Come Fly With Me

I recently had to travel interstate for work; something that I do on a semi-regular basis. I’ve never understood the jealousy this sometimes incites in people. I’ve often had comments of “ooh, you lucky thing!” Lucky? I’m not sure what exactly is lucky about a 4am wake up call; being crammed into a tiny seat with often very questionable neighbours; long, boring conferences; and dodgy hotel food. Different folks I suppose…

See how rested and happy and vibrant she looks? Yeah, that’s not me.
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For me, it is the early mornings that are my undoing. I’ve never been very good at getting out of bed, despite having fantasised about all the things I could be doing in the wee hours of the morning. I imagine the hours I could be spending writing, reading the paper or relaxing over a long, healthy breakfast but, despite my best intentions, I’ve never been able to make myself get up. In fact if, by some miracle, I were to achieve this end one of these days, I have a feeling I would end up scribbling foggy-headed nonsense with my Bircher muesli sandwiched between the newspaper and my face.

For those of you who may be thinking I haven’t given this a try, you would be wrong. During my school years when mornings were the only time to practice music and ballet, my tactic was to strategically place my 1970s (LOUD) alarm clock across the other side of my room so I had to fly out of bed to turn the bloody thing off. If I didn’t end up banging out a very uninspired sonata on the violin, I would either take a nap on my ballet barre or cart myself back to bed.

Needless to say, on the morning in question it was a bit of an effort getting out of bed at 4am. Surprisingly, I had a very productive day. I think it was aided by the power nap I grabbed on the flight over (despite the six year old girls giggling at me the whole way) and in part by the copious amounts of caffeine I drowned my body in; however I don’t believe my neighbour on the flight was  aided  in the slightest by the drooling, spasming “suit” sitting next to them. I only hope I didn’t spill coffee into their lap with a rogue arm…

“Tee hee, watch this…”
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As we were coasting at 10,000 metres (I don’t know if that’s correct, but it sounds good, right?) I glanced out my window to a marvellous view of blue sky atop a field of fairy-floss meringues. I’ve always been fascinated by clouds and, despite the science telling me I would fall through, I really want to try jumping on them. I’m convinced it would turn out exactly like a jumping castle only with a delicious snack as an added extra. I blame cartoons for this. Perhaps I should try skydiving?

For me, cloud jumping is like one of those things you are told never to do, which of course just makes the curiosity unbearable. Like Googling “google” or sneezing with your eyes open. You so desperately want to try it, flying in the face of danger that you might just blow up the internet and lose your eyeballs at one fell swoop.

So alas, I am resigned to refrain from my cloud-curiosity and instead will have to be content with looking and not touching. But if the person who pokes and prods every item in the shop is anything to go by (a.k.a. me), I fear looking is futile!

Daddy Cool

This weekend was Father’s Day in Australia. Days like these always make me reflect on what I have and it is nice to be reminded of how lucky I am to have a Dad like mine. Other people speak of their fathers and often their stories are of distance and loss. I feel very fortunate that not only is my Dad still around, he’s a pretty top fella at that.

For most of our growing up years, Mum was the one who worked while Dad was studying at university. For my sister and me, it meant that Dad was around a lot and, reflecting back at my childhood, I feel very privileged that I was able to have these years with him. Not only was he around, but he made such an effort to have quality time with us. In the school holidays we experimented with making paper and crab apple jelly. We collected rocks from the river and painted them together. I loved spending time with him in the shed while he made all kinds of things out of wood and patiently explained how things should go together. I still remember what the “PVA” in PVA glue stands for!

Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t say their Dad’s have always been loving, encouraging and supportive. But I can. I will always remember when Dad printed my first ever poem onto the paper we made. The poem was terrible and I was mortified, but the sentiment has stuck with me and inspired me to write in adulthood. He sat through more violin performances than it is reasonable to put a person through and I can’t remember a hockey match I played without Dad cheering along on the sidelines, despite the frost. When he knew I was having the worst day at work, Dad showed up just to give me a hug. Dad was always the one to give me a stern but supportive word when I had done the wrong thing as a teen and when I grew up and developed a few extra brain cells, I have always known he is proud of me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who says we don’t tell each other enough how much we appreciate them, but I like to think Dad will always know how much he means to me, even when times are tough and I can’t afford to buy him a present to prove it to him! The truth is, if he didn’t know this already, I know he does now because he has read every single blog post I have written, so I know he will read this one too.

So Dad, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), happy Father’s Day. You really are the best father anyone could wish for and I love you a thousand times over.

Just Call Me Captain Olympics!

It’s now just over a week since I last enjoyed the spinning, sweating, gyrating, lycra antics on my television…I’m talking about the Olympics of course! I have to say, it feels like a small Olympic-ring sized hole has been left in my life. It was only sixteen days on the television, but it’s amazing how quickly you adapt to change in your life and new routines.

Although I love watching the swimming, sprinting and rhythmic gymnastics, I have to say I was disappointed with the coverage and after week one I would have been satisfied had I never seen another tumble turn in my life. Our Australian rowers did very well, but honestly, if I had to watch another stroke I would have hit the “off” button faster than you can say “Eaton Dorney”.

It got me thinking about how I would spice up the Olympics had I been the one to invent it. As it turns out it was the Greeks, not I, who invented the Olympics; however I think my ideas stand head and shoulders above burly Greek soldiers sprinting in full armour and competing in chariot races. Although I’ve always loved a good chariot race…

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Anyway, so here it is. If I, Captain Olympics (that would be my name), invented the Olympics, I would:

  1. Put a series of wooden staircases in place of hurdles and get the athletes to compete in socks.
  2. Make the synchronised swimmers either dance or swim. It freaks me out just a little bit, perhaps something to do with the “dance face” combined with a pegged nose…
  3. Get all the divers to start from a hand stand. It’s too amazing to not watch it every time.
  4. Get the rhythmic gymnasts to do the thing with the ball on a unicycle. It’s clearly far too easy done on two feet.
  5. While we’re at it, get the track cyclists to compete on unicycles too.
  6. Introduce gumboot throwing in place of the shot-put. The gold medal would go to the person who throws it the furthest AND has the best decorated boot.
  7. Have people riding blow up dolphins and giant seahorses distracting the marathon swimmers. I don’t know if you noticed, but it is very boring.
  8. Give the archers nurf guns instead of bows (is it bows they use?).
  9. Make the basketball hoop sit another few feet higher and give all the players springy stilts…I swear they exist!
  10. And finally, instead of the national anthem, every winning country has to do a novelty dance on the podium. The first one shall be the Chicken Dance.

So there you have it. I think you can agree that these Olympics would be way better and, in essence, I should be crowned Captain Olympics. The end.

What’s that Flipper? I should be crowned Captain Olympics? Oh alright then.
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My Favourite Things

“Run, children, run for your lives!” Maria leads the children in her favourite game: doorbell pranking.
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I once played in the orchestra of my school’s production’s of The Sound of Music with my sister. Having both always loved the movie we were pretty stoked to be playing the music despite the challenges for the violin section. After weeks of rehearsals we had committed to memory every line of the script which, consequently, drove my parents bonkers in the car on the way home. I’m sure there were lots of deep breaths from the front seat each time they heard us cry “Maria! Maria! Where’s Maria!”.

Several years later I was lucky enough to be backpacking through Austria when I landed myself in Salzburg; the place where all the Von Trapp magic started. Practising my danke shoens and auf wiedersheins through the corridors of the backpackers where I was staying, I spied a poster that piqued my interest: The Sound of Music Tour. You ripper, I thought, and straight to the booking counter I went. As it turned out, it ended up being a clapping, singing, cheese-fest, but who doesn’t love a bit of cheese, particularly when you can yodel at the same time (note to self: do not try doing both at the same time, you may just choke). As cringe-worthy as some of the tour guides comments and ideas were, it was a great way to see some of the spectacular countryside Salzburg has to offer. Plus I got a photo of the Von Trapp family house, therefore it was totally worth it.

A particular favourite song of mine from the musical was My Favourite Things. I loved Maria’s optimism that if you think of the things you like, everything will be alright. It’s fair to say there was a lot of fitting in of these so called favourite things to the lyrics. I mean, doorbells, Maria? Really?

So working with Maria’s theory, I thought I might do a bit of conjuring of my favourite things…

Rain on my window and chocolate pudding,

Comedy movies like Rat Race with Gooding,

Sunshine and water and Flattley’s flings,

These are a few of my favourite things…

Long, slow cooking and hours of reading,

Writing and gardening as long as it’s not weeding,

Winter and Summer and Autumn and Spring,

These are a few of my favourite things!

So there you have it. See, Maria? I can do it too! Okay, I’ll admit that second line is almost as dodgy as your doorbells, but you try finding something that rhymes with pudding!

I’m considering sending my revised lyrics to the tour guide from Salzburg; it would be such a shame for them to go unheard, and I can guarantee every Sound of Music song would be heard on the tour bus. Loud and on repeat.


Family Matters

This weekend we celebrated my Mum’s sixtieth birthday. After much Secret Squirreling, we managed to bring together almost all of her family for a surprise, intimate dinner; quite a feat considering she is one of ten siblings, all of whom live in other states of the country. Consequently we packed out the restaurant and sent the waiters to Whiskeyville by the end of the night.

Turns out Secret Squirrel was an actual character. Who knew!
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As you can imagine, Mum’s jaw hit the floor when she saw the restaurant packed full of her family. She was so overwhelmed and excited to see them all, it was a beautiful moment. All of the good vibes in the room got me thinking about family.

The subject of family has been explored far and wide through television. Shows like Full House, Family Ties and The Cosby Show showed us that although family can be challenging at times and has it’s ups and downs, at the end of the day it’s like a big decopage: lots of little pieces (the people) are held together by glue (family. See how I metaphor? Do ya?) on a giant duck (okay, I’ve lost the metaphor, but the paper’s got to stick to something, so why not a giant duck?).

Take Family Matters, for example. It tells us that even the most awkward, poorly-dressed, black sheep can be loved by family. It also teaches us that if we do something wrong, all we need to do is say ‘Did I do that?’ (preferably with a nasal twang) and family will accept us. Unfortunately I’m not lucky enough to have a Steve Urkel in my family, and sometimes it is up to television to teach us these lessons.

Steve Urkel: not a member of my family.
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Like most people, I don’t see our family as often as I should. The thing about family is that, no matter how long it has been since you have seen them, they are still so familiar to you, and not just because you look the same. It gives you ready-made comfort, much like a buttercream cake from a box, only without those little silver cachous that will break your teeth. Family doesn’t change, it doesn’t desert you, and hopefully it doesn’t judge you (and when I say ‘you’ I mean ‘me’) for keeping in contact far less than you should. If I were paparazzi, the world would be finding out about Kate and Wills in 2030.

I did tell you about the Black Plague, didn’t I?
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Call me selfish, but although the night was for my Mum, I got a lot out of it myself. It made me remember how happy and loved I feel around my family, simply because they are that: family. I hope that there will be another reunion soon, but until then I will strive to keep in contact, and possibly take a few fashion tips from Steve.

Stop Kidding Around!

Have you ever walked through a park, seen all the crunchy, Autumn leaves blanketing the grass, and felt compelled to dive bomb them? Or maybe you make a bee line for the swings? When was the last time you drew a hopscotch with chalk and hopped your heart out?

If you are reading this, and you are an adult, chances are it has been a while. You may have looked at the leaves, but convinced yourself that leaves in your hair is not proper business attire and it may give everyone in the office the wrong impression. Or perhaps you were worried your bum would get trapped in between the swing’s arms. No? Just me then…

The fact is, we could all do with a dose of childishness from time to time. And no, that doesn’t mean pinching me and repeating everything I say. I said that doesn’t mean…okay, stop it.

When you consider children, their philosophy is mostly: if it’s fun, do it. They don’t think about what other people are going to think about them, and they generally don’t care what state their clothes might be in. Diving head first into a sand box is of no concern to them, so why to us adults?

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Quite simply, we only have ourselves to blame. We all want to go on the round-a-bout, but we don’t want to be the first one. We are afraid that other adults will think we are strange or a little crazy.

So what do we need to do? Well, contrary to the title of this post, we need to start kidding around. This week I challenge you to do something you would have done at ten years old without thinking. Even if it is a little hippity-hop every time you step of the curb (which is my personal M.O.). Treat yourself to a little fun in your day. You will be amazed what it can do!

Nap, interrupted.

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A classic case of Murphy’s Law…

After a big week at work and an unnaturally early morning flight which my body simply does not cope with, I have come down with a cold. Lucky for me, I had a long weekend this weekend. I thought I would make the most of the time with a nap or two.

What? They tell me it’s good for recovery!

Anyway, so there I am, snoozing away and all of a sudden my computer starts talking to me. To paint a picture, my laptop sits about a metre away from our couch and, therefore, very close to my head.

“Come into McDonalds and buy the new I’m Going To Wake You Up In a Most Hideous and Confusing Way Burger (or something to that effect)!”

Brain: If I’m dreaming, why is it that the best I can do is McDonalds? If I’m dead, ditto!

You see, somehow (and personally I blame gremlins) something had hovered over one of these ads that talk to you. Now I feel it is only fair to clarify my confusion at this point. My computer had been on for the best part of the previous six hours, not in use. It had not chosen to speak to me in any of those six hours, but just as I was entering the Land of Nod…

BAM! Talking computer.

Despite the unwanted conversation and the phone ringing just for a little added tranquility, I still managed to have a bloody good nap.

I also still have a cold. And I feel like McDonalds.