Tag Archives: feminism

The Great Sunday Sleep-In.

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans- John Lennon

While some people might actively be seeking adventure and fresh challenges, personally I’ve overdosed on personal development. I’ve been stretched so far beyond my comfort zone that my inner elastic is about to snap…permanently. Life might be a journey but I’ve been on enough journeys. I’ve taken the road less traveled, the superhighway and even wondered off the beaten track photographing wildflowers in Western Australia. I’ve skied, play the violin and even wore high heels the other day. In what now feels a lifetime ago, I backpacked through Europe. This may not be an exhaustive list but everyone needs to press the pause button once in awhile and just stop. Now, it’s my turn to vegetate at home and I don’t even care if I sprout. I don’t want to be stretched. I desperately need some time out and to simply snooze for a bit.

However, while some things are meant to be, other things are simply doomed, almost from the outset.

It was Sunday morning. Geoff was taking the kids off to cub scouts for a billycart derby. It all sounded like a lot of fun but we’d been out at a party the night before and I decided to stay home and rest. Pace myself. I didn’t want to end up in bed for another week recovering from too much activity. While I am well at the moment, I am missing the high doses of prednisone which allowed me to lead several lives at once and still fly to the moon and back. That stuff has dreadful side-effects but certainly can give me an incredible energy boost…until I’m on the way down and then it’s just plain nasty. That’s where I’m at right now. I dropped my dose two weeks ago and so I’m feeling sleepy…very, very sleepy. It’s now rest time at the zoo.

After waving Geoff and the kids off, I staggered back to bed and had my nose in a book: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. I had just reached a turning point and was starting to feel that sense of giddy excitement as I galloped towards the finish when the phone rang.

That’s right the phone rang, penetrating through my precious silence like a jack hammer blasting through bedrock.   Like an almighty crack of thunder resonating through a still, dark sky.

I missed the phone the first time but then the phone rang again…insistent!

Trouble was on the horizon and it was closing in. With two attempts, either someone was dying or it was Geoff and that only meant one thing. “Houston,” meaning me, “we have a problem”.

At times like this, don’t you just curse the “royal we”?!! Then again, isn’t that what true love is all about and it’s usually me ringing Geoff with the dire, “jump-right-this –very-second” emergency.

Turned out that in the sheer uphill battle to get the kids out the door, Geoff had left his wallet at home. They were about half an hour’s drive away at the service station filling up and of course, I had been summonsed. There was no opportunity to say no. I couldn’t plea fatigue, tiredness or a near-death experience. I had to go. To make matters worse, Geoff reminded me that I needed to get petrol on the way. Damn! It was bad enough that I had to get up and drive somewhere, especially when I was enjoying peace, silence and my book and now I was having to get petrol as well. Talk about the pits. I don’t do petrol and I don’t like driving so my peaceful Sunday morning just took an absolute u-turn.

Now, if you are one of those personal development types, you’ll probably think it would do me some good. Filling the car up with petrol never killed anybody outside Hollywood and a bit of a drive wasn’t the end of the world either. It could be worse…much worse.

However, as I said, I’ve overdosed on personal development lately. I don’t want to be stretched. I want to be left alone…especially when I’m galloping towards the end of the best book I’ve read (at least for this week) and it’s just won the Man Booker Prize. I mean we are talking about superlative literature and instead what happens to me???

I’m having to fill the car up with petrol all by myself.

Stop laughing. Where’s your sensitivity? Empathy? Compassion? Have a heart!

While I might sound like a lousy feminist getting my husband to put the petrol in the car, I have my reasons. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a severe muscle-wasting disease and at times, I don’t have the muscle strength to operate the pump. My other justification has been having the kids in the car. It is illegal to leave your kids unaccompanied in the car, even just to dash into the servo to pay up. Of course, there have been absolute horror stories where harried mums have dashed in and dashed straight out again only to find that their cars and children gone. Given the oppressive Australian summer heat, these car-jackings are a matter of life and death. If these are justification enough, there’s also the whole matter of splashing petrol on myself and how much that vile stuff stinks!!

Obviously, it’s much easier for my husband to get the petrol. That way, he has to remember which side of the car the petrol cap is on and being a rugged Aussie bloke, he doesn’t convulse when he gets petrol on his pretty, little hands either.

However, now I was having to take on the dreaded petrol bowser beast but this is what you do for your family. Some people go to war. I’m heading for the servo.

While you might find filling up your car with petrol a relatively simple task, it’s mission impossible for me and I know it’s going to end badly before I even pull up. I can’t remember whether the patrol cap is on the left or the right but there’s an available bowser on the left so off I go. Let serendipity or fate decide. Hmm. Not such a good strategy, after all. Of course, it’s the wrong side. Being in a serious hurry, I decide to stretch the hose over the top of the car and I could just force in the nozzle. Relief! I know this looks ridiculous…absolutely ridiculous with the hose draped over the top of the car but I’ve got to get moving. The kids are now running seriously late for the billycart derby and I didn’t want them to miss out. I didn’t have time to change bowsers.

petrol man

Where’s one of these when you need one? I say bring back the bowser man!! There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of old-fashioned service!

However, my relief was short-lived. The pump wasn’t working. Every time I pressed the trigger, it impotently click, click, clicked like an infernal cricket. It clearly did not like being stretched within an inch of its life and was refusing to cooperate. Rather than not working at all, I somehow managed to dribble about $1.15 worth of petrol into the tank so I couldn’t just drive off to a different bowser without consequences. Instead, I had to make it work. I can’t remember the last time I filled up and I was so out of my depth, lost and helpless. I even asked some shady looking dudes if they could help. Of course not. These days I’m definitely on the cougar side of 40 and wasn’t worth their effort. There weren’t any driveway attendants either. They were rendered obsolete decades ago. I was on my own. I jiggled and fiddled with the blasted thing and finally I felt it gush like a fountain. Phew!

Mister jusyt about to take off down the hill. Not so pretty at the other end.

Mister just about to take off down the hill. Not so pretty at the other end.

By this time, I’d decided that I wasn’t meant to spend the day at home and sacrificed peace, serenity and a jolly good book for a hilarious day watching billycarts, kids and hapless leaders career down the hill. There was all the excitement and tension of any race with the added bonus that these vehicles were hand-made and brakes, wheels and all sorts of bits and pieces fell off down the hill. Our daughter refused to get on until they were packing up but there also water pistol fights, slip and slide and a bushwalk through to some caves. I had a relaxing day basking in the sun, chatting and being part of community and while I’ve since spent a few days in bed, sometimes, you need to take a walk on the wild side and that means being stretched beyond your wildest dreams and fears and finally learning to fly.

As John Lennon said: Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

xx Rowena

Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady!

Indigant! She was absolutely indignant. There were no smiles for the camera and certainly no smoochy kisses as we gave Lady her first bath and I started recording the moment for posterity. Just the deeply wounded downwards glare which concealed an inner growl: “That ain’t no way to treat a Lady!”

Lady had to have an instant, immediate bath. It was a definite case of do not pass go. Do not collect $200. I couldn’t risk her running into the house and sharing her joy. We’d never get rid of the stench! There was no time to take her off to the Palm Beach dog salon for the full shampoo, blowdry and pedicure! If Lady snuck into the house, my father would metamorphose into John Cleese and I could already hear him now: “Sybille!”

As my Dad looks like Basil Faulty, I’m careful not to press all his buttons at once! Dad has a very sensitive sense of smell and with the dogs not being allowed in the house, I really didn’t want to stretch the friendship. I have learned my lesson. You can’t get anything passed Dad’s very acute sense of smell.

Many, many moons ago, there had been the Schnapps Incident. As a fairly mature twenty something, I’d invited a group of single friends around for a Valentine’s Day dinner party at home while Mum and Dad were out. Two of my friends were drowning their sorrows with shots of Schnapps which all ended very badly when the bloke exceeded an elegant sufficiency and in his disoriented and inebriated state had managed to relieve his agony beside my parents’ bed, all over the fine cane lattice furniture. Although my friend, not the one who’d been sick, cleaned the muck off with an old toothbruth and we’d doused the place with industrial strength chemical cleaners, my Dad still walked in the front door and it was like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: somebody’s been sick beside my bed.

No! I couldn’t take any chances with Lady. After all, we’re lucky that Mum and Dad let us bring the dogs with us at all!

Lady having a bath. Clearly, she's far far from impressed!

Lady having a bath. Clearly, she’s far far from impressed!

This, of course, meant that Lady’s dignity was mortally wounded as we tied her to the flag pole. With the Australian flag flapping overhead, she received the hose treatment. While this might sound a bit cruel, the same dog had just been running through seawater and I doubt there much difference in temperature. Besides, it was a bright sunny day and Lady was until recently, a farm dog. Surely, she wasn’t used to the salon treatment in between rabbit hunts?!! As much as Lady was a cute little dog who would fit in very nicely with the local designer dogs the Avalon Café set, she was made of much tougher stuff! She more than knew how to look after herself!

DSC_5358

That said, I knew she wouldn’t like the smell of Dad’s shower gel.

Being on holidays, we didn’t have any pooch shampoo so I sent our daughter upstairs to get my Dad’s shower gel. It was a strange choice because we had our own Pantene shampoo but this was a crisis and my poor humble brain was very much in survival mode and I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I don't think washing dead fish smells out of stinky dogs was quite what the manufacturers of Dove had in mind!

I don’t think washing dead fish smells out of stinky dogs was quite what the manufacturers of Dove had in mind!

If you have already read about Lady’s handling of the dead rabbit, you won’t be surprised about the dead fish incident. In fact, you’ll probably blame me: “Really, Ro! What did you expect?” The dog is a veteran hunter. You can take the dog out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the dog. She is who she is, after all!

I guess you could just call me naïve. The last time I ventured onto a sheep property, I asked my friend if the sheep bite. That story circulated like wildfire. I was living in Geraldton in Western Australia at the time and they were in fits of hysterics about the girl from Sydney. It had been said that you could take the girl out of the North Shore but you can’t take the North Shore out of the girl. I’d actually thought I’d done a pretty thorough cleansing at the time and had well and truly moved on but apparently not.

Anyway, all this drama which resulted in Lady having a bath was all over a fish…a very simple fish.

You see, when my daughter and I were out walking the dogs today, Lady found a dead fish floating in the water. After the rabbit encounter which I mentioned in my last post, I had simply assumed Lady wanted to eat the fish. I thought it was species known as Leather Jacket which was safe to eat and so I helped her get it out of the water. I couldn’t see any harm in her eating the fish.

So I guess you could say that by providing assistance, that ipso facto makes me an accessory but I plead ignorance. I strongly deny any sinister involvement. As I said, I thought Lady was going to eat the fish. I never thought for a moment that Lady would use the dead fish as a kind of roll-on deodorant or eau de cologne.

As it turned out, that fish was also deader than I’d thought. It had already begun its deadly metamorphosis…especially as it had been drifting along baking in the hot, midday sun. So by the time Lady found it, that dead fish was so dead that it was starting to come back to life again.

You could just imagine the smell!

A very cheeky, stink dog posing as a dead fish...Lady before her bath.

A very cheeky, stinky dog posing as a dead fish…Lady before her bath.

Even after what must have been half a bottle of shower gel, Lady still reeks of dead fish. Somehow, I hope it filters out somehow before the long drive home. Two adults, two kids, two dogs in an overloaded car, there’s no room for the stench of dead fish!

Otherwise, I might just have to pinch a bit of my mother’s Chanel!

Surely, that’s how you really treat a Lady!

My International Women’s Day 2013

When it comes to writing about International Women’s Day (IWD), you could say that I’ve well and truly missed the boat. IWD was two weeks ago and in this era of instant news, this story is well and truly done and dusted. Dead. It’s definitely a case for “Bones”

Yet, I would like to think that perhaps as bloggers we are somehow beyond the restrictions which constrict and limit the so-called mainstream media. That if we want to write about something, we just do it…especially when we are beyond the flow!

So I’m sorry this post is a bit late. I was struck down by some strange stomach bug last week and essentially spent the week in bed. I did manage to write some other posts and clean out the pantry but that was about it.

Our banner

Our banner

International Women’s Day is also my son’s birthday and so while I was out there marching for women’s rights, it was also my celebration and otherwise of being a Mum. I have been a mother now for nine years. I had been baking a birthday cake the night before and sending Mister off to school with cupcakes for his class and I was back there to pick the kids up from school afterwards.It was a busy day.

A joint Birthday Cake for my kids who turned 7 & 9.

A joint Birthday Cake for my kids who turned 7 & 9.

So in some ways for me, IWD was a case of wearing a number of different hats. I was there as “myself”, as a working woman and a mother. I was marching to celebrate being a woman but also to acknowledge that when it comes to women’s rights and equality, we still have work to do. Not just for ourselves but we also need to stand up for those we have dubbed “voiceless women” who are unable to speak for themselves.

Perhaps, you might joke about a woman being voiceless. You wouldn’t be the first. Women are usually great talkers. However, there’s a difference between talking and exchanging social chit chat and being able to express what’s really going on behind closed doors and revealing bruises not just to your physical body but also to your heart and soul. These things, which are so incredibly private, are kept secret behind locked and closed doors. It is a secret but perhaps the signs can be all too clear even if the words aren’t there. I sometimes suspect that as much as we talk about wanting an end to violence against women, as a society, we really don’t really want to know about it. We don’t want to get involved and that’s why so many of these women remain silenced. We are not looking. We are not listening.

I am no better than anybody else when it comes to trying to help these voiceless women. There’s nobody sleeping on my couch and I have a roof full of baby stuff that I really should drop off for somebody, anybody to use. We stuck it all up in the roof in case we had a number three and that’s where it’s stayed. All that’s stuff is now out of circulation and in a sense is now going to waste not that these thoughts have mobilised me yet. Like I said, it all gets a bit hard. Takes too much work.

Out of sight…out of mind.

International Women's Day March through Gosford.

International Women’s Day March through Gosford.

That is why we have to take to the streets and make these women visible again. We need to stand up and be counted and say no to domestic violence and we also need to end an evil I thought disappeared centuries ago… slavery and human trafficking.

My daughter who has just turned 7 asked me why I went in the women’s march. I had to put a bit of thought into that. Why? Why? Why? I don’t march for any other cause so why this?

I marched because I believe in equality for all people. I believe we all deserve respect and I feel women don’t always get the respect we deserve. In particular,  I feel that mothers as a group are not respected in our society. In too many instances, the words “mother” or “Mummy” have derogatory overtones. I particularly don’t like the term “Mummy blogger”. A woman’s parental status shouldn’t enter the equation.

So I marched for that little person inside me who still believed in the vision…the sky somewhere beyond the glass ceiling.

I also marched to celebrate the breakthroughs for women in the past such as gaining the vote, which should never just be taken for granted as well as looking forward to a more equal situation for all women in the future. In other words, continuing the good fight.

This was my second IWD march and it was extra special this year.

You see, I was walking down the main street of Gosford when I spotted Paralympic gold medallist Liesl Tesch and introduced myself. I am on the Status of Women Committee which organises our local march and Liesl was the keynote speaker at the post-march event.

Anyway, Liesl hung her gold medal around my neck and I completed the march with a Paralympic gold medal around my neck. I was stoked. Not just to wear the medal for what it really was but also what it represented to me.

Eureka! After nine years of being a mum, I had finally received my gold medal!

I was a happy woman!

If you would like to see a clip of our International Women’s Day March in Gosford, please click here: http://www.mygosford.tv/community

Any thoughts?

xx Rowena