Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Looking through rose coloured glasses

This is one of my favourite times of the year.

And the food may have something to do with it all 
You know, the lazy summer days between Christmas and New Year when you are still on holiday, still in the festive mood and still refusing to wear anything other than clothes made of the stretchiest of fabrics.

Of course we all know that the fun and games will end in tears. Like on that first day back to work when none of your clothes will zip up but hey, we are living for today not tomorrow, right?

Christmas was great. Great weather, great company, great food and Santa was kind.

Christmas Eve, on the other hand, was rubbish with a capital R.

On the way to my daughter's place for Christmas I stopped off at a hardware store to pick up some garden items. While there, and after walking the length and breadth of the store several times, I popped into the cafĂ© for a quick lunch. As I heartily bit into a Cajun chicken wrap I heard a loud crunch......... mmmm, that would have been one of my teeth. Oh @#%$!!!

Alright, I can hear you shouting from over there, "Who goes to a hardware store for lunch?" "What kind of hardware do they put in their wraps?"

I know, I hear you, but I was really, really hungry.

I quickly phoned my daughter and thankfully she was able to book an emergency appointment with her dentist for later that afternoon. When I arrived at her home, I took off my shoes and lay on the lounge consumed with self pity.   Ten minutes later I sat bolt upright when I heard my daughter's screams. Stella, her eight month old puppy, had taken my sandal outside and was enthusiastically chewing on it as if it was her favourite bone. We managed to save the shoe before it was totally ruined.

She may have eaten my shoe in retaliation for being dressed like a reindeer so I guess I can't be too mad
Which, was just as well given I was due at the dentist in less than an hour. I now had one and a half  shoes and no others to wear. My daughter couldn't help because not only was she laughing hysterically but her feet are two sizes smaller than mine. Talk about the ugly step sister trying to fit into Cinderella's shoes. It was just not going to happen.

So, when I arrived at the dentist I had to explain not only why I had a broken tooth but also why I had a broken shoe. He must have been high on laughing gas based on his reaction. Thank goodness I am not easily humiliated.

I just choose to ignore the obvious sometimes and put on my rose coloured glasses.

There are always unexpected challenges and life is very good at throwing us curveballs, large and small, to stop us in our tracks. Who knows what 2015 will bring.  2014 was a happy year for me. I tried very hard to live in the present, not the future or that dreaded past which has consumed my life for too many years. I am getting good at accepting whatever comes  - the good, the bad, the indifferent. It is what it is. We do what we have to do and keep walking even if we have to crawl sometimes.

Noooooo, I have not started drinking for New Years yet.....I am serious.  Acceptance is a beautiful thing.

Of course, the world around us continues to implode and leaves us all shaking our heads. It makes me more thankful for what I have and much less inclined to travel though. Yet still, the world comes to me through Airbnb. Over three months, I have had guests from Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, New York, Singapore, London, Cornwall and many more places. I have learnt so much from them and  best of all it has reinforced what I have known through blogging for years.

And that is that the majority of human beings are essentially the same no matter where we live, what our religion may happen to be or what our politics are. People are just good and decent.

So my friends, I wish each and everyone of you a very Happy New Year and I sincerely wish that 2015 will be wonderful for you and yours. I expect one of my resolutions for the coming year will be to write more posts and read more blogs. Who knows how that will go.

Now, I am off to the online Sales to buy some new shoes......sip champagne and bring in the New Year in style. Of course I am keeping my rose coloured glasses on in 2015. They are magic!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Message from Your Mother

So, the truth is, your dog may have been exposed to some loud swearing today.

At least I can tell you the day started off with good intentions. Even if it finished in a less than desirable way.

I figured that given she was back with me for a few weeks it was important I kept her days as consistent as possible to how she lives with you.

I know you take her running twice a day.

Well you know me. I'm lazy and would happily let her sit with her feet up on the lounge all day with a doggy cocktail in hand.

But, for everyone's sake, I made a commitment to take her to the Dog Park every day.

I thought it would be good for both of us.

Fresh air. Sunshine. Exercise.

Well, after our first visit today, I was wrong.

Only one of us had fun. And that is the kind of fun with a capital F.U.N.

Look at her.

She enjoyed that picturesque dog park for all of two minutes.

Then she ran away and discovered something she liked way better.

I'm still breathless.

Your dog can run really, really fast.

So it's a good job I can shout really, really loud.

Because I sure as hell can only run really, really slow.

Yes, and I am licking my lips because I love drinking the filthy water.

What came out of my mouth when I finally caught up to her and realised I had to take her back home in my car, was just as filthy as she looked.

Oh, and just so you know, she now also answers to NO-O-OO-OO-OO-OO-O Stella, Get out of there Stella, What the ....... Stella............

Regardless, we will still go back again tomorrow.

But, this time I'll be prepared.

I'm taking gum boots so I can get in that muddy water with her.

Who knows? She might be on to something.

You only live once. Right?

Do you have a pet? What do you love about it?

Stella checking the post before I pressed publish. With a golden retriever you will never be alone  - they never let you out of their sight. Ever.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Well that was awkward......

Vegemite? Mmm not so much....

Fiona and Elliott, my latest Airbnb guests from China, were telling me how much they liked Australia but after being here a week they had a few concerns.

I had to keep a straight face while sweet Fiona was asking me questions.

"As we are driving on the road, we only ever see nature and animals, there are no people. Where are all the people?" Fiona said.

I tried to explain that Shanghai (the city they come from) has the same number of people in it as the whole of Australia does. 

"We just have way more space and so there are areas between towns and cities that are not populated or are farms." 

"Ah", they said "we understand." 

Then there were the 'guns'. They thought that if they made a mistake somewhere, like a minor road transgression, another motorist might pull out a gun and shoot them. They told me that they turned into a neighbours driveway by mistake and were scared the neighbour might shoot them.

This couple were well educated with excellent careers. I am not sure whether this fear comes from Communist propaganda of the West or they have watched too many movies. Maybe this how Australia is perceived to be in China.

I reassured them that we have strict gun controls here. And it is really only farmers, police and criminals that carry them. I told them that in all my years living here I had never seen a gun, seen anyone carrying a gun or witnessed a gun being fired so they were pretty safe.

They then wanted to know if we had Police here as they had not seen any yet. They told me that in China they were on the street all the time watching what people were doing and would keep the streets safe.

Then, we discussed the issue that worried them the most. 


The night they arrived at my house they had taken a back road from Melbourne. Apparently they had seen a few Kangaroos along the side of the road and one had bounded in front of the car while they were driving and this had terrified them.

"Shouldn't the Kangaroos be in the zoo?" Fiona asked.

"Um, no", I said. "Kangaroos live in the bush and sometimes very late at night they get attracted to the roads by the car lights and engine noise and just come to check out what is happening. If they hit your car they can cause a lot of damage to themselves and your car. However, they will not hurt you unless you were to provoke them in someway."

I told them that they probably should stick to the highway when going back to Melbourne and avoid driving late at night. I said that while I had seen Kangaroos many times at my sister's property in the bush I had never had one approach me or hit one in my car.

"You will be fine. Kangaroos just do not come into urban areas where people are living unless it is a bad drought and they are starving."

That reassured them.

Well it did for 5 minutes anyway.

Because this video then came on the TV about two Kangaroos in another State who had gone into a suburban neighbourhood to fight one another. You can see where the term Boxing Kangaroos came from. Ten points for guessing what they were fighting over. A woman for sure.

I had no words.

Instead, I quickly gave my guests some Vegemite on toast and turned their attention to something else that people think is kind of weird about living here.

(Just as an aside, my sister told me that Chinese travellers adopt a European name when they travel. So I asked them how they chose their name. Fiona and Elliott? From Shrek and ET. Too cute. As were they. Gorgeous couple.)

Don't you love travel? There is always so much to learn about other places and cultures. What is the weirdest thing you have seen or done in your travels?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Are YOU a poor old dear...?

A handsome guy called Eric served me at the service station yesterday.

Instead of getting out of my car to pump my own petrol (or gas as some of you call it), Eric came and did it for me.

He cleaned my car's windscreen and checked the oil. He even asked if I wanted the tyres checked.

It's a shame I only get to visit this garage every now and then given it's so far out of my way. It's so quaint and unique and offers that old fashioned customer service that disappeared from service stations decades ago.

Every time I've been there Eric has been working. And while I knew that he was much older than your average attendant, he finally told me yesterday that he was 97 (and 3/4) years old.

Nearly 98.

I was floored. 

He proudly said that he had been opening and closing the garage (which he owns) for 60 plus years. His only concession to his age is that he now goes home for lunch and has a power nap before he comes back to work.

He does this six days a week and he has no plans to quit or retire unless health forces him to do so.

While waiting, I heard him talking to another customer, a woman who looked to be in her 60s. When he wandered back to speak with me he referred to this lady as a "poor old dear".

Poor old dear.

He reminded me so much of my Nanna (grandmother Elizabeth). She was in her 90s and used to play cards once a week at a community centre. She would refer to some of the other ladies as "poor old dears" too. For a while there I thought there must be a lot of centenarians at her card games but when I finally met them I realised they were all a good 20-30 years younger than she was. She absolutely did not see herself as old. At all.

That may have had something to do with her attitude to life or due to the fact that her eyesight was so poor that she literally just never got to 'see' herself as old. (As an aside, she was given a cancer death sentence when she was in her early 40s. She did not listen to that either.).

When I got back home and checked my emails there was one from a PR agency reminding me that October 1 was the UN International Day of Older Persons. Never heard of it.

Reading about it made me wonder what an 'older person' is exactly? How old are you when you become 'an older person'?

Should 'old' be determined by a certain age? Because I know some 40 year olds who would not be able to keep up with Eric.

Given nearly every country across the World is grappling with an ageing population and people are being forced to retire later, perhaps we need to redefine who an 'older person' is.

Perhaps we need to reframe what older people are capable of doing. And are doing. Perhaps we need to see more people like Eric out there owning businesses and pumping petrol.

Personally, I think about ageing a lot even though retirement is more than a decade away. And for some reason it worries me. 

When I spoke to Eric about this he said, "I never worry. Every day is just another day. Whatever happens, roll with the punches. Worrying never did anyone any good."

Before my Dad passed away he said exactly the same thing. He told me that the best advice he would give anyone is to stop wasting time worrying because most of it never happens anyway.

Is there a pill you can take to cure that affliction or are some people just born 'chilled'?

I need to worry less and laugh more. And keep working forever at something or other if that's what it does for you.

As it happens I didn't have to wait long to laugh more because when I drove off from the garage, I could hear Eric yell out, "See you again OLD GIRL", followed by loud, raucous laughter.

I laughed out loud. What a bloody cheeky young man that Eric is....

So how old is an 'older person' these days?  Do you think of yourself as old?