Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 - 365 Days of Potential


Today is a day of new and firsts.

It's a day for new calendars and diaries. 


For new resolutions. For beginning again. For leaving old stuff behind. It's been a day of lots of firsts for me. 

First time in decades I've made some resolutions. I generally don't do resolutions. I do tweaks. Refine a bit here. Finesse a bit there. Nothing too big or grandiose. But I was prompted by one of my sons and in the light of a terribly sad event that a friend has recently gone through and horrible things that have been in the news, I decided that my resolution would be to have a positive impact on my little corner of the world.To be more helpful, tolerant, kind. 

Let it be seen on record here that my altruism lasted only five minutes into the new year. Apparently I don't do selflessness after midnight when I've planned a 5:15am wakeup for a run. In fact, after midnight I turn into a harpie that yells words-that-my-mother-would-frown-upon out the window. Not that anyone heard me over the sound of fireworks, shrieking girls and loud music.

But my bad start to the year was turned around when the sun got up. I managed to restrain myself from pulling out Sam's old trumpet and visiting the early morning revellers. Let's chalk one up for kindness and consideration. Then I set about tallying up as many firsts for this year as I could manage.

First time I went for a run without making my bed beforehand. That never happens. Ever! But I was in two minds as to whether to wash the sheets (showery weather vs another gross and sweaty night). When I got home from the run I remembered why I don't like to leave without making it - coming home to a needless chore when I'm tired.

First run of 2015. Even though the temperature at 5:30 was already over 25C with an 87% humidity. It was a sweaty one but it's summer in Brisbane. Wouldn't expect anything else.

First time my midriff has been exposed in public in over a decade. Seriously it was that hot! And I'm now at an age where I've earned the right to choose comfort over dignity. And there really wasn't that many people out and about at that time of the morning - certainly no one who knew me.

First desperate dive into the closest bushes that would provide a modesty screen. Actually it wasn't a bush but a nice, large Monstera deliciosa and I'm pretty sure that it hid me from that couple pushing the pram that I hadn't noticed when I made my toilet selection.

First post-run selfie of 2015. This is post-licking by Toby and Bubbles so I don't look quite as sodden as I did when I collapsed on the step.


First breakfast out with #1 hubby.

First mid-morning micro-nap.

First movie - The Imitation Game. A really good one that's well worth seeing.

First time I was told off for trying to be polite and let someone down the cinema steps in front of me. I'm going to still chalk that up as another resolution success even though my efforts weren't appreciated. 

First double-nap day. Four hours sleep before a 5:15am alarm just isn't quite enough for me.

And my first blog post of the year.

So glad to have waved good-bye to 2014. I have very few fond memories from the past twelve months. Some years are best forgotten.

So pleased that the new year is a chance for fresh beginnings. I'm looking forward to uncovering what lies ahead in the next 364 days.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Christmas Highlights.

I'm sitting here in my underwear typing this.

I know - a little racy but I'm celebrating having a totally empty house for a few hours and the best way I could think of to celebrate was to type in my undies. Yeah, I really know how to live.

Our house has been full for the last six days. Of people. Of noise. Of laughter. Of joy. Of food. But that's Christmas, isn't it? A time of excesses.

The highlight of my Christmas would have to be having my whole family together. This boy came up from Melbourne which made Toby incredibly happy. Another willing victim for him to sit on. Another pair of hands to pat and stroke him.


And it was Sam who provided me with the best laughs over the weekend.

We recently have been extravagant and signed up for Foxtel. I told Sam on his arrival that the only numbers he needs for the weekend are 505 - the football channel. Basically our TV stayed on that channel for the whole time he was here. Fine with me - I quite enjoy a few dozen games of football over a weekend.

Sam is not au fait with all the workings of Foxtel. Particularly the Foxtel guide app that I have on my phone. He didn't know that I can set up recordings and change the stations remotely. In fact I didn't know that until Coach Chris told me that it's how he entertains himself - by changing the stations on his set from his bedroom while his eighty year old mum is watching in the other room. I thought that was a little mean but when you do it to your own progeny it's actually hilarious.

I stood in the hall while son #1 and son #3 were watching an EPL game. And I changed it to a Disney movie. Then I sniggered silently as I heard one brother accuse the other of messing with the remote. Indignant denials were the cue to change the channel back. I left it for a couple of minutes then changed it to Dora the Explorer. Then another of the cartoon channels. And another. And another. Then back to the football.

There was murmurings of confusion and bewilderment coming from the couches. And then the brains trust tried to nut out what was happening. And what they finally came up with was that the channel changes had coincided with selecting songs on a phone using Spotify so there must be some glitch that was messing with Foxtel.

I was at the laughing-so-hard-tears-were-streaming-down-my-face stage. I'm just grateful that I had an empty bladder before starting or we may have had to call in the carpet cleaners.

I did let them know what was happening. Eventually. 

Best Christmas gift to myself. Ever!


Actually it was the second best Christmas gift. Seeing my boys together and hearing them talk and laugh and just enjoy being together - that was the absolute best.

Hoping you all had a happy time with family and friends too.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Santa Run 2014


We had our annual Santa Run on Saturday.




Over 50 runners, walkers, babies and a few dogs showed up to take part. 

                                           

It's possibly one of the most fun runs that we do. And one of the most annoying. Try singing Jingle Bells in your head for 12k. Inspired, of course, by the bells sewn to the shirt of the runner nearby. The Jingle Bells in your head is playing at the pace that you're running at but the runner with the actual bells is not running the same pace. Tempo mismatch! Bah humbug!!


So what does one do on a Santa Run? Apart from dressing up in totally inappropriate clothes for our climate? We talk about festive things, naturally. Like what we're doing over the break. Like whether the Christmas shopping is completed. Or almost completed. Or not-really-started-but-I've-got-some-ideas. And we debate the big questions - like why women look good in tight black pants while men don't. (Jury's still out on that one - I personally think it's in the eye of the beholder) And whether it's wise to put a set of car keys in the pocket of a totally new pair of shorts whose drawstring has previously been untested. There are some days when the built-in undies may seem inadequate.

We weren't the only ones out there feeling festive early Saturday morning. There were a pair of Santa's helpers on the path. Bearing gifts. It's probably the only safe time to accept candy from a pair of sweaty middle-aged men.

We were greeted with smiles and wished Merry Christmas all through the run. And every time it happened I was surprised that there were so many friendly, happy people out. Then I'd remember that we were all dressed up and that they were actually enjoying the spectacle of adults acting like kids. Nothing wrong with that. 

But the best part of the run was raising over $1000 for a very good cause - the Advanced Breast Cancer Support Group. Christmas is all about giving.

And talking about giving - those Christmas cards that I've been given have come in very handy this year. They're not only festive and decorative and remind you of all the wonderful people in your life - they act as decent cockroach killers too. Merry Christmas and take that!






Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where The Wild Things Are


This story starts all the way back in March on my birthday when I was given a Kindle.

I'd never really considered getting an electronic reader. Books have always worked fine just the way they are and I didn't see any need to change my reading habits. But apparently I'm hard to shop for and my kids thought that I'd be up to handling new technology so I now am a Kindle owner and reader.

I've actually embraced this new little piece of equipment. Not least because I can get a book for less than $2 on the daily deal. I've expanded the list of authors that I'll read simply because it's not so expensive to try out someone new. 

But just occasionally I'll end up with a real paper and ink book and when that happens I need a bookmark.

I started reading The Rosie Effect the other night. Hard copy - not the electronic version. Great book. Sequel to The Rosie Project. Couldn't read it all in one hit so I needed a bookmark. Couldn't find one so I used a tissue. Night two of reading The Rosie Effect and I accidentally used the bookmark to wipe my eye.

Weird fact about me. Sometimes my eye will just randomly leak tears. I'm not crying. I'm not sad or emotional in any way. It usually happens at night when I'm reading in bed and usually happens in the eye that is lower to the ground (I read on my side). So my theory is that it has something to do with gravity. And something to do with getting old.

Obviously, having used the tissue to wipe my leaky eye I didn't want to use it as a bookmark so I went on a hunt to find the most beautiful bookmark that I've ever owned. It was a surprise birthday present from a running friend - a metal butterfly complete with bling. And for the life of me I couldn't remember where it was.

The obvious first place to look was in the top drawer of my bedside table. I had a quick rummage around without actually getting out of bed and opening up the drawer properly in the hope that my hand would land on a piece of metal that was sure to be the bookmark.

No luck! I was actually going to have to get up and do a proper search. So I pulled out the drawer. The drawer that hasn't been tidied up in years. Possibly decades. And what I found was shocking!

This drawer had, over the years, become a lingerie graveyard. Where all things slinky, satiny and lacy went to die. There were things in there that I didn't even know that I owned. A white lace suspender belt? Where the hell did that come from? And why? Pretty sure that it's never been used so if anyone is interested I'm open to offers. And, no, not THOSE kind of offers.


As I pulled each of the garments out random memories floated back (except for when I pulled out the suspender belt because I'm still baffled about that one). I still remember telling my Mum that I didn't care if people could see my legs through my skirt because my legs were still good and it was way too hot to wear a petticoat.

And underneath all those pieces of naughtiness were these.


They too had me baffled. They looked like little mints but, again, I couldn't remember buying mints to have in my bedside drawer. But hey, I couldn't remember buying a suspender belt so obviously my memory is not a steel trap. I was just about to pop one into my mouth when I dropped it and it disintegrated as it hit the table.

Not a mint. A gecko egg.

I don't know what's more disturbing - the fact that I almost ate a gecko's egg or that the geckos are having special mummy and daddy time in my lingerie drawer. If I'm not getting use out of that drawer I don't think anyone or anything else should be.

And I still haven't found the bookmark.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kurrawa To Duranbah 30K

Some runs are good runs.

They're the runs where you float along on clouds. Where every step seems effortless. Where even the steepest hills seem flat. Where you feel like you can run forever.

My 30k yesterday was not like that.

It was hard!

There were no clouds - except for the ones in the sky. There was no effortlessness. There were steep hills. And I didn't feel like I could run forever. In fact there was some walking. Mostly up those hills. But I finished it. And that's really all I'd planned to do.

There was a big plus that I'm taking away from the run - even though the running part wasn't so great. I didn't get nervous or anxious about running it. Not once. That would be the first race that I've done this year where I wasn't. Yay me!

So what went wrong? Mostly I think it came down to not planning my eating well enough the day before and going out a little harder than I'd intended. I was starting to fatigue around the halfway mark and only keeping myself going with the promise that I could stop and walk a bit once I'd gotten to 20k.

From there nearly every kilometre had a little bit of walking in it. But there's a point where you just give up caring about your splits. All you want to do is make it to the finish line.

I'd been running to that point without music and it seemed as good as any time to add a sound track to my misery. Maybe an up-beat song would lighten the load? Can't say that it made the running any easier but it did supply me a wry laugh in the last kilometre. I was heading towards the finish line (which had also been the start line) when Coldplay's The Scientist started to play.

'Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start'

Never have the lyrics fitted my situation so perfectly.


What a relief to have it done. My legs were tight and sore and on the verge of cramping up. I was covered in salt crystals - even though it was fairly cool I'd still managed to sweat a lot. I just wanted to curl up into a little ball and sleep. But I had to drive myself back to where I was staying first.

When I got into the unit I just collapsed onto the couch. And stayed there for a couple of hours until I had the energy to move again. And by that time I'd stiffened up so much I was moving like a severely arthritic octogenarian. Every time I had to move was accompanied by groaning. So packing up the car to go back home was a fairly vocal affair.

Luckily two of my greatest fears didn't eventuate. I didn't go into cramp while changing gears on the trip home. And I was able to get up the stairs at home without assistance. But when I finally lay down on the couch I basically didn't move (except to get more fluids or go to the loo) for the entire afternoon and evening - which suited Toby because he'd missed me and needed to lay next to me or on me to make sure I wasn't going to disappear again.


But despite being so sore and miserable and despite the run being pretty awful, I'll probably do it again. Because we runners are a little weird like that. We hate to leave things on a sour note. We like to achieve what we set out to. So I'm pretty sure I'll take up the challenge again. But firstly I need to conquer the challenge of walking. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kick-Starting 2015

This year's winding down quickly.

I'm into my last week of work. I've made my last rhythmic costume


I have five bikinis to cut out. One more business phone call to make. And that will be that.

We've celebrated our last family birthday for 2014 and I've made my last birthday cake for the running squad. In fact I'm putting away my piping bag for a few months until the weather becomes a little kinder to butter and sugar - so sick of seeing my carefully iced cakes melting.

The only thing that hasn't wound up is running. It never winds up. Thank goodness - because running is my sanity over this dead part of the year. There will be plenty of sessions to do between now and when 2015 really gets under-way again. And I still have one more 'race' to get through.

Race is a term that I use quite loosely these day when it comes to events. I try to keep the pressure out by thinking of them as runs. With lots of other people.

This Sunday's 30k will definitely not be a race. It's basically going to be a glorified weekend long run. In a new area. With a whole heap of different people. It won't be a big race and that suits me fine. The roads won't be shut down. We'll just be running on paths - but, again that's fine because it won't be that crowded.

It'll be hot and humid and probably horrible at times. And I'll wonder why I decided to sign up in the first place. My feet will get tired. I might end up with blisters. I'll get dehydrated. Sweat will get in my eyes and make them sting. My body will ache and me head will want to give up.

So why DID I decide to sign up? Because at the end I'll feel great - in a tired, thirsty and cranky way. I'll feel like I've achieved something. Something that's just for me. Something of value - whose value is only understood by other runners. Something that will be the impetus to want to do more of the same in 2015.

So really the run this weekend is the kick-start to 2015.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Getting Perspective

You probably all saw my birthday cake creation from the other day.

This chocolate indulgence. 
While I was making it I did something a little odd. 

It's not unusual for me to do odd things. I personally think everyone does odd things from time to time and if I do it a little more frequently than other people then that's just one of my lovable little quirks.

I was mixing a triple batch of chocolate cake by hand. A triple batch is a pretty intense workout for anyone who's used to using an electric mixer to do the heavy stuff. I could feel the muscles really straining in my arm so I looked down to admire my awesome guns. 

And they really did look pumped from where I was standing. They looked like I actually worked out my upper body - which I pretty much don't ever. So I decided to do the odd thing. Something only the young and vain do.

I took a selfie of my bulging biceps.

And then I looked at it and almost wet myself laughing. 


I swear it looked like I had a muscle from my perspective. 

Guess I won't be entering a body-building competition any time soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What I Did Last Week

I've entered a race.

But not without a lot of procrastination and a lot of angst. Should I? Shouldn't I?  Will I have to pull out at the last moment? Will I be able to get a little consistent training done so that I don't literally die during the race?

I finally pulled my thumb out last Monday, filled out the entry form and paid. And that was it. I'm in. And I'm guaranteed of a race singlet. Tuesday was the deadline to be guaranteed the singlet which is why I stopped procrastinating. I absolutely, positively need another running singlet. Just not sure how I'm going to be able to close my running drawer when I get this one.

I also rang my dentist on Monday and made an appointment. Monday was a big day for procrastinators all over the world.

The race is in less than two weeks now. And my training has been a little hit and miss but I'm pretty sure that I can at least finish. And these days I'm happy with even starting so finishing is a bonus.

Last week I decided that, seeing as I'd actually entered, I'd better pull my thumb out about the training too. I got serious and didn't skip any of my runs. (Yeah, I'd done that in the previous couple of weeks).

So I did Tuesday's speed session, a 12k on Wednesday, a 16k on Thursday and a whopping 28k on Saturday. Actually it was really 28.63k but I didn't want to brag.

A couple of weeks ago I'd done a 21k and it had been horrible! I'd felt sick for days after - possibly a touch of heat exhaustion. And that run had been the reason for my procrastination. How would I be able to run 30k if a 21k had made me feel so bad? But better planning and management had resulted in a better run the next week and this week I just repeated what I'd done the previous.

My secret to a better long run? Start planning for it the day before.

It really wasn't hard. I just made sure that I had carbs at every meal and drank a lot all through the day. Then I got to bed early. See - simple! And then on the actual run I made sure I stopped and drank as often as possible. The weather's turned hot in the last couple of weeks so keeping hydrated is absolutely imperative. And I had excellent company. Even if they pushed me a little harder than I wanted and told me to harden up when I started whining.

I was especially good this week at carbing up on Friday. Possibly, I took it a little too seriously. I may have licked my fingers just a few too many times while I was baking. And I may have eaten one or two of the chocolates that I'd bought to decorate the cake. But I only do so for quality control purposes. And this cake was for an important occasion - #3 son's 21st birthday celebration - so its quality had to be first class.


#1 son even made a surprise trip up from Melbourne for the occasion.


Nothing makes my mummy's heart happier than having everyone together.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's Not Dementia ... Yet!

Ever have one of these moments?

You're walking along and you spot a distant relative or two that you haven't seen in years. Decades, really. You're busy. You don't want to stop to chat because it's been decades and you really don't know what's been happening in their lives any more.

Not my family but this photo was probably taken around the same time that I last saw them

And you're having trouble remembering their names - well, his name anyway. You can remember the names of most of their kids and the subjects that you shared back in high school with their daughter, who's the same age. But you can't remember his name. Seriously, why can't you remember his name????

And then they spot you. And there's no escaping. You have to go say hello. So you smile warmly and cover the fact that you can't remember his name by just saying "How are you?" in your gushiest voice like you're thrilled to see them and not trying frantically to pull that elusive name out of the locked vault that is your memory.

They say "Good, how are you?"

You blurt out "Good" but your head is still processing the 'find name' command so the 'good' is a distracted one and is followed by "How are you?" Again! And they look at you like you're a little odd. And quite frankly, you feel a little odd and stupid for asking the same question twice so you quickly try to recover with a monologue on how awful the weather is. To which they smile sympathetically at your awkwardness and lack of social skills.

After the requisite amount of uncomfortable conversation you excuse yourself with implications of extreme busy-ness. They breathe a sigh of relief that the stilted chat can finally end and they can be on their way.

You both smile, walk off and then you remember - Graham! His name is Graham!!!

Yeah, that happened to me today.

I'm thinking that my brain could use a faster processor. But I'm also thinking that the name came to me in the end so that means it's not dementia ... yet!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Just A Quiet Night In Front Of The TV

The other night I was sitting watching TV. By myself. With no one trying to talk to me over the most crucial part of the program. And no one passing judgement on the programs that I prefer to watch. Just me and Toby snuggling on the couch - until he got too hot and also left me.

I was relaxed and all was right with the world until I heard loud shrieks. Coming from the patio. From the bird cage.

Luckily I had the presence of mind to pause my show as I went out to investigate. Little did I know that what I found was going to take a good half hour chunk of viewing time and I was sure to miss something important in thirty minutes.

Our patio light isn't working so when I went out I really couldn't see any reason that the lorikeet should be carrying on but my night vision isn't as good as my dogs'. There's a structure in the dog's eye which helps with that called the tapetum lucidum. And yes, you should be impressed that I can still remember that 34 years after graduating.

My dogs could see that there was good reason for the bird to be shrieking and it was their reaction that made me take a second look. There was something on the cage and I was pretty sure it was a snake.

So I yelled snake. As you do. A couple of times. With the right amount of panic in my voice so I'd maybe attract the attention of the two adult males in the house. And then I went to grab my phone so I'd at least be able to see what I was up against.

#2 son, Josh showed up with Serena just as I was throwing some light on this dilemma. And it really was a dilemma - the snake was half in the cage and wrapped around the bird. So the question was - how do we manage to extricate the bird from the grasp of the snake without getting bitten?

Josh's instincts kicked in. He grabbed the snake's tail - perfectly safe to do because it was just a carpet snake (non-venomous) and its head was trapped in the cage. The snake sensed the threat and dropped the bird to the base of the cage. The base of the cage is detachable so I decided that I'd detach it but it took me a couple of flustered minutes to remember how that was done.

Once I got the base off the cage I went to grab the bird but the poor thing was in such a state of panic that it saw my hand as a threat and flew up the cage back towards the snake. Luckily a few shakes and whacks of the cage got it back down so I could pick it up without having snake fangs sink into my hand.

I grabbed the poor still-screeching lorikeet and rushed it inside the house. It tried to bite me so I dropped it (instinct is a powerful thing - both his and mine) and as soon as it hit the floor it was in Toby's mouth. But luckily Toby, being a retriever, has a soft mouth and he's been trained to drop things when I tell him to so the bird survived its second near miss of the night.

Meanwhile Josh was still on the patio holding the snake's tail while trying to work out what to do with it.



In the end he decided to take it over to the school next door and let it loose there. Why the school? Because it's surrounded by a lot of bushland and I'm pretty sure that's where it came from in the first place. School kids = food scraps = rats and mice = snakes. 

The snake was pretty happy when Josh finally let go of his tail. Happy enough to slither off without his evening meal. And Josh was pretty happy to wash his hands. Because apparently snakes smell like rotting stuff. And I was happy to go back to my TV program and finish it off. And I can't remember what I was watching after all that so it obviously wasn't that important after all.

The bird comes inside to sleep every night now. But I'm not entirely sure that the snakes won't just follow him. I'm pretty sure if they are determined enough they'll find a way. Shudder!!!



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Attracting Birds


I thought it was time that I gave you an update on my mission to attract beautiful, wild birds to our garden.

When I embarked on this mission I thought that it would just be a matter of throwing a bit of birdseed into a container and the local feathered fauna would come flocking to my patio. After all my sister manages to regularly get some gorgeous birds and she doesn't even feed them.

Two of my sister's regulars

And my Mum gets so many birds that she's buying huge sacks of feed every week or so.

Me? In three months I've had one magpie, one scrub turkey and one cockatoo. And I didn't even get to see the cockatoo. It waited till I was out to come visit. Luckily #3 son was there to provide proof before the dogs scared it off.

We are attracting other wildlife though. One night #2 son came home late from soccer and found a possum and a rat feeding on the seed. The possum had the grace to take off but the rat wasn't so easily scared off. Great! All we need are bold rats infesting our house. That's such a comforting thought to take to bed each night.

But I think the tides are finally turning. Yesterday Bubbles gave me a present. She caught me this Scaly Breasted Lorikeet. In her mouth. While I had a client over. Nothing like a shrieking bird to liven up a business meeting. 

Of course my heroic instincts kicked in to rescue the poor bedraggled thing from the semi-toothless jaws of our geriatric dog. And of course I was rewarded with a blood-drawing bite from that powerful beak. No gratitude! 


He just couldn't seem to fly. Which is why Bubbles caught him in the first place I guess. So I've stuck him in a cage with some food and water in the hope that he'll regain his strength and we'll be able to release him into the wild before too long.

But in the meanwhile he's providing hours of entertainment to Toby (who's back in the cone of shame unless he's supervised. Allergies are a bitch!)


And I've placed the cage close to the bird-feeder in the hope that his calls will attract other birds our way.

There's hope yet!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

They're Not Always Good Runs

I know it was less than two weeks ago that I was waxing lyrical about how amazing my runs were. How good I felt. How life was filled with rainbows and unicorns.

Well, it really was at the time. And then I did my long, slow run on Saturday. Not my best ever! In fact it could go down in the annals of time as one of my least pleasant.

It wasn't because of the company because the company is always good. And we didn't have any trouble with the route despite all the expected G20 chaos in the city - which turned out to be not much chaos at all.

The run certainly didn't start off badly. The first 10k felt like most long runs - except that it was hot before we even started. But somewhere in the second 10k the wheels started to come off a little. It may have been the long hill going up beside the cemetery that started the rot but the second hill going up to Dornoch Tce was definitely the one that finished me off - and we still had 6k to go till we reached the end.

That 6k felt like a death march. If my ego would have let me stop and walk I would have. At least my ego let me slow right down and plod my way to the end. And all the while I was wondering where the girl from the previous week had gone.

Having had time to analyse what went wrong I've come up with a few thoughts.

1. It was a pretty warm morning
2. I went out a bit hard considering that the temperatures were higher.
3. I forgot to fuel at my usual point and only remembered when I was already tired.
4. This route didn't have as many water stops as we usually have - not great on a warm morning.

Each of those points pretty much says the same thing - I didn't run to the conditions.

And I paid for it. I spent the rest of the day feeling nauseated and headachey. I'm thinking it was a touch of heat stress. Lesson learned - on hot days take it slow and make sure you fuel and hydrate adequately.

And as for the G20. It turned out to be not that much of a big deal after all. Most Brisbanites vanished from the city and headed for the beaches. And the ones who did hang around spent most of their time indoors in air-conditioning because the weather turned really nasty. (Side note to Tony Abbott - how much longer are you going to deny that the science on climate change is real. 40C temperatures in November are not normal.)

Friday wasn't too bad temperature-wise and I got some fun stuff done. Like sorting out this mess.


Looks way better now and all I needed was a drill, the right bit, a long piece of dowel and a handy husband. Thanks Iven!

And I iced a cake. A new technique that I'd seen in a book. Seemed like it would be easy but it wasn't. The icing stretched out when I was putting it on the cake and I almost lost some of the coloured stars. I should also have put on more stars closer together. Que sera. You live and learn. Plus I have even more respect for the Cake Boss now - he makes it look like anyone could do it.


I finished Friday feeling like I'd achieved something. Then came Saturday and the awful run and feeling sick. Didn't get much done after that. Sunday was all about finding a cool spot to hide and trying not to move so all the little jobs I'd wanted to do over the weekend just didn't get done. 

I'm sincerely hoping that that's the only hideous weekend we have all summer (even though it's not summer yet) but I'm pretty sure that it won't be. Roll on winter!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's G20 Time




The G20 is in my city over the weekend and I'm excited!

Actually that's a lie. I'm not excited at all. I'm annoyed. And I've been heading down the slippery slope from slightly irked to full on lucky-I'm-not-allowed-to-carry-a-weapon annoyed over the past couple of weeks.

The irked part was from having our house buzzed at all hours of the day or night by Black Hawk helicopters. And by buzzed I mean the whole house was shaking and I couldn't hear the Bachelor, Blake, defend himself for breaking his engagement to Sam. Generally they chose to practice their late night manoeuvres the night before speed session. Speed session is hard enough by itself without being sleep deprived.

I did manage to keep from getting too annoyed by telling myself that if I ever write a novel that involves having to describe life in a war zone I'd be able to describe that aspect pretty well. So actually the whole experience could have helped with my Pulitzer Prize aspirations.

The irritation built when I realised that it's almost impossible to find out exactly where we can and cannot run for the three days of the summit. Sure there are maps of the restricted zone where the roads that are closed are marked but I haven't been able to source a map that shows where pedestrian access will be denied. The best I could come up with was this -

Cyclist and Pedestrian Access

A small number of footpaths will be closed in the Brisbane CBD and South Brisbane. There will also be a number of footpaths and bikeways closed in South Bank surrounding the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Signage and diversions will be in place to advise pedestrians and cyclists of closures and alternative routes.
Cyclists should look out for signage as there will be impacts on footpaths and street access in the Brisbane CBD and South Brisbane which will extend to bikeways.
This is not particularly useful when you're trying to plan a run, which I've been trying to do for Saturday's group.
Originally I'd thought it might be fun to run towards the city and see what all the hype is about. Maybe catch a glimpse of a sniper or the secret service or even a head of state. And then the part of me that's a little scared of being strip-searched in public or seeing that happen to any of my squad friends (actually that thought is quite terrifying because what has been seen can never be unseen) told me that that might not be the best idea.
So then I thought we should head out towards Tennyson and then back to our starting point over the Green Bridge and through the uni. But a certain VIP decided to accept an invitation to speak at the University of Queensland and now that's off-limits too. 
I'm desperately hoping that pedestrian access will still be allowed on the Go Between Bridge or else we'll be running an unplanned 38k. That could be a bit of an adventure.

The thing that really took the irritation up the next step was this article. The secret service wanted a roundabout demolished so the US presidential motorcade wouldn't have to slow down. Seriously?!! Mr Obama has brought his very own Cadillac which can withstand biochemical attacks, bullets and roadside bombs so why are they worried about slowing down for a roundabout?

I don't know - you invite some people over for a visit and all of a sudden they want to redecorate. At your expense.

I know I should be mollified a little by the fact that we've been given an extra public holiday but when you can't do your usual stuff without having to think and plan and then rethink it all because there's been a change to the G20 schedule, the holiday doesn't even come close to making up for it.

Next time, all you important heads of state, maybe you should consider having your summit somewhere that doesn't cause as much of a hassle to the locals. Richard Branson's island comes to mind.

I'm sure there'd be plenty of room if people were happy to share. Just as long as Mr Abbott isn't put in with Mr Putin cause I'm pretty sure there'd be some towel flicking and undie-wedgie action if that happened.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Kitchen Confessions

I have always maintained that I'm quite an open person. I don't believe in keeping things hidden away just to maintain an image. If I've had to poo behind a tree, I'll tell the world that I pooed behind a tree. If I make a fool out of myself by saying something inappropriate, I'll happily post a blog about it. And if I have fantasies of mariticide (and what married woman doesn't at one time or another?), I'll be asking for tips on best methods for body disposal.

But just recently I realised that, if I was to be totally honest, I haven't been totally honest. I've held back some of my most shameful secrets. And it's time to rectify that wrong.

Confession #1

I have old food in my freezer. Check out the use-by date on that lasagne.


I'm not sure if you can make it out but it says Feb '11. It is now Nov '14. 

And that's not the sole packet of expired foodstuffs. I have meat from cows that were grazing pastures back in the John Howard era. He finished his Prime Ministerial term in 2007! 

Having this geriatric food is an incredible dilemma to me. I hate to just throw it out. Because it's wasteful and children are starving in Africa. But I would also hate to serve it up and have my whole family die of salmonella, clostridium, E coli or ebola. So the food remains in the freezer in a state of limbo. Or suspended animation. 

Last time I had this problem it was miraculously solved by a freezer breakdown. The freezer was still under warranty so I was able to claim back the cost of the spoiled food that we would never have eaten anyway. And I was able to toss out all the stuff that needed to go without feeling any guilt whatsoever.

But the warranty has lapsed now so that's never going to happen again. 

Writing out this confession has given me the courage to actually take action. I'm going to chuck out the chuck, and the diced pork and the pre-made lasagne that tastes a little like cardboard. But I'm going to do it sneakily. Because if Iven found out he'd insist that I cook it up - even if he was the only one who dared eat it. That might help with my mariticide fantasy but I'm sure that it would be messy and when if I finally getting around to fulfilling that one, I'd like to do it with a minimal amount of clean up. 

Give me a month or so of throwing out a meat tray on garbage pick up day and I'll get my freezer back under control.

Confession #2

Maggots don't disturb me very much.

I'm sure they would if they were feeding off a dead body that I'd accidentally stumbled across in my husband's wardrobe. But the likelihood of that happening is pretty minimal. For a start, his wardrobe is pretty small and his propensity to behave a little like a pack rat (yes, he has clothes in there dating back to when we were married and no, he can't fit into them any more) means that there wouldn't be enough room to stuff a body. Unless he dismembered it and put it in little plastic bags. But that would probably keep the flies from breeding and, voilĂ , no maggots.

I picked up a grain of cooked rice this morning as I was tidying the kitchen and the grain of rice wriggled. On closer inspection I realised that I should probably go have an eye test again because the rice I cook is not segmented and does not have mouth parts. 

My reaction to realising that I was holding a fly baby was to flick it out of the window. No screaming. No fuss. I didn't bother looking into where it may have come from because that would involve house-cleaning and we all know that I'm not great at that. Which is probably why the maggot was in my kitchen in the first place.

So that's it, all my dirty laundry aired. Over to you - anyone else got a secret that they need to get off their chest?


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Still Loving It

It's only 4:00 in the afternoon and already my clothes are laid out for tomorrow's run.

It's not that I have OCD. Well, I'll admit to having a little of it when it comes to packing the dishwasher - but seriously, who intersperses dishes and plates?? That is not the most economical use of space! And I do like to have the cushions just so on the couch - like they've just been tossed there stylishly but not like they've been chucked from the other side of the room Frisbee-style. There's a fine line.

The reason for my excessive enthusiasm for being prepared is my excessive enthusiasm to run. I'm loving it at the moment!

It's been a tough year for my running. It's had to take a back-seat to bigger life issues and I don't resent that at all. I've had to cancel races that were planned and paid for and miss countless running sessions. And I'd do it all again if circumstances dictated. But things have settled down and the sailing has been smoother and all of a sudden running is a joy again.

It is just so wonderful to run without a lump of anxiety in my chest. To be able to see the world wake up in the morning and really appreciate the sights and smells and sounds without being preoccupied with a load of heaviness. To really just be there - fully be there. It's hard to really put into words just how it feels. How it feeds my soul and fills me up.

There have been times this year that I didn't really think it would happen again. That there really was a tunnel and there was no light at the end of it. But, as always, those dark times pass. The black turns to grey and all of a sudden you're seeing little glimpses of light. Eventually there's enough light for you to see all the world in its dazzling colours again.

And I'm appreciating that world with different eyes now. Coming through hard stuff really makes you enjoy the ordinary that much more.

Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment.

Post Script (or should I say post-run script)

The run was every bit as good as I had anticipated. 

Maybe some of that was my attitude. Although I can't say my attitude was really great when I dropped my alarm clock on the floor at 3:20 am when I was checking to see how much time I had left to sleep. My clock disgorged its battery so I had to turn on the light and reset it. Effectively I ended up with zero extra minutes of sleep. But my clothes were already out so I really had no excuse but to get out.


It was still a little dark outside but I could see a pink glow through the trees. The colours of the sky alone would have made it a great run but getting 16k done on my favourite route ... Yep, I'm a contented runner today. 

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get sick of running. Somehow I doubt it.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

One Of THOSE Runs

Please don't hate me but I had one of THOSE runs yesterday.

Don't know what I mean by THOSE runs? That's okay - I'm happy to elaborate.

They're the Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket of runs.


The sort of run that gets us runners addicted to spending hours sweating and panting and hurting.


They're as elusive as a unicorn next to a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Credit
But they do actually exist.

They're the magic runs. Where you can push yourself and can just keep going. Where you're strong. Invincible. Unstoppable - except when you're crossing the road. Road safety is important even when you're feeling like a superhero.

It shouldn't have been a great run. I'd done my long run only the day before so my legs weren't the freshest. And I'd walked up the mountain with #1 husband and the dogs earlier that day. And it was warmer than I like - but I've been toying with entering a December race so thought that running in the heat would be good training.

It was going to be an easy run. And I really did have all intentions of keeping it easy. But when the magic happens, who am I to throw it all back in the face of the running Gods? The first couple of kilometres felt so good that when I hit the hills on Hillside Tce., I just kept running at the same pace. And of course my legs could feel the effort by the top of each of the rises and my lungs were burning but the down-hills took care of that. 

I kept expecting to die. But as each kilometre ticked over I had enough in the tank to promise myself another at this pace and then I'd ease back if I was feeling done. But I never had to keep that promise. Twelve kilometres done in just over an hour and my last kilometre split at 4:37. 

Pain has never felt so good.

I wanted to blog about it right away but decided that in my endorphin-riddled state that it would probably be a little over the top. Too evangelical. Too gushy. Too running-crazed. 

But it seems that over twelve hours haven't blunted how good that run felt. There still may be a few extra endorphins pumping around my body - and I'm not complaining. But it's left me wondering - how long until I get another run like that?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Think Before You Speak

I think dementia is finally starting to take hold.

Some amongst you would argue that that ship had sailed quite a few years ago. But while I can still find my keys and remember exactly why I went into a particular room (even though that memory may need prompting by leaving the room and going back to where I had the original thought), I cling to the tenuous hope that all is still well with my grey matter.

I was reading the other day that dementia can shorten the attention span. Well, mine is approaching that of a scrub turkey. Which is better than a gnat but way worse than an elephant. I get distracted by lots of things. Pretty lights. Pretty music. Pretty men. All the usual things.

This morning I was having a conversation with my husband and my #2 son. About important world issues. Like Zombie apocolypses (apocolypsi?). And vampires. And what exactly is the difference between a zombie and a vampire? According to son #2 a zombie can see itself in a mirror. According to #1 husband a zombie is dead and a vampire is immortal. And the fact that I can still remember both of these salient points is proof positive that I still have control of some of my faculties.

Anyway, in the midst of this conversation I became distracted. By Toby. Who's been having another bout of itchy skin. And is now relegated to the bucket. Again.

And that's when I said something that no mother in a household full of adult males should ever say.

"I want to have a look at your scrotum."

The look on #2 son's face was priceless. The look on #1 husband's face was hopeful. The look on Toby's face was full of dread.

Need to remember not to act like someone who's had a frontal lobotomy.

PS - Toby's scrotum will be fine with a lot of TLC. And in the meanwhile the Cone of Shame acts as a handy bug catcher.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Farewell Little Red Hen

We said good-bye to our last little red hen on the weekend. 

                                          

She was pretty old and had been less and less active. I went to check on her on Friday night and knew that she wouldn't last much longer. So it was no surprise when Iven told me that she'd passed during the night.

Call me hard-hearted but no tears were shed. Can't say that I truly bonded with either of the birds that liked to wake up and greet the day well before dawn. On the days that I didn't have to get up early to run. And I really can't say that I appreciated our lawn being destroyed (not that it was ever that great but it was a lot better than exposed dirt) in their endless quest for tasty worms and grubs. And I was never very happy about them visiting my workroom and using it as a toilet - even though Toby would clean up the mess immediately. He's a thoughtful but slightly gross dog.

But having said all of that I'll kind of miss having them just for the fact that I never felt guilty about chucking out leftover food. If I cooked too much it became a hen's breakfast. If the vegies started to go off before I used them, they were a donation towards those lovely eggs that we used to get before the girls went through henopause. As I type this I'm thinking about the container of cooked brown rice that's been languishing at the back of the fridge for a week and remembering how excited they used to get when you'd tip it into their feeder - aka the compost heap. And no, I won't be giving it to Toby and Bubbles. Flatulence can be a potent deterrent to food recycling.

I mentioned our hen's demise to my Mum when I saw her at breakfast later that morning. Remember my Mum? She's the one who used to have the scrub turkey problem. Until she solved it using creativity, ingenuity and a life-sized Justin cardboard cut-out. 

Poor Justin hasn't coped too well with the rigours of our harsh Australian climate. In just a week he went from standing on his own two feet to being a crumpled mess on the lawn. That's when my Dad stepped in and gave the boy a bit of spine by sticking a pole up his you-know-what and lashing his head to it with some wire. And that wire proved very useful when one of their dogs managed to grab a chunk of turkey feathers from a trespasser. There's nothing that says 'Enter At Your Own Peril' to a turkey than Justin with a pole up his butt and turkey feathers in his headband. 


Not one to rest on her laurels, and knowing that scrub turkeys are persistent creatures who have the recall of an amnesiac, Mum asked if she could have the corpse of our dearly departed. So she could string it up on Justin as a further warning to all fowl who enter uninvited.

I think she was joking. At least I hope she was because we all laughed and the corpse stayed in the wheelie bin where it had been laid to rest. Triple-bagged in plastic grocery bags. 

(See Woollies, this is precisely the reason that I don't bring recyclable bags. I put all the bags you pack my groceries in to very good use.)

And now you all know where I got my evil, black sense of humour from. Thanks Mum.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Public Service Announcement

I just have one thing to say today. A Public Service Announcement if you will.

Because there are just way too many stupid people in the world.

NEVER STOP AT THE END OF AN ESCALATOR

Yes, this might be a special message directed to the three generations of one family, including a baby in a pram (those prams make very efficient escalator obstacles), who decided to do just that. When I was standing behind them. Closely behind them.

I'm not sure what was so urgent in that pram that it caused all three (maybe I should say two because the baby didn't have a choice) to stop dead right at the bottom. Baby wasn't crying. It was sitting up and gurgling happily so it hadn't stopped breathing and wasn't in immediate need of resuscitation. My guess was that it was in imminent danger of starvation from the food that was proffered. But surely that could have happened another few steps away. So I could have exited the escalator without having to do an awkward little dance on the ever-changing bottom step.

It had me in a bit of a tizz because the only other time that I've tried to go against the flow of an escalator ended up with scrapes, bruising and public humiliation. And it killed any desire in me to break rules and take unnecessary chances.

Luckily there was no scrapes, bruises or public humiliation today. Probably because I'm more fleet of foot than I was at the age of 10. Speed training has obviously paid off big time.

But I've decided that in the future I might adopt this method of travelling on escalators to avoid inconsiderate fellow escalator-riders.


And if anyone has any idea of how to safely dismount from this position I'll be truly grateful.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bieberising

We put up a bird-feeder.

I've been enjoying all the birds that come visit my Mum and decided that I wanted to do the same so I talked Iven into creating a special birdy restaurant that would bring birds in from near and far. I got him to put it just out from our patio so it would be easy to refill and easy to see all the magnificent birds that came to call. And it's over-hanging a garden bed so if the seeds fall out of the feeder there won't be any mess. Genius - I know.

I had total faith that if we built it they would come. They haven't!

That was about four weeks ago and so far we've had two birds. A magpie.


And a dirty, great scrub turkey. 


Disappointment is an understatement for how I'm feeling. Especially when I go over to my Mum's and see her lorikeets and cockatoos and kookaburras. And even more so when my sister, who doesn't even have a bird feeder, shows me the pictures of the king parrots and cockatoos who regularly visit her. Seriously?!! There's free food on offer and the only takers are the underclass of bird society.

I personally think that the problem lies in the scrub turkey. I'm pretty sure that the other birds are staying away because he's there. Lording it over the feeder and taking out the best bits of the bird seed like the sunflower seeds and corn. So I have made it my life's mission to dissuade this bird from ever darkening our doorstep again.

Picture this. It's 6am and I'm just out of bed. Still in pyjamas. Hair sticking out every which way. Broom in hand. Screaming like a banshee while flailing said broom over my head. You'd think that would be scary enough to stop him from ever returning. It's certainly made the neighbours look at me with distinct mistrust in their eyes.

But not my fine feathered friend. Food trumps crazy woman in his world and he keeps returning despite my superior broom-twirling skills.

But I have not lost hope. My mother has had a similar scrub turkey issue and has managed to scare him enough so he's no longer scratching out her newly-planted annuals. And the method she used? She Bieberised him.


For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Bieberising involves a life-sized cut out of the (using the term loosely here) star and placing it strategically in the garden. Sort of like a scarecrow. Personally I wouldn't have thought that the sweet, young Justin - before the egg-hurling, peeing in janitors buckets and all the arrests wouldn't have been so scary to a bird that has a pea-sized cerebrum but this doesn't appear to be the case. 

The dogs, on the other hand have no fear of Justin. Both of them have peed on him. Which gives me a sick sense of satisfaction. 

So once my mother has finally gotten sick of having this in her yard I'll be putting my hand up. I just he's not that scary to cockatoos and lorikeets.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Inspired

The Melbourne Marathon Festival happened over the weekend.

The first I haven't been part of for five years.

I can't say it wasn't hard to hear all the excited talk about coffee and food and shopping and running over the last couple of weeks. Cause it was - just a little. And I can't say it wasn't hard to let go of the opportunity to see my big baby boy - cause I miss him every day.

But it wasn't the right time for me this year. So I decided that disappointment was counter-productive and the best attitude is always a positive one.

But how to turn disappointment into something positive?

It actually was quite easy once I started to think out and not in. The weekend in Melbourne was all about my running buddies and their inspiring stories. So many of them went down to run and each of them trained their butts off to be ready.
Some overcame injuries to be there. Some ran with niggles that they were managing. Some ran PBs,. Some ran debut marathons or half marathons. Some struggled to finish but never gave up. They ran individually or together but they all supported each other. Because we are family - running family.


My favourite story from the weekend was from someone I've spent long Saturday runs chatting with. A man who probably shouldn't be alive after a massive heart attack last year. He had his heart set on running the full marathon and no doubt would have if injury had not intervened. And because of the post-heart attack medication he's on, the injury took longer than normal to heal. So he had to be content to drop back to the half marathon - still a huge ask when he couldn't run 10k a month ago.

His training ended up being a very short block culminating in an 18k long run just a week ago. He may not have been confident but he was determined and sometimes that's all you need. I couldn't have been more excited when I got the message that he'd gotten to the finish. And managed a PB!


Seeing all the pictures on Facebook over the weekend became the highlight of the week. It was a reason to reminisce over my Melbourne runs. My half marathon PB in a time that I never had dreamed possible. My first marathon - something that I'd vowed I'd never do. An injured half marathon that I ran supporting a squad member. A half marathon run after a year of a mystery illness that's no longer a mystery. And last year's marathon that I'd never have even started without the support of some very dear friends that I'd made through the squad.

I have gone from a little disappointed to really inspired.

Melbourne 2015 - only twelve months to go!