Father’s Day, weekend redux

Had an odd Saturday, on the one hand – excellent as I got to meet one of my favourite humans; on the other sh!t-house because of a poorly managed night out that left me in the middle of a room on my own staving off anxiety. C’est la vie.

On Friday night Osher Gunsberg shared on Instagram he was whizzing into the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, and was doing a signing in the Atrium at 12:30pm on Saturday. I told Hubs I wanted to head into the city to get my book (re) signed, as I’d brought a signed copy from Booktopia.

We headed into the city to watch Archie play hockey, his last session of the season, which means no more running by the Yarra for me on a Saturday for a few months. But I  spent a half an hour there doing the VA thing, supporting a project I’m passionate about. We drove into the CBD proper from South Yarra; driving past Melbourne Football Club training in a park, watched by fans from the sidelines. No extra security in sight, you can’t imagine any club in the Premiere League doing that.

We parked up, and went to get coffees from one of the coffee shops in the Atrium. I ordered a croissant for the boys to share, and a pear and almond friend for me. Both came out cold, which we weren’t expecting (#brrrr), but they were tasty. The boys headed off into the city to a model shop, I sat on a chair and started to read Osher’s book. I’d been saving it since I knew I’d inhale it, and I must say it’s been a PITA having to go to work and do stuff.

Then suddenly there he was. I’ve got an odd relationship with him, he’s a major party of my life, even if he has no idea who I am. I’ve been listening to his podcast since he was still living in the USA, so we worked it out that was five years. I think I was also the only person in the queue who doesn’t watch the Bachelor(ette), if anyone tries to get anything other than sport or cartoons on our TV at home – good luck.

Osher was as sweet and as gracious as he is to his guests on the podcast; he came round the other side of the table to meet us, when I got my phone out to take a photo, whoever was with him (his manager Lauren maybe?), offered to take a picture. For a nanosecond, I hesitated, then put my arms right round him and leant my head against his. We talked some more, he signed more in my book and after saying ‘Give my love to the girls’, I kissed him and left so other people could get a chance to spend some time with him.

I would so love to talk to him for hours though. It’s not like my schwarm for Tom Hardy or George Clooney; it’s more like how I feel about Stephen Fry, Oprah, Cmdr Hadfield, Brené Brown or Mel Robbins.

—o0o–

In the evening, I’d been invited to an 80s night at the RSL with some of the school mums. I brought my ticket from someone I’d never met and arranged to meet people in the foyer at 7:30pm. I arrived to find no-one waiting, and when I posted in the event on Facebook, I then found out that two separate dinners had been organised without anyone asking if I wanted to join either of them.

Okaaaay.

One school mum rescued me, introduced me to a friend of hers who arrived shortly after me and went back to finish her meal. We made small talk, two more people arrived that this lady knew, but I don’t follow the VFL so a lot of the conversation I watched. We went upstairs, I stood there while we tried to work out where to sit or stand, as there was nowhere free.

Texting my running buddy that as it was Father’s Day, I wouldn’t be able to meet with her as we normally do on Sunday mornings; having said that I then messaged ‘I’m not sure how long I’ll be out for. I’m standing here like a lemon with no one talking to me‘ As I typed it, my anxiety bubbled up and within three minutes over the text conversation, I was out the door and heading back to my car.

I wouldn’t mind, but I’d been updating Instagram stories with my exploits as I was so excited about going out with new people. Sigh. Bless her heart, she checked in on me first thing in the morning to make sure I was ok.

I was ok once I got home and talked it through with Hubs. We sat up in bed and read together like the old married couple that we are; I’m currently on American Wife, which is frickin amazing.

Sunday morning we were up and at ’em, outside of bacon and eggs and on the road to Werribee Zoo, we got there early, arriving in time to hop on the first bus heading off on the safari at 9:50. Archie wanted to show Hubs around as Hubs had never been there before. We got up close to the animals, walked round the African part, had a coffee and were out the door in two hours flat. Perfect timing as it was getting busy as we left, we had parts of the zoo to ourselves, talking the whole way round. We saw so many birds too it was wonderful. From Superb Fairy Wrens, to honeyeaters, eagles, kites and little Red-browed finches who look like they’re wearing superhero masks.

I also have perfected poached eggs, I think I’d done them once or twice before this weekend, but Archie and I did some serious YouTube research, cracking the eggs into a tea cup is the way to go folks. It’s amazing how you can learn stuff online so easily now.

Be like Christine

Yesterday, the world lost a kind, gentle soul who spent her whole life looking after others. Chris held her family together with love, and then shared her love with countless others through a lifetime of teaching, before it reached our little family to boot. Hanno’s mum was my heroine, for so many reasons, but mostly for the love she sprinkled through the world so freely.

We’d meet at Hanno’s house for races, or his plays, in between swapping texts and the odd game of Words With Friends, (that she wiped the floor with me in). Occasionally we’d call, but mostly to organise food; nevertheless, when we were together, we picked up where we left off. Fitting into the banter and laughter of familial insults of longstanding relationships. Archie has grown up with her in his life as someone who talked with him, not to him.

From the devilled egg standoffs with her daughter in law, to the roast dinners; from the chicken salads, to the breakfast rolls; from coffees to copious amounts of wine, our relationship revolved around food. Us ‘ladies what lunch’ drove to Rutherglen for some downtime away from the boys and endless football codes. We sampled wines, had lunch, went to the chocolatier, Rosie (my cousin) and I chatting in the front seat on the way home, Chris snoozing in the back.

We sat in a Laundromat drying bedding and towels in companionable silence, getting coffees on a cold, wet day, again getting out the house from the football! Walked round Farmer’s markets and brought fresh veggies, cooing over the soil still damp on the carrots, exclaiming at the crispness of the greens. I loved cooking for her, because it meant she sat down and didn’t do anything. From when she woke up to when she went to bed, unless she was sitting down to have a cuppa; she was on the go. Looking after Keith, cleaning the kitchen worktops, sorting laundry, if it needed doing and you didn’t stop her, Chris did it.

We cheered Hanno on from the back of the hall at his first play, slowly being allowed closer to the front of the hall through the years as his confidence grew. Archie telling me loudly to ‘Be quiet Mama!’ when I got the giggles.

The time we spent with Chris and Keith was filled with laughter, food, joy, food, love and more food. From my first trip over in 2007 where Chris had changed the bed in the spare room for Hubs and I, smoothing the sheets over with love. Folding the towels like a hotel, she made sure we were welcome. Never knowingly under-catered, we always had more food than we knew what to do with, Hanno’s house had elastic sides with people crashing on couches, in beds and cousins joining for breakfast after sleeping in a caravan on site just down the road.

Archie and I visited a few weeks ago, taking some flowers he had chosen for her. We only stayed long enough for Archie to eat his lunch, and a quick catch-up and a hug. He’s missing her already, trying to explain it all to an almost seven year old is hard work. While Archie knows that she’s gone, Chris will never be forgotten. Forty years of teaching, almost fifty years of marriage, two proud sons, four indomitable grandchildren, family, friends. All of us who knew Chris are better people because of her.

Be like Christine, pay your love forward. Greet the world with open arms and an open heart.

 

 

#MeToo

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This has been rumbling around in my head for long enough, time to put it on the page. Given the subject matter of harassment and all, trigger warning up front and centre, and language too. I’m just going to type, stream of consciousness to see what falls out…

As we approach the festive season, it doesn’t matter what people wear, how they act or what they do. If they look uncomfortable, leave them alone. If they say ‘No.’ leave them alone. ‘No’ is a complete sentence, it does not mean ‘Convince me’. Don’t be one of those people who gets so drunk they think it’s funny to lurch, lean, grope, manhandle or even vomit over someone else.

  • On the tube in London, a day trip up to go shopping. Probably the Circle Line as that swung past Victoria. I feel a hand on my bum, it brushed past it at first, then slowly crept round to touch it (me) properly. I grab hold of the hand, hold it aloft and ask “Does anyone know who’s this is? I’ve just found it on my arse”
  • On the dance-floor in a variety of clubs, the rooms are hot, dark and people are rammed together. It would be an unusual weekend of clubbing if one or other of my friends didn’t get groped. Note to all you youngsters; talk to the club staff and bouncers, get to know them, be nice, polite and friendly – they’ll help you out no end. Until then, wear trousers as much as possible so you don’t get an attempted fingering on the dance floor.
  • Drunk Portsmouth football fans on the train home after winning the FA Cup, smoking and drinking on the train. I’ve sat in the front carriage deliberately as when I get on the train at Waterloo, it’s nearly evening. The drunk fans start heckling and abusing me. Knock on the driver’s door to ask for help as I can’t walk past them out the carriage. He looks past me and does nothing as ‘I’m just the driver’ I ask about the guard instead and get told he’ll message him. No help arrives, heckling gets worse. Do I get off and wait for another train loaded with more drunk fans, I knock on the drivers’ door again. Ask if should I pull the emergency brake? He said if I did ‘It’s not an emergency sweetheart’ so I’d be fined. When I raise an incident form with South West Trains, I get told that “For the safety of their staff, the guard and driver chose not to approach the men on the train”. Luckily the Police were more sympathetic. Yes I should have called 999 (or 000, or 911).
  • ‘You can’t refuse me, don’t you know that you stupid bitch.’
  • ‘Come and take these notes, but write long-hand, I want to look at your legs.’
  • ‘It’ll only take a minute, no-one will know.’
  • ‘For a good-looking girl, you can look awful. You really should wear make-up every day.’
  • The primary school swimming teacher who’d ‘check’ on how the girls were doing getting changed afterwards.
  • That until I’d had counselling, hypnosis and EFT I couldn’t bear people breathing in my ear, but the smell of Brylcreem can make me want to vomit.
  • I’ve also lost count of men who think it’s funny or that other people won’t mind if they get their penis out in public. “Is that all you’ve got?” usually works well, or “Do you do that in front of your mother?”
Picture credit

 

Fur babies

I had a very lazy morning today. We were woken up at before 7am, but I stayed in bed until about 10am. Dozing, wafting, whatever you want to call it, I was out of it today.

Waking up, WhatsApp said I had a notification from Mum. “Branston has just passed away, very peacefully on the floor by the bed.” As soon as I read it I rang home; stoic at first, then as I told her about my ‘phone call with Bec yesterday, I started weeping.

It’s not just about a cat, it never is. As Dad said just now when we talked on FaceTime, they do leave footprints on your heart. Cats choose you, if they don’t want to live with you or your family – they’ll toddle off and find someone else who suits them better.

Chief Brody chose us when we went to the cat rescue, yelling at us until we got him in the carrier and home. I am very much his human, but he sleeps on Archie’s bed most nights too. I chose Doctor Hooper from kittens needing homes at work, but his personality was too domineering to live with CB who is very skittish (as he was sixteen weeks old when we got him, we have no idea what his history was before he was left with the cat rescue). Doctor Hooper in the end was re-hoomed to live with Ruby, a friend’s daughter. His first night home with them, now renamed Taco, he slept in her room and has been an integral member of their family since.

Branston was one of two cats I’ve not re-homed from a shelter; I was on a wait list for kittens and thought I’d missed out on this particular litter. However, another lady who was going to choose two didn’t call back. So I got a phone call, “Can you come over today to choose your cats?” I didn’t hesitate and whizzed over. Branston and Pickle. Branston pure tortoiseshell and Pickle, one of those big, fat white cats with blobs of colour on. I wanted kittens because ex-husband was in the army in the UK and we would be likely to move around a lot. I wanted them to be resilient and come round with us.

We lived next door to a couple with Borzois, one day Donna asked us to keep the cats inside until she’d let the dogs out because they wouldn’t go into their garden as Branston was out there wanting to play with them. She was still a kitten, this teeny, tiny thing scaring dogs who stood level with my waist.

Pickle was a lot like Chief Brody, a bit skittish and more than a bit stupid too. She’d climb trees then couldn’t work out how to get down them. We moved house but she didn’t cope with it, she started weeing everywhere, in the end we surrendered her to a shelter where they’d already got a lady lined up who wanted an indoor, loving cat. I do wonder how she got on, and if she had a happy life?

Branston was cheeky as. She was so little when I got her she’d curl up in a six-egg carton to sleep. Then when she was too big, she’d push the cardboard around on the floor because it sounded good. I took them both to the vets for their initial check after they’d been home a week. They got given a treatment for worms, fleas and ticks. With gunk in her ears and eyes, and dribbling white medicine the look of indignation she gave me was one I can still see now.

I’d let them out in the morning, call them in before I’d left for work and quite often would miss the bus I’d want to catch because Branston would be off and away, running like a rocking horse up the alley behind the houses. But if I gave up on the game of getting her back in and leave her out, I’d be greeted with angry yells when I got home.

One days she came in and was ill, so sick after she’d vomited, she fell over sideways. Picking her up in a towel, we took her to the vet where she was put on a drip. For two days I was a mess, but she came home and was fine. We never did figure out what it was that caused it. When dickhead and I went to Cuba for a holiday, Dad moved in to the house for two weeks to look after them both as the cost for a cattery was more than our holiday. Branston and he bonded then, when dickhead and I separated, I went to live with Mon Bears, who had an indoor bunny. I asked if Aged Parents could have Branston for me until I sorted myself out.

By the time I had sorted myself out, Branston was definitely my Dad’s cat. She adored him, following him around the house. It was on his side of the bed she passed away today. When he was ill in hospital last year having surgery for bowel cancer, she would sit in the window and wonder where he was.

But for me, my overriding memory of this cat was her gregariousness. I’d never known another cat like her. Ex-husband’s brother was a mechanic, doing a mini-service on our car on a visit down to us, I sat on a picnic blanket talking to them both. Branston sat beside me, as a car drove past, she’d go back to the house, stand in the door way, then come back to sit beside me on the blanket. When you stayed with Mum and Dad, you’d wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, then see the cat looking at you, ‘Yow’.

The last few years of her life, she got a pet-passport and went camping with Aged Parents, she loved it. In and out the caravan all day long. She would appear on the table when I’d talk to Aged Ps over FaceTime. When I walked in the house in March this year, I called “Branston!” she came down the stairs and looked at me in disbelief then started singing with joy when she saw me.

If you’re thinking about buying an animal for your family for Christmas, think about the time investment it is, whether you really do want that cute fur-ball until the end. Think about what it will feel like at the end of their lives. Fifteen years Branston was with us, Pickle was with us for three. Fluffy (because she was), Beaky (another tortie who looked like an owl), Sooty (black all over) and Susie (black and white, occasionally black all over after she’d been asleep in the coal hole) were members of our family for between five to twelve years too.

I’d have them all over again, my life has been all the richer for them.

If you had been here

Inspired (again) by Carole’s post about her good weekend, here’s my post on this past week:

If you had been with me this past week…

You’d have sat beside my bed for a long time, as that is where I’ve spent most of it since I left work on Thursday lunchtime with a sore throat, feeling achy. The virus I think I caught from Peanut wasn’t happy with just giving me the normal flu symptoms, it moved into a stomach flu too, we’ll just leave it at that.

If you had been with me this past week…

You’d have seen how disappointed I was to not run/walk with my colleagues on The Color Run on Sunday, I felt like I was letting them down by not joining them.

If you had been with me this past week…

You’d have come with me to the doctors on Monday morning to be told that I wasn’t able to go back to work until Wednesday. You’d have felt my dismay as the recognition that all my leave was now gone; annual and sick leave, any residual RDOs – with six months of the financial year to go.

If you had been with me this past week…

On Tuesday you’d have seen me sitting on the floor of our home office, trying to catch up on a couple of months’ worths of paperwork while I had a day at home. You might have caught me as I fell when my left knee popped and locked in place as I stood up; or you may have reminded me to not get up too quickly because I was too busy rushing to the next thing on my to-do list.

Mum sat with me as we waited for help: I made three phone calls, Hubs, an ambulance and Manny to help Mum with Peanut. The ride in the ambulance was nothing out of the ordinary; the crew were sweet, attentive and understanding – laughing with me as I felt such an idiot. Then we went round a roundabout, my leg shifted and I was screaming in pain, I’d gone from a 4 out of 10, to a 9 out of 10 in seconds. X-rays revealed I’d not broken anything, it was soft-tissue damage, but what damage? Continue reading “If you had been here”