You Know What, I Will.

Some days the evening can start at four in the afternoon. I did just that yesterday. It’s a little treat that happens, let’s say a few times a year. I like to keep it as a rare indulgence as that’s the whole point, not to allow it to become usual or routine and it absolutely must be spontaneous!

Like so many great ideas, I discovered this by accident and from someone fabulous. My dear friend had brought sushi home after a busy day and was feet up, parked in front of the golf by late afternoon. After decades of beautiful busy lives which at times could feel like being strapped to an out of control elliptical machine in heels, baby sling and grocery bags thumping whilst an invisible force kept turning the incline up – when that amazing phase of life ebbs into the era of self permission – it’s really, REALLY good!

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After a few days of just the dog and I at home – the place resembled a share house. That’s another one of those “I give myself permission things” when it’s just me and the woofer, it’s either magazine fabulous or the lived, lived in look!

So, yesterday became a day of domestic catch up with loads of washing, a good go through of the house and a beef korma simmering away by late morning. It was a humid day so the ducted cooling and loud music on Spotify brought a touch more zest to the loving of the house. By the afternoon it looked and smelled beautiful again.

Feeling pleased with myself I entered into that head space conversation that goes something like, “You know what I will just do that” in response to the idea of flopping back in my own home. Besides, the sullen skies put the usual afternoon passage walk on hold. Guilt free veg out! Searching Netflix for a movie I had heard about I was able to enjoy full control of the remote. Not having to scroll endlessly trying to keep everyone happy in search for viewing pleasure is great! Woofer was at my feet enjoying some relief from the heat and he will happily sleep watch anything. Pouring a chilled glass of wine and getting cozy on my couch felt so relaxing and indulgent – especially as it was not even night time.

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Diane Lane is fabulous in any role and with Richard Gere this two hour film had my full attention – not even peeking at my phone once. I hit pause to grab myself a serve of korma and naan bread and ok, one more vino! By the end of the film the early eve was falling with spectacular bruised blue skies giving off the last light of the day. It was such a treat and it felt great that Friday night was just beginning.

My childhood started with black and white television but very soon evolved to colour. There were three stations and viewing ended around eleven at night with a rousing rendition of God Save The Queen. When Saturday morning cartoons were introduced life could not be any better except for the anticipation of Disneyland on Sunday evenings. Very quickly media evolved although for most of my life the joy of a movie was something generally experienced at night and most often on a weekend when there was no school or work the following day.

I’m guessing that’s why I view an early tools down to slouch in front of the telly as a bit of an indulgence. Another memory of starting the evening much earlier in the afternoon involved the end of a busy assessment and reporting week at school. I knew I would be working on reports all weekend and had stopped to buy some ingredients to cook dinner that night. Whilst in the check out queue (product placement is a fine honed strategy for retailers) I added a bag of potato crisps/chips and for me the ‘maddest’ thing ever – a single serve glass bottle of coke cola. A near freezing coke – is really a once in a blue moon for me. When I arrived home I put the laptop and assessments out of sight. Any cold items got put in the refrigerator and before five I was plonked to watch a good few episodes of Newsroom before the rest of the crew arrived home on that particular Friday night.

I believe it is vital to have special alone time. For me it is usually in the form of planned walks, reading, writing and lately pottering in the garden. Every once in a while it’s wonderful and perfectly ok to start the evening at four in the afternoon!

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Sixty and Blessed

Getting old is not for ‘sissies’! Sage words from an elderly nun to the mother of my husband. Before another sentence is finished, I am not suggesting for a second that sixty is old! I don’t feel old and whilst we are at it – what a curt little nothing sort of word is ‘old’. Let’s go for vintage, experienced, wise, long lived, antique, unique and most importantly ‘still going’!

The aging process is challenging and confronting especially as it brings with it so many necessary and sometimes unwanted farewells. Careers, homes, interests and most importantly family and friends – the gift of time will eventually extract payment with the unavoidable currency of ‘loss’.

I have lived and loved change. It has brought me so many adventures and opportunities. Our deepest blessing has been to have a family. My husband and I have been given the exquisite joy and love that came from having our three kids. We watched them grow and we watched them go. It was really hard and what parent wouldn’t give anything to have just one more day of having your kids little again! Now the beautiful change we are living is to see them as adults and starting their own families with beautiful partners.

I am retired from a long, varied and very successful teaching career. There were schools, kids and colleagues I did not want to leave. I will always miss formal teaching.

"How lucky am I to have had something
that makes saying goodbye so hard"
Winnie the Pooh

For sixty years I have embraced change and will continue to do so. It was fabulous to use the gaining of six decades to take a bold move to honor the digit six and zero anniversary of birth with a photo shoot. I was encouraged thank goodness as I tried to dip out of it – more than once. Thanks to my friend Julie who had previously braved the camera to capture absolutely beautiful images of her lovely self – you were wise words, funny stories and legacy mindful. I am so glad you helped me to take the plunge.

My husband’s family and my nephew Jim and his wife Tiffany had gifted me money for my birthday. Initially I had some thoughts about a spa session – the type of indulgence that we so often reserve only for others. I knew I wanted something more enduring and Julie helped me with the idea of putting their gift towards a session with the talented crew at Studio Republic.

It was difficult to choose a few photographs from many. I was drawn to this one immediately as I recall that I was having a mighty laugh with the lovely young photographer at the time. It personifies the pleasure, fun and indulgence of having a professional photo shoot. This was a once in a lifetime for me. I am shy in front of the camera and freeze instantly so often come out looking a little stiff. I’m just a wee bit chuffed to have such a happy legacy picture.

The whimsy of this photograph makes it a favorite as does the presence of my crinkles!

My lovely engagement ring can be seen in this shot. Shane and I became engaged in 1983 during his mid course break from Officer Cadet School at Portsea in Victoria. I lived in Brisbane and with my sister Sue narrowed the choice to my favorites and we settled on a classic solitaire diamond set in yellow gold. My setting is altered now due to the near loss of the diamond just over a decade later.

Shane arrived home from a work function to find me devastated as I had not long noticed that the diamond was missing from the claws designed to hold it. The number of places I had been to during the day seemed endless including the worst possibility – attending the movies with a friend that same evening. The idea that my single diamond would ever be found again was unfathomable.

Legend status was achieved by Shane as he helped me to carefully back track through my day. Bed making turned out to be the culprit as he found the diamond in the pale but thick carpet near our bed. The jeweler who repaired the ring was not a fan of claws (as they can fail). We settled on the new ‘rubbed’ setting and my diamond has remained solidly and beautifully set since.

My Dad had the bluest eyes. Our three kids have blue eyes. I’m really pleased to have this gift of such a flattering photograph that captures the blue eyes I have from my Dad and which I managed to pass on to all of my chickens.

I love that Julie reminded me to wear my special jewelry. This solid silver bangle was the last present from my parents – a gift for my 50th. My gentle Dad was in hospital for cancer treatment. I was able to select the lovely piece and show it to him before he passed just nineteen days later. Our Mum died five weeks after Dad and whilst the official paperwork cites heart failure, I’m certain it was heartbreak. I do cherish this beautiful bangle.

Thank you to all the strong women and open minded men who have contributed to making the era in which I enter my sixties one in which ‘they’ no longer hold the power. This business of ‘they’ – they say a women of a certain age should not have long hair…they say you should do this and wear that and so forth. Change can be empowering! I am happy to be lifting weights and boxing. It’s great to be able to have time to volunteer at art therapy sessions. A day does not pass without being in, on or beside the water and often all three. Study and writing progress and challenge. Balmy weather and beautiful beaches are the backdrop for this third and final stage of life which will bring both delights and despair.

As 2021 draws to a close, Shane and I are soon to become grandparents. Due in December, little Miss will be our first granddaughter. Our daughter Alexandria and her husband Greg will be loving, terrified and fantastic first timers! We shall quickly get our skills up and be ready for our second grandchild when our son Harry and his fiancee Heidi bring their first born son into the world in April, 2022. I feel deeply the honor of being gifted the privilege to love and protect these precious children. For Shane and I to be able to enter this new season together is a blessing that I do not take for granted.

I adore these pearls. Shane had them made for me during our trip to Vietnam, China and Korea in 2008.

This was a bit of fun with the lovely photographer Bree encouraging a cheeky bit of sass.

Oh and there is just one more photograph – but that one is only for my Shane!

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Snakes Alive

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If only all snakes were lollies (that’s what Australians call ‘candy’) or at least all snakes stayed well away from me! Now, I understand enough about ecology to comprehend that every single creature in our environment has a purpose and should be left to do so.

Snakes though, freak me out. Yes, they scare me. Fear – is described as an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm. Well, when I encounter a snake, oh my goodness I demonstrate – loudly, very loudly and with a salty mouth – fear!

F. E. A. R or false expectations about reality, comes from the perspective of education and counseling – my domain. So I have decided to take stock of my snake encounters to better understand my ‘fear’ and to ascertain if I might indeed have false expectations about the reality of snakes.

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Let’s begin.

I am a city kid – firstly Glasgow (5 years) then Brisbane (17 years) and NO snakes. We lived with bush at the back of our house between our backyard and the railway. As kids we made cubbies in this long grass (no snakes were seen). The Brisbane river and its undeveloped banks were our playground (no snakes ventured our way). These were the times of seemingly abandoned houses – yes, we explored them, and you guessed it – no snakes. Now, I do know that there were probably plenty of snakes, pythons at least – but I did not see a single one.

At twenty-two I married and moved to Townsille. I was soon to encounter my first, but not my last snake.

Driving our Datsun 200B onto the driveway I saw a snake (turned out to be a Brown) skitter under the car. UNDER MY CAR! As I was half way out, the only place to go was up on the bonnet. As though the slippery buggers cannot move vertically and horizontally…and quickly. I knew it was still somewhere under the car and I was not moving. For once, my military husband was home and he extracted me from on top of our car. Bless him, he was convinced it was long gone and to ‘prove’ this to me (as I was fully intending to never touch the car again)he shimmied mechanic style under the chassis, rear to front. No snake was seen – well until about an hour later when I called him out to our little veranda to see the Brown poking its head out from the front wheel. Shovel and chase ensued and it took itself off into the bush which surrounded our house. When Mr Husband recalls that story he does wonder what on earth he was going to do if he had encountered the thing whilst on his back and inspecting under the car – ‘just to prove it was not there anymore.’

The next snake was also also a brown, not so long after the first one but this time on the University campus. Crossing a small, (really small) patch of grass to get to the concrete carpark I stepped on this fella and he/she reared. Every book and my bag went up in the air and my reverse speed was epic. Luckily for me, but not so for the poor groundsman passing in his ute – he stopped and retrieved my things, carefully!

Those two encounters alone would qualify me to be wary of snake likely situations.

Sadly for me, it continues.

The next one, still Townsville – was inside the house. It was on a subsequent ‘posting’ and enough years later for our family to include our 4 year old daughter and 2 year old son. I was quite pregnant with number 3 when the simple task of closing a sliding door turned the afternoon into chaos. When the door resisted I looked down to see a thick snake caught in the tracks with the screen and glass door creating a trap of sorts. (Clearly, I did not know snakes very well – as that was no trap, it easily could have decided to exit and delve further into our house).

I had the common sense to realize that I must keep my eye on it and thankfully my kids were amazing and did exactly as I instructed so I had them safely secured. I put myself between the snake and where the kids were (I was big bellied and up on the kitchen bench). As luck would have it, that is also where the wall phone was located. Short version, I called both a snake catcher and my husband. He, being the hubby, confessed later that he hoped the snake catcher would arrive first! It turned out to be a python – and the catcher used the opportunity to educate the kids. Whilst fear was present in this situation, I knew for sure if that snake had decided to move in the direction of my kids I would have pounded it senseless – no doubt.

During the intervening years there have been visits to zoos including snake enclosures at least a few times and I have curbed my tension with the legless creatures so as not to project my dislike of them on to my kids.

There was a two year post in Hawaii – yes, no snakes. It was wonderful to enjoy hiking the ridges, parks and forests of the islands without having to even think about snakes.

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Green Tree snakes – I have almost have lost count! Living in the centre of a reserve base being converted to parklands meant epic disruption to all manner of wildlife. I chose to believe that they were pythons or the helpful tree snakes.

At our front door. I got back in the car and drove away.

On the fence and viewed from the kitchen window, thank goodness.

Out on the patio. Why oh why do they come up onto patios?

In the cracks of the pool fence chasing down a screaming green frog.

So, four – four that I saw over a time frame of eighteen months. Seeing four meant many more were out and about. Our sweet cat Jilly, would flinch vertically up in the air if the hose twitched so we assumed she had ‘known’ a snake or two!

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Snakes are not on my mind in an unrealistic manner. I don’t think of them at all until I am confronted with one or I am in a situation where they are likely to be present. When we finally left North Queensland for the much cooler southern capital of Australia – well, we just had to have one last fling with a NQ snake.

Deep into the unloading of the truck, a poor wiggly fellow who had hitched a ride was woken! Luckily one of the crew was an avid snake fan and bagged the creature for its new life thousands of miles from the tropics.

We almost had a few ‘snake free’ years in the national capital although the territory is known for its high prevalence of snakes due to the massive amount of preserved bush land which weaves throughout the suburbs. I say almost, because I was chilled to know that my school had to deal with a poisonous snake found in the playhouse in the kindergarten playground. It was removed safely but it adds to a personal repertoire of dealings, sightings and knowledge of these critters and whilst of course they do not pursue people – they do have a bit of a habit of turning up in my orbit!

During our time in Tampa, Florida I saw just one snake which was sunning itself out in the open on the base golf course. Whilst one needed to be mindful of a range of very venomous snakes in Florida – you also were keeping your distance from the ‘gators’. These impressive creatures frequented the waterways of the base and were to be treated with intelligent respect!

At dawn, to beat the Florida heat I would frequently walk the bush hugging path along the beautiful Tampa Bay (gators are fresh water critters so they were not waiting to pounce on me out of the salty bay) and would be mindful of, but not conquered by, the possibility of snakes.

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Honestly, I am still going here and I do know plenty of people who have not seen a snake other than on the telly!

Moving into the hood, the beautiful beach, bush and golfing area that we have chosen to call home for our retirement where I was happy to hear from the ‘originals’ who had built on the cleared land – 3 snake sightings in what, about fifteen years. Now, that’s not too bad, right?

Less than four years later…

A mauled green snake on the grass out on the footpath of a house about six away from us. I did not like seeing it as all of a sudden, it was a reminder that they are indeed about.

A live skinny looking thing on the side of the lake – coming home from a walk, it turned into a jog after that!

A young brown in our pool area – hubby saw it first, and I had to pass him the shovel! I do detest seeing them in our living environment. “It was bound to happen!” I heard him say – not exactly confidence building.

Next, a young black baby snake at distance as the hose I was using sprayed the little bush it was resting within. Yes, I squeal, yes I exit – fast and yes, that’s me in for the rest of the day, well maybe the next day too. I eventually make it back outside again.

Neighbors on both sides have encountered five between them – I know, five! As I write that I wonder why I have not made good on the lovely high rise apartments I browse on real estate sites.

Surely, the list of encounters must nearly be at an end?

I rarely walk at night and when I do it is never alone. Strangely I have always thought that to come across a snake at night would be horrific. Sure enough, it happened. Of course I did over react. Walking a short loop with my neighbor, I spotted the large python stretching across the road ahead – not so far from us. It was huge and finding some last warmth from the bitumen of the road.

My neighbor was calmer and more curious – and even returned to try and get a picture, however it moved on, although I suspect not very far.

I rediscovered that I could actually still sprint, when required!

Following that sighting I have seen two similar large pythons. One was on the side of the walking path at White Horse, a short trek to an observation site surrounded by dense bush but well worth the ascent for the spectacular views. We stopped to observe the snake (at distance) and I was able to marvel at the sheer size and incredible markings decorating the creature.

My last python (if only, it could be – forever!) was observed during a visit to the Atherton Tablelands. After lots of bush walking where we saw NO snakes, this one was sighted beside the carpark digesting its recent hunt. I was able to set aside my uneasy history with snakes to be fascinated by the gift of this unexpected encounter – trust me, at distance.

So back to home ground and last week – just last week, I had two legless friends hang out in my space. I was simply heading out to water the garden when a long, lively green tree snake presented itself on my patio. (Again – why or why ON my patio!)

It still shocks me to see a snake in my every day. At least this time I saw it closely enough to know for certain that it was a green tree snake. I was still LOUD! Mind you, I would have bet the house that it had scooted off and was long gone. Twenty minutes later my neighbor and I discover it trying to hide under an army cap that was hanging from a hook outside. The tail hanging down from the cap was the clue!

My neighbor is a talented photographer and keenly interested in nature. She borrowed my phone to take a few pictures and we watched (yes, me at distance and inside) as it made its way up and around the post and on to our roof. Snakes, can go pretty much anywhere! It’s a bit unnerving to see this although it is highly evident that they do prefer to get away from us – then don’t come up to my patio in the first place!

A few days later I was down at our fire pit with my husband. Ironically, we had been talking about the snake encounter. I sort of had this false sense of confidence because there is usually a fair period of time between these uncomfortable meetings. I was wrong.

When he got up and moved towards and behind me – I was on instant alert. “It’s a long way away.” Well, those words set me off as I knew he was talking about a snake. I did not know where he was referring to and I screeched as I tried to get out of my chair, away from the fire and across the yard, up the stairs and into the house – achieved I believe within seconds.

It was a type of water snake, timid – so I am told. (So why slither out of the lake and visit us!) The next day was a good day for indoor tasks. Three days later we got stuck into a project of clearing some low lying bushes and creating a more open lawn. I was out helping by shoveling the rocks and whilst I was not thinking of ‘snakes’ the whole time – I was smart enough to put fast slither distance between me and the uprooting of bushes!

That’s it, no more ‘snake’ stories, for now.

I do not like seeing a snake. I absolutely react emotionally and out of fear when I come across them especially in my own living environment.

On my driveway, under my car, in my house, on my patio, on my fence, in my yard, across my steps, on my pool deck, in my street and at my fire pit – I feel I’ve had more than my fair share!

Do I have false expectations about the reality of living with snakes – perhaps so, and without a doubt I wish that Australia had been one super duper volcanic island! I do feel that I have a history which entitles me to get a pass on being a touch on the wary side.

As for loud, I am for sure going to be loud if and when I end up seeing another legless friend!

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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!