Hanging on by my toenails

I feel like a bug. Still alive – barely – and hanging on for dear life. I’m standing on the windscreen of the vehicle that is my life, and it’s currently going full-speed, flat out, non-stop.

Hopefully that vehicle’s not a train careering along a decrepit railway line, else I’m headed for a massive train wreck!!!

(On the up-side: I’ve completed two of my three assessment pieces for AMN400 Consumer Behaviour – which I’m loving, by the way – and I’ve painted seven street signs in the last two weeks; and I’m on top of the St. Paul’s yearbook to date; and I’ve started working (successfully, too!) at St James at Hervey Bay, both in person and over email, internet, skype; and Miss Three is now completely toilet trained; and – best thing of all – Spring Fair is on today which means that sometime around 4pm I’ll be able to breathe again!!!!!!!!)

Woohoo!!! LOVING my life right now!!

Sheltering in the lee

It is not quite 4pm. Monday. I am at home, sitting on my bed, and the house is quiet. This is extremely unusual, and I love it.

Miss 6 needed to be brought home early today (still sick, poor love, and milking it for all she can get!) so Hubby and I vied for the opportunity. I won (his job is far more important than mine!) so brought her home while he gets to continue working and then pick up the younger two from childcare.

So here I sit, surrounded by papers. Papers from work, reminding me of urgent things to do and far more urgent things to do, drafts from Uni assignments due this week, due the following week, and feedback from assignments submitted two weeks ago… and silence.

Miss 6 is sleeping (?! yeah right! try ‘playing quietly’ in her bedroom,) and I can hear the clock ticking. Very strange sound to hear in daylight hours; normally it is the accompaniment I associate with working into the late hours of the night.

I like it. A pleasant sound. Strange to hear it with a backdrop of birdcalls instead of crickets. But this… this silence… it reminds me to breathe. To relax, if just for a moment, even when surrounded by all the trappings of my responsibilities, and just breathe. Just exist in the moment. It will be over soon enough… hubby will be home with the younger two, and then when they’re all abed, it’ll be time to dive straight back into the Caboolture Show prep (display being created tomorrow) and INN332 Final Report (5000 words due Thursday).

Okay. Just breathe. In… out… in… out…

When the fun has gone…

There’s a little bit of a tinge of sadness in the air. A greying. Cool mist. It’s as though the laughter-filled ‘honeymoon stage’ has passed, and the vision of ‘hard slog’ has just started to inch towards me over the far horizon. Ho hum.

Today is the 23rd of January. Exactly one month ago, I set up this blog, in preparation for @fionawb’s #blog12daysxmas challenge, which would start on Christmas Day of 2010. So that’s it. Been blogging for a month now. How sad – I can’t really class myself as a ‘newbie’ anymore. Well, not really.

Generally I find milestones exciting. They signify the culmination of something. But that can mean the end of something, too… and in my experience, when something ends it is never repeated again. Which can be sad, I find. Today also marks the end of my 6 posts on ‘momentous events in my life’. It’s been an interesting challenge I set myself… I had NO idea when I started, just how confronting it would be. Bearing my soul and my innermost thoughts at the most emotional experiences I’ve had! And only a brand-new blogger! So this week’s been rather a soul-searching one for me, deciding how to best present the stories of my life, pitting the ‘truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ against the ideas of privacy, discretion, and of course a pretty massive word count when I get all rambly!

Still an’ all… today’s event, number six, while still extremely emotional, was one which still leaves me incredulous. It goes like this…

It was the latter half of 2010. August, maybe? Or September? It was a warm day, and it must have been a Saturday because hubby was home. So we decided to swap the baby seats into our Pajero and take the 5 of us to Bribie for the day. So we did. On the way, I noticed that I was still wearing my watch and rings (I never take them to the beach, as I don’t like the potential that sand has for damaging them!) and was about to take them off and put them safely into my handbag, when I was distracted (probably by two fighting daughters in the back seat!) and so didn’t. And it wasn’t until we were actually ON the beach, the car unpacked, the kids changed into their swimmers etc that I remembered that I was still wearing them.

I should probably pause and explain… I’m not into jewelry. I wear my engagement ring and my wedding ring and my gold watch. That’s it. And I only wear them when I’m out somewhere – as soon as I’m home, I take off the rings and store them on the watchband; do up the watch again, and presto! Safe. I probably started the habit when my eldest was born, as I didn’t want the stones to scratch her when I was picking her up so constantly, but now it’s a bit of a habit.

Anyway, we got home from the day at Bribie tired and happy. And the following morning, headed off to church. I opened the section of my handbag where I usually keep the watch / rings… and they weren’t there. Back home, after church, I check the box where I leave them… and they weren’t there. I go back out to the car, check the glovebox, the floor… no. I go to the Pajero, check the glovebox, the floor, the centre console… no. I panic. They’re gone. Completely. Gone.

Questions, guilt, more questions, more guilt. Why can’t I remember! I must have taken them off at the beach… but maybe that was just before my youngest crawled head-first into the water and got knocked over by a wave?

A week goes by. A very very very sad week. I was coming up 15 years married and had lost my rings. Worse – I couldn’t even remember when I had removed them and where I had put them. Hubby suggests calling the Bribie Police Station. Sure, I say, but don’t. (I’ve mentioned how depressed I get, haven’t I.) The following weekend it rains, or we’re busy, or something. Anyway, we don’t go back to Bribie. I don’t think I would have handled it too well, if Hubby had even suggested it. He keeps reminding me of the Bribie Police. I say, ‘Stop nagging.’

Monday after lunch. The eldest is at school and the younger two have gone down for their naps. I can’t put it off anymore. I call Bribie Police. Teary, I tell the constable my story. She asks me to describe them. I do.

She them says, “You’re not going to believe this. They’ve been handed in, not half an hour ago. A lady found them on the beach this morning – well, her husband did – and she wanted to hand them in straight away because she knew that whoever had lost them would be devastated.”

I die. (Well, not literally, but pretty darn close!) I bundle the kids into the car, rush down to Bribie Police Station, and reclaim my beloved watch and rings. Oh my GOD!!!!! How absolutely INCREDIBLE!!! I had been praying, and praying, and praying, all week. And here they were again – back on my ring finger; back on my wrist – without even any extra tarnish for their eight days in the sun, wind, rain, exposed to the salt and the sand!

How awesome is my God?!! Pretty darn! I was completely blown away. Incredulous. And so, so, so grateful. I had thought them gone literally forever, and been in various stages of mourning and denial. But they had been preserved somehow… heck! The watch hadn’t even lost a minute! How absolutely INCREDIBLE is my God!!!

Anyway, that’s it. The sixth, of six ‘most momentous events in my life’. The list is complete. A little sad, in a way. A little grey. But touched with golden around the edges, for a challenge completed successfully. And as for the next? I haven’t decided yet. Might go sleep on it.

As always, thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. And, dear readers, have a lovely night!

It’s party day…

I mentioned in last night’s post that hubby and two daughters had birthdays in the past week.  So today is party day. Yay – I think! (The rain’s just started, and it looks like it’s setting in.) Wish I’d had more sleep last night, rather than waking up every few hours, having dreamt about (yet more!) ant invasions.

Still, the point of this post is to reminisce the fifth momentous event in my life to date. And that was another celebration – much quieter though. MUCH. Internal, as a matter of fact. That ‘want to jump out of your skin because you can’t contain how happy you feel’ kind of celebration. And the reason? Gaining full-time employment for the first time ever.

From memory, it was January 27, 1996. I was in the Principal’s office in Chisholm Catholic College, Cornubia. I had spent the better part of my mental and emotional energies over the past fortnight being concerned that schools were going back. I had been offered the position of Music Coordinator of Mt Isa State High School since finishing my B.Ed a few months earlier, but, being only a few weeks married to a NAB Lending Officer based in Brisbane, had turned it down. So now I had found myself unemployed, with the schools going back. And with nervous energy to burn, had applied for and been given an interview for the position of Music Coordinator at Chisholm, a Term One replacement for Peter Shaw, who was on Long Service Leave.

So I sat in Mike Ashton’s office, explaining who I was and trying to demonstrate how enthusiastic I was to have the opportunity to finally have my ‘own class’, rather than the classes of supervising teachers. I guess it must have worked, because Mike asked me to wait outside while he called my referees. Then he called me back in and offered me the job. I could hardly contain my excitement! I was engaged to start the very next day, and he took me for a quick tour of the school.

I think I may have impressed him that very first day. The students had returned, and he hadn’t yet organised the relief for the Music classes that would start that afternoon. So I offered to take them. To start that day. He agreed, surprised yet probably relieved. And so my first day’s (well, half day’s) work was that same afternoon. What a ride! And what an excellent school! And when I left at the end of Term Three, (a Maths / Science teacher had taken maternity leave in Terms Two and Three, so Mike had rearranged the timetable so the classes were covered internally, and so I could stay there, teaching English and Music classes,) I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career. I learned so much, grew so much, and gained far more than I thought would have been possible. Even now, I’m smiling.

I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit this week. Again, I find myself in the position of being ‘unemployed’, with the schools going back. And again, I find myself with huge amounts of nervous energy to burn. I need a job. No, really, I NEED a job. Know of one I could have?

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!