Women’s Circle

Photo by Agnese Lunecka on Pexels.com

Four women, two hours, soup (homemade of course), crusty bread, wine – a red and whites.

Nerve pain, back injury, health funds, gaps, fee schedules, doctors, surgical procedures, city traffic, spiders, pest treatments, snakes, real estate, business studies, baby milestones, representative bowls, friend reunions, travel, media misrepresentation, royals, celebrities, pets, husbands, family, renovations, construction, editing, editorial mistakes, flight times, fundraising, tax wastage, welfare, rental crisis, firepits, football finals, house sales, Netflix, mindfulness, gender psychological comparisons, presence or non-presence of aspects of soft porn in reality shows marketed towards females, television to help the brain relax, treats, plans, camping, road trips…

I’m sure at least one of these women will say, “Did we talk about all that?” Soft seats, bare feet and pretty night skies make for easy times. Girl talk – it’s just so good for you.

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

Row Five

Photo by Kai Pilger on Pexels.com

All the carriers charge extra now for rows closer to the front of the airplane. I wonder who was the suited ‘executive’ in the board room who first floated the concept of charging ‘them’ extra for a more reasonable seat. A place in the plane where your bum fits, a place on the plane where you do not wait another twenty minutes to exit as apart from a few regional airports, the only way out is via a skybridge at the front of the plane.

I have recently travelled with my daughter and a baby. My sage advice to her was to book those very rear and tight seats close to the economy class toilets and to be down the back with the rest of the Mums, bubs, kids and general – not too fussy public. Turns out it does not always work that way as she found out on an other flight where the potty mouthed female passenger in front reclined for a two hour flight and constantly pushed back on the unsettled baby behind.

Back to row five. I highly recommend row five. I have maneuvered my way through more frequent flying on a particular carrier to seats in row five. It works well for entry and exit. After the annoying walk through business class (most of them are not paying for themselves which makes me a bit envious) and even more disappointing, the motely crew do not look anything like sharp, suited entrepreneurs of days past – so called ‘business class’ often resembles little related to occupation, business or trade. More like, points and get stuffed!

Row five though has an excellent track record of clean, competent individuals with refined social filters who understand and adhere to the graces of flying. Window seat, get on! Aisle seat, wait until the end of the line! Domestic, short flight – do not recline! Wear the mask, keep the shoes on, and don’t be up heading for the toilet when the flight crew are trying to do their service when twenty minutes ago you left a terminal with ample bathrooms. Row five people somehow get this!

I’ve had a few adorable seat mates on flights. Twice now, an elderly and elegant couple where the homemade sandwiches and fresh fruit arrive out from the carry on bag under the seat in front, always proper ‘tupperware’ and a sneaky side glance shows me that this fare will rival any of the so called ‘chef’ specials of the carrier. I just loved the way my refined seat mate ordered white tea, with milk – to be certain he actually received the order he wanted. Clearly, he has been here before.

More recently I shared my row with young parents and given my daughter’s experience I was very pleased that they got me to be the random that they had to endure for two hours. Little Miss Alexandra was perfect though, falling asleep on take off and then being happy to be read, played with and entertained to and fro with her competent parents. They also shared a gin and tonic – impressive!

My next flight, coming up in a few days is row six. Let’s hope the skip back works just as well.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Kindness of Strangers

We are linked by a connection to Scotland. Whether a traveler seeking history and adventure, a migrant looking for roots or a Scot willing to pass on the wisdom and beauty of all things Scottish, we share a social media link to Scotland.

On what would have been my Dad’s 88th birthday I was home alone and preparing his whiskey toast when I decided to take a little risk and post this photograph on my friendly Scotland community board.

I asked if anyone was having a drink in Glasgow, would they give a small cheers to my Dad, Alex Johnston. Since Dad passed I do a sunset toast and usually on his birthday I bake a cake. Dad was not a sweet tooth at all. As I was home alone with my lot in other states for work, I decided that Dad would much prefer an extra whiskey toast. (It is still outside waiting to evaporate up to heaven).

As I was enjoying the quiet end of day with the birds and our border collie, I began to receive kind and heartfelt comments and the happy reactions of folk, generous with their good will.

How Dad would have laughed at me being surprised at the notion that if you gave a Glaswegian a reason to have a wee drink – “that thae widnae dae jist that! ” As I write – well Dad, our toast made 560 people happy to have a wee nip!

Whilst many were from Glasgow and parts of Scotland, we had good wishes and cheers sent from Banff, St Louis, Texas, Ontario, Florida, Pennsylvania, Netherlands, Israel, New Zealand, England and Australia.

It was lovely and comforting to enjoy sharing this reflection time with so many good hearted community members.

Quite a few members taught me, Sla’nte Mhath meaning ‘health’ and a great way to do cheers in both Irish and Scots gaelic.

I know I will be home to Scotland again one day and who knows perhaps I will just happen to be in one of the pubs in Argyle or Sauchiehall Street where my young Dad would have been having a pint and one of the many kind strangers who shared some social media cheers may be standing alongside of me as I raise a glass, “do dheagh shlainte!”

Photo by Aimee on Pexels.com

Socrates and a Bright Young Man

“The unexamined life is not worth living,” quoted the young man speaking of his vocational calling as he spoke to the small gathering I was attending. He already had my attention but my interest in philosophy made me sit forward – just this week had I not been examining attitude and deciding that ‘surely I can do better’ applying a philosophy aiming for authentic relationships which guide and hopefully enhance positive, uplifting behaviour and charity.

As I have the luxury of time in my life to consider how things are the way they are, I am fascinated by the application of philosophy in the ordinary day to day living of this most precious gift of life. It seems very straight forward to consider once we know better, we do better but how can this be achieved without fierce and frank examination of one’s self?

My own journey begins with the intentional challenge of not squandering wonderous time.

Time to walk, time to sit quietly by the gentle waters of the passage, time to unplug from all forms of media, time to read and question, time to discuss, time to apply kindness and tolerance and much more time to – just be.

From an impressive woman, Ngaire – “I give myself permission to …”

Find the calm, be generous in taking a little time for yourself.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

How’s The Serenity?

A few days ago I was seriously close to buying a sweet little white coastal cottage in Poona. I still dearly want to (it is adorable and one bedroom) but the timing for this quiet and peaceful out of the way, tiny town on the Great Sandy Straits is way out!

How’s the serenity, my husband teases. A quote from his all time favourite Australian movie, The Castle. We do however, have a shared vision for a quieter abode some where in the future but not right now.

For months now I have been forced to cancel plans, say no, peel away early, not fulfill honorary roles and in general feel bad about all of the above. Cancelled travel, illness and required isolation and a fair dose of exhaustion has been the culprit. Visitors have been a plenty – when you live north, the winter brings the southern rellies! Usually pleasant but always a fair bit of extra work and time adjustments.

Perhaps because of some of the above I have found myself on the receiving end of what I call, super subtle snipping! When a passing comment is intended to hurt. When a tossed out question is lobbed to camouflage a little dig. When omission is high lighted. All tacky, all disappointing.

Fast forward to a new stance, a more productive way of processing unwelcome snipping. If a person has an intention to cause hurt, it simply must come from a place of pain, anger and jealousy. Those feelings and the desire to shift some of it on to others must be exhausting.

I do aim to call out any future veiled word weapons.

I also aim to reflect deeply at such times and work out if I have likewise generated action or words to raise such feelings in others. If so, surely I can do much better.

If not, perhaps there is always Poona after all.

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Yes, I’m Trying To Make You Cry

Fiction – 2 minute Read

She knows. My wife knows that I don’t love her anymore. Tonight, I accidently saw her at the supermarket. We’d had a blazing fight last night and all day we had been at separate activities. Last night my wife thought that we were making love. Something I did showed her that I was having sex.

She’s slightly hunched which looks so alien as she is the upright, brisk type. It’s also obvious to me that she is deliberating wasting her time, looking at items for ages with no inclination to buy, moving slowly – anything to prolong the time when she would have to leave and come home. Deal with me.

She did not know that I was watching her. Even at distance I could see her eyes. Dull, empty. I did feel a pang. They used to sparkle and thunder.

I lost sight of her for a bit then caught her again at the cashier. She’s being polite, saying thank you. The sullen youth does not acknowledge her at all. I feel a rage rise within me towards this stupid teenager for treating my wife that way, as though she is invisible. I may no longer be in love with her but I do, most definitely care deeply for her.

I got back to what I came there for. I too, spent more time in the wine department than I really needed to. I never knew what happened to the red wine I bought that night.

It was several days before I had all the details. Police work and cameras produced facts but not the whole story.

She paid for the items and was viewed leaving the store. She left everything including her bag and phone in the carpark. Unbelievably, all of it was handed in to the service counter at the supermarket.

I’m leaving the mall and people are standing around. A car horn is blasting, loud and relentless. Other people are moving, running towards the sound. I see people with phones out, recording. That horrendous noise is stuck and I can see it now, the car wedged front end under the truck. Any roof left is flat. Lights from the truck illuminate the horror.

My wife, whom I am no longer in love with, is gone.

Photo by Isabella Mariana on Pexels.com

And Now, A Bit of a Laugh

Fiction – 2 minute Read

Lucy’s Dad did not like pizza. He pronounced is pisa and added the never heard of, pie. Pisa pie! They were in the car together to collect the pizza. It was early but already dark and Lucy was being directed by her Dad. After all, he was the local.

They were in a different part of town and nothing was looking familiar. Lucy’s Dad was a bit flustered and joked about taking the scenic route. A dash light reminded Lucy that her Dad’s car was running near to empty.

It was becoming obvious with no street lights that her Dad had got them all turned around. Lucy kept the chatter light and jokey as she did her best to get them back to a town area that would have a petrol station.

Soon she could see the sort of street lights that would take them back towards the shopping area and the much needed garage.

Lucy was experiencing the combination of feeling competent, in charge and gently fixing a situation in the ‘parent’ role as she pulled her Dad’s car beside the pump.

“The caps on the other side,” said her Dad.

“No worries.” Lucy smiled at her Dad and executed a perfect turn to bring his car into the next lane and facing forward again.

For a split second they both looked at each other then burst out laughing in that exquisite manner that a spontaneous belly laugh brings.

There was no need to mention that the cap was still on the other side.

They pulled the hose over the back and added the much needed fuel.

Lucy went in to pay the attendant, an older fellow with nothing to say.

Just as she was about to step back out through the automatic door she heard him drawl, “I saw someone do that three times, once.” She smiled back, knowing she was busted.

Lucy and her Dad found the pizza shop.

By unstated mutual agreement they did not tell anyone back at the house of their antics that night. For his remaining years Lucy and her Dad often exchanged a private cheeky glance when anything that was going on reminded them of their combined boo boo on a simple pizza run.

Photo by yunszyveli on Pexels.com

Baby Joey

Once upon a time a cute boy called Harry met a gorgeous girl named Heidi and that’s the only part of this love story that was straight forward.

Following a semester exchange to Sydney, Wisconsin girl Heidi, came out to Melbourne to enjoy a year of teaching in Australia. (Lucky darn you Harry!). I am pretty certain Heidi’s Mom would have warned her not to fall in love with some Aussie boy (Lucky darn you Harry!) but fortunately for Harry – she did just that!

Fast forward to long separations due to visa/residency madness, a pandemic (which meant wedding postponement)these two love birds maneuvered through all of it – to build their first home and welcome their precious son, Joey.

One week into the world and the new mayor of Tarneit (and future boss of LuLu)is settling and snuggling beautifully into his wonderful family. His lovely young Mum Heidi Rose is recovering well and after two covid years apart has her own Mom, who has finally been able to travel from Wisconsin USA supporting them for the first few weeks of this whole new world with sweet, chubby Joesph Shane Caughey.

Joey’s Dad Harry is hands on – and what big safe, loving arms indeed.

This enduring love story and family has only just begun.

Named for his grandfathers and strongly connected to large and loving American and Australian families, Joey will know boundless love, care and football. He is destined to be a Packers man and perhaps tragically, a Collingwood supporter.

How blessed we feel to welcome Joey to our family, sharing the honor and privilege with Cathy and Heidi’s lovely American family. These family roots and ties widen but grow in deep love and unbeatable strength.

Juliette Ann

An excited phone call, every brand of pregnancy test available at the local chemist that day, medical appointments, joy, fear and hope all in the same breath, belly rising, birth plans, birthing emergency with the most intense feelings one could ever imagine – all became the spectacular Juliette Ann.

So grandparents we are – Grandad and Grammie. Of course, time will tell when it comes to what little missy may call us.

The deepest feelings of love and protection are an instant gift, present in the growing but rooted in the arrival. To hold this precious girl for the very first time brings home the dearest memories of those gone before without whom our dear grand baby could not be. Every curve of perfection, her scent that you wish to capture and hold, and the sound of her newborn snuffles causes the physical warming and tingling of the heart.

It’s a love story. Her parents are equal measures of starry eyed and sleep deprived. There are no books, apps or wise words that can prepare a new Mum and Dad for the early weeks of three hourly feeds followed by the little poos, a restless belly and the most adorable face that lets her get away with all of it.

We are all new to the thrill of our growing circle and mindful of the privilege to be forever bound by these loving family ties.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Ham Sandwiches

I’ve wanted to write this story for a week now especially as it was one of the last anecdotes I shared with my daughter Alex when I visited her for the last time before she would be giving birth to her daughter, Juliette.

Alexandria and I share the same emotional tug for all things simple and tender. Now as I can only hold tight and wait for the news of our first grandchild I can take a little time to share ham sandwiches.

I noticed him in the small gathering of neighbors because whilst he was a ‘new’ old face – it was his elegance and grace that caught my attention. Groomed brown boots, pressed jeans, a crisp red, blue and white checked shirt and ramrod posture. He personified an era in Australia I feel a yearning for and that I don’t want to see completely gone in my time.

I knew he did not live in our street although I could see that he was known to and comfortable with many of the locals. It turns out that he built the lovely home next to where we were gathered, a street where a clutch of homes back onto one of the golf course lakes fed by a natural stream which stretches for kilometers.

I can imagine it is a unique and special bond which occurs and holds between neighbors who stand on bare ground and envision the homes they will create. As I observed him, happy and content to revisit old friends and exuding an open friendliness to those newer to the street, I felt my own deep contentment to be lucky enough to be a part of this wonderful village like street that has come from those original builds and just as deeply from the fresh new faces who now so lovingly call ‘Wallaby’ home.

It was a typical, laid back and welcoming gathering where everyone brings food to share and even though I love to cook and present food beautifully – I had taken a big fat break and plonked a box of Cadbury’s favorites on the food table.

There would be no such modern short cuts for the charming gentleman who had come handsomely dressed for the gathering with an oversized Tupperware container of home cut ham sandwiches. The best ones you could hope for! White bread, cut into half triangles – real sandwiches. As he was passing them around and receiving happy responses for the freshness of the bread and the delicious ham, I was gifted the warm heart tug one feels when you find yourself fully present in the absolute enjoyment of a tender moment.

When I shared this story with my very pregnant Alex, she quickly teared up. We both enjoyed the beauty and nostalgia for good days. I’m certain lots of people have ham sandwich stories – those wrapped in foil for car trips, those eaten at little lunch to beat the Queensland heat, the fancy ones without crusts and cut into fingers to make them seem more posh – but for Alex and I, we like to think of the gentle reminder of easy days brought on by the image of a kind faced, country style bloke cutting ham sandwiches in his kitchen to take to his old neighbors.

Photo by Felicity Tai on Pexels.com