101 things about me

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Good-bye 2007, helloooo 2008...

I promised myself 2007 was to be my year of living more creatively. Instead of just letting things happen, I decided 2007 was the year to consciously make creativity a priority in my life. It has been an eventful year and as 2008 begins, the results of 2007 are set to continue and grow.

This is the year that was...
I did a writing course in January, a road trip of over 2000kms for a week of intense tuition. Bellingen magic. I love to write and whilst the course wasn't quite what I was expecting, it was both stimulating and thought provoking.

I met up with Mal in Sydney on the southbound journey and we travelled home via NSW and VIC. On the way we visited a beautiful straw bale house that inspired us both and the visit confirmed it is another thing I would like to do in the future.

I did a one week calligraphy course in June and renewed my love of the art and later in the year I introduced myself to book-binding, feeding my love of paper and books. I set up my blog and entered the world of technology. At the same time, I organised a business name, with the long term goal of working in a more creative arena.

I applied for, and was accepted into, an arts course that starts in February 2008. I put together a portfolio of work for the application which covered a range of creative examples including painting, sewing, drawing and calligraphy. It will give me the chance to develop skills and meet lots of like-minded people. The course will challenge me and hopefully give me some indication as to my creative potential. It is a fantastic opportunity to stretch my skills and grow artistically. I find the more creative I become, the more it motivates and drives me, so I am looking forward to emersing myself in more and more creative pursuits..

Amongst these things, in 2007 I continued my studies in practical philosophy, in October I turned 40 and in August I started jogging and ran my first ever funrun... an incredible 10kms in December!

So if 2007 gave me a taste for a more creative lifestyle, 2008 promises to be even better. Excellent in fact. There are so many exciting things on the horizon.
Roll on 2008! Bring it on!
Happy New Year every-one!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Happy Christmas...

Season's Greetings and best wishes to you.
May your day be filled with love and laughter.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Exercise for the right side of the brain...

After you find the guy - it's so obvious. Once you find him, you think, "Why didn't I see him immediately?"

Doctors have concluded that if you find the man in the coffee beans in 3 seconds, the right half of your brain is better developed than most people. If you find the man between 3 seconds and 1 minute, the right half of the brain is developed normally. If you find the man between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein. If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger!
And, yes, the man is really there!!!

Monday, 17 December 2007

I'd rather be here...

It's just over a week until Christmas.
I had a great week-end.
It's Monday morning. I'm at work.
I'd rather be on the beach...

This is the back beach of the town where I grew up. I am lucky as my parents still live there. I call it my week-ender. In one week I will be there. Christmas Eve. I can't wait. In the meantime, I can check out the webcam and see what the tides are doing... what the surf is like... imagine the salt air on my face.

...you can look too: Point Lonsdale Webcam There are 3 other views to look at - all taken from the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse.

Have a good week people.
'Tis the Season for joy and goodwill.
Be nice.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Musical Mystery

This was sent to me ages ago. Its a musical challenge... find as many different groups/individuals in this image as you can. I can't remember the total amount, but there are certainly more than 50. Guns and Roses, Mathcbox 20, Queen and the Rolling Stones are all there. How many can you see? Some are easy, many more are a little more problematic. Once you start, you'll be hooked. Friends will be intrigued. It's good fun.

So enjoy. Have a bit of fun. It is Friday afterall!

Let me know how you go... How many did you find? Which one was the most obscure?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Bathtub test

It doesn't hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time, and this should help get you started.

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No." said the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"


Sunday, 9 December 2007

The fine art of relaxation...

This week-end Mal and I headed to Point Lonsdale for a couple of days. After a few months of non-stop activity, I was under strict instructions I had to relax. When I asked what we were going to do, the immediate answer was "absolutely nothing".

Difficult as it may seem, absolutely nothing is no easy feat. Certainly I have been focused on 2 major things for the last month or so (my funrun and my interview for entry into the Arts course I am now going to do next year) and whilst these two things are now behind me, a growing list of projects remains. I was intructed to leave it at home.

I am happy to say, for (most of) the entire week-end, I did as instructed. I read a couple of magazines and caught up with the week-end papers. I sat on the front verandah and warmed myself in the morning sun. Along with a little bit of shopping, a lot of sleeping and a large amount of eating, I managed to slow down and be still for a while. It was the perfect tonic... along with a couple of scones with jam and cream of course!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel...

It's Friday.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Have a great week-end everyone.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Where's my satchel?

As you all know, I had an interview on Tuesday to get into an arts course next year. It included the showing of a portfolio. It was a nerve-wracking experience. People had been asking me what I had thought about the interview, but without having anything to measure to, I honestly could not have said either way. The interviewers told me I would know by the end of the week, and then added "probably by Thursday", and so it was on my mind all morning.

As luck would have it, they called when I was away from my desk.

I was nervous as I returned the call. I had convinced myself a number of times during the course of the morning that I had missed out on a place. 40 applicants for 16 places. No chance. Thankfully I was wrong.

Once they told me the news, I was all smiles. The celebrations began immediately. Sms messages, a couple of excited phonecalls, popcorn courtesy of Ames! (I was at work, it was hardly the opportunity to pop open a bottle of bubbly). I could barely concentrate for the rest of the day, so I did what I had to and then left work on the dot of 5.

As if you couldn't tell, I am VERY excited. I expect all those around me (especially Mal) are relieved.

And so, as of next February, I will be a student again. At 40, I am packing my satchel and heading back to the classroom. Crazy huh? In an amazing, incredible, beam like a child on Christmas morning sort of way.

Quote of the day...

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The storm before the calm...

It has been pretty crazy here for the last few months. Work has been busy, home has been busy, I have been busy. Finding time has been difficult. I have been trying to write, trying to exercise, trying to draw, trying to blog, AND trying to spend time with family and friends along the way. First there was the 40th birthday, then the fun run and now the interview.

The interview is for a course I want to do next year. It is an entry level arts course - fine arts and contemporary craft to be exact. It is two days a week for 16 weeks (2 terms) and will mean I have to go part time at work for that time (no complaints by me, and work have agreed to release me for that period). If I get in, it will be an opportunity to immerse myself in the arts and have intensive training in both drawing and painting and supplementary lessons in sculpture and print-making amongst other things.

Entry is by application, interview and presentation of a portfolio of work. This is completely new to me. It is a confronting experience to hand over your work, for strangers to evaluate. With no experience of this situation I have been trying to work out what they might be looking for - hoping that my art is up to scratch.

The preparation has been daunting. Where to start? What to include? What to discard? And then, just to complicate things, they pushed the interview forward a week earlier than I had expected and so there was the additional time frame pressures. I find it really hard to judge my own work and I also believe that perceptions of one's own work can be miles from reality. One only has to watch a show like Australian (or American) Idol to realise that! My inner critic is well known to me (we meet regularly) and quite vocal! I needed some feedback. Thankfully over the last couple of weeks I had a chance to show some work to a few people and the response has been good.

Last night I was lucky enough to get some guidance from my friend Angela who helped me organise all my pieces into a logical order (and we agreed to remove a couple of pieces) and we talked about the sort of thing that might come up in the interview. It was invaluable. Not only did she help me with the folio, she also gave me a boost in confidence and sent me off feeling more comfortable with the whole process.

Anyway, the interview was today.

All went well. They were friendly and interested in my work and listened to my answers. I have no idea if I will get in. They said I am the sort of person they are looking for, but that they have 40 candidates for 16 places. They did say they liked some of my pieces, but didn't comment on everything. They made particular (positive) comment on some of my observational drawings, so that was good. They flicked through the folio as we talked.

All interviews are today and tomorrow, so I should know by the end of the week. As they said, with 40 applicants, they have no idea the range of work that will walk through the door in the next 2 days, so there are no guarantees.

Did I introduce you to my inner critic? She's right here - say hi!

For now, the storm is over and it's time to relax a little.
Thanks to everyone for your patience, your enthusiasm and your love and support.

Fingers Crossed!
I will let you know as soon as I do.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Blisters and pride...

This morning I completed my first fun run ever with my friend Heather (that's me on the right and Heather on the left). It was a major achievement for both of us. We are both novice runners and fun run virgins. It was tough. It was. And whilst we both had moments of desperately wanting to walk and allow the legs to recover, I am unashamedly proud to say we ran EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

ALL 10 K I L O M E T R E S.

Not that long ago another friend Amy convinced me I could run 5kms and I didn't believe her. I said I would never make a runner and that these legs were not built to carry this body at more than walking pace. Inside, I wanted to give it a go and it didn't take much convincing for me to accept her challenge. Once I was 'up and running' (excuse the pun) I convinced Heather, that if I could do it, so could she, and so she joined us.

Within weeks (as promised) Amy had me running 5kms and was saying 10kms was definitely within reach. I listened and nodded with a mixture of enthusiasm and the glazed belief of one newly converted. That very week-end with her words still ringing in my head, I came across a flyer for the Sussans' Women's Classic and before I could think about it for too long, I had registered for the 10km run. By that evening Heather was also registered. Since that date, I have often wondered at why I committed to the 10km run and didn't go for the 5km option, but I guess for me there had to be an element of pushing outside the comfort zone.

If I was hoping for out of the comfort zone, I was not disappointed. As expected, the run was exhausting. It was forecast to be a hot day of 31 degrees and the overnight temp was only 19. By the time we arrived for the 8am start the mercury was on the rise, already hitting 21. The sun was out, and on open streets, there was little protection from the rays. It was a stunning setting along Beaconsfield Parade in Melbourne along the waterfront, but the seaside wind buffeted us nearly every step of the way. Despite the heat and the wind and the inexperience, we did it.

I am proud and amazed and relieved and yes, a little sore. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't glamorous. I have large blisters on both big toes and my face has only just returned to a normal shade 12 hours later. For me it was a major achievement and it has left me feeling somewhat lightheaded. I continue to question the use of Fun and Run in the same phrase, but it was an experience I will never forget.

My official time was 1 hour, 15 minutes and 27 seconds.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Step by step...

I think after that last post, I had a mini melt-down!

I read over it in disbelief and realised my hopes were not achievable in the time I had allocated. Totally unrealistic. I also realised I was putting too much pressure on myself, and if I wanted to achieve any of it, I had to prioritise, focus on the immediate and 'shelve' the rest, for when I had time.

And so - here I am. One week later and feeling a little better. I have found benefit in focusing on the 2 most important things on my list right now. I am not good at ignoring the rest, but I am managing to get things done and release some stress. A little.

This Sunday is my fun-run. It is 10km and will be the longest distance I have ever run in one stretch. My longest run in training has been 7.5 of running and 8.5 of running with about 1km of walking (having had a minor hissy fit due to a strong head wind!) I decided the entire 10kms would wait until the day. Heather is also running with me (also a novice) and I worry I will let her down. We ran together on Sunday and we have a similar pace, so I think we will be together most (if not all) of the way.

Sunday. The forecast is for 30 degrees. The run starts at 8am and the evening before is meant to be cool, so it should be OK. My aim is to run the entire distance, slowing if I need to, but no walking and no stopping. My hope is to do it in around 1 hour 10 minutes. I will be (slightly) disappointed if I take longer than 1 hour 20. And then I realise it wasn't THAT long ago I claimed I couldn't even run 5kms!

I have no idea what this is going to be like. I expect it to be tough. I am both dreading it and screaming out in my head "Bring it on!" For someone who always considered 'funrun' the ultimate oxymoron, whatever happens will be pretty incredible. Wish me luck!

I will post after to let you know how I go. 'Before' photos possible, 'after' photos unlikely given the heat radiating off my face is of a radioactive nature and all cameras are at risk within 20 meters.

On top of all that I am preparing for an interview for a course I really want to do next year. I was expecting the interview to be at least a week later, but it is now scheduled for next Tuesday, and so the timing has caused more pressure than I had wanted. I have to prepare a folio of artistic work.

Drawing is the main focus, and painting, and calligraphy and book binding... anything of a creative nature is being included. As it is an 'entry level' course, I don't really know what is required, what skill levels they are expecting, the style or range they are hoping for. I am including all I can think of, trying to be selective across a range of work that my inner critic tells me won't be as good as all the other applicants.

Through it all I must try to remember one of my lessons from philosophy. Step by step. Eventually I will get to the destination. Step by step.

Monday, 19 November 2007

I have a list...

Some people have a dream... I have a list!

I have a HUGE list of things I want to do right now. I am being pulled and pushed in all directions. Here is just a taster of what is awaiting my attention right now.

Blogging... I need to do more, and I need to get on and visit and catch up on about a months reading of my favourite bloggers.

I have been tagged twice now and need to respond. (Please forgive me, you have not been forgotten).

I have a pile of books at least 3 foot high of reading that is awaiting my attention. That's just novels and includes the final 2 Harry Potter books. It doesn't include a dozen creative books and their tasks I wish to attempt. There are the countless magazines and articles I have put aside for 'a spare minute'.

I did a book binding course a month ago and was asked to write a review of the day... you guessed it, haven't done it. And I have books I want to create.

I went away with my Philosophy Acorn group and promised to write an article for their magazine.

I am meant to be designing business cards and a logo for Mal's business, Portrait Pro.

There is calligraphy I should be working on.

I need to do my tax.

I have renovations waiting. Half done tasks that taunt me as I shower and tease me as I sit in my kitchen and attempt to navigate the sewing machine with a couple of projects I am trying to complete.

I have a folio I am working on for a course I want to do next year. This is a biggie. I really need to spend solid time on this, as it is a priority in my life right now.

I am running a 10km 'fun-run' in 2 weeks time and am still in training. 3 times a week minimum, I am out there, trying to improve and feel comfortable in my body and in completing the distance.

I need to wash the car. And vacuum.

And then there are all the things I need to do, just to survive the working week. I need to do washing, cleaning, dusting, gardening, vacuuming and cooking. I need to eat, sleep - oh and I need to go to work!

I need to rewrite my list, put it in order of priority...

Thursday, 15 November 2007


A month ago, I wasn't sleeping. In fact the problem was not getting to sleep, but rather staying asleep. There were things on my mind that would prod me until I responded. 3am, when the mind was resting seemed an ideal time to discuss important (and not so important) matters. My eyes would open, and it would start with just one small thing jumping into my mind. Another 'small' thing would interrupt impatiently and be added to the original... and then another and before long, I was wide awake with no hope of sleep.

If I happened to wake at 3, then I would stay awake for a couple of hours before falling back into restless slumber within half an hour of my alarm sounding.

And so, after that first night, whenever I woke at 3am I got up. Over the course of a few weeks it became almost habitual to wake at 3, rise, do 'stuff' (as only 'stuff' is possible at 3am) and return to my bed at 5. My alarm would be reset to 6, when I would get up and get ready for work.

I did a hell of a lot in those hours. I wrote and did filing, I caught up on emails and did a lot of clearing out. I may not have been sleeping, but the therapy was fantastic. The more I did, the more my mind shook me awake and pushed me out of bed. I was a little wired for a while there. I was however, getting to the point of exhaustion. A lot of 'stuff' was getting done, but my mind was sleeping at other times during the day. Weariness was beginning to play tricks on me. I could barely make conversation and intelligent or witty responses were totally beyond me. Blogging was unfortunately one of the victims.

So, here I am, a month later and (almost) regular sleep patterns have returned. Now the problem is more getting up when I want to. Bed is my friend. My 5am walks are suffering and whilst my sleep patterns are a little more sane, I have a growing list of things to do. It seems there is advantage to insomnia, and for maybe a couple of days a week, perhaps I would welcome it. Balance is the key.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Sunshine and Funerals...

Today was a beautiful day. The sort of spring day, that lifts out of early morning mist and warms into a golden glow. The sort of day that makes one want to celebrate life. And so, it seems fitting I guess, that on such a day we attended the funeral of a family friend to commemorate his life.

My brother spent summers with his son and my parents became good friends with his parents, building their friendship over golf and many years of shared meals and laughter. In truth, I didn't know Keith that well. However, whilst I knew little of his history, I do know this. Whenever I saw him he met me with a smile. I never heard him speak ill of another person. His laughter was genuine. He adored his wife and loved his son. He was, as the celebrant said, a gentle man and a gentleman.

He had not attended church for many years and was clear in his wishes that the memorial was to be held at the local golf club. For an avid golfer such as himself, perhaps it was a more fitting place of worship. As the ceremony continued inside, outside a willie wagtail collected twigs and parrots landed on nearby pillars. The flag waved at half mast and golfers wandered up to the greens, putting balls into the hole before moving on to the next tee. Life outside moved on.

Near the end of the service, they quoted the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson which inspired this post...

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

It is a beautiful quote and a timely reminder of values and practices that ensure one's life is worthy of celebration.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

On a busy day

A friend sent me this last week. I generally don't like 'feelgood' emails mass produced with the final line... send this on to 47 of your nearest friends (or else) and it is rare for me to forward them.

HOWEVER, as it's my first day back at work and there are 14 jobs waiting in my in-tray ready to book in and over 100 jobs waiting for costing (and my replacement has scampered off to work elsewhere for the day) today some of the advice may come in handy!

So if you know your day is going to be crazy - remember these things if you can, and I will try and do the same. Wish me luck.

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to... As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.

FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dream. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

TEN. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives .

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.

THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk..

FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone.

Monday, 5 November 2007

It's been quite a week...

It's been quite a week.

It has included an airport reunion, another big birthday celebration and a party to mark the end of the Festival of the Fortieth Birthday. Phew!

I have cheated a little.
I have added some posts in retrospect... just to get you all up to date.
So read below, just to get a little taste of my past week.

I will add a post about the party tomorrow, as I have the next couple of days off work.

Time to relax a little maybe?
Well... If you know me, you know that's not totally possible, but I'm working on it in between all the other stuff I have to do right now.

Friday, 2 November 2007

November 2nd 1937

This is the day my father was born - 70 years ago!

I have been watching him lately and thinking about what this means. A long time ago, I would have looked on 70 as old. A man of 70 would be (funnily enough) an old man. And yet, as I look at my Dad, I do not see an old man at all. What I see is someone who is still passionate about the world around him. He loves his family (and they love him), he is active (he won golf last week), he works hard, reads widely and is always ready for good (and intelligent) conversation. Fantastic.

Happy Birthday Dad.
Hip Hip Hooray!
Hip Hip Hooray!
Time for cake!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Airport reunions...

I have a thing about airports. It's a kind of love hate relationship. I have spent far too many hours in the discomfort of airport terminals. They may look different, but they differ little worldwide. Never comfortable. Impersonal. A meeting place at best. A place to stretch. Destination emotional rollercoaster.

Farewells, reunions - it matters not. I cry watching strangers in their heartfelt embraces, their awkward good-byes, their joyful hellos. In need of some emotional theatre? Head to the airport. And that's just with me! And I'm even worse when it's about me and the people I love. I have cried (well sobbed uncontrollably would be more accurate) on any number of occasions, and believe me - It generally ain't pretty.

It's Thursday night in Geelong. It's cold and it's raining. My brother and his girfriend are due to return from 6 months absence. I have missed them. We have been in contact, but it is never quite the same as being able to see them in person and I am happy to be the meet and greet delegate.

Avalon Airport is an ugly destination. Neither Geelong nor Melbourne wish to claim it as their own. It's arrivals hall is a mere cubicle, a bunker of grey cement surrounded by cyclone fencing and stale portable toilets. It contains little more than a few understaffed car hire counters, a luggage carousel and a half a dozen sticky plastic chairs. The sliding doors in the far corner of the windowless fortress, refuse to open to people on the inside, intended only to allow the travelllers a grey welcome. Duelling stringed instruments may well be playing over the intercom, if one could hear it throught the static. A flickering flourescent tube completes the b grade movie atmosphere...

To my relief, the plane is (virtually) on time and the waiting is minimal. It is not long before I see their tanned smiling faces., and the grey surrounds fade as the sliding doors open.

There are no tears. Just smiles and warm embraces. Welcome hugs.

Welcome back. It's good to have you home.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007


Thank you for all your birthday wishes and greetings. I have been spoiled by many friends, family and fellow bloggers. So far, being 40 is just fine fine fine. The flowers were given to me from my work mates and were absolutely stunning.

It's been a busy week. I am happy to say I have from today to next Thursday off work and whilst it isn't going to be slowing down much, I will get a chance to post more often.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Go ahead... make my day!

If you have dropped by on this auspicious day and read this post, it's time to say hi. Lurkers - it's time to jump out of the shadows and leave a greeting. You don't have to be a blogger to leave a comment, just press "comment" as the bottom of this post - It's that simple. Heaps of comments for my 40th birthday. Wouldn't THAT be great.

Yes. Today is my 40th birthday.
It IS a momentous day for me.

It's strange and exciting and amazing and bewildering and I wonder how it is that I am 40. It sounds so OLD.

When I was a teenager I thought 30 was so far away, and 40? well I saw 40 as the beginning of the end. That was the time when people were working for ever-more in their chosen careers, with families and homes established. Lives would be pretty much routine. Destinies chosen, options limited.

Now I am here, I see it completely differently.

It's true - I don't like the extra wrinkles, but I am happy to say I can attribute most of them to a lot of laughter. I don't like the fact that my thirties are over, not because I am getting old, but because, as I get older and I see more clearly, I see I have so many more things I want to do. And whilst I feel that I am running out of time, I really don't mind being 40. It's the place to be. I still have SO much more to learn.

At 40, I am happy to say I don't care so much about what other people think or do any more. I now realise it is more important how I act and how I treat the people and the world around me. I now see it is important to do the things that make me happy. At 40, I am trying not to torture myself over things I wish I had (or hadn't) done. I am working on being more creative and following what my heart tells me, trying not to overthink everything so much.

There are SO many things for which I am grateful and proud. I am healthy and fit and live a busy life that continues to challenge me. Life is good and exciting and still holds many opportunities and surprises. So, being 40 is pretty good really. And lets face it, it's a damn sight better than not being here at all!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Quote of the Day...

"As we grow old… the beauty steals inward."

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Festival of the Fortieth birthday...

We caught up with friends Tim and Andy on Friday night. I travelled through Africa with Tim (and others) about 19 years ago! He travelled with a mate while his girfriend (Andy) stayed in Australia for work. At the end of our trip, she was waiting for him when we arrived in London.

I have kept in touch with them - they live only about 15 minutes drive from me - and we generally catch up a couple of times a year, exchanging emails at other times for snippets of news. They are a great couple and always have entertaining stories to tell and wise words to share. Within minutes of our arrival, they had filled glasses and offered me a toast of good health and happiness in honour of my birthday. And so, the festivities began.

Andy believes (as I do) that a birthday is worth celebrating. She has a policy of stretching out the revelries for at least a week. I like her way of thinking... For a big birthday (such as 40!) her approach is to mark the occasion with a festival. Two weeks of entertainment and fun is her recommendation! So I have decided to take her advice. Two weeks it is!

And so, it started there and then, and will now continue until November 4th finishing with my party. A tad over two weeks if the truth be known, but who's counting anyway! From Friday night, the celebrations moved to sunny Point Lonsdale. Saturday night we shared a family dinner - roast lamb, with all the trimmings followed by golden syrup dumplings (my choice) as a special treat. Excellent. Thanks Mum for the great meal and everyone for the great company.

In reality I am expecting a pretty relaxed birthday, but it will not go unnoticed. Tomorrow is my last full day in my 30's and there's no turning back now. There will be cake to enjoy! No doubt about it.

It's time to party people!
Welcome to the festival of the fortieth birthday.

Friday, 19 October 2007

What I miss about London #2

Squirrels. I love them.

Apart from the fact they are cute and tiny, they have a mischievous way about them that makes them appealing. They are timid yet curious. And they are everywhere. These guys live in the middle of London and out in the country. Go to a park and have a picnic, they will come and say hello.

My first encounter with one was in the middle of winter as I walked through the local gardens rugged up in scarf, hat, coat ... layer upon layer of wool. There was a squirrel jumping through the grass looking for food and it was so cute I decided it was a worthy friend with whom to share my malteezers. So I threw one in his general direction, in a friendly manner so as not to scare him away.

Well... his little nose twitched and he came quickly upon the bounty, holding it to his face to draw in the smell. It was the size of a small football and no doubt too good to be true. It was gone within seconds.

I had a few laughs as he downed a couple more without hesitation. I watched as his eyes began to sparkle with his first sugar rush. It probably wasn't the best of things to do, but it was entertaining. In the following years, having decided malteezers weren't the healthiest of options, I fed them nuts.

One Christmas I lined up a row of different nuts just to see the reaction... A walnut, a hazelnut, a peanut and an almond.

It didn't take long for a squirrel to appear. And it didn't know where to start. It immediately went to the familiarity of the peanut. Shoved it in it's mouth, went to run away and then spied the hazelnut. It was a small balancing act, but he managed to pick it up. With bounty in hand (and ready to retreat), he glanced to his right and came upon the nut of his dreams... The walnut.

He was cartoonish in his reaction. "What do I do? How can I carry that too? What the *@?$! is THAT thing? It's huge. All my Christmases have come at once." (Yes, I believe, squirrels celebrate Christmas!) It didn't take him long to bury what was already in hand an return. I hope he burried that walnut and let it soften a little, there was no way he was going to get into it otherwise.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

i heart you

i heart you
Madeleine Stamer

This is the second piece of art I bought on Sunday from Madeleine at Little Circus Design. Love it.

A moment of madness.

Yesterday I registered for the Sussan Women's Fun Run.
Sunday 2nd December. 10km.
It was a moment of madness.
I got a bit excited.
There was an option of 5 or 10kms.
I can run 5kms now and I decided I needed the challenge.
So it had to be 10.
No time to hesitate, I logged on and registered.
Committed? Yes!
Should I be committed?
I have never done a fun run before.
I have always said fun run was a perfect example of an oxymoron. Wondering a little about the moron bit right now...

Having said that...
I am determined to do it.
10 k i l o m e t e r s...
It sounds such a long way.
I have never run that far before.

My training buddy is confident.
She already has the training schedule.
Unfortunately she is unable to run on the day.

Thankfully I have convinced Heather to register too. We will do it together. Slow? Perhaps. And I'm OK with that. I can deal with slow. We are both pretty determined women and whilst I am under no illusions it will be a long run, we will make it.

Monday, 15 October 2007

It's a small world...

Skeleton Lovers
Madeleine Stamer

I often do random searches of blog sites and when I come across a site I like, I bookmark it and revisit. Sometimes it becomes a regular read, other times an occasional visit. I wonder sometimes at where I find them, but with a method of random searches and cross searches, it is a game of chance. I have stumbled across some real gems from all around the world and as a result I have a HUGE list of blogs in my bookmarks.

A few weeks ago now, I was surfing down my list and clicked on a site I hadn't visited for sometime. "On my Desk" is a UK based site that profiles artists, illustrators, designers and creative folk (from all over the world) and shares the stuff on their desks. For a curious (nosey) person such as myself this site really appeals.

As I was having a browse, a piece of artwork caught my eye and I visited the artist's website; Little Circus Design. Having decided I liked some of her work, I checked where she lived and it turns out she is less than 3o minutes from my home! Amazing! I find her on a UK based site, and we both live on the other side of the world in Australia in neighbouring inner city suburbs. I emailed her, we arranged to meet, and yesterday we met (she is really nice and so relaxed) and I had a look at her artwork. I bought 2 of her pieces. It is perfect timing for my birthday as Mal is buying me one and I am buying the other.

Here is one of the pieces... it's called "Skeleton Lovers". It probably won't appeal to everyone - it's a bit quirky - but I really like it. She sells her originals and then same size and A3 limited edition prints. Check her out here if you want to see more of her work.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Kylie Minogue is suffering a mid-life crisis

Kylie is in crisis, and I know this how? It is in a magazine on the lunch table at work... "No Idea" I think! Oops, sorry, I meant "NEW Idea"... what WAS I thinking?

Apparently Kylie is in the throes of a midlife crisis. She turns 40 soon. Actually she turns 40 on the 28th May next year. That being the case, I hit this milestone some 7 months before her. In less than 2 weeks now I turn 40. I know, I don't believe it either.

Anyway, apparently Kylie worries, that once she turns 40, her fans will see her only as a novelty act and not as a sex symbol anymore! Kylie is at her wits end as to how to find a reliable man who isn't overwhelmed by her celebrity or charm. The clock is ticking and she wants a baby before it's too late. Olivier doesn't look like he's coming to the party and time is running out it seems. Things are reaching desperation point with every moment she edges nearer her 40th birthday.

Given this piece of news, it has occurred to me, that maybe I should be having a mid-life crisis too. Afterall, I turn 40 in less than 2 weeks and if Kylie's having her mid-life crisis already (7 months early), then I had better get a move on!

Where to start? How does one go about this mid life crisis malarky anyway? I have thought long and hard and here's the thing. I have decided I don't need a mid-life crisis. I am far too busy, I have so many other things to fill my time... it will just have to wait.

Lately I have noticed I have wrinkles I didn't know were possible and I now have a weekly appointment with my beauty therapist who peels my ageing skin and replenishes it with gallons of scented oils and moisturiser.

I have a regular delivery of extra strength hair dye with extra strength frizz control, guaranteed to cover all greys and flatten all the wiry hairs that stick out in all directions.

Every night I paint my teeth with whitening fluid, in an attempt to return them to their former shine. I worry my teeth will not last the distance. I haven't been to the dentist for nearly 10 years for fear they will insist they aren't worth keeping and they need to be replaced with a set of falsies.

Speaking of falsies, that appointment is booked for next week, and I don't care to know the cost, I just want to know how soon I can return to the solarium. It must be in time for my all over tan to be just right for summer.

I have enrolled in a local course in sms language. It is teaching me how to abrvE8 and txtspk. It's 2nites a wk. I'm slow. It's taking me 4eva to catch on. Y bother, u may ask... I dk. However, if I get this message... hi m8 u k? sry 4gt 2 cal lst nyt. Y dnt we go c flm 2moz? I now understand I am being asked to go and see a movie tomorrow nite. LOL.

My personal trainer is on strict instructions... there is no time to rest. Work, work, work is our motto. There is no time to waste. I have a sixpack to find within two weeks and sitting on my butt wasn't having the results I was hoping for. I need to squeeze into my bikini top and mini skirt in time for the party.

So, you can see my point. There is so much to do at this busy time in my life, the mid-life crisis will just have to wait. Besides, since I plan to live until I am 105, my mid-life crisis isn't due for at least another 10 years.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Whatever makes you happy

Do it. Life is too short.
Find something today you really want to do - something you really love - and do it. Dance, eat chocolate, sit in the sun, read a book, go fishing, go for a run, walk along the beach, talk with friends, share a drink, meditate, phone your best friend, sing, rejoice. Laugh.

Today is Friday.
Do whatever makes you happy and forget the rest!

What is it that makes you happy?
Friday night with friends is something that makes me happy.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

How far have we come?

Last week I was at work when my boss walked in and informed a workmate that the tyres on her car looked flat. The two front ones, he claimed, were looking like they needed air... urgently.

"How do I do that?" came the reply.

I was not alone when I took a quick inward breath! We all looked at her in disbelief. She didn't know the last time the tyres had been checked, though she did know she had never (I repeat NEVER!!!) checked them herself!

She protested, with a smile on her face, exclaiming that she did know how to check the oil and the water and surely that was better than nothing. And yes, we had to agree, but we all asserted it was time she learnt how to check a tyre's pressure and pump it up if necessary.

My boss came to her rescue, offering to take her car and drive to a local service station to check and fill the tyres to their recommended pressure. I did suggest she go with him, but she wasn't too bothered, and he was fine with the arrangement.

Just for the record the tyre pressure was low... the recommended level was 32 and they were at 18. Thankfully she is now driving in a safer car.

Quote of the day...

I have not completed my current post and I have run out of time ... again!

Our discussions in Philosophy class last night were about perception and our view of ourselves and the world around us. Our take on reality and what is real. My Dad sent me a quote this morning. And so I thought I would share it.

"We do not see things as they are
- we see them as we are."

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Quote of the Day...

"There are no days in life so memorable
as those which vibrated to some stroke
of the imagination."

Sunday, 30 September 2007

When everything just falls into place...

It's funny the way things just fall into place sometimes.

I have often found that things happen in my life as if by chance. Via a collection of incidents, I often reach my destination as if it was predetermined, as if it was meant to be. If I stay awake to the world around me and listen to the signs, life goes more smoothly and the pieces all seem to fall naturally into place. The destination is inevitable.

Such is my path towards the teachings of "The Artist's Way".

The book of which I am talking is all about stimulating creativity.
It is a 12 week program that is followed a chapter a week.
It has 2 non-negotiable requirements.

1. Every morning complete 3 pages of writing. First thing. Find a place you won't be disturbed and write. Write anything. The clock ticking, work, family, music, sounds, what awaits in the day ahead, anything that comes to mind. Clear all the useless thoughts from your mind and in doing so, clear the way for more freedom in your thoughts (and thus creativity).

2. Each week set aside a couple of hours for an 'artist date'. This date is with your 'artist within' and is to be done alone - a solitary outing without distraction from company. It is to intended to stimulate the senses - taste, sound, sight etc. The date can be anything from going to a gallery, a concert, a movie, a festival, or walking in the garden.

In addition, there are weekly exercises to complete. It does speak of a God, though to me, it is more about the human spirit and inner strength rather than any of the world's religions.

Over a year ago now, I was loaned the book by a friend and quickly become absorbed. It seems I was not alone. As I explored the internet, I found that 'The Artist's Way' has a huge following and an equally big reputation.

For quite a few weeks I was driven by it, I bought my own copy and was rising every morning at 5am to complete my morning pages. In addition I was doing all the exercises and taking myself on my weekly artist dates. As I worked through the early exercises, there was an amazing momentum building around me. I was writing without restraint and my mind was alert to new ideas. It was an exciting time for me.

And then somehow, life, an especially crazy phase at work, and eventually pure mental exhaustion took over and, almost as quickly as it had entered my life, it vanished. But not completely...

A few weeks back, I stumbled across a blog of a woman who works in the creativity field in Melbourne and is interested in doing the program with a group - to act as a support network. Although it is in the early planning stages, I have already told her of my interest. And then, over my week-end away, The Artist's Way was part of our philosophy discussions.

All the signs are pointing in one direction, and it seems, once again, as if the destination is inevitable. It is time to begin again, to commit to the entire 12 weeks and to make a start. If I want to be more creative, it goes without saying, I have to live my life more creatively. It seems a good place to start afresh.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Philosophy week-end...

Off again for the week-end with the under 40's group from my philosophy school. The group is called the acorn group - funny given my blog "One Little Acorn".

With less than a month to go before I turn 40, I think this will be my last chance to join them. I enjoyed it last time. It was a great escape and very relaxing. I imagine there will be a few surprises in store... Along with meditation, some entertaining discussions and all in good company.

At 10pm Friday night, it is cold, raining and blowing a gale outside and I am hoping by morning the weather will improve and the sun will stay with us for the week-end.

Have a good week-end all. Enjoy!

Flashback Friday

Well - this week's flashback friday left me stumped. I don't have any pics of me with any pets. I did have a couple of budgies and a couple of fish. And a cat. One day I will have pets again, but my flat is barely big enough for the two of us, let alone a menagerie of pets. One day... one day...

In the meantime I will just have to dream...

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

The "Three Strikes and You're Out" rule...

I work with a couple of single women and we often talk of the trials and tribulations of the single woman. It came up at work again just last week, and I told them about my rule... and it made me laugh and I thought I would share it share it on my blog...

Last year (pre Malcolm) I was wondering just what this 'dating game' was all about. Single at the age of 38, I was wondering how I was meant to meet a man. It seems everyone had advice, though the best advice I got, was from a long time friend who said if I wanted to meet someone I had to advertise. Now she didn't mean the personals (though this wasn't off the list of possibilities) no, what she meant was, if I wanted to meet someone, I had to get 'out there'. The best way to do that was to tell all your friends and family you wanted to meet someone, and let them know what you were (or were not) looking for. Network basically. Sounds simple yeah?

Well, I did as she advised and told all my family and friends to set me up with any eligible (and suitable) men and added my only criteria. 1. He had to be taller than me, and 2. No alcoholics. It seemed a pretty fair and reasonable request.

I decided I had to keep an open mind, and was going to be more successful with fewer restrictions. Regardless of an open mind however, I had a rule. Three strikes and you're out... This could fit any form, but it allowed for a few minor hiccups. And so, having made my announcement, friends and family came through with the 'goods' (or should I say, the goods, the bads and the uglies!)

This is how my first blind date went last year...

24th May 2006
And so it has come to this...
A friend from work says "I have found you a blind date and he's perfect for you"
Another "Keep your expectations low and you won't be disappointed"
And another "You have nothing to lose"

My friend was excited. Convinced. She had found me my 'perfect man'. So I called him. We talked briefly and it was decided. Or rather, what was decided was it was all up to me - where to meet, what to do...

And so with a major case of the nerves, I finally decided and it was arranged. I arrived, on a cold Saturday morning at Max Brenners (chocolate cafe extrodinaire) at QV in the city, and I waited. I was early. Just. I hate being late. I don't like having to wait and I hate making others wait for me. So, I grabbed a seat and I waited.

My fingers tapped. Late late late. Not good. Being late was definitely strike one.

This was a blind date, a meeting had been arranged and it is rude enough not to be on time. It was ruder still not to call until after the arranged meeting time. 5 minutes after we were meant to meet he called, and he arrived 20 minutes later.

Honestly. I understand nerves. Even the clammy palms. Really I do. (Let's face it, he had sat on a tram for 30 minutes and given himself time to think). I did understand. I was nervous too.

He was late. His palms were sweaty. I bought the drinks and that was only Strike 1.

Funnily enough, the 'date' went reasonably well. Given we didn't know each other and the situation was foreign to us both. He was nice. Yes NICE. Conversation was easy and we chatted and drank and wandered and talked. And at the end we both agreed it would be NICE to catch up again. Sometime.

"So" I can hear you saying "he was obviously nice, and the date went well and that's only one strike. And you agreed to meet again. So, what's the problem?"
Oh yeah - there's more.

His email address was written down and (after trying a number of combinations) I finally got through. It was 2 days before a reply. Busy over Easter, he suggests we catch up the week-end after. Sounds good. I replied via SMS. Later, when I received no reply, I sent an email. It rebounded. Twice "Email account full". Aye aye aye!

And so the week-end approached and I heard nothing and so, after a frantic week at work, and thinking maybe he didn't get my SMS, I got home at 6.30 on the Saturday night and I decided to call him.

"Not a good time" he says. He was about to go out ... and ... here comes strike 2 ... "It was arranged before I got your SMS"

Oh. He did get my SMS, but sent no reply. Hmmm. Not good.

"Can I call you tomorrow?" he asks. "Sure" I say.
And very quickly here comes strike 3. Are you ready?
I know it's gripping stuff...
Sunday. No call as arranged.
... and there you have it strike 3 and you're out.

What's in a name...

I have grabbed an idea from Linny at
"Mundane Ramblings"
... something silly and fun... here goes

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Alvin Mini
2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Jaffa Monte Carlo
3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)
4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Pink Elephant
5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Claire Maffra
6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)
7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put "The")
The Purple Fizz
8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
George William
9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)
Allure Turkish Delight
10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names )
Joan John
11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Clarke Calcutta
12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Summer Bluebell
13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Blueberry Shirtie
14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Oats Frangipani
15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour")
The Creative Tornado Tour

Give it a go!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Sunday Wonderings...

I often sit at my computer at this time on a Sunday evening and wonder at where the week-end has gone... Wonder how I managed to get to Sunday night and feel as if I have achieved little. I look at the list of things I needed (or wanted) to do and realise I cannot cross off anything! It makes me feel like I have wasted two 'free' days and the list is a harsh reminder that I have to go back to work the next morning having missed my best opportunity to catch up on a few things...

This Sunday night, I am happy to say it has been a productive (if somewhat tiring) week-end.

I have...
Caught up with friends for dinner
Updated my blog and commented on a few others...
Done a bit of (my) birthday shopping (with some success)
Organised a venue for my 40th birthday party...
Started to design the invite...
Made a list of people who I will invite...
Painted 2 windows...
Sanded a door... and stained it...
Painted the area outside my back door...
Watched a couple of movies...
Read a little...
Ate a lot...
Listened to a couple of my favourite CDs...
Thought of lots of things I still need and want to do...
Started another list.

My hands are speckled with paint, my hair has a couple of new colours where I managed to bump up against wet surfaces, my back is sore and my nails will never be the same again.

And although each job has invariably added another to the list, I feel good.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

What I miss about London #1

There are many things I miss about London.

It was my home for nearly 8 years and was the place I spent the majority of my 20's. There are many things I miss. Friends. The sights. The history. The seasons. The beautiful architecture. The easy lifestyle. Perhaps it is my youth I miss the most.

It is at this time of year, as my garden breaks out in pockets of bright orange and pink and the scent of fresia's magically fills the air, that I am reminded of the beauty of London that I have left behind.

Springtime is my favourite time of year in London. The winter is cold and grey and daylight hours are short. I would leave for work in the morning when it was still dark, and watch the grey light fade entirely from the sky around 3pm. On the whole it was a depressing time of year. Certainly there were winter pleasures - an open fire, a warm pub, the lazy walks to riverside cafes - but I was always glad to see the signs of it's departure.

In early May, the signs began. A few brave daffodils, slowly receding hours of darkness, and clear sharp mornings with frosty grounds were how it began. And then, almost overnight, it burst forth. The daffodils spread in huge panels of yellow through parks and along local streets, birds returned with a shrill song of morning greetings and in the woodlands, bluebells mingled in the dappled sunshine. It was truly beautiful. Magnolias sprung open and bare branches gave way to bright fresh shades of green. Within days, colour had returned to London's monotone pallette.

Moods lifted, smiles returned, life began again...

Flashback Friday

It was a bad hair day.
It was later than 1985, but I love this photo - it makes me laugh every time I see it - and it was the perfect shot for Flashback Friday this week.

I was in the Sahara desert. I did an overland trip across Africa when I was 21, and this was our fourth month on the road. It was hot. It was dusty. Needless to say, there were few showers, and even fewer during the Sahara crossing. A Dutchman also on the trip, always managed to remain well groomed - to this day, I don't know how he did it. I was the other end of the scale. I barely looked in a mirror for the entire trip, and to be honest, I didn't much care. I could never quite understand Ronald and his obsession with cleanliness, and no doubt he didn't understand me either!

On the day of this shot, we had been travelling the entire day in hot, dry and extremely dusty conditions. I had been leaning out of the side of the truck, wide eyed and entranced by the view. It was sand and dune or flat open ground, all the way to the distant watery horizon. Sometimes there were large outcrops of rock which we explored during breaks in the drive. When we got bogged, we would all climb down off the truck, lift sand mats from the side of the truck and push them under the wheels so the truck could grip. Often we would jog along side and place them in a continual trail, one after another, until we were clear.

Regularly the truck would stop so we could stretch and have a drink of water, and we would splash cold water on my faces to cool down. Eventually, late in the afternoon, I was told to take a look in the mirror and was astounded to find a stranger looking back. Layers of dust and water coated my face! I scruffed my hair a little, looked again and laughed - white eyes and shining teeth. It was a photo opportunity not to be missed.

The Sahara took me by surprise. I was expecting sand dune after sand dune and a long, slow and boring journey. It was basic. There were no road-side diners. No conveniences. There were no trees. It was us and the elements. It was hot beyond belief during the day and freezing at night. And yet we were rewarded with unexpected beauty. Rewarded with the adventure of the crossing. Rewarded with classic views and surprising variation. Rewarded with dark skies filled with bright stars. It was an amazing place. Totally beautiful.

Me? Not so beautiful...

Monday, 17 September 2007

Ask and the universe shall provide...

A story about white feathers...

Many years ago now, when I was working and living in London, there was a woman who was coming to London to hold a seminar that I wanted to attend. Her name was Denise Linn. Denise is an international lecturer, healer, and author who teaches about the benefits of working with subtle energies, feng shui, and space clearing.

OK, go with me here, I can already hear groaning from some people. Keep an open mind...

She teaches from wisdom she has learned from Native Americans as well as from other native cultures around the world and is a widely acclaimed speaker. Nowadays she has written 14 books, covering areas which may or may not be of interest to you from Feng Shui to Sacred Spaces. In any case, I really wanted to go and see (hear) her speak. The sessions were unsurprisingly rather pricey. And so, whilst I wanted to go - a lot - I couldn't really justify the cost.

Part of her marketing said if white feathers started to appear in your life, then it was a 'sign' you were meant to attend. I am pretty open minded about these things, however I am also of the belief there are a lot charlatans out there. Unfortunately there are also a lot of gullible people who follow blindly without questioning and this sort of ploy could well be looked upon as a bit of a gimmick (or at worst a scam). I was a little bit cynical, never the less, I decided to keep an open mind and be more awake to any signs that might come my way.

Over the course of the next few weeks I did find white feathers entered my life. Or perhaps I was just more aware of them! Of course they were in the park around areas where birds gathered and of course they were around areas where there was open air eating and birds picked their way through spared crumbs. It was, I decided, an excellent marketing tool... I was not an easy convert.

The day I walked to the bus stop and a white feather drifted down from the sky and landed in my hand, it did seem a little out of the ordinary, and yet I remained unconvinced. The week-end before the talk, I sat in my front room arguing within my head as to whether I should just 'bite the bullet', pay the money and go along to the seminar. Finally I decided I needed a stronger sign, something more conclusive.

I asked that white feathers come to me in the form of a pattern. That would be the only way I would be persuaded. And then I went for a walk.

My partner and I walked to Chiswick House and gardens. This heritage house is beautiful and set in a 65-acre estate in West London and it was a local favourite on a Sunday afternoon. I did not speak of my 'request'. We talked as we wandered along and enjoyed the fresh air and quiet escape from the busy streets. Not far from where we planned to stop for a drink in the garden cafe, I looked down to the edge of the path and there, delicately arranged, were 5 single white feathers set out like the spokes of a wheel. Seriously. It took my breath away. There was no question. White feathers. Just as I had asked. Amazing.

Needless to say I attended the seminar and was impressed by what I heard. Denise was indeed an interesting person to hear speak. She had a certain calm and belief I admired. I couldn't tell you the details now (it was nearly 20 years ago and the details have faded somewhat) but I do remember her words touched me at the time. White feathers still remind me of that magical moment.

Funny how things happen...

I love a good coincidence and so it seems does Angela. Just yesterday she wrote about coincidences and asked if anyone else had a story to tell. What a coincidence! Funnily enough I have had this post in draft mode for a while now, with that very same title. And so, now I feel it is time I get it finished and hit the publish button...

Some time ago, I wrote a post called "Today is the 23rd of August...". It was all about my (still) impending 40th Birthday and getting old. I had 12 comments. Amongst them was a comment from a fellow blogger who (coincidentally) happened to share my birthday. OK OK, so there are no doubt many people sharing October 23rd as the best birthday on the calendar, but "Just Run" is from the other side of the planet and she just happened to be one of my blog visitors who had dropped by in the past! Ha! Well, I think it pretty amazing!

Then, just last week-end, I visited "Meet me at Mikes" a shop in Bridge Road, Richmond. This store is chock a block full of crafty and retro items. It generally requires a number of laps to ensure most things are viewed at least once. 'Mikes' sells for, and is a supporter of the local crafting community in Melbourne. Their window displays are always a treat and step through their door and it's impossible not to find something that appeals. I went there especially to buy a girlfriend a baby gift, however as it turned out, what I was after was sold out. And so it was, with empty hands and my purse yet unopened, I spied a sweet little handmade owl.

I had previously seen them on 'Kwoozy's' blog and so recognised them instantly. They are so soft and all handmade and I couldn't resist. I made my decision and having had a good chat while paying, it wasn't too long before I was heading back down Bridge Road toward home, with the owl inside a transparent plastic bag.

I had seen a shop on the way to Mikes that I wanted to visit, but it was closed at the time. On the way back it was open so we dropped in there too. It turns out, one of the girls serving recognised the owl and commented that she had done a 'swap' with Kwoozy in exchange for a sausage dog she had made. Her blogging name was Boobook and she had been to my blog too! She also knew my friend Angela from Sew Your Own and Three Buttons.

Just one small coincidence after another. Small world.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Flashback Friday

Say Cheese every-one! One two three - Cheeeeese!

Well, what can I say, this is about as cheesy as it gets. I am the one in the front with the big teethy grin! My brothers are the cool dudes in the front row with the Hawaiian shirts.

I remember this being taken. It was Christmas and we were all at my Grandparent's home in the country. They lived in a huge place with extensive gardens that were surrounded on three sides by a forest of pines and Australian natives. It was a magical place to explore and as children we (younger kids) imagined the Adaams Family lived next door.

The Christmas in question was not too hot and no doubt we were all suffering from bellies tight with roast turkey and double helpings of Christmas pudding! The grandchildren had all been gathered for one of the last group shots of us all together before age and other commitments moved us in different directions.

It is a funny pic and the reason it strikes me as funny is that if you didn't know us (and most of you will not) you would match us all into incorrect family groups. The similarities between me and my cousin are striking in comparison to those between my brothers and myself. Needless to say, I reckon I got the pick of the bunch with my two older brothers and I think Mum and Dad would say the same. Gotta be happy with that!

I also love the 70's frizzy hairdos of my far trendier cousins at the back.

These bloggers love Flashback Friday too, take a look... Flashback Friday... are you in?
Angela at Three Buttons
Emma at Lovely Button
Whitney at At Whit's End
Hannah at Summer Pickles
Shula at Poppalina
Claire at Ethel Loves Fred
Fiona at Dragonfly Crafts

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

It may be the sugar talking...

Tonight I went out for dinner with a couple of friends from work.
You know the sort of place. Brightly coloured formica tables, rough wooden floors, chirpy waiting staff and good (overly generous) portions. The meal was good. It was more than enough.

The lemon meringue pie was not my idea. There is no denying it, it looked great. High peaks of softly curled meringue with a pale lemon filling. And of course it came in a portion sized more for a small family than a single person. It also came with three spoons. Well, I could hardly say no, could I? And so now I am in sugar buzz heaven. Feeling rather sick if the truth be known, but on a lemon meringue, pie induced, sugar BUZZ none the less!

I returned home about an hour ago and Mal arrived a little later carrying what can only be described as the auction win of my dreams. There is a local auction house that I rarely enter where the staff are (as Mal accurately observed) "Not exactly customer focused". I would probably describe them as rude and inattentive. They continue to chat, when they are aware you are waiting to ask them a question, and when they eventually do acknowledge you, they can barely mutter an answer before returning to their more affluent looking buyers. I have never bought anything from them before as I generally find they sell more high-end antiques, not the more rustic type that I find more interesting and attractive, and besides I find their snobby attitude pretentious.

In any case, last week-end, having had a lazy morning over a cafe breakfast and a wander up Bridge Road, we took a last minute detour to see what might be on offer. I am currently in the market for a shelving unit of pigeon holes. I don't want modern. What I want is old (and preferably inexpensive), something with a bit of character. It's a combination which is rare, but I am sure it exists. These things often take some time to acquire.

I love boxes. I like the unusual. I am a stationery junkie. I have countless pens and bottles of inks. In my collection I have a desk bell which came from an old hotel in India. When I returned from London I sent 16 tea cartons before me, packed with 'treasures' I found in week-end car boot sales. Much of this I have sold in garage sales. Much of it I still have packed away waiting for more space.

Despite all the clutter this collection may suggest, I do love being organised. I have a wooden filing cabinet and an old wooden set of filing drawers, and I have finally acquired a bookshelf which is already packed with books and cds and more boxes of all shapes and sizes. I do not like piles of mess everywhere. It completely agitates me. Pigeon holes are the perfect solution.

Combine my wish for pigeon hole shelving with a rather small flat that has no more space for such furniture and it's hard to imagine finding quite what I was looking for. And I didn't. In some ways I found something even better. As we wandered through the auction house, I spied a set of desktop pigeon holes. Solid oak. 24 small holes. The whole thing about 50cm high and 70cm wide. Perfect. And it was sitting in that auction house, just waiting for me to walk in. Seriously.

And so, a bit of umming and ahhhing, followed by an absentee bid and yesterday I get a call to tell me I had 'won'. Mal picked it up for me this morning, and now, it sits beside me on my desk, bringing me joy.

Seriously, these are the things that make my day go from groundhog to extraordinary. Nothing major. No promotion. No street parade. No lottery win. Nothing so grand. But a win all the same. Of course it may be the sugar talking, but today has worked out just fine fine fine.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Flashback Friday

I posted a wedding pic a while ago (before the themes were started)... So I am repeating it and adding another from the same day. Here I was at my cousin's wedding all dressed up as her flowergirl. That's me (in lime green) with the two bridesmaids. I don't remember it much except to say my dress was a bit tight - especially around the sleeves! That dress is still hanging up in a wardrobe in my parents home. It is SO tiny!

I remember the wide brimmed hats of the bridesmaids. It was a warm summers day and the sun filtered through the trees...

Here's me and my Mum (with the gorgeous hair). I remember that skirt - it was purples and pinks and oranges. Very 70's.

These bloggers love Flashback Friday too, take a look... Flashback Friday... are you in?
Angela at Three Buttons
Emma at Lovely Button
Whitney at At Whit's End
Hannah at Summer Pickles
Shula at Poppalina
Claire at Ethel Loves Fred
Fiona at Dragonfly Crafts

Angela at Three Buttons has asked me to propose the theme for next week (I have changed my mind a dozen times already so here goes...) So let me suggest "Say Cheese". Those cheesy pics with smile filling faces. Or the grimaces of forced family group shots at Christmas... with your brother giving you rabbit ears... That sort of thing.

Happy Flashback Friday!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Well of positivity...

Given that I am busy at work and unable to complete my current post, I am going to repeat something I spoke of yesterday. Consider it a friendly reminder...

It is a link that I suggest you visit. The Well of Positivity is a sponsored link by Mount Franklin. Every time you add a positive thought to the well, they donate $1 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia. It is a good cause. It is an easy thing to do. It only takes a moment... go on... give it a go!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

What I was saying, until I was rudely interrupted...

Sometimes, when I start writing, I know exactly what I am going to write. My hands seemingly twitch over the keyboard and words flood easily from my mind onto the page. There are days when there is no hesitation and the pages fill effortlessly.

Then there are days the words struggle to move from thought to paper (or keyboard). Where it just doesn't come together and the post is added to the other drafts waiting to be tweaked or relegated to the trash. It can be a hit and miss process.

And then there are the interruptions. At work, people come and question me (at the most inopportune moments) and my train of thought can be lost forever. When approached before work hours, when people come and ask me if it's OK to ask a question... I find this even more annoying. Of course, during work hours I can hardly complain, and yet in my mind I often curse and wish them all gone.

When I am at home, Mal, the cooking, the TV, a good book, sleep (and going to bed at a reasonable hour) and the telephone, can all disturb my train of thought. It is not that difficult to distract me.

More often than not, I can blame no-one but myself. As far as distractions ans interruptions are concerned, the worst culprit of all is me.

This morning when I sat down to write (and wrote the post called Press delete on negativity) I had something very specific to write about. I was going to write about being positive. The roots of such a post lay in an email that had landed in my inbox just this morning. Alas. Something interrupted my plans and I went down another path entirely. It seems the interruptions from outside influences are of little consequence when my mind manages to drift away all by itself.

I stand by this morning's post, but my true intentions were totally discarded and I still want to share the contents of this email.

It is a link that I suggest you visit. The Well of Positivity is a sponsored link by Mount Franklin. Every time you add a positive thought to the well, they donate $1 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia. It is a good cause. It is an easy thing to do. It only takes a moment... go on... give it a go!

Press delete on negativity

There are emails I receive that I trash without hesitation. Yes people, I'm talking of the emails that threaten bad luck if you don't send them on to your entire contact list. It is the modern day equivalent of the objectionable chain mail of the 70's. And yet it is worse than even that. These are sent en masse. There is no consideration for the receipient. No effort required. The forward button is pressed with little or no thought. It is cyber pollution. So stop it.

For those of you who continue to send them to me, be warned, it stops here. I will not be subject to threats of misfortune or bad luck in love, based on the words of some internet geek with nothing better to do than add to the email trail that bombards us daily. Enough is enough.

It's time to stop forwarding fickle generic messages of love and prosperity if the immediate follow up is guaranteed poverty and despair.

"I love you, you enrich my life with your beauty and compassion, but if you don't send this to 200 of your nearest and dearest within two minutes of receiving this email, death and destruction to you...
... Love your good buddy!"

Hmmmm. Good buddy huh? This would be my next door neighbour who was my 'friend' when the adults were in sight and who used to throw stink bombs over the fence as I went to the local shop to buy my bag of mixed lollies! Good buddy my ass!

SO. By all means send the message of positivity and motivation, but before you press send, highlight those 'forward or else' messages and delete them. Make a stand and let your friends and family know they are loved, without the threats.

Having received this new happier, less threatening version, I may even respond with an email that mentions your name and asks specifically about how life is going right now. I may even ask about your family and friends and how the kids are going, or your latest travel plans. As a friend, these things are important to me!

Have a nice day.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Beautiful Springtime...

I love Springtime. The days are bright and sharp and hold the promise of warmer days without being stifling hot. The fresia's are just starting to come up and their sweet scent fills the air.

Spring has sprung...

Friday, 31 August 2007

Flashback Friday

It may not have been very musical, but the noise these birds made was amazing. I was at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary with my family and there were hundreds of birds. They all came in to feed at the same time and plates of seeds soon became crowded and heavier with each new bird joining the frenzy. I seem to remember it was too heavy for a little kid like me, which is why my Mum was doing all the hard work, while I gazed around beside her.

I still have a postcard where my cousin tells of visiting the same place and her seeing someone fall backwards into one of the bird baths! I can only imagine the state of the water.

Years later when my Dad and I went to Queensland to visit his parents we returned to find fewer birds and paint peeling from the aged attractions. Stepping into the past like that was not dissimilar to stepping onto a 70's movie set and it all seemed a little bit surreal. Their website looks like they have spent some money on upgrades in more recent times.

These bloggers love Flashback Friday too, take a look... Flashback Friday... are you in?
Angela at Three Buttons
Betty Jo at Lino Forest
Jenny at Chalk
Kylie at Kylie's Crafts
Emma at Lovely Button
Whitney at At Whit's End
Helen at Patchy Work of Mini Grey
H & B
Hannah at Summer Pickles
Shula at Poppalina
Jelly Wares
Claire at Ethel Loves Fred
Fiona at Dragonfly Crafts

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Cliff Young shuffle...

I have been running with Amy. I should say jogging. It is a steady (all be it slow) pace.

Amy has great patience and talks to keep me distracted. I try to contribute to the conversation and find it makes it easier if I can concentrate on that and not on how far I have to go. Later in the jog, my responses are a little shorter and puffier, but I am improving. She has a great policy which I love and is giving me results way and above what I was hoping for.

The rule is, no stopping no walking. I always thought the best way to start running would be to incorporate it into my walking and gradually build it up over time. NO. This is allowing the body an easy way out. Too easy to give in and not get the results I want. And so we never stop. We run. We slow down up hills and concentrate on breathing. If I start to struggle, we slow it down and then pick it up again as I recover. But we never ever stop.

I call it my Cliff Young shuffle. For those of you who don't know the name, Cliff Young, at the ripe old age of 61, shuffled his way into the record books, winning the inaugural Sydney-Melbourne ultra marathon. It is an incredible 875 kms. Pretty amazing hey!

So last night we jogged 5km! OK, it's hardly Cliff Young status, and there are probably regular runners out there who may well smirk a little at 5kms, but I am proud (and amazed) beyond belief. Fantastic achievement for someone who 3 weeks ago didn't think she could run 500 meters!

Now 10km is my new goal. Bring it on Ames, bring it on! (By the way, are these the endorphins kicking in or what??)

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Today is the 23rd of August

Today is the 23rd of August. Nothing unusual in that - yesterday was the 22nd and tomorrow is the 24th. It all makes sense... So what's the big deal?

For me it is another marker. The 23rd is always a reminder that my Birthday is an even month (or more) away. This year the 23rd of August is the 2 month marker to my 40th birthday. I know, I know, I have spoken of this in past posts, but it is on my mind and it seems I can't avoid it popping into my head at these moments. As this year is a milestone birthday, it has got me to thinking about getting old. No. Not just getting older. Getting old. O L D.

It doesn't seem that long ago I was celebrating my 30th birthday. I can still remember saying to myself: "God, how did 30 come around so damn fast? Oh well, at least I'm not 40!"

When I was a teenager, 40 seemed an aeon away. And now that I am on the brink, it seems unfair that I can no longer deny I am probably (I feel sick just muttering this phrase)... well I really am middle aged. Seriously. No matter how I look at it, it doesn't feel like I am heading in the right direction. What lies ahead is blue rinse, soft perms, flat shoes and woolly tights.

So, when does this transformation take place? When is it that men start wearing caps, short sleeved shirts with bow-ties and white knee high socks with sandals. When is it that I cut my hair short and buy hair dye in smoky shades of soft blue and talk about "the good old days" with old school friends. When do I place my marbles in one place and return later to find them gone? When do I throw out my self tan to make room for wrinkle cream and polly filler?

I already lose my keys regularly and talk to myself so maybe the signs of age are already beginning to show. A friend recently voiced her concerns that she has the first signs of Alzheimer's disease. I comforted her by saying if she could spell it, she couldn't possibly be suffering the symptoms. I (on the other hand) just had to use dictionary.com to check the spelling and was horrified to find I had it wrong! To make it even worse, I had it so badly off the mark that dictionary.com didn't even know the word I was looking for and suggested alternatives for spelling that may have been helpful. Funnily enough "old-timer's" was top of the list. So at this point it isn't looking good!

Yes wise friends, it is inevitable. Taxes and growing old (and eventually death). There is no avoiding it if we plan to continue walking on this planet. And so, what now? Well. Here's the thing. They say 40 is the new 30 and I am embracing this wholeheartedly. By the time I get to 40 in 10 years time they may be saying 50 is the next 30! Now that could get really confusing... especially given that I can barely do arithmetic now - by then I won't have a clue how old I am!

So I plan to celebrate my birthday in two months time. The big four ohhh will not go unnoticed. I plan to party with friends, play loud 80's music, share a few drinks and eat lots of cake. Acknowledge the occasion in style and the very next day, start telling every-one I am 30. That should work.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Love on a cold winter's morning...

5am this morning and I struggled to get out of bed to go out walking. Usually it is not difficult, but it is a daily ritual that has not been easy to maintain this winter. The mornings have been cold and (for the first time in many seasons) there has been rain. Despite it all, I do love this time of day and these early mornings. They make my day. If I walk early, the day seems that much easier to face. I have more energy, I am happier to meet the world and it is happier to meet me!

This morning it was COLD. Hat, scarf and beanie were all required, and at 6 degrees my breath sent fog into the air. Having dragged myself from the comfort of a warm bed, rugged myself against the impending cold and closed the front door behind me, I breathe it in.

The sky is dark at this time and often the moon and stars are still bright in the sky. It is quiet and still like no other time of day. Nocturnal animals sometimes cross my path. One morning I was walking alone and I saw a possum running along the wires, a fox in the distance and then an owl passed across the sky. I was walking along a Harry Potter street in the middle of Richmond.

This morning I was met in my street by my regular walking companion Andy. He is my motivation when the rain and wind are battering against the windows. We walked and talked and cursed the traffic noise imposing on our conversation. Soon the cold was forgotten as we shared talk of work and life and the state of the world. (Yes, at 5am nothing is spared! We could save the world in those early morning conversations!). 40 minutes later, we said our good-byes and I headed off with just 15 minutes more to home.

As I walked, I happily greeted the soft muted blue in the Eastern sky. A soft purple blended into a paler blue. Today was the first day that I have noticed the lightening sky and it was love at first sight. I love this time of day and I especially love this time of year, when the air is sharp and the early sky holds promise of springtime just around the corner. Springtime is just. around. the. corner.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

These 3 things I know...

I know that when I do these 3 things I feel good.
When I eat well (and avoid processed and fast foods).
When I sleep well (a good 8 hours a night or undisturbed horizontal zzzz time).
When I exercise regularly.

When all three are going well, I am energised, I stay posititve, I can deal with all the morons in the world as they don't concern me, and I can generally make it through the day without a diet/zero coke caffeine fix. As an added bonus I feel good about myself and I am SO much easier to get along with. Fewer grumbles and less snappy. There are many advantages to living a life with these small ingredients thrown in for good measure.

Three small things in reality, and yet there are days when I can barely manage one. When I wake in the morning to a foggy head and no enthusiasm for the day ahead, when all I want to do is eat junk and when I curse the day I agreed to meet a friend to go walking every morning. Laziness beckons convincingly. It is easier, is it not, to live a life of ease and distraction. And so the spinning begins and before I know it, I am feeling ordinary and there doesn't seem to be light at the end of the tunnel (is it dark outside, or am I even facing in the right direction!)

Eventually I remind myself what I am doing and that how I feel is within my control. I tell myself to snap out of it. I wake myself from my daze and having reminded myself of the solution I start once again to head along the track that leads to happiness. Seriously. It is (with a little determination) that simple. These things I know...

So. Back on track for me. Time to refocus, get fit, eat well, sleep well, feel good about myself and get happy!