Removing the Blog Block

I am having some blogging blockage. I seem to only feel inspired when something goes comically wrong, or is light heartedly moving. Why can’t I write about pain and loss? Do I have an aversion to putting tragedy in writing? Maybe I am afraid of making it official.

It seems as of late that every time I take my place in front of the PC to share an anecdote or a warm memory, my hands go limp. I am not short on joyous and humorous reflections or stories.  In fact, my Dad and Lucy’s trip to the Taronga Zoo on the hottest day of the year was tempting to write about.   I had them sit in the baking sun for a half an hour so they could see a bird show, which was cut short due to animal heat exhaustion.  Or perhaps I could have chronicled our spontaneous journey to the Hunter Valley where the sun ebbed and the wine flowed. It was delicious fun.

I could write for pages on Kenna’s kindergarten adventure thus far, or about how proud I felt today when she was able to read the note I put in her lunch box this morning.

I could write about the Jones’ journey down under. I could tell the world about how great it felt to hug one of my oldest friends. How comforting it was to have home come to me.

But, I need to, for once, write down a feeling that is not light. It isn’t funny. It is almost as if  I can’t bring myself to blog again until I face the wave that is coming for me.  I don’t want to fight the rip,

My family has been eternally altered. With the passing of my cousin Kyle, the shape of us has changed.  Learning of his death brought a sharp pain.  It was an accident, a surprise.  A survivor and casualty of war. We don’t realize what balance a family has until a weight is lifted from one side of the scale. How important and valuable we each are…

My Uncle Gordy left the earth  shortly after Kyle’s departure. The man who taught me the importance of using a wooden spoon when making a sauce, the one who lectured me endlessly about the power of poetry and exercising the mind. Then man who loved family with an unsurpassed passion. With his passing, he passed a torch to a new generation of matriarchs and patriarchs. Leslie, Kenny, Nancy, and my Momma, Carolee.

I feel a strange guilt not throwing in a story about me humiliating myself publicly, but I just knew I couldn’t continue this blogging nonsense until I had said their names.

I love you Kyle Marshall Farr.

I love you Gordon Lee Creighton.

 

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Doctors, Dentists and Chiropractors… An International Problem

Doctors, Dentists and Chiropractors always make you feel like a liar. They don’t mean to. I think they are just trying to help, but somehow, I always end up feeling like a fraud.

Let’s start with Chiropractors (Aussie translation: Kiros) For some reason, the minute I hit the waiting room I immediately feel much better. This makes it difficult to describe “the problem”. To make things worse they will inevitably ask questions like, “Does it hurt when I do this?” or “Does it feel better when I do that?”

I feel like I’m being pulled over.

“Do you know how fast you were going?”

I should know, but somehow when faced with such questions I become nervous and confused. A wrong answer may lead to a the wrong diagnosis. Usually, the answer is somewhere in between, but I was already on the mend the minute I walked through those jedi doors. This uncertainty might have something to do with the fact that I am skeptical of Chiropractors in general. I will admit, I have been helped in the past by said Kiros and their voodoo magic , but I just wonder…have they ever met anyone who didn’t have a subluxation? Does anyone have a luxation? I’m just wondering, because everyone I know seems to have this condition.

Now let’s talk doctors: Why must they use the 1-10 pain scale? You know the one I am talking about. What is that? I pushed a baby the size of a watermelon out of an orifice the size of a grape without medication. That was a a big fat 10 yo! This here back pain, is a 2 compared to that action. But compared with how I felt two days ago, it’s a solid 7.  A young woman who has never pushed a human being out of her vagina, might call it a 9. It is a worthless question. Ask me something else. Or better yet, run some tests.

Unfortunately, although Australia has universal medical care, it is decisively less thorough. No tests. Usually, I diagnose myself.

“I think I have a sinus infection.”

“You do appear stuffy. Have some penicilin.”

To acquire pain medication however, you must say the alphabet backwards while playing the recorder and screaming in agony. I guess they think since codeine can be purchased over the counter I should just shut up and be grateful (which I am most of the time.)

Dentists might be the worst. They are like a scorned nanny.

“HAVE YOU BEEN FLOSSING???!!!!!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I will try harder. I will use rope next time, I swear!”

Thank God Jesus was a carpenter and not a dentist.

Poll 1: What is the worst physical pain you have ever experienced? Do you feel the need to share said pain with your doctor so he can adjust his scale appropriately? Talking about it is the first step toward dealing with this international problem.

Poll 2: How do you feel about Chiropractors? Do you have a subluxation?

Words of the day: Straight Away: As soon as possible.

Quack: Bad Doctor

I am off to the Quack straight away!

CONFESSION TIME: *At my Senior Dinner in 1996 there was a hypnotist. He picked me out of the audience of 300 or so to participate in his crooked demonstration. I don’t know why I went along with it in the first place, but I did. He had us believing (pretending) we were freezing cold and affectionate. I felt neither cold nor affectionate, but still I shivered and hugged Dan Barr who sat next to me faking it as well. The Hypnotist or “Hypno”, as the Aussie’s probably would say, said that I would “wake up” and sing the Alma Mater. The irony being I was probably the only one in the class that knew the song since my Grandma Mimi wrote it. So I did it. I sang it. I shouldn’t have, but I didn’t want the Hypno to be made a fool. I couldn’t let him down, and yet, I felt I let my classmates down by pretending I was indeed hypnotized. I suck. Forgive me Class of 96′. I lied to you. I was not hypnotized’ just suckered into being a fraud by a fraud. You didn’t deserve it and I am sorry.

What’s Cookin?

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. The strangest things seem to keep me up for hours. Case in point. The other night, I woke up at 3am completely out of sorts. I was crazed; desperate to be interesting. Earlier in the evening, I succumbed to the crazy antics of facebook (sorry myspacers) and all of her minions by writing 25 Random Things about myself. I had been “tagged” by about 25 people, and the pressure was getting to me. So I quickly shot off the requested amount of random facts about myself, shut down the computer and headed to bed. That was my first mistake. Not leaving ample time between public reflection and bedtime. My second mistake was reading so many wonderful random lists right before creating my own. The stage was set for compulsive comparison. My third mistake was spending so little time on something I evidently cared about. Why did I care so much, you ask? Well, because, I want people to think I am awesome. That’s right…I said it. I want everyone I encounter to think me awesome. For at least an hour, I thought of all the random things I should have mentioned.

..q

..I know sign language

..q

..I miss living on Star Lake.

..q

..I like blue best.

“Not quite interesting enough,” I thought.

..q

..-I love scary roller coasters unless they dangle me upside down for too long. I require speed and dynamic loops to be satisfied…

“Ooh that’s good, and so true.”

..q

…I love the way Chaylee moves her shoulders when she dances and the way Kenna talks out of the side of her mouth when she makes a joke lately.

“Nice: remind everyone what a great mom I am for noticing the little things. “

..q

..I sang at the Stanley Cup when I was ten.

“Taking it too far.”

…this went on for some time…this internal madness…until finally I realized that if I did not act, I would not sleep. I located the laptop and made revisions.

I pressed Post. I went to bed. It was the temporary sedative I needed, but it did not quell the dull ache of rut-dom. (That’s a new word I made up, in case you are going for your dictionary). After all, life is good. I have the coolest husband in two hemisphere’s, two fancy daughters, and access to beach life. So why do I feel so uninteresting? Is it the yoga pants I wear day in and day out? Perhaps. Or could it be my monotonous domestic responsibilities and respective deficiencies? Is it because I am 30…+1? The answer is, none of the above. Yoga pants rule and domestic responsibility comes with the territory. Sucking at it is a little tough, but nothing I can’t overcome.

The answer is…I NEED AN AUDIENCE. That’s right. Children 5 and under are wonderful. Mine bring me great cheer, but they, in many ways, are a tough crowd. Witty metaphors go over like pork chops at a Bar mitzvah. Yet, merely utter the words “pee pee” or “poo poo” and get out the pull ups. It would be okay if I liked potty humor, but I am not a fan. The audience I seek will not require me to say “ca ca” to get a laugh.

Hence, the end of my tale. While watching an episode of “Ready, Steady, Cook”, it occurred to me: this show is filmed in front of a live studio audience….. the people in said audience are cheery and required to laugh and provide positive bio feed back to the contestants. I love to cook…..Ready Steady Cook is seeking contestants. And so instead of whining about my rut, I set out to do something truly interesting. I emailed the show and quipped:

“I am Ready. I am Steady. Let’s Cook”.

I called a fellow expat and friend to be my fellow contestant. We auditioned last week. If that is not interesting I don’t know what is.

I’ll keep you posted.

Words of the Day

Troppa: To go crazy or insane….

Rippa: Great Job….

I have been going Troppa lately but I think Ready Steady Cook will be a real rippa. ….

……

Trivia

Ready Steady Cook asks two contestants to cook with Australia’s best and brightest chefs while they go to battle with paring knives drawn. Each contestant brings a bag of their favorite ingredients to cook with. The chefs, with help of a trusty sidekick (that would be me) must make a meal with the provided ingredients in no less then 20 minutes. I hope I won’t go troppa under the pressure.

http://readysteadycook.ten.com.au/

……

Poll: What is the craziest thing you have done to get out of a rut?

……

Family Fun Facts

Chaylee is fluent in English. Kenna started Kindergarten, Drama Class once a week, and will be on the Roseville Rookie Soccer team as of next month. –Oh no…it just occurred to me…I am a soccer mom! Get out the scissors.

Little Bird

I was not anticipating this level of emotion. It’s just kindergarten. It’s not like I am sending her to Nam. She will be fine. I will be fine. I think. 

I attended the Roseville Public Kindergarten Orientation tonight. I was greeted with a “cuppa” tea, various dessert trays and the Roseville Public Concert Band practicing “Our House”. The poor little drummer was an emotional wreck. I could tell he was struggling rhythmically on the verses so I told him he rocked. He got tears in his eyes and mouthed to his father, “I don’t want to play!” My encouragement actually made the situation worse.

Lesson 1: Discourage Kenna from playing drums in the Roseville Band. Emotional damage may ensue.

I found a seat adjacent to the other mums from pre school and the band begin “Our House”; this time for real. I could not help but sway and sing a line or two. Some of my enthusiasm was intended to mend my broken relationship with the fragile drummer. I thought maybe if he saw me getting down to his music he would no longer hate me. When the song ended I even let out an emphatic “woohoo”. Evidently, Australians typically save that sort of fanfare for footy, because I was the only one vocalizing during the applause. He never did smile at me.

Lesson 2: Kid Drummers are jerks.

The rest of the evening was not far from what you would expect in the States; apart from the discussion of canteen duty (the parents voluntarily run the hot lunch program) and the uniform purchasing tutorial. I think I became visibly confused during this portion of the evening. It may have been my passive aggressive way of protesting the fees imposed, or maybe I was trying too hard to be the interesting foreign woman. Whatever my motive, it was a clear moment of cultural disconnect. For example:

What is a jumper? (Hint: It is not a dress).
Answer: A Jacket.
What is an excursion bag?
Answer: A bag used on excursions, a.k.a. field trips.

The excursion bag is actually one of four different carrying devices you are asked to purchase. How exactly is Kenna going to negotiate these bags…she’s like 3 feet tall?
Crazy Australians.

Lesson 3: Start making Kenna carry around as many bags as possible. That way she will be confident in her bag handling skills when school begins.

Total Cost of school cosi (translation: costume)-$200
Total Cost of Bags-$100
Total Cost of Accessories: $25
Total Cost of Public School tuition for expats: $4,500
Seeing my baby leave the nest in her little school uniform:- Priceless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words of the Day: ·

Ankle Biter: Children
By Jingoes: Surprise

By Jingoes! My ankle biter is goin to kindie!

Trivia: The school year in Australia runs from Feb.-Dec. School operates year round with the biggest break occurring in January. There are four terms with 2-3 week breaks in between.

Poll: Have you ever had a run in with an overly sensitive drummer?

 

 

 

 

 

Family Fun Fact: We just got back from a weekend on the South Coast. We encountered many wild kangaroos (who by the way seem more menacing in the wild), visited with some extraordinary kookaburras and parrots, had a run in with blue bottle jellyfish, and had the privilege of watching two humpback whales splash about in a storm. There was also a minor incident involving Mike, a forestry road, some burnt trees and our Pajero, but other than that…

License to Ill

I think Australia might be trying to kill me. I am not sure yet. Sometimes, it seems like Australia loves me and never wants me to leave. Like when the sun shines, and the waves crash and the guy at the counter calls me Sheila (that hasn’t actually happened but I trust that it will at some point). But much of the time I think Australia wants me dead.

Why? Because She has waged a campaign of biological warfare against me and my kin. Over the last two weeks, my girls and I have been ravaged by a flu/cold from hell. Fortunately, Mike has been spared. Good thing too. He works for an investment group. Not sure he would survive a physical assault as well. This is cold/flu number 15 since we have arrived.

My theory may be wrong. Maybe Australia is just trying to bolster my wimpy immune system, because it cares; like a drill Sargent trying to beat the weakness out of me. If this is the case, the World Youth Day Pilgrimage to Sydney was like the boot camp finale. The Pilgrims brought with them love, prayers, and germs from around the world. So it could be that this hellish flu is not Australian at all. Maybe this humdinger is Latvian. Hard to say at this point. It is more likely an Asian flu, because it has brought out Chaylee’s legendary kung fu skills.

You see, when Chaylee weaned (see Suddenly Seymour) she may have stopped suckling, but her fascination with the human mouth did not cease. She continues to rely upon sticking her hand in my mouth when she is in need of comfort or rest.

Therefore: Chaylee + Illness = root canal for mommy.

Example: Last night I was up from 2am till 4am being worked on. She used some of her traditional moves like the inner cheek scratch and gum claw. I used some of my own defense techniques like the lullaby method and snuggle hold. When these defenses faltered I attempted to hold a pillow in my mouth in hopes that she could not enter . The pillow was no match for her misery and immense need for comfort. She pulled a side maneuver and entered through the gap between fabric and cheek. Exhaustion and empathy prevailed.

It was like negotiating with a little terrorist. Okay, okay, you can put your hand in my mouth, just stay away from my frenulum…and no scratching.

Now that my hair is longer, she has incorporated some new comfort seeking techniques. Namely, twirling my hair and then jamming it into my mouth. This is a favorite of mine. Another meditative strategy she now employs involves a flat hand and a swift jabbing motion aimed directly at the uvula. Any attempts to thwart said strategy is met with rivers of tears and agonizing cries of “momma”, cough, cough, sneeze, cough, “momma”. How can you say no to a sickly baby dentist. I can’t. Especially one as lovely as she.

Word of the Day: Oldies: Parents.

I refuse to use this in a sentence.

Poll: Does anyone else have a child or know of a child that is comforted by the inside of his/her mother’s mouth?

Family Fun Fact: Chaylee Pasley DDS is an amazing little girl…it would take ten blogs…even more…to capture her loveliness. She is a delight not just a dentist. Just wanted to let the world know.

Surgeon General Notice: By the time guests arrive in Sydney once again, our family should be completely immune to germs worldwide.

Wenlocks and Grandma Down Under Part 2

“Living without you, living alone
This empty house seems so cold” 

Oh Journey…you haunt me.

My beloved family has departed…leaving me to fend for myself on this massive remote island. I am closer in proximity to the Malaysian Prime Minister than my own relatives now. Best not to think about that too much.

Instead, I shall dwell on all the wonderful times we shared …once we got the nose situation under control, that is. We frolicked on the steps of the Opera House, danced to the didgeridoo at Circular Quay, played in the sparkling sands of Balmoral Beach and hid from a rainstorm under the bridge. We even ate Aussie food at an Irish Pub where Mick, the ball-busting waiter shared his displeasure with our Olympians…

“Tired of hearing your bloody anthem mate!”

Okay, now that’s just awesome.

Mom’s arrival brought even more bliss. We flew kites on the crystal shores of Bondi, caressed kangaroos at Taronga Zoo and attempted to enjoy the clowns and carnival of Luna Park.

Our first attempt was met with alluring lights, celebratory music, and a closed sign. Our second effort was thwarted by a recently revised ticket policy. No longer are visitors to Luna Park allowed to purchase individual tickets, only a pricey “ticket package”. We had to take a stand. It wasn’t easy convincing the little ones that our boycott was justified, so we bribed them with fairy floss (cotton candy) and festive clown encounters.
Lesson: Never trust an establishment that uses a creepy clown to welcome you.

There was also good grown-up fun. Mom and Kirsten and I had one heck of a night out on the town. Mom was a champ. She was willing to enjoy the nightlife even though the excursion would commence at 1am Pacific Standard Time.

We decided to take the train from Chatswood to Darling Harbour where we would locate an eatery worth eating at. On our way there we were fortunate to happen upon an Asian festival where a Celtic band was playing an obscure song called “Orphan Girl” that my mom recorded with my sister and I for her latest album. It was a surreal “Small World” sort of feeling as we Americans sang along with Irishmen at an Asian festival in Australia. All that were missing were some an African goat drums and a couple sombreros.

Once we arrived at Darling Harbour, we scoured the promenade with purpose, in an effort to find the perfect spot to imbibe and nibble on the finer things. We finally found what we thought was an ideal location; a seafood joint with outdoor dining and a water view. It was beautiful, crowded, festive and fricken freezing. The heat lamps were no match for the mighty winter winds that lapped up against our hungry cheeks. (That was my lame attempt at a more poetic writing style). Although we were pleased with our culinary options and our waiter, we did not feel like having frigid fun. So we took our drinks and headed inside.

Our indoor accommodations were sparse. No jovial neighbors surrounded us, the wait staff was disorganized and disinterested, and the table was cold and barren. We had made a poor decision. We scanned the room and found a more alluring option. A booth, with a decorative bamboo backdrop and a better view…sort of. At least we could see something blue at the bar. Unfortunately, it was also home to a run away AC unit. It was like trying to have a drink in a wind tunnel. Since no one cared to feed us at that point anyway, we paid the bill and departed.

Then, it happened.

We found what we were looking for. We found Nick’s. Nick had it goin on; outdoor seating, effective heating elements, a magnificent menu and a friendly staff that seemed more than happy to take in customers on the rebound.

There was a minor martini incident…but other than that…

(The following clip contains some profanity. My apologies. It was my alter ego Delores…not me.)

The evening ended with the singing of a popular folk song called, “We Are Australians.” The song recently gained popularity in mainstream media due to a moving Olympic inspired commercial. We performed the song in three-part harmony on the streets of Sydney in hopes that somehow our melodious effort would ignite an impromptu Sydney sing-a-long, in the tradition of Fame or High School Musical. It didn’t.

Mike and James also had a night out on the town. They walked the Harbour Bridge and hit some of the famous Sydney Pubs. I hear much of the night was spent trying to feed Big James in a town that doesn’t believe in serving anything edible after 10pm. I believe the adventure ended with beer and pancakes. ???

There was more, much more, but since I am into the whole brevity thing we will fast forward to the airport…

I did what I could to not weep openly as they headed to the concourse that would lead them home. I am not an attractive crier. My nose and lips tend to swell and my skin gets very red and blotchy. Needless to say, I left that day in the aforementioned state.

In the somewhat altered words of Journey,
“Now that [they had] come back and
Turned night in to day
I needed [them] to stay”

Fortunately Mom and Mike were there with Open Arms.

We decided to head out to our favorite pizza joint to lessen the sense of loss and continue the fun. It was a good night. There was a minor incident involving mom, food aversion and a fever of 101, but over all…

Random Trivia: Aussie’s shorten everything…to an irritating degree. It’s not breakfast, it’s brekkie. It’s not lipstick, it’s lippie. It’s not flight attendant or air hostess, it’s hostee. I mean, Come on guys. Are you being a little ridiculous, or should I say, rickee!

Poll: Is Delores too vulgar?

Fun Family Fact: Mom and I discovered some incredible local hangs that we would like to take future guests to, including: Palm Beach, Whale Beach, Serpentine Beach and the Royal Botanical Gardens. What a grand time we had Momma!

Phrase of the Day: Choof Off: To leave or depart.
Why did they have to choof off?

Homework: Learn “We are Australians”

The Wenlock Adventure Down Under Part 1

 

They arrived on the third of August. My beloveds. My blood. My family. In anticipation, Kenna helped prepare freshly squeezed orange juice while Chaylee made up a routine to Men at Work. I set out an array of tropical fruits native to Australia in addition to cream puffs and croissant breakfast sandwiches. Impressive.The anticipation was becoming physically uncomfortable. Mike called just in time. 

“I have the package.” He said.

The girls and I squealed with delight and put the Men to Work. “Land Down Under” played at maximum volume as we headed for the front door to greet our kin.

The series of hugs that ensued would have made you cry. It was as if we had been kept apart by the Iron Curtain. We sent Oprah the tape. As a result, she is buying Qantas for us. Good on ya Oprah!

Day one was spectacular. The children frolicked gleefully, the grown ups relished the bliss of international togetherness. The Wenlocks were impressed with their accommodations and my awesome driving. There was a minor incident involving a sand pit, a mini tractor and Rowen’s eye at the park… but, all in all, it was a strong start. There was also a minor vomit incident involving Mike and some chicken. But, overall…

Day two brought much excitement. While Mike recovered from his evening poolside, the family and I headed into town to see Sydney and it’s Darling Harbour. The outing did not disappoint. The panoramic views, peaceful promenades and world famous Aquarium brought hours of oohs and aahhhs.

Later that evening, there was a minor incident involving Rowen, some vomit and the occasional dry heave. But, overall…

Day three took a bit of a nose dive. An incident developed involving Kirsten, allergies and a nasal infection. Story also experienced some flu like symptoms throughout the night. But all in all…

By day four Kirsten’s right nostril had doubled in size and was a shade just shy of crimson. I told her she was still pretty. She cried. Then I told her that her nose looked a lot like Bill Clinton’s and reminded her that he still gets a lot of A$ despite his bulbous nose. That seemed to help. At least until I was able to get her to the doctor. Though the Medical Center I frequent has a fairly undesirable reputation, it’s convenient and cost effective so we decided to disregard Mike’s “clown medicine” jokes in order to save some cash. The Doctor glanced at my sister’s nose, agreed that it was infected, reminded us of the proximity of the nose to the brain, then mistakenly wrote up a prescription for children’s Erythromycin . Dr Feelgood said if it got worse there was nothing more he could do for us and we would need to head for the ER. Send in the clowns!

Poor Kirsten left feeling worse than when she arrived and far more anxious. But hey, at least she had her bubble gum flavor antibiotic.

Day five brought a whole new set of issues. The nose now appeared broken. Although Kirsten desperately wanted to avoid the subject of the nose, it became a focal point; an impossible feature to avoid eye contact with. Through glassy eyes, Kirsten confessed that she thought she might lose her nose. Mike consoled her by pointing out the fame and notoriety of Voldemort. She was in no mood for dark humor.

My efforts to bring peace were thwarted by my own terror at what was transpiring. I could not seem to keep myself from the maniacal manifests of WebMD. That bastard cyber doctor convinced me that Kirsten had nose cancer accompanied by MRSA with a touch of encephalitis. Tough to tell someone it’s all going to be okay when you have just received their death sentence.

Unfortunately, the nose situation was not the only medical malady of the day. Young James was next in line to be attacked by the House of Pain as his gastro intestinal system fell victim to the bug that seemed to be taking out each family member in kind. But outside of the physical suffering and agony, things seemed to be going well.

I would have been far more discouraged by the escalating crisis were it not for my bearded Hungarian Bride, Big James, who helped me keep the boat afloat by executing diaper changes, doing dishes and bathing children.

On the sixth day the swelling had become more localized with a painful hint of purple. Frightening facial numbness had emerged as well. Not the improvement we were hoping for. It was time to take drastic action. We could head to the ER or return to the circus. I decided to take my soon to be noseless sister back to the Medical Center to Dr. Townsend. The notoriously long line to see him suggested to me that he was the Obi Wan our Princess Leah needed. Maybe he would nose what to do.

Day seven brought healing and hope. The new medicine prescribed by Dr. Townsend was fast and effective. Kirsten’s nose was not going to fall off. We nearly set out to celebrate but then came a minor incident involving Big James and some vomit, but overall…

Phrase of the day: “You’re crook but not crook as rook wood” Dr. Townsend
Translation: You’re sick, but your not going to die.

Poll:
Which is worse?
A: A runaway nasal infection
B: Chunder Down Under
C: Accidentally showing your buttock to a park full of people.

Trivia: Taste is 75% smell. I hate the word smell. So does Kirsten.

Next Blog: Things Are Looking Up