Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Well duh. I could have told them that.

Some new Australian research has shown that junk food can actually lower stress levels.

See report here. (I swear the piece I heard on the news was a bit longer than this, but anyway... If I find more details I shall report them here!)

What they haven't discovered in their research yet, with their anxious mice, is that the stress and anxiety caused by putting on weight caused by eating junk food in a sub-conscious bid to lower your stress levels actually causes your stress levels to increase, thus inciting a vicious cycle of anxiety, junk food eating, and putting on weight.

Ad nauseum.

I love me a feel good story.

It's nice to hear stories like this. A guy accidentally leaves his $600 digital camera in a cab in New York, and the finder and her fiance track him down through clues in the photos he has taken.



Monday, January 28, 2008


Fairy 'nuff. I suppose.

'Would you like me to do some magic?' asked the very sweet purple fairy hovering over me as I was finishing my lunchtime coffee and reading the paper.

'Ooh, yes... I'd love to have all the lunch stuff magically cleared up, so I don't have to do it!' I said with alacrity. You don't want to miss these sort of opportunities do you...

'Sorry, I don't do cleaning up. I'm a messy fairy.'

. .

*sighs* - I guess you get the fairy you deserve.


Sunday, January 27, 2008


So call me unAustralian.

It was Australia Day yesterday. It seems to be being celebrated much more than when I was young... but I'm still not comfortable with it. Even less comfortable seeing these teenage kids walking around with a flag draped around them.

I hate overt "patriotism".

I haven't changed my mind since last year.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Not that I'm judgemental at all...

And I'm not perfect by any means. But, sometimes don't you just roll your eyes and think "Moron" ?

My father has this theory that 80% of the people *out there* are morons... I'd like to think he is rather over-exaggerating (as he does when he gets on a rant), and I like to give the benefit of the doubt, but some days I confess I come over just a wee bit judgemental.

There are also degrees of moronism, of course, and some of the things people do that make me think they are just Stupid could be considered quite subjective (and intolerant) and even. Sometimes it probably depends on the mood I am in at the time.

I could probably make a great big long list of the things people do in cars (maybe I should get the kids to take note every time I swear loudly.) Some things people do in their motor vehicles are just inconsiderate, and some you'd have to put into the category of arsehole. (To use the Australian vernacular.) But I'll leave the car anecdotes for another time.

I'm not sure why this surfaced as my blog topic for today. Maybe it was the mother letting her daughter ride a new (I'm presuming) scooter in the shopping plaza today. The inside shopping mall plaza. Rainy school holiday day crowded. And it was slightly downhill, so naturally the girl was starting to move At Speed. Mum is several metres behind calling out "Be careful!"... Moron!

And maybe it was the parents with the kids in the movies today. Sorry, but as soon as kids start to annoy me, I can't help but get a teensy bit judgemental about the parents. Like when the kid sticks his face in the V between Zoe's and my seat, and just about on my shoulder. Once I'll cope. Let Dad tell him you don't do that. But about three times? Sorry, but if your kid can't do what he's told after being told once, then don't bring him to the movies to annoy other people. And they were noisy. And then the littlest one threw a screaming tanty right at the moment of 'true love's kiss, the most powerful thing in the world.' I know it was a bit of a comedy, but sheesh. Kid too young to be in this sort of movie. Sorry, but I worry about the parents.

Since the girls were able to identify the boy who was roaming the streets (at night) and coming and knocking sharply on our door and running away.. a few times, until Marc snuck out and caught up with him down the lane and gave him a bit of a fright (so the kid identified himself on the school bus by telling Cait her Dad was a psycho... "Ah, so it was YOU!"....) well, obviously I have a very low opinion not only of him, but mainly his parents, because they obviously allow him to be out roaming the streets at night.

If I ever identify the parent/s of the 8 year old boy who nearly wiped himself out on my car last week because he was allowed to ride his bike around the streets with no helmet and brakes that didn't work... well, they'll have a lot of work to do to convince me that they aren't idiots.

This one is probably borderline, but I really don't understand parents who let their kids ride bikes with no shoes. Or just thongs. Zoe heard today that her schoolfriend cut her foot badly on another friend's new bike, requiring stitches. Zoe looked at me, and I looked at her, and she nodded and said "if she was wearing shoes.....".... Enough said.

Speaking of footwear in dangerous situations, my Ultimate Moron Classification goes to anyone I see out mowing their lawn in thongs. (Which is what we call flipflops.. but I still can't shake the awful image of the middleaged bloke with the middleaged spread that I once saw mowing his lawn wearing only speedos.) You've no idea how many people I see mowing their lawn this way. Pushing a machine with spinning blades, this way and that way, and *this* close to unprotected feet?! I hope to hell I haven't just lost myself any friends here... but seriously...

So what do people do that make you think they are morons? Apart from me planning on getting up tomorrow morning at 5am to go riding?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Parenting guilt issues # 34789

I am a mothering anomaly.

Here I am, a SAHM, still, because I can't bear not to be around for my kids. When they might need me. (Because I feel compelled to drive them hither and thither to all their sports after school, more like.)

Plus, what the hell would I do with them in school holidays if I had to work?

While they were little, even though they often drove me mad, I still, inexplicably, wanted to be at home with them, though not because I set out to be like that. It was just how it happened and how I felt once they were in my life. [Helped to be kind of 'between careers' and not knowing what the hell to do for work.] Oh, I choofed them off to preschool soon enough. From around 2 years old, they started one to two days a week, building up to about three days by the time they were 4. They needed it, and so did I. I'm no mother saint. And I waved them off quite happily when they each started school. Yee ha!

(Mind you, I've always objected slightly to the 'Home' part of the SAHM acronym, because being out and about with them happened just as much as being at home. I used to love going shopping with #3, once she was the only one left at home. Can you believe I said that? This is the same 'me' who told Ms 14 and Ms 12 to go sit in the car while I went through the supermarket the other day! No, #3 was a real delight when she didn't have big sisters bossing her around and arguing over who got to sit in the trolley, or push the trolley... And she still talks about how she and I used to go to a coffee shop - I'd have a cappucino, and she'd have a babycino!)

But I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I'd occasionally [OFTEN!] feel a bit trapped when they were little... particularly because my husband worked long hours, and then when he changed jobs in 1997 (with the move up here), he started going away a lot as well as working long hours. I was on call 24/7, and when he was home we didn't get round to doing anything as smart as getting a babysitter so we could get out together. He just wanted to 'be home' after being away for so long, so it didn't really happen.

A few years ago I gradually, and finally, started doing a few things for myself. Blessed with well-behaved girls, I could start leaving them unsupervised to watch (or play) while I did a 1 hour swim squad class. They were old enough, by then, I figured, that it wouldn't kill them to watch or wait for me for a change, given the hours and hours I spent watching them. (And there was the Role Model stuff - exercise, fitness, etc - that had merit as well.)

As #1 and #2 got older and proved to be pretty responsible and sensible, I've gradually built up the time I could leave them at home. I started with deliberately getting home from shopping, for example, half an hour after they got home from school. So they could handle letting themselves in, and so they could cope with things if I ever got held up in traffic, or the car broke down, or the like.

I started going out for 45 min walks.. and I have built it up from there. I do feel a whole lot happier having a mobile phone, so they can contact me anytime. (Except when I'm in the swimming pool!)

So, with the eldest at 14 now, this past year it feels as if we've been pushing the envelope more and more. She's old enough to babysit other people's kids, so surely she'll be right 'in charge' at home? I now leave them at home while I go to netball meetings. And they cope just fine. (TV choice here they come.)

Being the crazy couple that we are, Marc and I have started getting our 'us' time with our early morning bike rides. (It does feel better leaving them when it's daylight. Yep. Some people go out for romantic dinners. We go out for a bike ride and breakfast!) We leave here around 5.40, and get back around 9.30 or 10.00. But half that time they're in bed!

When netball was on we'd ring them at 8.00 to make sure everyone was out of bed and getting themselves ready for netball. (Now #1 and #2 get themselves up to do a paper run!) But if we weren't out riding, we'd probably still be in bed, and they'd be doing the exact same thing - computer or TV! So I don't feel too bad about it. We'd have to nag at home for them to get ready, and it is possible to nag via phone!! (And to tell them to hang the washing out!)

Lately, though, it seems we've been taking even more liberties, and here's where I'm starting to tousle with my conscience.

Last Sunday we left home around 10.30 to go to a bicycle group AGM. They could have come, but didn't want to. It was supposed to be at 11.00, but didn't start till 12.00! By the time it finished at 2.00 I was famished, so we went and had lunch. (Then went to the hardware store.) Rang them a couple of times and they were fine. They had even very capably made themselves a special lunch! Egg and ham breadcups no less! Baked in the oven! (Though Ms 14 needs Ms 12 to break the eggs!)

I still felt rather guilty because they were home pretty much all day Sunday by themselves, and not doing anything much bar TV, computer and reading .. but then, once we were home, everyone continued doing much the same thing anyway! When we're not full on active sports, we specialise in Sloth!

Last Tuesday I left at 6.15 to go riding with a friend. Marc was home till he left for work around 8.30 ... only #3 was up, but she already knew I'd gone riding.

When I finished my ride I rang home at about 10.00. #2 answered.
Where are you? she asked.
I thought you must have been still up in bed!
Good communication all round, huh? And.. um... makes me look like the slacko that I am every other day if she thought I was still in bed!

Still, I felt a bit sheepish as I then had a coffee before heading home. I did take them some vanilla slice which made me feel a whole lot less guilty! And what do you know.. they were all ready and organised to go iceskating. So... no problem. I wouldn't have been doing anything with them in that time anyway! Would I? Except nagging them to clean their rooms, pick their shoes up off the floor. Etc.

I would have been on here while they did their own thing anyway.

Tonight I went swimming. (Leaving them to put pies in the oven for dinner!).

And with this weekend coming up, I have a bit of a raging debate happening within. Up there in my head. Between my conscience, and the "I wanna" part of me, wherever it is.

Marc is away for work (and then sport) till Sunday night and I have the choice of:

Saturday morning ride. 6.00 till about 9.30.
A Sunday morning ride - 7.30 till mmmm, maybe 12.00 by the time I get home.
Tuesday morning ride again... 6.15 till... 11 ish. And it's the last day of the school holidays.

My conscience tells me that I'd be going a bit overboard if I left them at home while I did all three... (My inner sloth tells me I don't want to get up at 5 am on Saturday!)

My conscience tells me that if I can leave them for all that, I could go and get a damn job already...

My common sense tells me they will be fine, and I should Seize the Day, and take the opportunity to do some exercise... and soon enough it'll be term time again and I'll be running them all over the countryside.

If you made it this far... What do you think?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008



From this morning's ride:

Ed to add: The house is apparently vacant. The cycling friend I went riding with does this route most Tuesday mornings (as she is trying to train herself.. and another friend up .. to do the next Big Ride - or Great Escapade as it is called this year.) The farmer who owns it stops to talk to her often - but never seems to remember her, but one time he did tell her that since the old farmhouse was vacant it had been vandalised.

Yesterday he asked her again where we were going:

"When I told him we were the usual cyclists he saw on a Tuesday and that we were in training for a major ride, he looked me in the eye and said "I've been training all me life. It's never done much for me yet." Smiled and drove on."

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Where I resort to posting an email FWD.

Because I got up early and I'm too tired to write a coherent post.

But it's funny:

Someone ordered this cake. Presumably by phone. Possibly this is how the conversation went (according to the email fwd):

Cake-shop employee answers phone: 'Harro, dis Springvale cake-shop,how can I helping you?'

Customer: 'I would like to order a cake for a going away party this week."

Employee: 'What you be want writing on cake?'

Customer, '...'Best Wishes Suzanne'....underneath that....'We will miss you'....'


Monday, January 21, 2008


Weaning myself off January

.. among other things.

Marc went back to work today, (and naturally there has been more sunshine today than the total of all the days he had off and pencilled in for beach time.) One more week of school holidays. One and a bit actually. Two of the kids start back Wednesday next week, and the other on Thursday. Not like I'm counting down or anything.

Time to start getting back into normal sleep patterns. Time to take stock of uniforms, and school requirements, and new shoes, and haircuts. Etc.

Time for me to get my butt into gear with the housecleaning. Time to get back on track with the exercise (and losing weight) resolutions. Time to flagellate myself some more about not having a job and what I could do. And why it's easier not to work - holiday times being the foremost in my mind.

Time to do much, much website stuff with the netball association website AND the Bicycle User Group website. (Seeing I am such a boon to these organisations, why do I not feel my Skillz are marketable in the 'real' world? - Answer - because I know enough to know how much I don't know!) Yesterday we went to the Bicycle User Group AGM and came away with jobs. Marc ended up as Vice President, and all I could do was laugh.

I'd like to rejig my blog.. but wonder whether it's worth the time and effort. Do I move to Wordpress? Do I buy a domain name? Do I keep crazytrace? (or is that a stupid name?). Do I start over a new leaf, having used this blog as a training ground? Is there any point?

I'd like to redesign the family website, and make a contribution with our crazy type cycling (and canyoning) adventures. We like reading the stories of others, so why not share? Again... is it worth it?

I have a netball committee meeting to go to shortly - and I've spent some time today working towards making myself 'dispensable'. Found a place to host the website instead of my ISP. I am practising biting my tongue over some issues that may arise, but realising that even though I'm "over" the netball committee thing, I still have power issues. (And it's the only way to find out what's going on!)

We still went to bed late last night, and didn't get up that early either, despite Marc having to go into work! (Oh well, he has that sort of job.) I have made some commitments to meeting up with someone to go bike riding at 7 am. Which sounds better than Saturday's 6.30 start, but reality means getting up at 5.30.

I gave the shed door another coat of paint today. I was under instructions from the Boss. Maybe I could get all handywoman again...

Maybe I really am crazy after all.


Saturday, January 19, 2008


Good for nothing.

Leave me to my "natural" sleeping devices, and I revert to the teenage-esque habit of staying up till after midnight, and then sleeping in till late morning. Despite being a night owl, my body loves a good 9 hours (or more!) sleep and will take every second of it given half a chance. Carry on doing this for more then a few days, and getting back to a more sensible bed time of, say, 10pm - or even 11pm - gets harder and harder. Because? Not tired enough because I've only been awake for 11 hours and I haven't done anything to make myself tired!

Factor in my usual night time Second Wind phenomenon; the Australian Open (where they are usually still playing after midnight - and I have a sports mad husband who has the tv on watching it and I get sucked in.) And the disappointing weather, which hasn't been conducive to getting out and burning up some energy.. and here I am in a bad, bad body clock cycle/circadian rhythm (or whatever it's called.)

I know, I know. I can hear the choruses of "I should be so lucky" .. to have holiday time to use and abuse like that. Problem is, it's not all it's cracked up to be - if you are as stupid about it as me.

I could probably handle it if my resumption to normal transmission was done sensibly. Like for a school day.

But naturally I have to do it In Style. By getting up at 5 am. After going to bed at nearly midnight. (Tennis was to blame of course - had to see an Aussie gal knock off a seed last night, though thankfully she did it by 11pm.)

Then a downpour of rain woke me at 4 am, and I don't feel like I slept much after that.

Then (grumpily) up at 5. Well.. alarm at 5, and dragging an unwilling body and mind out of bed and into bike gear. Drive into town. 30km ride. Self inflicted I know, but I would have been annoyed with myself if I'd piked it because I would have missed the exercise and the social contact.

So the rest of today I've been good for nothing. Totally pathetic. Too overwhelmingly weary to do anything much bar struggle through the supermarket to pick up some stuff for dinner and some other things; half-heartedly sweep the floor of the shed, and then drag my sorry self upstairs for a Nana Nap. I'd tried coffee, food, and chocolate to no avail. Throw in the red menace, and on top of it I'm inexplicably teary [I thought being over-emotional was supposed to be "Pre" not "During" ??] I've never been good at power naps (usually taking another couple of hours to wake up) so even though I did sleep, and felt vaguely better afterwards, it was no miracle cure.

Marc meanwhile has been industrious and putting me to shame, with his work tools out putting hinges on a new door he bought for the shed. He asked me to paint it, and even after my snooze, I struggled to feel enthusiastic about it. It didn't help that only the other day he was talking about the possibility of knocking the shed down! I also painted and stained so many things over quite a few years when we owner-built a house, and, unlike him, I have totally lost all enthusiasm for such household projects. It's not so much the painting (which I suppose can be quite soothing) but the preparation and cleaning up... .and... ok.. just the painting. I don't know why I feel that way...

He got it ready - I started painting, and when Alison offered to help, I happily handed over the brush and disappeared. (Seems she intended to "help", not do it herself, but there you go. It's good to have slaves...)

Now I'm coming off a post-dinner second wind, so I should seize the .. night... and put myself to bed, and hope that I am less tired, and in a better frame of mind about myself, the world, and everything tomorrow.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Too much.

Too much rain. Enough is enough! Please! The backyard is soggy. The grass went ballistic while we were away. The paspalum around the clothesline is almost knee high. The front yard is so overgrown the place looks like an unkempt rental. The ground is too soggy to mow. Things are going mouldy. Everything is damp. Marc discovered that the top of the fridge (above the freezer side was rusting because of the condensation caught under the plastic baskets I had there.

Yesterday during the day it didn't rain, and I actually got some clothes dry. Of course those I put out late, and optimistically left out there got wet overnight. I continued my optimism today, as it felt quite warm, albeit muggy, outside. Just a while ago it bucketed down, so I have a line full of well rinsed clothes and sheets. I have left them out. Whoever said I wasn't an optimist.

The sun is now trying to come out, but with the weather forecast being "showers" every day for the next week it feels it will never end. I know, however, that compared to those areas that have flooded I have little to complain about. It's still TOO MUCH!

We spent some of yesterday debating what we should do in regard the long-talked-about house renovations, this being the year we must finally do something about it. Marc suggested that we might be better off knocking the house down and starting again. Given that there is not a lot that is right with the house - from everything that needs repairs, to everything that wasn't built or installed or designed properly in the first place - it makes perfect sense, yet the concept seems more daunting than the prospect of renovating, as impossible as renovating seems given the above reasons! A year ago we paid for a design, but I wasn't happy with everything the building designer came up with, and I maintain my right to be annoyed that he didn't physically come and look at the house and property.

Initially with the idea of starting over I had to fight off what anyone else would probably acknowledge as symptoms of anxiety, but which would not be acknowledgeable or .. understood... around here. I don't know why, but the concept of starting to build a whole new house just seems insurmountable to me right now. Too much! Too much! (I probably really do have psychological problems.)

We talked about collecting plans from various project homes.. and then saw a website for a local design company that offers to come out on site for a complimentary consultation. I like that idea. But guess what? Before we feel we can have anyone come here, we need to clean up... which again, in itself, and to me, seems an insurmountable task. Too much to do! It could take a year in itself!

I've started doing this and that, a bit half-heartedly I confess, given my right arm is just recovering from what was apparently a bout of tendonitis or bursitis from a bout of scrubbing tiled walls at the holiday house last week (after squishing it under me in the sloping holiday house bed.) What with my arm, my back, my knee, and my ankles (which two nights ago staged another inexplicable protest that gradually went during the day but came back with a vengeance last night) - I'm not inclined to break myself bloody cleaning.

Canyoning yes, but cleaning ... ?

[In an attempt to prove that blogging is worthwhile, I've now talked myself into ringing the company anyway - if I give us a deadline, we'll have to do it.]

And in the spirit of 'too much' I still have more photos to sort and upload from Saturday's adventure where we took Zoe down to Wollangambe canyon to 'play'. Where does one strike the balance between recording one's exploits for posterity (and anyone else who might be interested), and achieving other tasks in one's world that should be done lest the house fall down around one's ears, and despite our relative prosperity, the younger two children never get ever their own room.. and... and... and....

[Appointment made! Friday 1st February. 8 am. I now have a cleaning deadline!!]


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


A family canyoning trip.

Bell Creek Canyon. Blue Mountains. NSW.
Tuesday 8th January 2008.

It's a bit hard to know how to write up our canyoning trip with Cait and Ali last week. It's probably easier to let the pictures tell the story, with a few comments here and there. I'm planning on putting all the photos up on a webpage sometime, so these are just the 'best of'. (OK, so there are quite a few - I can't help myself!)

These were taken with our litte waterproof Pentax Optio W20... Taking photos in canyons is a bit of a challenge because of the water (and thus waterproofing issues) and the light contrasts. Some parts are so dark, but punctuated with shafts of bright sunlight streaming down, providing a bit much of a challenge for an auto focus camera. We are also still learning about the best setting to use in what situation, and also discovered that Cait's method of carrying it while we were liloing (stuffed down the front of her wetsuit) caused the lens to fog up, and then we lost quite a few photos to some combination of the flash light bouncing off the fog, the steam, water droplets etc.

All the other times we'd done this canyon (and Marc had done it a few more times "BT" - ie. 'Before Tracey' )... we'd used two cars, doing a car shuffle so one is left at the start, several kilometres via road from where you walk out into civilisation and the car with the esky full of ice and cold beer!).. With that route we'd navigated our way mostly through untracked bush (but mostly downhill) till we hit a creek that is a tributary of Bell Creek.. and the log abseil (as you'll see below.)

This year we didn't have a second vehicle, so we followed a route in as described in one of the published canyoning guides. I'm here to say I'd rather do it the old way - as this walk in took us down into another canyon (DeFaurs) and back up the other side, over the hill, and navigating through the bush till we found our way down into the aforementioned tributary. No wonder the canyon tour groups now appear to be using our original way. (Ref. our attempt to do this canyon last year.)

The walk in alone took us 4 hours! So we had lunch (at 12.00) before wetsuiting up, and venturing into the canyon part of the trip. Both the tributary, and Bells itself, vary between very narrow enclosed sections - and Bell has deep dark pools requiring a lilo to navigate - occasionally opening up to several metres wide, bathed in sunlight, with sheer cliffs above. Other parts you need you need to trundle up and down, over and around huge boulders (and a couple of times we needed a handline to get down - one in particular where we once used to edge down a conveniently placed branch!)

Marc has done a Google Earth .kmz file of the trip, which, if you are so inclined and are into Google Earthing stuff, you can download from here.

So, let the photos tell the story...

Rest stop on the way in. I'm sure the girls wondered how the hell we were going to descend way down *there*. Even I was wondering, because our usual method seemed to take us down gradually.

Dunlop Volleys Rule OK.

The only shoe we would canyon in, and take our kids canyoning in. Why? You need some tyres with grip when you are walking on wet, slippery rocks.

Handline into DuFaur Creek canyon. I'd never done this particular descent before, ever, so I had even more butterflies in my stomach than I did already for the log handline (see later.) Plus I had extra butterflies watching the girls go down before me! Many butterflies.

As it turned out I did pretty well, earning myself a compliment: "You've still got it!" he said.

Then back up the other side. If I look a bit tired it's after the adrenalin from the 'narrow ledge' where you climb out of DuFaur's. Where Marc edged along, scrambled up, then dropped a handline down to the girls and me so we could navigate it more safely. Nothing like dangling your kids above a big drop for the nerves of a mother. (OK, so they weren't dangling. It was just a very narrow bloody ledge!)

Yabby! More commonly blue, the ones you see down in this particular area of canyons are orange. Can only think that they are that colour to blend in with the rust coloured rock.

"The log" handline. Even though I'd successfully done this (again)'post-children' a few years ago, I still always build it up in my mind to be harder than it is. You edge down the log, using friction as well as the handline as a brake... as Ali is doing in this photo... then about where she is, you have to flip over onto your tummy, hugging the log, then stretch your right leg out to a (convenient) little groove.. then heave yourself across. (With a bit of help from Marc.) Needless to say, seeing Ali has the shortest legs, it was the biggest challenge for her!

Even the parts which open out are awesomely beautiful.

The liloing part.. which is awesome. Some parts are so narrow you have to tip the end of the lilo sideways, and push yourself through...

Sometimes it's quicker paddling backwards. The downside is you can't see where you're going so easily!

(You know, we once did this canyon at night!... though as I did it this time I was quite in awe that I had. We had headlamps (though Marc forgot his, and had to use a penlight in his mouth!). In this stretch when you turned the lights off, the glowworms were spectacular!)

The chosen ones?

Finally, the last stretch ... after joining the Wollangambe River. Part liloing, part walking through shallower pools, up and over slippery rocks etc.

This was about 6pm! We then had to get out of our wetsuits, deflate the lilos, pack them both (wet, and thus heavier!) into our packs, and walk back 'up' to the car. Fortunately a shorter trip than the walk in. It took us about an hour, making the whole day close enough to 12 hours.

Yep, we were tired little vegemites! (Cait is looking a bit weary there isn't she?...) Although I have been more stuffed on other walks out of canyons. Very proud of the girls! And myself actually.. because I've still got it, and still love it, at 45!

And Marc has just reminded me that one of the best parts was that we didn't see another person ALL DAY!!

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Monday, January 14, 2008


Home sweet home. Bed sweet bed.

We arrived home about 10.30 last night, and apart from the weather... (overcast and showery).. and the mountain of washing, and general housekeeping tasks facing us.. it is Oh So Good to be home.

Yesterday was a mammoth day, beginning with a few hours of packing and cleaning. Once we were on the road we had two stops (at family) then another two stops for meals. On the first leg to Sydney we heard a screeching sound emanating from under the bonnet, which turned out to be an overstretched and slipping air-con belt. No more air conditioning for the trip home. It was a Sunday of course, and even if we'd managed to pick up a new belt, Marc didn't have the tools with him to fit it. Naturally the temperature soared, hitting the mid-30's (around 100F) and so we sweltered the two hours from Sydney to Tea Gardens and wondered how the hell we used to survive summer car trips without airconditioning. (And it is not that long ago that we did so!) Talk about going soft.

Once we hit Tea Gardens we were favoured with a sea breeze, and so we opted to take the slightly longer route home, heading north near the beach, and crossing the Myall Lakes on a car ferry, and driving a bit of dirt road till we rejoined the Pacific Hwy at Buladelah. It may have taken longer, but it was a pleasant change of scenery. It skipped a tedious part of the Pacific Highway alongside a stretch of roadworks (and where we got caught in traffic the other week) and being later in the afternoon, a lot cooler. A dinner stop at Kempsey meant driving the last leg in the dark, but it was a whole lot more pleasant than that god-awful heat of the middle of the day.

But the best part about being home has to be being back in our own bed. For various reasons the three beds we slept in while away were shockers, and none of them conducive to being able to shuffle close for a cuddle (then roll away when he starts snoring in your ear!) let alone a decent night's sleep.

The first two nights were on a brand new queen size bed, but while Marc found it ok, it was too hard for my back, and I found myself even dreaming of getting myself into a hot shower just to get myself moving again - and that was what I had to do each morning.

The next two nights at my parents' place was in their double spare bed, and seeing we are used to a queen size, it always feels squishy. If you try to roll over you either roll smack into each other, or off the side of the bed, and Marc hates it even more given his feet hang over the edge. We usually limit stays at my parents' house because of the damn bed (among other things!)

Then, for the past week at the family holiday house we found that my in-laws' queen size bed had been ruined over time, I guess, by a combination of weight (my MIL is not a small woman) and soft springs. The springs on each side of the bed had more or less collapsed, moreso on the side I usually sleep on, and I had to wedge a spare pillow under my right hip to keep myself on an even keel. With the other side of the bed also slightly collapsed, it made for a ridge line running down the middle of the bed - so there may as well have been a plank of 4 x 2 running down the middle to separate us! The last two nights I took the less-collapsed side, given I'd managed to hurt my right shoulder and upper arm, partly through having woken up one of the mornings having wedged it firmly underneath myself as I'd rolled towards the downhill side.

So, home. Own bed. = Bliss. It might be raining - so drying of the mountains of washing will be a chore, and it's stuffed our beach-going plans. (The weather forecast doesn't look good for the rest of this week either.) I'm faced with a neverending list of cleaning chores that should have been dealt with before I left, plus we have many plans to set in action for 2008. But we did have a good week away. The weather was just perfect, and I have many photos to go through so I can blog about our two fantastic canyoning days with the kids!

And I can sleep in my own bed!


Friday, January 11, 2008


Still alive

So we did our canyoning day with the girls. It turned out to be a huge day - 12 hours from start to finish! The girls did really well. Pretty damned sore afterwards... we've had a few quiet days since.. and I've not bothered to get on the internet because it's using Marc's phone to connect. The photos are here on his laptop but i think I'll wait till we get home to worry about it. Means I'll have a lot of blog reading to do as well.

Alison did the whole canyon with no injuries then bashed the side of her foot down at the local council pool the next day, so we don't know if we'll manage a bit of a walk tomorrow (showing Zoe a bit of canyoning type scenery) before we head home.

Marc spent yesterday cleaning out the gutters of the roof, and we have to do some cleaning of this house too. One of the downsides of getting to use his mum's holiday house for nothing. I can't say I feel like doing it - I have enough cleaning to do at my own house - which I put off because it hurts my back to do!

If nothing else, being away makes you look forward to home sweet home. Your own bed, and your own bloody kitchen to cook in...

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Some say I've gone wrong somewhere along the line.

We're at Grandma's place. We've had a nice dinner that she has cooked, and then she jumps up and starts rattling dishes around in the kitchen. I make noises about helping, but she tells me to stay at the table.

"I made the mess so I clean it up" she said.

"Yeah, but that kind of sucks, really..." I say... and everyone at the table knew exactly what I meant. Except Ms 9, who starts up as if from a reverie and says:

"But why? That's how it is at home!"

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Thursday, January 03, 2008



No! Not whitewater rafting!

Just quickly, as it is important for you to be imagining correctly what we are planning on doing!

A wikipedia definition

Some photos of our past canyoning trips...

The website of one of Australia's canyoning 'gurus'

This is the canyon we plan on doing... we usually take lilos/airmattress...

Anyway, hope to bring you our very own photos...

Must pack!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


A little bit of luck... and tuck...

"That looks pretty good on you darling... it kind of holds in all the.. er... loose.. er ... bits..."


I takes my compliments anyway I can get them these days. Squeezed into a wetsuit that almost takes my breath away... (Plus I quite possibly worked off a few hundred kilojoules just in the sheer physical effort of getting it on. Thus is the nature of wetsuits when you have a figure like mine.)

Ms 14 and Ms 12 and I have been op-shop shopping for wetsuits so that we can go canyoning next week. (Like this... ) Since last year's aborted canyoning attempt Alison has grown out of the wetsuit she was going to wear; we're not in a position to borrow one that Cait borrowed last year; and my old one (that I really had to squeeeeeeze myself into anyway, but which does actually fit Cait) has blown a seam somewhere in the vicinity of one's gluteus maximus.

Why do we need wetsuits? Well the water in the creeks in these canyons is BLOODY FREEZING! The ends (and the journey), though, are so worth the means. But I guess you'll just have to take me at my word on that.

So anyway.. the luck?

Ups and downs, first, with repairing the torn wetsuit. On Monday I dropped it in to an alteration shop , and they said it could be done by this afternoon. $20. Fair enough and Phew...! Marc had been getting antsy about how late I had left it to sort out the wetsuit issues. (Never mind that Christmas shopping kind of gets in the way of stuff like that!!)

Today I scheduled my trip to town for the afternoon, so that I could pick up the wetsuit. Around 11am I get a phone call. It can't be done (boss lady who does the wetsuit repairs is not in - sick.) Oh Damn! It's either bodgy repairs by me, tonight.. or wetsuit shopping x 3 not x 2. No stress there. (And not much eyerolling by Himself... *snorts*)

Lady Luck then decided to take some notice and sprinkle a bit of stardust my way.

As we got out of the car at the shops, I grabbed one of my 'environmental' shopping bags. What the heck is that in it? OOOH! My lost cycling glasses clear lens - in its little bag!!! Once again proving two personal hypotheses of ours in regard to lost items. The first is 'It's always in the first place you looked'. (And the second - and more my M.O. than his) is "It'll turn up. I hope!" You know when you have a leaden feeling inside you.. niggling and gnawing away at you? Well, I've had that for a few weeks now over this lost lens.. so this find today is uplifting.

Eldest two daughters were made to make the decision re their cousins' xmas 'gifts' (so we got vouchers from a computer game store.) And they decided on the type of chocolates for their grandmother and aunty. Tick more stuff off the shopping list.

And the op shop amateur hit pay dirt for once by finding one wetsuit (a Rip Curl one no less) for 10 bucks! - the one I have squeezed into in that pic. And then two more for the other two for $25 each. Bargain! Cait's is short legged/singlet style, and a bit gapey, but she can also wear the wetset top we found in a 'freebie bin' in someone's front garden last week! She and I did try a swap when we got home, but hers - actually being the one that elicited my darling husband's comment - was so firm around my middle it made me feel slightly sick. This other one requires assistance to get into, but at least I can breathe in it! And I don't have to do any last minute bodgy sewing tonight.

And we are putting in a bit of a prayer to Lady Luck... After Alison's gashed hand last year, we are naturally a bit worried that something similar might happen again. So yesterday she goes for a rare ride on her bike, and comes back bleeding! Lost control riding down a grassed lane and careered into a raggedy thicket of bamboo. Limps home sporting a bit of a punctured arm (from which Marc had to tweezer out a bit of bamboo.) We hope this is her traditional January 'fall' out of the way - so that all we have to contend with now, canyoning-wise, is the weather.

My back has been a lot better today, although hauling myself in and out of a wetsuit - twice - has put some strain on it. (Go figure!) My knee has not twinged, and my ankle has not jabbed. A positive trend in any case.

So, I am in a slightly better mood this afternoon than I was 24 hours ago. I've cleared the 'runway' in the kitchen, and written packing lists for everyone. Yesterday I was struggling to imagine being packed by late morning Thursday ... right now I feel like it can be done, and without too many tears.

So, we are off tomorrow. I may or may not manage to log in on Marc's laptop when we are away - but I probably should prove that I can live without blogging for a week and a bit!

Wish me luck! And I hope to be able to tell you all (three or four of you anyway!) about our canyoning.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008



I have no idea what it was all about... and it's crap quality because it was taken on the digital camera movie option... and the big sisters ambushed the little sister.. but it makes us laugh.



Hopefully not setting the tone for the new year.

Today has been frustrating, so I am just hoping things will improve as we travel forth into this new year. Sore back. Sore behind the left knee. Right ankle jabbing every now and then. Sure it could be way way worse, but it all serves to keep me away from my happy place. If this is the future -ie. my body systematically malfunctioning - why not put me on the scrap heap now.

Also. For some reason last night I got it into my head to upload a vaguely amusing mpeg that the girls took on the digital camera. (read: pretty ordinary quality.) Blogger now has a video uploading capacity, right? Bzzzt. It got stuck half way through uploading last night.. and again this morning.

I know! YouTube! Bzzzt. It got stuck half way through uploading. Three times.

Vimeo? It uploaded. You beaut! Then it was 'converting'.. At one point I got a friendly message about the delay in the converting process. Now I don't get that message - I get nothing. I don't know if it's a dodgy broadband connection at my end or what.
[A few hours later I get an 'almost' done message! ie. it's finished converting and will be ready to watch "soon".]

It hasn't been beach weather since we got home on the 29th. While fortunately we haven't been melting like our compatriots in other parts of the country, it has been windy and even a bit squally, and the ocean way too rough. So our grand plans for spending this 'interim' period at home doing the beach thing has backfired.

And we are now leaving earlier for our trip down south so as to spend another two nights with Marc's mum (and to give my S-I-L and her a break from each other.. the knee op recovery has been more slower and more frustrating and more painful than either anticipated.) My idea.. but it doesn't actually make me happy.

Then on Saturday it will be onto my family, which is probably the major reason I am tense. Hyper-tense. I would rather not have to go, frankly. Between now and leaving on Thursday I have to decide what to give my nephews 'for christmas' after my suggestion to my sister that we do something different to presents this year (like have the boys come and stay here - for a beach holiday - so the cousins can spend time with each other..) went down like the proverbial truckload of bricks. Seems she thinks the cousins 'get a buzz' out of giving each other gifts, even though each year it's only the aunties who rack their brains over what to get (and one auntie tends to "suggest" what I should get, and even "offer" to "pick it up" for me if I think I can't get 'it' .) From the 8th December to the 18th she'd had no time to consider my emailed suggestion other than to say she was too busy and too stressed in the christmas lead-up... and when I said don't worry, just thought my idea would take the stress off both of us re shopping, she suggested vouchers or cash.

Anyone care to pick the flaw in the argument here? ie. just how do the cousins get a buzz out of exchanging envelopes with a voucher or cash that they have had no input into buying?

And when we get to my family, my mother and sister will most likely give me boxes of chocolates that I don't even like! And I don't have a bloody clue what token 'gesture' to get them.

My mother rang today, and the subject of photoshopping came up, so I told her that our 'christmas photo' this year had actually been photoshopped by Cait. "Oh right', she said. "Well, I had said to Dad that it wasn't as good as their usual one."

I bit my tongue and didn't say "Get.. somethinged" like I felt like saying.

Tomorrow I have some last minute shopping to do - including second hand wetsuits for Alison and me, so we can go canyoning next week. Just like me to leave it to the last possible day. (In my defence, prior to christmas I thought I had till Friday for extra shopping.) My big problem is I am just not in the headspace for packing for 3 different 'stays'.. including making sure we have all we need to go canyoning...

Hopefully tomorrow I will be in a better mood! But somehow I doubt it. Maybe ask me how I am after this weekend, once we are in the Blue Mountains, and the family visit is over and done with. (And my back, knee and ankle miraculously stop hurting!!)

10.45pm. And YouTube comes through. Oh yeah.


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