Monday, 26 November 2012

Back in Action: Gratitude

Given the yin and yang of life, and in light of the gloomy black cloud that was my previous post, I feel compelled to acknowledge the return of a better mood and my immense gratitude for the abundance in my life.  In no particular order, these are some of the reasons I am happy:

  • Murphy's 14-and-still-going years that have splendidly blessed my life with unconditional love...and hair.  
  • The 25c and sunny skies in Melbourne whilst listening to my mum's description of the blizzard raging in Calgary.  
  • The scent inside a flower shop that positively lifts J and I up, up, and up.  Who can ever be grumpy inside a flower shop?  
  • C2 and J's robust good health.  I know it can all change on a dime. 
  • A friend through thick and thin, years and years, and miles and miles.  
  • Not having to say Vice-President Ryan, and by extension... 
  • The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming  
  • My mother's happy, full, and fulfilling life
  • The sweet anticipation of running Mount Doug on Vancouver Island with my brother followed by a coffee as big as my face and a maple-dipped donut at Tim Horton's in 3 weeks.
  • Spending New Year's Eve in San Francisco this year with dear friends from our Geneva life whom we haven't seen in almost five years.
  • J and my sista's faces early Christmas morning as we pad through a candle-lit house.
  • The (first) Hobbit film - enough said!
  • Homeland OMG...Damian Lewis OMG...Claire Danes OMG
  • Orchids  
  • Wasted muscles that are rediscovering their strength.
  •  yoga, Yoga, YOGA!
  • Friends and family near and far.  Need them, love them, miss them.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

M.I.A.: My Sense of Humour

Spoiler Alert:  Some weeks back,  I promised that this blog would discuss some everyday moments in our life and not just the fun stuff.  So here is a first world issues, whinging, whining, and moaning post:

I am in a seriously bad mood!   It started a couple of days ago and only seems to be escalating.  Everyone is is tip-toeing around me, careful not to poke the bear in case she attacks.  I couldn't even tell you what set it off.  I usually have a sense of humour over the minor challenges of day-to-day life but this time, my sense of humour has up and fled the building grabbing its great mates 'good sense', 'calm', 'peace', and 'perspective' on its way out the door.

J's on-going forgetfulness has resulted in a seriously poked bear.  Can someone please advise if it is an XY chromosome thing, a 9-year old thing or a J thing?  The boy has the memory of an elephant and can remember the tiniest detail of an event 6 years ago, but ask him to remember his school hat?  Not a chance.

Yesterday, J had tennis before school.  When I picked him up after school, his backpack was missing and tennis racket gone (racket for the 3rd time BTW!).  The backpack had library books, money, a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, and his homework.  J shrugged, clueless as to their whereabouts.  Poke, poke!   His French teacher then collared me to discuss his 'comportement".  That's French for "when in school you sit still, listen, learn, and do your work without giggling, discussion or tipped water bottles".  "But mum, it's almost the end of the year," he protested.  Great! Five more weeks of tipped water bottles.  This morning, he left the fork for his pasta lunch on the kitchen counter; hope he enjoys eating penne with his fingers!  This near-perfect day was topped by a rousing difference of opinion between us during homework, that 9 to the power of 2 was 81 not 18!!!  

C2 had the temerity to inquire mildly why there was no yogurt which, of course, sent me off into a rage over this personal attack.  Being an expat trailing spouse and falling into our respective roles of responsibility does not take away from the fact that I am a 21st century woman who was successful enough professionally to make choices to live the life I live now.  C2 and I are the modern ideal of true equality, which therefore does not make me responsible for the f***ing yogurt.  Don't think he'll make that mistake again anytime soon.

I ventured into my garden after the school run this morning to water my plants and found my wildly stubborn "I-refuse-to-hang-in-any-kind-of-orderly-manner" hose, which C2 had recently wrangled into submission lying about in all manner of disorder, and in a clear act of rebellion, the hose had flung its hose hanger onto the ground but on its way to the ground, it had knocked our gas lever into the OFF position.  Because our gas pilot is in the attic, only a gas plumber can reignite it.  Super!

This was followed by what can only be described as a personal conspiracy against me by the aphids on my roses.

Finally, despite seeing a spinal specialist physiotherapist, I am not seeing much improvement in my debilitating lower back problem.  The current theory is wasted muscles caused by a disc injury between the L4 and L5 vetebrae, a year ago.  Very common injury and one difficult and requiring many months to resolve.  Good to know that in spite of working out like a fiend, I manage to have wasted muscles.   Super duper!

I want my mom.


Good news:

Backpack was located late today behind the junior school building.  Someone had clearly snatched and stashed it.  It was minus the tennis racket but everything else was there.  OK, I guess I can't really blame this one on forgetfullness.

Special Mention:

Without any encouragement, J made a $5.00 donation from his own pocket money to the poppy fund in memory of his Grandparents, Great-Uncle, and Great-Granddad.

Remarkable Mention:

This morning, the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard announced the launching of a Royal Commission to investigate the responses of religious, state and community groups to acts and allegations of child sexual abuse.  As I work in an organisation dedicated to child protection, and the reduction and prevention of child sexual abuse, we are beyond delighted. Well done Australia!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Halloween Down Under

 I count myself extremely fortunate to have experienced Halloween in French Canada, English Canada, Switzerland, England, and now Australia.  However, it is clear that the notion and associated protocols of Halloween are only clearly understood and respected in North America.  The rest of the world has much to catch up with.

Remember this?   Halloween in Switzerland

We have burned effigies of Guy Fawkes, and launched firecrackers and rockets in London in a gruesome re-creation of the ill-fated gunpowder plot of 1605.

But for me Halloween meant having a costume big enough to fit over your winter jacket, ski pants, and tuque.  It meant traipsing from one house to the next over common lawns and ONLY approaching houses burning Jack O'Lanterns at their front door.  It meant screaming in mock terror at the pretend graveyards, and most importantly, it meant a seriously bulging bag of WRAPPED candy booty by the time we returned home with frozen feet and runny noses.

The ninja, the witch and J as a vampire ghost(?)
 I didn't plan anything this year as Halloween really isn't marked in Australia, particularly a day before the start of Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival.  Melburnians twin passions are Footy and horse racing.  All the city decorations and excitement are directed towards a week of racing leading to the iconic running of the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday.  Halloween is brushed off as ridiculous, potentially dangerous, and consumptive.

Consequently, J in his usual passion for all things holiday-related took it upon himself to help organise a group of like-minded souls and together this empowered little group made a plan.  They nominated a house (not mine) as command central, plotted a route, recruited parents, and wrote a rather long-winded but lovely poem to recite at each door.  The poem was quickly abandoned in favour of the traditional "Trick-or-Treat!".

Trick-or-Treating beneath the Palms
...and in front of Birds of Paradise

October 31 in Melbourne saw temperatures of 30c, not at all appropriate but the group soldiered on.  They pounded on locked gates, they yelled into intercoms, they chased homeowners down long windy driveways, they climbed long stairs in search of hidden front doors, they sweated under their costumes in the humid air.  In short, they worked hard!

Their booty was a tad pathetic.  A banana and five-dollar note being my personal favorites.  Most people answered their door looking bemused, and offered a Tim Tam or bowl of M&Ms to be shared.  The idea of WRAPPED candy was not clear.

In the end though, the joy and magic were palpable amongst this little motley group of ghouls.  J looked up us as we walked back to command central and inquired happily, "can we do this again next year?"