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Sunday, 22 December 2013

First of the Month Fiction - January

Last post of the year, linking up with Jess for IBOT, is the New Year edition of First of the Month Fiction! (Nice symmetry for me, seeing out the year the way I started it).

Short version - write a story 100 words exactly or less than 30. Examples here. Add your story in the comments, then link your blog so we can see your style in it's full glory.


The fireworks lit up her face. She smiled with the unabandoned joy of a child. The truth was, it wasn’t the New Year’s celebrations that caused her spirit to soar.

The difficult year, with its tragedy and constant disappointments, was almost over. As the lights in the sky died out, and the starry night pulled its dark covers over those below, the stillness would herald the new start for another year.

A fresh beginning for her. This time, that was enough of a joyous occasion. Something truly worth celebrating. The countdown had begun. It was seconds away. She finally felt peace.



Have a wonderful new year everybody - I'm off line until 13th, enjoying the real world. Safe travels and here's to a happy 2014!

Linking up with Jess for IBOT

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mottos to live by

Last year, on top of my normal New Year's Resolution, you may remember I decided I'd invent something (see here) - well guess what? I didn't, still on the Torschlusspanik list but no hurry, I'll get there.

So this year, I'm just hanging onto the resolution to try and be happy. That's enough. However, I'm also amping it up a little.

A friend went to Sweden (a weekend trip from London to visit the Abba museum) and updated her FB status at the end of it: Farewell Sweden. We walked in, we danced out.

I have decided my new motto in life is: Walked In, Danced Out. (So be prepared for a whole lot of sparkly, spangled challenges hitting the Torschlusspanik List next year).

Now I understand some of you may have loftier needs in a motto than me, so here are a few that came back when I put it out to my universe:

Do everything whole heartedly (I, of course, prefer the Ron Swansonism Never half ass two things, whole ass one thing.)
Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Walk the Line (but the person who said it didn't really know what it meant, just thought it sounded good - it then evolved to Dance the Line)
I am Enough (which I had to ruin with my infantile humour and add 'Enough is okay, but too much is better')
Too much of a good thing is wonderful
Make every minute count
Laugh so hard you scare people
Be a voice, not an echo

While worthy, these are all a little trite nowadays, so probably not motivating enough anymore. I was very taken with something in a movie the other day (no spoilers peeps, don't mention the movie): The art of survival is a story that doesn't end.

There is one that I aspire to, but I have enough self knowledge to understand that for me, and my highly strung wiring, it will always be unattainable. I asked a friend who'd just been through a stressful business venture how he was, and he replied merrily "I'm good. You know me, I'm always good. Even when they're firing bullets at me, I'm still smiling". I'd LOVE that to be my motto, but I think realistically, I'll have to settle for the dancing.


Lastly I want to leave you with the best bit of parenting advice I received this year - it came from the very wonderful Ed at The Tunnel "We can't tell our children how to live their lives but we can hopefully tell them not to live them like Liberace." Wise, wise words indeed!

I've added a few more that I've learnt since writing this -

Even the smallest axe can fell a large tree if it is sharp enough.

The flower doesn't concern itself with the flower next to it, it just blooms.


So what do you think? Want to claim any of them? What would your 2014 motto be? OR life motto if you are that committed?


Walked In, Danced Out!



Linking up with the Lounge over at Guest host sofa Five Degrees of Chaos.




 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Stranger in a Strange Land - Enthusiastic Tourist


Today we headed off to Game Masters at the Powerhouse - we'd been to both Game On and Game Masters in Melbourne, so we knew what to expect. The kids went off exploring, and I played merrily, both with them from time to time and by myself.

Let me tell you, I had a ball. I was on an absolute giggly high after two and a half hours of playing. 

Now Gamers, don't bother to correct me on terminology - I'm 107 and won't change my phraseology to fit in. So just have a laugh at my expense.

Interesting highlights for me:

1. Discovery of 'Elevator Action'. This game is AWESOME. I kept going back to it again and again. Why did they outmode that one? For non-gamers, it's not nearly as pervy as it sounds.

2. The old Atari Xevious is way harder than any game they make today. It's impossible. (and given it was unused most of the time, I don't think I'm alone in this assessment)

3. The GameMaster pong is like pong on crack - it's totally amped up, but still Pong, so old ladies like me will still like it, but young people like all the 'references'.

4. My Moves like Jagger is "Flawless" and my Wild Ones dance routine is "really tight". I just wanted to say that because I'm old and co-ordination is not my strong suit. So IN YOUR FACE everybody that was laughing.

5. A little girl under my supervision did SingStar with another little girl to a Pink song, which we realised midway through was about heroin addiction and then the other mother and I franticly tried to shut it down (but only succeeded to make it louder). Game designers - you need to include an emergency stop button for old people that can't use those handsets. Just letting you know....

6. I would rather listen to Vanilla Ice than Katy Perry - and that's saying something.
(I won't elaborate, but if you head to Game Masters, you'll understand soon enough)

7. My favourites of all, are still, and always were Sega Rally and the motor bike one. But I should wear a longer dress if I'm climbing on and off a motorbike. It's not a good look. I scared a few kids.

8. Fruit Ninja is hilarious to watch. People are sticking their tongues out and jumping about. Make sure you check that out...

9. The no photo rule is stupid. See point 8.

10. Big thank you to the Powerhouse for including entry in the membership - it is brilliant to know we can pop back many times over the holidays. They also have a membership special on, so if you think you will go to Game Masters more than once, consider signing up for the year. This is not a sponsored post - I just love being a member of the Powerhouse (added bonus of discounts at the Observatory and free entry into Questacon - you'd be mad not to consider it!)

I'm really beginning to enjoy this gaming lark, and the standing on the fringes looking on, is no longer ideal. It's time to join in, or at least give it a wholehearted burl. If I can have a euphoric blast on these retro games, I'm sure I can enjoy something a little newer. Or at least give it a go. As you may or may not remember, I added playing Assassin's Creed to the Torschlusspanik List, back when I decided I was ready to travel to this Strange Land, instead of sitting in uninformed judgment. I've done nothing in a year, but I will try to knock this off the list over the holidays. Though I may need some help with that stupid handset...


Lying on Facebook?

There was an article on Mamamia about lying on Facebook - a practice that I fail to understand the point of. I totally get that when things go south you may choose to become a little quieter, however, to pretend all is grand when it isn't, seems odd, if the people you are talking to are your friends.

I guess for a lot of people, FaceBook is a broadcast, not a conversation. I have a friend, and I send her messages, and she never responds. If I publicly ask questions, I have a better chance of getting an answer, but even then it's slim. It's almost as if she's just after 'likes' to validate her photo.

FaceBook can be great company if you use it as a way to connect with people - not to catch up on their news, necessarily, but to discuss and share things. I guess if you have friended every person you ever met, then it's a little harder. If you've been selective, with just your real friends, then it's easy.

Look at your last post. Did you join in the conversation or did you just let everyone comment on it? I would think, if you actually start engaging, there'll be less lying. You may not say you're feeling down, nor that your marriage is coming apart, but you may not project the 'aren't I fabulous?' routine that FaceBook gets blamed for.

Interestingly, I've become better friends with some friends because of our frequency of chatter on Facebook, and two of my friends, who didn't know each other, have become friends (in real life) after constantly chatting to each other on my page.

That is the benefit of FaceBook. If you're projecting a false image, you're wasting your time. And everyone else's. As I've said before, there is a danger that the more connected we are, the lonelier we are; when really, if we use it right, we should feel comfort that are friends are nearby, a close as our phone.

We're all riding the wave of new social media. We need to make it work for us, not enslave us. If you change your online behaviour, slowly, slowly, so will your friends.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas cheer, without the credit hangover

A week ago, in a post on Christmas Traditions, I mentioned my much beloved Playmobil Advent Calendar, that I have used for the last 12 years. At day 13, this is the scene so far:



I was then pointed in the direction of the Planet Ark site, and was very pleased to discover that some of my other Christmas Traditions were in accordance with their 12 Do's of Christmas. (Remember, I love travel and motorsport, and have filled a massive landfill with the disposable nappies of three children, so I have a lot of penance to do).

The best thing with a lot of these ecologically thoughtful ideas, is that they actually SAVE YOU MONEY. This means you can either spend more on other things, while you feel morally superior to lesser mortals, while still celebrating in traditional style.

First up, the tree. I love live trees - I need that smell or just don't bother. So I buy a tree in a pot. Each year I re-pot it into a slightly larger pot. As I'm not much of a gardener, and I forget to water it throughout the year, my tree only lasts three or four festive seasons. Even so, it means I spend approx. $30 a year on the tree. My neighbours have had the same tree in a pot for about the last 18 years, so as long as you have some gardening competence, the saving can be enormous!

Next up, the Christmas Cards. I like to post cards - there are perfectly fine e-cards, but if you like to hand write a message, here's another way to do it. At the end of the holiday period, cut all the pictures off the cards you received, and the next year they go out postcard style. The first year I did it, I felt the need to explain to people that I was doing it for environmental reasons, but now people expect it, a few friends have followed suit and one friend sends me her xmas cards as she know I don't have enough to cover the number I need to send. Less waste in envelopes and recycling and I save a fortune on buying cards.



Wrapping paper is another thing that causes me great guilt. I have a young tot who likes to paint, so from November on, all painting sessions are done on a long roll of butchers paper. This means she gets craft and I get wrapping paper. We even have xmas stamp sets and the red and green glitter paints if we really want to festive it up.
I also love gift bags, because I know everyone just keeps reusing them. I even once gave everyone pretty Enviro-bags as part of their xmas present, and that was the wrapping paper for the rest of the gift. (For the record, Santa doesn't wrap in this house, he just puts it in the material bag - win/win all round!)

Having guests? We got these cups ($24 for 30 cups from Ikea) for my son's first birthday party. We have used them for the last 12 years, for every kids party (times 3), Halloween parties and picnics. I can't imagine what we've saved on plastic cups.
We are having a grown up party and I've just supplied myself with .49 cent glassware also from Ikea. Again while the initial outlay has come in at around $30, we will have them forever and never need to buy disposable again. They all can go in the dishwasher, so they're really no extra work.

On to the party - we decorate the garden with lights - but I am a solar light fan. I dig them out before the xmas season hits, do a few days charging in full sun, then decorate the trees. The garden looks lovely, and there's no electricity bill to deal with. They also last - our first set is still going strong 8 years on.



I also favour the battery operated little Christmas lights - the house is still colourfully lit up, but run on rechargeable batteries (or Ikea recyclable ones) - they are a cheap and cost effective way to put on a light display without a heavy electricity bill at the end of it.





Lastly gifts - we give out a tonne of gifts, to people who really don't need them. That's adding to the waste in the world. A few things to consider, there are a lot of experiences now on offer - a massage, day spa visit, a jetpack adventure or even a night in a hotel - all lovely gifts, all leave minimal clutter and waste. For my book group, I found festive pasta, which will get consumed and is really just a token gesture.











If you are a cook or crafty, make chocolates or Christmas fare - there's less packaging and it's cheaper too (but I am not the person to give advice in this area, thus the pasta!). For dinner party thankyou gifts, consider the xmas plants, rather than boxed chocolate. Less packaging and also probably the more imaginative.

I am not the person to tell you how to make homemade gifts but I have received some great ones over the years. One of my favourites, a woman gave to each of the other bookclub members - she made them just from a tin! I got it four years ago and we've used it ever since. Feel free to link posts on how to make great gifts to the link up below. Recipes too, for Christmas fare.

The last one, is eBay, or regift what is unsued and unwanted - save someone else buying the exact same thing that's sitting in your cupboard. There you go, I just gave you permission to regift with higher purpose. Better for the environment and you might even make money.


What are your tips for Christmas that save your pocket and the environment?


Linking up with #TwinklyTuesday #StayClassyMama and #Dreamteam


PS Another discovery for me, is to make ice blocks with the left over soft drink from parties. Why do people open every bottle and only have one glass out of each bottle?
You can water it down a little and the kids can't tell, they don't realise they're getting less than if they had a glass of it, and you look like you're being mum of the year giving them a sugary treat on a hot day. Win/win all round. (UK peeps, in Oz it's HOT on Xmas!!)


I must confess...I am stressing myself out!

So Christmas is on us, and I have a tonne of things to do - and I am fast running out of time to do them! Our days and nights are fully booked and I'm beginning to panic about timeframes and organisation.

Today was my sleep in and I woke at 5am and worked myself into a state. So of course I got up and wrote this instead of actually doing something that needs to be done. I am, indeed, part of the problem!

I know it's coming, so why don't I get it together earlier? Why do I over commit myself?

Anyway, the writing and the normal routine are going out the window for this month. Need to decorate the tree at some point today or it won't happen either!

One good thing that did happen (that makes me feel I have a fall back) - I won a voucher from Seana Smith for Butcherman, an online delivery butcher. I placed the order and the next day 2 weeks worth of meat arrived. I am very happy that at least I don't need to worry about that - so thank you Seana and thank you Butcherman.  (My partner was very impressed with the prices so you may have a convert). I am also thinking maybe I could place an order with Andy & Ted so that fruit and veg arrives on Saturday morning, when we are hung over and cleaning up after our party. I have discovered one of the problems with having kids, is you have to feed them, even if you can't be bothered.

Concluding in what my be may worst post ever*, I just wanted to say this is not sponsored, I'm just trying to reassure myself I can get it all done, if I get my act together and think outside the box.

Is anyone else beginning to freak out in the festive season? Do you have time saving tips? Do you want to come here and wrap some crap? Or shop for me?

PS Not a sponsored post but I wanted to thank Seana and Butcherman because I was so stoked at the bounty that arrived on Friday! (which is a sad reflection on my personality). I also drove to Broadway only to have to turn around because I couldn't get into the carpark - this is what has started my flipping out, and praise for home delivery.

*This really is opening the Pandora's Box of my head and 10 million panicked thoughts come flying out...

Linking up with I must Confess... (I have to put this up early because I have to be at the stupid swimming pool at 6.30 am to get my kids into swimming lessons at a new time! What on earth has my world become??!!)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Audacity of Government

I try not to be political on the blog, but from time to time I can no longer bite my tongue and stand by incredulously. I will preface this by saying that while you don't have to agree with me, I will delete abusive comments (aimed at myself, other commenters or the Liberal Party). I will also state that the figures are averages, on the low end of the scale, but it is the low end of the childcare and political wages - thus the PM figure is conservative by a long shot. I am also limiting the post to the three incidents this week.

I take great issue at someone on six figures telling someone on basically a little more than the minimum wage that it is wrong to take a pay rise. Child care workers have a tough job - they have to engage the whole day. They can't play around on the internet, take long lunches or duck out for an appointment. For this hard work, and the welfare of a large percentage of this nation's children, they get in the lowly ball park of $31,000. Our Prime Minster has insulted them in general, their skills and their importance by implying that it is wrong that they should get a pay rise.

There was also the highly insulting comment that the downfall of Holden was due to the workers wanting higher than minimum wage. Again, someone on six figures telling low income workers they are demanding too much.

We are obviously in dire financial straits, if these low income workers getting a tiny $3 an hour extra is draining the business coffers. So I have a solution, which should work for everyone.

If all the politicians did the right thing by the country and went back to minimum wage, then that extra $140k not paid per pollie would boost the surplus. If it is acceptable for childcare workers and car manufacturing factory floor workers not to want a better standard of living, then politicians must surely find it acceptable to live by the same standard. I would hold you in the highest respect, Mr Abbott, if you choose to lead by example.

There are, of course, other ways that really should be considered as mandatory, to free up some over-spending and boost the Govt funds. If every time a politician attended a sporting event, either as spectator or participant, they paid their own way, that would cut back on substantial Govt spending. (I include in this also, weddings and other non essential political travel, but that sounds like I'm having a dig.)

Political pensions too, should drop to the average pensioner rate. As this is deemed acceptable for the average tax payer, it should be acceptable for all.

These simple cuts, are as you say, in order to 'do the right thing by your Country' so I look forward to seeing them implemented quickly. I'll even let you take them as your own ideas - I need no credit. Once these are in place, I estimate you'll have easily $140 million* at your disposal, which will easily cover the miniscule $3-$6 an hour increase for underpaid childcare workers.

I loved Fahrenheit 451, and especially the line "If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none." So I applaud that you are using his novel as part of your political operations. However, even I have to draw the line at the criticism that it is unfair for the ABC to give the news online for free at the tax payers expense. I need to point out that it is the tax payers that are choosing to read the news for free. I am unsure that any spin doctor can really sell this idea. Though as it was pointed out to me, if we keep cutting the education funding, we really will be that stupid, so you have maybe just tried it on a little too soon to get away with it.

People of Australia, I ask you to give voice to these insulting inequalities. There comes a time where we need to demand our leaders change their ways. If the media is being asked not to report something, it is rarely in the interest of the majority of the people.

For the record, I am not a child care worker. I am not in the car industry. Nor am I employed in the media. I am Joe Citizen, wondering why nothing is being done about a growing inequality and a very alarming loss of information available to Joe Public. It brings to mind ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’. I am asking you, dear reader, where are the good men? Are you one of them?


*It's actually probably a lot more, I've been very conservative in my maths, to be fair.

Digital Parents Blog Carnival

Monday, 9 December 2013

Even more Riddle Me This?

Just want to preface this by saying that if you leave comments with hate or offensive language, I will delete them (yes, this post is heading into some possibly lewd territory).

1. Do animals that lay eggs look pregnant? (Thinking snakes in particular) Or does the egg just come out? (Stop laughing - I really don't know this).

2. What constitutes long haul? Does 7-9 hours into Asia count? Or does it have to be over 10 or 11 hours?

3. If the custom of shaking hands in greeting was to show you didn't have a sword or dagger, why do we still do it? Especially in the light of spreading germs and disease? Why didn't this custom die out about 100 years or so ago?

4. If you like sport, what makes you like one sport and not another? I like motorsport and AFL, but not NRL or cricket? Why do you preference one not another?

5. Who was the Susan of the Lazy Susan? Was she insulted or was it a loving gesture of naming the invention after her? (Henry Ford used to take a 9 ft lazy susan with him when he went camping, so he didn't have to take his servants. I'm not sure how this worked as it couldn't cook or put up a tent, but maybe glamping isn't such a new thing...)

6. How is there only 14 days left til xmas? Why can't I get organised?

I need to clarify all these questions stemmed from last nights viewing of Behind the Candelabra (which I found really depressing - it's a really mean and sad relationship dynamic), just so you don't panic for me, thinking 'OMG, what is going on with this chick!?!'

7. Would you get plastic surgery from a surgeon who's had plastic surgery? (Because shouldn't you get his surgeon to do it? Wouldn't his surgeon be better, because someone in the field thought he was good enough to use?) This leads onto part B of this question - do you get marriage counselling from someone who's had a failed marriage? Does that mean they're better because they understand what goes on, or does it mean they're not as good because they couldn't keep their own marriage together? This could then have a part C, which is drug/alcohol counselling, does the counsellor need to have been an addict/alcoholic, to be of use?

8. Warning on this question for those easily shocked - don't read on. In the film he goes to an adult shop that has glory holes upstairs (where you stick your thing* through the hole to have totally anonymous sex) while his longterm partner (of 5 years or something) waits downstairs. Not getting into the morals of this, my question is how can anyone not have sexual jealousy about this? In a non gay scenario, it would be like sitting in the waiting room of a brothel while your partner had sex with someone else. Or the multiple wives thing - could the wives really not feel rejected or jealous when he went off with the other wife? (Not passing judgment on the action, my question is about the proximity of the relationship partner and not being jealous. To me it's rubbing your face in it a little too much)
*I need to remind you I am old and old-fashioned - quit laughing that I can talk about glory holes without actually mentioning the male genitalia.

9. If your partner asked you to get plastic surgery, how could you be okay with that? (Especially if they asked you to make your face like theirs? But even men asking women to get implants, isn't there some sort of rejection built into that? Or am I reading it wrong and there is a confidence/strength in the relationship that allows that?) Again, this is not on the getting of implants or the face reconstruction if you choose to do it yourself, it's the issue of being asked by someone else.

10. Why can't I just watch a movie and not be plagued with 100 burning questions?

Linking up with The Lounge over at Robomums...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Another Lotto loser:Win $28 million, die with $0 to your name

This headline caught my eye. The short version - he blew $13 million within a year, and within 5 years, he'd spent the lot. (long version here but it's not that interesting). It is sad for the 11 year old daughter, left with nothing, and that he finished his life in squalor, and the whole drug addiction business. But is spending the money in your lifetime a bad thing? What's the judgment here?

It's not money you've earned. As long as you have enough to live out your days in a comfortable house or apartment, is it really so terrible to blow the lot?

To me $28 million is crazyland money - I can't imagine I could ever spend it all. I'm also not living that lifestyle - I don't drive a Ferrari, I don't wear furs and diamonds (nor would I), but I could see my travel bug might just consume a WHOLE lot of moolah. "Let's hire out this place and get a group together" and I imagine, once you've flown first class, there's no going back. Hell, my days of 5am Tiger flights might cease...so I guess once you get used to spending, you just keep doing it.

There seems to be some delight in seeing people waste money. I bothered to look up the article - there's obviously something that triggers it for me, I'm just not sure if it's a judgment, or to see what they spent it on.

If all you get at the end of your life is the sum of your days, is it that bad to have one crazy ripper of a year? A lot of excellent parties and fun? It may not be worthwhile for future generations, or leaving a legacy, but is it such a terrible thing on a personal level? (I am asking, I'm not sure what I think, myself.)

I am open to a barrage of the ant and the grasshopper, feel free to let me know my head isn't thinking straight.

If you won $28 million tomorrow, would you continue on as is, or go a little crazy?

Linking up with The Lounge on Money.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Favourite Xmas Traditions

I've created a number of new xmas traditions over the years, but there are three that rank as my favourites...

1. Advent Calendars.
When I was a kid, we got one of the paper ones. I loved it so much, the joy of discovering the little pictures behind each window. Because it was the '70's, we only ever got one. We would flatten down the windows and bring it out each year. I never grew tired of it. Of course nowadays, there are chocolate, Lego and even Playmobil ones, that give you a play set at the end. I have obtained 24 little Pokemon off eBay to fill an Ikea advent Santa. But my favourite of all, I got 10 years ago. Each year I put it together, put all the bits in the right boxes and over December a Christmas scene unfolds. All the kids bar one have lost interest in this calendar, so eventually I know the joy of this will just be my own private pleasure, but for now, I'm happy to share it with my daughter.


(It's only day 4 - there's not a lot to see yet)


2. The Hunter Valley Xmas Lights Spectacular.
For the last few years a group of us have headed to the Hunter to lounge by the pool then head over to a magical xmas light festival (discussed here & here). Alas this year, due to limited funds, we will skip it. Next year I'm determined to make it, before she gets too old. (Do you get to old? I didn't but apparently my kids did.)

3. This is an old tradition, that I still love. 100 years ago, we got this with a bucket of chicken. I still think it's the best xmas album ever. And I'm not being sarcastic. It is. I love it!

So there are my top three xmas traditions - what would make your list?
Linking up this old post with #ChristmasLinkUp and I'm very pleased to say we are booked in for the Hunter Valley Gardens Xmas Lights, and one of her classmate's family is joining us....

Sunday, 1 December 2013

What I learnt from Catching Fire (no spoilers)

Don't worry, you can safely read with no spoilers ahead (because I hate that! In fact I can't even stand being told what a film is about because I think people give away too much!) Please if you do comment, no spoilers either - remember some people haven't even read the books (like me).

So the good news is, it's good - better than the first one (which I thought was a bit of a dumbed down Series 7 - which is a great indie film if you haven't seen that).

So here's what I took away from it all:

1. There is a line, about fame and celebrity 'Your life becomes theirs, paraded around to make people forget the real problems'. Has anyone noticed, if they get the news emailed to them, or look online, that Kanye & Kim, or Will Ferrell & Co being here for a movie premiere has started to creep in as the lead stories? This entertaining distraction has started to creep in instead of news. You know this is my little bugbear, and I discussed this at length here, so I won't repeat myself, but it is worth noting to yourself that you are being manipulated into ignorance, in order to be placated. Someone is getting away with something, and it probably isn't in your best interests.

2. "If you abandon your moral judgement, it can be fun". This is a double edge sword, but for today, I'm just looking at the positive. Sometimes, if you don't think about what you should be doing, you can have a great time. So be the person that throws themselves into something, no matter how stupid or silly (or juvenile), and be surprised at how much fun it can be (recent cartwheeling proved this to me). This is not, of  course, what was meant in the film, they were going more with the Marie Antoinette attitude but we all know that moral already.

3. "Fear doesn't work, as long as they have hope". This is a big one. I'm not entirely sure where to go with this, as we don't really live in a country where this is an issue. But it makes me think of those brave people, throughout history, that have stood up for what they believe in. Think Nelson Mandela, think that man in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, the list is endless...

4. A character says "Someday I want to love someone that much". I found this really interesting because she didn't say 'I want to be loved' but the giver of the great love. Think of the fairy stories that are drummed into us, the movies etc, it's all about someone loving the girl so much, not about how much she loves the other. Yet this is implying that the great gift in love is the giving, not the receiving.

5. What I really like in this series, is that the women, for the most part, are competent. In fact the men are often the ones that need help. I love that the main character is extremely competent and is very uncomfortable when paraded around with the focus on her appearance. When she's dressed up to look pretty, she's clearly out of her depth, but fighting for her life or helping others, she's totally on top of it. Other than Mulan, is there any other kids film where this is the case? (I love Mulan by the way, she's the only Disney Princess that actually does anything, the rest just look pretty and wait for their prince to come). For this moral alone, I give this movie 5 stars, a must for tweens & teen girls.

6. There is a throwaway line "Love is weird". And it is. We've heard it in other ways 'The heart wants what the heart wants' and so on, but really, love is weird is the nugget of truth in the most simplistic fashion. You can't explain it, you can't understand why some people choose who they choose. It is, in a lot of cases, weird.

Points 7, 8 and 9 will give away important plot points, so just pretend they've been discussed. They were very witty and intelligent. In fact, they would blow your mind and you would see that I am a genius. So lets just move along.

10. The main thing I want to talk about is this guy.
(yep, did the weirdo taking photos during the movie again)


So what I was going to say, was Donald Sutherland has looked like this all my life, and go into a Portrait of Dorian Gray routine. Except, when I looked up Cloud Bursting, I discovered he did look younger and different. In actual fact, my memory has somehow implanted the grey haired Donald Sutherland into both Cloud Bursting and Don't Look Now. I really had no idea. I could see him clearly in them, in my mind, waving from the back of the car with the grey hair, looking pretty much like this without the beard. We even discussed it at length yesterday, and my partner agreed with me. He too remembers him as the grey haired Donald Sutherland in that clip. I definitely don't remember that perm in Don't Look Now (feel free to google that one yourself)! Yet when I looked up the footage to link for you, I realised he looked completely different to how I remember those films. So it's a different point I want to discuss to that which I initially intended. Just know, that as you age, your memory really does play tricks on you. (Just as my mother swears she never let me watch Don't Look Now as a kid and caused me to be terrified by images of a little kid in a red coat; but it was the 70's and we only had one tv, so it was one in all in, and in the '70's, the kids came last in the voting considerations...so her memory also plays tricks on her!)

For those that don't know, because you are younger than my 107 years, this song was a HUGE deal at the time. A big Hollywood star was in a music video, that was like a mini film in itself. It used to make me cry and I loved it all the more for it.




Now can you name a female singer of today that would dress up like a young boyish girl and not be all pervy, parading around in underwear? Miley, it can be done a different way, really, it can.

To sum up, I've gone from being someone not that impressed with the Hunger Games franchise, to a convert, hanging for the next instalment. They've done a good job. I also love that I recognise nearly every actor from their roles in Law & Order. It took me ages to pin down Mags in my mind, but I finally got there. Doesn't matter how many big films you make, I'll always refer to you as your role in L&O twenty years ago....if you were a judge, that's probably ok, if you were the dad that raped his son's girlfriend, probably not so great....(she was a judge in Law & Order and then the Mama Rosa of the meatball fame in SVU, so for me, she'll always be Mama Rosa!)

Other useless bit of trivia - Wireless is also the chick that robs the dinner at the start of Pulp Fiction (Honey Bunny). And yes, I do spend half of any film trying to remember what else I've seen everyone in. No idea why, I just do.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.
And remember, no spoilers please!

Does your memory play tricks on you?


Thursday, 28 November 2013

How do you decide where you are going?

This is not an existential pondering, but merely a quick question. How do you decide where you are going on holidays?

Do you have an ideal location? Do you always go to the same place because you know you'll like it?

I have just discovered, I've become someone who goes to where we can get cheap airfares. I have now twice booked cheap fares into Singapore, then looked at where to go once we're there (last time Malaysia, this time possibly Vietnam). I did also spend a few days looking at flights into Lombok and Krabi purely because I could get cheap AirAsia flights to KL, and they were the most appealing options for the 6 night window we had. However, we went with the even cheaper flights into Adelaide...

We are a family of five, so the flights kill our budget. I have become a huge fan of budget airlines, as it's given us a few more options.

I realise it's quite a crazy mode of operation. So I thought I'd ask, how do you decide where you are going on holidays?

Also, the First of the Month Fiction link up is open until Monday, if anyone wants to write a teeny, tiny story.

Linking up With Some Grace for FYBF

Monday, 25 November 2013

First of the Month Fiction - Christmas edition

Seriously, where did the year go?? Last month of the year!

 I have 2 stories this month - one inspired by the Thought of the Day from Me, at My Journey:Are we there yet? She sent this "Every time you are tempted to react to the same old circumstances in the same old way, ask yourself, “Do I want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future?"
I thought of a victim of domestic violence finally leaving her relationship, but that was too hard to cut down to 100 words (I will come back to that idea for a longer story), so it evolved, less satisfactorily into this:

It had been coming for a long time. She looked up and he was fawning over the blonde again. Always the blondes. She wasn’t interested in this Christmas party and she knew it was time to leave. Leave the party, leave the marriage.

A waiter approached.

“I’ve been watching you. You look very sad. I see the ring but I have to say this. I clock off at 10. Do you want to go for a drink somewhere?”

Suddenly she knew that things could be different. She didn’t need to always feel this way. With a smile, she said “Yes.”

 I've also written a second one, because it is Christmas and a time to celebrate with those you love:

Santa always grew a little lonely this time of year. He was busy and stressed. He knew it all came down to this one night – and he had to get it right. There was sometimes an emptiness to his existence.

Later, as he finally dropped into bed, dawn breaking Christmas morning, he noticed a small box beside his pillow, wrapped beautifully and adorned with holly. He glanced over at his sleeping wife and smiled. Everyone else just liked him for what he could give them, but she, and only she, truly loved him for himself. Warts and all, for eternity.

Please join in in the comments below then add your blog to the link, rules here for newcomers.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Time

When I read the prompt was about Time - I thought I'd repost my What I learnt from Rush. Point 6 is probably my biggest lesson in Time, the importance of Time, and that it can be the best gift we have.

The short version, for those that don't know, is that Niki Lauda was burnt in a car crash, and greatly disfigured. He had countless skin grafts to his face, and at the time (in the film), said he had a face that would always horrify people. Yet he has always been one of the most popular drivers in F1, and judging by the women he was linked to after his divorce, his looks didn't impede him at all.

I want to always remember, that no matter how difficult or painful the current ordeal, time will put it into perspective. So while time can be unkind, or down right cruel as we age, it is also a gift that eases pain, or diminishes drama.

My favourite saying, however, as a convert who lives by FOMO (the good FOMO, not the jealous kind) "Do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of"

And that, as they say, is all that I have Time for!

Linking up with Kirsty for I Must Confess

PS. As for point 4, in the Rush post, this woman was rockin' the 70's hat. I really am going to start wearing one all the time!

10 things I love/hate about the Festive season



What I love about Festive Season:
1. Lots on, plenty of catch ups and parties
2. I get to give a lot of gifts
3. Lots of great food to eat
4. Family get togethers
5. It's the holidays


What I hate about the Festive Season:
1. Lots on, plenty of catch ups and parties (I get tired)
2. I have to think of a lot of gifts
3. Too much great food, and I eat it all
4.Family get togethers ('nuff said!)
5. It ends, and we start all over again.

Happy Christmas to you all, see you on the flip side. Safe travels and enjoy the break everyone!

Linking up this old post with #ChristmasLinkUp, because we need to remember that there is a flipside to everything we do. If something bad is happening to us, remember there is a positive in there somewhere. If everything is going swimmingly, pause to appreciate it, as the reverse could just as soon take place.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

What I learnt from The Counselor

For some reason this film fails a little, when it probably shouldn't, given the cast. I think it's partly because there seems to be scenes & characters that have the sole purpose of delivering an eloquent speech full of "Meaning", which makes it all a little eye-rolling. I love Bruno Ganz (Hitler in Downfall), and kept waiting for his character to come back. Then realising towards the end of the film that there was no point at all to his scene, except to tell the "Cautionary" speech. Some one needs to remind Ridley Scott of the Chekhov tale of the loaded gun....

Javier is brilliant, and probably the most complete character in the film. Which makes the whole film seem odd as the main character is little more than a stick figure. (Sorry Mumabulous) However, probably still worth a watch and here's what I learnt from it:

1. A masher is a man who attempts to force his attentions on a woman - I had to google it, and will now start using it at every available opportunity.

2. 'You don't really know someone until you know what they want'. I had never thought about this before, but it is actually quite valuable advice. We walk around thinking everyone thinks like us, with the same values and beliefs, but it's worth looking a little deeper into the motivations of people sometimes.

3. Lastly, and most importantly, 'If you think you can live in this world and be no part of it, all I can say is you are wrong'. They were meaning it differently, but consider our consumerism and it's costs,  consider our impact on the environment and all the other issues that our daily actions impact upon. I love this quote. It is the argument against those that say "What can I do? I'm only one person" or "Why should I worry about it when all the other countries are using more energy/causing more pollution etc".

Lastly, I have to ask, why do Americans spell Counsellor differently? Where does that come from?

Linking up With Some Grace for FYBF?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Joyous (Cartwheels part 2)

I set myself the challenge of doing a cartwheel, in order to show my daughter how to do them. I was terrified at the prospect of this, thus added it to the Torschlusspanik list here.

So the afternoon came and we headed to the backyard. I tucked my dress into my undies (as I learnt to do as a kid with my school uniform - it was pre-skort days). This in itself was astonishing for my little tot to watch and induced a barrage of questions.

Then came the moment of truth. I did one. I didn't smash face first into the ground. Nor did I dislocate my shoulder. There was a stretch in my inner thigh, in a muscle that has not been used for quite sometime, but other than that, it was easy.

And fun.

My daughter gave up after a while but I stayed outside and did a few more. It had been a really awful day that day, with niggling irritations, and little things going wrong, so I was in a fairly dark mood by the after school period but a few cart wheels in, and my bad mood dissipated. I was suddenly joyous.

That's what's got me wondering. I understand it's the chemical release, and the silliness of the exercise that caused the carefree joy that ensued. Why do we stop doing something that makes us feel good? As little kids, we do them all the time. In high school we stop, but why? I don't remember actively thinking that I wouldn't do them any more, I just didn't do them.

The older I get, the less I understand the human aging process. We replace everything fun and joy inducing with mundane, soul destroying tasks. This is celebrated as becoming an adult. What a waste of existence.

So, take my advice, if things are getting you down, head out to the backyard and try a few cartwheels. Within minutes you'll be overtaken by a wave of joy.  Go on, try it!

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT. Also linking with the One New Thing a Week Challenge, over at the Mystery Case.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

What I learnt from The Butler

This is a little different to the other 'What I learnt from...' series, with a little less frivolity and silliness. I saw The Butler by default, as the Chinese movie I wanted to see had finished, and so had apparently Percy Jackson. So I went to The Butler because it was on at the right time - I really liked it, though it didn't show me much I didn't know, except maybe that Bobby Kennedy was a little more influential than I realised. I'm not going to talk about this shameful historic period of time. The biggest thing I learnt from that movie, is that human beings have so much potential to be truly supreme beings, and yet we are still routinely doing horrific unthinkable things to other human beings.

And I mean here. In Australia.

Think of our current stances on Marriage equality, on Refugees, on a myriad of fund cutting the services for lower socio-economic groups, our blind-eye consumerism and the list goes on. I don't really have a solution, but I'm pretty sure twenty years from now, we'll be embarrassed by what we currently considered acceptable.

There is a line in the movie, 'We turn a blind eye to what we do to our own, but sit in judgement of the rest of the world'. I think that is the nutshell of human nature. Perhaps we need to pay a little more attention to our own behaviour. I don't know how we start change, but I know raising it to the consciousness as a problem has to be the seed of thoughtful living. How to make that seed take root and grow will take time, but it is definitely something worth considering.


PS The other thing I learnt is that I totally LOVE Oprah - I don't care what anyone says, her heart was in the right place with that show. (and yes, I did nerdily take that photo in the cinema like a weirdo)



Linking also with I must confess - head over and tell Kirsty how you feel.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cart wheels

I have promised my daughter I'll teach her how to do cartwheels tomorrow. The only problem is, I haven't done a cartwheel in well over 30 years. I'm old, unfit and a little brittle-feeling in the bones. When I wanted to hang upside down from the monkey bars a few years back, it took me ages to get the courage to let go.

I used to be able to do it. Easily. Not now.

And I feel the same about the cart wheels. I'm scared I'll go smashing face first into the ground.
Or dislocating my shoulder like a friend of mine, when she tried to do one with her kid.

Why is that? Why, as we age, do we get scared of what we used to do all the time without giving it a second thought? Shouldn't we use that experience and memory to make us confident? This seems to be a huge flaw in human design.

So, I'm putting it on the list, so I have no option to chicken out. Will selfie from hospital should that eventuate.

Thus, the current list now reads:

Torshlusspanik List:


1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)
11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check)
13. Trampoline adventure (check)
14. BMX Riding (check)
15. Do a cart wheel.

Linking up with Grace for FYBF.



Thursday, 7 November 2013

Confidence - women in the media

Last night on Facebook, there was a photo of an over-weight woman in her underwear posted on a site run by women saying 'This sort of strength and self-love should be celebrated not derided'. It was obviously click bait to make us say she looked fat, or had huge health issues. My issue is not even with the cheap tactics used to insult women. My issue, is that it reinforces the idea that women are to be objectified on their looks. Not only that, women should see their self worth in their ability to post naked or semi-naked photos of themselves on the internet. Way to go, female empowerment!

If you are a site for women, perhaps a good way to promote confidence in women, is to tell the stories of confident women that actually DO something. There's a thought. A confident woman who can play with the big boys, not just send them sexy photos in her underwear.

I hope this site understands they can never criticise politicians for condescending to women in the workplace, or rappers for objectifying women, if they themselves encourage the same condescension and objectification, encouraging confidence by saying 'Strong women are ok with naked photos of themselves'. You can not have it both ways.

To paraphrase Tina Fey, I would say strong women get things done.

Here's a little story of a confident woman and action that I would celebrate. Elizabeth Blackburn is a scientist, she won the Nobel Prize for her discoveries in cell research (short version, she discovered 2 things that are integral in understanding genetic diseases and cancer, and thus aiding eventually finding cures). That, however, is not the bit that we're celebrating in this story. She was on the Bush panel for Council for Bioethics. When he took a stand on stem cell research, she didn't agree. She walked in and had the confidence to tell him to shove it. I'm pretty sure she wasn't in her underwear or naked at the time. She didn't actually tell him to shove it, she argued her beliefs, and was subsequently let go, as a result. She publicly told the media why she believed she was let go, and why she believed it was the wrong course of action for the Bush Government to take. That is strength and confidence that should be celebrated. Standing for your beliefs, even if it's at your own detriment, or by achieving great things, that's what we should using as our yardstick for celebrating confident women.

I understand that body image is a huge issue for women. I would prefer if the women in the media encouraged women to look at action and achievement, not the outer casing.

Can the merit of a woman not be her ability to parade around in her underwear, pandering to men? If women reinforce that, how can we then get annoyed with men that objectify women?



Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Riddle me this, once more...

1. Why do I always forget to set up the google analytics code? And how do I make it happen automatically?

2. Do you eat soup or drink soup?

3. Why didn't Americans adopt the metric system, especially when they fought so hard to get rid of the British? (I believe there are only 3 countries not metric these days)

4. Do any other countries, other than America,  call autumn 'Fall'?

5. What is the job title of a food court cleaner - you know, the person that clears the rubbish and wipes down tables?

6. What are clicks? (as in three clicks west). Are they actually kilometres? So why does the US army use metric?

7. What countries are on the equator?*

8. How thick is the equator?

9. Is the earth an actual sphere, like the globe implies? If so, how is that possible?

10. Why don't I seem to know anything any more?

I have a confession. These questions all came up at dinner after the Melbourne Cup (except #1). I was asked by my kids, and failed to have answers. I have googled the answer to number 7, because I was tired of sounding like an idiot who didn't know anything about anything at all. This is what happens when you eat dinner in a food court with inquiring minds.

So without further ado, the countries on the equator are as follows (let me know if you got them all):

From Africa eastward...
  1. Sao Tome and Principe
  2. Gabon
  3. Republic of The Congo
  4. Democratic Republic of The Congo
  5. Uganda
  6. Kenya
  7. Somalia
  8. Maldives (the equator passes through the territory but not on dry land)
  9. Indonesia
  10. Kiribati (the equator may or may not touch dry land)
  11. Ecuador
  12. Colombia
  13. Brazil
(from http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/equatorialctys.htm).

Have your kids stumped you with a question lately? Or do you have one yourself, that the Universe has confounded you with? Or better yet, do you have an answer?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Phone calls in the night

We've all had them. We all hate them. There is nothing worse than being woken by a phone call. It is never good news. The bell tolls death, disaster or misfortune.

My husband is off in New York, running the marathon - literally. I went to bed at 2am having watched him cross the start line on an app. At 5.50 the phone rang. In a groggy haze of confusion, a man explained that they couldn't find my husband. His belongings were in the room still, but they hadn't been able to find him for two days. I was panicked and felt a wave of nausea descend. My world contracted to a confused tunnel. "What do you mean he's missing? What's happened?"

Then as the man talked more, I realised it was the hotel (though I'm sure they must have said that at the start of the call, and I'd not been awake enough to register). They thought he was due to check out yesterday. They'd extended his booking as a courtesy but no longer knew what to do.

Ah, sweet relief. It was nothing - 'He's running, right now, as we speak.' We extended the booking another day and I gratefully hung up, though adrenalin coursed through my veins, so there was no going back to sleep.

I found the booking confirmation, which had the correct dates, so I have no idea what the problem was. Just one of those things.

My thoughts, however, have been with those that received that call after Boston. Or after Sept 11. Or after any ill fated trip. I can not fathom the cruelness of the distance and remoteness, the echo in the phone line, the confusing time difference, all adding to an already terrible call, heralding your world collapsing.

I am thankful it was nothing. I am counting the days until he returns even more keenly than before.
I am wishing that we were all spared those calls in the night.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

List of places I want to visit...

I wrote this list 3 years ago and I've managed to get to 2 of the destinations...(though not the Ha Long Bay part of Vietnam, so that's still on the list).  I would probably add to it, though there's nothing I'd take away!

So where do I want to visit - money no object, of course, because money being the object is why I haven't been yet. And that's just dull!

In no particular order:






1.Hawaii - I want to see lava fall into the ocean on Big Island, and monk seals just lazing on the beach. The massive crater and ziplining over Akaka Falls. So much splendorous beauty in nature.

2. Lapland (or there abouts) to see the Northern Lights.

3. Vegas - because I love a freak show. Disneyland for adults.

4. Antartica. Amazing.

5. South America - to watch the Dakar live.

6. Belgium - no particular reason, just thinks it looks like my kind of place.


7. Vietnam - Ha long bay look amazing!

8. Wilson Island - not so much for the island it's self, I just want to hire out an island for my own private use. http://www.wilsonisland.com/

9. Great Wall of China. Looks great, 'nuff said.

10. Mauritius. Just think it looks lovely and with a lot to do. Simple as that.

What about you? What's on your list of places you want to visit, and why?

Linking with #IMustConfess Where would you go for your dream destination?