Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lily’s 3rd birthday



(Poem courtesy of AA Milne) 

I went down to the shouting sea,
Taking Christopher down with me,
For Nurse had given us sixpence each-
And down we went to the beach.




We had sand in the eyes and the ears and the nose,
And sand in the hair, and sand-between-the-toes.
Whenever a good nor'wester blows,
Christopher is certain of
Sand-between-the-toes.




The sea was galloping grey and white;
Christopher clutched his sixpence tight;
We clambered over the humping sand-
And Christopher held my hand.




We had sand in the eyes and the ears and the nose,
And sand in the hair, and sand-between-the-toes.
Whenever a good nor'wester blows,
Christopher is certain of
Sand-between-the-toes.




There was a roaring in the sky;
The sea-gulls cried as they blew by;
We tried to talk, but had to shout-
Nobody else was out.




When we got home, we had sand in the hair,
In the eyes and the ears and everywhere;
Whenever a good nor'wester blows,
Christopher is found with
Sand-between-the-toes.



Thursday, February 15, 2018

(Backup) Blog as requested

I have read around thirty thousand books this week.  Okay, maybe six.  But that’s still a lot for someone who has got used to just watching Netflix.  I haven’t climbed as many mountains, but I have a few, although the temperature has been disgusting with incredible levels of humidity.


(l-r) Tibrogargan, Beerburrum, Tiberoowuccum and the Tunbubudla Twins (I think)

In fact, it is 0730 and it is already about 30 degrees outside and I am strongly considering putting the air conditioning on.  

Let’s see, what’s new?  I got offered a job - whoopee!  It is, however, in Canberra and on the ATR, and as such I am not very enthusiastic.  However, it’s a good option to prevent me starving to death, so to speak.  Two more assessments next week... and I am truly hoping that the first one works out, as it means I would be able to remain in Brisbane.


Sunrise climb up East Beerwah with Ben - mountains featured are Coonowrin and Tibrogargan (slightly covered by a tree)

Lily got to climb her third mountain - the Coochin twins, which I could perhaps class as two.  She loved it, and would have kept going forever, I’m sure.  Wednesday night, Manda and I climbed Ngungun for sunset which was awe taking.  Just incredible, and worth the soul destroying humidity on the way up.


The child, proud of her achievement


Sunset from Ngungun (looking over Beerwah with Coonowrin in front)

Thursday morning, we took the ever so excited Lily up Tiberoowuccum again, in a sort of bid to work off some of the doughnut calories we have been eating this week - I don’t regret even one calorie - and then we came home and I studied Responsibly for my job interviews.  I don’t feel quite so responsible this morning, hence blogging.

Tomorrow, which is Saturday, I have arranged for us to go to Booloumba Creek again, which will be very exciting - or at least, it will be if the storms hold off.  It has been an epic week for storms and we don’t want the creek to get too high or it will be dangerous to rock hop up it. 


Out and about with Lilith

Next week, as discussed, is a busy one with job interviews, and Terry arrives on Thursday night!  I am veeeeerrrrrry excited about this.  It will be so good to show him around - although I don’t think I’ll manage to drag him up the Glasshouses!  

Friday, February 2, 2018

One day, I’m going to look back at the beginning of 2018 and think it just a hazy memory.  One day I’m going to look back and laugh, and say “did that really happen?” and “that was such a weirdly ridiculous period.”  That’s what distance does, you see.  Perspective changes.

It’s been a lazy week in the House of Kate.  After two days of archery last weekend, my neck reacted violently and I spent two days in bed, and have spent the rest of the week resting - add the fact that the last two days have rained non stop, and I haven’t done anything at all!  I did have a fun beach day on Wednesday... E took a photo of me walking up from the beach...



This is what happens when a) your neck is sore so you bring a camp chair to support it and b) Lily runs on the hot sand and starts yelping with pain so you have to carry her to protect her soft little paws!

I have many job applications in at the minute... and currently in that phase where all I can do is wait.  I have been invited to apply for a job in Kazakhstan... but everything within me screams NOOOOOOOO... so I don’t think that will happen!

It is now the weekend... and hopefully I will get some assessments next week, and climb some more mountains!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

You would think that, being unemployed, there would be endless days of nothing, and a struggle to fill the time.  In fact, it has been completely the opposite.  I have packed more into the last two weeks than ever!  Lots of hiking and climbing expeditions, I've decided to pick archery back up, and of course a few job applications.  I've just received my first "thanks but no thanks", or "PFO" as we call it in the industry, and that was a bit hard.  "They" talk about a pilot shortage... but I've been unemployed for 16 days, and there is no offer of a job on the table yet.  I know I need to be patient, but it is hard being patient when there is a mortgage to pay!


Booloumba Creek hiking last Saturday


So many people came!

I started the week with a phone interview followed by aptitude/psychometric testing, and got the email this morning with "Thank you for expressing your interest... on this occasion we will not be progressing your application to the next stage."  Thanks... but no thanks.  A bit of a kick in the teeth - but I have to remind myself that it happens for a reason, even if I don't know what that reason is...

I still haven't heard back from the old company, even though a few weeks ago they told me they would offer me a command in Canberra.  It seems that the cogs move just as slowly as I remember.

In between, I've been very active.  Wednesday was my biggest day so far, starting with a 16km hike around Kondolilla Falls with Ben, finishing up with a nice cool dip in the pool near the start of the walk.  Ben tried to aggravate my grammar-nazi-personality by pointing out the "Great! walks" sign... which I ignored.  Back home, I got a quick shower, made a sandwich, and headed out again, this time to try my first outdoor rock climbing.  


A giant strangler fig at Kondalilla 


Another Strangler Fig that Ben decided to climb


The lookout

We went to the beginner cliffs at Ngungun, which are called "Andromeda."  The guy who was teaching me was very patient and chose nice easy climbs that I could complete, and it was a fun afternoon, although boiling hot.  I had already agreed to climb Tibrogargan for Sunset, but was beginning to feel regret as my legs and back were killing me from the amount of action I had already put them through.



Watching the sunset from Tibrogargan

The climb up Tibrogargan almost broke me.  I didn't have my Garmin watch so I don't know what my actual heart rate was, but I felt like it was beating outside my body.  Thankfully I realised how exhausted I was and stocked up on two bottles of Powerade to counteract the sweat streaming off me in the heat and humidity.  It was rewarding to reach the top and stop to watch the sun go down.  We then had dinner out of a little portable butane stove - a strange conglomeration of spicy ramen noodles and tuna, which sounds disgusting.  I tentatively agreed to taste the mix and found it surprisingly good, so ate my full portion.  Then we talked for a couple of hours, finally realising it was late and we should descend.

It was strange climbing down in the dark.  The rocks looked glow in the dark in the light of our headlamps.  It wasn't any more difficult than daytime, just different.  I would definitely do it again - but not on the same day as hiking and rock climbing!

It poured with rain on the drive home - goes to show how humid it was - and again in the night.  I got up in the morning and messaged my climbing buddies to say I wasn't going to do our next adventure unless it was dry.  They assured me that it was dry... so, with aching legs and a marked lack of energy, I got back in the car and drove back to Tibrogargan.  It was dry.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and at 0930 it was already 31 degrees.  I planned ahead and filled my bag with frozen water bottles - almost three litres total.  

The goal now was to climb up the front of Tibro - Caves' Route, but this time I did not have a harness.  I did, however, insist on wearing my helmet, and John and Stew brought ropes to hang down the hard parts.  I managed to climb the first section to cave 2 by myself, only using the rope at the very end, and my legs were shaking with fear by the time I pulled myself into the cave.  It is hard to keep climbing and keep oneself thinking straight when one's body is entirely letting itself down with shaking and sweaty hands!  

We barely made it into Cave 2 when the rain started.  It poured down, and we sat in the dry of the cave watching it, me at least feeling scared, but pretending to be nonchalant.  We weren't going to start climbing again until it stopped, and John said the rocks would dry out quickly, but I was still worried.  It was super scary climbing in the dry - what would it be like wet?

Finally, the rain stopped, and John went to explore.  He climbed up above Cave 2 and hung down a rope, saying the rocks were pretty dry again already.  I inched my way outside the cave.  The first rock to climb over - maybe a metre high and sloping - was still soaking wet as it was out of the sun, but the rocks past it looked okay.  I started making my way over the wet rock... and slipped.  It all happened so quickly, and John tells me "if you had fallen, you wouldn't have gone very far from there", but that doesn't make me feel any better!  Stew grabbed me by the handle of my backpack as I flailed around for purchase.  That was definitely a heart-in-mouth moment!


Watching the rain fall from Cave 2


Too steep??


Sitting in Cave 5 to see the view


If you look carefully, you can see John close to the centre of the photo

The climb from there wasn't as bad, although when we got to the Chimney and I saw the vertical rock above me that apparently we had to climb, I was thoroughly unsure again!  Stew kept trying to throw a metal boat anchor into the Chimney so that he could climb up - assuring John that it had worked before.  I could see John's doubt, but he went with it.  Unfortunately I wasn't videoing when Stew, a couple of metres up the chimney, hanging on to the rope, went flying backwards as the anchor slipped and narrowly missed John's head on the way down.  Stew wasn't hurt, but it gave us both a fright and we had no plans of trusting that anchor at any time ever.  Stew decided to give it another go, however, and this time made it up and tied the rope securely around a large rock so that John and I could hoist ourselves up.  I had a moment at the top of the Chimney where I didn't feel I could go any further and Stew and John had to help me onto a rock - very very scary!


Stew, right before the anchor came off and he came flying backwards! 

That was the last of the real climbing bit, and from there it was simply a heart-pounding sweat-inducing scramble to the summit, with me declaring I was going to spend the next day resting from climbing!

This morning I went for a quick archery practise as there is a competition this weekend, and am now spending the rest of the day watching Netflix and chilling.  I would apply for other jobs... but I can't find any more to apply for... or at least not that I'm interested in....

Sunday, January 14, 2018

I would totally love it right now if Lily just went and ate her breakfast.  It’s been days since she was interested in breakfast, and with her eating very little dinner, and being a very small dog to start off with, it stresses me out.




I mean, the reason she isn’t eating is that she’s sooky, and the reason that she’s sooky is that she is picking up on my body language which probably says a combination of “Hell no”, “stressed to the n’th degree” and “aaaackkkkkk!” And so her little dog self is like “nooooooo, Mum!” But she really is such a very small dog and please, Lily, please eat your breakfast.



I’ve pumped up the bike’s tyres today and will go for a cycle when it cools down.  Maybe a little exercise will bring her appetite back.

Did I mention how small a dog she is?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye, 2017



2017, you suck.

Here I am, on the cusp of a new year - is that the right word? - and I've watched the first sunrise of 2018 and although it was beautiful I just feel this dread inside me of not knowing what this new year will bring.

What do I want from 2018?  What do I expect?  I don't think I know, but I do hope that it's a good year.  

I haven't made any resolutions.  I have hopes, things I want to do - but the inevitability of life keeps happening outside of my control.

So I raise my figurative glass to 2018, and I say Bring It On - but not too much at once, because my basket is already pretty full with Life Things.  So maybe just Bring It On Gently. 





Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Memories

I wasn’t allowed to put butter in the mashed potatoes.  Milk, yes, but not butter, because butter cost money, and money was something that we didn’t have.  It’s not a bad memory, just a memory, something I think of as I make mashed potatoes with heapings of butter, standing at the stovetop, reminiscing.  It’s always strange making food for one.  How many potatoes do you need for one serve of mash?  I always get it wrong.  We used to weigh it: 3oz of potatoes per person, unless it was for roast, and then at least double.  There were plenty of potatoes.  We grew whole fields of them, and during winter they were stored in big piles under hessian sacks in the byre.  There was a field full of carrots, and I am told my brother ate so many one day during harvest that he completely lost the taste for them.  That’s not a real memory, but one I learnt from someone else.

How do you separate memories from stories?  Is it a memory I have of asking my dad for popping paper, or do I know it because I have seen it countless times in the video recorded of my childhood?  “Daddy, can I have some popping paper?” is not a phrase I remember saying, but a little voice I can hear in my mind from the recording.

I do remember some things.  I remember sitting in the car to go to Naas hospital when Jonathan broke his leg.  I must have been around five.  I remember reading Tintin in the lounge and choosing to stay reading rather than take Jonathan to the airport.  At eight, I didn’t realise he wouldn’t be coming back.  And when days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and my brother didn’t return, I remembered reading Tintin and choosing the book over my brother.  Is it a bad memory, reading Tintin?  No, but I did wish I had gone to the airport instead.

I don’t have many memories of my brothers before they left.  I was eight when Jonathan went to Alaska, and around ten for Christopher’s departure.  I remember going to Johnny’s Bay, an inlet of Blessington Lake that my brother “discovered.”  I remember running through a wasp’s nest, and stopping because Pam had told me never to run away from wasps, and I remember one of my brothers shouting at me to run – and stubbornly standing still until they started to sting me. 

Jon and Chris had a chin-up bar at the door of their bedroom, far above my head, and dumbbells that Jon had made and filled with cement.  I wasn’t allowed in their bedroom – I shared one with Sarah next to my parent’s room.  Jonathan smashed my face into the carpet one day because I refused to leave their room, but more vividly I remember being spanked because I continued to pick the scab on my nose – something I entirely blamed my brother for.

That was when we lived at the house.  When we moved to the chalet, Chris’s room was the other end of the building.  I don’t remember whether Jonathan had moved to Alaska by this point.  Sarah’s and my room was painted the most awful pink, with pink floral curtains and a sickly pink carpet.  When Sarah finally moved out, my parents bought me a large blue and cream rug to cover the majority of the carpet, changed the curtains to blue ones, and also painted the walls blue.  I don’t think it was so much the hatred of pink as the hatred of having to have pink.  Pink coats, pink bedroom, all the dresses that I had to wear because I was a girl.

I remember climbing trees.  Jon and Chris climbed higher and with ropes if they couldn’t get up by themselves.  I never went that far, but I remember perching at the very top of the laurels and firs, peeking out over the driveway and yelling at passerbys.  I don’t ever remember being cautioned not to fall, although Sarah got banned from tree-climbing for tearing too many clothes – also not a memory for me, only for her.

We had rabbits’ offal on toast, for lunch, and sometimes tuna, although never more than a spoonful, but if you scraped it thin enough you could spread it over two slices of toast. In those days, it was usually margarine, and once we got free tubs of sunflower spread from a grocer because they were out of date.  Unfortunately, sometimes they had gone off and tasted strong, bitter and rank. Kathy always thought they tasted fine, but she would also drink sour milk and strong butter, when we had it.  There were countless lemon biscuits, as they came by the crate load.  Matthew Beaney saved a packet for years and years as a memento of those times.  Maybe he still has it.

As children, we never had homework.  School started at 0830, and finished at 1530, except for the older children, who finished at 1700.  When free of school, we had chores which included looking after ducklings, chicks and pet lambs in the spring.  My childhood bible lists the names and dates of births of all of my pet lambs under births, deaths and marriages – and yes, it lists the deaths (yum) too!  The rest of the time, we were free to roam, unsupervised.  We played cops and robbers, dammed the stream, climbed trees, and I’m surprised that Mum ever kept up with the laundry.  The outdoors, adventure, and exploring, always held my heart.  Of course, I also spent a lot of time playing with Barbies!

It seems like a long time ago, all these memories.  I spend so much time now going through the motions of life: going to work, coming home, eating, watching Netflix, and often I forget to remember what’s important.  Was it important that we didn’t have money?  No.  Was it important that we ate offal instead of steak?  Well, actually I like offal – Sarah doesn’t.  Chris wrote poetry about it “Offal is Awful” but that’s not a bad memory, to me.  Chicken hearts were my favourite – and bacon rinds!  I don’t know what ever happened to the bacon – I never remember getting any.  We were a family, and we were loved, and that’s more important than owning anything, or having nice possessions.  I mean, yes, I wanted a coat that wasn’t pink, but that’s not what made me who I am.

If you’re expecting this post to have a meaningful conclusion, I guess that’s it.  I was sitting on the couch watching Netflix, and then I started to think about what I was going to have for lunch – bangers and mash – and then I started thinking about butter, and that, your honour, is why I wrote this post.