Wednesday 31 May 2017

The View from Here

The view from here is colourful and filled with art. The streets take on a celebratory feel, and for three weeks we dash out into the cold night air and explore the town with new vigor.

The view from here is VIVID. Vivid colours, vivid memories. 

I headed into dinner a little early and strolled around Martin Place, then up to Westfield and checked out the ice rink on the top floor of Myer.

I just love that the city gets out in a friendly, neighbourly fashion. 

The view from here is a showcase to the world. It is a delight for families, It is pretty and at times, thought provoking.

The view from here is bright.

The view from here is home.

Linking with #RubyTuesdayToo because of the red waratah. Vivid opens again this Friday

Tuesday 30 May 2017

First of the month fiction - June

Straight into it - for the newbies - a 100 word story exactly or one less than 30 words - add yours to the comments then link your blog if you have one.

She didn't want to, but she had to kill him. There was no choice. Now she needed to focus on how. And who. Who would kill this much loved character?

I know, I know...Ever had a favourite book character die? I wrote a message to Robert Kirkman asking him to take back the death in vol 100 of Walking Dead - make it a dream or Rick's dying imagination. How deranged of me. I was just so upset. So I guess his intention worked, he certainly shook me up that day. You must get very sick of people in best selling series. I can rarely keep anyone alive for 100 words!

Open until the 10th.

Hope to read your stories.

Monday 29 May 2017

"I'm thinking about having a third child..."

A friend asked me what it was like having a third child when I have school aged kids. The gap was 9 and 5 years. I was over 40. All these were similar to her situation. I am not a child expert, a doctor, nor a marriage counsellor or psychologist. I can't tell you why you have a baby, or what you need to think about. Who knows deep down why anyone does anything?

What I can tell you, are the three negatives that I can see.

1. I'm tired. I think about dealing with my last child as a teenager and I'm terrified I'll be too tired to stay on top of all the tricky teen situations. I'll be too old to help with the homework and all the technology and social media. Currently I struggle with advice on editing the podcast for English (thank God for Google!), by then it will probably be holograms!!

2. I am probably viewed as the worst mum at the primary school. My head is full of high school and teen issues, that making a hat for the hat parade is not on my radar.  I got her the stuff and let her make it herself. I complained that it took too long to watch the parade. I've no interest in talking about the school. Having to spend a Friday night in the playground for the movie night seems like a major inconvenience. I do all these things, but I can't say I'm necessarily there with the same enthusiasm as the other mums with their first child in school.

3. The youngest will become an only child. Not like an only child who has only known that, but child who loses their sibling company to become an only child. Last holiday our youngest complained that none of the siblings wanted to play in the pool with her. She always wants the middle brother to play the board game too, not just happy to play it with me, and he no longer is interested. There's a sadness and a loss that I feel very guilty about. One child, possibly two, will move out before the youngest finishes school, and that hole will be felt not worst of all by me, but by her.

That's it. There's a lot of good things, and moving from 2 to 3 is not nearly as hard with a large gap, purely because you know all those 'baby stresses' don't really matter. You are more relaxed, you focus with a better balance. You enjoy the luxury of those baby groups and play because you know how quickly it goes.

I couldn't tell my friend if I thought she should have another baby, even when she asked me directly. I could tell her was what I thought were the negatives for me. Just three. I could also tell her I wouldn't have it any other way, and on our recent holiday,  the most precious moments were watching the three of them rough-house in a field together or all of us delighting in the funny Helter Skelter...Those moments all together are so rare now, with part time jobs and girlfriends stealing the older kids away. Hopefully those moments mean as much to them as they do to me.

What advice would you give someone who asked you if they should have another child?

Linking with #MummyMondays

Sunday 28 May 2017

Sydneyland lights up - incidental Vivid

Anyone who's followed me for a year knows how much I LOVE Vivid. The opening weekend I was fully booked with trips to the Sydney Writers Festival and a gig by Sampha, both of which allowed me to see the offering of VIVID when our taxi couldn't make it to the Opera House, so we walked thought the city (and arriving early for dinner in Martin Place).

For those out of town, VIVID is a light festival (with music and art too) that lights up our beautiful city for three weeks. If planning a winter visit, VIVID is the time to do it.

It's very hard not to love living in this city when the beauty and fun abounds, and is free for all to enjoy. I was loving life, just walking to my destination. What have you loved this week?

I leave you with Sampha - while not the official version, I loved the drumming at the start of the song. It delighted the audience and I'm still smiling at the memory of it.

Linking with #Fototunes (linking up an old post cos I'm missing my usual fun at VIVID and have been looking at old photos - not sure if you'll like this song or not...could go either way)

Wednesday 24 May 2017


I mentioned in this previous post I'd be using Left for Dead for a few posts, and it fits perfectly with #Lifethisweek's theme of hobbies. The book is by Beck Weathers and to join in as a book club type discussion, grab a copy and read it. (A&R $16.99 for Oz or Amazon for the US).

A hobby is an activity done regularly for pleasure in one's leisure time. Most hobbies are harmless, but sometimes hobbies can have a detrimental affect on the family. Only you can tell when a hobby is taking you away from what really matters. In Left for Dead, Beck notes how a lot of the big events in his children's lives occurred in his absence, while he was climbing mountains, a very extreme hobby that became a ruling obsession for him, as he became "increasingly self absorbed" in his pursuit, he emotionally abandoned his family. His climbing had driven his wife and children away from him, Their family vacations became more about Beck going climbing, leaving his wife to look after the children. One of the saddest parts in the book is when his teenage son says, with no malice, "I never really noticed when he was gone, because he was absent when he was here." He'd get up four in the morning to work out and then come home, eat dinner and fall asleep. Peach concludes "It was very boring. We had no social life."

Beck was never available to do anything with his wife and the kids, and he began to project, I can only assume to deny any guilt, that his wife Peach was unhappy because she needed a hobby of her own. Yet Peach was happy taking care of the kids, she wasn't happy with an absent partner and seeing her kids grow up without a dad.

When Beck wasn't climbing, he'd talk about climbing. He'd assumed everyone was interested in his climbing, when usually they were just asking out of politeness. We had a group of runners over for dinner, and all they wanted to talk about was running. The marathons they'd done, the next one they were doing. Whenever I tried to change the subject, it would be quickly switched back. They were like an exclusive little club and had no interest at all in anyone or anything else. The conversation never altered once throughout the night. When they left, I felt the only reason I was there was to clean up after them, and vowed never to invite them again. Not only was it rude, it was incredibly boring.

Beck also became very singular in his plans for climbing. One family weekend away he couldn't attend because he couldn't take the Friday off to leave early, and then Peach discovers he'd booked a week away to climb soon after. She also heard about the plan to climb Everest in a restaurant, when someone they knew congratulated Beck on his upcoming expedition. He'd spent $65k on himself without a discussion, Even though they still lived together, when he was in town, they were living very separate lives. Peach and the kids had started taking holidays without him when he booked a climb. He had forced them to make a life without him.

Obviously, mountaineering is extreme. And obviously it's important to follow your dreams. However, we need to remember that everything comes with a cost, and you have to weigh up what you are sacrificing to achieve your dream. It's worth asking yourself a few questions:

1. How much does the hobby keep you away from the family? 
2. How much are you missing out on?  
3. If the kids and your partner cheer you on, do you cheer them on in return in their endeavours, even if they aren't the same hobby? 
4. Does your partner have to sacrifice his interests to support the kids while you're following your interests? 
5. Are you missing from family holidays, even though you have gone on the trip? If you seem to be having a completely different holiday to the rest of the family, there's probably a problem.
6. Are you forcing them to live a life without you?
7. When you aren't doing your hobby, are you present? I mean don't have your head in your phone, make sure you aren't talking to other people while never making an effort to really relate to those you live with.
8, Can you name your kids hobbies? Can you talk about them? Do you know what's going on in their lives? What about your spouse? What are they up to?

It's very health to have hobbies and interests that you love, however it's more important not to neglect those that matter to you in the process. I'm not saying you have to give it up, I'm saying you have to work out the balance.

Linking with #BooknificentThursdays

Monday 22 May 2017

Do we ever really know a person?

While I was in Amsterdam, I went to Anne Frank's House, well worth the two hour wait (though try to book tickets in advance to avoid that if you are planning to visit). Obviously there's a lot to discuss there, but there was one thing that really resounded with me, and still pushes into my thoughts. At the end of the tour, Otto Frank, Anne's father discusses the diary, and his experience of reading the diary.
"It was quite a different Anne [than] I had known as my daughter. She never really showed this kind of inner feeling. She talked about many things, we criticized many things, but what really her feelings were, I only could see from the diary." He elaborates “And my conclusion is, as I had been in very, very good terms with Anne, that most parents don’t really know their children.”

We must remember we never really know the inner turmoil that people are going through, even if we live in the same house and see them daily. Add some friction and it's near impossible to see the wood for the trees.

Teenagers are by nature secretive creatures. It's our job to watch ever so carefully, and even then, the best detective can still miss the signs.

If you don't understand your child, or you discover things are not as you thought, take heart that even a parent who had a great relationship with his daughter, trapped in a small space with no outside distractions still had no idea who he was living with.

It is human nature to process events with our own filter, to make assumptions about the feelings and actions of others. I recently had my own motives twisted up by a friend to feed their own vanity. I was more taken aback that she'd distorted something I'd done many times before (and have done since) with what I thought was clearly kindness and generosity than her actual bitchiness and betrayal. She made my gesture seem so mean and petty. I felt she didn't know me at all. Hearing her badmouth me in such a way, in turn, has made me question her motives which I had naively and incorrectly thought I knew. I see her behaviour in relation to me a little more clearly now, and can I see how it has tainted some other past interactions, that at the time I found odd  but couldn't place why.  It's all makes more sense to me now.

If adults well into middle age can still get it so wrong, imagine what the teenage brain does with their perception?

I got tickets to see Flume with my eldest, thinking it would be a nice bonding experience. They were sullen and vile the whole night, so midway through I gave up even trying and just danced with the 20 year old next to me. On the way back to the car my child sniped "Don't you think I'm a little old to have to go to concerts with my mother now?". I replied "This wasn't about supervision. This was about me having no one to go with. None of my friends like Flume! I thought you'd be happy for the free ticket!" I pointed out they'd been to a number of concerts with their friends already. I could see the genuine surprise as they registered the answer. It also explained the ungrateful pissy mood that had ruined my evening. I had assumed we were on the same page but clearly we weren't at all.

As parents, it's our job not to be dummies or turn a blind eye and more importantly,we should not be dismissive of the weight these teenagers may be carrying on their shoulders, no matter how it manifests.

The 'troubled teen' is just that, troubled by something. Maybe it's better for all if we park our judgement and try to unravel the issues and reset the outcomes.

We need to listen, engage, spend time with and talk to our kids, even when it's a thankless and arduous task. Even when they don't want to. More importantly, even when we don't want to.

We will never really know another person, but we must try our best to.

Linking this old post with  #Blogtober21 on teenagers. 

Sunday 21 May 2017

Lazy Sunday Lunch

I ducked out to the Market Tales at St Peters in the funky Precinct 75 on Saturday, and the next day dragged the family back for lunch. If you missed it this year, make sure you get there when next it returns.

Plenty of tasty treats, take home food for dinner, and fabulous homeware.

Lunch from Mr Bao was delicious.

I was amazed at how they got the honey in!

I'm keen to get to the Yoga in the Vines at the Urban Winery, just need to rally up a posse....

As the sun shone down, I was truly loving life.


Bigge at Buttercream Bakery

I loved this tiara but alas out of my price range (see JY Jewels) 

For more info, see

What did you get up to on the weekend?

Linking with #LovingLifeLinky #WWOAT  #WordlessWednesday #TheRandom #WednesdayAroundtheWorld

Miffy, Bruna and Amsterdam

As a big fan of Hello Kitty, my daughter and I discovered we were easily charmed into jumping on the Miffy bandwagon in Amsterdam. There is no escaping her. The much loved character of Dick Bruna is one of the greatest Dutch book characters and thus unofficial mascot of the Netherlands. Our daily travels would see us discover Miffy in various dress.

As we moved onto Belgium, we lamented we would be saying goodbye to Miffy, only to discover the Belgium chocolatiers are big fans of the little rabbit too.

As are the Belgium beanbag and lamp makers.

While this Miffy came home with us, I was disappointed that the Van Gogh exhibition in Melbourne was not stocking the Miffy Van Gogh that I regret not buying at the time.

Miffy was genderless for the first 5 books, only wearing a dress in the 6th. Miffy is now 62 years old, and sold 89 million copies world wide.

Dick Bruna died earlier this year, this lovely interview from 2008 gives an insight into his life and art.

Do you love Miffy?

Linking with #Openslather

Wednesday 17 May 2017

How I learn....

The theme of #Lifethisweek is 'how I learn best' and I was going to skip it when, while procrastinating, I filled in a survey that asked me why I chose Canberra as a destination and one of the responses was "Who can say, I don't know why I do half the things I do". That is pretty much my brain. Some random idea floats in and I run with it.

I often learn languages, usually in the car with CDs. It amuses me no end. My German was ACE and I spoke German to everyone. My Dutch was terrible, and I didn't use it. My Maltese was just random words and the occasional phrase, only used for hello's and goodbye's.

I often learn from my kids. The latest 'fact' was that the croissant originated from Austria, not France.

I learn from movies. I use movies as therapy (maybe I need therapy) and to puzzle out the universe. As you would know from my highly entertaining series 'What I learned from...', right? RIGHT??

I learn a lot from books. Similar to movies.

I learn from travel. My whole world view changed in Cambodia. I learn from seeing history through different eyes (and told differently to how our books taught it). I learn through cultures and people. I do think it's one of the greatest teachers, and it's hard to be unchanged by experience.

I unfortunately often learn by getting it wrong. Those hard and horrible lessons that leave us once bitten and twice shy (or older and wiser, depending how you look at it.).

Sometimes I learn only in order to support my beliefs. Before Trump was elected, I asked Trump supporters what they liked in him, and read his platform in full. I could see on paper the appeal of the tax reform, though I could also intellectually argue it wasn't economically sound. I think Robert A. Heinlein was on the money when he said "I never learned from a man who agreed with me."

There is a quote floating round the internet a lot by Alvin Toffler and it pretty much sums up how we need to learn best. "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."

Going early for Monday's #Lifethisweek 

Monday 15 May 2017

You can't turn a freight train around in a moment

I mentioned on Facebook that I was reading the book, Left for Dead by Beck Weathers and that I would be writing a series of posts on it, so if anyone wants to join in as a book club type discussion, grab a copy and read it. (A&R $16.99 for Oz or Amazon for the US).

The book is written by one of the people in the 1996 Everest disaster, who was left for dead. It is the story of his rescue, but more than that, it is a brutally honest look at a marriage, depression and the effect neglect and the high cost of a selfish pursuit of dreams. Those are the issues I'll be discussing in a series of posts.

Towards the end of the book, Beck writes "You don't turn a fifty-something freight train around in a moment, even with an epiphany as profound as mine...I remind myself of what is important to me."

Yesterday, I came in late to a post on facebook since deleted by a mum struggling with her teen and her situation. I think as hard as life gets, we need to remember what is important, and that change, all change, takes a time. With people, we can't instantly 'fix' things. There is no overnight cure to ANYTHING. But little by little we can modify behaviour and slowly the change shines through.

When we feel lost or overwhelmed, we need to remember what is important and focus on that, and maybe that alone, if that is all we are strong enough for at that moment. Maybe that is enough to anchor us through the storm.

Have you read Left for Dead? How do you keep perspective when the going gets tough?

Linking with #MLSTL. Not specifically linked to anything, just have to write a short story today. Good luck for those of you in the States easing restrictions. Stay safe and vigilant on Social Distancing. (and remember the app doesn't work properly on iPhones so don't wait for that to alert you to get tested.)

Sunday 14 May 2017

Be the person you needed when you were young - Street art in Melbourne

I know it's a little banky, but I was quite taken with the idea behind this piece (above) in Hosier Lane. It's probably worth pondering, at least, and seeing what changes you could make.

Other pieces worth looking at:

 Someone had fun with the Van Gogh exhibition that's currently on at the NGV (that we'd just attended - we've been seeing Van Gogh everywhere since!).

All in our stroll back to the car after a sensational lunch at Lucy Lui - if you haven't tried their Lucy Express (set lunch of 4 dishes and a glass of wine for $28.50, Mon - Fri), book yourself in.

Just walking the streets of Melbourne makes me love life!

Linking this archive post with #MondayMurals

I just love how it tastes...

Wiki definition of Junk food is 'Junk food is a pejorative term for cheap food containing high levels of calories from sugar or fat with little fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals.' 
I eat more of it than I should - pizza, sweets, chips...all a danger zone for my will power.
I would also include Thai and Chinese takeaway, because the wok fried aspect is moving the minimal veges onto the other side of the scale. Not to mention the fried spring rolls...
Then let's not begin on the cakes or ice cream...The list is too long to mention. My favourite? How do you narrow it down? I like it all!
I'm currently trying to cut back on the junk, but I refuse to feel bad about it. I'm trying to up the vegetables and lower the carbs. I'm working on the theory that any change for the better is better than before, and it's day at a time. I also know I'll never enjoy a salad more than a burger, or kale more than chips...

Linking quickly with #Lifethisweek

Wednesday 10 May 2017

First of the Month Fiction - May

This is a late starter, due to my last minute weekend in Daylesford, hot on the heels of my return from Europe (don't I sound fancy?). So it will be open until the end of the month until the June one appears.

For newcomers, write a story in exactly 100 words or less than 30 words in the comments, link your blog below so we can see your unfettered writing style. Mine is 30...

She smiled at her exhausted daughter, asleep on the sofa, confirming her job as a mother wasn't yet over. She scooped up her granddaughter and tiptoed out of the room.

(Cheesy, I know, but it is Mother's day and all that.)

Monday 8 May 2017

Days in Daylesford

At the last minute I headed to Daylesford with some friends, and while I knew there'd be good food and wine, spa treatments and bananagrams, what I didn't plan on was the morning excursion with a friend that resulted in unexpected mirth and frivolity.

We split from the others at the market and headed off to the blowhole, a waterfall spouting through an old gold mine shaft. The squealing and laughter started when a giant male roo bounded in front of our car, in full flight mode. He was magnificent, and it took us completely by surprise.

The viewing platform was closed off due to falling rocks so we decided to go bush, and ended up crossing the river for photos. All the while giving a running commentary of how the newspapers would describe us (middle aged women who should know better) should something go awry.

From there to the lavender farm for lavender scones, where a parade of geese lead to more squeals and us literally fleeing the restaurant to take photos.

We then climbed the tower in the Botanic Gardens, a rather strange addition built in 1938 (which I still need to research why it was built). 

We laughed exuberantly and for a few hours I was truly loving life. Sometimes it's the unexpected that makes all the difference.

What fun did you get up to on the weekend?

Linking with #Allseasons