Highlander

I had successfully created man heaven. Extra cushions and blankets were strategically placed on the couch. Pre-made snacks and beverages were arranged on the coffee table within reach. Films with gratuitous violence and chaotic action sequences were rented. A child containment action plan was put in place. The universal remote was in position. All that was left was the man with the repaired meniscus

He arrived home decorated with an impressive knee brace and oddly shaped crutches better suited for a polio patient. He looked just pitiful enough to lavish sympathy upon with sincerity. He felt loved, at peace, grateful for modern medicine and a loving bride. He was enjoying himself. And who wouldn’t? Everyone likes a little non-life threatening illness or injury now and again, particularly when one is provided with around-the-clock-in-home-care and heaps of codeine.

The next morning Mike was served a two egg omelet breakfast with toast and tea as he lounged on the couch. Other than performing intermittent leg exercises, he was required to do nothing but heal. He was living the dream. Now all I had to do was get the kids out of the house and I would be inducted into the Spousal Hall of Fame.

But the dream would soon be compromised and my induction ceremony cancelled.

“MIKE! MIKE! MIKE! MIKE! I NEED YOU! (Expletive)…MIKE!”

He hobbled to the front door to see what had gone wrong only to find our toddler,  Chaylee in hysterics and me crumpled on the rain soaked ground holding my right foot with tears in my eyes. My notoriously sturdy ankle had failed me…had failed him.

“Are you okay?” He said, clearly hoping that my hollering was a gross overreaction to a minor incident.

“No.” I replied trembling, still clutching my throbbing limb.

“But there can be only one…” He said, as the magnitude of the situation begin to hit.

“There can be only one!”

It was pitiful. I could not rise unaided and he could not bend. He staggered over to his crutches and handed them to me. I began to cry, which sent the already fragile Chaylee into a tearful frenzy.

“It always has to be about you, doesn’t it.” He jested, but I was in no mood for dark humor.

It was becoming clear that the ER was in my future. Fortunately, Patrick the Irishman and Isabella, would be by later in the afternoon to pick up the kids for a play date at Wizzy World, but in the meantime, I needed a ride. I needed a friend, but no one was home. In Roseville, when school holidays commence, the entire neighborhood evacuates, except for a few despondent cab drivers. One of them would have to do.

Mike escorted me through the rain to the cab and handed me his crutches. My heart sunk into my belly as I watched him lug his impaired appendage back into the house unaided, where he would be faced with two confused and hungry children. In a matter of moments, man heaven had become man hell.

My visit to Northshore Hospital was uneventful. I was x-rayed and diagnosed with a “bad sprain” The 12 year old doctor provided me with a brace, some panadein forte, and more suitable crutches. I was relieved but still in pain.

My homebound cabbie was even less sympathetic than the gentleman who picked me up. He sat comfortably perched in his warm vehicle while I waddled unsteadily toward him on crutches, negotiating my purse, a bulky sweater, a shoe, paperwork, and of course, Mike’s loaner crutches. The indifferent chauffeur did not even pretend that he wanted to assist me. Instead, he sat muttering to himself about the “idiot” in front of us who was blocking the roundabout. “Yeah,” I agreed sardonically. “What a jerk…”.

The fun-loving chauffeur spent the rest of the ride home explaining why he hated Australia and was desperate to get back home to his home country.  I thanked him warmly for the ride and encouraged him to go ahead and make that dream come true.

The days that followed were not easy but there were some flowers that emerged among the thistles.

For example: my left ankle happens to look incredibly dainty next to my grotesquely swollen right one. This has always been a dream of mine.

Communal ice packs and his and her crutches can really bring a couple together…(or tear them apart…we experienced a little bit of both).

Times such as these make you appreciate your friends, family and all the comforts of home.

Codeine is awesome.

Poll

Have you and your spouse ever been ill or injured at the same time? Did you continue to like one another?

Words of the Day

  • Cook: Ones Wife
  • Built Like a Brick Sh#@ House: Big strong bloke.
  • Dag: Nerd or goof
  • A over T: to fall over, from “arse over t*#s”.

This cook felt like a dag when I fell A over T. Good thing my man is built like a brick sh#@ house.

Random Aussie Trivia

Australians make up nicknames for everyone. Even the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is known as Ruddy. His Treasurer Wayne Swan is referred to as Swanny. So to pay homage to my countrymen here in Australia I will now affectionately refer to the President and Vice President of the United States as Bamo and Biddie!

 

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International Mall Mayhem

All malls are the same regardless of hemisphere. Each one has a food court, curious mall music, wandering wayward youth who should be in school, skin care specialists who want a moment of your time , and department store mirrors designed to hurt your feelings.

Exhibit A

My little girl looked so beautiful: her fine hair pulled back haphazardly, her giant, hypnotic, hazel eyes gazing into my soul, tomato sauce strewn across her little fingers…It was an ordinary moment with an extraordinarily moving aura about it.

Why was I so moved? Why was I welling up? What was this raw emotion? Then it occurred to me. It was the music. It was the mall music. The ambient, manipulative melody of Joshua Kadison’s classic… “Jesse”. I don’t even like that song. In fact, I can honestly say, it is just above “Sometimes When We Touch”…in fact, the two sound eerily alike, if you think about it.

It was humiliating. I was publicly moved by an Elton  John wannabe and his voodoo magic. Everyone saw it happen. Even the wayward youth that should be in school.

Exhibit B

I should not have made eye contact. It was an accident. I was in no mood for skin care advice and I had a happy baby in a fancy car buggy that I had hired for five dollars an hour. Never wake the sleeping dragon. Never.

I risked it.

‘Would you like to have soft skin that looks younga?” He said with a distinctly Greco-Australian accent. He grabbed my left limb and begin to apply a silky gray clay from “the dead sea” to a small area just below my knuckles on the back of my hand.. I must admit, it felt nice. He rubbed the top of my hand in a circular motion, before washing off the deceased ocean clay from my skin. He then remarked on the significant difference in softness from the course, scaly, state of my epidermis before the treatment….that is what I felt like he said. He then requested that I lift the other hand to provide contrast, in an effort to again prove the awesomeness of his product. The problem was, my right hand was still speckled with tomato sauce as a result of a speedy departure from the food court after the “Jesse Incident”. Once again, I tried to explain, but he seemed repulsed. I was humiliated. At least the dragon was still sleeping. When he realized that I was probably not going to be a paying customer, be tried a new tactic. “You know those red spots on your face and those splotches, this will actually make those go away completely, giving you a more youthful look.”

Evidently, Zorba the Aussie, didn’t realize that the way to a woman’s heart is through affirmation. Never insult the client! Never. A woman wants to feel like she is smokin as is and on fire with a little help. This guy was a rookie. Why did I even risk waking the dragon for this fire fighter.

Exhibit C

Getting half naked in front of a mall mirror is like being forced to listen to “Jesse” in surround sound while being insulted my an effeminate skin care “specialist”. It moves you to tears.

Poll:

Have you ever been emotionally manipulated by mall music?

Have you ever been swindled by a salesman working out of an island in the mall?

Have you ever woke the sleeping dragon while shopping?

Have you ever been mocked by a mall mirror?

Do you agree candle lit dressing rooms would improve overall mall sales?

Have you had any mall mishaps lately?

Words of the day:

  • Bogan : person who takes little pride in his appearance
  • Bail (somebody) up : to corner somebody physically
  • Spit the dummy: get very upset at something

I nearly spit the dummy when the bloke bailed me up and made me feel bogan.

Trivia

Has wine consumption affected my blog writing ability?

The Chicken Situation

“We are on the Central Coast. Would you mind checking on the cat while we’re gone?” requested Jane. “I asked Victoria to take care of things, but I may have forgotten to mention the cat. And, while you’re there, go ahead and grab any eggs you find in the ‘chook’ pen.”

I would do anything for Jane. She was the first Australian to take me under her wing and the least I could do is check on her chickens and throw out some feed for her feline in her absence. She assured me that the “chooks” were quite easy to handle and that if they tried to escape, they could be easily coaxed back into the pen with a broom. Or, at least, that is what I thought I heard her say.

I took the girls down the road with me to enjoy the kid paradise that is Jane’s backyard. The gated, grassy plot is home to swings, a trampoline, a semi-friendly cat, a cubby house, a scrumptious garden and a pregnant guinea pig.

I put Chaylee in her favorite swing and tended to the cat before heading to the coup with Kenna, broom in hand. Inside were two eggs with my name on it, guarded by a protective hen with a stern look and unnaturally large feet.

I could hear Jane in my head, “If you run into trouble, just use the broom.” I gently batted at the guardian chicken with the aforementioned broom, all the while speaking words of encouragement to her.

“Hello there tender chicken. Can I have those eggs please? Pretty please?”

She stared me down, unmoved by my words. I opened the gate wider and advanced with greater authority. Just then, two hens escaped between my legs with lightening speed and mind-boggling accuracy. Kenna screamed. Flustered, I turned my gaze toward the escapees, and in doing so, left the egg monitor with large feet, unsupervised. She too flew the coup and headed straight for the swing set.

Chaylee was a sitting duck; perched on a swing that was no longer swinging, she wailed wildly, sure she would soon be eaten by chickens. I rescued her from certain death and placed her on the trampoline out of harms way. Kenna grabbed the once heavily guarded eggs before heading to the trampoline as well, which thereto became known as, “the rally point”.

“Whatever you do, do not leave your post!” I said.

“But Mom…” Kenna interrupted.

“DO NOT leave your post! It’s time for Operation Chicken Recovery.” Wielding the broom like a maniac I chased down the rogue chickens, masking my panic with tender words.

“Come on you crazy chickens. Go back to your home. Come on. Please!”

Just as “chook number one” was just about under my control, I heard yet another scream. Kenna stood up and cried out in distressr, egg dripping from her pink ruffles; our first casualty.

Chaylee began to panic. Her whimpers evolved into genuine sobs. The chicken situation was worsening by the minute. Kenna, abandoned her post, and wearing nothing but a t shirt and underwear headed for the hose. I resumed my efforts with the broom. Chaylee continued to weep.

A young neighbor peered over the fence. I smiled and waved.

“I have everything under control.” I said with waning confidence. I was out of my element. It was time to call in reinforcements.

Although Kenna had encouraged me to bring my cell phone on our excursion, I did not. I would have to get in the house somehow. Fortunately, I knew where the spare key was located and was able to enter the house and use the landline. Kenna resumed her post at the rally point to comfort her sister, while I entered the home.

“Mike…we have a chicken situation. I repeat, the chickens are on the loose.” He was not surprised.

I pressed on till help arrived…and oh yes…it did arrive. Mike Pasley had a weapon I was unaware of.

Himself.

You see, Mike Pasley is a chicken whisperer. I did not know this when we met or married. But, this man has a gift. He walked over to the freakish hen with the large feet, and calmly picked her up. The chicken did not fight him. She went willingly. It was then I discovered, that my husband is in fact, the Beastmaster.

Could diplomacy have been the answer all along?

Just then, Victoria and family entered the battlefield and witnessed Mike’s magic for themselves. I shared with them what had transpired and with a kind giggle she broke the news.

“Actually, the chickens will go back into the pen themselves at night. I think Jane just uses the broom to get the eggs.”

Poll

Have you ever been in a chicken situation? (Dee I expect you to have some good stuff to share)

Phrase of the Day

Cracked a Wobbly: To freak out or lose it. ….

I just about cracked a wobbly when those chooks escaped.

Trivia

Did you know that when people yell at you with an Australian accent it actually hurts your feelings more? I will share more about this interesting fact, in my next blog entitled, “The Jerry Springer Carpet Cleaner”

My Mojo

I have lost my blogging mojo. I don’t know where it has gone. I have started about seven of them, but about half way through, said mojo vanishes. So here they are, without solid transitions, clever endings or well constructed quips. They are really more like clips. Snapshots of my life over the last month.

You know you love someone when you are willing to clean up their vomit. You really know you love them if you react compassionately as they throw up on you and then sneeze on your face. I must really love Chaylee.

Kenna had a dream the other night that sent her into a frenzy. A bad man was trying to steal her magic. That bastard!

We have been carless for three weeks because I had a run in with a blue cement support column. The column had it’s way with me. Thus, we had to walk to the grocery store for supplies every few days. On my first excursion I became overly excited at the prospect of having time to myself. I was a woman of leisure. I made multiple impulse buys…one after another. I was reckless and erratic. I even purchased a weighty craft project and a butternut squash. I had six bags of goods by the time I headed home. It was a nightmare. I quickly began to curse the craft project and to berate butternut squash audibly. What was I thinking? It was a good life lessen though. We carry so much more than we need on our journey home. Most of our burdens we purchase ourselves. We spend the rest of our lives trying to find clever ways to carry them, but they are exhausting and uncomfortable. My journey home would have been so pleasant were it not for the friggen squash.

Michael Jackson died. Crap!

I just encountered a woman at Liquor Land* that baffled me. She had just sampled a reputable sparkling red wine. When asked how she felt about it, she moved her cell phone away from her mouth and replied in a thick Greek/Australian accent, “I hated it!” The woman who allowed her to sample the aforementioned wine was clearly taken aback.“It might be because you did not clear your pallet before trying it.” “No”, replied the woman, again adjusting her moblie phone, “I know wine. I know it, and that tastes nasty in my mouth and I don’t like it.” I wanted to chime in with, “Why don’t you tell her how you really feel?” but I held my tongue. I could not tell if I admired the cross wine sampler because she was frank, or was repulsed by her shocking response. I am the opposite of Frank. I am Betty Sue, in moments like those. I will buy the stuff, even if I don’t like it, if the salesman seems at all vulnerable or needy of my purchase. *Liquorland is a drive-thru liquor store. Only in Australia!

Phrase of the day: Stuffed Up—to wreck something or make a mistake.

I stuffed up the car.

Poll: Are you Frank of Betty Sue; or someone else altogether?

Aussie Trivia: The taronga zoo has a new baby elephant. Elephants are known as Elepants in our house. They are Chaylee’s favorite animal.

Game: Chaylee replaces F’s with P’s and B’s with V’s. Try it. It’s fun!

Family (un)Fun Fact: We have been sick for a total of three weeks with various and flu like symptoms and infections. I bet dimes to Aussie dollars we are survivors of Swine Flu, because I am more of a ham than ever. Not kidding about the swine flu though…I really do think we had it. The over the counter codeine you can get here though, has really saved our bacon! (YES! ANOTHER GEM!!!)

Kenna the Enchanted One — and Chaylee the Brain!

“You know what is so cool about me?I am magic in my dreams. I can sprinkle my fingers when I want things to happen and I can say like, “cow” and a cow will appear. I can be a fairy or anything. I can even fly. Sometimes I have trouble flying though. I can’t always fly, but sometimes I can. I am so magical in my dreams.”

That’s rad!

Shout out to the Chay Bay: She officially counts to ten and says her abc’s. As you know she says B instead of V and P instead of F…even when she is saying them. It is very endearing. Love that girl.

Finding Nemo

 

The boat was called FantaSea 1. A perfect name for the vessel that was about to make my dream come true. However, the dream was nearly extinguished before it was ever realized. The night before our intended departure on FantaSea 1, Chaylee sent projectile vomit down my shirt destroying my only truly supportive brazier and my dream. The poor girl did not intend to vomit on my dream. In fact, she was clearly displeased herself. No one enjoys the stomach flu. No one. I actually like a good solid head cold. And if you really think about it, I bet you do too. Consider: You can lounge around guilt free, a tumor is not a likely cause of the illness, and you get a fair amount of sympathy with minimal suffering. 

I digress.

Mike went ahead and rescheduled our voyage for the next day in hopes that our girl would turn her hat around and rally. And rally she did. At 8:50am we boarded FantaSea 1. The dream twas revived!

I was glad to hear it would be a two hour trip rather than a three hour tour. I stood up on the deck and stared at the big blue spread out before me. You can see why people thought the world was flat. A thin line of indigo separated the sea from the horizon. It seemed as if the water actually came to an end. Knowing it continued past what I could see provided me with just the existential, spiritual fodder I was seeking. God is real.

Kenna, Chay and Mike joined me on the terrace as the boat began to slow. A bright green shimmering band cut through the water like a stream. As we drew closer, the colors became even more brilliant and the contrasting blues even more surreal. The colossal reef carved a giant barrier through the aptly named coral sea and thus we had a arrived at the Great Barrier Reef: home to Nemo, Marlin, and my dream

So as to not interrupt my stream of consciousness, I skipped the part about Mike deciding at the last minute that he would go scuba diving in addition to snorkeling.

Announcer: Anyone interested in scuba diving should head downstairs for a quick tutorial.

That was all the convincing he needed. “I think I’ll do it.” He said non-nonchalantly as he headed downstairs. I was speechless. Bewildered. Not entirely happy. Actually downright miffed. (Miffed is really a terrible word. Say it a few times.)

My arguments against Scuba Diving
a) embolism
b) independent scuba diving may interfere with couples snorkeling
c) embolism
d) brief tutorials are not safe tutorials
e) embolism

Once I realized that his scuba (great word) experience would not interfere with my snorkeling ambitions I released him from my emotional prison. The truth was I was a bit jealous that I didn’t have the balls to do it too.

We docked at Reef World, a huge pontoon situated on the Hardy Reef. Does it bother anyone else that the name of one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth is Hardy? Who decided this? Shouldn’t it be called, Paradise Reef, or Beautiful Land or Enchanted Coral Garden?

Mike headed to the scuba section.

I took the girls on the fancy submarine ride.

We ate lunch.

Mike arrived from his scuba excursion. He looked happy. He was alive. I was proud.

I still had not touched water.

Mike dropped the girls off at the Clownfish Kids Club and I headed to the dressing room to put on my stinger suit. A fluorescent orange leotard designed to protect snorkellers from jellyfish and conceit. It served its purpose. It made me feel safe and humble. I looked like a giant orange road safety cone. It took me a good 15 minutes to pull the little number on. Two nineteen year old girls slipped on powder blue suits with ease, unzipping the front in an effort to reveal the little cleavage they were able to conjure up…Afterall, it is common knowledge that tropical fish love cleavage. Especially the ones that live on “hardy” reef.

“I think I will go for the Angelina Jolie look” said one of the snorkeling vixens.

I unzipped my special suit and responded. “I’m going with the nursing mother motif.”

They laughed…and laughed. Little did they know tropical fish prefer orange!

Mike came around the corner in his dark blue stinger suit. It really made his eyes pop. Good look for him. We were stopped at the equipment bin by a woman with a camera and a cockney accent. I just wanted to get in the water. She had other plans. She told us about a one-night stand she had with a man from Portugal, her parents home in London, her work as a school photographer, her run-ins with Canadians….
Finally, I just put on my snorkel mask, inserted the breathing apparatus and continued listening until she got the point that it was snorkel time.

The minute I hit the water I was filled with awe and wonder…unfortunately, my mask was filled with water too. It took me at least 20 minutes to situate my goggles in such a way that I would not drown every time I attempted to view the reef. Once I achieved correct goggle positioning I achieved Nirvana!

Clownfish, fox faced rabbit fish, angel fish, grouper, giant clams the size of Kenna, every colour of the spectrum surrounded me. Huge schools of silver fish darted back and forth in perfect unison. I was swimming through a Wild Kingdom. At one point, I looked down at the fields of coral and creatures and sang through my snorkel,

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…Praise Him all Creatures Here Below!”

After an hour of bliss, we beckoned Kenna to join us. She put on her stinger suit and was transformed into a sort of aqua teletubby. She has never looked more adorable and that is saying something. She didn’t last long in the water due to the ill-fitted breathing apparatus, but she did swim to the reef’s edge and squealed with delight as the friendly fish swam by her side.

After Kenna returned to the pontoon with Dad, I swam out once more determined to find Nemo before our departure. I swam around the reef’s rim peeking in each crevice like a underwater game of hide n’ seek. I nearly gave up my search when I saw a tiny orange fish poking his fin out of an anemone.

I found Nemo.

It was time to go home.

Poll: What is your dream?

Fun Fact: The Great Barrier Reef which is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. One down, six to go!

Word of the Day:

  • togs–noun:- bathers or swimming costume in Queensland and Victoria.
  • This sheila looks hot in her flaming orange tog.
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    There and Back Again – A Pasley Tale

    It was stunning. The rolling hills of emerald green spackled with gum trees and other botanical formations unknown to the people of America. Livestock, and foreign birds sang in foreign tongues. Golden light poured over the landscape like a warm blanket. And in the distance, the Tasman Sea, lapped wildly against cliffs unseen.

    T’was my turn to drive but my heart and mind were laid waste by what I had just witnessed. I pulled back onto the winding road and drove…and drove…and drove, occasionally staring into the eyes of my beloved spouse…the one whose hard work and adventurous spirit led us to this distant land…this….

    “Hey honey, look at that truck. What an idiot. He’s in my….lane…..”

    “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” I screamed and swerved frantically into the left lane, the correct lane, without regard for other motorists. I was too stunned by my own failure. How could I do such a thing? I’m no tourist. I am an Australian Resident for crying out loud. I know who Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are. I drink tea and throw trash in the rubbish bin. I like beetroot on hamburgers and I am no longer confused when people say “Ta” instead of thank you. I have no right to make mistakes of such magnitude.

    But hey, my passenger, Captain America, didn’t exactly steer me in the right direction either.

    Word of the Day: trucky – A driver of trucks. A blokey type.

    Poll: Have you had a run in with a trucky?

    Trivia: Kevin Rudd is the Prime Minister of Australia and Malcom Turnbull is the leader of the opposition party. This position was at one time held by Brenden Nelson.

    The story above is a small snippet of our Great Ocean Road Adventure which included an RV, much driving, staggering scenery, bird sized moths, wild koalas and kangaroos,bush rats, Jedi navigating, late nights, early mornings, coffee with Baileys, excited kids and much fun. We journeyed from Sydney to Melbourne to Port Fairy and back again. I love my family.