Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Fête, the Fête, I Cannot Wait

The title of this post does, in fact, rhyme, if you pronounce "Fête" like an Australian, as in "fate" not the french way, as in "fet".  A fête, is an event of enormous planning that serves as a large-scale school fundraiser.  A carnival or festival is set up on the school grounds, parents and sponsors donate huge amounts of food, goods and time. 

The kids raced from the giant bouncy slide to the rock climbing wall to the cake table to face painting while we parents peeled bill after bill from our wallets whilst sipping Australian wine and eating fish tacos and almond croissants in the shade out of the hot sun.

Since our school is 50% French, we benefited from food stalls laden with croissants and pains au chocolat, fine cheeses, french macarons, fois gras and baguette, and a wide selection of french books.  Our school also has a large Hebrew population so we also were spoiled with middle eastern food like crispy falafel and bowls of creamy tahini.  Murphy ate about a kilo of spilled popcorn, approximately a thousand bits of discarded cupcakes, and an undetermined amount of forsaken pita bread. 

The day started grey and cool but quickly changed to blue skies and hot hot sun.  By 5:00pm, sweaty, more than a little sunburned, and with an aching back, I was happy to corral my purple-haired face-painted skeleton, bid adieu to the fête and bonjour to a cold glass of beer.

Back at home, we packed up Murphy and set out for the dogsitter.  Murph will spend the next week in Brad's chaotically welcoming home while J and I fly to join the erstwhile C2 in Perth to steal a little quality family time.  Stay tuned for a post from the pristine beaches of Western Australia.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Squirminess Arrested

It's Tuesday evening, C2 is, as usual, in Perth, J and I are back from swimming lessons and a late dinner.  He's watching Phineas and Ferb while I have a glass of wine and try to muster some energy for the bedtime routine.

I am assuming that the reason for my crushing fatigue of late is owing to my new job!  If you recall, in several posts from the last year, I referenced my desire to re-engage my pre-baby, pre-trailing spouse, pre-round the world adventuring brain.

I was on the cusp of professional re-engagement in Geneva last year when we decided to move down under.  We've been here 11 months now and I continue to seek balance in my life.  Life has tilted badly out of balance during the last several months.  C2's professional life keeps him in Western Australia too much, he is exhausted too much, I am single-parenting too much, and J and I are adapting to his absences too much.

In the midst of all of this, the ideal job entered my world.  During many of my laments about being squirmy but stymied about how to co-mingle professional fulfillment with our complicated family life and travel commitments; many comments centered around engaging in meaningful volunteer work.  A commitment that would get my head back into the game, make a difference, but at the same time be flexible.  My background is in the not-for-profit sphere and that is where know I can make a meaningful difference.

Enter the wonderful NGO Child Wise.  An Australian organization that is all about making a difference.  Dedicated to the prevention and reduction of child sexual abuse and exploitation in Australia and Asia Pacific.  They focus on programs to identify and eliminate opportunities for child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking.  If there is a more noble cause, I haven't seen it.  Child Wise survives with a skeleton staff dedicated to the cause.  Part of the team work day to day to keep the organization afloat largely through private philanthropy and charitable donations.  That's where I come in.  I am working in Development 2-3 days a week, researching potential revenue streams and writing grant proposals.  I am engaged, I hope I will make a difference, I am fulfilled, and in spite of my current exhaustion, I have found some balance.

In addition to my own fulfillment, I think that it is critical to J's evolution into a well-adjusted young man, that he see me as more than a one-dimensional person.  More than the mum whom he takes for granted to pick him up from school, feed him, and do all his bidding.  He needs to understand that women are equal in any family dynamic.   I am happy that he has a Dad who is a gourmet cook, I am happy that all three of us sit around on Friday nights and watch 'Better Homes and Gardens', I am happy that he knows when the new edition of the magazine is released.  I am tickled that he loves to watch 'Junior Masterchef', has a desire to cook, and planted tomatoes this year.  I am delighted that all three of us ski, mountain-bike, hike, and engage in similar adventure sports.  I am thrilled that all three of us are curious, open-minded, and increasingly see ourselves as citizens of the world and less of one particular nation.  I sincerely hope all of his experience will mold him into an enlightened man with no pre-conceived gender notions.    A man who respects women and ultimately enters into a partnership of equals.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Poem and Then Some

I don't have perfect recall of the kind of homework I did in my early years of primary school.   I don't particularly recall  doing any.  I do remember song time, rows of single digit arithmetic (I guess it was too simple to be worthy of the moniker 'mathematics'), and reading the Bobbsey Twins.

I certainly don't recall being given 10 days to memorize this poem and recite in front of the class in second grade:
La Cigale et la Fourmi

La Cigale ayant chanté
Tout l'été
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vermisseau
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la Fourmi sa voisine
La priant de lui prêter
Quelque grain pour subsister
Jusqu'à  la saison nouvelle
"Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
Avant l'août foi d'animal
Intérêt et principal
La Fourmi n'est pas prêteuse
C'est là son moindre défaut
Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud?
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse
Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise
Vous chantiez? j'en suit fort aise
Eh bien! dansez maintenant

God bless the French and their mighty curriculum.  It's nice to see them pouring cream instead of skim milk into those young open minds.  Pretty impressive for an 8-year old doncha think?  At J's age, I was lucky if I could remember what time Get Smart was on TV...and it didn't get me any smarter.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

One of my favorite bloggers, the full-of-grace Elizabeth over at A moon, worn as if it had been a shell  blogged her version of the following literary faves today and as I have been rather blog-blocked of late, I thought I'd plagiarize her idea and share the same.

1) What authors do you own the most books by?
J.R.R. Tolkien, Cornelius Ryan, Pierre Burton, Stephen Ambrose, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, J.K. Rowling, Thomas Friedman, Jon Krakauer

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Does the complete and dog-eared Harry Potter series count?

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
It kind of did

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
The Scarlett Pimpernel or Aragorn (Lord of the Rings), I'm a sucker for a man with a noble heart

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
And the Band Played On

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Anything by Enid Blyton

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
The Shack

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
The Book Thief

9) If you could force everyone here to read one book, what would it be?
The Old Man and the Sea

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
To quote Elizabeth "Good Lord, who knows? Who cares?"

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Life of Pi

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Aragorn and it wasn't weird and I'm not describing it...

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
All by Dan Brown and dang it, I've read them all

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Freedom at Midnight - Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
Pass but I've been inside his reconstructed Globe theatre in London and that was pretty cool

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Let's go with the French if you're counting Sainte-Exupery

18) Roth or Updike?

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Easy - David Sedaris

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

21) Austen or Eliot?

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
The French and the Russians

23) What is your favorite novel?
The Sun Also Rises

24) Play?

25) Poem?
Ozymandias - Shelley
The Road Not Taken - Frost 
W.H. Auden

26) Essay?
I'm not fussed so anything in Atlantic Monthly or Vanity Fair

27) Short Story?
The Snows of Kilimanjaro

28) Work of nonfiction?
Ambrose's Band of Brothers or anything by Jon Krakauer

29) Who is your favorite writer?
Ernest Hemingway

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Jodi PicoultI HATE derivative writing and contrived plots

31) What is your desert island book?
A Farewell to Arms
A Moveable Feast

32) And... what are you reading right now?
Worst of Days - Karen Kissane
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay