Monday, 3 September 2018

Taking Stock: September 2018 Edition #LifeThisWeek




Making: Beds. I've gotten into a habit of doing so most mornings. Gives me the illusion that I've got my shit together.

Cooking: I made a shepherd's pie recently that was a hit. What else? Hmmm. Toast. Does that count?

Drinking: Green smoothies made with zucchini, kale, banana, coconut milk and a dash of honey. Gives me the illusion that I'm healthy.

Reading: Currently reading Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall. I'm enjoying it even though it kinda jumps all over the place with the characters and years. Prior to this I read an old Paullina Simons called Road To Paradise. It dragged a bit for me in the middle but I liked it in the end.

Also read a non-fiction title: You're Not That Great. It wasn't that great.

Trawling: I wonder why I leave this one in here. I never trawl.

Wanting: A holiday would be lovely.

Looking: For a part-time job. Wait. What? Yes, you read right. I'm doing it.  Trying, anyway.

Deciding: On some sort of further studies to go along with the job stuff. Library related stuff, because that's what I've done before and it suits me.

Wishing: Someone would just jump over the fence and offer me a job. No, I'm not drunk. That's a scenario I once read in a novel. Can't remember the name of the novel, but the heroine decided she wanted a job and BOOM her neighbour became her bestie and offered her a job. Totally happens in real life, right? Any librarians out there who wanna be my bestie?

Enjoying: A bit of RAIN. You know, that wet stuff that comes from the sky? That.

Waiting: For a lottery win. Will be waiting a LONG time. We never take a ticket.

Liking: The roast dinner we had was pretty good.

Wondering: Why washing up can't do itself.




Loving: My family. I think I'm gonna keep 'em.

Listening: To not much of anything. It's quite peaceful at the moment. As soon as I type this bedlam will ensue in ten, nine, eight, seven...

Considering: Shoving the dishes outside in the rain and hoping for the best.

Buying: Groceries. Just for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Watching: I watched an old movie from the 70s yesterday. The Last Married Couple In America starring George Segal and Natalie Wood. It was really bad. The hairstyles and some of the so-called humour from those times haven't worn well.

Marvelling: At many things.

Hoping: I won't blink my eyes and it's Christmas. *tries not to blink* 😵

Needing: A washing up fairy. Or, you know, one of those new-fangled contraption things people have that wash dishes? Whatever they are. I wouldn't know.

Questioning: How September came around so quickly. *blinks* OOPS. Merry Christmas everyone!

Smelling: There is a bit of a rainy day aroma with a hint of Krispy Kreme donuts happening here. We smashed a dozen of those babies between the five of us. We picked them up on the way back from my brother's 50th birthday lunch the other day. We'd already had a meal, plus cake, but that didn't stop us, because we're living our best lives obviously.

Wearing: Navy track suit pants, a purple jumper and green cardigan. Classy.

Noticing: My feet are cold. I really should put on ugs on to complete my alluring look.

Knowing: The dishes will NOT do themselves. A washing up fairy will NOT arrive. So rude.

Thinking: I need to exercise. And do dishes. Sigh.

Admiring: Mr 9, until he tells me it's creepy that I stare at him.

Getting: Tired. Until I actually get into bed... BOOM! I'll be wide awake.

Opening: Books. Always

Closing: Dunno.

Feeling: Pretty groovy right now. Also, kinda lazy. Groovy lazy is totally a thing. It's like the regular kind of lazy but you have shades on. Or something.

Celebrating: Three years cancer free!!!! Had my girls crushed last week and the results were GOOD. WHEEEEE!




Pretending: To exercise by typing the word exercise. Exercise exercise exercise. Done.

Embracing: Uncertainty. Hmmm. Think I said that last time but it still applies.

End Of Stock Take. 

Later dudes!

Linking up for Life This Week and Open Slather.

What are you celebrating in September?

Monday, 27 August 2018

How I Cope With Stress And Anxiety


Good evening, groovers and shakers! I trust you are feeling fabulous and full of joie de vivre. If you're not that's okay too. I'm here to help.

Life can tend to have a way of cruising along in a satisfactory manner for a period. Until it doesn't. Instead it's suddenly sucky and stressful. Fortunately I've managed to develop a few coping strategies to assist in these testing times.

So I figured I may as well as share them in the ubiquitous random list form. If nothing else, writing lists gives me the illusion that I've got my shit together.

So here goes:

HOW I COPE WITH STRESS & ANXIETY: A RANDOM LIST





  • Exercise. Sadly I dislike gyms and running. On the other hand I'm one of those weirdos who doesn't mind working out at home alone. YouTube videos and a bit of strength training are my go to choice. It hasn't exactly translated to peak physical fitness, but that's not really my goal here. It's my mental state I wish to improve. Worrying about what I look like in active wear won't help me at all. So I don't. That's just me. Next...
  •  Calming activities such as word fill-ins or word searches and colouring in. Preferably with pretty glitter pens. Nice. 
  • Writing everything down. Either like this in list form, or spewing forth a hideous word vomit of everything that is bothering me. Privately. No one needs to read that. 
  • Having a schedule or routine. This takes a certain element of decision making away. Instead of thinking about what I need to do, how to prioritise things and consequently becoming more stressed and overwhelmed, I know what's next. Admittedly sticking with routines is still a bit of a work in progress for me, but a flexible routine does help. 
  • Down time. It's important for me to schedule down time in my flexible routine. 
  • Green smoothies. Typically I would just eat all the cakies, but in the past week I began having a green smoothie everyday. Of course I still have a sneaky cupcake here and there when my mum is kind enough to bring some. It's about balance, people.
  • Therapy. I see a good psychologist on a regular basis. It's hard, but really helps in the long run. 
  • Waiting it out. Sucky feelings pass just like a thunderstorm. And sometimes there's even a rainbow at the end. I know. First I'm mentioning green smoothies now I'm getting all inspirational on you. I don't even know who I am anymore...
  • Recognising the difference between good stress and bad stress. This is something my psychologist reminded me of recently. Some stress is necessary in life, and even beneficial. I'm currently trying to make some changes and it's challenging but will be worth it in the end. So it's good stress. I think. I hope. 😲
  • Recognising that avoidance of sucky feelings will make it worse in the long term. Unfortunately I have had to learn this lesson the incredibly hard way, then learn it again the even harder way. And again, the incredibly, extremely hardest of hard ways. Sigh.
  • Taking things one day at a time.
  • Using mindfulness and techniques from ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy), such as diffusion, thanking your mind etc.
  • Naming my anxiety Agnes and giving her the middle finger when applicable. She deserves it. The b$!&h. 
  • Listening to music.
  • Reading. I really don't know why I didn't put this at the top of my list. Reading is THE BEST. 
  • Practising self-compassion. Another work in progress. But I'm getting better at this. 
End of random list.

And if all of the above fails an occasional bottle of wine and a funnel can be helpful too. Hmmmm. Shame I don't have either! HMPH. 


How do you cope with stress and anxiety?

Monday, 20 August 2018

My Hairstyle History #LifeThisWeek


Brace yourselves for a trip into the worst of 80s and 90s hair. I've shared my hairstyle history before, particularly my infamous mullet-perm. But it's so hilarious it's worth sharing again.

This is one instance when I should definitely let the pictures tell the story. They're very old photos that I scanned and cropped any old how, so apologies in advance.

Long Hair

When I was cute circa 1981 


Perms

Infamous mullet-perm. I was about 16
and it was 1987. That's my only excuse.
Shut up. 

At my 21st. Bad perm. Bad earrings.
Bad make-up. But I did have a good
figure in those days. Sigh.

Poodle perm and weird expression.
Perhaps I was busting for the loo?




Short Hair

This was around my 30th birthday circa 2001.
I was up the duff but didn't know.


The lobster and wine look pretty good.
Not sure about the bowl hair cut.

Bobs


I looked pretty good then.
Is that me? 

Helmet hair. Noice. And my awesome parents.

Bad selfie. The hair was good because
I'd been to the hairdresser.


Long Hair Again 


Ten years ago. I was pregnant
with Mr 9. 


Who cares about my hair LOOK
HOW CUTE MY BOYS WERE 😍


No Hair


2015/16 when I had tit cancer became
a hare krishna. Fortunately I have
a lovely shaped head. So I'm told.


Chemo Curls


Move over Kath Day-Knight

This was the day I went to a club
buffet for a seniors price. Winning!


Silver Fox


Present day.
I let my hair go grey and I DGAF. 


And that completes the cringe.

Linking up for Life This Week and Open Slather.

Which hairstyles have you had?

Sunday, 19 August 2018

A Cautionary Tale #FridayReflections

Good morning, dear people. Or good afternoon or evening, depending on where you are in the world. Today I would like to present to you a (fictional) cautionary tale. Also known as 'Ness Is Very Bad At Titles' (Because I Don't Think It Really Is A Cautionary Tale).

Yeah, that.

Anyway, here it is:

A Cautionary Tale




She cautiously set her cup on the table. Her eyes flicked from the screen to the door. It was time. The guilt twisted inside, taunting her. She jumped when the door opened even though she'd been expecting him.

Panicked, she closed the laptop. He mustn't know.

"Hey babe," Grant was sweaty and distracted, checking his fit bit.

"Good run?" She managed to sound normal.

"Smashed it." He grinned and headed for the kitchen. Too late she remembered her phone charging on the counter. Had she deleted the incriminating texts? Jarred had a habit of sending effusive messages. Especially when she'd just ended their Skype session so abruptly.

Grant drained a glass of water, while she hovered behind him. Then he turned and drew her towards him, oblivious to her distress.

"You're all sweaty," she protested.
"So let's get more sweaty..." he raised an eyebrow then frowned as her phone whistled to indicate a message.

She snapped it up urgently.

"Boyfriend number four?" Grant's lips twitched.

"Very funny!"

She turned her back to read the message. "I need you to go pick up Piper."

Their daughter was safely at her parents place. She could never be privy to such a thing. At five years old, she was far too inquisitive. Not to mention a certified chatterbox. Plus it was a convenient ruse to make Grant leave.

"I need to take a shower first. You said so yourself." He traced his steps back through the living room to the stairs.

The cup. Oh, no.

"On the heavy stuff already?"

"Ha ha." He thinks it's water. Phew. 

Grant knew something was up. She was sure of it. She never left cups around. He was always teasing her about being so meticulous.

Yet here she was, drinking vodka during the day, in a dishevelled house, while ensconced in illicit Skyping. This couldn't go on. She'd have to tell him.

But as soon as Grant left to pick up Piper, she texted furiously.

The coast is clear.

The reply was instant.

I'll be right there. Can't wait!

She was really doing this. All her planning had paid off. She'd fooled him. Later, she would always remember the shock on Grant's face. She couldn't believe he'd never guessed.

"You sneaky bitch," he said. "I can't believe this!"

The stunned expression turned tender.

"God, I love you." He reached to hug her, elated.

Abby embraced her husband. "Happy birthday," she whispered.

"Happy birthday, bro!" Jarred, her brother-in-law, thumped him on the back as all their gathered family and friends laughed and joined in the salutations.

Abby and Jarred exchanged relieved smiles. They'd pulled it off. A surprise 40th birthday party for Grant. They'd been planning it for months via messages and Skype.

"How did you not know?" She asked Grant later. Everyone had finally left and Piper had given in to slumber, exhausted from all the excitement.

"I figured you'd never have anyone over when the place was such a 'mess'." He said, tweaking his fingers to indicate inverted commas. "Well, your version of a mess."

She threw a cushion at him from the artfully arranged nest on their bed. He detested those cushions as much as she loved them. He threw it back, then they were kissing. For the first time ever she decided that all the mess and dishes could wait.


The End.


Yes. Well. Wasn't that cute? For some reason I have the same feeling I have when I eat something too sweet. It's good at the time but then I'm queasy afterwards. Bleurrghh.

I was going to say that the only 'cautionary' thing about it should have been to warn you to have a barf bag ready for afterwards, but I'm over all that self-deprecating crap. Oh wait... DOH.

Old habits and all that... Anyway that's my story. Thank you kindly for reading.

Written for Friday Reflections using the prompt:

  1. Start with ‘She cautiously set her cup on the table.......’ Set timer and write for 5 mins.
Do you have a cautionary tale?

Can you think of a better title? 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Famous People I Have Met #LifeThisWeek 13/8



It should come as quite a surprise when I reveal that I've never met any famous people! Shocking, really. I mean, I live such a glamorous existence. Jet setting to far flung destinations. Mingling with the glitterati. Whatever that means.

I have glitter pens. Same thing, right?

Not really? HMPH.

I guess you could say I've brushed with fame. Or famous people. Depending on your definition of famous.

There was the time I met former Balmain Tigers footballer Wayne Pearce. At least, I think I did. I'm a bit hazy on the finer details. It was decades ago.



I was about twelve or thirteen. We were at some sort of function to do with my dad's work (I think). For some reason Wayne Pearce was there. We were introduced briefly and he shook my hand. At the time I had a bit of a crush on him and was crazy shy, so I blushed as red as my hair.

My brother knew a cousin or something of his because we went to the same school as her. So he happily mentioned this, possessing none of my shyness. My brother and Mr Pearce chatted away for a few minutes while I stood there embarrassed.  And that was that.

Fast forward a decade or so later. I was working for a time in a call centre for NRMA. I took a call from musical theatre singer/actor Anthony Warlow. I was quite starstruck but resisted the urge to go all fan girl. Luckily I am not the stalker type because I knew EXACTLY where he lived. I organised a home insurance policy for him. See? Told you I'm glamorous!

Several years later, we were holidaying in Cairns. With a toddler and a baby. Why let tiny humans stop us? That was our motto.

At one point we were strolling through the airport and a bald  bespectacled dude walked by, smiled at my little one in the stroller, then smiled at me and walked on.

Immediately I thought: "I know that guy!"

A minute or so later it hit me. It was Carrie's gay friend from Sex And The City.  Stanford or something? Him.


Image credit: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0308606/


I can't recall the actor's name*. All I can say is, if it wasn't him, it was his absolute doppelganger walking through Cairns airport smiling at random babies. Is that weird? Whatever. I'm pretty sure it was him.

Another airport celeb sighting happened at Sydney airport (on a different trip - told you we're jet setters!) when we spotted Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes at the luggage carousel. A casual "G'day how ya going?" was exchanged between him and Mickey Blue Eyes.

Thus endeth my underwhelming exciting brushes with fame.

I still maintain that I'm glamorous however. You can't stop me.

After all, I recall reading or hearing an observation from comedian Judith Lucy. Something to the effect of how many of the celebrities she interviewed during her time working in commercial radio had nothing more interesting to say than good old Tracy from Penrith. So ner.

Now I'm off to mingle with the glitterati again. Or Tracy from Penrith. Same thing.

What about you?

Have you met anyone famous?

*Turns out his name is Willie Garson. But wikipedia doesn't say if he smiles at random babies in airports... *shrugs*

Monday, 6 August 2018

Countries I Have Visited #LifeThisWeek


Hello there, lovely people! It's time to reveal the extensive list of countries I have visited. Here it is...

Countries I Have Visited:


  • Holland.


The End.

That was a quick post.

Byyyye!

Just kidding. I'm the queen of rambling. Can't get rid of me that easily. So ner!

It's true, though. The only country I've visited is Holland. Technically I should change the title of this post, but why nitpick?

I was certain I had already blogged about visiting Holland before, but when I went looking for the post I couldn't find it. Weird.

I went there as a ten year old with my parents and brother. It was 1981. I can still remember it. Well, bits of it.

We stayed with some friends of ours in Rotterdam. We ended up riding bikes everywhere. My parents have all the snapshots because obviously 1981 was a very long time ago. They also have footage which they had made into a DVD and gave me a copy, but I don't know how to upload it here.

In the footage I can be seen as a ten year old, skipping amongst the tulips.

Not the actual tulips I skipped amongst.


Other random memories of Holland:


  • When we arrived I allegedly slept for a solid 17 hours due to jet lag. If I ever travel overseas again as a middle-aged/old lady I'll likely fall into a coma, never to wake up again.  



  • I lived on bowls of custard and those round Dutch crisp bread thingys for a month. It was awesome.



  • Dutch liquorice called Drop (I think), is the most vile thing I've ever tasted. A million times more salty than vegemite. Yuck!



  • They served hot chips with peanut sauce, which struck me as revolting at the time. Now I realise it was probably some sort of satay type sauce and I'd probably love it.



  • Yep, we did visit a windmill. I think that was day my mum was filming away merrily only to discover later there was no film in the video recorder!



  • We visited some sort of touristy place where the bins would speak when you passed them saying "Papier here!" Or something. My memory of this is a little vague.



  • There was a lot of punk and new wave types about and I definitely gawked stupidly at them.



  • We went on a boat ride on the canal but as soon as it rocked I freaked and wanted to get off. So my dad got off with me. He doesn't like boats either and I provided him with a convenient smokescreen. Shhhhh, don't tell anyone! 😉



  • I remember some of the music that was popular at the time. Such as Double Dutch Bus and Grace Jones's Strange (I've Seen That Face Before). My parents bought a single of the latter, my brother the former. This was in the prehistoric days of vinyl records!




  • We almost missed the plane coming home! I'm not sure exactly how my parents got mixed up, but we were meandering around the airport thinking we had aaaages. Suddenly we heard our names being paged and had to bolt to the departure gate. We embarked red as beetroots, as all the other passengers gave us filthy looks. OOPS!


Those are snippets of memories from a very long time ago.

Sadly I've never visited any other countries, but if I could I'd visit the US, Canada and Prince Edward Island. Also; the UK. Not very likely at present, but you never know. Fingers crossed!

What about you?

Which countries have you visited?

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Question Of Why #FridayReflections


As a girl I would sit in the back seat of the car watching the world whizz by. I'd catch my reflection in the window and gaze at it intently. As I stared at myself suddenly I would be struck with a strange feeling I couldn't articulate. LOOK at that girl with green eyes and red hair. She's me. I'm her. How funny. How fabulous. How interesting. How very curious.  I wondered why I was ME.


Me as a girl. I was cute. 


WHY was I Vanessa, sitting in my parents car, weaving along suburban streets in Sydney? There's millions of people in the world.  Why aren't I one of them? I'm me. Not someone else. Inside this body. Experiencing this life.

The question came and went swiftly. It was too complex for my young psyche. After all, I was the kind of kid who never questioned the fanciful plots of Enid Blyton novels. Sometimes the thought was so odd I would begin to giggle. I couldn't really process or define what I was thinking and feeling.

I still can't exactly.

Mark Twain says this:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”Mark Twain

I am reminded of how when my mother was weary from my brother and I's constant "why's" she'd sigh and say: "Because Y's a crooked letter and Z's no better!"

It's as good an answer as any.

The thing is, I still don't know why I'm me. I'm glad I am (mostly), but I don't know if there was one specific purpose I was put on earth for.

It sometimes seems that trying to pinpoint certain whys in life isn't always beneficial. At least it isn't for me. I've never figured out exactly what it is I want to do or be when I grow up. And yes, I know. I AM grown up. That's my point. My life is more than half over (unless I live to be well over a hundred), and I still don't have the answers to a million whys. Or one important why.



I could say that I was born to be a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm grateful to be those things. Definitely. But I'm also just me. I'm not even the best at being those things, I just bumble along and hope for the best.

Maybe that other most important day of my life is yet to come. Maybe I will understand why one of these days. More likely I will just keep on stumbling along trying to be a better me than I was yesterday. Sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

And when I catch my reflection and see the middle aged woman who has replaced the little girl I will smile instead of sighing in dismay. I don't always have to know why. I just need to get on with it and be grateful.

What about you?

 Do you find it helpful to question why? 

Monday, 30 July 2018

If I Could #LifeThisWeek


If I could talk to the animals! Just imagine it! Or something...

Well actually, I DO talk to my dog. And she just looks at me like I'm nuts for some inexplicable reason.

Anyway, that was the first thing that popped into my head for this prompt. Because that's the way my brain works. Then I'll jump to the next random thing.

Which is THIS:

If I could, I would register for The Carpenters 50th Anniversary celebration thing happening in California next April. Then I would go, combining it with a family holiday. Sounds awesome, right?  Unfortunately, I would have to rob a bank first. So if I could please  borrow someone's balaclava?

Just kidding.

I could never rob a bank. Sigh.

First of all, I'd have to use a toy gun. Just like an old episode of The Golden Girls when they get held up by a dude in a Santa suit. (Random brain thing again. Bare with me...) Oh wait.


Random cute bears for no reason. 

Now my random brain is pondering if the expression is bare with me, or bear with me. The latter seems to imply there's an actual bear with me. But the former implies nakedness, and I really don't wanna go there. My random brain has backed me into a very awkward corner.

Moving on.

So where was I? Oh yes, the robbing a bank thing. Silly. I can't do that. Can I?

I'll have to win the lottery instead. Easy peasy. The odds are only astronomical, but meh. Why worry about inconsequential things like logic?

What I'm actually getting at is, if I could, I would go on a holiday. I'm sure it will happen soon. Except it'll be somewhere like Coonabarabran instead of California. Which is fine. I'll go anywhere at this point. Sniff.

Meanwhile, I am in the process of trying to make some changes but I don't want to talk about them at this point because then I'll talk myself out of it, or it won't happen, since I have a habit of announcing things and failing and this is a terrible run on sentence and I don't even know what I'm saying anymore.

And now for some more random 'if I coulds':

If I could, I would skip summer. Or go somewhere cooler. Or better still, make it perfect spring weather all year round, with some rain as well.

Yes, I would definitely make it rain, if I could. Maybe I should try a rain dance, but I don't dance. So magical thinking it is. Make it rain! Pretty please? Pretty please, with sugar on top? Does anyone say that anymore? I just did, so there's that.

If I could, I would lie in the sun all day like Cookie. But I have some stuff I wanna get done. Stuff that actually involves moving. Shame about that.

If I could, I would reinvent the human body so you could get exercise while sleeping. That would be SO much more efficient.

If I could, I would become a speed reader. Then I could read ALL THE BOOKS.

Presently I desire a cup of coffee, but it won't make itself. I find that frightfully rude. If I could, I would WILL the coffee to make itself. Furthermore, the housework should really do itself as well.

If I could, I'd create a magical land called Nessville (just came up with that name off the top of my head...) where cakies are good for you, cancer doesn't exit, everyone is kind and has a pet unicorn. Did I mention that logic is overrated?

Can't do any of those things.

But there is one thing I CAN do.

Bring this bewildering, babbling post crashing to its end.

DONE.

The End.

What would you do if you could?


Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Then And Now #FridayReflections


It often occurs to me that I essentially haven't matured much beyond the age of about twelve. Sure, I've gotten older. I've added a husband and some ankle biters.

Except they're not ankle biters anymore. Details. Hold it. Does anyone actually say ankle biters anymore? Oh right, I just did. So there's that.

Back to the maturity thing. In a lot of ways I've remained childlike. In the sense that I still love all the same things I did when I was twelve.

As a child I was known for make believin'. All alone I created fantasies. As I grew people called it self deceiving, but my heart helped me hold the memories...

Okay, that last paragraph is actually the words to a Carpenters song (Those Good Old Dreams). But that's my point. (I think I have one).




At age of twelve I loved:

  • Carpenters music.
  • Anne Of Green Gables.
  • Reading and books in general.
  • Dogs. 
  • Daggy movies and TV shows like The Golden Girls. 
  • Chocolate and cakie things. 
  • Barbie dolls. 

I still love all of them, except the Barbie dolls. I did manage to move on from those. 

Additionally, I was:

  • Shy.
  • Quiet.
  • Introverted.
  • A homebody. 
  • A daydreamer.

Some might say I've also suffered from a chronic case of the terrible affliction known as Resting Bitch Face since childhood. Especially considering my reluctance to smile in photos. Nice.

All of the above still applies at age 47. Sigh. Well, I guess I can summon up a smile for a snap these days. Sort of. Kind of. Maybe. Mostly. Okay, sometimes. Shut up.

It can be disconcerting to realise that you've never really grown up. But then again, adulthood is overrated.






And what is so wrong with all of those things anyway? It's not like I enjoyed setting things on fire as a child and haven't grown out of it! That would definitely be a problem. 

After all, even Resting Bitch Face has its advantages.




Winning!

What about you?

What were you like as a child?

Are you still the same now?

Linking up for Friday Reflections.

Monday, 9 July 2018

My Home Country #LifeThisWeek



I consider myself to be one very lucky chickadee to be born here in the Land of Oz. (Wait. What? Did I just call myself a chickadee? Get a grip, Ness). Not the same Oz that Dorothy visited. There are no wizards hereabouts. (Um. Did I just say hereabouts? Oh dear).

I mean the Land down under. Australia. Although maybe we are just a bunch of wizards and witches over here. A figment of your imagination. Australia doesn't exist, according to some conspiracy theorists. Could explain why my life feels surreal at times. Hmmmm. Interesting.

Alternatively, Australia DOES exist, but isn't actually a country. This nugget of wisdom came from a former Southern New Hampshire University Professor. I could be tempted to scoff and howl with derisive laughter at such a notion. But considering my own woeful ignorance of geography perhaps I shouldn't. I'm sure there's entire countries I'm unaware of. Oops.


I would defnitely forget the VB (beer). 


According to this comprehensive Buzzfeed listicle, there are some definitive ways to know you're a quintessential Aussie.  We call McDonald's Maccas. And apparently it's Straya, not Australia. However, I have to admit that I wonder if I'm somewhat UnAustralian. Which is not really a word, but neither is 'Maccas' so I'm going with it.

Here's why I feel UnAustralian:


  • I don't like sport. Participating in it, or watching it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's all bats, balls, BORING to me! 
  • I'm not really interested in the outback. I live in suburban Sydney and I have no interest in climbing Ayers Rock. Much to Mickey Blue Eye's disgust. He'd love to get one of those camper vans and trek around Oz. Not me. Sure, I'd love to travel more. But with decent accommodation that includes a private bathroom. None of this communal stuff for me. 
  • To be perfectly honest I can take or leave the beach. GASP! I know! Shocking, really. But THE SAND! And I don't like going in the surf because I'm scared of the waves. Plus, I'm very fair skinned, so it only takes ten minutes for me to end up red raw. No thanks. 
  • Also; I can't swim. I have a phobia of putting my head under water so I never learnt. And I don't really care anymore. My almost 80 year old father has never learnt either and he's OK. 
  • I'm ambivalent about meat pies. I like them if they're made with actual meat. But the sloppy grisly goop in most of them...Yuck! 
  • I don't really get into some of the classic  Aussie rock such as ACDC (or Acca Dacca as they're known). Sure, I don't mind hearing the odd Midnight Oil song because it reminds me of my brother (he listened to them all the time when we growing up), but I'm not a hardcore fan. 
  • I've never thrown any shrimp on the barbie. First of all, we don't say shrimp, we say prawns. Second of all, I've never known this to be a thing anyway. We have steaks and sausages on the barbie. 
  • Australia has a beer drinking culture. I hate the taste of beer.
  • I DO like vegemite, but only a very small scratching of it on buttered toast. 
  • I don't say things like "G'day mate" or "Bloody oath". Or call Australia "Straya". OK maybe I do use the odd mate here and there with my boys. But only because I get their names mixed up. Tell me I'm not the only one who gets their own children's names mixed up. Please?
I'm sure there's many other things that make me "UnAustralian", but that's a brief summary.  In spite of all this, I'm staying in my home country.

After all, we have Tim Tams (chocolate biscuits), Lamingtons (cakie things) and Caramello Koalas (koala shaped chocolates with caramel inside them) here. That's good enough for me! 

Straya. 

Love it. 

What about you?

Do you feel like you gel with your home country?

How do you know you're Australian (or not)?

Saturday, 7 July 2018

10 Things That Make Me Happy #FridayReflections


Hello again!  It's time for another groovy list type post! YAY! Well, I'm certainly excited. Because I'm listing ten things that make me happy. And that makes me...happy!

Because let's face it, there are many times in this gig called life when you feel flat, despondent, dejected, forlorn and just plain old blah. Shut up. Blah is totally a word.

Well, it's definitely a feeling anyway. I guess that's why I call it the blahs. Elton John can call it the blues. I can't stop him. But I'm sticking with the blahs. YOU can't stop ME. So ner.

It's important to have strategies in place to lift those blahs and hopefully feel better.

Here's ten things that make me happy whenever I have the blahs. I am challenging myself to not mention cakies whatsoever. Sure, they make me happy. Temporarily. Until I come down from my sugar high. And realise how frightfully fat I am. Sigh.

Plus I need to remind myself that there are plenty of other things out there that can help. And just back the hell away from the comfort eating. Seriously, Nesski.

Side note: my current Facebook profile picture is a photo of cakes with a 'So in love' frame. Told you. I need help.

Back to my list.

TEN THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY




  1. Exercise. Unfortunately the feeling better bit comes after the actual exercise itself. So rude. However, it's always worth it. With this in mind, I made myself move this morning by doing some brisk aerobics. Then I ate a cupcake. DOH. See? Seriously. Need. Help. 
  2. Writing/blogging. It's quite therapeutic. With the added benefit that when I'm tapping or scribbling away I can't shovel food into my gob. That's something.
  3. Getting out of the house. Even a trip to the library counts. I hope. Because I rarely go anywhere else. Oops. Note to self: get out more. 
  4. Patting my dog. This is usually done in conjunction with singing ridiculous made-up-as-I-go ditties to her. Such as this: "Cookie, the amazing dog! Cookie, the amazing dog! Cookie, the amazing dog! She's an amazing dog!" Meanwhile, Cookie looks at me like a I'm a lunatic. But so long as the lunatic keeps patting her she'll tolerate it.
  5. Cuddles/playing Uno with Mr 9. Despite his issues with losing, we still have fun. Always. 
  6. Watching something funny. My current favourite is DVDS of The Golden Girls. Admittedly some of the jokes haven't worn well, but overall I still love it. And I can always laugh at the 1980s fashion. That hasn't worn well either. Tee hee.
  7. Sing. Badly. See above. Lately (besides made up ditties to my dog) it's the soundtrack of Hello Dolly on rotation in my head. Who cares how bad you sound if makes you feel better? Well, perhaps my family. But I put up with their noise, so we're even.
  8. Reading. Books and reading have always been my happy place. Hence my many trips to the library. It's fortunate that such a simple thing can give me contentment. I'm happier with a bargain book from an op shop than extravagant designer shoes or handbags. Winning! 😁
  9. Dressing up a bit and putting some lipstick on. I'm fairly low maintenance these days in regards to grooming. But sometimes it's fun to pretend you're one of the Golden Girls and get your shoulder pads/earrings and a bit of lippy on. I now have the required silver hair without even trying. Just call me Dorothy/Rose/Blanche/Sophia. 
  10. All of the above things work really well for a passing case of the blahs, but sometimes things get a bit more grim and I require professional help. Talking to a good counselor or psychologist really helps. Even though it's HARD. Well, it is for me. I don't talk. But sometimes I have to force myself. Just like exercise. 

Bonus things that make me happy: Notebooks and pens, listening to music, cups of tea, or a glass of wine. It's the simple things, really. Don't you think?

Anyway, that concludes my list.

Now I'm off to watch The Golden Girls. Which begins by singing the theme song. Badly. 

"Thank you for being a frieeend..."




Linking up for Friday Reflections. 

Do you call it the blahs or blues?

What makes you happy?

Monday, 2 July 2018

Taking Stock: July 2018 #LifeThisWeek




Making: I don't really make much besides mess. It's a gift of mine. Winning. 

Cooking: Lots of roast dinners and soups because winter. 

Drinking: The occasional glass of plonk. And approximately 12 billionty cups of tea. Just for something COMPLETELY out of the ordinary.

Reading:  Various library books, including:

The Lucky One by Caroline Overington.

Is it just me or does there seem to be a tendency for authors to go too overboard with twisty endings these days? I don't know if it's a post Gone Girl thing or something? Anyway that was the feeling I was left with after reading the above title. Draw your own conclusions, I guess.

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington. 

I enjoyed this one. Highly recommended.


Trawling: Still haven't taken up trawling. Unless it's the library shelves. 

Wanting:  To watch Hello Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand again because I'm a dag.

Looking: For a Hello Dolly DVD at op shops. Didn't find it but did find the movie Shirley Valentine and season two of The Golden Girls. I like to live in the past. 

Deciding: Which daggy film and or TV shows to watch next. 

Wishing: Lots of things. 

Enjoying: Watching old daggy movies and TV shows. See above.

Waiting: Waiting, waiting, waiting... For what, I don't know. But if I keep waiting, surely it will come to me?

Liking: Electric blankets and hot showers. Although not together because that wouldn't end well. 

Wondering: What delectable delights we can have for lunch. It's only 11am, but details.

Loving: Hot soup and sleep ins. Although not together because who sleeps with soup? Well, I guess you never know. Have you ever watched an episode of My Strange Addiction? 

Listening: Songs from Hello Dolly which are on a permanent loop in my head. 

"We got elegance. If you ain't got elegance, you can never ever carry...

IT. OFF!"




Considering: Folding the pile of washing on the bed, but then I might be too overcome with the sheer and utter thrill of such a thing, rendering it impossible to return to normal life forevermore. Can't take that chance. 

Buying: A couple of DVDs and A Women's Weekly Basic Cookbook from a Salvos op shop. 

Watching: I think we've already covered this. 

Hoping: That my upcoming yearly mammogram will be all clear. I won't have it until August but that's coming all too quickly. Ugh. 

Marvelling: At how quickly the years fly by. Cliche, but true. See above.

Needing: To lose weight, de-clutter, exercise, fold the washing, cook dinner, hug a child. Well, at least I've done the latter. That's something. 

Questioning: Why I can't think of anything here but tonight when I want to sleep my brain will explode with ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Smelling:  Mandarins.

Wearing: Layers of clothing. Because c..c...c...cold. 

Noticing: That there's socks for cold feet and gloves for cold hands, but what about cold noses? Well, okay there's balaclavas, but I don't want to look like a bank robber. 

Knowing: I'd wear a god damn balaclava and walk around looking like a robber if I lived where it snowed. 

Thinking: I'm thinking that thinking is overrated.

Admiring: My dog. She's cute. 🐕

Getting: Ready for school holidays. 

Disliking: Cold noses. Well, I only have one. You know what I mean. 

Opening: Books, the fridge, my phone. Such a classy person.

Closing: Um. Books when I finish reading them. 

Feeling: Peckish. It's lunch time here, you see. Plus I'm always peckish. Shut up. 

Celebrating: My eldest son is turning 17 next week. Wait. What? Yep. My 'miracle baby' is 17! See? I wasn't wrong about the whole time flying cliche thing. 


Pretending:  To be a writer by participating in this Festival Of Words thing over at Write Tribe. It was fun!

Embracing: Writing more. And, I dunno, uncertainty about different things. What else can you do?

And that completes my June stock take.

Linking up for #LifeThisWeek. 

What are you loving in the month of June?

Image credit: http://hotbuysbazaar.blogspot.com/2017/07/july.html

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Open 24 Hours #WriteBravely #Day7




The car park was almost deserted under the welcoming glow of the neon sign. It was mostly a truck stop at this time of night. nondescript sedan swung into a car space. A woman got out and walked purposefully toward the door of the 24 hour diner. A place to rest along the highway.

She pushed the door open. The smell of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the icy air. Her glance swept over the near empty restaurant. A few truckers sat hunched over Phones or newspapers, sipping coffee. The woman paused before heading to the counter.

"What'll it be?" A spotty gum chewing young woman who was barely out of her teens asked.

"I'll take some coffee," the woman replied. "And the waffles with bacon and cream."

It figures, Spotty Girl thought, as she tapped in the order. The woman was tall and svelte. The kind of woman who still looked willowy even in a long grey coat. It looked expensive.

Probably Burberry or some other brand Spotty could never afford. Besides,  she would look a lumbering elephant in such a thing.

The woman had an equally expensive looking red scarf wound around her swan like neck and straight long blonde hair. She obviously spent a fortune on that hair. It was impeccable, even at this ungodly hour. She was almost a dead ringer for that Gwyneth Paltrow. Spotty couldn't stand her.

Blondie tapped her card briskly to pay, then slipped into a booth near the entrance. She bent over her phone. Every so often her eyes flicked towards the entrance,  then peered out into the dark car park. She must be expecting someone.

Spotty, whose real name, Frances, was emblazoned on the badge pinned to her smock type uniform, saw this kind of thing reasonably often during these graveyard shifts. Clandestine meetings. A secret rendezvous. Suburban soccer mums, middle aged dads. Meeting their lover in the dead of the night. Injecting some excitement in their otherwise stagnant lives.

Frances/Spotty poured endless cup after cup of coffee night after night and nobody ever noticed her. Nobody flirted or asked for her number. She was free to people watch.

"Order's up!" Nick, the short order cook snapped. She'd be scolded for daydreaming again. She shuffled over and placed the food in front of Blondie. There was no thank you. No acknowledgement. No common courtesy, as Trudie often lamented.

Her older sister had taken on a parental role since Mum had passed away a few years ago. Dad had taken off when they were little. She could barely remember him. Spotty set about polishing tables.

Minutes later, a man in a blue hoodie entered the diner and casually slid into the booth opposite Blondie. Her expression changed. Soon they were talking, their voices urgent. Blondie became more and more animated in between bites of bacon and waffles.

Spotty began polishing the tables behind them. Not that they needed polishing. But she had to keep busy, she reasoned.

"Are you sure?" Hoodie was saying. They huddled in closer.

"I just want her GONE!"

Spotty was all ears now. Perhaps Blondie was ordering a hit on her lover's wife? Or her husband's girlfriend?

Nah, she'd been watching too many episodes of Criminal Minds.

That's what Trudie would say. "You need to get out more! Meet people."

"I'm around people all the time at work."

That was just another bone of contention. "How can you date when you work night shift?" Trudie wailed. As if there was a line of men vying to date her.

Blondie was smiling now. Positively jubilant. "Can't wait till that bitch is dead!"

Spotty placidly kept polishing even as her heart skipped a beat
. She'd become skilled at eavesdropping if nothing else.

"Five thousand," Hoodie named his price.

Blondie pouted then smiled coquettishly "I can give you three... and...sex..." she laughed.

Spotty went back to the counter reluctantly as another trucker ambled into the diner.

Dawn was beginning to creep in through the darkness. The neon sign a beacon in the fog. Soon the breakfast rush would begin in earnest. Spotty's shift would end.

She noticed Blondie get up to use the rest room as she finished serving the trucker. Presumably to rid herself of all those calories. Women like her never digested such food.

Spotty was grateful it was knock off time. She didn't want the odious task of cleaning any resultant mess in the ladies room. Wouldn't be the first time she was roped into it, despite janitor not being her job title.

Outside, Spotty adjusted her backpack and lit a cigarette. A quick one before she got the bus back to the burbs. It was light now, with clearing fog. It was going to be a sunny winter's day.

Blondie was strutting back to her car. Spotty glanced back inside. Hoodie was nowhere to be seen.

Spotty watched the men approach Blondie. She didn't flinch when the plain clothed detectives flashed their badges.

"You're under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder."

Spotty stared. Holy shit! This was AWESOME. A real life criminal minds in the car park at work!

Blondie denied any wrongdoing as they continued reading her rights. But Spotty knew what she'd heard. Besides, it would all be on the diner's CCTV cameras. Blondie wasn't a very smart criminal for all her surface elegance.

The neon sign flickered off as Blondie was taken away.

Spotty headed to the bus stop, phone to ear.

"Trudie? You'll never guess what just happened..."

The End.

Written for Festival Of Words 2018 Day 7 using the above photo prompt. (And unlike Spotty, I've clearly been watching/listening to too much true crime stuff...😃)

Aaaaaand that's a wrap.  It's been fun!

Thanks for reading.

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Dear Maud #WriteBravely #Day6




Dear Maud,

I know your full name is Lucy Maud Montgomery, but I'm of the understanding that you preferred to be called just Maud. Without an E. Which is interesting, given that your iconic and beloved character Anne Shirley always insisted upon Anne WITH an E.

I know you received millions of these gushing fan letters in your time, and even after your time. So what could I say that hasn't already been said? Most likely nothing. But I'll say it anyway.

Just like many of your other readers, I feel like we could have been kindred spirits. I love the way you wove warmth and humour into all of your stories. The way you described the setting of Prince Edward Island in such a poetic and evocative way.

It almost felt like I was there strolling through Lover's Lane, breathing in the majestic splendour of the White Way Of Delight.

I could taste the currant wine and plum pudding. I longed for a dress with puffed sleeves, even though puffed sleeves are quite ridiculous these days.

You made me fall in love with Gilbert Blythe. As well as girl crush on Anne Shirley. That's not weird at all, right?




Even many decades after I first read your books, I can still pick them up again and be enchanted. They're like familiar old friends. There is so much comfort and joy amongst their pages.

And Maud, I must confess, I love to dabble a little with writing. Tapping and scribbling away. For no other reason than it just makes me feel better. Just like your other heroine Emily Byrrd Starr, I need to 'write it out'.

As you wrote in Emily Of New Moon,
"Emily, in the delightful throes of literary composition, was lost to all worldly things." (p83).

YES.

But much to my chagrin, I lack your fire. Your fierce determination. Your drive and ambition. I read that you were so driven to write that you awoke early, even during frosty Canadian winters, and wrote. Myself, and many others are forever grateful that you did.

It haunted me to discover that ultimately you may have, in fact, taken your own life.

It pains me to think of someone who gave so many people so much joy, being in such distress and turmoil herself. I'm also reminded of one of my other hero's: the late great Karen Carpenter. And then I wonder why I seem to be drawn to such figures. Talented, humorous, kind but ultimately troubled.

I had always hoped that one day I may be able to visit Prince Edward Island and pay my respects. This possibility is becoming more remote, but I guess you never know.

In the meantime, I can revisit your wonderful words and characters.

Thank you, Maud, from a heartfelt fan and kindred. Thank you for the beautiful gift of your writing and imagination. 


I will remain yours respectfully,

Ness

Written for Festival Of Words 2018 Day 6, using the prompt:

Day 6 – 29 Jun – Write a letter to a person who supported your writing career, whether that be a friend, a family member, a teacher (even one that supported you at a very young age before you knew that it would blossom into a writing career), an author you’ve never met but have been inspired…

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Call #WriteBravely #Day5



Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/search/telephone/


Catherine knew she had to make the call. As soon as she opened her eyes the thought pierced her brain. The surgery would be open at 8.30 so she could get it out of the way. She was due at her Weight Watchers meeting at 10. It was just a formality. She was sure it was nothing.

"This won't kill you," her GP had said. Dr  Fiona McAllister had a forthright but reassuring manner. She had guided Catherine's hand to her right breast where she'd found the small lump. Catherine had felt an odd sense of detachment as she lay there for the exam.

Slowly she got up, put her bra and top on, smoothed her crumpled hair. Maybe if she focused on these simple tasks she could pretend this wasn't happening.

"I don't think it's cancer," Fiona was saying. Her actions belied her words. She picked up the phone to book Catherine in for a mammogram. She'd only come in for a routine check up. There had been no inkling of any worrying lumps or symptoms. Besides, she was young, fit and healthy. Wasn't she? Her hard work at Weight Watchers had paid off. She'd never felt better.

"How's tomorrow?"
"Fine," Catherine's voice seemed to be coming from far away. If she doesn't think it's cancer, why the hurry? Another voice whispered ominously in the back of her mind.

Common sense clicked back into place the following morning. She remained calm as the imposing machine crushed her flesh. The imaging staff were encouraging. It seemed almost certain that it was something small and benign. The results confirmed it. There was no need for alarm.

Fiona insisted on sending Catherine for a biopsy anyway. That's the kind of doctor she was. Thorough, as well as kind. It was one of the reasons Catherine never put off her appointments. Checking in with Fiona was almost like chatting with a good friend.

Catherine uncurled her legs from the bed and padded to the bathroom. She went through her morning ritual as she reflected on the past few weeks. She brushed her teeth, put the coffee on. Carefully chose her clothes.

Soon she was dressed and caffeinated. Time to make the call. To cross it off her to-do list. It was just a formality. Then the eerie voice surfaced again.

"They don't send you for a biopsy unless they're worried there's a chance of finding something."

She placed the call with shaky hands and a thundering heart. A rush of dread threatened to engulf her. Fiona was with a patient but would ring her back immediately. Catherine waited for the phone to ring and her heart to slow.

Danny had taken the girls to school en route  to his office. They hadn't been expecting bad news. She picked up her mobile phone and began scrolling through social media to distract herself. Seconds later, the landline blared.

"Hello," she said.. Her equilibrium had returned. Soon she could get on with her day.

"Hi Catherine, it's Fiona," the doctor was her usual warm but professional self. She didn't waste any time.

"I'm sorry, but they did find something."

"Fuck," Catherine blurted.

Fiona didn't blanch.  "That was my reaction, too when I read it."

Catherine was instructed to get a pen. Writing the words would make it real. This can't be happening.

Infiltrating carcinoma insitzu.

Infiltrating? She didn't like the sound of this. Why?

She thought of Danny and the girls going about their day. Blissfully unaware that their whole world was currently being turned upside down. Fiona wanted them to come to the surgery as soon as possible to make a plan.

She called Danny and got his voice mail. She left a croaky message. The words couldn't quite come out. He called back five minutes later. Her panic had clearly been discernible through the croakyness.

"They found something," she told him.

"Shit. I'm sorry," She knew he would want to be as positive and proactive as possible.

"I'm going to call Fiona and then I'll be home to go with you," her husband said. 

She hung up and immediately picked up the phone again to call her mother.

The conversation was brief. Audrey drove straight over.  The two women embraced. Her mother was always a tower of strength, but this would be so difficult for her. She always hated to see Catherine suffer.

"I'm going to phone Penny," she said.

Catherine paced while her mother placed the call. Penny was a good friend of her parents who was in the medical field. She would be able to recommend a good surgeon.

Audrey passed her the phone, but Catherine wasn't capable of small talk at the best of times.

"Look, it's a journey," Penny told her. It wouldn't be the first time she would hear that word.

But she would face the journey and the fear. She knew she would.

"She's stronger than she thinks," Fiona remarked later, as they sat in her office preparing referrals and appointments. The first of many more to come.

Catherine was slowly accepting her new reality. Later, when she reflected upon her "journey", as she was loathe call it, she realised something. Fiona's words that day had been true.

Somehow she had made it through the long road of surgery, chemo and radiation.  She'd faced up to something she'd never believed she could.

"I don't run from anything anymore," she thought.

The End.

But only the beginning...

Side note: This is a fictionalised version of my own breast cancer diagnosis, with names and some other details changed. Inspired by the following quote:


“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.” – Mulan

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words.