


But I managed to go at speed over this jump and fly off the end.


There were few witnesses to my prowess - few over the age of 12 (who were not impressed by the old lady slowing everything up). But there was one. That night, the hostel manager came into the lounge and said "You seemed to be getting into the bike track this afternoon". And you know what, I was. While I set myself the challenge of doing one of the jumps I was scared of, I was so busy psyching myself up to getting the courage to do one, that I didn't notice how much I was enjoying going faster on the curves (to race back to the tricky jumps) and how much higher I was going each time off the manageable jumps, to hasten my return to the challenging ones.

And that's a bit like life - we focus on the difficult and impossible, and don't acknowledge the enjoyable and achievable. On one of my posts, in response to my question on why the negative overwhelms us, Aroha from Colour Me Sunset said "Because we focus on the difficult and become blinded by it." That sums up my headspace at times perfectly.

In A Man without a Country, the genius Kurt Vonnegut tells a story of his Uncle Alex, who used to stop and say out loud, when they were having a pleasant afternoon "If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is". Uncle Alex's comment would make everyone pause to appreciate their moment of happiness. In the book Vonnegut implores us  "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

So for me, flying around that track was joy inducing - the actually achievement of the challenging jump was just getting a box ticked off. I need to be wary of the difference, and remember which is the important one to focus on.




 For the record, this isn't me. It's an 11 year old. But just pretend it is.

Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)

11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check - but write up pending)
13. Trampoline adventure
14. BMX Riding (check)

Stretching out on the Lounge, with some other bloggers...and linking up with Francesca for Thankful Thursday (because of that last little bit!) and linking up With Some Grace for FYBF!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Riddle me this...

1. I've been to 2 fancy restaurants this month and neither offered me salt or pepper. Is this a new thing? (If so, I hate this trend. If I want to ruin food I'm paying for, let me.)

2. Why is making school lunches so joyless?

3.Why is it, when considering more children, no one says "it's all very well when they're babies, but do you realise how many lunches you'll be making in 5 years?"

4. Why do some women look so effortlessly beautiful all the time?

5. Why is it when you let passports lapse, there is the sudden opportunity for an immediate overseas trip?

6. Why do some children (mine) forget to put their shoes on? Even though it's something they should do every day and you've already reminded them 12 times in half an hour?

7.Why do you never feel old, when you get old?

8. Why is it, when things get difficult, you never hear the right words or have things go your way so you can get the strength to deal with the rest of life?*

9. Why is there always washing to be done?

10. How did I get to this age and still not have it all figured out?

Feel free to answer one or all of the above? Or add your own.



*No need for sympathy or concern - I was watching Breaking Bad and Jesse's world was unravelling and he said, after asking for 2 days to payback a loan, "Please, I really just need someone to give me a break" and it resonated strongly with me - far stronger than I think the writers of the show intended. I remembered all those times when a simple 'I love you' or just some thing going my way would have changed days of unhappiness and stress...but not forthcoming, you sink a little further into the mire of miserableness.

Need to say, I deleted the original post for today by accident, because I'm an idiot. Riddle me this, why is it, if I get a little organised, I sabotage myself?