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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
“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.
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.
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.