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Scribbles on life, the universe and everything…
November 6, 2013Posted by on
As we wind out way through the quiet streets of Katoomba the greenery surrounding us strikes me as odd We are in the Blue Mountains ravished only two weeks ago by bushfire. Yet, here in Katoomba we are not seeing any of the devastation. It helps that darkness is upon us, leaving me to wonder if we will see a different scene in the daylight.
Tonight it is all about finding our accommodation Lush on Lurine. We booked it on Airbnb, an online community marketplace where people list their private accommodation ranging from a room in their home to a whole home rental. Founded in 2008, Airbnb has only been in Australia since 2012 and this is our first time using the site.
Lush on Lurine is a heritage-listed home built in 1898. We have booked a separate bedroom with en-suite and sitting room. We are not disappointed. Jilea greets us with her beautiful Irish Wolfhound Oi, and gives us a quick tour before settling us in with a complimentary glass of wine. Lush on Lurine is…lush! Very eclectic, colourful, cozy and eccentric, I want to run home to redecorate. Even the shower has aromatherapy oil to stimulate your senses.
Waking up refreshed and relaxed (and after a wonderful breakfast and great coffee) we set out to peruse the delightful village of Leura known for its famous chocolate shop Josaphans. Okay, maybe that’s not all Leura is known for, but I have to share Josaphans with you. It is where you will find no preservatives, no additives, no artificial flavours, fresh, gluten free, beautiful orgasmic chocolates. Need I say more?
We take our little bag of chocolates and go for coffee. Al proceeds to take a bite out of each of my chocolates after eating all of his. Mumbling something about me having more chocolates, he is attempting to justify his actions. That’s the silliest excuse I have ever heard. He should have bought more if he wanted more. Everyone knows I don’t share chocolates!
We move on to shopping in Leura,then back to Katoomba to stop in at a local pub for Gluten Free pizza, an afternoon cocktail, and reminisce about an awesome time at said pub with Shannon Groenendyk when she visited us a few years back. How time flies!
A quick trip and hike to the Three Sisters and then back to Lush on Lurine to sit on the back deck drinking in the picturesque garden while sipping a well deserved glass of wine. I proceed to kick Al’s ass at crib. He may have a different story, but I don’t care, this is my story!
After another restful sleep our destination today is Jenolan Caves. We meet up with friends for lunch, a quick grocery shop and head towards our destination.
Al decides on the Bells Line of Road route. It is sobering. As far as you can see burnt eucalypt lining both sides of the road. We come across the occasional house intact, surrounded by the blackened trees and scarred land. Amazing. Around the next bend is rubble of tin, brick and burned out cars, the remnants of someone’s life, home, and dreams all gone up in smoke. The smell of fire and devastation hangs in the air.
We see the signs. As we wind our way along the road, they are becoming frequent, simple, and poignant. Printed on fabric and strung between the blackened tree trunks, or made of tin or metal roofing from the houses and barns that once were, they are nailed, stating the sentiments of those who were affected. They vary slightly, some simply saying “thank you”. Others articulate “RFS you’re a ripper” “Thank you Firies” “RFS & SES you rock”.
The signs may differ slightly, but the sentiment is the same refering to the selfless work of the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and State Emergency Services (SES). Both are volunteer organizations. Along side the professionals, these organizations are essential to saving countless lives of Australians every year.
The last part of the road to Jenolan Caves is one way from 11:45 -1:15 every day and is really just a goat track, a series of hairpin turns, one after another, after another. I can feel my stomach turning; it is not a Judy friendly road!
Alas, we have made it. I have been here once before, yet still enthralled as we drive through the Grand Arch and enter the site of the oldest discovered open caves in the world.
Saturday morning Al & I are up bright and early. We decide to hike (3 km) around the lakes and river rather than do a cave tour. I have done a few of the caves here before and there are many more to explore, but friends and family will not be surprised that I prefer to stay above ground!
As we hike we are searching Blue Lake for the elusive platypus. We know they are here because we saw a sign saying they have been seen in Blue Lake, one of the only known public places in NSW that people have the opportunity to see the platypus in the wild. We are not disappointed. Right in front of us, we see a baby platypus foraging in the clear shallow lake water. As we edge closer another platypus scrambles into the water shocked from the lakes edge. The baby takes no notice and gives us an excellent view. It surfaces and floats in front of us for a few minutes. Amazing! The platypus is extremely shy. We are lucky to be receiving this private show. If you ask most Australian, they will not have seen a platypus in the wild.
These are odd-looking animals. When Europeans first encountered the platypus, a pelt was taken back to Great Britain, but scientists considered it a hoax thinking somebody had sewn a ducks bill onto a beaver like animal. Too funny!
Saturday evening we sit in the Grand Arch nestled in our camping chairs enjoying the Rhythm Hunters, a fusion of drumming and indigenous songs, with strong Sumatra influences, a visual and acoustic feast like no other.
Before we know it, Sunday has arrived and it’s time to head for home.
From the Blue Mountains, delectable chocolate, Jenolan Caves, land ravished by recent bushfires, RFS recognition strung between the charred eucalypt, to the unique platypus…distinctive, exceptional, formidable, inimitable…this is Australia!
December 18, 2012Posted by on
People can be very interesting, especially when traveling. My flight left Sydney a half hr late because it was a full flight and could not be loaded quickly due to all the people trying to stow their carry on luggage. I saw people with 3 or 4 bags each. Why Qantas lets these people have so much carry on, I will never know. But, who am I to question how Qantas runs their airline!
It just doesn’t matter, because boarding a flight means I am travelling. And, I am very happy when I am travelling especially to somewhere I haven’t been before.
This time, I am on my way to Darwin in the Northern Territory in Australia. I haven’t been to Darwin before, nor anywhere else in the Northern Territory. Exciting enough to be going somewhere new, but more exciting because Darwin is warm. Average temperature during dry season (which is now) is 20 degree lows and 30 -32 degree days. Lovely!
Darwin only actually has two seasons, the wet season from October to May and the dry season from May to November. Either way, the temperature doesn’t change much! The dry season means no rain for 5 months. Imagine!
I arrive in Darwin via a four hour stop over in Alice Springs. I have no plans to leave the airport because I have work to do, but want to come back another time to see Alice and Uluru. Will have to leave that for another adventure.
Flying into Alice gives one a sense of amazement of just how vast and ever changing Australia is. As we near Alice you can see the landscape change to desert like conditions although it is officially not a desert. The ribbons of sand dunes cover the land as far as the eye can see. There are specks of white, which I believe are salt marshes. Occasionally you will see specks of darkness where there are actual trees.
What a difference from the landscape I saw when leaving Sydney. Vast white sandy beaches, inviting blue ocean and breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains which really do have a blue hue.
Another element of traveling that I absolutely love is meeting people. I am probably considered a pain in the ass because I just about always get talking to whomever is sitting next to me on my flight.
The trip to Alice is no exception. I meet this lovely couple from Nepal. They have been five years in Sydney and are now moving to Tennent Creek via a sponsorship. He will work in Tennent Creek for two years and then they will be eligible to stay in Australia. To say they are excited is an understatement. They have no idea what Tennent Creek is like and they don’t care. She has learned that you can not swim in any water there due to crocodiles. She is not concerned because they are going to have their own house. Their excitement is contagious. By the time we reach Alice, I am excited for them and spend some minutes dreaming of their life to come!
My time passes quickly in Alice airport. There is free Internet and I have managed to get quite a bit of work done. I am more than ready to move on to Darwin. Warm weather here I come!
Al is at the airport waiting for me. What a Honey he is! He has already picked up the car rental, settled us in to Sky City Casino and Resort, and is now back at the airport to pick me up. My immediate thoughts on Darwin? Warm! Love it.
It’s dark and I don’t get to see much, but that’s okay. We have a lovely dinner and settle in for the night lulled to sleep with the sound of waves lapping on the beach.
Tuesday and Al has to work all day, so do I! I settle myself in for the day and work by the pool. I even had the pool boy (not Al) deliver my lunch. This is the way working life should be!
In the evening, we amble over to Mitchell St known for it’s bars and backpackers. Low and behold an ad for Canadian Club. They seem to be doing some heavy advertising in Australia lately. Go CC!
Wednesday is our day off. We take the opportunity to look around Darwin, walk the waterfront (don’t want to swim as there are crocs) and then Al decides we must drive some of the Stewart Highway looking for a road train. We didn’t have to go far. As we sat at the intersection waiting to turn onto the highway, two road trains went by. These pics are for Jason and Kallen. Not sure who will enjoy them more!
One would be remiss if they didn’t mention the sunsets in Darwin. They are spectacular, no wait, beyond spectacular. The sunsets alone are worth the trip to Darwin.
October 30, 2012Posted by on
I am honoured. Tonkin have outdone themselves this year by putting together an outstanding programme for the EA/PA Skills Forum. This year’s event includes an amazing line-up of extremely experienced senior EAs and PAs at the top of their game. The sessions on the programme have obviously been carefully thought out and are specifically targeted to meet the needs of EA and PAs looking to enhance their skills set and advance their career to the next level. I’m particularly looking forward to the superb net-working opportunities this event will provide. Hope to see you there!
June 14, 2012Posted by on
My hands were shaking, my knees were quaking, my heart pounding and my throat dry. First date? No. Worse, much worse. How did I get myself into this situation?
Let me take you back. It’s the year 1999 and I am attending college. A late bloomer, but that’s another story! I find myself preparing to give a presentation (for the life of me, I can’t remember what I was presenting on) in front of about 50 – 100 students in the auditorium.
I have a problem, fear has engulfed me. I just wish I would die, right on the spot. Maybe a heart attack? Quick and easy, hopefully relatively painless as I have heard that people can “drop dead” from heart attacks. Yes, that would work. It would certainly get me out of this situation I am in right now. I am ill prepared. Better prepared for the heart attack than for the speech, that’s for sure. I am positive everyone can tell that I am nervous. Certainly my fellow students can tell because we are all standing around back stage murmuring ” I am so nervous, I think I would rather die.”
I have my speech somewhat memorised, although I am now thinking I should have spent more time practicing. What am I saying? I should have spent ANY time practicing. I am so not prepared. Luckily I have the speech typed out in large font so I can just read it. How hard can it be? But then the fear engulfs me again. How did I get myself into this situation? Everyone is going to see my hands shaking as I read my speech. My voice is going to quiver. I don’t look good. I should have worn a dress. Yes, I am thinking of all the negatives and not thinking about my speech at all.
My name is called. F%@K, that was fast. I walk onto the stage, introduce myself ( I think) and start reading my speech hands shaking, knees knocking. Lucky thing I didn’t wear that dress. People would have been able to see my knees. Why the hell didn’t I memorise this speech because the pages are shaking so bad, I can hardly read!
I hurry through thinking the least time on stage, the better! With speech having been delivered (I think), I exit. Stage left, or right or…just exit! I can’t remember how I left the stage or what happened on stage. Did I make it through my speech? I don’t know. I do know, I am never putting myself through this again. I have just been to hell and back and it wasn’t fun!
I never did remember what I said or how I said it on stage and I never put myself in that situation again. But rather than let the fear win, I decided to educate myself ( or rather seek out others who could help) and learn how to speak in public. One of the first things I did was join a Toastmasters Club.
To my shock, I wasn’t the only one who felt this kind of overwhelming fear of public speaking. In fact it’s more the norm. People really do fear death more than they fear speaking in public. When you come right down to it, that’s just ridiculous! I also discovered the audience isn’t there to see you fail, they are there to hear you speak. They are interested in what you have to say. And they care.
I have since realised this after becoming a confident and competent speaker, I have sat through speeches delivered by people who are overwhelmed with fear. And, all I could think of when listening to them struggle is ” I want to help.” I am willing them to get the words out. I want them to succeed. I want them to feel the nervous excitement one feels when they deliver a well prepared speech. It’s exhilarating.
It has taken years and a lot of practice. One does not become a speaker overnight. But with practice, I have learned not to just control my nerves and fear, but use them to enhance my speech with nervous excitement. I have also surrounded myself with supportive people I can practice in front of. I know now that the audience can’t tell how nervous you are and if then can,they are empathetic and want you to succeed.
Some tips I have learned over the years; I practice deep breathing before speaking, this helps to calm nerves as it slows the heart rate down. I move around as much as possible to warm my muscles. More importantly, I practice my speeches and then when I think I have practiced enough, I practice some more. And, I will myself to stay in a positive head space. Public speaking has given me confidence. Not just confidence in myself, but confidence in my message.
I do make mistakes. I have become over confident and found myself in situations where I haven’t practiced enough or I make a mistake in my presentation. It’s okay. I accept imperfection and often the audience doesn’t even notice the mistake. This makes it easier to just “let it go.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am nervous every time I speak. And, that’s okay. My internal voice that once told me, ” I am never putting myself through this again” was a voice that came from fear. But, I have embraced and mastered my fear. I now use my nervous and anxious thoughts and turn them into energy to enhance my speech. I have conquered my fear of public speaking by turning that fear into my friend!
“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you are scared to death” Harold Wilson
January 23, 2012Posted by on
You will always live in my heart and my memories.
You touched the lives of not just me, but so many with your gentleness and open heart.
I am flooded with memories.
When I was a little girl, you wiped away my tears.
Gave unconditional hugs often.
Made me feel so special by sharing in your wedding day. I so loved that purple dress!
Made my life miserable by teaching my son to crawl at five and a half months.
You thought it was so funny.
You thought everything was funny. How beautiful!
Always saw the positive in people and in life.
Tried to teach me how to iron. Declared me a lost cause (and so rightly so)
Accepted everything that came your way or happened in your life with grace,
calmness and dignity…Always.
And your cheesecakes! How memorable were they?
Although after making how many for Erin’s wedding,
they didn’t have quite the same allure for a few years!
We went to the bar when I was underage (you were such a cool sister)
and you got I’d and I didn’t.
It was your young personality and beautiful ice blue eyes.
Life is meant to be lived and that’s exactly what you did and you did it well.
We had such good times when we were together.
We laughed until we cried,
but now I am just crying because your leaving has left a hole in my heart.
I know that hole will fill with all these memories and more,
but that takes time, so much time.
You have always been a committed Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Daughter, Sister and Friend.
It was your purpose in life to shower your friends and family with your love.
And you did.
Right now, I envision you camping lakeside, sitting in your comfy chair,
sipping a glass of wine.
At peace, knowing that all whose lives you have touched have a warm spot in their heart and a smile on their face, including me.
Gone to soon, but loved forever. RIP my sister, Jeune.
December 5, 2011Posted by on
Saturday morning and all is going well. We have actually gone out and got the Christmas tree, brought it home and had it up and ready to decorate by 9 a.m. It is my job to decorate the tree as I lovingly like to place each decoration with intention. I like my tree to look nice, really nice!
But, in the last three years,a strange thing has happened as I decorate the tree and this year is no different, I start to feel sad. It is a major case of homesickness!
This year I notice how each decoration that I place evokes memories of the past. The little gold angel has my daughters name inscribed on it. The fabric pinecone I made with my friends Shari and Nancy. We had a blast making those decorations.
I have three homemade decorations from Carolyn. I should have more. Considering I have known Carolyn for almost 30 years and she is well known for making and giving decorations, I wonder where the rest went. It also brings to mind how many Christmases our two families have spent together…many.
Some decorations remind me more of a time, rather than a person. I bought two wooden decorations made by Tony from Quatsino, but I bought them at the craft fair in Port McNeill. The annual craft fair is a huge event in Port McNeill. I have attended it with many different friends over the years. Always was a good day out.
Many of my decorations are from my childhood, like the red bells that fit over Christmas light causing them to glow. We had those red bells when I was a child, which I find strangely odd since we didn’t have power when I was a child. We always had lights on the tree though. When the generator was going, the tree was lit up. It was always lit up on Christmas morning.
I like having themed trees and one year I decided to have all bells as my theme, but I couldn’t afford to go out and buy a ton of bells, so Mom and Jackie croqueted me a bunch bells. These same bells adorn my tree every year along with other decorations, as I have gone off the themed tree thing. I have too many decorations that wouldn’t fit the theme and I want them all on the tree.
Like the cross stitch from Jackie (I have a red bird and a moose) and the little box from my two Granddaughters. It holds their picture and when you hit the button, they sing. Their angelic voices bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eye because I miss them and the other Grandchildren so much.
I have newer decorations that also have meaning. Al and I went to Bellingham our first Christmas together and we bought two of the cutest little wine glasses. They bring back a memory of a wonderful snow filled, magical trip.
The tree was all decorated, I stood back to admire it, while Al tried to straighten it because it had a deadly lean to it…crash, the whole thing came down.
After turning the power off and making sure Al hadn’t been electrocuted, I picked the tree up. There was broken glass and ornaments all over the floor. I started to cry.
The first loss was actually a silly buy from years before when I had started making decent money in the logging industry. I had celebrated by buying three hand painted balls for about $70. Extravagant, but fun at the time. One had broken years ago, now the other two were laying on the floor in pieces, along with one of the wineglasses,but they weren’t what brought me to tears. It was the little hand painted bell from Berdie (from Quatsino). I have (had) three. Two small bells and a large one and they are painted with little flowers. Berdie was a very talented artist. She is long gone and now so is the large bell. I think she gave them to me the year I moved out and was going to have to decorate my own tree.
I cried for the loss of the bell, for being so far away from my friends, for the memories, for being a world away from my family whom I love and miss like crazy.
The tree is redecorated, minus some decorations. I know the decorations are gone forever, but not my memories, they remain. To all my friends and family, I miss you. I wish you a wonderful Christmas full of awesome memories and a healthy and Happy New Year.
November 11, 2011Posted by on
I am always looking for ways to learn and improve myself. One area I know I need to work on is listening skills or lack thereof. I can see the heads nodding of just about every family member and friend I have. Yes, I admit it; I am not the best listener in the world. I can hear my daughter who has told me a million (or at least a hundred) times that it’s my ADD. And, I don’t think she means that as a plus!
I try hard to listen, but it seems my mind is going 300 miles an hr, which means I am never really 100% focused on what the other person is saying. I work on it through Toastmasters, reading and being aware of (and admitting to) my shortcomings.
So, it is a breath of fresh air, when I have the opportunity to watch someone who has mastered listening skills. Yesterday, I attended a meeting with my new boss. Because it is only my second week on the job, it is the first real meeting I have been involved in that included a potential investor/member.
This meeting is where it all happened. Where I was blown away by the high level of listening skills Mr. Boss has. He was genuinely interested in every word Mr. Potential was saying. Not that I am not genuinely interested in what people say to me, it is just hard to concentrate sometimes. The difference with Mr. Boss is that he was living “in the moment”. It was amazing to watch Mr. Potential respond to an active, sincere listener who asked the right questions at the right time and listened with interest and integrity to each answer as it was given.
Was I sincerely listening during this conversation? No, I was observing and trying to figure out how I could learn how to become a genuine active listener. I can hear you now, “first learn to listen”, which is what I wasn’t doing! “Learn to be in the moment”, well I was kind of doing that, wasn’t I?
I strive to learn this skill, not just to be a better listener, but because I know how it feels when Mr. Boss is actively listening to me. It makes me feel special (in a good way) and I want to pass that feeling on to others. I want “living in the moment” to be something that comes naturally, not a struggle to achieve.
So, this is my challenge to myself, I am going to learn to actively listen with sincerity. Imagine the possibilities!
Focus, focus focus, I can hear Al laughing now!
May 24, 2011Posted by on
We all love to hear the words “You’ve won!” I was lucky enough to hear those words last Thursday. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the lottery or anything as life changing as that, but it was pretty good, a cruise on Sydney Harbour while being pampered!
I had written a “Life’s Good” blog in a contest that Brenda Gaddi of Mummytime.com was running. She is an official tweeter for LG. Yes, the same LG that produces products such as the surround sound in my living room.
I was one of two lucky winners Brenda had chosen to share her “Life’s Good” cruise with.
Life started out good with a beautiful sunny day and just got better from there.
We were treated to a wonderful selection of sushi, decedent chocolate dipped strawberries, massages, manicure, pedicures and to top it off, had the opportunity to meet Fifi & Jules and some very interesting and well deserving women.
Did I mention the wine and champagne that flowed freely throughout the cruise?
LG and Brenda, thank you for the extraordinary experience. Not one I will soon forget.
April 27, 2011Posted by on
Perhaps it’s my negativity, but I find some people who consider themselves positive role models to be nothing more than damaged individuals who live within their own “positive” reality that isn’t very positive at all.
I find it hypocritical to call yourself a positive person when you use your tongue to offend others. Being racist is not positive, telling a person to be something other than what they are is not positive. Talking down to people is not positive. “Telling” people your success story instead of “sharing” your success story is not positive. Thinking you are perfect and others are not, is not positive.
I acknowledge that my positive attitude requires work; in fact it requires constant work. But, I also know that money isn’t everything and does not necessarily mean success, although I am willing to have money as well as my other successes.
I like money, but I don’t need money to know I have successfully raised two beautiful children, I am successful in my life, happiness and my relationship, and in fact I think I am the luckiest person in the world when it comes to spouses. I scored a perfect man!
It doesn’t matter what colour skin you have, or what walk of life you come from, I am likely to like you because I am a people person… I like people. I don’t see myself as inferior to you, but I don’t see myself as better than you either. I work hard not to judge and ask that you do the same.
I like to have conversations with people, not at people. I like to share my stories, but I want to hear yours too. I am not perfect at my conversational and listening skills, but I work at them…do you?
I am polite. I won’t tell you how pretty I am or how young I look and you could to if you were just like me. I won’t tell you that you have to change if you want to be successful. Why won’t I tell you these things? Because it is rude and who am I to be pretentious enough to think that I know the exact changes you should make to be successful or that you are unhappy with how you look. In fact, you may already consider yourself successful and I will bet a lot of people think you look great just as you are.
Yes, this is a rant and yes I am almost finished with my rant. So, how to handle these people, these positive people who are not actually positive people at all? Fuck them! I know that’s not a very positive statement, but that’s who I am. I won’t tell them that, because it’s my “stuff” and I don’t want to hurt their feelings.
I am caring, polite, considerate of others, a worrier, emotional, a hard worker, negative at times, positive at times, always a believer in the human race, a lover, an adventurer, a seeker of opportunity and loving of all things and people great and small, black and white (unless you are a spider). That my friends’ is what I positively believe…to be the secret!
March 25, 2011Posted by on
I had never imagined that I would be in a relationship where I had to be concerned about a Mistress as I have a lot to offer. I offer him my unconditional love and feel that love back. But it’s not enough to stave away the Mistress. Not only do I have to agonize about her, she has strength and a seductiveness that cannot be matched.
She clutches my man with determination and stamina that leads me to believe she is the devil herself. Her grasp is at times tender, enveloping him, creating a sense of euphoria, the experience…orgasmic. Suddenly, she digs her nails in; the euphoria is replaced with a primal need. Once again, he is under her spell.
She doesn’t make him happy, in fact the opposite is true; she devours his very soul. This is not love, not the kind of love he and I share, yet still, I know that when I am with him, he is thinking of her.
Their relationship is strong, all consuming, racked with guilt. Not from her, the guilt is reserved for him. She is not just a Mistress; she is an obsession, his obsession.
He has tried to leave her…many times. She gently massages him, drawing him back into her clutches, once again. She offers a hedonic experience. An experience he craves, to the point of thinking of no others.
Who is this Mistress who carries so much power?
Her name…Addiction! An all-consuming food addiction!
How do I compete with his Mistress? I believe. I believe in our love, I believe in his strength to overcome, I believe in him and I support him…unconditionally.