and we danced…

Today is a bit special. Even after a night of slumber-party-parent-duty for my daughter and her crew of friends. They’ve all got the day off school today because of her school’s centenary celebrations.  So we thought we’d celebrate the school’s birthday and our girl’s. So slumber partying was in order for last night and a beach ride today! This is the beach.

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And this where I have chosen to sit and do some writing.

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It’s stunning.  Early Autumn here, so not hot, but not cold. A little zephyr of a breeze. A coffee has been drunk, a pastry has been eaten.  The surfers are out in the waves and the girls are all back in the saddle, the place they love best, riding along a beach on our wild West Coast. This country is so breathtaking.  I hope they will hold this beauty in their hearts forever and never stay away for too long.

So many of the younger generation fly to bigger shores when they finish school.  It’s almost a rite of passage here in the antipodes.  Back to the ‘motherland’, or across to the Americas.  Over to where the action is and far, far away from all this natural splendour. I hope that each one of these girls carries a bank of beautiful memories like the ones they are creating today.  Carries them like homing beacons to bring them back to us when they are far away.

I’ve been thinking a lot more about those future days, when they are all grown up. I can see it emerging in my girl; the woman she will become. She and her friends sang with gusto, all the way out to the coast this morning.  Full of exuberance, they sang of a kind of love they are yet to experience. And I looked at their beautiful, shiny faces in the rear vision mirror.  Beautiful creatures. They don’t know yet, but they will.  Not so far from now.

We turned the music up, and together in the cocoon of our big warm car, we danced in our seats, be-boppin babies.  The old girl, the young girls. Full of happy hopes and wonderings. Full of a love of our own.  Love for life, for our beautiful country, for horses and sea air and the waves on the ocean.

It made me think of this song, from back when I was a young thing myself. My brother gave me a copy of The Hooters on cassette. Remember All You Zombies? That was them, too. I really loved that tape.

This the them.  And We Danced.

And we danced like the waves on the ocean romanced
We were liars in love and we danced
Swept away for a moment by chance
And we danced and danced and danced…

(ha!  love the eighties, not the mullets!)

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Back soon…

Little by little,one travels far

I’ve been buzzing about like one of those big bumble bees, drunk on nectar.  Erratically bumping into everything and trying to get to all the places I need to get to, do the jobs I need to do, and most of all, pack. With numerous, frustrating pauses along the way.

Because on Friday I am leavin’ on a jetplane!  A weekend of soul nurturing cousin-time with my cousin and friend, Erica.  We’re going to celebrate our fortieth birthdays in gentle style, over in RADelaide!   And as an extra bonus, I am hoping to meet some of the people from the support group I belong to and people from the blogging group I am part of, too!  My wheels are booked and will be delivered before I am. So, apart from the packing, it’s all done.

Actually, I am so nervous.  About the flight.  About how I will cope with the fly-in-fly-out pace of my schedule. About not wasting any opportunity and not wasting the money it is costing to get there. I’m banking on the gem of a fact, that once I’m there, the only person I need to look after is me, with the odd nod to Erica.  We’ll be just us.  No kids, no hubbies. That seems like a pretty cruisey thing!  I’m hoping the cruisey will balance out the struggles and it will all be okay. Fingers crossed.

Packing is a bit of a feat when you get dizzy on standing. When your arms ache if you lift them higher than your heart. When everything you need seems to be down too low or up too high, or needing to be washed, or folded or found. I think I am getting there, but honestly, it is sooooo slow I can hardly stand it.  I really miss those days when I could write a list and whizz through it BAM, and BAM and BAM. Now it’s kind of bzzz…..splat… bzzzzzzz…. splat.   But no worries, this busy bee is going to get the job done!

I’m going to take a break from blogging while I am away.  I hope you will still be here when I get back.  Or if you go away too, come back and find me and my blog again sometime!   See ya soon!

Gone Girl. A Tale of Road Rage.

On a scooter.

Yesterday was my birthday…
I turned 28.  In hexadecimal “nibbles”.
(google it, hexadecimals are kinda cute).

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But back to the story…
…my friend Flo came and picked me up and took me to the mall.  The scooter hire girl remembered me and I got the highly coveted Scooter Number One. It is zippier, better at stopping when you ask it to, and the side mirrors don’t flop down all over your handbag.  Score! I tootled around a few shops high on the joy of a birthday and time with Flo.  I tried not to be distressed that I couldn’t even get down the lingerie aisles in Farmers Department Store. I figured I didn’t really need a birthday bra. I smiled anyway at the shop girl near the fitting rooms in Esprit when she said it might be easier to shop online. It might.  But it isn’t as much fun as shopping with Flo. And why shouldn’t I enjoy a bit of retail therapy?  Then I dropped Flo off for her appointment at the makeup counter.  I should be, er… more into makeup… but the bookshop was just down one floor and it is an unfair competition! Hmmm… makeup, books, makeup, books. It’s really no competition between makeup and books.  A hole was burning in my pocket.  For my birthday I’d been given a cool hundy, and I was thinking about the delicious potential to drop it exclusively on BOOKS!  Squeee!

I scootered down there faster than you can say ‘tortoise’.   A few aeons later, I arrived.  Mobility scooters have a speed switch that ranges from slow (a tortoise icon) to fast (you guessed it, a hare)… but even at hare-speed, it takes a looong time to get anywhere.  In the front of the bookstore of choice, Whitcoulls, they have some displays of new releases.  My twitchy fingers were eager to pick up the first one I could see. I liked the title, ‘Gone Girl’.  But the angled display tables made it impossible for me to pull up alongside on my scooter. I did a sleek little (sixteen point!)  turn and tried to reverse in. I banged the corner of the table.  A Whitcoull’s employee looked across at me, arched her eyebrow and walked off in the opposite direction. I reached for the book. It was 5cm out of my grasp. There was no room to ease myself off the scooter and stand to give myself more reach. Had I had room, I’d have been able to do that. But it occurred to me in that moment, that many people in wheel chairs can’t stand to get to things out of reach; what would they do in this situation?  I looked around for the employee, hoping for some help.  She was gone, girl.

I was not going to be deterred.  A hundred to spend on books is one of the greatest gifts of all time. I wasn’t going to let a bookshop girl with her archy eyebrows get the better of me.  I gave my embarrassment a silent talking-to and manoeuvred out of the space.  At the back of the store, the wall is lined with authors from A-Z.  I wouldn’t have a spotlight on the newest, but I might find some gems. I set my course for the rear. Half way on the dial between tortoise speed and hare speed.  I was veritably hurtling, turtle-style. The aisles in Whitcoulls do fit a scooter if it is going straight down the middle. Sadly, turning is not optional.  People on mobility devices clearly shouldn’t want to browse in bookstores. There are artfully arranged stacks of merchandise on the floor at the corners of all of the aisles.  The Little Yellow Digger-gift-boxed-set display met Scooter Number One as I attempted to round the corner. Scooter, 1, Diggers, 0.  A mother in the same aisle helped me by picking them up (thank you anonymous mother).

I spent half an hour in Whitcoulls. I looked for help no less than fifteen times.  Help to reach down titles I couldn’t reach, help with the infernal aisle corner displays. Help finding the poetry section.  I saw three more staff members. All three saw me and changed direction. No one offered to help. The crickets chirped.  When your eyes are not at the height of standing people, it is quite hard to get eye contact.  When you are down that low, even a wave can be lost behind a bookshelf. My hundred dollars hid deeper into my pocket. No party for it, today.

I lost my desire to purchase books from that store. I threw the scooter into reverse.  It has a really high pitched reversing beep.  It’s an incredibly annoying sound. I left it in reverse long enough for archy eyebrows girl to give me one last look. I accelerated past one last corner display.  I may have *cough* inadvertently disturbed its symmetry. I left the store.  In my imagination I looked a bit like a speedy hare, leaving a cloud of dust in my wake.  In truth, it was a less dramatic exit.  Think, slo-mo.  But the expression on my face remained steely resolute.  I patted my pocket. That’s a hundred bucks you don’t get today, Whitcoulls.  And then, I was a gone girl, too.

So my post about my birthday books is postponed.  …maybe there is a bookstore out there who wants my custom, even if I am not walking on two feet.

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PS:
I sent the people at Whitcoulls a link to my post as soon as it went up.  Very quickly Diane got back to me.  I am very grateful for such a timely response and so glad that the store will look into ways to improve customer service for people on mobility devices.  Thank you, Whitcoulls.
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This is what she wrote:
Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 4.54.42 pmThanks for touching base and sharing your in store experience with us. It is disappointing that we have not been able to deliver the customer experience you, and every customer, deserves. There is nothing better than browsing books especially in the excitement of birthday present shopping. I will be passing this information onto our Store Manager to ensure they can look into this situation and how they can use this to improve their customer service.

In the meantime, I would love to extend a birthday present to you from Whitcoulls. If you are still interested in the Gone Girl Book, I would love to send you a copy along with a $20 Whitcoulls Gift Card that may enhance your birthday spending money. If you can send us your courier address and we will arrange to get this out to you.

Kindest regards,

Diane

 

My Childhood in 5 tracks.

I’ve been thinking about what a gift music is.  I am not musical (it’s a tragic genetic mistake), but oh, I love music!  I can trace my memories by the music that I was listening to.  We were discouraged from listening to most secular music. I remember my delight when my Dad bought me a walkman with a built in radio when I was 11.  It was my covert ticket to the American Top Forty.  I had some tapes I was allowed to play (Amy Grant, Michael W.Smith, and Silverwind) but I wasn’t supposed to listen to the radio station. We only had one local radio station, so I would lie in my bed after lights out, looking out through the flyscreened louvre windows into the dark night.  Really FEELING the music on Kalang FM, you know? It was music of every genre which is maybe why I have such eclectic taste in music now.

I thought I would take myself on a tour of five most memorable tracks from my early years.  Want to come along?

I grew up in one of those happy clappy churches.  We took our sleeping bags to the night services and I’d fall asleep stretched out under the pews. I remember the sound of my Mum singing Scripture in Song choruses as she moved about the house.  We had a record player with lots of gospel records.  Like George Beverley Shea and Pat Boone.  My favourite was a singer called Evie.  I thought she was the prettiest thing ever, sitting in a field of daisies.  She sang lots of uplifting country gospel songs.  Listening to her music again, I can see where my early country music love came from.  Here she is singing “I’m only four feet eleven but I’m goin’ to heaven”.  All blonde pageboy seventies cuteness.

My big sister loved ABBA.  I think she had a poster on the wall and I ruined it by vomiting on it from the top bunk one night.  It wasn’t on purpose, honest!  I still love ABBA, in the way you admire the things that you know ‘belong’ to your older siblings. When I was teaching I used ‘Mamma Mia’ as my packup-time-cue every afternoon.  The boys always loved to sing “Yeah, I’ve been broken hearted/ blue since the day we FARTED”  Bahaha.  Some things never get old.

When I was seven or eight, I remember my singing with my sister after lights-out, the theme song for Greatest American Hero and ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ by Human League. This was an early influencer of my Sindy doll game plot lines.  I was convinced that the best pathway to love was for the girl to be a waitress in a cocktail bar.  Hello eighties synth pop.  Maybe this is why Mum and Dad wanted to have a say over what I was listening to.

My best friend Nikki had a tape she got back in Australia at the end of 1984.  It had the Axel Foley theme song on it, and this hugely evocative song (for me), Together in Electric Dreams.  
 I remember her lime green chenille bedspread, lying on our tummies and organising her collection of erasers.  They had sniffy flavours like grape and tutti frutti.  We would split our time between rollerskating, swimming, Sindy dolls, sucking on frozen green cordial and listening to her cassette tapes.  Ah, good times.  It was at her place, in a makeshift hut we erected, that I read the book ‘Where Did I Come From?’.  It was a disturbing book all about the birds and the bees and I will never be able to look a rotund cartoon man in the eye ever again! Those years being Nikki’s best friend were some of my favourite from my whole life.  
I miss you Nikki.

We went on an epic trip as a family at the end of 1986, winding our way up the Big Sur in a station wagon.  Dad had a thing for what we called trucker music.  My bro and I still sing Roger Whittaker’s ‘I’ve gotta leave ol’ Durham Town’ for a laugh.  ‘Trailer for Rent’ reminds me of these times too.  I saw Yosemite National Park from the drop down back seat in the boot of the car.   And then I was a high school girl.  Already six foot tall and going to my first school social under the Year 7 block.  Wrapping my arms around Michael Francis for my first ever slow dance.  I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight by the Cutting Crew. I was all hormones and idealism. I was 12 and he was 18, but I couldn’t understand why that caused such a fuss. I was to learn. But that is another story for another time.  😉

And then, boarding school.  Sinead O’Connor, Tracey Chapman, 1927.  RAGE on the common room TV.  I had my own stereo tape player with a speed dub function.  I was living the high life!  And there was ‘serious’ young love. Shaun Welsh played me Richard Marx, LOUD, from someone else’s boom box in the Bell Tower. Right Here Waiting for You. It was a grand romantic gesture. Breaking my adolescent heart with the torment of his own.  And then there was Roxette, It Must Have Been Love.  I shared a dorm with fans of Guns n’Roses, Metallica, Jon Bon Jovi and Janis Ian.  I watched the movie ‘Beaches’. I discovered Bette Midler. Barbra Streisand. These years were the years of heartache and homesickness.  I remember the smell of the boarding house, the flat ham sandwiches and pink afternoon tea cake, bruised apples and gingham table cloths.  Licorice, my secret horse.  Anthony Rees playing the piano and nights in the common room, hanging out. Semeka Walshe’s beautiful shoes with covered leather buttons.  Knox city, public transport, rat dissections and learning to smoke.  Alice, Tracey, Julia, our Fijian princesses.  Being a disappointment to my brother, but knowing he loved me just the same. Aw. Big years.

I never hear the music of these early years without being instantly transported.  It’s strange, the way music can do that.  Time warp you right back to where you were, the sights, sounds, smells.  They all seem attached to the music for me.  This year for my birthday, I am asking the hubster for a ‘mixed tape’ CD.  Forty tracks for forty years.
Here is the playlist:

ABBA -One of UsThe Carpenters -The(7)

What songs were the soundtrack of your young years?  Got some old favourites?  I’ve been listening to mine on youtube today.  It’s taken me back. If you’ve got a minute, why not go there and type some of your old favourites in?  It’s as good as a time travel holiday.

What will you be typing in to the search box?  Where will you go to today?  I’d love to know what your favourite songs are…

Oh. Forty.

I have been blithely approaching forty with a bit of a mental swagger.
Can’t scare me, forty.  Puh!
I’ve always been mildly exasperated with women who lose the plot over a number.  It’s just a number!  Every birthday you are always turning an age that is younger than what you will be.  Photos of you at this age will always look young when looked back on by your older self.  No worries.  It’s no big deal.

And then yesterday I looked in the mirror and got face slapped with a realisation.  Oh.  Forty.  Maybe you just don’t get it until you are there.
A sneaky snake of an idea began sliding in under the welcome mat of my mind.
Old.  That’s what forty is, it whispered.
No it’s not!  Perhaps it doesn’t help me fight that sneaky snake, that I already have a pacemaker, use a cane and have enjoyed my first outing on a mobility scooter. I already feel like my body is geriatric.  I don’t feel young and looking in that mirror I see the effect of all those years, all the struggle.  I’m not wrinkly, but I look defeated, tired, a bit sad really. And suddenly all my bravado about meeting forty head on is dissolving.

I’m going to be forty for crying out loud.

How did this happen so fast? My insides are still twelve!  I’ve been playing an elaborate game of dress ups and pretending to be grown up.  How can my outside be turning forty!  Far out.
It’s fair to say there is a little bit of panic going on here.
I’ve never liked snakes.

I am eschewing a party.

Not for me the whooping-it-up-gathering.

I’m not alone. My beautiful cousin Erica is turning forty, too. I’ve known her since the day I was born and I feel so lucky to have been given the gift of her friendship through my family ties.  Our mums were sisters.  We have a lot in common and it’s a comfort to laugh at our genetic quirks together! She fell in love with an Australian, and as it often goes, she followed him across the continent of Australia to live in Perth.  I miss her every day.

So!  Why not go and turn forty with Erica? There is no one I would rather turn forty with, and I am meeting her half way between our homes.  Isn’t that a cool plan? We’re going to rendezvous in Adelaide.  So excited!

I’ve been there before.  I completely fell in love with that town.  I love the order and neatness, the creative quirkiness, the variety and beauty.  It’s a stunning place.  And they have this amazing market place there, right in the centre of town.  I have never forgotten the food!  So Erica and I are going to hang out together there for a few days.  We’re going to toast our first forty years together with a nice cuppa tea and ring in the next lot. We’re going to catch up on hours of chats and laughter.  We’re going to sleep in every day and revel in the break from all mothering and wifely tasks.  We’re going to indulge ourselves and revel in the freedom of us-ness.  It’s going to be EPIC.  In a sedate kind of fortyish way.

I’m dreading the flights, but I have planned for lots of rest when I get there. I am researching scooter hire after my recent successful experience.  That will help a lot.  We might even get to those markets, all going well!

When you are sick, having something to look forward to is so important.  Planning can make you anxious; the fear of cancellations and postponements can make you not want to even try. Flexibility in your planning matters. But having something wonderful to look forward to also makes you excited, hopeful   …happy!  It’s a great distraction from the daily thought wheel.  I might be all of those things that I saw in the mirror.  But I am still me.  And that is beautiful in it’s own kind of Rachie way.  I might be limited, but I am able. I might be sick, but I am not giving up. I might be turning forty, but I am much more than the age on my passport or the face in the mirror. I reckon with a little bit of solidarity and sisterhood from my little big cuz, I can make it over the hill with a smile on my dial.

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Are you sick?  What happy plans are you hatching?
Have you hit forty yet?  How did you celebrate?
Have you been to Adelaide?  Any recommended restaurants or must-visit spots? Not the crazy hot nightspots, more the sedate kind of activities suited to the gerries.  (Ahem. Keeping it real!)

This song.  Another thing you don’t get until you are actually there.
“Now the winter at our window feels so cold”