Daily Prompt… as pinched from Barb

October 5, 2011 at 8:36 am (Favourites, life, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

5 books/movies/albums/travels that influenced me the most http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/what-5-books/: who could resist? Sorry Barb, I’m going to copy you because it sounds fun! Although, “influence” isn’t quite the right word; I’m more inclined to use “favourite”.

Book: This is a tricky one, as it changes all the time. If I had to choose one, I’d say “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Oleander I saw the movie first and was very touched by it; I had to find the book. The book is even better (as is so often the case). Written in first-person narrative, it is touching and believable. I couldn’t put it down, and have read it several times. I still love the movie too, and of course have it on DVD. The acting is wonderful.

Movie: Without a doubt, “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picnic_at_Hanging_Rock When I first saw this movie years ago, I lost interest when I found out the missing girls and teacher were never found. It got boring really fast. But as I got older, I rediscovered it, and fell in love with it. I didn’t care that the mystery was never solved. I adored the whole mystic atmosphere of it, and submerged myself in the moody soundtrack. I wanted to dress like the schoolgirls in their white muslin, and behave in their sheltered English way. I still love the unique atmosphere of the Australian bush and the contrast between it and the English style boarding school and home of the Fitzhuberts. It’s a haunting, beautiful, sad movie and I must have watched it hundreds of times. I have also read the book, including the “missing chapter” and now I know what happened to the missing people, but who cares – it’s the whole beautiful movie I love and not just the plot!

Album: Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”. I love a lot of albums, all from the 80’s, but nothing quite equals this one. Every song is special in some way to me. “Love Bites” is my all time favourite – I still get misty when I hear it. It’s all a combination of the era, my age at the time (17) and the music. Magic… complete magic.

Travels: This is a tricky one as I haven’t travelled much, living as I do in Western Australia. We’re so far from everywhere else and I grew up in a family of moderate means, so the first time I went overseas was at the age of 24. It was like nothing else, and a huge adventure. We went to England, the land of my father’s birth. I was overwhelmed. It was so similar, yet so very different to Australia. The very air tasted different. People were different. Little things like the daisies in the grass were different. The history of England was intoxicating. It was everywhere! And something that would have been a marvel in WA was commonplace in England. We stayed in a 17th century cottage for a week and I couldn’t get over it. To think such things actually existed! At home the idea of old things was around the 1800’s! To say I was impressed is an understatement. I could go on, but I’m getting overwhelmed again….

One more thing… what will my extra be? I know!

Ancient Egypt: Although I have yet to visit Egypt, I’ve been fascinated with the ancient culture for years. I’m not sure where it started – possibly when I got sucked into joining Doubleday History Bookclub. I started getting books on it, which progressed to videos. My dad started collecting newspaper articles for me, and I bought ornaments and jewellery based on Ancient Egypt. Of course when we when to England I was desperate to see the Ancient Egypt section of the British Museum (I felt like I was dreaming!) and when an exhibit visited Perth I stood in line with hundreds of other people to have a look. What is it about Ancient Egypt that is so fascinating? I’m not sure – it must be something to do with the extreme age and trying to get my head around a culture so advanced so long ago. The art is so unique, too. So beautiful. There’s nothing quite like it. And the fact that it was preserved for so long! I wonder if I will ever get to Egypt, to see the famous monuments. I am too claustrophobic to want to go into a tomb, but to BE THERE…. Wow!

OK, I think that’s all. Thanks Barb for the inspiration. It’s certainly livened up the end of a workday!


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A Winter’s Day in WA.

June 29, 2011 at 7:22 am (Uncategorized)

Here I am at work, just after three in the afternoon on a dismal winter’s day. A lot of people like winter. I can see its appeal when you’re at home or in a snug cafe sipping a hot chocolate. But when you look out the window and it’s grey and bleak, it doesn’t fill me with joy.

In my old house, built a few decades before, winter meant a constant damp and musty smell. The only heater we had was in the lounge room, and though that area was toasty, it was very difficult to leave it and head up to the cold bedrooms. I suffered with constantly cold feet; even bending them caused me pain. Thawing out in a hot shower was blessed relief, that turned into icy torture once I got up the courage to turn off the water. Getting out of bed in the mornings was terrible. It hurt. And getting undressed… not fun.

How can people like winter? They must live in luxurious houses and not have to clean muddy footprints off their floors. They must not mind cold rainwater running down their neck, and shivering so badly their limbs ache. They must have good circulation that stops their fingers turning white and purple. They must not mind their laundry taking days to dry because the washing instructions say “Do Not Tumble Dry”.

I’m sorry, but winter gets old fast for me. There’s nothing comfortable about it. I hate getting up in the dark when the stars are still visible in the sky. I hate the early evenings that make it feel later than it is.

Is there anything good about winter? OK… the rain is usually good, considering we usually get none in the summer. It’s nice to see the yellow paddocks turn pretty green. It can be fun to wear winter clothes that are soft and comfy. Hot food tastes better in winter, as does hot chocolate. There is the absence of the stifling heat of summer, and we appreciate coming into a warm room.

But as you’ve probably guessed, winter isn’t my favourite season. As soon as it starts, I look forward to spring. Sorry, but that’s the way it is!

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Bad driving – a rant.

February 16, 2011 at 3:00 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I recently read that Western Australian drivers have been deemed the worst in the country. While I haven’t experienced driving in any other state, from my observations here, I can believe it! It takes me five minutes to drive to work, crossing a busy intersection controlled by lights. Almost every day I see someone run the red light. More than once I have been almost hit by someone turning right in front of me, hidden by a large vehicle turning left. Approaching this intersection, I now automatically slow right down and wish I had an extra pair of eyes!

A couple of months ago Nick, Dom and I were in the car driving down a highway. It was a Sunday morning. Nick was driving correctly in the left lane, doing slightly over the speed limit.  A probationary driver sped up behind us and commenced tailgating. Nick has no patience with tailgaters. His solution (right or wrong?) is to touch the brakes so the lights show, thereby warning the tailgater to back off. In this case, the probationer decided he didn’t like it, overtook us at high speed, then hit HIS brakes right in front of us. Many rude hand gestures from both Nick and probationer followed (me hiding face and commenting about possible consequences of road rage). We got to the next intersection and the angry probationer turned right… but his upraised middle finger protruding from his open window, was observed by a nearby motorcycle cop who did a U-turn and went after him. Much cheering from Nick and me!

This episode was a satisfying one, where the perpetrator was observed by a policeman. But no matter where or when I’m out on the road, I see people driving like idiots! It’s probably the same everywhere, but why can’t people stick to a speed limit? Speed limits are not “suggested”; they are there for a reason! I think some people feel limits don’t apply to them. And OK, some people like to drive way below the limit. This can be as dangerous as speeding due to everyone else’s impatience, but if the slow drivers stay in the correct lane (in WA, the left lane) it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. People who drive slowly in the right (overtaking) lane are just inconsiderate people who don’t care about any other driver. What is the point of ambling along in the right lane, holding up other drivers doing the correct speed?

Running a red light

My biggest peeve is people who run red lights.  I see it more and more these days. Apparently people don’t like stopping for a couple of minutes and would rather risk a horrible accident than do so. On Australia Day, Nick and I saw the aftermath of a taxi versus truck collision at a light-controlled intersection. To me it looked like one of them had gone through the red light. One traffic light was completely demolished and both vehicles were written off. We were detoured around the intersection, and I saw debris everywhere. Is it really worth risking something like this happening, to save a couple of minutes?

People holding mobile phones to their ears is commonly observed too. How many times do people need to be told that it’s dangerous to drive while talking on the phone? It might FEEL safe, but believe me, your concentration is nothing like you think it is. It’s usually easy to pull over for a phone call. Even if it isn’t, surely nothing is so urgent you can’t wait a few minutes. Sigh. What about when we never had mobile phones? Maybe life was better!

I try to  be the best driver I can. I know I am not perfect; who is? But at least I try. I always stop on amber lights, I stick to the speed limit (even when it’s tempting to speed, like when everyone else is), and be courteous to other drivers, even the impatient ones (I don’t do the braking trick or anything else to goad bad drivers. I don’t want to tempt road rage!)

I have never been keen on driving. I was 20 when I got my licence, and that was only because in Perth you are really inconvenienced if you can’t drive. My licence is officially for a manual transmission, but I doubt I could drive a manual now. I love my little automatic! It practically drives itself. Is that a good thing? Maybe not for everyone, but certainly for me. Now driving doesn’t bother me much at all. It’s the OTHER drivers that cause me grief! All of us can say that, I’m sure. But how much of it is our fault, I wonder?

Sometimes I prefer to be the passenger!

What are your thoughts?

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New Year… old resolution.

January 12, 2011 at 3:25 am (life) (, , , , )

My evil master!

Happy New Year everyone! Do any of you make New Year Resolutions? Last year my resolution was to NOT make any resolutions. But usually my resolution is the same; to lose weight. It is so this year.

My weight has always been a problem. Although never hugely overweight, I’ve only once been my ideal weight, and that was about ten years ago now. Every new year I view my pudgy body in the mirror and bemoan my padding, decide to lose it FOR SURE, eat healthily for a couple of weeks, then either crash in spectacular fashion, or gradually succumb to tempting bites here and there until I’m back to my old ways. Why is it so?

For me, eating certain things is just so enjoyable that to be without them creates a huge hole inside me. I tend to equate eating chocolate with contentment and well-being. I reward myself with chocolate, comfort myself with it, relax with it, enjoy it and love it! I am not a “savoury” person (unlike most of my husband’s family). I am a sweet tooth… well actually, a chocolate tooth if there is such a thing. It is my downfall. I can do without chips, sausage rolls, pies, and things of the like, but chocolate is very, very hard to resist. Actually, so is cake.

So all year I indulge in chocolate and frequent morning / afternoon teas, then regret it and try again to reform. It rarely works for long. I’ve tried sensible eating plans alone, and with a company called Easy Slim (which is what worked for me ten years ago, but then I got complacent), I’ve tried cutting out all junk – only to binge because I felt so bereft, and I’ve tried eating chocolate in moderation, which just got added to bit by bit until it was again out of control. Then I’d start again, and be “good” for a while, before the inevitable decline. Habit is a terrible thing. And even when I thought I had kicked the chocolate habit by managing not to eat any for six weeks, one small taste and it was all on again.

Exercise more? Yes, this would definitely help. But although this sounds like an excuse, I usually don’t have time. “Make time” people say. Sorry, but you can’t make time. On work days I would only have time if I got up at 5am. Since I work a 9 hour day then have to look after my boys and do housework etc, I am usually half dead by the time I get home from work, so I need all the sleep I can get. Exercise would kill me on those days. Not enough sleep plays havoc with metabolism, anyway. But yes, I do try to walk when the weather lets me, swim when I can, and do toning exercises when I have an evening free. Every little bit helps.

So as I embark once again on my healthy eating plan (this is day three)  is there any hope for me? Well, I think as long as I keep trying, one day it will happen. I will lose the excess weight and be super-careful not to regain it. It’s got to be better than not trying at all.

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Christmas…as it was for me.

December 21, 2010 at 6:34 am (Uncategorized)

Hello and Merry Christmas everyone!

I have always loved Christmas. It has special memories for me, and certain things will bring them back; the sound of wind in the gum trees, the first chirpings of summer cicadas, the smell of the bushland as it bakes in the sun, warm summer nights. I am one for traditions, but they are mostly traditions specific to my family. We always had certain salads for our Christmas lunch and my favourite was my mum’s potato salad. We’d spend Christmas Eve preparing green salad, rice salad and fruit salad as well as the potato, and I’d insist on playing our old Christmas records, bought by my parents in the seventies. A couple of weeks before Christmas we’d go to Carols by Candlelight in Stirk Park, sitting on a blanket and shielding our candles from the easterly wind, while trying not to set fire to our songbooks. My sister and I would have gone into Perth city in early December, shopping for our parents’ presents and making a day of it, treating ourselves to lunch as well. We’d draw cards for each member of the family, including drawings of each other to make it personal and make us laugh. Sometime before Christmas, we’d spend an evening with Mrs Stewart, an old friend of my mum’s, to eat homemade goodies and laugh at her unique sense of humour.

Christmas morning always began early with my sister and I out of bed and at the Christmas tree as soon as it was light (about five thirty!) When my parents could be dragged out of bed, we’d all sit next to the tree in our pyjamas and arrange our presents in the order we’d like to open them, then opening would commence!  After that we’d eat breakfast and get ready for church.

Church was at Kalamunda Uniting Church, which I attended all my childhood. On Christmas Day the little stone building would be full to overflowing, so usually the service was re-located to the church hall next door. The singing would echo around the wooden building. My sister and I would be impatient for the service to end so we could get back to our presents! But usually the service would be shorter than usual, because most people would be wanting to get home or out to their celebrations!

The day would be spent eating, playing board games and playing with presents. The lounge room would be full of stuff – wrapping paper, food, presents… it was chaos. We’d break open Christmas crackers, tell the lame jokes and wear the paper hats. It would be hot and windy outside so we’d stay inside in the cool, though occasionally we’d halt the eating for an hour so we could have a dip in the pool. In the afternoon we’d all be hit by terrible sleepiness and either succumb to it or fight it off in order to enjoy the day to its fullest. Dinner would be more cold salads, turkey and ham. We’d watch Christmas programmes on TV and tune in to the Queen’s Christmas message. Night would come all too soon.

These years, things have changed a little. Now we’re lucky if we see my sister for more than a couple of hours at Christmas, and the real candles at Carols by Candlelight have been replaced with ineffectual glowsticks. Mrs Stewart has passed away. My parents won’t play the records unless I insist, and they no longer have room for a full size Christmas tree. The food depends on whose turn it is to cater, and I no longer attend the Church service, which these days is in a newer building. The old stone church has been converted into a private residence and the land where the church hall stood is now allocated to a service station. We still open presents early, but it’s with different people, and we have later present-opening ceremonies with the rest of the family. I am the only one who draws cards, and I shop alone.  No longer is it just the four of us; there are extra family members to include and more to organise. Things are definitely more complicated as we try to accommodate everyone. Is it better now? No, I can’t say that, but it’s different and we are moving with the times. It will get better as Dominic gets older and experiences the magic I once did. I will enjoy it with him in a whole new way.

I must confess that I am sentimental, and sometimes I miss those old Christmasses so much that I end up in tears. But there is no going back to those days, and at least I have the precious memories that sometimes come back so strongly when I hear the wind blowing through the eucalypts, or the crickets chirping on a hot summer evening.

So have a lovely Christmas everyone, no matter how you celebrate it. Everyone has their own way of doing it, and it means different things to each of us. I just hope that you enjoy it!

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Absence from my blog.

December 1, 2010 at 4:21 am (Uncategorized)

Hi everyone! I know I haven’t been on here for ages – so much for my good intentions! The whole problem is the old one of Time. Being the mother of a two year old, particularly one that needs therapy and extra attention, is a full time occupation, despite the fact that I also work three days a week (nine hours each day) and do ironing for people in the evenings.  So when I do get a bit of free time, I tend to spend it falling asleep in front of the TV, falling asleep while trying to read, or… falling asleep.

This past Monday evening/ night and Tuesday was spent in the hospital with Dominic while he recovered from a suspected asthma attack. Although the doctors couldn’t say for sure if he is asthmatic, they are treating him as such, so here is another challenge for us; learning how to manage his condition. It is daunting to say the least, but we can be thankful that we have so many people helping us. The staff in the children’s ward at Swan Districts Hospital are getting to know us quite well!

So there you go; this is why I haven’t been able to post anything here recently, and whether I will be able to for a while (got to catch up on a few things!) Thanks for your patience! (By the way, access to Facebook has been blocked at work, which is where I usually went on it! So who knows when I’ll be back there, too?) Times are tough!

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The beginning of a new story

October 27, 2010 at 6:04 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve begun a silly story which is just a bit of fun! Check out “A Silly Fantasy Story” but don’t expect literary genius. Enjoy!

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The first story

October 21, 2010 at 4:18 am (Uncategorized)

I have posted my first story on my blog. Check out the page A Twig of Faded Heather, and please leave me a comment! Thanks.

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Hello world!

October 13, 2010 at 7:17 am (Uncategorized)

Welcome to my blog! Here I hope to post stories written by me in the past and (hopefully) recently. Although I don’t get a lot of time to write, by having this blog it might inspire me to find the time.  I welcome all comments, as long as they are constructive and useful!

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