Wednesday, April 30, 2008


No matter what they say.

I'm not always brimming with self-confidence, even if most days I try to talk up the positives. I am all too quick to compare myself unfavourably to others, and I'm pretty good at letting other people get under my skin. Hyper-sensitive is my middle name.

I have put my name down to do a one-day (Cycling) Ride Leader training course in a few weeks time. So what, huh? Well, normally I'd have just stood back and let Marc do it on behalf of our family, because it is more his thing. (He's just a natural leader.) But he's got netball coaching commitments that day, and there's no way I'm standing in for them (again!). I do stand firm on some issues! And the BUG (Bicycle User Group) needs people to support this course, and so I feel like one of us should go.

But more importantly I think I need to do it for myself.

The problem? These days I'm much more comfortable cruising along in the supporter role. The 2IC. (All care and no responsibility perhaps..?)

I'm all for learning stuff .. but the thing that scares me most is the concept of being (offically) assessed and judged by someone else. A written exam? - pffft - that wouldn't worry me. But I'm imagining that, given the latest trend in courses (even in First Aid!) we will have to 'act out' some sort of scenario in the class and be judged upon it. Taking turns to be the leader or something, and that just freaks me right out. I have never harboured any desires or abilities as an actor, yet I feel that that is what I will be judged on.

(I've considered going back to uni and doing a Dip Ed, and becoming a teacher, but the thing that scares me most about teaching is being assessed by someone else on my ability to teach!)

It doesn't help that I know there will be someone involved in this bike course who is the type that has this amazing ability to make me feel insecure. (I won't link to it now, but I did do a post once about a person who did a big rant about employing bloody housewives who had the temerity to hope for flexible working hours... and so, yep... And who last time I spoke to them after a ride, they ignored me... Hmmmm. )

I have had a bit of a history in jobs with other women, in particular, who have taken it upon themselves to make me feel like I am useless, and inadequate - who in fact set out to bring me down - so perhaps I am carrying a bit of baggage around with me. (Pretty heavy baggage to be carrying around for 20 years, huh...)

So, anyway, having bitten the bullet and decided this week to get over myself and do this course (*big deep breath*), I've had to do a lot of self-talking. (I do a lot of self-talking in general about trying to pull myself together anyway - god it gets noisy up in my head sometimes - and this little example is but a small chunk out of the barrier I need to climb over so that I can figure out what to do with the rest of my life ...)

I also confessed my anxieties about the course to the BUG president and he very wisely told me that I'm not the only person who finds certain people difficult ("ask around!") and "Don't take anything personally is a rule for living happily. Another one is face your demons." (Worth putting in bold I thought. Very good advice.)

For some reason this song - below - jumped into my head the other night, even before that exchange above, and I found myself half singing it to myself under my breath. I have no idea where it came from. A mantra from above? Then, in the supermarket checkout yesterday, I heard it again - for real this time - being played on the PA.

It must be a sign.

So for me. And for Rootie this week, too. And Magic B, lately. (Both of whom are dealing with far worse than me.) But also probably every one of us at some point, to varying degrees.

This is for us.

[For those with technological hassles, the song is I Am Beautiful]


Monday, April 28, 2008


Round, round wheels going round, round, round...

Some shots of our cycling weekend! [And a couple of videos of us riding the tandem and triplet as well!]

Tracey and Ali

Tracey and Ali

Stealth triple.

Thanks to another BUG member who has been having some fun with the movie option on his digital camera, we've now also got a record of us in motion!

It is actually quite interesting being able to see ourselves in motion. Already we are doing quite a critique of riding styles.. For instance, Alison's seat is too high, as she's swinging her hips too much.. and it looks as if I am sitting too far back... Marc says he doesn't notice it in 'real life', but watching it here you can maybe see it more clearly. (I've never felt quite right on the front of that tandem.. maybe that's why...)


Friday, April 25, 2008


For ANZAC day

I've never really done the ANZAC day marches... and we won't be doing so this year either. Not much into public ceremonies... I just choose to pay my respects and to remember in different ways. By myself, and in little ways that are more appropriate for me...

The other day I bought the book "Tobruk" by Peter FitzSimons.... it seemed, somehow, an appropriate time to buy it. Somehow through my schooling I missed studying the world wars. I don't think it will hurt me to redress that by reading about them in novel-like and readable formats. (Have already read his Kokoda, and the biography of Nancy Wake.)

Anyway I started reading it this week... my tribute to ANZAC day.

And I'll leave you with this Eric Bogle song.... It has always struck a chord and always leaves me with a lump in my throat.

** I thought there was a new post option to set this up to post on the 25th while I am not here, but I can't see it, and I had best not waste time looking for it right now....**

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Gone bike riding. Back soon.

Leaving tomorrow for a few days cycling in Armidale with BUG people (and more particularly other people with tandems.)

It's almost 10pm and I haven't packed yet. My brain went walkabout today. I don't know if it's because Fragile Week has extended into Fragile Fortnight, or I am experiencing the first stages of early onset dementia, but I haven't got my act together at all, and I have a very worriesome story about how I can't manage to buy the right Italian deli meat for a particular frittata recipe - on an ongoing basis. I mean.. pancetta, pastrami, prosciutto - they all start with a 'p', don't they? (How confusing is that?! )

The girls have created a total bombsite upstairs with their packing, and I'm about to strangle one in particular over items of clothing that she "can't find". I can also sense Marc will explode at some point over what hasn't been done that I should have done today.

I have made a zucchini slice and the aforementioned frittata (with prosciutto instead of pancetta) to take with us for sharing at the place we are staying. For some reason cooking three meals in one night was too much of a challenge for the Planning and Logistics department in the old brain, and it took me all day to figure out what to have for dinner, and what to par-cook to take tomorrow. I finally dragged myself out to the supermarket in the afternoon, (didn't write a list, didn't get the right 'p' meat, didn't think to buy softdrink to take for the kids, probably forgot more things that I haven't realised yet...), and then didn't fully process the fact that the reason we are going tomorrow is that it is ANZAC day, and thus the shops will be closed in the morning at the very least, and therefore it was not a sensible decision to put off the buying of the BYO meat for Saturday night's BBQ till tomorrow - because there will not be any butchers open tomorrow.

While I had the cycling program for the weekend, which includes a ride tomorrow afternoon, I also didn't correctly process the required departure time in order to arrive at Armidale in time for the afternoon ride tomorrow (and to say hello to people and maybe have some lunch, and get our act together...) There's the small consideration of a 3 hour drive to factor in as well you see. I don't know how I thought we'd get there... through hyperspace perhaps.. because when Marc pointed out we needed to leave by about 9.00, I kind of gulped and thought "sh*t... I guess we do."....

Neurotic after all, perhaps.

If I manage not to get lost, or forget who I am and where I live, I'll talk to you all on Monday and tell you all about our weekend!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Not as neurotic as I look.

Remember my great spectacle debacle?

And the update being that the optometrist would (begrudgingly) order in non-multifocal lenses with a similar prescription to my old ones, only slightly stronger... although seeing I am getting SO OLD, it is inevitable that I will need either multi-focals, or separate glasses for different purposes... before very long?

Well, today I went in to get these new replacements put in.

It was with some apprehension that I waited for the assistant to place them on my face....after all this recent palava... but WHOA!.... I didn't expect it to be THIS BAD. You know what it is like to pick up someone's glasses and put them on, and the vision is all whacko and distorted? That's what it was like.

What. The. Hell?

"This is... terrible..." I said.

"Well... I don't know...", she says. "Often new prescriptions take a bit of getting used to..."

"Yes...yes... I know... but... I've had glasses since I was 10, and I've never had anything THIS bad.... This is really really bad. I couldn't wear these for anything..."

She looked again at his prescription notes...and sighed. "Well, it's Wednesday again, the optometrist isn't here today... all I can do is put the multifocals back in, and he will have to review it tomorrow..."

She took them back to the work bench... and it was all I could do not to bang my head on the counter... FFS, I'd only gone in for an eye checkup because I thought I should after a few years. It wasn't because I was having any problems with my glasses. Perhaps I'll have to ditch this guy and go back to my old family optometrist (and former neighbour) when I am visiting my parents in Sydney in June or July.... Meanwhile I'll have to put up with these frigging multifocals, which have improved a bit with the peripheral vision when I'm at the computer, but reading?! - which is the whole reason he thinks I need them because he thinks my old type prescription can't cut it with the reading as well. It's total CRAP! Can't spread out the newspaper at the table and read it, because I can't find an optimum focal length. Same with even a book...! This is just .... HOPELESS. I've gone backwards! But SERIOUSLY...why am I apparently so hypersensitive about these lenses? How can my eyes have gone this whacko, I mean, I know I'm peri-menopausal, but I seriously don't recall ever seeing 'optically neurotic' in the list of symptoms...

(Indeed, I could tell by her demeanour that this assistant had relegated me to the category they secretly call 'THE NEUROTIC PATIENTS'. )

Suddenly from over at the work bench she says... "Hang on... I think I might have solved it.

"Um... usually lenses aren't symmetrical... but these... are....and I think I've...."
Got them round the wrong way?! Left in the right, right in the left?... Yes, that might make a bit of difference when you've got one shortsighted eye, and one long sighted eye!!

"Um... try this.."

Well, bloody hell, THAT'S more like it.

Yes.. slightly weird (like I have experienced with every new prescription over the past 35 years!)... but you can tell your eyes will adjust.

"I'm so sorry!" she said.

"That's ok... thank heavens! ... but sheesh... I really don't need any help with feeling any more neurotic than I already do."


And I am wearing them since I got home, and halle-bloody-lujah, they are good. I can look around the room with them. I can read a book or magazine with them. I could read the newspaper with them. I can watch the TV with them.

They are JUST FINE.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Some kids will do anything for icecream.

Either that or emptying the contents of my angsty brain into a blog post has the power to influence my darling children after all!

Last night Ms Nearly 15 was reading my last post, and was most affronted.

"You haven't blogged about Zoe and me!!"

"I know, I know... I will tomorrow. I have Twittered it though!"

So! Just so you know, Internets! ...


(And to be fair, #2 was doing 2 hours of rep netball training at the same time.)

Around 4.00 yesterday afternoon Cait said that she might go for another jog.


"Why don't you take Zoe" I said. "She needs to do some jogging before the school cross country, and I can't run."



"Zoe! Get your joggers on. We're going for a run."

(Wow... I wish I had that sort of influence!)

She raided the money jar, but I wasn't going to argue. I thought they were only going to go to the headland, and come back to our local shop, and if they did that they could buy something.

But they went all the way to the next beachside town! For an icecream.

As you do.

I just plotted it on bikely/google earth...

That was a 5.5km return trip! and they jogged most of the way!

The creek (that I got my feet wet in the other weekend) was also still flowing out so Cait took her shoes and socks off, and piggybacked her sister across!

And she rang me, twice, on the way back to let me know where they were. As it was getting dark, and I might have been wondering where they were.

Am I impressed?

Yes, yes, and YES!

Now I am going to have to do something today to keep up appearances. I was still a bit sore yesterday and didn't get round to doing anything.

I have just dropped Zoe at a friend's place at that next town.. and told her that either her sister or I would walk/jog to pick her up!

Maybe it should be me!

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Sunday, April 20, 2008


Further Weekend Adventures of the Crazy Parents.

Geez this role model stuff is hard work. I mean.. we do all this insanely active stuff, but The Children appear to be placing too much credence on the times when we sleep in, and not so much on the get-out-in-the-fresh-air-and-do-a-bit part. Why is that? Can't they see what fun we're having?!

The Eldest Daughter every now and then rolls her eyes and says "I have weird parents." Perhaps we haven't broadened her horizons enough, because there are plenty out there doing crazier stuff than we are. (Plus we think she secretly likes being able to tell friends 'meh, I rode 50km today...' and, perhaps having whacko parents is at least a bit interesting, insofar as how Complaints about the Parentals go...)

So meanwhile the three of them have been dedicating their school holidays to training themselves in all aspects of Sloth. They have perfected the art of still being in their PJs at midday - and Caitlin has been doing much research into the art of staying in bed till after midday and still being clothed in what she slept in at 5pm.

And god forbid I suggest they go outside and do something ACTIVE!

It all came to a head this afternoon when they didn't look lively enough when I said that maybe we could go to the movies this afternoon. They have been told that if they want to do anything interesting during this coming week, then they have to be out of their pyjamas and breakfasted at a reasonable hour. And so now finally this afternoon they are all out and getting wet as the weather closes in again...

But anyway, the topic I set myself was actually The Crazy Parents... and another weekend sample of the things we choose to do...

The forecast was for crappy weather ("showers , heavy at times") and so it came to pass. (See, the Weather Bureau doesn't always get it wrong!) We passed up the Saturday morning community ride - deciding at 5am when the alarm went off that those showers were too heavy, thanks, and we went back to sleep for another few hours! (All good role model stuff huh..) We squeezed in a quick visit to a local Curryfest market day thingy, but then dragged everyone off because we had more Important Things to do....

We had decided that rain, hail or shine we'd paddle, and the weather was kind enough to schedule a break in the downpours and even bring on some sunshine. So we made the crazykids accompany us, and sit by the banks of the creek for the 50 mins of the race. ("It won't hurt you to be out in the fresh air.. We watch enough of your netball...."... and besides which I bought us all hot chips on the way home which they wouldn't have got had they stayed home!) The problem was we all paddled out of sight, so it was not much of a spectator sport... but at least we got a couple of photos for the record. (There was an ulterior motive to the ultimatum!)

Zoomed and cropped shot of us starting off... He In The Front who steers and sets the pace (aka Mr Competitive) had apparently decided that one week of taking it easy was enough warm up after 5 years. While we will surely go faster as we find our groove again, I didn't have much left in the tank 46 minutes later. I am a bit out of practice with the washriding of other boats, and paddling at very close quarters alongside other kayaks.

Late afternoon shot of everyone floating to a stop after crossing the finish line..

With upper bodies throughly 'worked out'... the plan for Sunday was to focus on trashing the legs. (He's in training remember.) A 'walk' in the morning, and a mountain bike ride in the afternoon. Again, despite hearing early morning rain, the weather was kind to us this morning, and we only ended up with a few spots of rain, despite the ominous rumblings of thunder in the distance. (What?! The forecast was showers, not thunderstorms!)

Mr In-Training plotted a route from home out to the state forest, and up some steep state forest tracks onto the ridgeline. Along a bit. Then back down again.

I guess that doesn't mean that much... How about an elevation profile? See what looks like the steep bits in the middle? They were the steep bits.


(Ignore the red spot on the map.) We started off from home... a block back from the beach there. First a few kilometres through residential streets.. .. along the bike path ...

Ooh look, kangaroos... Mum with joey in pouch, plus older brother/sister?

...and then up towards the state forest.

This time we were detouring off our usual bike riding route and heading up "a steep track". At first I was thinking "Oh, this is nice, perhaps we could ride our bikes this way some time."

Then we hit this hill....

Hmmm... maybe not.. or.. well... maybe you could just push them up this bit...

But then...

[Apparently I swore - he heard me...]

"Slippery When Wet." Indeed. We've had rain. It wasn't too easy to negotiate in runners or cross trainers... (Normally I'd choose dunlop volleys when I need some tyres with grip.) So now he is talking about acquiring adventure racing shoes ... there is apparently this whole retail industry set up to sell adventure racing specific clothing and gear! Who would have thought it?!

Looking back down:
I was so busy worrying about traction, I didn't think to get puffed. And you certainly get height value for each step when it's that steep. Before long we were at the top and tootling along a gently undulating track, to be rewarded with the view back down from where we'd come.

And then State Forest emerged back out into farmland. The road back down was pretty damned steep too, but fortunately paved. Some landowner had placed "Private Property" signs at the top, but there was no gate, and as it was the most direct route home, we took it. I was too busy worrying about my knees on the steep downhill and didn't get the camera out.

My feet, legs, hips and bum were suitably 'trashed' by the time we got home, and so I wussed out of the afternoon's MTB adventure. Mr In-Training went off to meet up with a cycling friend to explore some tracks near town... while I stayed home to recover "encourage" the girls to get out and do something. Suggestions of going for a jog to get a bit of practice in before the school cross country were met by an apoplectic and tearful reaction from Ms 9. [So I thought she liked it when she came first last year! Go figure.. who am I to understand.. or to suggest doing a bit of training?! God, it's not like I don't practise what I .. suggest...]

The eldest finally decided to go for a run/walk with a friend - seeing they were told by their rep netball coach to keep their fitness up during the holidays. The other two managed to contact some friends - also sisters - and did a swap for an hour or so. Not quite as active, but then the rain closed in again anyway. If they'd got themselves going earlier they would have had a much more productive and fulfilling day! Just ask their crazy parents.

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Friday, April 18, 2008


Chicken burgers and Wascally wabbits

We kind of went out last night, Marc and I, if you consider a BUG (Bicycle User Group) meeting followed by a casual meal at a local Thai restaurant/cafe "going out". I left the kids at home babysitting themselves. The biggest sister is almost 15 now, so we're at the point where we can do this sort of thing.

I even left them to cook their own dinner. We have a bit of a running family joke here; whenever I sigh and say "what shall I get for dinner?" they always, always say "Chicken burgers". They think this is funny. (I occasionally accommodate them when Marc is away... but when he's home I usually aim for a more 'wholesome' ..errr... balanced... well, normal family meal.) So yesterday when it was a case of deciding what to get just them for dinner, naturally I bought them chicken burgers (the makings thereof) and left them to it... with instructions about cleaning up, and bedtime.

The meeting dragged on, but the Thai was yum... and it felt kind of nice to have a meal out. We arrived home, in separate cars, as Marc was already in town for work, around 10.00. And there were two rabbits in our driveway!

They hopped out of the way...and we got out of the cars, shaking our heads... Not something we usually see around here.

Cait opened the door .. and we said "There were rabbits in the driveway!!"

Nothing like the raised eyebrows of your teenage daughter in a kind of role reversal scenario. Well, what we envisage as a role reversal scenario down the track a bit.

"Yep, sure guys.... have you been drinking?"


Thursday, April 17, 2008


Welcome to the House of Sloth

Pick your analogy. It's one extreme to the other round here. I have a real Jekyll and Hyde thing going on with my level of activity. Dr Sporty over the weekend, Mrs Sloth the rest of this week. Get the picture?

I have done nothing, nada, nought, ZERO exercise Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today. School holidays where we have nothing planned seem to do that to me. No swimming class. Kids flopping around sleeping in - they seem to have it too... (And the weather isn't helping... it's been windy all week, and today it's rained as well...)

And don't think I've been filling the void with housework, which at least might burn a few calories! God no.. not housework... I'm in too much of a funk to get stuck into the housework.

I have been having a crappy time with my new glasses lenses. It seems I am of the small percentage that don't take well to these fangle-dangle multi-focal lenses. One of a small percentage that are hypersensitive to the weird peripheral blurr that happens when you actually MOVE YOUR HEAD! (Basically, my brain is saying 'nup, I can't process this shit'. ) Apparently some take to it immediately. Most adjust. But some just never cope.

I had persevered for a week - a headache inducing, and thus depression inducing week which was thankfully offset a bit by my hyperactive weekend which took me away from the computer or any need to wear specs. I went back into the optometrist yesterday; the optometry assistant tweaked the angle of my frames, or something, which has actually helped slightly.. but I had to go back in early today to catch the optometrist.

"What was wrong with my old prescription?" I wailed. "No good anymore. You're getting older, your eyes are changing.... your eyes are not the same as they were 5 years ago. You need separate prescriptions for reading and longer distance (like the computer monitor) and if we don't use this multi-focal technology, you'll be needing different glasses for different things." I mean, I just went for a check-up, not because I was experiencing any problems....

He put my old prescription of lenses in to the testing frames. I slumped, deflated.... he is right.. not optimum vision any more. But what is the solution? He decided to order single focal lenses as back ups, and meanwhile I keep persevering while I wait (and keeping my head really still at the computer.) If it's still bad by next week, we go back to them, and try the multi-focals again later.

Gotta just love being told how old you're getting ... and how it's only going to get worse.

Throw in the fact that it appears to be Fragile Week anyway.. the Feel Like Crying For No Reason but also Ready to Bite Someone's Head Off at the Same Time Week. Sponsored by the spectacle scenario above, and the fact that I probably shouldn't have been forgetting to take those Evening Primrose Oil capsules because I think they actually DO WORK after all....

And how many times have I concluded that Exercise Endorphins are the best drug for an emotionally prone and patently hormonal nutcase, yet the very nature of the emotional chasm you have fallen into means that you don't have the wherewithall to get yourself out and moving??

How can one woman go from full-on (and loving it) to zilch in the space of one night's sleep?

AND. This cross country skiing idea? It's a bit of a yes we can/no it's a stupid bloody idea rollercoaster. But I won't go into that right now.. because it might make me cry. again...


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Tracey's next crazy adventure plan

"Hey kids, what do you reckon about trying cross country skiing?"

I delve through the photo albums from 'the old days'.. (aka "B.C.")
Reckon this one will convince them it's fun?!

Hey, it's ok.. Dad was just trying to be clever.. trying to do telemark turns.

Plus when you get away from the groomed downhill slopes, the snow can be soft and powdery, and it doesn't hurt when you fall!

See, look - Mum is upright here - though that's not cross country skiing in action.. I'm just standing there for the photo....

Actually, you went when you were a baby, Cait! -

You loved it.. you wanted Daddy to go faster!

The thing about cross country skiing is the chance to get away from the crowds. Bushwalking on skis they call it. It's hard work, using all the major muscle groups, but once you've mastered the *swish swish* of the technique, it's very satisfying gliding along... and getting to enjoy the amazing scenery of the Snowy Mountains in winter.

While I suppose (if I manage to pull off this crazy idea of getting down to the snow in the July school holidays) we won't manage to get off the groomed trails and into the back country, hopefully the girls will enjoy the experience enough to want to do it again.

Accommodation... ski hire... appropriate clothing... As usual I am biting off more than I can chew...


Sunday, April 13, 2008


Just an afternoon walk.

"So I'd probably slow you down if I came on this walk with you."

"Nah, you'll be right."

Anyone familiar with me by now will guess that this wasn't going to be a romantic stroll.

He's decided on a course that will take us down the beach and over a headland to the next beachside village... which is actually going to be the headquarters of the adventure race he is training for. (He figures he should familiarise himself a bit more with the surrounding countryside as his team might just be expecting a bit of local knowledge from him. So a bit of beach walking, and a bit of forest roads.)

I got my feet wet crossing the creek that empties out into the surf. (Because I was following him across the rocks and didn't think to look out for the waves washing in. Duh.) Rest of the walk in squelchy shoes and socks.

1km back out to the highway - and then a noisy 1.6 interlude down the highway. Back into peace and quiet in semi-rural residential area, and up a steep hill. It's a good view when you get to the top and look back.

Then into the State Forest.. and a road we were familiar with from our mountain bike trips. (The bugger is you know it's going to take a whole lot longer to walk it than ride it!) Time for a snack (turns out this is about 7km from the start - about half way.)

His original aim was to cover about 12km, but we were still a few kms from home when my pedometer showed that. And by then the wet socks and shoes were starting to rub a bit... And the legs were starting to feel it.

Total distance according to my pedometer - 16km. Total km as plotted on 14.9km.

"So did I slow you down?"

"No way, I wouldn't have wanted to walk much faster than that.."

Both a bit sore. It'll be interesting trying to get out of bed in the morning.

Speaking of bed....


Saturday, April 12, 2008


It's a good tired.

I'll keep telling myself that anyway. I've been an active girl today... and despite feeling pretty weary, it's all good, good, good.

With the end of daylight saving (thank goodness!- from the point of view of an early morning exercise convert, it's just bloody silly when it's still dark at 6.30) we were able to ride our tandem from home into town this morning. First light at 5.41, so we left about that time. 75 km later we were home again. Mind you, I think it's more the 5am get-up that leaves me a bit shattered by mid-afternoon, despite the coffee and a second breakfast (of fried eggs on toast!) before leaving town!

Shattered? Pffft. Why not push the envelope a bit more... Today there was no netball! It's the start of the school holidays - 2 weeks thereof, so 3 weekends netball-free. So it was a good chance for the mummy and daddy to do something else for themselves. It's been a long time coming, but finally, this past year, we are getting some regular 'us' time.

Years ago - and we're talking twenty-one of them - way back when we first started going out together - we started paddling canoe marathons (in a kayak, just to confuse you with terminology) in a double "TK2". We started paddling long distances together - gradually getting better as we did so. I'm talking marathons like the Hawkesbury River Canoe Classic (111km overnight) and the Murray River Marathon (400 km over 5 days.) We even progressed to an olympic class K2 (which differs from the touring class kayaks in that it is longer, even tippier, and with a stern rudder (underneath the boat) instead of a trailing rudder. (But that boat is currently in two halves, which is a whole other segue which I won't bore you with here..!!)

Most normal people would progress from paddling shorter to longer distances, but ever the rebels, we did it the other way, and started paddling shorter races (like 20km ones).(Which they still call marathons by the way!) We even won our class (Mixed open TK2 one year) in the NSW marathon series- travelling to a number of races around the state.

We last paddled "seriously" back in about 1990, but then started owner building a house, having babies, and, hard as it is to imagine, the kayaking didn't really get a look-in. Since we moved here 10 years ago we've had a couple of attempts at paddling with this local kayak club who run a handicap race every Saturday afternoon. One last baby and general babysitting issues interfered yet again, and we've never really managed to get back there, despite the occasional "We should try to go for a paddle sometime".

Sometimes all it takes is a catalyst (and for your kids to be old enough ... finally, finally...) A few weeks ago an old canoeing friend from our marathon days let us know about an adventure race to be held in our neck of the woods. We're talking trekking, mountain biking, sea kayaking and roping.

One thing led to another - the one thing being Marc considering doing the 'half' race, if he could find other people to do so with him - and the 'other' being him accepting an invitation to fill a sudden vacancy on this guy's team in the full race.

And I call me crazy....

Fortunately the team (2 men, 2 women) only aim to finish, not to win. Marc has done some adventure racing, back in the past.. He's certainly got cycling experience. He is au fait with ropes. And map-reading. And he can paddle, even if he hasn't done so for a while. And this team doesn't run the trekking part, so if he trains himself up over the next few weeks, he should be able to do it. These guys have just done quite a bit of this adventure racing over the years, while Marc's been busy with family, and working overseas a lot.

Unfortunately they are tandem nuts as well, and so they'll be riding tandems. This is an "unfortunately" because Marc isn't so keen on doing so on dirt - they would surely be quicker on singles. And I'm not so keen on him doing so with Another Woman. While it won't be on my tandem, it's effectively my seat. I am coming to terms with him doing this, because, after all, it is quite possibly this mad streak in him that attracted me to him in the first place. (So he reckons, anyway. ) I am not a good spectator, but in this instance I'll have to leave on the Sunday to drive two kids to Sydney for a recorder concert!)

So, if nothing else, he needs to train up, and if I can ride on his shirttails here, and get the benefit of the training, if not the actual thing (which realistically is beyond me anyway) then that's a bonus.

So today we pulled out the TK2, gave it a tub, and rocked up to the kayak club Saturday afternoon race. (Well, he washed it, and got the roof racks organised - I mowed the back yard, and drove #1 daughter into town to the movies!)

We made a pact to take this first hit-out easy, to make sure we could still do it. We could! Style ok. Didn't fall out. Muscles must have memory. We did the 6.5 km (for 'C' grade at a gentle pace ... and the arms didn't fall off. (I'm hoping my swimming helps.) We have said we'll go back.. Next week we can do so netball free, but after that we'll have to start scheming ways to make it there in time and back to pick up kids.

So I am tired, but happily so. I'd rather fall into bed physically tired, for one. But also, being back in the kayak, doing what we used to do, is great.

Not an easy sport to photograph..with less chance of there being spectators lining the 'course'.. this isn't quite what we look like these days. That was in the old days, in the K2. Somewhere just after that time we switched seats, and so now I paddle in the back (much like on the tandem!), bought carbon fibre wing paddles, and started paddling the marathon series races.

Still.. you get the picture....

Next morning: Marc got up at 1.30 am, drove into town, and rode around a velodrome for just over an hour (as a pace rider) for a 24 hour charity ride that was happening. (You think we/he are hardcore? There were people there riding the whole 24 hours - 500km round and round a bloody velodrome!! ) My contribution was not to grumble at being woken up when he got up, and when he came back to bed at 4am! And to sleep in with him till nearly 11.00!!

And he plans to go for a 'trek' this afternoon. Somehow I don't think I'll be able to walk fast enough for him. You can't go doubles or tandem when you are walking!!!

I have this feeling of being left behind in his wake... My only consolation is that because of my swimming, I don't think my arms and upper body are as sore as his after the paddling...

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Friday, April 11, 2008


She can draw my mind.

Artist: My girl, Cait.

She's got to be able to earn money from this sort of talent, don't you think?


Thursday, April 10, 2008


I can see clearly now

Or maybe not.

This morning I had one of these photos taken of my eyes - or rather, the inside of my eyes. It required drops to dilate my pupils, and they take about 2 hours to wear off. It was pretty disconcerting for that duration - things were blurry in a blotchy kind of fashion - and I even struggled to read a text message that came in from Marc, after I managed to predictive-text to him the fact that everything was blurry. [I finally worked out that he sent 'Still texting tho' ?' Heh.]

I could only imagine how crap it would be to have a permanent vision impairment like that.

It was a bit freaky seeing myself in the mirror when I went to the loo. Evil eyes, with the huge dilated black pupils!! (So then I felt self-conscious walking around wondering if people could notice them!!)

The special photo - plus a field test that I did - were to check that some blotchy vision I sometimes experienced, and a slight difference in the shape of my retina - apparently - weren't anything to worry about. Nothing showed up (like early onset of glaucoma or the like), and my field vision is good. So the different shape most likely has to do with the fact that my eyes are indeed anatomically different - unsurprising given one is shortsighted and one is longsighted! And the occasional patch stuff because they work hard compensating for each other.

So that's all good.

By the time I'd wandered around the shops, and then met up with Marc for lunch, I was good to drive home. What a relief to be able to see clearly again.

Only then, I've sat down here at the computer and put on my glasses with their new prescription lenses that I just picked up. And it's not real flash.

Because each eye compensates for the other, I don't need glasses to drive. Nothing is blurry. I can even watch TV or movies, or read without them, but wearing them probably puts less strain on my eyes. (The other day when bike riding on the back of the tandem in a group, I was the one picking up oncoming cyclists in the distance on the bike path before anyone else!!)

The only place I really need them is the computer - I guess it must be a distance from the screen thing.

But with this new prescription, the optometrist has done this multi-focal lens for the first time,(it's a new optometrist), where the bottom half is optimised for reading, and the top half for the longer distance. When Zoe got glasses for the first time the other week, she didn't have a problem with the multi-focal thing at all.

But oh boy. I do. This is horrible. If it had been a new frame job as well, I'd have dumped these and hauled out my old glasses by now. But I have no option!

I think I'll ring them to find out how long it should take me to adjust. Because right now I'm not feeling very happy about the $200 plus I've just paid - for it to be not quite clear, and for it to go all really weird and distorted when I move my head.

It is all feeling rather headache inducing, and frankly, I don't need any extra headache inducing factors in my life.

Conspiracy theory: I am wondering if my husband has been in cohorts with the optometrist. "Can you give her lenses that will make her less comfortable at the computer, so she spends less time there?"

I just rang.

"Usually takes a few days.... bla bla... give them a rest for the rest of today"

"Well, then I can't use my computer at all really.... I have to say I'm just a bit distressed that I've just paid over $200 for lenses that I can't use!"

"Well, can you come in tomorrow?.. OK, well, come in then and we'll check them.. bla bla..."

[It's bloody lucky I'm not really REALLY needing them for paid work isn't it. If I had an office job to go back to I'd be up the proverbial creek.. As it is, I guess I don't need them to vacuum, empty the dishwasher and cook dinner.]

Not a completely happy little vegemite this afternoon.

Updated to add: So I have discovered that if I lower my head slightly and peer through the top quarter of the lens, it is more 'normal'. Great. And apparently to use the reading optimised bottom part of the lens you need to learn not to lower your head and just lower your eyes. Anyone see the contradiction here?


Wednesday, April 09, 2008


"Why would you want a picture of us two?"

Why on earth would a Mum and Dad want to take a picture of their two oldest girls, together? I mean, what on earth would be the significance of them both playing rep netball? (Even if it is for different associations at this point)? What sort of weirdo parents would think it'd be nice to get a picture of them, together, in their respective rep dresses at a rep carnival? I mean, ewwww.

Who knows.. parents are a bit weird like that sometimes.

Yes, Cait, we know Ali doesn't have a patch on right now, but getting you both off the court at the one time isn't that easy at a rep carnival. (Heaven knows, we didn't manage to do it all of last year...) Just imagine the C for Centre patch on her chest eh.

And don't get too close either. You wouldn't want to be seen with your arms around each other's shoulders or anything chummy like that....

Yep, and thanks for the goofy grin.

(Really, darling, it's only because we want to record the fact that we will spend several Sundays this year watching you girls play rep netball, and in years to come we'll present it as proof of our undying commitment to you. Or something like that.)

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I like clouds

I have many blog posts swishing around my head, but none have made their way into a comprehensible form.

So in the meantime....

I am fascinated by clouds. And I don't manage to take nearly as many photos of them as I'd like.

Took this one through the front windscreen of the car as we drove home from the netball carnival on Sunday.


Thursday, April 03, 2008


To make a difference...

A starting point. I have just sent off this email:

Dear Mr Regional General Manager of the biggest and formerly government owned telecommunications company in Australia

I am writing to seek Telstra's assistance in regard to communications for someone with a very special need. At this point I am not sure exactly what is needed, but Telstra/Bigpond is my starting point. I am hoping that, as the Area General Manager of Telstra Country Wide you might be able to help in some way - at the very least with putting me in touch with the right people to help me work out the best options for internet access for this particular person. At the most? - well... I have my fingers crossed.

I have come to know a young woman, Donna, who, due to a progressive muscle wasting disease (Polymyositis), is permanently confined to hospital in Coffs Harbour. (She is the mother of my daughter's friend - and, at 38 years old, I consider her young. Too young to be living this sort of life...) She cannot walk, and she has a tracheotomy - where she is connected by tube to oxygen to help her breathe nearly 24 hours a day. She can talk, but because of the tracheotomy, her voice comes out as a whisper, which, I have to say, requires intense concentration to interpret.

Naturally meeting anyone with such a condition gives you a cold hard reality check on your own life (and makes you realise how lucky you are.) Imagine being so immobile. Imagine living in hospital, and not being able to see your daughter every day. That would be hard enough. But due to the oxygen requirements and this tracheotomy, she is basically without the ability to communicate in a way that most of us take for granted. She can't talk on the phone, so she relies, for social interaction, on the visits by family (who live 30 km away ....), the occasional friend, and the transient contact of the nurses and medicos in the hospital. Many times I have had to brush away the tears as I left, imagining how dreadfully lonely each day must be for her. Other than looking forward to those few visits, the only other thing she can do each day is watch TV or movies, or read books or magazines - all so passive. In the short time I have known her, I can see that she not only has to deal with the physical aspect of her condition. The emotional rollercoaster she must be on doesn't bear thinking about. Most of the time she is amazingly upbeat, but already I have seen her at times when she is at a very low ebb.

Since she has been moved to the rehab section of the hospital, she has been allowed to have a mobile phone on - so sending text messages has given her some small 2-way communication with some, particularly her daughter. But basically that is it for communication.. and it's not enough. Even I am frustrated because there is only so much I can talk about with her via text message.

I take my internet access at home for granted these days, and I have used it for some years now as a window to the world. When my husband was working overseas for long periods, it was a sanity saver... for not only could I communicate with him via email and instant messaging, but I have made new friends all over the world through bulletin boards, and, more recently, blogging. It struck me that, as a communication medium that didn't require voice, having internet access might given Donna another dimension to her day. If nothing else, a daily email or 'chat' with a few friends, would give her some more social interaction.

I have liaised with one of the Occupational Therapists at the hospital, and she is very much behind the idea. We did look into the chances of broadband access via the hospital, and as I expected, it is not possible for patients. Bureaucratically, the OT's hands are tied, so it is something that we'd have to make happen ourselves. As you can imagine, there's not a lot of wireless internet access you could afford on a disability pension.

She would be allowed to have mobile access - via the Next G network I gather. And so this is where Telstra comes in...

What could be done for her?

She has use of a laptop, courtesy of Technical Aid for the Disabled, but other than that it is running Windows Me, I'm not yet sure of all its specs. Once I find out what is possible, and what is needed, I know my husband can check that out for me, and also help with installation etc.

I am determined to find some way of getting the internet for Donna. (For once in my very fortunate life I would like to make something good happen for someone else.) I will seek financial assistance from any community organisations that I can, and fundraise if I have to.

Other than advising me of the technical necessities and appropriate plans, is there anything that Telstra can do to help?

Thanking you for your time... I hope to hear from you...

Tracey S.........


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