Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The pub

Walked by the local today. The smell of stale beer lurched into the street like a sleazy drunk. The sweet yeasty aroma caught in the back of my throat causing my top lip to curl with discontent. It reminded me of my childhood; congregating in the pub after a long winters day at the local footy. My brother and I, along with any number of school friends who happened to be in the same boat, wandered like aliens amidst the tall oaks that were other adults. We small things clutched bags of salt and vinegar chips, and carefully weaved our way through a forest of denim swathed legs, mindful to steer clear of those with drinks in hand, so as to avoid a dousing of sticky beverage down the back of our shirt collars.

From the mere smell wafting from the local, I could imagine the decor inside: dart board on one wall, an orchestra of alto voices rumbling incoherently like a turbulent sea. The only recognisable word being an intermittently barked "FUCK", which always seems to beam out from a jumble of mixed voices like a search light onto unsuspecting thieves. In my mind's eye, I could see the bar: a Johnny Walker mirror gleaming in front of a terry towelling swathed counter top. The mirror reflects an organised line of glass bottles filled with the full spectrum of colourful tonics, and captures the movements of fellow patrons; those drinking, those queuing to buy the next round and those leaning on the bar with no other purpose than to be swallowed up by the transient crowd, in an effort to feel less lonely.

The carpet on the ground is dark, with an unsightly geometric pattern of the likes never seen in any domestic arena. It's pattern blares over creaking floor boards, and although ugly, is appreciated for its practicality and effectiveness in disguising peanut kernels, chip crumbs, dirt, spilled drink and vomit.

Like the expected cuckoo bird from a German clock, a scruffy bloke staggers through the heavy wooden pub door - the sign says "saloon". He flinches at the bright sunlight. He did not shave his beard this morning. The man's uniform suggests he has probably been on a construction site of some sort. He wears Rossi boots smeared with the remnants of dried clay, and navy Yakka work trousers that sag in the behind, due to the absence of an arse.

Thinking back to the pub in my memory, I half expect a similar crowd enjoying the sociable atmosphere inside the local - leathery, mulletted, and for more than a few, sparse of tooth. There was a friendly coarseness about these blokes- the epitome of rural masculinity. They were harmless enough though - laugh out loud type of blokes; "she'll be right ya old bastard" type of blokes; take it on the chin type of blokes, comrades; diggers, mates. I smile at the thought.

As the pub door swings to a close, a great gust of stale beer air hurtles in my direction. It is pungent, sickening, overwhelming; not unlike unwashed urinals in an all boys high school. I move along, considering it no mere coincidence that these two amber fluids should share the same euphemism.

Sunday, 27 April 2008


We are getting a new heater. Our wood combustion heater was shot and Ashley was not a fan, so we went all out and invested in a gas log fire - so deep is the investment that we have had to pay big dollars to get the mains gas connected to the house. Thursday, the guys came to put the new heater in, and with temperatures set to plummet over the weekend, it seemed to be fine timing.

However, the plan went to pot when the installers found they had a mismatched flue, and so, with regret, the guys informed me there were no spares of the correct flue in the warehouse and they would have to order another in.... which will take another week or so. Great!

Now, along with the rest of South Australia, I have been praying for rain and some cooler temperatures. It rained the whole day yesterday and all through the night; thunder rumbled overhead, hail rattled on the roof tiles above, and the gutters over-flowed in a steady stream on numerous occasions. The temperature dropped to 6.4 degrees.

Unfortunately the installers had also ripped out my old combustion heater, and it lay useless and most probably, snickering with vindictive pleasure, abandoned in the equally icy back shed. I think my house was the same temperature outside as it was in. And on top of all that, the household decided to go into vomit over-drive with the bedding and rugs being the target zone.

I got to bed some time around 2:30 am after cleaning up the majority of mess. Ice block-like I had washed two quilts and quilt covers, shorting a fuse in the process and screaming out loud at all the injustices of world as my daughter knocked over her dessert from the darkened kitchen table, which the dog gobbled up with lusty determination - there was no more, and her wailing (which I truly could have care less about, given the comedy of errors taking place at the same time while multiple phones decided to ring at once) could be heard across the valleys and nearby mountain ranges and was likely recorded on the Richter scale.

With Ashley away in Scotland, my brother came to my rescue with a new fuse he just happened to have lying around in his shed, and a flashlight, which I was also without.

Much later, I went off to bed in the hope of putting the disastrous night well and truly behind me, only to find, to my dismay, that one of the dogs, in their thunder storm induced anxious state, had gone out in sympathy with the kids and decided to vomit all over MY BED. So with that stripped, and all alternative bedding in use in the kids rooms while theirs was being cleaned, I resigned myself to a freezing night, huddled under a couple of throw rugs, alone and longing for the hot sun.

How was your night?

Monday, 21 April 2008

soul soothing

Went to the salvage yard today, in the hope of finding some old roof tiles that match those on our roof - no luck- but the salvage yard itself was really interesting, and proved to be a surprisingly fun place to visit with the kids.

There were all sorted of wonderful things at the salvage yard - old doors and windows, bath feet, old singer sewing machines, "interesting" garden ornaments and relic machinery. There was also an odd collection of archaic advertising sculptures. One piece involved a life size man riding upon a flying fish - the breeze stirring the contraption in a way that caused the fishes fins to move up and down in a flying motion, and the man's legs to turn, as if he were riding a bicycle - quirky indeed!

The kids had a million questions as to what was this old thing and what was that, but were particularly taken by an old fashioned type writer with sticky, clunky keys. Although I can't imagine hacking out a piece of writing on one of those nowadays (spell check... need I say more?), I do like the heavy clicking sound the keys make - there is something deeply satisfying in that sound, as opposed to the quietly industrious and unobtrusive tap of today's lap tops; all hushed and unwilling to disturb or cause a stir. The old type writers seem to punch the paper with determined zeal, as if applying CPR in the hope of giving the words real life, breath and voice, along with an accompanying exclamation mark to accentuate the points raised within the document.

We managed to escape the salvage yard empty-handed, and began to head for home via the coast, but decided to stop when we came to Port Noarlunga. Although Port Noarlunga isn't too far from where I live, I must say, I have never spent much time there. Noarlunga, a nearby 'burb, is a bit shabby and rough around the edges...in other words it is considered a bit feral, but Port Noarlunga is a bit of a surprise, with a gorgeous beach and sand stone cliffs. The day was perfect - a beautiful 25 degrees, so we bought the obligatory ice cream and headed out to the jetty for a bit of a stroll. Many people were out fishing, but most were mumbling about not having caught much, which was evident by the numerous empty pails positioned hopefully and at the ready, foot-side. I dare say the emergency helicopter doing sea rescue training nearby might be considered a glaringly obvious reason as to why the fish weren't biting, but hey, what do I know.

I am not really one for beach swimming, so Ashley took the kids down to the waters edge for a paddle, while I walked along the rocky edge to survey the scene and absorb the energy of the seaside. I actually felt rather renewed by the experience and was thankful that I thought to gather up my camera prior to leaving.

I always find restitude in the seaside. To me, the seaside always has atmosphere, even when I am its sole admirer on a given day. The sea just is. It orchestrates for itself, simply because it is the sea's way. It is rhythmic and always in tune. Simple words came to mind, just through sitting amongst the rocks and observing, words such as LICK - as the tide crept in touching the sands that had been left to dry since the tide last went out. CONGREGATE - to a yacht sailing in through a small gathering of other yachts anchored close to shore. HEDGING -to a line of rods leaning against the jetty railing - one lone guy seeming to be minding them all or tending them all - who is to say. DIAMONDS - to the sunbeams glistening off the water. TEXTURE while marveling at the many and varied materials represented in this one seascape; the clear slick water; the soft wet sand, giving like warm wax; the salt encrusted dry beach sand, cracking under foot; the sand stone cliffs that had been sculpted into gentle rolling shaped; and the granite underfoot, hard, jagged and pot-holed.

I wasn't gone long, but it was enough. I returned to watch the kids happily playing in the sand, already saturated from running and "accidentally" falling into the water. The joy we found that day.......

While we spent the entire afternoon jetty-side, there are other walks that one can do at Port Noarlunga. One I would like to do another time, leads over a river and winds through the dunes, opening up onto the beach perhaps 600 metres south of the jetty. From the road that meanders far above the board walk, one could see kayakers paddling down stream, and pelicans cruising the waters sage-like. Nevertheless, I leave a couple of pictures captured from the day's visit.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Cogs going around

Yesterday an unsettledness grew in me that I could neither explain nor contain. It sparked and ignited into a smoldering agitation that ate away at the contentment I had previously been feeling on the second day of the school holidays.

It wasn't anything to do with the kids. In fact we have had a great week thus far, and I have truly enjoyed their company. No. This was something else. This was something I have felt before; a kind of festering that bounces off my insides like a moth smashing itself against a glass door in an attempt to fly toward the light.

Today, I tried to arrest the feeling; send it away; forbid it to pester me any longer, but it remained and distracted me, forcing me to analyse its origins.

In my minds eye I was an awkward bird, with broad wings like those of a pelican. The bird rose from the dry red earth; dusty, bedraggled and bewildered. Inwardly I acknowledged the image with an sub-conscious whisper - "Ahhh, Phoenix rising", though I knew not what it all meant.

When Ashley returned home from work, he noticed something in me and asked what was wrong. I didn't know and therefore, didn't want to talk about it. I needed time to reconcile the restlessness with words and rationale, but it was to no avail and I could not look Ashley in the eye.

Later that night, after the kids were in bed, we talked. "I feel like I am in the wrong place", I said. In truth, I had been struggling or more to the point, I had been missing Canada. I keep finding myself harking back to useless thoughts of "this time last year..." and this time last year the blossoms were out and there was a sense of relief that the long dark nights of winter were almost over; the promise of long summer nights; the rhythmic ping of baseballs connecting to bats and the low hum of neighbourly lawn mowers that, to me, is strangely comforting, for it signals a time for flourishing and for growth.

I miss Canada. I REALLY miss it. Having returned to my homeland, I understand that this place, this country, the earthy essence in which I was born, bred and breathe, well it courses through my veins where ever I am in the world and I will never lose it. It is in my blood and I carry it with me with each heart beat and in each breath, and now there is a longing for what I have given up; that place in the north, with its tranquil watery beauty; its healing green hues and earth toned birds that glide silently and serenely upon those chilly arctic winds.

We left Canada for reasons to do with work. Ashley was terribly unhappy and his work was consuming him in such a way that it was affecting our daily lives and our ability to connect as a couple and as a family, but while Ashley was longing for Australia, a place where he had known peace, I think, in hindsight I had found mine in Canada. Our respective Canadian experiences were not the same. Being at home with the kids, as isolating and as lonely as that was on most days, I did have a freedom that he did not. I was able to connect with the land and with nature. I loved nothing more that pulling on a warm coat and strolling along the beach alone, or getting down to the bird sanctuary with the kids or driving to a favourite spot with my little family and having a moment of perfection; present in Gods beauty anew. I miss that. It wasn't yet embedded in my soul. At the moment I am going there in my mind and I see it clearly, but I just feel a longing. I have had these underlining feelings for a while, but reconciled that I was here, not there, so get over it.

We are also still trying to do this house up. We are onto our bedroom and more painting is just not exciting me. There are lots of things that I am not happy about with the house, but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, so I just have to gain perspective, be patient and slug away at it. We tend to be a bit gung-ho when it comes with renovations and the like, as if it should have all been done yesterday.

I need to get back into the fitness. I haven't had the time to do a whole lot. My window of opportunity is very small 6:30 am - 7:15am and it has to be before the kids get up - that just ain't happening at the moment and with Ashley going overseas for work, as of Monday for three weeks, I am going to have to cut my losses, continue getting my walks in with the kids and dogs and wait until school goes back when Missy enters full time kindy, so I have kid free time to devote to the gym and to fitness in general. And then there is the big one....DA DA DAAAAAA - work.

I have not been in proper paid employment of any serious nature for 12 years! Sure I worked in my Dads bakery while studying at uni. I did prac. work while finishing my social work degree. I have done volunteering here and there, but even still, over the past six years, my primary role has been Stay At Home Mum. I am not dissing that role at all. In fact I feel lucky that I have been able to stay home that whole time. I know many women aren't in a position to do so, and may otherwise have liked that choice. I am happy that I have been there for my kids and helped instill a solid foundation for them, but in the meantime, I have totally lost touch with the working world and I just feel completely overwhelmed with the idea of trying to hack out some semblance of work place experience of the type that an employer would actually find useful. Anyway, this is it. Despite all the other side distractions I have mentioned, it is the desire to work that is stirring in me like dragon awakening from a centuries long slumber. Next year Missy will be going to full time school and I am really feeling the pull to consider my options in what I want to do. I even dared scan the employment websites yesterday, and got excited by a trainee position for an international recruitment company - I reckon I would love doing that type of thing, and think I would be well suited to it. Then today I went into the bank and was served by an older gent who was wearing a tag that said "in training" on it. My first thought was "oh, they were hiring." My second thought was "I could do that. Imagine the possibilities...". My third thought was a jealously misguided "Bastard".

The good thing in all this is the fact that I am considering what I want. I haven't done that in a very long time. The passion I felt for the old direction in my life (prior to children) is forever changed; snuffed out by circumstance and time. But I now feel that search for passion stirring once again. I don't know where this will all lead, but the possibilities are endless and that in itself is exciting.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

whatcha been doing

It’s been a while, hasn't it? I have been so completely busy and the internet connection is not real great here, so I have been avoiding the computer a bit. I am probably the most impatient person on the planet, so an internet service that drops out and is inexplicably slow frustrates me to the point of insanity.

I have been very busy though. I wouldn't have thought the home decorating aspect would take up MORE of my time than the initial unpacking did, but it has...or should I say IS.

Rugs. I am learning to hate them. I just can't seem to get it right in my, as yet, fruitless and completely failed attempt(s) to purchase a rug that actually matches the rest of the furnishings in the room. I just don't seem to have any memory at all for colours. I was SURE our bedroom walls were a dark bluey green - no, they are eucalyptus leaf green and rather light at that. I have returned two rugs for Missy Mopps room already, and would have given up the search by now, if she wasn't asking me every 10 seconds for something soft to play on in her room, perhaps we need carpet after all - NOOoooo. I bought a cream rug for the lounge today from IKEA. It didn't work in the intended room, and they told me that I wouldn't get my money back if I wasn├Ęt able to get it back in the original packaging - yeah right! Thankfully the rug worked out in another, unintended room, so I guess I have had one win after all. Still have the ugly curtains up though, but we won’t go there....

We are having all the rellies over on Easter Sunday for a barbie and a bit of a house warming thing, so I have been trying to clear all the packaging away to get things looking semi-ok; should make it in time. I plan on tackling the garden tomorrow - raking leaves, sweeping and doing a general tidy up.

Must say, the last couple of days have not been too bad in getting things done. Our region has just come out of a fifteen day, record breaking heat wave - that is, fifteen days of temperatures over 35 degrees celsius - it was not pleasant, I can assure you. The previous record was 8 days straight, so I hope we don’t have a hot spell like that for a very long time, and the record remains standing for decades to come. Would not mind some rain now, we are well overdue for some. Hope you garden looks better than mine - shrivelled dust bowl.

Monday, 10 March 2008


Survived the move. A truck came friday to load up all our wares. It was such a hot day; 40 degrees. The poor removalists were dripping with sweat at 8 in the morning, and they hadn't yet had the fortune of tackling the goat track like slope of our new driveway. When they did, they needed to call in for back up to get the piano down without sending it crashing into the side of the house - ebony and ivory unhinged and splintered all over the place - can you imagine? Ha.

We are practically all unpacked, which sounds kind of miraculous, but we have spent the past two weeks couriering suitcases and boxes of brickabrack over by car and putting it away on the spot.

Ashley has spent his nights over here alone, painting the hideous colours out - fuschia pink replaced with a subtler greem; frog green replaced with ochre; paddle pop chocolate brown replaced with "dried herb". We got a guy in to fix the cork kitchen floor - it looks nice now - good as new, and we have also installed built-in wardrobes in the kid's bedrooms. Now we would like to get rid of the hideous salmon pink curtains that run the entire course of the family room; the brown curtains in the lounge room and revolting green curtains in our bedroom which are accompanied by this hideous metallic lilac sheer umm...thing that hangs like a torn web and should be thrown in the fire - it is shuddersome. I DETEST it.

Anyone need a couple of suitcases? We have enough to satisfy the luggage requirements of all inhabitants of a small nation. What do you do with these things? They are so bulky. Seriously, if you live in Adelaide and require a couple of large suitcases - give me a burl and I will happily pass on the excess- at the moment all 7 are sitting out on the back deck.

And on to the surprises -no new home owner can escape without them. Our new place in not exactly new and therefore, not immune to the nasty surprise factor - it is nearly 40 years old. The miserable previous owners have passed on their old place without fixing the dishwasher -have to get someone out for that tomorrow, and when we attempted to hook the washing machine up, the hose broke off in the wall, resulting in a day without running water while we waited for a plumber to come and fix it - on a long weekend. $400 later we have a sizeable hole in the wall and yet another job on the ever increasing todo list. I hope the house is just ridding itself of the old energy and will settle for us now.

Well, I had better get back to it. I want to kick this joint into gear by Friday so we can enjoy the weekend and give the kids a reprieve from house stuff for a while. Toodles.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Stirring the waters

Tuesday we get the keys to our house - YAY! It has been a long time coming. It will be nearly 5 months since we moved out of our last house, and I can tell you, we have felt every day of those last five months.

Since October 2007, we have lugged all our earthly wares into seven different places across three different countries. Some stays were more fun than others, but each abode has been about the size of a shoe box...or smaller. We are seriously over it. For Ashley and I, I think our current situation has been the most unharmonious time in our entire 18 year relationship; this whole temporary waiting game has been completely unsettling, stressful and disconnecting - we literally, haven't known if or when we were coming or going.

We bought a house three months ago, JUST after we had signed a three month lease on a rental property. Sounds unfortunate, but actually we were very lucky. We needed to go somewhere, and this unsightly place, with its crappy bathroom; barely functioning toilet; tiles falling off the wall; archaic kitchen with no bench space and hideous wall paper, was the only place that was offering a short term rental contract, and as luck would have it, the place happened to be situated near the area we wanted to buy into, so we grasped it with both hands and figured we would live - and we have.

We have seen our new place twice, so I can't quite remember what the hell it looks like inside. I know (and shudder) that it has a nightmarishly steep driveway, but otherwise, I think it should be all right. It needs a bit of work, but nothing like the dump our old place was when we first bought it. I do remember this new place as having a bit more room for the four (or six) of us to spread out in, than our current dive. It also has a fenced yard for both kids and dogs to run around in. I can't wait.

We are spending about 10 days painting the kids rooms and installing built-in robes, fixing the kitchen floor and other tasks we are anticipating on surprising us, once we enter the place empty. It is our hope that we will be moving in on March the 7th. Then, with some luck, our family will finally be able to settle, and we will be able to start thinking about more interesting things.