How I Know Life Is On The Improve

Yes, I have enjoyed a Chicken Schnitzel at the local pub, and yes, I’ve finally had a hair cut.

But here’s the biggie. The Real M’Coy. The Cat’s Pyjamas. The BIGGIE that makes things feel like we are at last getting back on an even keel after bushfire, drought and a pandemic. Or at the very least to some semblance of normality……

The local Rotary Club is holding a sale of preloved books as a fundraiser for both national and international projects. It’s not the usual version with books laid out for your selection but more of a Pot Luck affair because of limited numbers and self distancing rules. No matter ; a box of adult fiction for $20 or a bundle of kids books for $10 reminds me of fossicking through a show-bag from the Royal Easter Show in Sydney when I was a child many, many moons ago. ( My personal favourite was always the Liquorice Bag).

Anything SciFi , Dystopian or with a Dragon on the cover will be shared amongst friends or end up at the Little Community Library. Afterall the one thing this pandemic has achieved is to remind us to be a little kinder to each other. Touch wood.

These were a recent donation to the Little Library by a local pensioner.

Raising Gypsies

Did I tell you I enjoyed Chicago at the theatre last weekend?

It was beaut to see Tom Burlinson again as Billy Flynn. Burlinson had success as a young man when he played young Jim Craig in the 1982 Australian movie The Man From Snowy River and Tommy Woodcock in Phar Lap in 1983. He then seemed to fade away singing the songs of Frank Sinatra in nightclubs over the years.

Also lovely to spend time in Sydney with the daughters before they both headed off again. You see, I’ve raised gypsies……..

My youngest flew out to India for work purposes for six months yesterday. (My apologies for my behaviour : I may have been just a tad fragile.)

My eldest is off shortly with her military boyo to be stationed in a remote region of Australia for two years. So remote that it will be an easier option to fly to India for a visit. And it’s a Dry Community. Good luck with that, Pocohontas……….

Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. – Ray Bradbury from Fahrenheit 451

No, there were no tears and I have been positively positive. Disgustingly positive really. And envious of course. I was already tinkering with a holiday to Arnhem Land in autumn so that’s now a done deal. My only concern is for the Labrador, Bentley, who is unused to crocodiles and dingoes, and is stone deaf. I’m fearful that if he meets a snake he will want to make it a playmate. Same with a dingo: he’s such a good natured pup with an inability to read social queues.

As for the Indian adventurer, just as well she’s vegetarian and did a spell in Beijing last year.

We’ve agreed to meetup in Darwin next August, to coincide with the Northern Territory’s Federation Day ( read : Cracker Night) and Darwin Cup. The gambler’s gene did not come from my side of the family though the need for a new outfit for the occasion certainly did. I’m currently researching a side trip to the Tiwi Islands.

Since retirement I have been regularly asked when I will be selling up to be closer to the girls. Makes me laugh each and every time. 

Safe travels, Cat Balou. Looking forward to belly dancing classes upon your return.

Retirement Three Months In

What Have I Learned?

  • I’m not prepared to pay $18 for a cauliflower ( price due to recent floods)
  • After having spent my entire working life conversing with people I love the quiet. Even chat on the radio and in television advertisements is white noise.
  • It is liberating not having to wear makeup every day, though I found myself not brushing my hair till noon recently which is a concern. Ditto ones frillies.
  • I’m still waking up around 4am, but I have a cup/pot of tea and then go back down.
  • The lack of regimentation is life changing. I’m enjoying trying different recipes and eating them when the tummy tells me I’m hungry – not when rostered to do so. And sometimes I don’t eat and that’s ok.
  • I’m a better friend as I have more patience. Possibly a better parent as I’m far too busy living my life to worry about theirs. Better Significant Other? Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad…..
  • I’ve actually read less books and watched fewer movies because there are other things to do. Fun things too.
  • I’m more social than ever because I can now go gallivanting on a school night.
  • The house is no cleaner. Don’t look up at the cornices and you won’t spot the spider webs. Ssssshhhh. No-one is going to put “ She Kept A Clean House” on my headstone.
  • There are still a list of projects to complete. Probably more now as I’m not blinded about what needs to be done. Add to shopping list: paint for laundry.
Breakfast in the garden is such a treat.

The one issue that I do have is that even after three months not working I still need to achieve. I mentally ask myself each night “Well, what did I achieve today”? I’m aware I don’t have too so it is a little worrying that the motivation to do so remains.

Last time I retired at 52 with a redundancy package after our good Premier decided to prune Government spending I lazed around for three months before deciding I’d had enough and jumped right back into the workforce. A change of Government and almost double the spend from the public purse I am totally satisfied with my decision to walk away. Life is short. There are places to go, people to see, books to read, and theatres to visit.

Lovin’ it, though am missing fresh cauliflower au gratin.

Lone Pine Barracks and Rosemary

Museums of the Australian Army Infantry can be found in every state of Australia. I recently stumbled across the Hunter Valley branch attached to the Lone Pine Barracks at Singleton, about 25kms west of Maitland.

Why is the Australian Infantry Museum worth a visit? Because it’s not too big. I just love visiting the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and generally do so two or three times a year, but it is just so large that I tend to come out with information overload. Know what I mean?

The museum at Singleton has two display galleries with a wide variety of exhibits with short snatches of information about all the conflicts Australia has been involved in since the late 1800’s: just enough information to be a valuable learning tool and not overwhelming.(Ten years ago I would have scoffed and said it’s because they think the general population are idiots, but that’s another story…).

The Heritage Gallery, on the ground floor, includes heavy artillery and military vehicles, as well as personalising events and individual equipment pertaining to particular conflicts by way of photographs, momentos, and brief descriptions.

The Latchford Gallery on the mezzanine floor features collections of small arms emphasising the many changes and developments over the years.

Think you’ve heard and seen it all?

I had no idea that Australia had sent Peacekeepers to Rwanda. This is a particularly brutal read and provides insight into the machinations of our Army and the magnificent men and women who serve. Of those who spent time in Rwanda half came home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because they watched the brutality as it happened but were unable to get involved despite their years of training. Yes, I shed a quiet tear or two. Well, maybe not so quiet.

We’ve just learned that one of own, a 28 year old serviceman with two tours of Afghanistan under his belt, has committed suicide. Went to the hardware store three weeks ago and never came home. He was someone’s son, husband, and father……

With a military son-in-law, a father who was in Bomber Command and a father-in-law who was a Merchant Seaman and Master Mariner, I’ve been reminded that I’ve been extremely self indulgent these past weeks since my retirement. So, I’m back on the fundraising trail to assist these poor bastards : psychs, employment training, financial assistance to families, whatever it takes. Another sixty Rosemary plants for sale soon.

And it wasn’t a good move to watch Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk either. I think I now better understand why my parents were such big fans of Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner.

*If you’re in the vicinity the museum is well worth a visit and has a Cafe for refreshments.