Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sad...so very sad...

It's after midnight and I can't sleep, have tried to but had to get up, just couldn't get into deep sleep mode.

There's a lot on my mind weighing heavily...

Matilda phoned me from school at recess this morning to tell me that a Year 11 student had died last night, an apparent suicide. There was an emergency assembly called this morning and the school community was informed. The library was set up as a safe haven for students who needed support, any student who felt they needed to be there was encouraged to do so. Counsellors were at the school by 8am this morning and available to the students all day. I believe this will continue for the rest of the week. The young woman has a brother at the school, his friends had a counselling session to discuss ways to support him.

Such a tragedy, an utter waste of a young life, so much potential just gone. I believe the young woman had been sent home from school yesterday and was intending to discuss a number of important issues with her Mother. The discussion didn't eventuate, instead an argument ensued resulting in the young woman taking her own life. I'm not even sure that ending her life was what she intended to do, rather that she was distressed and needing attention & support. She had to get it some how, ANYHOW...

...so sad, so terribly sad...

My heart goes out to her Mother, her brother, her family.

Rest peacefully Sweetheart...

Sunday, August 2, 2009


My apologies for not being about much this week, for some unknown reason I couldn't log in to Blogger, am seriously thinking about switching to Word Press.

Please indulge me in a proud parent moment here...

Last Tuesday evening Matilda & I went to Parent/Teacher night at her school. I had never been before and decided that it would be the done thing to introduce myself and meet teachers I didn't know. Attending is optional, some teachers request an interview, particularly if the student is experiencing some difficulty at school. Matilda's school principal, (who also happens to be her best friend Maddy's Dad), impressed on me that it was just as important for parents of students who do well to attend as
those who aren't doing so well. Matilda brings home terribly "boring" school reports, always straight A's for Achievement, Conduct and Effort. We are very proud of her indeed, she will be able to travel any path her heart desires in life with the kind of results she is getting.

It was good to meet her Science & Maths teachers, especially as she is looking at Medicine as her University/Career choice. Her teachers both said she should easily be able to cope with the Maths, Chemistry and Biology required at Year 11 & 12 levels. She is also going to undertake Music Extension and (compulsory) English and keep French as her "fun" subject...yes, this makes 6 subjects, five are compulsory, any more than five is optional. This bodes well for University entrance as a new scheme has just come into play whereby if a student bundles Maths B or C, Music Extension and a Language they will a) increase their OP Score by 4 places and b) gain a dedicated place in the course of their choice at the University of their choice.

Never, ever let it be said that Matilda doesn't know what she wants...from birth she has been a very determined cookie and known exactly what she wants and makes plans to achieve this. At times it has been difficult to parent her because of this, especially when our ideas clashed. A woman I worked with, who had adult children, told me that there would be a really positive side to this determination and that I would see it in her teen years...so very true, I now see what she meant.

But I digress...

Our last interview of the evening was with her French teacher, one of the most delightful women I know. Madame is a passionate teacher and so very dedicated to her job & her students. She takes the girls to various French films, exhibitions and cafes on weekends and after school. She organises celebrations for various French Days, there is a (belated) Bastille Day dinner coming up shortly and each week in her own time she conducts French speaking classes for students to practice their conversational French. Each year she takes the students on a trip to either New Caledonia or Paris...alternating each year so in Year 9 & 10 the students go to New Caledonia and in Year 11 & 12 they go to Paris. Madame is always bringing in little French treats for the students...pastries she has made, chocolates & other special treats. Matilda and her friends just adore her and she them.

When I saw her last week at Parent/Teacher night I thanked her for the effort she put in recently when taking Matilda & her friends into South Bank, Brisbane after school so they could work on the film they were making to send to their sister school in Paris. They had to present an aspect of Brisbane that they loved. Madame arranged tickets for them on the Brisbane Eye, filmed them and took them to a cafe for hot chocolate and pastries afterwards...again, in her own time, (and with her own funds). She told me last Tuesday how much she adores having students like Matilda & her friends in her class. She says that in her later days, when in her nursing home, that she will look back and remember the girls with great fondness. What a special thing to hear.

Every school needs a Madame (Amy from R.M.F.L., if you are reading this I put you in the same class...okay), every student should have a teacher like Madame at least once in their lives, a teacher who is passionate about their job and her students. Fortunately Matilda will have Madame to teach her for the rest of her days at secondary school...she is very blessed indeed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Because It's Too Good Not To Share...

I saw this on Kel's blog and thought it too good not to share so did so (with her blessing of course). It will bring a smile to your face and make you want to get up and dance,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just Stuff...

Last weekend was busier than usual for me. On Saturday Matilda & I headed up the highway at 7am bound for Eumundi & the famed Eumundi Market, some 120km away. We left home sans breakfast, in anticipation of the foodie delights that the market has to offer but stopped briefly for a hot chocolate on the way.

Seems that on such a gorgeous Winter morning that every man/woman and their dog was at the market...After arrival at around 8.30am we headed straight for the very popular Tibetan Momo stall. Two gorgeous young Tibetan men sell around 700-800 serves (my guesstimate) of vegetarian Momos each Saturday. Momos are delightful Tibetan dumplings, either meat based or vegetarian, that can be steamed or deep fried. I discovered this recipe & photograph at Helen Yuet Ling Pang's blog, World Foodie Guide, a wonderful blog for lovers of all things food. It's well worth a look and has inspiring recipes...I lingered there for quite some time. The men at Eumundi have perfected their recipe...the dumplings were delightfully hot, a little spicy and filled with cooked to perfection vegetables, served with soy &/or sweet chilli sauce.

We wandered the market, lots of the stalls don't grab my interest...I particularly enjoy the stalls that display/sell original arts/crafts/artisan made furniture. There are some vastly talented people out there. We broke up our wanderings with little food stops along the way and came home with Olive & Fetta Bread, containers of mixed olives and a delightful salt scrub for ridding me of my Winter dry skin.

The Paella Fella was hugely popular...

Arrived home to discover that John was preparing a delightful Asian style steamed fish dinner using a number of ingredients from our garden for the paste...lemongrass, ginger, garlic, turmeric & coriander on a bed of julienned vegetables and a little soy sauce...he wrapped it in a turmeric leaf and foil and baked it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. It was so good...even better that I didn't have to cook it myself.

Sunday was a gloriously sunny mid-Winter day, the kind of days that Queensland is famed for. It was 24C (75F)...a perfect day for 3/4 pants and a t-shirt, so lovely to wear a t-shirt again. The boys headed off to the football, (Myles games are just about always on Sundays) and Matilda & I headed off to the TSEXPO - Tertiary Studies Expo.

Matilda is heading into year 11 next year - only two more years of secondary school left for her (eek, how on earth did that happen..??!!). She is very keen to study medicine at University so off we went in search of information for her to consider and plan for. Perhaps it's a little early, but I thought it was a good idea for her to speak to various Uni's so she knows what she is in for. Academically, she is very clever, her mid-year school report contained nothing but A's and positive comments about how she is a delight to teach.

While at TSEXPO I spoke to the Midwives at The University of Queensland (UQ) about potentially returning to study and completing a Bachelor of Midwifery. This would be my dream job, you know, the one job that everyone desires that you would do if you could. I'm quietly excited about applying. I am going to apply and see what happens. I spoke to a beautiful woman, (who studied Midwifery in her mid-late 30's) who said that women & men in their 30's & 40's are considered favourably for the course due to their life experiences. I just have to work out how I could study and work for a few days per week. The course has only 3 contact days per week, one day set aside for self directed study and another for lectures, which are not compulsory and available online as both transcripts and streamed. Am thinking I could work some night shifts in a hospital/nursing home.

What an amazing privilege it would be, to be able to be there and assist a new little person coming into the world, to be there for the parents & families. My feeling is that a birth centre environment would be great for me to work in. I had such a positive experience at the Royal Women's Hospital Family Birth Centre when pregnant with Matilda, even though she ended up being an induced birth (two weeks post dates) with an emergency caesarean after 25 hours+ labour, the antenatal and post natal care I received was amazing.

Wish me luck...even if I defer for a year I will be able to get it together next year to begin studying the year after. John is very supportive which helps enormously and feels I should go for it, that if it is what I really WANT to do then I should do it.

Did you know that the average age of Midwives in Australia is 47 years old..?? If I start study next year I will be able to graduate before I will be 48 when I finish.

What else have we been up to...lets see...

School has resumed after a two week break. I really enjoyed the kids company these holidays. They were really in need of wind down time, just time to sleep in, read, watch a few DVD's, have a PJ day and just generally slow doen a bit. We didn't go out a lot...they had friends over to stay and went & stayed with their friends in return. On the last day of holidays I took them to Yum Cha (Dim Sum)...Myles had never been before. We did a little online research and found Landmark, reasonable close to home and apparently very good, a great range of choices and good prices.
We arrived around 11.30am and the place was packed...I estimate it seated around 300 guests and it was chock a block full. We took a ticket & waited our turn...some 20 minutes later we were seated. The best thing about Yum Cha is that the food starts to appear immediately, no ordering & waiting. Myles had a great time, found a lot he enjoyed to eat (as well as some things he didn't but he tried them which was more than he used to do). Both Matilda & Myles were very taken with the dessert trolley...I even let them go back for seconds of dessert...!!!

This weekend my sister, Sally and BIL, Chris will be in town on holiday...they are huge Yum Cha afficionados so we think we will take them to Landmark for lunch on Sunday.

I see a bit of a dumpling theme to this post...

That's about it for me...have spent enough time sitting here catching up on my reading this morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Play Me, I'm Yours...

I was sent a link to Play Me, I'm Yours... today in an email and was immediately entranced by the idea.

Luke Jerram is taking music to the streets and communities in the form of pianos, left for anyone who just happens along to play. He locates them at various sites...in shopping malls, skate parks, railway stations and laundrettes and they become the "property" of the community they are located in for the duration of their stay.

Here's a few videos of the pianos in various locations...I love the "I'm A Believer" video, which was shot in Carnaby Street, London...members of the public have been handed lyric sheets and invited to join in...

...and an older gent strutting his stuff...

The pianos friendly & non-intimidating presence seems to encourage people to drop everything and play, to make music for themselves and others, to not be self conscious about performing in public.

It made me smile this morning...

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's A Very Rocky Road Indeed...

Have just busted Myles trying to pull a swift one again...it's been happening quite a bit of late, to varying degrees, sometimes with potentially serious consequences.

This time it's kind of funny though.

He has Home Economics at school tomorrow...during term time they have cooked a number of great recipes so this being end of term they are preparing a treat.

This is the recipe that he brought home for Rocky Road...

200g Raspberry Lollies
200g Peanuts
200g Marshmallows
200g Snakes/Jelly Lollies
460g Milk Cooking Chocolate

This morning I asked him to write out me a list of the things he needed so I could go to the supermarket and pick them up today. He often forgets and remembers once dinner is over etc. on Thursday night and someone (usually John) has to go out into the cold to get what he needs.

Last thing you want to do once you have settled in by the fire for the evening.

He disappeared into his bedroom and this is the list he came up with...somewhat modified...

800g Raspberry Lollies
800g Marshmallows
800g Snakes/Jelly Lollies
500g Milk Cooking Chocolate

*Peanuts omitted as he is highly sensitive to all nuts but he cleverly decided to replace them with Rice Bubbles instead.

It didn't "add up" at all to me...why would you quadruple the lolly part of the ingredients and only add 40g of extra chocolate, the ingredient that is meant to be melted so as to bind it all together. Using Myles rationale the chocolate should have been increased to 1840g, almost 2kg...!!! My estimation of the cost of Myles' list was around $32.00.

After checking with his friend Bryce's Mum on the phone, it seemed that the boys were planning a junk-food-fest..!!! Bryce hadn't been quite so eager and avaricious...he had only doubled the ingredients and his Mum had no idea.

This was a much more clever attempt at pulling a fast one...but still didn't work, I'm still a step or two ahead...!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What Every Baby Needs...

This just blows me away...the Korean/English translation is hysterical though...

Bomo, The World First Indoor Robot Baby Carriage.

The smart Bomo which tends the baby at the vicinity of the mother gives pleasure and omfort to the baby, and gives the tired young mother and father a moment of leisurely time to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Function of Cradle

When the curiosity filled baby amusing itself facing the mother eye-to-eyes, it acts as a spacious chair, but when the baby fell in sweet sleep, it becomes a peaceful and comfortable cradle.

Function of automatically Swing

The function of the world first, gently rocking to-and-fro motion (not the ordinary swing motion but a horizontally sliding motion) when the baby woke up, makes the baby pleasantly amusing. The distance of the movement can be adjusted.

Function of automatically maneuvering

When it is switched on to the automatic mode, within the vicinity of the mother, it changes automatically, from the comfortable baby cradle to a robot car, and maneuvers by itself through the room, dodging the furnitures and walls, thus giving the young baby the fun of riding a car, and gives the mother doubled. leisurely time and pleasure.

Function of manual maneuvering

The young baby can ride it on the Automatically maneuvering mode, and for the more active older brothers or sisters, it has the function of manual maneuvering mode, which uses the accelerator pedal, and steering wheel like a real car. And even in case when the car is going to bump into an obstacle due to the clumsy driving, it automatically stops and backs up. Thus, it never bumps into the obstacles, both in automatic mode and manual mode.

Function of charging the power

It has a long battery life of, 3 days (2 hours/day) with 3 hours charging.

Function of Cover sheet

It is easy to cover or take off, and cleans well in plain water. And more than all, it is composed with the Nano Silver technology which protects the baby?s skin with the function of anti-biotic and anti-odor, by 99.9%

From now on, all the mothers in the world will call this Bomo the Indoor Robot Baby Carriage, which will with them for over a decade.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"In My Daughter's Eyes..."

Do you have a very favourite photo of your child or children..??

You know, one that just is "them" all over, that when you look at it, it brings tears to your eyes for the sheer clarity with which it represents your son or daughter.

This is my favourite photo of Matilda (besides to the very first ultrasound pic that showed she was still in there at 8.5 weeks gestation and her heart was beating as it should be. I'd had a bleed and didn't realise how very attached I was to this baby until that moment, but that's another post altogether...and I'll share it one day.)

It was taken in September 2005. I was on a month's sick leave, (I had not long had my gall bladder removed), when we decided to go for a walk & picnic up on Mount Alexander (not far from where we used to live in Castlemaine, Central Victoria. We had had our picnic and were waiting for the hot chocolate (that we had carried in the thermos) to cool down. She snuggled up behind me and we had a "Thelma & Louise" moment with my camera.

With just a little cropping, this was the result. I have this photo in a number of places at home, framed & scrapbooked, colour & black & white. I scrapbooked it with the lyrics to this song,

"In My Daughter's Eyes..."
By Martina McBride

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I want to be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes
Everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light
And the world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me
Gives me strength when I'm weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
Is had enough
It's givin' more when you feel like givin' up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes
I can see the future
A reflection of who I am
And what we'll be
And though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone
I hope you'll see
How happy she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

I'd love to see all of your favourite photos...post them on your blogs, along with what makes them so special to you.
Leave a comment or link back here if you like.

BTW...this makes post number 100 !!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Absurd Surds & Karma...

Matilda was sitting at the dining table tonight doing her homework utterly frustrated. She had quite a lot to catch up on as she was absent from school all of last week with the 'flu...not a heavy cold as many mistake for the 'flu, but real Influenza, she was so ill, poor love.

It was "Surds" that were frustrating her...she asked if I remembered learning about Surds and yes, I do but I can honestly say that in the 30 years since I was in Year 10 at high school, I have never, ever needed to know what a Surd was, much less have any use for them. I'm surprised they still teach such outdated and useless (IMO) maths. If anyone can tell me otherwise please do, I'd love to know a use for Surds.

Answering her questions took me right back to Year 10 maths and the sleazebag teacher I had...Mr. A, (name withheld to protect the guilty) ugh. Just writing his name makes my skin crawl. He was a very short man, wore thick glasses and had a huge moustache which often had lunch remnants trapped within. He was a heavy smoker and always reeked of cigarette smoke, his breath was quite foul. When I was in year 10 teachers were still allowed to smoke in classes, hard to believe really. It was well known and discussed among the female students that he liked to stand very close and peer down the front of our school uniforms. He would press his groin right up against the girls while checking their work and was far too touchy-feely. None of the girls ever went into his office, just off the maths room, alone, it wasn't safe. To my knowledge his highly inappropriate behaviour was never brought to the attention of the Principal. When discussing doing so among my group of friends it was felt that we would not be believed or supported so no action was taken.

I was telling Matilda about him and she was incredulous that this could happen and no action be taken. Thankfully, she and her friends won't ever be likely to have to deal with this sort of behaviour by someone in a position of power. From many discussions we have had over the years she knows that if ever anyone behaves inappropriately, whether it's at school, home, friend's home...wherever, that she will be believed and supported.

Incidentally, I Googled my year 10 maths teacher's name and discovered that he has taught at a huge number of schools over his 40 years of teaching, averaging one school per 18 months or so. He retired this year as he has lung cancer.

Karma can be such a bitch, can't it..??

***Quick update on us...

Have been rather absent of late...am still recovering and am off to see a GI Medico as my liver function is nowhere near what it should be...my energy levels are gradually getting there but it's a slow process. I also had 5 days in Melbourne last week visiting family & friends, it was so lovely to be away by myself...lovely to get home too though. While I was away Matilda came down with the 'Flu...she was really ill, couldn't get out of bed for several days and had all last week off school. She is recovering too, albeit slowly but was quite happy to go back to school today, Monday being a holiday was handy.

Have been reading all of your blogs and commenting very little, it's not personal, just taking time to get back on track. I really thought I would be much better by now and am frustrated that I'm not.

Much love...xoxo

P.S. Please pop on over to my dear friend Carla's new blog and say hello. She's an amazing woman, a newly published writer...she blogs in English, her second language...don't know how she does it all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me...

Life At Number 14 is a year old today...this is my 98th post, almost made it to 100...!!!

Thanks dear friends and followers, I have "met" a whole new group of friends out there who I wouldn't have crossed paths with otherwise...I have loved meeting you and your families and enjoyed peeping inside your open windows...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recovering Slowly...

It's taking a while but I'm getting back on track...still have very little energy and have to be careful about conserving what I do have.

Saw my GP yesterday and my potassium levels have dropped again so have had to up my medication. They were up to (almost) the lower end of normal but for some unknown reason it has decreased. Have another blood test scheduled for Friday so we will see how things are going then. In the meantime I am craving (& eating lots of) foods rich in potassium...red meat, tomatoes, oranges, steamed potatoes (with skin on), avocado & tuna. In fact, I am ravenous and am craving protein...am eating 4-6 smaller meals a day. Probably just catching up.

Thanks for all of your comments and well wishes...I'm slowly catching up with all of your news. Not back at work until my potassium levels even out but am looking forward to a trip to Victoria next week (alone) to catch up with family & friends.

Lots of love...xoxo

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Have been right out of action...

Last Saturday was day 8 of constant nausea, vomiting & diarrhoea (gone on far too long, could keep nothing down) and through the afternoon I had trouble with breathlessness and my heart rate was very fast & erratic so it was off in the ambulance to hospital. After some testing it was discovered my potassium levels were through my boots, normal range is 3.5 - 5.0 mEq/l, mine was 2.0 and later dropped to 1.6...more than low enough to cause a cardiac arrest.

There was also a specific cardiac enzyme called Troponin (which is an indicator of heart muscle damage) present in my blood, it indicated that my heart was under strain so that meant there was no chance of coming home. I had to be admitted for monitoring and I/V Potassium...had a total of 15 bags of the stuff and my levels aren't even in the normal range yet!!! I also had to have a series of Clexane (anticoagulant) injections before the PE was excluded so I am bruised & sore, my arms have bruises from wrist to elbow from the 4x daily blood tests...it's very attractive let me tell you.

There was also concern I had a Pulmonary Embolism but tests yesterday ruled that out (there had to be one that went my way)...the vomiting etc. has stopped and I am feeling much better in myself although have no energy whatsoever...just having a shower and washing my hair this morning took every scrap of energy I had, although I felt so much better for having done it.

I have John at home any time if needed and Matilda is home today cooking chicken soup, just what I need & desire. He has been amazing, just steps up and gets on with what needs to be done without a word of complaint, I'm a very lucky woman indeed.

Have to see my GP in the morning and work out a plan for the next week or so. Am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now...I have lost almost 13kg (28lbs) but do not recommend doing it this way at all.

Hopefully will be back on deck soon & catching up with your news.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


It's a relaxed evening here, we have a public holiday tomorrow...Labour Day. Matilda is out at a birthday party sleepover and who knows where Josh is, he hasn't put in an appearance here since Friday evening. I was going to cook a roast for dinner...I have a whole organic Pork Scotch Fillet just waiting to be enjoyed but it seems a bit pointless having it tonight with only three of us home so that will be tomorrow night's dinner.

Instead I pulled out some home made pizza bases from the freezer...last time we had pizza I made about ten so we would have some to freeze. I'm a bit of a pizza purist, having grown up in the midst of a large number of Italian families...(thin base and minimalist toppings)...we ate wood fired pizza in the 1970's, about 30 years before it became fashionable.

I topped the bases with thinly sliced potato, olive oil, garlic, rosemary and sea salt then into the oven for fifteen minutes...a little grated parmesan after cooking and they were just divine. There are some tastes that just "go" together and this combo on our pizzas was just meant to be.

We ate the pizzas with a glass of red at about 6pm and have just finished off a bowl of Split Pea & Ham soup that I made on Friday...it was good then but great now.

Life's good really...

*Disclaimer - the photo isn't my pizza, we got into them so quickly I forgot to photograph them but they looked very similar.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Utterly Blissful...

Found this photo today while searching for something completely unrelated...I really love that (traditionally) indoor rooms are being brought outdoors.

It looks like heaven to me, utterly indulgent...just add a glass of something cold and sparkling and a book and I'd be set for the evening. I may come out looking very prune-like but what a wonderful setting for it to happen in.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Matilda's Year 10 photos came home from school yesterday. I really like this one, it will be the only one with her braces on. Her Orthodontist reported at her last appointment that it will look like late 2009 or early 2010 for this phase of her treatment to end. She will be fitted with retainers to wear in the next phase. This is 6-12 months ahead of what he originally thought it would be, she has responded very well to treatment.

This academic year Matilda graduated from Middle to Senior School and wears a white shirt with dark green skirt to denote that...in Years 8 & 9 female students wore a dark green/white striped shirt, same style as this. Both male & female students have the option of a tie, today Matilda is wearing hers as she is participating in the School's ANZAC Day Ceremony. Her face is a wee bit longer than in this photo, our scanner tends to compress photos a little.

All State Schools in Queensland have compulsory uniform which at first I was neither here nor there on but after living with a teenager who tries on five outfits just before going to the shops I have decided that I really like it, Matilda does too. There is no hassle in the mornings, she knows exactly what is expected of her and although it does take away an individual's right to self expression through clothing choices I like that it removes an avenue for the teasing, competitiveness and (sometimes) bullying that goes on with students coming from varying socio-economic backgrounds. If we were still in Victoria she would be going to a no uniform secondary school...am hearing from many parents of the struggles they are having with their children (interestingly both sons & daughters) and "what can I wear to school today Muuuuuuuuummmmm...????"

I have to admit to being quite glad it's not happening to me, it's hard enough on the once per term uniform-free days arranged by The (student run) Welfare Committee. They fund raise for a charity of choice by having a uniform free day and the students making a gold coin donation. There's usually around $500 raised which is quite significant.

Wondering what others think, especially if you don't live in Australia. I know in the USA & Canada, schools with compulsory uniform are the exception rather than the norm.

Do tell all...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Balance & Peace...

Could certainly do with more balance & peace in our lives. Sometimes life gets so hectic we spend far too much time "doing" and not enough time "being". I try but don't always get there.

Was listening to a travel writer being interviewed on ABC Radio one evening last week (unfortunately her name eludes me at this point)...she was in Bali during March and celebrated the Lunar New Year, Nyepi Day, a traditional day of silence, fasting and meditation.

It really struck a chord with me...am wondering how much it has to do with my being in the middle of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert..??

Nyepi is primarily a Hindu celebration, however, almost all Balinese follow the tradition out of respect. There are four rules, or prohibitions, known as Catur Brata Penyepian which guide people to refrain from worldly and physical activities.

First is the principle called Amati Geni. People are not allowed to set lights and fire for the whole day, that includes not burning or setting a stove on, and they can’t cook for meals. This symbolises turning the fire off in the five senses of the soul, along with any unscrupulous emotions.

The other principles are...

Amati Karya, no work

Amati Lelungan, no travel

Amati Lelanguan, no entertainment & pleasure.

These prohibitions help "people to control their five earthly senses in order to increase the quality of life for the upcoming year". In addition to these prohibitions, many Balinese also fast and do not engage in conversation at all.

Bali becomes deserted and virtually shuts down. Tourists are not exempt and are expected to follow tradition, however what they do behind closed door is entirely their own business. People with higher spiritual ability or desiring to have higher spiritual life are expected to perform further prohibitions including fasting by not eating or drinking, stay still by not talking, meditating by focusing the mind on God and praying.

This really appeals to me, a time to be quiet and still, to make & keep the balance of nature, to self reflect and focus inward. I don't do it nearly enough and would love a public holiday that encouraged it. It is an enormous contrast to the way most Western cultures acknowledge the New Year.

This past Easter I really enjoyed that shops were closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, people had time off work to spend with their families. I am often astounded though by the way people shop on the day before Good Friday, like the supermarket is going to be closed for a week. I used to enjoy the time when shops closed from midday on Saturday through to Monday morning, that people had time to rest and unwind, it just doesn't happen nearly enough.

Maybe retiring to Indonesia is for me...?? John used to joke to Josh that he was going to retire to Goa. Maybe he could be convinced that Bali is equally as desirable..??

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Matilda and I baked Hot Cross/Easter Buns this afternoon...they are divine and I am seriously doubting we will ever go back to the bought ones. They do take a little effort and time but it's done in stages so you can get on with other (more tedious but unfortunately necessary) chores.

Oh delicious...
...the house smells divine, yeasty, toasty & fruity.

Here's the recipe we used. It calls for currants but as we aren't especially fond of them we substituted with sultanas & dried apricots in a 3:1 ratio. Next time I will add a little more fruit but will have to be careful not to bog the dough down with so much fruit that it doesn't rise well. Matilda & Myles would be keen to see some chocolate chips added but I'm not so sure, am a bit of a purist when it comes to traditional baking.

Was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon indeed...

Friday, April 3, 2009

25 Years Ago...

I have been absent of late...this time of year is often difficult for me, I struggle with March & April, this year has been somewhat more difficult than usual but the fog is lifting, it always does. I will be around more often.

For those of you who know me, even those I am very close to, may not be aware of what I am about to tell you. I apologise sincerely for not having shared with you, please understand.

This is the abridged story...

I gave birth to a baby daughter when I was very young and was really in no position to raise a child at the time. For me the only option was to give her, with all my love, for adoption. I named this baby girl Jess, she/he was going to be Jess regardless of gender. She was born on 1st April, 1984, 25 years ago this week.

On her 18th birthday I made the decision to make my details available for her to find me if she wanted and began the process to get things underway. Some time later I made contact with her adoptive family but the news was sad, devastating.

Jess died two weeks short of her 1st birthday, 15th March, 1985 - SIDS was the cause, or not as the case may be, given that SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion. I was utterly gutted...all those years of imagining a dark curly haired little girl grow into a young woman, the possibility of one day meeting and knowing her...just gone. Her little life cut short. I've met her adoptive family...as it happened they used to live reasonably close to me when I lived in Victoria. They named her Jessica Katherine and called her Jess or Jessie, they were told of the name I had given her. They are lovely people who obviously adored her, it is very apparent she had a beautiful life with them. The day I received this terrible news was 10th March, 2003...it's a day I have a hard time with, harder than the anniversary of her death. I guess it's the day she "died" for me.

March is a month of contradictions...Jess's death anniversaries and then there is Matilda's birthday between them, 12th March...my birthday is 25th March and then Jess's birthday on 1st April, the same day as my youngest sister's, her birthday celebrations have always been difficult for me.

This year she would have turned 25, how the fuck did all those years just pass me by..?? No-one remembered her death day and only a small group of special friends remembered her birthday. Not many people in my life know of her existence, I am only just "coming out" and telling friends, it has been very difficult I have seen a grief counsellor, intensely in the beginning but rarely now. I am part of an online Forum for bereaved parents at The MISS Foundation. I volunteer at MISS as an Administrator/Moderator and have met an amazing group of people there...women I have never met face to face have become my dearest friends, I am safe there and it's one of the few places I can be Jess's mother.

So there you have it...I apologise most sincerely to those of you who know me well...I have had this huge secret for many years, it feels good to have it out in the open. There have been some people I have let in but very few, my family only learned about Jess last year.

Will share more as time passes, this has been a difficult post to write but I am lighter for having done so.

With love...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Pets...

I have added some pet turtles to my blog...if you click on the background you can feed them...they are well trained, they will follow your mouse around.

Click here for more...

You can add penguins, spiders, stingrays, hamsters, fish, frogs...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Extreme Sheep...

I haven't been around much of late, for a number of reasons really...been a bit busy, a bit unwell, a bit down, a bit lost for ideas...

I have a couple of posts I am working on and should be up in the next couple of days but thought I'd post this video I received by email today. It's just brilliant. We happen to really love Sheep Dog Trials in our household and have been to watch them on more than one occasion...this really made me sit up and take notice...the way these people work with the dogs is nothing short of incredible.

Monday, March 9, 2009

We Have A Winner...

Last week I announced my very first giveaway.

In honour of the passing of Summer and advent of Autumn I would like to bestow one lucky reader with a jar of home made Apricot Jam.

Without further ado, and using a Random Number Generator, I'd like to announce that the WINNER is....


...from Walking Along A Stone Street.

Congratulations Lis, I will package and post your parcel this week, hopefully it will arrive before the weekend and you can enjoy it for a slow weekend breakfast.

Thanks to everyone who posted...I loved reading about your home towns and favourite seasons.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Utter Disbelief...

John works as the State Director for a large (well-known and respected) organisation that provides services & accommodation for people with a disability. On Tuesday evening he came home looking somewhat bemused and recounted the following reported to him by one of his Managers.

Person A is his Manager, Person B is a contact that works for a State Government Department. A has been in daily contact with B regarding finding a service for one of their clients, I'll call the client C. This situation has been going on for some time.

A: Is anything happening with our request for C ??

B: No, not as yet, in fact I will not be handling C's case file any more, I have referred it to my supervisor for her attention...

A: Oh, would she be in please, I would like to speak with her ??

B. No, she is not in at the moment...

A. When would be a good time to speak with her ??

B: Actually there isn't a good time to speak with her, she is on leave at present...

A: Okay...

B: As a matter of fact I am acting in her position while she is absent...

WTF ???

At this point in time I am incredulous.

Does B actually realise the utter stupidity of what he was saying..?? I doubt it. Keep in mind that B is a Manager in a State managed government department, almost certainly with a university qualification, a number of years experience and a commensurate salary.

People like this give the Public Service it's much maligned reputation. Days later I am still gobsmacked.

The date of my very first giveaway has been extended to this Sunday 8th March, International Women's Day. Click here to leave a comment and join in.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Had a bit of a sleep in yesterday morning, being Sunday and all. I got up around 9ish and realised I didn't have any of my usual medication left.

Sunday was hot here, I chose a cool, floaty skirt to wear. After my shower I headed off to the Pharmacy, put my script in and had a wander around the shop while I was waiting for them to make it up.

Then it dawned on me...

I had forgotten to put knickers on...!!!

It wasn't intentional, there weren't any in my drawer that I liked to wear so I dressed and was going to get some off the clothesline.

I just forgot, got distracted and it slipped my mind. I wandered around the shop, grinning to myself, anyone looking on would have thought I was a bit of a loon. When I left the shop I made sure the breeze didn't get hold of my skirt.

I came home and told John, he found it highly amusing, titillating even...Matilda wasn't so impressed, quite mortified was her response in fact...she rolled her eyes and shook her head.

How terribly embarrassing for her...

Please also remember my first giveaway...here. It will be drawn next Friday 6th March.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Season, New Look...and a giveaway...

To celebrate the changing of the seasons I thought I'd give my blog a fresh look...I liked the Autumnal tones of this background. Will leave it up for a while and see how I feel about it,
have had a play with fonts & colours and feel more at home with it now. What do you think..??

The seasonal changes in the subtropics are more subtle than in the southern states. I have noticed mornings this last week have been a few degrees cooler than they have been over Summer...there has also been a heavy dew on the grass. I have always welcomed Autumn...cool days, trees changing and the beginning of the apple season.

Having said that, it's 36 degrees here today (that's about 97F)...very hot, it seems Summer isn't content to slip away gently...

There's not a lot happening in our garden at the moment...the passionfruit have become prolific, it looks like we will be picking upwards of 50, not bad for a first season's fruiting. The next crop of lettuces and salad greens are ready for picking. The last rain we had around 10 days ago has resulted in rapid growth of the macadamia, olive and paw paw trees, they are now close to two metres tall.

There's number of things I really miss about living in Victoria...the changing seasons is certainly one of them. The town, Castlemaine, we used to live in had an amazingly diverse population with a community that encouraged & embraced difference. Autumn was just glorious...the Botanic Gardens were a beautiful place to walk, reflect and collect your thoughts. Matilda & I lived there for over 11 years, the longest I have ever lived anywhere.

We will live there again one day, I'm quite certain of that. I can't imagine living anywhere else in Victoria.

Now for my very first bloggy giveaway...

To celebrate Autumn I'd like to bestow one reader with a jar of my very own home made Apricot Jam...(sorry Kel...). All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know your favourite season and something that is dear to your heart about the area you live.

The giveaway will be open until next Friday 6th March...and yes, I will post internationally. I'd especially love to hear from those of you who read but have yet to comment. Don't be shy, say hello, I don't bite...(unless asked nicely).

Looking forward to reading your responses.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Valentine's Day...and a question...

Last year on Valentine's Day I gave John this gorgeous frangipani...in the past 12 months it has more than doubled in size and now stands about a metre (3ft for those still using the imperial system) tall, it's flourishing.

How delighted I was to find that on Valentine's Day this year the buds had burst into flower...very timely. I love the way that the petals overlap in the centre...the perfume is divine, especially in the cooler evening...

Now for the question...

I've noticed a daily visitor to my blog from Buxton, Victoria and can't help but wonder who you are. Do I know you..?? I'd love it if you commented occasionally & introduced yourself but understand if you would prefer to remain incognito.

Regardless, please keep visiting. I hope you and those close to you were spared in the horrific fires. I can't imagine the horror of it. Stay safe.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy 13th Birthday Myles...

Happy 13th Birthday Myles...

It's hard to believe you are now thirteen...when I first met you at nine years old you were such a little boy. You had your arm in a sling because you had broken your collarbone...that's happened another twice since I've known you.

I remember the first conversation you and I had without John & Matilda around. It was the day you and Matilda met for the first time...we were at Hanging Rock and had gone to retrieve a kite that had crashed. You asked me if it was just Matilda & I living at my house then offered that it was just Dad and you at your home. You then told me that when you first saw me that you thought I was your Mum. It made my heart melt. We had a conversation about your Mum, you told me that you aren't really sure if you remember her or whether you "remember" her through photos and what others tell you. I felt incredibly sad for you.

This past 12 months has seen a huge leap in your growth, both physically and in maturity. I'm quite sure you grow overnight...you are going to be tall like your Dad, your feet are enormous already. Your Dad & I have noticed great leaps in your emotional maturity, you have taken on leadership roles at school and at football and enjoyed the responsibility that comes with them. We were so proud to watch you receive your awards at Graduation last December.

You are funny, oh so cool, smart and mostly very easy to get along with. I feel that this year is going to be a great one for you...new school, new football team, new challenges.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart...I hope your day is very special. I'm very proud of you and forever grateful to your Dad for giving me the opportunity to be your Mum.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Aussie Summer Poem...

*Language Warning...

I was sent this poem this morning about an Australian Summer. It's a touching and thought provoking piece of literature, it captures the Australian Summer perfectly.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...

An Australian Summer
A poem by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre

FUCK, it's HOT !!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Devastation, utter devastation...

It has been a horrific weekend in Australia...fire has ravaged parts of our country. Whole townships have been obliterated.

There are upwards of 130 dead, the toll is expected to pass 200...

Many burned and perilously ill in hospital...

Large numbers of people still unaccounted for...

Please hold the families affected and (all volunteer) firefighting personnel close to your hearts.

Condolences can be left here...

It's a terribly sad day...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Absent Blogger...

Have been somewhat absent these last couple of weeks, no real reason...didn't have a lot going on to write about really. Sometimes I find I need a break and to step away.

Matilda and Myles enjoy playing Marco Polo when they are in the pool...Myles simply cannot help but peep, he finds it utterly impossible to keep his eyes shut.

They solved the problem this way...

That's Myles rash vest Matilda is wrapping around his head...

Goggles on top to hold it in place...look at the difference in their skin tones. Myles always wears his rashie, Matilda always wears 30+ sunscreen...he is quite fair, she is very olive skinned and tans very easily.

A great look...

Apparently it resulted in "the best ever" (Matilda's words) game of Marco Polo...!!!

Will try and be a bit less absent...have been catching up with everyone else's news though.

Two bloggers on my blog roll are having giveaways at the moment...head on over to visit Karin & Snickollet. Karin is giving away some gorgeous hand made drawstring bags in vintage fabrics, Snick's giveaway is a beautiful book from Barefoot Books, their books are just gorgeous.

You never know, you might get lucky...!!! I'm working on a giveaway of my own, stay tuned.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jam...apricot jam...

I have had the urge to make jam ever since apricots came into season and it's been agony waiting until the height of the season, when the fruit is at it's peak (or just past as works best for apricots I have found).

Yesterday while out shopping I found some jam apricots at the fruit market...very ripe, very soft and perfect for jam making...at $2.99/kilo, even better given that eating apricots were around $9.00/kilo. I used Maggie Beer's recipe from her book Maggie's Harvest...a gorgeous book I refer to regularly to use an ingredient in season.

Here are the fruits (pun fully intended) of my labour...

Am going to head out to the bakery tomorrow morning (or even better, send someone else) for a loaf of sourdough rye and enjoy it on toast for breakfast.

Oh yum...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


On the eve of his departure from the White House I could not resist posting these. The future of the English language would be on shaky ground if left up to George W.

Whether you loathe or love him, these are very funny...

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is to be prepared."

"I have made good judgements in the past. I have made good judgements in the future. "

" We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."

" I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur. "

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children. "

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

" It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."

Dear, oh dear...

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Day In Photos...

Last Friday Matilda, Myles & I spent the afternoon at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, right at the base of Mount Coot-tha. We have been wanting to visit the gardens for some time and the overcast day was ideal, not too hot to be out in the sun.

Will let the photos speak for themselves...a bit of a lazy post really...

Inside the Geodesic Dome...the Tropical Garden

Dome reflection on the pond...

Making a new friend...

In the Japanese Garden...(my favourite)

Wild Bearded Dragons everywhere, from tiny, wee ones to some quite huge. We spent the best part of an hour watching these magnificent creatures...they are amazing swimmers.

The Hide & Seek Children's Trail winds right through the gardens...it is dotted with gorgeous sculpture and treasures to find. This dragonfly sculpture caught my attention...they have a special place in my heart.

It was a lovely gentle afternoon, lots of time for conversation...will revisit as the seasons change.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Perfect Summer Day...

Had a delightful day with Matilda & Myles today...it began gently, no hurry to get going anywhere, we lingered over breakfast and I had a second and even a third cup of coffee...(we tried a new blend from Merlo Coffee this time and it's just divine...rich, velvety with no bitter "grab" in your mouth, so hard to pass up a second & third cup. Just divine.

We picnicked today at Victoria Point, right on Moreton Bay. Last weekend we went out for a drive...mainly as it was incredibly hot and the aircon in the car beckoned. We happened upon this tiny little picnic area, right on the water, lovely & shady and very private. We claimed our space and enjoyed our alfresco lunch...somehow food always tastes better outdoors and by the water.

The tide was coming in so while we waited for the water to be deep enough to swim in Matilda & Myles climbed trees, played on the swings, did cartwheels, dug for crabs and pretty much just hung out doing kids stuff. They enjoy each other's company very much and get along so amazingly well, John & I consider ourselves so very blessed...they make family life so very easy.

I set myself up in a shady, grassy spot with my very comfy outdoor chair. I went equipped with books, a magazine & cryptic crossword but didn't open them once...the kids were such good company, great conversationalists and entertainers...being with them today was a great pleasure...one of those days where you feel that, as a parent, you must be doing something right.

It was still really hot here after dinner tonight...I opted for a swim over something on television...Matilda joined me. We had an absolute blast...it has been a long time since I "played" in the pool...we did handstands and somersaults in the water, went diving for toys, floated on our backs and watched the fruit bats flying past the almost full moon, discussed the meaning of life & the beauty of the Aurora Australis while trying to spot the satellites zooming by.

Feeling full to the brim and very content with my lot in life tonight, very content indeed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Post Christmas Lull...

I haven't been particularly inspired to blog this past week or so, not sure why but think I have just relaxed and enjoyed the gentle days with nothing especially planned. John is off work until Monday and it's been lovely having home home every day...lovely to linger in bed in the mornings, lovely to enjoy a long breakfast together, lovely that there are no work shirts and pants to iron...just all round good.

Our Christmas Day was gentle, just the five of us here and Josh's new girlfriend joined us for lunch. We were woken at 6.30am and as much as we would have liked to sleep a little longer we could not let the Myles and Matilda open their Santa sacks without us there.

We drank coffee and ate shortbread and divine Belgian chocolate while exchanging gifts...

...watching Matilda & Myles open their gifts from us was a true delight...neither of them had any idea what we had chosen for them. We chose a combo television/DVD for Matilda, she is old enough to have her own now and has become quite discerning with what she watches, will turn it off when there is rubbish on rather than have it on for the sake of it. We gave Myles a mobile phone and he really didn't think he was going to get one...I had mentioned that I had made Christmas electronic free this year, mainly referring to their Santa gifts though.

He was so thrilled with it...we were too, got a great deal with it that required us to spend $40 on a recharge card but we received $100 free talk & text. We did manage to make their Santa gifts electronic free though, lots of clothes, books, beautiful smelling unguents, chocolate, swimming pool toys and a beach towel each.

Santa (John), as per usual was very generous to me...my gift always comes in a small package from my favourite jeweller. This year it was a gorgeous pair of gold, oval shaped hoop earrings...I just love earrings and have worn them every day since. He also gave me a very generous gift card and Belgian chocolates...!!! Poor John had a very hard time with shopping this year...the noise and chaos of shopping centres combined with the severe hearing loss he suffered earlier this year really disoriented him. He was very apologetic for the run of the mill gift card but I couldn't be happier with it really, it is for a large department store so I can choose books, CD's, clothing, whatever I like.

Our Christmas lunch was divine, quite easy to prepare (and clear away). I forgot to take a photo before we got into it...wish I had, I thought it looked impressive, if I am allowed to say that myself. John investigated the wine cellar and after the last Grange disaster decided that we should take our chances and open another...it was just divine and felt so decadent drinking it. I have meant to update the Grange post...it wasn't a 1995 vintage, it was 1969...!!! (Kel, I can hear you gasp from here...!!!). I hadn't read it with my glasses in and confused Bin 95 with the year...makes it even more tragic. We now have two 1969 Grange bottles on the kitchen windowsill with herb cuttings in we are trying to strike. I haven't been game to check the price as yet but suspect it will be around $1000-$1200/ bottle.

A siesta & swim were had afterward Christmas lunch but no walk at the beach. Dinner was simple, so much left over food, not that anyone was hungry really, I think I had trifle for dinner around 9pm that night.

The rest of our time since Christmas has been taken up with being lazy, staying in PJ's until lunchtime, reading new books, swimming a lot given it has been very hot, a trip to the cinema, catching up with email & snail mail, taking M&M to the post-Christmas sales to spend their gift cards (they bought, books, books, books and one DVD). Meals have been relaxed affairs and a siesta is de rigueur...kind of like having a holiday at home.

New Years Eve was spent quietly, neither John or I really "do" New Year. We decided to have a lovely meal at home, a few drinks and be in bed by midnight. I prepared a huge antipasto platter with hot & cold treats, we ate cheesecake for dessert and watched some favourite television...perfect really. John & I had a swim quite late, we did see midnight in quietly (not like our neighbours across the road) and went to bed. I couldn't think of a better way to spend it really other than with my family, in good company, with good food and wine and to wake in the New Year with the person I cherish.

It feels good to be at the beginning of a new year...a fresh page with so many possibilities. I don't make resolutions, except in that I resolve no to resolve. So disappointing when they are broken. I'm looking forward to 2009 being a healthy and happy year...thus far it is off to an excellent start.

Wishing you and your families much peace and joy...

P.S. New photo of Myles in the sidebar...was taken at his graduation in December. It's so hard to get a decent photo of him. This one was taken with his amazing teacher but I had to edit it unfortunately.