Finally…! (It took a while!)

It was late in September of 2004. The sun-warmed pebbles of my driveway bruised the soles of my feet as I leaned over my growing bump to hug my friend and offer to help with her bags. She declined, unceremoniously dumping them on the ground, touching my tummy, and letting out a squeal of delight at a corresponding, well-aimed kick at her hand. I was recently 30, and six months pregnant with my eldest. Working as Head of English at Caloundra Christian College left little time to think about pregnancy, let alone the needs of a nursery and a newborn, so Katrina, a girl I knew from our dance ministry team in Nambour, had volunteered to throw me a baby shower at my place. She had arrived early to set up, organise the games, prizes and refreshments.

Baby showers were all new to me. Ever since I could remember, I’d NEVER been one to understand young children. Especially babies. They freaked me out a little. Both my parents had left their entire families in their home countries, so I had zero experience with younger cousins (well, ANY cousins, really!) or friends with younger siblings, and had majored and taught in only secondary schools. “Give me a child after they’re toilet trained and can hold a conversation!” I would always say…

So, there I was. Six months pregnant, and at a baby shower for the very first time. And it was mine! I was interested to see how the day would unfold, and observe the reactions of the others, so I could gauge how I was expected to act. I had NEVER felt ‘clucky’ in my entire life – nor felt anything even remotely resembling maternal instinct. I had been focussed on my career, my relationship with my husband of almost 9 years, and paying off vehicles, paying rent, and then achieving the exalted rank of being a mortgage owner for the past few months.

I turned my thoughts back to Katrina as I had vaguely been aware of her handing something towards me. I expected it to be a bag of Baby Shower items, but noticed with a degree of surprise that it was a present. “I wanted to give this to you before everything started. I saw it yesterday and just loved it… I hope you do too!” Smiling, I thanked her and started to turn around and head up to the house when she stopped me. “No! Do you think that maybe you could open it now?”

“Oh! Okay… sure,” I replied, thinking how nice it was to be given ‘baby things’, as (my pragmatic mind chimed in) it would mean less for me to purchase prior to the mid-January due date.

I carefully opened the wrapping paper, remarking on how I’d made another payment on the cot I’d laybyed at BabyCo, and pulled out the baby outfit. It was a size 000 short-sleeved bodysuit. The top half showed a white background, above horizontal stripes in red, yellow and blue all the way down to its press-studded crotch. But it was the picture on the white background however, that grabbed my attention. It was of a baby tiger, and the accompanying words read “cute little tiger… roar roar roar”.

My reaction was instantaneous. I could SEE a baby wearing this bodysuit. MY baby, wearing this bodysuit. Maybe even pretending to BE a cute baby tiger, and roaring for attention. The emotions that flooded my body were absolutely indescribable. All of a sudden, I had finally ‘GOT’ it! It had taken until I was gone 30, but I finally understood exactly what people were talking about when they said that they ‘were clucky’! I had a sudden, desperate urge to HOLD my unborn baby in my  arms. To know what it felt like to be a Mum. My eyes teared up, and I have no idea how long I stood there, or what I did next. And I didn’t care. All I knew was that I – me! Ceridwyn Bloxham! – was going to be a Mum. For REAL!

Looking back now, I realise that it had certainly taken a long time, but perhaps that maternal feeling was all the more sweet for being so timely. It certainly was a momentous event – number two in my list of six – and remembering that gush of emotions helps me through the more mundane parts of being mother to that same girl that kicked Katrina’s hand that day, ever so long ago now. The covering of what feels like a mountain of schoolbooks this morning, in preparation for next week’s entry into Grade One, when that same little girl will dress for the first time (of many, I’m sure!) in her ‘big girl’s formal uniform’, ironed by me that morning in preparation for the day… yes, remembering that Baby Shower morning certainly gives me that extra spur I need at times!

Anyway… enough waffling. I’d love to hear when YOU first felt that intense emotional whirlpool. Or are you like I was, unacquainted with ‘being clucky’?

Still an’ all… until tomorrow, dear readers, when number three sees me again in a church setting…

On your marks… get set…

I’ve just recently started seeing the value in long term commitments. You see, I suffered (and sometimes still do, to be truthful) from pretty major depression as a teenager, and quite literally believed that I would never see January 1, 2000. I had worked out that I would be 26 years old, and, as I could never imagine myself EVER being ‘that old’ (“HA!” my brain is saying now,) I just assumed that I wouldn’t be around. That I’d be dead by then.

So, seeing 2000 was pretty momentous for me. But not enough to make the list I’m starting today: the six most momentous events in my life (to date). And the first would HAVE to be the day I commenced the long-distance “marathon” I hope to finish only on the day I die. (Which will hopefully be many, many, MANY years from now! I’ve kinda gotten used to this whole ‘living’ bit!)

The 18th of November, 1995 dawned just as the day before it had, and the day after it would. Nothing momentous there. I was up early, full of adrenalin and my brain working overtime with those “last minute” things which absolutely HAD to be done. Then it was a quick dash (no, I didn’t speed!) from the family home at Eight Mile Plains to the Stradbroke Ferries Water Taxi at Cleveland. Arriving with a couple of friends with a few minutes to spare, we clambered aboard the 6am Taxi and spent twenty minutes being jolted across to Dunwich. Once there, we made our way to the first of three destinations for the day. Meanwhile, up the hill, in the green house with the stupendous view overlooking the whole of the Bay, and the mainland from Coolangatta to Coolum, more people were busy, getting ready for the day’s activities. An informal bus service was set up, from the house down to the Water Taxi terminal, to collect the many visitors that would be arriving, and bring them either back to the house or take them to the second destination. Which itself was also a hive of activity – being decorated with flowers, ribbons, and candles, ready for the midday celebrations.

By 8am it was starting to heat up. So much so that by 9.30, it was raining. Enough to dampen the spirits of others, but not mine. I was determined that nothing could spoil this day for me… and sure enough, the rain stopped well before 11, leaving a cooler day and enough time to dry out the ground prior to the big event.

By midday, everyone had arrived that was meant to, and all had been transported to the second destination. St Marks Anglican Church – a tiny wooden building on the road north. It had louvres for windows, and each louvre was a different colour. “Perhaps the Australian version of stained glass windows?”  I joked later. Still, everyone was there, milling around, catching up with old friends and acquaintances, and meeting new ones. By 12.10 Pastor John Geoghegan could be seen checking his watch. He then started pacing from the altar to the front door, looking earnestly. He was there, ushering the last of the stragglers inside, when he caught sight of the car. He happily turned to the church and announced, ‘Well – Ceridwyn IS here’ and then took his place back at the altar.

Steeping out of the car in my dress and heels, veil over my face, I remember I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. My father took my arm, and as the flower girl and bridesmaid walked ahead, I thought to myself, “Well – this is it!”

It’s now over fifteen years later. I’m 36, and on the 18th of November 2010, my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. No, it hasn’t always been easy. Some of it’s been downright TOUGH. But without that first day, I wouldn’t be sitting here now, on the 18th of January 2010, proud of the longest commitment I’ve ever had. (Well, with the exception of being alive, that is.) Without that first day, I wonder if I would indeed lived to see January 1 2000, even. Looking back, I’m very glad I DID live to see it – and glad that I’ve seen every day since then, too!

Well that’s it. The most momentous event in my life. My wedding to the man of my dreams (yes, literally!) on the 18th of November, 1995. A brilliant event. One I’m so appreciative I’ve experienced. And I hope you don’t mind my sharing it with you today.

So – any thoughts on YOUR most momentous event?

The Brissie Kid

I’m the reason my parents moved to Australia. My older brother had been born in a hospital in New Guinea, four years earlier, and I guess they didn’t want a repeat experience. So when they discovered that I was on the way, they relocated to Australia – to Eight Mile Plains in Brisbane, to be precise. Dad found employment as a lecturer in Literacy and Language Development at Mt Gravatt Teachers College, (later to become Griffith University,) and I arrived on the seventh of June, 1974. Six months before the floods devastated the city.

I spent the first nineteen years of my life in that house on Padstow Road, just up the hill from Logan Road, and opposite Multicap Meadows. It got busy during that time, so much so that the B-doubles letting off their airbrakes as they drove past my window lulled me to sleep during my final years there, while I finished Senior at Redeemer Lutheran College in Rochedale and started my B.Ed at Griffith.

I was fortunate to have a bus stop not 100 metres away. With the help of a year-long, go anywhere at any time’ student bus pass, I did the ‘teenage rebellion’ thing and used it lots, spending the majority of my time passing through Garden City on my way into town, to meet friends and hang out, catch a movie, window shop. When at Uni I would bus to my part-time job/s in town, spend time reading novels while sunbaking at South Bank, or (later still) try winning money at the casino. In fact, I was so comfortable travelling by bus, I didn’t get my license until I was 20 – and that, a motorbike license. I then found an even greater sense of freedom on my blue Suzuki GSX250, travelling to UQ at St Lucia to study French in the evenings, during my 4th year of Uni – and the back way, past the Rocklea Markets, became quite a speedway at the almost-10pm mark!

And now to my apology. My prior two posts were… well… more non-events than events. Due to my incredulity at the floods devastating Brisbane again. Quoting my younger brother, who emailed me from London this morning, “I knew those streets. Now they’re gone.” Perhaps this post will go part-way toward an explanation. And that brings me to what I had not realised about myself, but have now…

My important word for today: history. My past, to be specific. I guess what ‘they say’, IS actually true. Your past DOES make you the person you are. So as I stop, and remember, and grieve for what may never be again, I shall also remember  that if my history IS that important to me, then today, right now, and every moment to come, will also be a part of my ‘history’ one day. So I should make the most of it. How about you?

Til tomorrow, dear readers…

The Ultimate!

Today’s post completes the list. Number four of the ‘Top Four places I want to visit prior to death or rapture’. And as I said yesterday, this destination fills the senses.

From vistas of endless countryside, desolate and strikingly beautiful, to the scent of foreign spices filling the heat-laden air. From the intensity of the sun which presses into your skin, to the taste of pure, clean water which soothes your dry mouth and throat as it quenches your thirst. From the cacophony of the familiar ‘modern-city-noise’ to its striking contrast – the traditional calls of camel-train drivers and the (mostly) amicable religious competition: resounding cathedral bells vs. the five-daily calls to prayer from the tall Islamic minarets. And yes, this is what my imagination tells me that Israel will be like, when I eventually get there.

Of course, it may equally as likely, be completely the opposite. Speaking with a young Israeli couple during our unintentional few days extra holiday the other week, (courtesy the Queensland floods,) it’s now difficult to tell that you’re even in Israel if you’re in the south of Tel Aviv. According to them, there are now so many immigrants living there – mainly from South Africa, interestingly – that they form the large majority of the population. Plus I’d need to add in the concrete walls, the barbed-wire fences, the hundreds wearing military uniform and carrying weapons… yes, it’s probably more than likely that the Israel in my mind will need some radical updating before it reflects the land as it exists today. No matter. I just want to go.

Like the Day 1 Destination, Rome of 350AD, I’ll be doing the touristy bit and visiting the ‘Ancient’ places. Those I’ve been reading about for years in my Bible. I’d like to think I was walking where Jesus walked and seeing the places (well, the modern versions) that He saw. To experience the history with my own eyes, as it were. How incredible that would be!

Anyway, that’s the last one on my list. Four places that I want to visit. It makes me wonder what would be the four places I would NOT want to go. Which is much harder for me to answer – I doubt I’d be able to find four! So I shan’t be blogging about that over the next four days. (Hooray!)

Instead, I have been inspired by two different sources to write on a different, non-travelling topic. But I’ve written enough for this post, so if you’re interested in finding out more, stay tuned for tomorrow’s offering! Have a lovely rest-of-the-day, dear readers! Oh – and I’d love to know what YOUR favourite place to see is…

‘Where the rainforest meets the reef’

I love that slogan. It’s just so picturesque. And it’s certainly got me hooked. I want to see it for myself, which is why the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation area (apparently now all just called ‘the Daintree’, to encourage tourism) is number three on the list of four ‘places I want to visit prior to death or rapture’.

And the good bit is – unlike the Kimberley’s, which was number two on the list – it’s (apparently…) accessible by caravan! (Yesterday’s post described how enamoured I am with my caravan, if you missed it.) Although, having travelled that far, up to the Daintree from all the way down here in S.E.Qld, I’d probably want to keep on going and end up right at the northern tip of our country. Just to experience it, and be able to gloat that I’d been. But apparently, taking caravans further north than the Daintree is just foolhardy. Again – a pity. But that’s okay… I’ll get there one day! (Hopefully I have a lot of time left before my death /rapture…)

So I have the caravan, the 4WD, and the road to get all the way to the Daintree. Which means that the only thing holding me back is ‘time’. Cos I have absolutely NO idea on exactly how long it would take to drive that far. And once we got there, how long would we want to spend exploring the area? A week? Two? A month? More? And how about exploring the areas on the way up / the way back? (To date, we’ve ‘seen’ as far as Yeppoon, with the exception of when we flew into Proserpine and bussed to Airlie Beach on the way to the Whitsundays for a pre-kid holiday.)

Which brings me to my dilemma. I’d like to spend at least 3 weeks there, I’d say. Minimum. Plus a week up(-ish?) and about a similar time back. Around 6 weeks or so. Which is tricky to find when hubby only gets 4 weeks off a year. But I’ll manage something, I’m sure. Stay tuned… I’ll blog our adventures one day, I promise! But not tomorrow. No – tomorrow we head overseas again. Destination Number Four, last on my list, promises to be one to fill the senses. Intrigued? Well, have a lovely day and I’ll see you same time, same place, tomorrow!

PS Some more piccies – again, taken by others. Unfortunately.

 

CC Images courtesy:

Daintree rivers
from thiery49

Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the ocean By dirk huijssoon

 

River in the Daintree
from Mozzer

Travel all over the countryside…

I was one of those kids, growing up in the early eighties, addicted to the Leyland Brothers. What a brilliant show it was! What a sense of adventure it instilled in me, together with the desire to see as much of this wonderful country as I possibly can.

Here I am though, a few decades later, and still barely left Queensland except to do short trips just on the other side of the border. Fartherest south to date? Melbourne. (But that was too cold for me. I’m a sun lover, and probably always will be.)

But all that will change. I’m determined. I am recently the proud owner of a gorgeous, brand-new Montana Hastings caravan, and plan on using it as much as I possibly can to see as much of this extraordinary country as possible! It’s a pretty tiny thing, especially when the three kids are underfoot as was the case just the other week when we were stuck on the ‘island’ of 1770, unable to travel due to the 6+metres of water covering both access roads. (By the way, if you were planning on using the Baffle Creek road any time in the next four months, don’t. It’ll be out for at LEAST that long, they’re saying. The bridge will need complete replacement. Sorry about that, being the bearer of bad news an’ all.) Anyway… back to my caravan…

Yes, I LOVE it. The kids do too. And hubby doesn’t mind it either, which is pretty good seeing as he does all the organising of maintainence, all the driving (to date, anyway! I think he’s a little worried I’ll roll it…) and understands all the ins and outs of the fridge workings and the tuning in of the TV antenna. (Both extremely important, I’ve discovered!) So we’ll be getting away whenever we can, and ‘seeing’ Australia for ourselves.

Well, as much as we can, anyway. Unfortunately, there are a number of places I’d like to take it, but it’s just not going to happen. And today’s post, (which was meant to be the second of four on ‘places I want to visit prior to death or rapture’, but kinda got sidetracked onto ‘my caravan’,) is on one of those places. It’s the Kimberleys, over there in WA. A gorgeous spot, judging by all I’ve heard, but not particularly kind to caravans. Pity. I could spend ages just looking at photos taken from that region of our great land. (Could, but don’t. Too darn busy.) But just looking isn’t going to cut it for me. I want to SEE those places with my own eyes. So once the younger two are out of nappies, I’ll be planning it. Maybe I’ll still be blogging then, and take you all with me in my laptop bag?! LOL!

Til tomorrow, when we meet Destination Three…

Ceridwyn

PS Just thought I’d share some (other people’s) photos that inspire me…

CC Images courtesy:

Kimberley Ranger Forum 2010
from KimberleyLandCouncil

Bell Gorge
from Chip_2904

Hiking through the Bungle Bungles
from David Busch Aus

Palm Spring S32663
from yaruman5

Of murders and mayhem…

The Roman Empire. 350AD. Constantine’s legacy is being fought over by his three sons. The new state religion, Christianity, is fumbling to find its feet, as civil war rages across the known world.

Ancient Rome – the setting for my forthcoming novel. Forthcoming, as in: conception has occurred, but I’ve barely reached the end of the first month of the first trimester. And considering conception occurred a few years back, it will most likely be a number of years before the ‘possibly-getting-close-to-being-published-now’ stage. And yes, I feel guilty about that. In our instant society, it seems as though to take your time over something is an indication of something being ‘wrong with you’. Which is sad, I think. (But possibly accurate in my case, anyway!) But it’s true though – how often do modern writers produce at least a novel a year – or if not, then one every few years? Actors are known for what films they have released, and how regularly they work – musicians, too. In fact, I would say that most industries are the same, as it’s a symptom of the time, not of the media. We’re an instant, output-based world now, and the days of a novelist spending years if not decades agonising over a manuscript, are long gone. Which is a pity. But still…

This post is the first of four on ‘places I want to visit prior to death or rapture’. D’Oh! Can’t visit Ancient Rome. Bumma! So I guess modern Rome will have to do. And once there, I guess I’ll just have to do the touristy thing and visit all those places where the ‘Ancient Rome’ has been preserved. Further research on my novel. I want to walk where Theophilus walked and see what he saw. Maybe not smell what he smelled, exactly, but at least be able to imagine it!

So why Ancient Rome, exactly? Well, I first fell in love with the historical novel when I spent many an hour with Brother Cadfael as a teenager. Being half-Welsh myself, I felt a connection with Ellis Peters’ creation, and developed a fascination with her ability to conjure character profiles and detailed storylines from historical figures and factual events. And Rome of 350AD? Well, I’m a Christian. And for almost a decade now, I’ve been interested in the Hebrew Roots of my faith, and the growth of the ‘Church’ in the West, particularly from the time of Constantine onwards.

So yes, that’s why Ancient Rome – or Rome, at least – makes the list of Top 4 places to visit. Tomorrow’s destination is closer to home. Well – it’s in Australia, anyway. So stay tuned, dear readers, and have a lovely rest-of-the-day!

 

Okay, okay. We get the picture now.

I can’t recall coming across many sarcastic songs. But I think I’ve just realised, at the age of 36, that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which I had always thought of as a beautiful love song, is one such song. Over the past twelve days, I’ve looked at each and every gift, making comment on the meaning behind the gift, and the possible intention of the giver – the so-called ‘True Love’.

Initially, I was impressed at his pragmatism. He gave gifts that showed his understanding of the real world. That relationships need practicality too. The partridge and pear tree, both edible, came before the two turtle doves – symbols of devoted love. Hens and more edible birds followed.

As the days went past, the ‘True Love’s organisational skills impressed me. Not only was he able to source some pretty interesting gifts (geese that always laid, swans known for their singing ability) but he also managed to get a LOT of them. Six geese per day, since Day 6, means (let’s see my maths skills in action again, shall we…) that today we now stand at 42 geese. Seven swans per day since day 7 means 42 of them too. That’s a lot, in my opinion. Finding them, purchasing them and organising them all to arrive on the exact day that they were needed, would have been a task-and-a-half as well, I’d say.

But then the sheer enormity of her household started making more and more of an impression. By Day 8 we were adding people. Milkmaids (with cows, I’m assuming), then ladies dancing, then leaping lords (which again would have been a difficult find!). And finally yesterday, we added musicians. Eleven bagpipers would certainly add to the cacophony.

All of which led to my change in opinion. From incredulity, to suspicion. (Okay, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, I’ll admit it. Took me til Day 11.) With that much noise, I’m now of the opinion that his intentions may actually have been the opposite of what I had originally thought. I’m starting to think that he may not have been particularly fond of the singer – rather, he wanted to give her a mental breakdown. My proof? Circumstantial, I admit it, but still. Today’s gift is drummers. Twelve of them. All drumming. What’s the bet that they don’t just perform one song?! So by now, we have… 12 drummers, 22 bagpipers, 30 lords flirting with 27 dancing ladies and 40 milkmaids (and I’m guessing, at LEAST 40 cows), 42 swans, 42 geese, 40 pheasants, 36 blackbirds, 30 hens, 22 turtle doves, 12 partridges and 12 pear trees (well… at least they’re quiet!)

Now I don’t know about you, but that to me sounds as though he has had a bit of an agenda, and disguised it with supposed kindness. Sneaky. Underhanded. Not the nicest person you’d want to be your ‘True Love’. So all in all, I’m left feeling rather disappointed. I hadn’t expected that this process would end up as a bit of a downer. Sorry, folks.

On a happier note though, I must admit that I’m very glad I joined in this #blog12daysxmas challenge. I had expected it to be a more difficult task, blogging each day, than it was. Maybe it was easier due to holidays, or something, but now that I’ve started, I’ve decided to continue blogging. And I like the idea of using a ‘list’ on which to structure my writing. @haikugirlOz gave me the idea, actually, tweeting about Wilsons Promenade – a place I’d love to go to, but haven’t. (Yet!) So that’s my plan. Starting tomorrow, I’ll work through the Top 4 places I’d like to visit one day, and why. Stand tuned for Ancient Rome, this time tomorrow! Have a lovely rest-of-the-day, dear readers!!!