Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Toastmasters changeover dinner – Dimboola!

Late in June it the time when Toastmaster’s executives think of meeting their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and passing the baton to the new executive.

The Ettalong Beach and Coastal Communicators Toastmasters Clubs held a joint handover dinner at the Avoca Bowling Club.

The theme was the Dimboola country wedding – dreamed up and organised by Ettalong’s Gail Heggie – the result was both hilarious and successful!!! Great job Gail!

Ettalong has had a great year. As outgoing President I want to thank the entire club, especially my excellent executive. We hit all 10 KPIs! Brill!

The Groom (me) was from a family of hillbillys and dressed accordingly. The bride (from Coastal Communicators) was from a posh family and dressed accordingly.

David Tonkin has produced a video image presentation with the Dimboola song – click here

Judy and Al - Hillbillys at Toastmasters.

Judy and Al - Hillbillys at Toastmasters.

By the way – Dimboola is a real place in Victoria, Australia… View Larger Map

Confessions of a Food Addict!

Have you ever sneaked a tasty morsel, especially when your partner was not looking?

Do you typically put eating a meal as a very high priority?

Do you feel guilty after eating?

Do you have occasional binges where no amount of food will satisfy your cravings?

Does eating become an obsession?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be a food addict!

Research is beginning to shed light on the plight of us mega munchers. To be clear, I am not referring to those amongst us who have the odd “naughty” treat, I mean those who are out of control and paying for it;  financially and with obesity! For those of us who suffer this syndrome, food is our nightmare! Most of us say we love food, and we probably do.

Interestingly, I started to write this months ago. I just saw the following article and felt like yelling Hallelujah! Article: Junkies and Food Addicts Share Craving Mechanism.

Can a Lap Band help?

For me, I still get the mega cravings. I need a hit! I can’t eat enough but if I use lots of willpower I can struggle along. I asked a friend on the weekend about his experience – he was banded a few months ago. I asked if the cravings went (as the lap-band promoters suggest) – he answered “bullshit!” – I’m with him.

The band helps a lot, but it does not take away the food addiction!

I dream of being free of this! The monkey off my back! I just can’t handle my dopamine! Perhaps they will work out a control for it – in the mean time – grind on!

A time to change – growing old disgracefully!

The signs are everywhere. The government has dispatched the bowel cancer screening test, reading demands the use of spectacles and all the jokes about partying for half a century have faded into the dark distance behind me. Youth has officially left the building! Now I am able to to appreciate the sage words of the insightful George Bernard Shaw – youth is most definitely wasted on the young!

As I peer into the life that now lays before me, I think about the things left to be achieved (some of which are on Austin Power’s list of things to do before I die). Today, Australia Day 2010, I have ticked another box. I went on my first ride with the Ulysses Motorcycle Club – as a full member (the Ulysses web site will tell you what that means). Yes, I am a FULL member.

My plan is to grow old disgracefully so Ulysses is the perfect fit (this is their motto after all). If it has two wheels or a skirt you cannot afford it… so the expression goes. I have spent my life adoring both. My gorgeous girl Kitty talks of a motorcycle trike, that would be when I cannot hold the motorcycle up anymore – a long way off I hope!

Kitty has joined Ulysses also. A junior for now. I guess this means Kitty and I will are destined to ride off into the sunset – Tequila flowing and action aplenty and growing old disgracefully – Yaaaahhhhooooo!!!!!!!

Ulysses Motorcycle Club

Lap Band Cheating!

OK, I’ll fess up, I’ll go quietly… I cheated… bigtime!

After the pain, risk and cost of having a prosthetic clamped around the top of my stomach, I set off on a course of beating it! MAN! What a goose! My only defense is very bad habits!

Rule #1 Don’t drink any liquid before, during or after a meal — Broken

Rule #2 Don’t drink too much alcohol — Broken

Rule #3 Use a small plate and small portions — Broken

Rule #4 Don’t eat between meals — Broken

What a fool I have been – bad habits! I cannot believe how hard it is not to drink even water with a meal. I look down and the glass in my hand and on the way to my lips… I need a good spanking.

Well, my doctor, who has a definite evil streak, has me sticking to the rules and eating/drinking 600 calories a day for six weeks. Lets see how that goes! Fat sucks! It is such an addiction!

I will win though!!! If it kills me and the doctor 🙂

Water babies!

Summer in Australia produces a blend of beauty and terror in and around our beaches. Killer sharks, lethal jellyfish and the dangers of an environment that is now inhospitable to humans – perhaps we should never have left the sea in the first place.

Australian summer is a cocktail of a hot climate, beautiful beaches and warm, clear ocean waters. When the mercury climbs on a balmy antipodean summers day, there can only be one thought, “to the beach!” Well, and a cooling beverage, the occasional frothy, sparkling brown wine.

My lovely partner, Kitty, and I love the water. We both grew up with it. For Kitty, she would be in the water as often as possible. In the chilly waters of Canada, this was not always possible so she had to be content with holiday swims. However, she grew up in a place only accessible by water; being on and around the water was part of her daily life. I grew up south of Sydney, I was on and in the water constantly.

When Kitty moved to Australia, her one thought was to spend as much time in the water as possible. Despite her love of water, the risks of things that will kill you in Australia made her a little concerned. She read Bill Bryson‘s “A Sunburned Country” on the way over. Bryson’s famous quote “Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else” seemed to have an impact on her, as you would expect. I’m sure the first time I took her swimming in the ocean she was seeing the shadows of lethal mammals all around us.

More than two years since Kitty first visited downunder, she is now a devotee of the surf, swimming and now, since Santa gave her snorkeling gear, taking a look under the water. This too brings a renewal of concern of scary Aussies, other than those hanging outside the pub. Last week we went snorkelling at The Haven in Terrigal. We went right our along a rock reef and saw lots of things. One special moment was when a black stingray about one meter across gracefully flapped along the sandy bottom right below me.

Kitty is such a water person and I love our water adventures. I am so impressed with the way she has taken to our deadly seas. She shoots waves like a veteran, occasionally ending up staggering out of the water with her bikini top wrapped around her face. She goes snorkeling confidently, despite wallowing like a beached seal with flippers in the air (not quite like the woman in “Along came Polly“). Taking life by the horns and giving it a solid shake!

From hardy Canuck growing up in a remote and beautiful coastal settlement to Aussie beach babe and big city shopper! Thats my girl!

The afternoon commute – a chance to chill… or is it?

I’m sitting on the 4:45 train out of Sydney’s Central Station. I have ‘boarded’ and ‘alighted’ here for 51 years! The massive, cavernous main building changes little, resplendent as ever in sandstone and Aussie corrugated iron! It feels like time has stood still… and it feels good that it has!!!

Train travel has always been so relaxing. It beats driving! Just sit back with a good book… ah!!!

The trains have changed, however. The old ‘red rattlers’ have given way to modern, air-conditioned trains, comfy and quiet. After many years of commuting, one change is big.

Electronic stuff!!!

I remember feeling smug about travelling with a cassette player and primitive ear buds. I used to lug a dozen cassettes around with me

Today you would not be seen dead on a commuter train without noise cancelling ‘buds’ or ‘phones’, a sexy mobile phone that plays 1,000s of tracks and possibly a notebook computer.

If you want to be super hip, a portable DVD player is essential. Of course, electronic readers are starting to appear (like the Amazon kindle).

I’m semi-hip… iPhone pumping Mozart into the SkullCandy (extra big base) noise cancelling ‘phones’ and a good old fashioned book – high brow literature? Well, this is a Les Norton – ‘High Noon in Nimbin’ gripping stuff!

Gotta go, I’m writing this on the WordPress iPhone app, I have a call on hold from my partner (Kitty Kat), email from Amazon confirming my next read has just come in, I am updating my To Do list for the week, Mozart has to be shuffled and poor Les is about to get fives bells knocked out of him!!!

I can’t wait to get home for a rest!

Hey Hey Harry – lighten up…

… it is just humour!

Maybe we Aussies have a different sense of humour to our US cousins but you have to take racist, sexist and other forms of ridicule of groups in the context they are offered. It is the intention that is important. If you really want to be offended, you will find a cause. The “Hey Hey” skit may not have been very funny, and it was not racist.

Harry Connick Jr enjoys a lot popularity in Australia and many parts of the world. However, he is taking himself far too serious if he feels the need to campaign for the rights of African American on the basis of that skit.

If you want a cause Harry, use your links in Hollywood to condemn the offensive comment to people struggling with obesity via the character “Fat Bastard”… making obese people appear as buffoons. Take on Hollywood, Demi Moore (Producer) and Mike Myers for their brutal attack on people who struggle with weight issues.

One of the last bastions of ridicule not generally outlawed in politically correct circles is fat jokes. Where are you on this Mr Connick?

Having said this, I am obese and love Fat Bastard – but I know the difference between a harmless joke and an attack on a group within our society.

If I thought the “Hey Hey” guys were being racist I would be the first to condemn their behaviour! We all deserve the utmost respect whatever our situation!!!

Lap Band deviations – attack of the fat demons!

I’m sitting in Sydney airport, a common pastime for me! The smell of raisin toast permeates the peaceful ambience of the Qantas Club lounge.

I suddenly feel I need to eat!!!

Am I hungry? No! Do I need to eat? No! Am I going to eat? Not this time!!!

My Lap Band was tightened further last week. It has been five months since the operation to fit the band and I have never really felt it was in the “sweet spot”. My weight has been hanging around the same figure for most of that time. I feel like it is working when I come home from the Lap Band “fill”, but that wears off after a day or so.

So, is the Lap Band working?

My doctor says he wants to be cautious, he does not want me getting food stuck or to begin vomiting… I’m with him on this. However, I am getting impatient. I want to move on.

After the last adjustment I can eat a lot less. Good! I have to retrain myself on food portions and “the rules” – don’t drink any fluid 30 minutes before and after a meal, eat very slowly and limit portions to about half a glass – is that half full or half empty?!

Six days now after the last Lap Band adjustment, I suspect we are very close or in the zone. I fill up very easily and I am not as interested in food. At last!!! However, demons still haunt my fears of food addiction – stress, boredom and habit.

I find myself picking between meals lately. Even now that the Lap Band seems to be right, I have picked… a little!

The fight now seems to be defeating these demons. After all, the Lap Band is a tool to help me change my eating habits – and my assult on my food addiction.

1) No fluids around meals!

2) Eat slowly!

3) Half a glass of food per meal – which is, as ever, half full!!!

Begone you dreaded demons!!! Roll on slimdom!

Lap Band Vacation!

Two weeks into visiting family and friends in Canada and I am down 1 pound! Not a big loss but I reckon there are a couple of factors here:

1. The Lap Band is still not fully in the sweet spot (so I eat a bit more), that should be changed next visit to get a needle in my abdomen.

2. More beer than my doctor would like, and lots of very fresh crab.

After country bars in Regina, Bushwacker’s pub and fabulous Dungarvan red beer, I am surprised things are not worse. Then I went to BC.. you know, salmon leaping, black bears dozing in the sun, impossibly beautiful forest…

… well I was out with my partner’s son, Jason, this morning. Way north on Vancouver Island, gliding across the glassy waters of the inside passage to empty the crab traps. We tracked a bald eagle just above our boat as a seal popped his head out of the water to see what the noise was. As I glanced to the horizon, huge mountains loomed above us, still covered with snow in mid summer.

Back to the dock, clean the crab and take it home to cook it. Jason insists his process for cooking crab is the only way and I have sampled enough batches to attest to the method. Perfect, fresh and tender crab every time.

So, if I can survive partying with my mates in Vancouver, golf on beautiful British Columbia courses and a little more of that sensational Canadian West Coast salmon, I might walk in the door at home in Sydney a pound down still 🙂

The mile high club!

OK, I know what you are thinking – and you are right! I have now joined “mile high club”, those who have taken to the skies with a Lap Band fitted!!!

The pressure in an aircraft at cruising altitude can cause your Lap Band to tighten. This means you should be careful about eating as the narrow opening may cause you an uncomfortable trip. 

We were flying from Sydney, Australia to Regina, Canada. This involves a flight across the Pacific for 15 hours. It is hard not to eat over that time so I had the meals and was careful to choose soft food and chew very well. I did notice the tighter feeling but no discomfort. Yay!!!

Looks like my band is flight tested! I’m relieved as I love to travel!