Archive | April 2016

Middle-aged adolescents

A friend introduced me to Snapchat over the holidays. Apparently we ruined it. 

Once old people join in, it’s just ruined. Well so said friend’s teenage daughter. 

But you know if a middle-aged suburban mother joins it, it’s probably passed its prime anyway. 

So go somewhere else, you young things. Go join some other new social media platform. (But know we’ll ruin that too in a few years.)

Still, daily, for two weeks we had hysterically silly fun. 

And then we got creative and produced collages of our shots. 

I know the whole point of Snapchat is the ephemeral, temporary nature of the photos, but who can resist saving the funny shots? (Just goes to show, we just don’t get it, do we!)

I wish I could share the videos of my friend and her sister. You’d spit your drink all over your keyboard or smartphone. 

It’s great being old enough to have childish fun and not worry about being cool or what others, who just don’t get it, think. 

I think we need to start a sub-branch movement of mindfulness. Being present in the moment but in a fun, less noble, less consciously worthy way.

Pure, silly fun. Definitely needs to be part of every gorgeous and healthy life! 

PS: I had to write about some safe fun I have engaged in as I got in trouble from my mother for the dangerous acts described in my last post. 

PPS. My friend couldn’t post her collage in the comment section, so here’s her anonymous addition. 

Take note of any portents the heavens may offer

I had this great heading. The one above if you didn’t notice. 

But I had nothing to go with it. Just read it somewhere and liked it instantly. Copied it into a heading in a draft blog post for future use. Thought I’d find something in my life that I could write about and link to the concept. 

But seems the heavens don’t offer me portents. Or signs. 

Or I’m just blind to them. 

Probably a good thing because I’d misuse the gift for, well not quite evil purposes, but selfish ones. Actually in moments of weakness I could probably misuse such a gift for evil. 

But wait, I thought of a sign. Not just sent from the heavens, but more temporal agencies. In my sense of bravado, I ignored it. Much to my peril. 

There is this amazing cave in Tasmania called The Remarkable Cave. You walk down step steps in a crevice in the cliff. The cliff then separates you from the sea. The wild, southern ocean. A cave joins the crevice and the sea, straight through the towering mountain of rock. 

The viewing platform allows you to look into the cave. At certain angles, the opening at the sea looks like a map of Tamania. (The real one.)

But even more remarkably, the cave separates in two in the middle of the tunnel. And if the tide and angle is right, you can see the second opening to the ocean. 

The viewing platform, understandably, is solidly built, with five foot high railings, made especially to resist easy climbing. It is perched high above the cave floor. All to stop people from walking into the cave and being swept away to their death, body lost in the endless southern ocean. Multiple signs if ever I saw them. 

Oh tell me you can guess where this is going? Yes, I scaled over the platform railing and scrambled/slide/dropped down off the viewing platform to walk inside the cave and followed Mr S into the off-shoot of the tunnel. 

And while we were standing looking out to the ocean, a massive  wave rolled up the main entrance, BLOCKING our exit. A veritable tsunami. 

The tide had turned!

I freaked. I screamed. I yelled, “The tide, Mr S. The tide. We’re gunna die.”

Ignoring my bung knee, I lept into the water, thigh deep and still coming in, and ran down the tunnel, fearing the incoming tide, not knowing if another wave would sweep me out to sea, not knowing the speed of the tidal change this far south. Not thinking nor caring if there were sharks or an undertow. 

Why had I ignored all the signs – both literal and metaphysical?

Never fear, dear reader. I made it. 

Meanwhile Mr S waited for the wave to return to the sea, and walked around, with only a slight dampness of his shoes. He did later say he thought he’d have to dive in and rescue me. (And it is the thought that counts.)

I had to do the walk of shame back to the car in my wet pants. 

Portents do abound. Not just warning safety signs from local authorities. But signs within. Knowing my own fear of the ocean, knowing my own limitations, feeling my inner warning signals of imminent danger. 

The moral to this story is: don’t talk to bears in the woods and be content with viewing from the safety platform. 

Map of Tassie

Driving around Tasmania, which we usually call Tassie, Mr S made the same (not funny) joke about the map of Tassie and variation on that theme. 

Oh, warning. If you find the thought of pubic hair or talk of pubic hair unbearably disgusting, don’t read on. 

Still here?

OK. So if you’re an Aussie you might know Map of Tassie is slang for the female public hair. If I have to spell it out – the shape! Got it? 

Isn’t Mr S hilarious?!? Yes, I agree not his best. 

Anyway, it got me thinking if it is still used as a slang term. What with all the deforestation young girls undertake, seems it is not. 

Talking of this topic at bookclub Christmas dinner – as you do with book club ladies, we’re a classy lot, you know – one book clubber said the landing strip is no longer seen much, it’s all off or a “tidy up”with a trim, depending on age.

How would she know?

She gets to see a fair cross section as a female GP. (See, another reason not to want to be a doctor. The first reason is all the weeping sores people ask you to look at. Actually, just touching people. Yuck!)

I’m not saying what I do or asking what you, dear readers, do. Just commenting that fashions about what is gorgeous are very fickle. And we do strange things to ourselves in the name of beauty. 

I’m having difficulty finding a way to finish this post with any meaningful or humorous or, indeed just any, closing,  so think it is best if I just end. 

I’m the only blonde in the village

Dark clothes, black hair. Except me

You know how I like to be the centre of attention? 

I got it in China. Not travelling to the main cities, I was an oddity. Tall (dare I say statuesque, those who have met me IRL?), brightly dressed and with medium length blonde hair in the homogenous society, I stood out. 

Plenty of stares, up and down, plenty of turned heads as I passed, plenty of inquisitive looks, by men and women. 

A shopkeeper asked why I had a pointy nose. I should have asked her why she didn’t have a nose but instead said because my mother is German and Germans have striking noses. That probably made as much sense to the questioner as nothing, cause she couldn’t tell a German from an Aussie. And hadn’t seen either. I was her first Westerner close up, in the flesh.

People would say hello and then giggle when I said hello back. “Ooo. Look, she talks.” 

Parents and grandparents would point me out to their children. Bringing their children up to say hello to the foreigner. 

I felt a bit like “Exhibit C”. See the kangaroo. Now the platypus. Now here’s a female of the white species. 

When my companion would ask for directions, she often got worse than gruff, often dismissive, responses. I would step up and their whole demeanour would change. We’d then get help.  I told her I should say hi first so they’d look up and smile. Then she could step in and ask the question. 

Imagine my horror when there was another blonde waiting to get on my plane out of Fuzhou. 

How dare she? How very dare she?

Attention aside, it was interesting to compare our multicultural society with this homogenous one. Yes, we have racism – both the crude and the insidious kind. (Read Waleed Aly’s opinion piece.) But, despite much racism, we accept differences.

Yet arriving in Hong Kong for transfer, after a week in homogeneity, the multitude of races was a bit like sensory overload. 

Is it easier to deny racism when you are in an homogenous society than a heterogeneous one? More pressingly, would you like to be the centre of attention?

Camping out

Mr S was inspired by Fiona’s posts and photos on camping at Cockatoo Island that he said we have to start camping again. 

So many people have commented that they didn’t think camping was me. Even a cousin responded to Facebook photos that it looked I was having a change of life. We actually have done camping in different forms before. I’ve even done a four day hike into the wilderness. In our pre-kid life we camped for weeks, sleeping in the back of Mr S’s panel van. (No stickers of the crass kind, before you ask.)

Anyway we only went an hour or so north from home. A National Park by the sea. And we only camped out for two nights. Not really roughing it when you can walk to a town with gourmet food stores and coffee shops and a bottle shop. 

Still, it was peaceful. Away from Sydney traffic and pollution. Away from household tasks demanding attention or skilful ignoring and procrastination. The sound of waves. The glorious sun set. The full moon rising.

The moon was so bright and the sky clear, that I didn’t need a torch to visit the loo

Mr S bought a new tent. His criteria is you must be able to stand up in a tent. Which is great for getting dressed, stretching, sitting comfortably, especially in the rain. And you can stay in longer in the morning. In tents you have to crawl into, as soon as the sun is up, it is hot and stuffy inside. 

The new tent is a six man tent. For two. But see we take camp stretchers. So there is really only room for us two. The tent has two verandahs built into the fly. We kept one up and put the gas stove there. There are also two side rooms in the fly. We stashed our esky and stuff. On the second morning, when it was raining, Mr S set up the dining room there. (I ate breakfast in bed.) 

Yes, we camp in style of which  Poirot would be proud. No bodies or mysteries to solve. And no one to turn down our sheets. 😦

Without electric light and television, I got sleepy quite early and fell asleep instantly. 

We did a six kilometre walk along the coast. The walk is a mixture of board walk along cliffs, sand, steps and bush track. Sweeping vistas of the sea, boiling waves, amazing rock formations, and unexpectedly for this time of year, a variety of wild flowers. It rained on our return trip which brought different sounds alive – the birds definitely enjoyed the rain. 

(Confession: following photos are taken from the Internet. Some from the Narional Parks Service website on Bouddi National Park and some from blogs. I didn’t take my camera on the walk but knew there’d be plenty of shots on the web. If perchance one of these is yours and you want it cited or removed, let me know.)

I’m not enjoying this book

Do you perservere or do you give up if you’re not enjoying a book?

I took a break and read a quick and easy book that I really enjoyed, although the author/narrator began to annoy me there too. Rosie Waterland starts her memoir as if she is being totally honest and, and this bit is important, self-aware. But her use of drugs and men (and woman though this time as mentors) is exactly the same as her mother’s use of drugs, men and women to pay her way and find her happiness and ease her pain. And her sister is a single mum with little income, having had kids early too. Generational dysfunction on repeat. 

Then I took a break to write a blog post. This post. It all sounds like procrastination. Non? (BTW, I’m learning French. Slowly and badly. But still.)

So what’s the book I am avoiding. And why perservere? 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. By one of the Brontës. Am I the only one who finds the Brontës overwrought? Long-winded? With way too long sentences?

A quarter of the way in, I remembered I’d already read this. It obviously didn’t make a mark then. Or I wiped the pain from my memory. 

I will perservere because it is for book club. And the person who selected it said it was her favourite book of all time! I shall enjoying pointing out the error of her value judgements. 

We are actually doing two books. The second is a modern reworking of Wildfell. I’m hoping I like it more. I loved Wide Sargasso Sea. Much better than Jane Eyre on which it is centred. You really have to read them as pairs to get the full impact. 

So, back to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I must perservere whereas normally I would quit. No matter how worthy the book is considered, no matter it’s standing in The Canon. 

I think I will skim. 
Readers, what would you do?