Sunday, 30 July 2006

Cat or Dog?

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.
You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.
And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

Saturday, 29 July 2006

Return of the Princess

She's home! My baby is home again after 10 months in Europe.

I'm happy and relieved. As Paul says, our family is again complete.

I didn't cry at the airport homecoming this time. What do you expect? I'm her mother! LOL When the Crown Princess and Prince returned from their gap year student exchanges (in January of 2000 & 2002 respectively), I didn't see them for the 12 months they were gone, so as I hugged them close to my heart for that very first time, I cried like a dam had burst. Paul and I caught up with GFT in Austria and took her on tour in June/July so I used up a whole heap of 'welcome home' tears back then.

Brisbane life will continue for GFT. Having had three of us go overseas for a year or so (I spent a year in France in 1998/9), we know how unsettled she will be over the next few months. There is a wanderlust that grips one's heart and guts that never quite goes away but is like a sleeping giant within waiting for the moment when one knows it's time to go away again. There is also that big question mark hanging overhead that demands 'what next?' Everything at home seems to be as one left it but inside one doesn't feel the same. For a while, life as one knew it is all a bit flat - daily routines, Mum & Paul, Dad and siblings. It doesn't stay that way though because living cannot yet stop and new things keep arriving which bring reasons to smile.

Please say some prayers for our GFT - that she settles without hassles into life in Brisbane and that she gets successfully through the last 18 months of high school.

Happiness and laughter is wished for one and all. I leave you today with the poem from the irish poet W.B. Yates 'Prayer For My Daughter'.


A Prayer for my Daughter
by W. B. Yeats

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Fairy Godmother

When I was really little, I wanted to be the princess of fairy tales. When I grew up I changed my mind. I wanna be a fairy godmother!

To be continued ...

Post Painting Declutter

It's ages since I blogged. I'm working on overload and I don't like it at all! Work. House. Kids. Cat. Friends. Stuff. In short, the solution to many of my woes is simple: work less and/or get help in the form of a cleaning lady/angel/fairygodmother - whatever form this necessary being takes, just get one!

The first one I am figuring out. Balance takes a while to manage but I'll get there eventually. To obtain the second one, I have to do the post-painting declutter. Number one job after painting is always 'get rid of the motham'!

I am up to day five of five days off and not one of those days - all with this declutter aim in mind - has gone as planned. I've reached the too-tired-&-overwelmed-to-sleep stage.

The weekend (after a great night out celebrating a friend's birthday) was ear-marked for house chores in preparation for the youngest princess's return on Thursday. You know how it is: you paint and then you put your house back together before you lose track of where everything goes.

With the arrival of our new bed just after breakfast on Saturday, we were ready to move everything back to where it belonged. We prepared for the big event by hiring a skip to take the junk away. The skip did not turn up. It will be here next week. Pffft! Really useful!

We enjoyed Saturday greatly even though it didn't go as planned. We ended up having two unexpected visitors; one welcome, one not so welcome. Our friend, H. came over about noon and stayed for lunch. Goodbye to cleaning out the fridge! The three of us shared a vegetarian pizza and a bottle of shiraz. Farewell to Saturday afternoon housework! After H left, I sorted through piles of papers, then a pile of cross stitch magazines and filed all whilst sitting in front of the television. One after the other, Paul put on some videos: 'The American President', 'Dave' and 'In and Out'. These films have long been faves of mine and now they are Paul's. When the papers were done, I worked on my cross stitch project. I'm the queen of multi-tasking.

I can't remember the last time we sat and watched tv together. It's a nice way to while away a drizzling Saturday afternoon - some together time after a busy fortnight and so much more important than vacuuming the Princess's bedroom.

The second visitor arrived about dinner time or should I say that Gyspy brought a 'friend' home for her hopeless-at-hunting parents. Eeek! I'm not sure whether that creature was intended for dinner or entertainment. I think it became a bit of both. I hope so because the last thing I want to contemplate is that somewhere out there is a mouse ...

Sunday, I spent part of the morning using the gray water from my washing machine to water the garden (this drought is no fun at all but is as useful as the gym for gaining strength by carrying buckets of water here and there). More unexpected visitors stopped by for lunch - the Crown Prince and my 'fourth daughter', his girlfriend. It's a good thing that I keep the makings of one really good meal in my fridge at all times for just this sort of an emergency. No shiraz this time, but another half a day written off. Decluttering momentum did not pick up pace at all; however, it didn't stop. Inch by inch (or should that be piece by piece?) decluttering's a cinch.

Monday. I had an 8.30am appointment across town and, of course, on the other side of the mother of all Monday-morning traffic. At one point, I decided I was not going to make it on time so rang and let the other party know that I would be late.

"I'm sorry Madam, we don't seem to have you on our list of appointments today."

Was that the gasket in the car or my brain that came close to blowing? I stopped at nearest shopping centre, bought some bread and some greens, posted a couple of letters and returned home. I made another appointment for Tuesday for same person but at another venue not so far from home, and this time I made it for after peak hour traffic. I then spent Monday doing some of what I had to do on Tuesday but the worry of Tuesday was on my mind.

I felt spiritually low on Monday evening. By that stage of my days off I was wondering if it was worth the hassles of the runaround or easier to stay at work and not do what has to be done. I have a theory that this is how most of the world operates these days. Living a full and interesting life takes too much effort for a lot of people. Sad, huh?

'The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.'

Way to go Eleanor Roosevelt!

Tuesday was the write-off I expected Monday would be. On my way home from my appointment, I stopped at the houses of the Crown Prince and the Living Doll (middle princess aged 20) to drop off their mail and say a quick hello. Both have half days at uni on Tuesday. The Crown Princess is still unavailable (I assume because of the car - someone ran into it and did considerable damage to its rear end - but since she avoids me like I have leprosy, that is only an assumption). Ah, the joys of mothering!

And now it's Wednesday. It's way too early but I've been awake for at least 2 hours. I don't want to disturb Paul because he is going to Darwin at 9am. The house is still in a certain disarray - 'organised chaos' is closer to the truth. I have to get my skates on to get it looking like 'House & Garden' before today ends. Perhaps a bit later in the day I will ring the Living Doll and ask her for some help. She's certainly an angel!

Youngest Princess has emailed me to say that she is on the 10.30am Wednesday flight from Vienna. She will be home about 7pm on Thursday evening. Paul arrives back on the 5.30pm flight from Darwin. Woo hoo! My family will be together again. I guess that means that I should buy some groceries for the fridge so that I can feed the crowd tomorrow night. I'll add that to the list of jobs I need to do...

Happiness and laughter to you all. Time to go and reach out without fear. But first, where oh where is that mouse?


Sunday, 23 July 2006

What Flower Are You?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."

Saturday, 15 July 2006

Home Again!

We're home!

We've had the time of our lives, dear readers. We saw friends and family while we were in England and Austria, met nice people on the bus tour with whom we hope to stay in contact, saw lots of interesting and beautiful places from air, land and river-cruise perspectives, learned much about 20th Century history and a bit about thousand year-old cathedrals. We gawped over any number of schlosses old and new, and stood in numb silence at the sites of Auschwitz and Birkenau German concentration camps in Poland.

Naturally enough, we ate too much food but drank barely enough good red wine (when can there be too much of it?). I left the vodka strictly alone after my first sip of something with green grass in it, but thoroughly enjoyed many versions of schnaps, one of which sounded like an advert for KFC with it's many herbs and spices - it tasted a whole lot better.

There was one really big surprise: the weather. I think of Europe as bleak and cold like England seems to be on the weather channel, but it was really hot in Central Europe - between 33 & 38C every day for nearly three weeks. That's not at all what we expected to experiece!

All in all, it was a trip of a lifetime. We have over 600 pics (all hail the digital age of cameras!). I'm going to set up the travel blog in the next week or so with pics and bits and pieces. Please check out Blissful Travels (link on left) sometime soon.

Meanwhile, we have reunited with the off-spring we left behind in Brisbane (including Gypsy Cat who obviously got fed everything she asked for) and we are back at work. Paul and I are sharing photos and souvenirs with the two oldest princesses today while in The Valley for yum cha. I hope they are as enthusiastic as the crown prince was on Tuesday when he came for a visit! David's overseas gap year when he was 18 years old was based in Germany. He visited many of the places we visited on our tour. Paul, David and I sat over a meal and whiled away about 3 happy hours sharing pics and our experiences of places we had in common (how lucky are we having someone wanting to listen to our travel experiences?). Paul also caught up with his cadet prince on Wednesday. This son was supposed to go with us, but was unable to do so because we couldn't get his mother to agree in time enough for us to get him a ticket and a passport. What a pity!

Sadly, that 'back at work' is more than a royal 'we'. I'm back teaching this term after nearly a semester off. It's time to stop enjoying myself with cross stitch, painting and playing in my garden and to, once again, earn money to contribute to paying off the mortgage and educating my off-spring rather than relying on the proverbial money tree in the back garden.

I'm doing supply work at my local high school and have several contracts which fill the term. Interesting enough, I'm teaching senior school modern history as one of my contracts (I'm a literature and language specialist but when one does supply work one teaches all sorts of things!). This term's focus is the Vietnam War. With the teaching focus and the tour exploring former Soviet occupied territories and the holocaust, my interests when reading are expanding rapidly! Don't you just love the notion of life long learning?

And so it's now back to life in Brisbane. This weekend is a mix of final unpacking of the suitcases and moving forward with daily routines and friendships. Also, we have a new bedroom suite arriving this morning. The chaos times post-painting are coming to an end, thank goodness! We then have the lunch with the girls, followed by a friend's 60th birthday celebration tonight and lunch with friends tomorrow.

One of the nice things about coming home after a long absence is the renewal of contact with those we love who live around us. Paul and I woke early one morning this week (jetlag and time differences between Australia and Europe have been a bit of a problem. It's made worse by my obsessive need to be up early for work) so we lay in bed talking about what we had to do over the next few weeks. One pleasure is the numbers of invitations to dinner or lunch we have received in the few days we have been home. We have about six things to go to by the end of the next two weekends.

Then there is the return of our youngest princess from Austria. Regardless of the fact that we saw her last week and spent the previous 3 weeks with her, this is going to be a big deal.

I could rave on and on, but there is only so much that you want to read so I'm ending this blog entry here.

I continue to wish you happiness and laughter in your travels through life.


Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Greetings from Vienna in Austria

The holiday is almost to an end. We have had a simply marvelous time! Paul & I have arrived in Vienna this afternoon for a three day stay after blissfully travelling around eight countries of eastern and central Europe. We are pleasantly all castled and churched-out, believe in dwarves and dragons and all those fairy tale things from childhood.

We called in on the host families of the youngest princess while we were in Linz, Austria. Our princess certainly landed on her feet for her overseas exchange because we met some of the nicest people we have ever met!

We'll be back in Australia on Sunday at about lunchtime, so there will be more news then. Meanwhile, we are off to explore Vienna! We've both been here before, but never together, so it's time to create some 'together' memories.

I wish you happiness and laughter as always,