Fiction

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White Wedding Lie

My friend Sachie had texted some pics. I heard my phone ping again but I decided that I needed to get some fresh air before I could cope with what was happening. Slipping the phone into my pocket I stepped out into the garden. My boy Sarge was immediately at my side looking at me with his big brown eyes and resting his warm nuzzle against my leg. His eyes promised me that everything was going to be just fine. Stroking his soft fur helped. Yoga breath, I reminded myself. Be calm, nose in – mouth out, long slow breaths.

I leaned against the frangipani tree and pulled my phone out. She was absolutely stunning, his bride. Beyond exquisite. Her boho style dress draped elegantly on her long, slim body. Perfect hair, perfect make-up. I chose that moment to glance down at my feet, bare in the grass and all I saw was how badly I needed a pedicure and how fat my ankles looked!

“Come on Sarge, let’s walk a little. We’ll stay focussed in the garden and get some nice cool air. That will help, right?” He pressed gently beside me and I could not have been more grateful for his gentle company at that moment.

Another attachment came from Sachie – this time a video. I needed to sit down.

He looked happy and I knew his face, he was happy. His eyes were locked on his new wife as she stood with a champagne flute in her hand telling the story of how they had met.

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“So, how did I meet the most gorgeous man on the planet?” When she looks at him, it’s obvious in that moment that for each of them, they might as well be the only two people in the room. They are so in love.

“He was my table twelve. Shrimp scampi, fresh lemon, extra black pepper and a coopers pale ale.” There is a ripple of understanding and the clip scans so that I can see the guests enjoying their delicious meal, the groom’s favorite.

“Oh and he was there with a really hot girl, and I sort of thought that I should not be checking this guy out but then,” and she pauses and with a cute little wag of her hand she adds, “then I decided – I’m having myself some of that!” There is happy and good natured laughter. The bride beams at her man and raises her glass with a gesture for him alone. She knocks it out of the park, funny, sassy and adorable. Tick, tick, tick. I bet a lot of the guys in the room are wishing they were the groom, goodness even a few of the girls too!

“I put my name and number right across his bill and well, here we all are!” More laughter and a fair bit of hooting.

I had to take a deep, deep breath. You pretty, little bloody liar.

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I was restless. “Sarge, I need a drink. Let’s go boy.” Opening the fridge I looked longingly at the good champagne that had been chilling there for some time. “Don’t look at me like that, it’s water for both of us. I filled his inside bowl and checked my phone for messages. Surely, I would hear from him soon. I was doing ok, coping fine and was completely confident he would be calling, the very second he could.

After watching the video again, I knelt down on my yoga mat.

“That’s not what happened Sarge. Really, I should know, after all I was there. She got at least one fact right, I was hot!” My sweet boy cocked his head to one side in a show of agreement.

Three years ago I was at table twelve with David. I was impressed that she could remember his order – for sure I had no clue. Handsome, kind David with the gentlest nature possible sat opposite me with the saddest eyes I had ever seen in my whole life. It was wrenching. Four months earlier I had ended our long distance relationship. Now here we were, saying good bye in person, both of us melancholy. David was hopeful that now he had a transfer that we might try again. I had used the bathroom as an excuse – I needed to get myself together.

I was lost in thought looking at my own reflection when the door opened. The waitress started washing her hands at the sink beside me.

“Are you ok,” she asked in a kind tone.

“Yeah, no, yeah,” I said.

“Breakup? I mean you both look so sad out there.”

We were making eye contact in the mirror and adjusted our stance to face each other. She had an aura that was genuine and I could not miss noticing, she was a total babe.

“Sort of, yes and no. We broke up months ago but he just got back from overseas. So now, it’s more real.”

She started applying lip balm and I found myself telling her all about David.

“He is just the best guy. Kind, funny, honest – he is one of the good ones, actually great,” I tell her.

“But?” she responds.

“David is such a lovely guy. I feel rotten about everything.”

“He is very, very good looking,” she said with a tiny, wicked grin.

The irony of the situation hit me. I smiled for the first time all day.

“Are you checking out the guy I’m breaking up with?” I asked her.

Strangely, I found myself drawn to her and hoped that she would keep talking.

“Ok, you got me! I know, right. I was so checking him out and then I was telling myself, stop this – that guy is having dinner with his girlfriend. Get a grip Sachie.”

“Well, hi Sachie. I’m Ellie and that guy out there, he’s David.”

“Your David, your ex – he will not be a single David for very long. Are you sure about what you’re doing?” Sachie had asked me.

“I am too sure, that’s really the problem. It’s just so awful to hurt such a nice guy. Honestly, I’ve tried really hard to, you know make him understand it’s nothing to do with him. He didn’t do anything wrong.”

Sachie, our waitress had me figured out then.

“Have you met someone else Ellie?”

I felt the flame in my face. I answered her and could not keep the elation contained, “Yes, but I swear we have moved so SLOW, I could never have disrespected David in that way. That’s why today is so bittersweet. David knows, and I know – our time together, it’s finished.”

Looking back, my conversation in the ladies loo with our waitress Sachie was extraordinary. I didn’t know then that she was a psychology postgraduate who would finish the year at the top of her class. What happened next was even crazier and was the true version of how Sachie and David met.

“Hey, Sachie? Look, this is going to sound insane and I really promise you that we are not a pair of loonies. I mean, if you were truly checking David out, why don’t you give him your number?”

“You are actually serious. No! I’m not doing that,” said Sachie. Although she also laughed and gave me that sassy look that kind of said, but try to convince me.

“Come on, trust that instinct of yours,” I half pleaded. I wanted some part of today to be fun and positive for David.

“I don’t know. This seems a bit…”

“CRAZY!” I finished for her. Just then, another woman came into the bathroom. Sachie and I stopped talking and then she leaned over and hugged me. She walked out the door and I had no idea what she was going to do.

Later when David walked me to my car and held the door open he kissed me on the top of my head.

“You might be dumping me all over again but the waitress put her name and number on the bill. That’s a first for me!” He smiled and gently closed my door. As I drove away I peeped in my rear view mirror and saw him hold up his hand in a good bye gesture. Oddly, it felt just right.

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My phone lit up with a call. At last!

I nearly dropped it in my hurry to answer.

“Hey! Are you ok, I’m on my way! Tell me you’re fine?

I answered, “Jack, oh thank goodness. Yes, yes we are all good. There’s plenty of time. Hours probably!”

“I’m in the taxi now. Babe, I’m so sorry, there was no wifi on the plane! What’s happening, are you sure you’re ok?”

“Jack, it’s all good. Besides Sarge is here and Sachie has been distracting me with wedding updates.”

I heard Jack chuckle. Sarge indeed, his only competition. “I’m twenty minutes away tops, and I’m not getting off this phone. Should we call an ambulance?” he asked.

It was my turn to laugh at my usually cool as a cucumber husband.

“Jack, we are having a baby not a catastrophe and no, I do not need an ambulance. I just need you!” I replied.

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Move Over Bea and Milk, The New CEO Is On Her Way.

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These were the words I finished with on a message to Greg. He is fifteen weeks into being the father of the unexpected, feisty already – baby girl Hutt. Our daughter Alexandria and her husband Greg are having their first precious baby and to date every little milestone is going well. Mumma Bear is starting to feel human again. They are past the first trimester and are wondering what else they used to do with their time before Dr appointments, scans and pathology appointments filled most weeks.

Bea and Milk know nothing of all this.

Bea and Mild are small, pampered, indoor dogs.

We grew up with big dogs – labradors, shepherds and collies. Visualize proper outside dogs who ate nothing much other than table scraps, were never on medication or received vet treatment unless there was a broken bone to mended. Big dogs who had long and healthy lives.

Certainly if I had to come back as a dog – I would want to be owned by Greg and Alex. They are responsible and commit totally to the best health and well being of their two cute little scoundrels. They have blankets and warm beds. They do not care for the cold and are, let’s say at best ‘so, so’ about a walk especially on a cold southern state day.

They are super sweet dogs. Both are beautifully groomed and always vet attended.

Their perfect little life is about to get up ended because the new boss of the house is on her way!

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No doubt there are endless articles about how to introduce the entrenched pooches to the new baby, which let’s just call it, will very soon be the new CEO of the entire household and extended family, especially the first time grandparents on both sides of the family tree.

She has a bit to do!

The doggies will be fine. They will not be handed off, if anything they will embrace the new freedom of a warmer climate and more rein in the soon to be exciting world of a backyard. A cosy indoor bed might be less inviting with a little Miss wailing at all hours – I can see them both sprawled on the outdoor setting under a balmy sky with cheeky doggie looks that read, ‘pfft not my problem!’

Bea and Milk will love the new addition and learn how to cheerily tag along with the pram walks.

Dave and Julie, Shane and I are beyond thrilled. First timers all of us and Julie’s presence in their precious growing daughter is only the deeper as we approach four years of the passing of Julie. Her gentle nature, beauty and great capacity to love will be evident in every cell of the baby girl which Alex and Greg are blessed to be growing.

Dave and Shane are goners. Whipped already!

There is no point in even pretending that they will not spoil her silly, be wrapped around her little finger from the first sight (well already really)and show their respective great big hearts to her in every way.

Little Miss Hutt is blessed to have chosen a wonderful family.

She will be cherished, loved and given such amazing opportunities. But not a dummy, I have it on good intelligence from Mumma Bear already that she is never getting one of those!

It is such a precious gift to be allowed to love another human being.

It is a time to be so deeply thankful for those who have gone before and raised us in such a manner that we experienced love and care and thus have this grande capacity to love this dear, growing child and feel nothing but joy and excitement as the days tick over and the miracle that is life, flows on.

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Not So Classy

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My last words on this legacy vaccine blog were ‘only time will tell’ – although I never imagined it would come quite so quickly!

Now there is the announcement that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be ‘phased out’ in this country and will be replaced by another choice from the USA. However, those who came forward as requested and have received dose one are to present for the second dose. This latest announcement will cause further concern and it would not be a stretch to understand why people may feel reluctant and unwilling to go for a second round.

Making people scared to get the jab is the last thing we need!

Everyone has their own experience to draw on and must be guided by their circumstances. Hopefully the vast majority of Australians will choose to be informed by medical and scientific facts and not by the insatiable 24/7 media cycle.

We are probably lucky to be locked into a jab situation where our choices are relatively non-existent. We are half way through a process and in the interests of our own health, our family and for the good of community (we are in a pandemic people – get the bloody jab!) we shall of course get the second dose.

After years of living in the USA and witnessing an avalanche of class actions being advertised on television during the ads – I have to admit it freaked me out a bit! The stream of ads looking for class action ‘clients’ who took this drug or that drug was ever present, annoyingly so constantly interrupting viewing! Law firms advertising daily on cable television for participants to join a class action against major pharmaceuticals was overwhelming in scope and numbers.

I am happily stuck with my choice of a European researched and developed vaccine which is made here in Australia under our incredibly strict protocols. It would be very expensive to do so in this country.

I wonder if the move to buy a product from another country will save dollars?

Only time will tell, again.

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Vaccine Divided

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Three weeks on and a few things have changed in our local community. To date we are both well and are having no side effects. According to medical literature in seven or so days we will move out of the time period where, though very rare – complications could arise.

Two weeks ago, two selfish and irresponsible individuals decided that they could leave the lock down of Melbourne and take a 19 hour plus drive through two states and an extraordinary amount of junk food outlets to ‘holiday’ or ‘move’ to our small beach community of Caloundra. As they both ended up testing positive to COVID19 they became patients at the local hospital. Their callous actions caused an enormous amount of financial, social and emotional hardship for our local business community.

These two fools did not arrive and lay low. Quite the opposite, the tracking system places them moving from retail to food outlets every few hours. They did a side bar to Bunnings (hardware) but were soon back into a cafe – all this stupidity must have given them quite the appetite! Their actions impacted a host of individuals who had to isolate, present for testing, lost work shifts or had family plans cancelled.

If there was anything positive to come out of this disgraceful scenario it was an increased demand for the vaccine.

This prompted the state government to set up a vaccination hub in our local stadium – and all of a sudden there was a plentiful supply of the Pfizer vaccine. So much so that for a period of time, anyone over the age of 16 could present at the hub and receive the shot.

Back track here to say that in Australia a decision was taken to only allow those under 50 to have the Pfizer. But wait, there’s more – now it’s 60? Hard to keep up. Let’s not be cynical and believe that cost has anything to do with such decisions.

Sounds good, great even and it is. People are getting their act together and turning up for the vaccine. Moving forward, surely the higher the vaccination rate, the better equipped we shall be to more positively and proactively manage the pandemic.

There are potential side effects to the Pfizer vaccine.

There are potential side effects to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There are health factors including possible death associated with contracting COVID19.

Get the bloody jab!

Although the system has left us all a little divided. Talk to the average Joe and they think that the Pfizer is superior. Given the way the vaccine roll out has been handled – it is completely understandable that those who have managed to get the Pfizer over the AstraZeneca actually feel they got a better deal.

Last week in Gympie my sweet friend Joy was chirpy with the news that she has been able to secure the Pfizer. The data coming out of the Caloundra hub will provide interesting insight regarding take up – the PhD submissions must be pushing send!

I have to believe that our government and medical professionals are doing their best, treading through this new normal and that decisions – even those counter to what was acceptable and not acceptable weeks apart, are made in the best interests of each and everyone of us.

Only time will tell.

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Day Three

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We felt well enough to go to our box class last night. Neither of us are feeling any vaccine reactions at this stage although we fully understand to be mindful of the symptoms of the very rare condition called thrombosis (6 out of one million) as we move into the post vaccine stage and await our second jab in August.

It is another reminder to be thankful to those who make science their work – where or where would we all be without our clever scientists? Our son is a medical scientist covering two Melbourne hospitals. They are beyond stretched with COVID-19 and the usual hematology, immunology, microbiology and cytology work does not ease back due to the existence of a pandemic. These labs run 24/7 and are staffed by those who make all manner of lifestyle adjustments to do their work. Their families also take on the burden of rosters that do not have the luxury of accommodating without compromise, the ebb and flow of everyday events which make up a life.

Blue scrubs, white coats and swipe lanyards that enable the sailing through security and emergence into unknown rooms may look ultra glamorous on television shows but the known reality is vastly different. The shifts are long and the pace is fast. Absences must be covered. Accuracy is essential. Machines break and IT fails. Our scientists are highly qualified, most with post-graduate specialities in subject matter that many of us have trouble pronouncing! They are not particularly well paid especially with the move towards private contractors with share holders to feed.

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It is only on shows such as The Bold and The Beautiful that a handsome young doctor knocks on the lab door, enters with a brilliant smile to ask sweetly if the results for patient x are ready – oh no, that is not how it happens!

At the moment of vaccine, I paused to thank the female doctor for the work that she was doing and added that I was sure that she would much prefer to be with her own family late on a Saturday afternoon. Sadly, it was evident that this acknowledgment was unexpected but warmly welcomed.

My family and I know that we are so deeply blessed to be Australian.

We are thankful to be living through the pandemic in this country.

It feels impossible to express enough gratitude to the medical staff, scientists, aid workers and all those working globally to help us all through these days.

Our thoughts do – and in our family we do actually stop and remember that this pandemic has taken so many around the world, our prayers are always with those who have lost loved ones, those who are sick and those who will not be so fortunate to escape the impact of COVID19.

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Forty-Eight Hours On

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We are two days on from the first does of the vaccine. Shane is at work and feeling better although he still has a smidge of a headache. I went to an early light PT session and then took our delightful collie to the dog park. Afterwards, Pendles and I strolled on the passage with my sister and her dog Poppy to our favorite beachside cafe. My Sis is a day behind us in vaccination land and experiencing a slight headache also. Today all of my previous symptoms have passed except for a slight heaviness to the eyes and a very faint sensitivity to light.

Our appetite was down last night but we had a good serve of vegetables (to counter the meat pie indulgence) and in the afternoon we both ending up napping. I could not even make it through a paragraph of the philosophy book I am attempting to read. There is nothing unusual about me dropping off to sleep when I am trying to read, especially late in the afternoon but I did sleep deeply for two hours – now that is not the norm.

Despite napping like kittens, we both slept soundly last night.

So here we are still tracking well and lucky enough to have very little exciting news to report on our second full day after having the vaccine.

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Later That Day

As we are feeling ok, for some silly reason it seems a good time to wash a few of the windows! May as well keep our thoughts off thinking about whether or not we are going to get crook (unwell). As the day progresses Shane still has a mild headache and we both describe the way we feel as a touch seedy – like the next day after one glass of wine too many. Gets a job done though!

We decide that a little fresh air and exercise will do us both good and with our young border collie needing at least his daily outing – a beach walk fits in nicely with the end of the window washing. To be clear, we did not do the whole house but made a fair start! It is a perfect winter beach day in Queensland – if one could call it winter.

Strolling at low tide is wonderful and we are lucky to see schools of tiny fish close to shore. The fresh air and warmth of the sun is soothing. I am feeling a hint of numbness around my left eye and a few tingles on the left side – very light and fleeting. We are heading home and do plan to give over the afternoon to resting with a book for me and perhaps some football viewing for Shane.

Lunch is surprising. We have a collection of delicious and healthy food yet our appetite is down and none of it appeals. Shane decides on a pie – yes a pie, an Australian go to for next day recovery after a big night out. I decide it’s not such a bad idea. It feels like a hangover without the party!

With tomato sauce of course!

Next Day

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So, the covid vaccine is not a miracle cure for snoring. I know this because minutes after falling asleep, his majesty beside me was expelling air with sound effects. Given that we could be in for a rough night he was left nudge free of my hands and feet. Well, I say nudge, he’ll say smash – but he is absolutely being over dramatic!

We did not experience any extra or unusual tiredness last night. As planned we watched a movie, took a second round of panadol and kept up the hydration. We both felt a slight heaviness at the injection sight but no pain. For a while my ‘heaviness’ extended to my arm pit but that passed after a few hours. I built a pillow wall between us last night as I was a leftie for the jab and claim the right side of our bed!

Shane has woken with what he describes as a very slight headache and sore throat. He feels a little unwell. I am still on the proactive panadol regime (two every four hours for 24 hours – although I did not wake to do so through the night). Perhaps I am feeling a teeny bit seedy – it’s really hard to know as being so hypersensitive to possible reactions, I also wonder if I am ‘finding’ reactions.

For now we are both completely fine. There are no work or other obligations today. We always aim for a beach or passage walk so plan to do so later. Our kids thanked us – bit of a life flip flop, when our adult kids are grateful that we are taking care of our health. Mind you they were quick to add that we were not to go dropping off the perch with removals that we need to turn up for, future and free babysitting at some point down the track and for sure help with home renovations, oh and boat stuff!

First Night

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So dose one done! The process was seamless. After a swift administration with one of the reception staff we were sent to area two. There was no waiting – Shane was called in by his Doctor before he sat down and I was called in as I was sitting down. After the checklist of questions, it was needle time. Shane did not feel his actual injection at site but was aware of the flow of chemicals after. I was surprised that the injection hurt just a tiny bit and usually I don’t find a jab painful at all.

We are home and in our pajamas. We have homemade soup, crusty rye bread and gourmet ice-cream (a little adult treat for getting the jab). An early night with a movie or our netflix series is our plan with more panadol before sleeping.

Jab Time

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It could not be a more beautiful early winters day here in Australia. In our northern state it’s hardly winter, the sky is clear and blue and one can happily garden in a tee shirt. It will be cool tonight though! Last night by the fire-pit we had our uggs on (sheep skin lined boots) and a soft fleece. With a little shared cooking with neighbors and a few wines we made the most of the night before the jab.

As more friends, family and acquaintances experience the vaccine for COVID19 the reactions are relatively similar. Some lucky ones have had no reaction at all or at most, a tender arm. Feeling generally unwell, tired and a little ‘under the weather’ seems to be common. Experiencing a headache, one that does not particularly respond to medication is an other response one family member reported. I did hear a fellow claim that he had a nap not long after his jab, another one in the afternoon and the first full nights sleep he had experienced in some time – not even having to get up for a pee! One friend had a day three reaction similar to a bout of the actual flu – that flu one gets and they realize for the first time that up until now, they have actually not had the real flu.

We feel privileged to live in a country where the provision of a vaccine is free and available. Today we will both attend the medical centre and receive our first dose of the AstraZeneca jab. I am going to blog on our experience for the next few days – for legacy. My mother had polio and when I hear all the hype, conspiracy theories and uniformed opinions about the vaccines for this pandemic – I am simply reminded that we would not have made such outstanding progress with polio had there not been a take up of the vaccine regime.

We’ve had a few tips and the only preparation we have done is to ensure the food shop is up to date and I’ve made a grande size pot of a favorite and healthy soup. The second season of our current Netflix series had cooperated by just landing! A sweet lady, a nurse of forty years encourages me to take Panadol on the way and every four hours for a full day after. Quote – “It won’t harm you and it will take the edge off it.”

Here we go…