We left home for a three week pre surgery trip. We went to New South Wales.
Along the way Covid happened and our state got locked down and my husband’s surgery got cancelled and so the nurse called and asked “Are you in a new caravan park?!” We we’re in Batemans Bay by then on our way home. We told her “Yes it’s quite nice” she said “Well stay there your surgery has been cancelled” my husband quickly said “No thanks we’ll go north to the warm”
Our initial goal was Gladstone to meet my penpal and her family it’s been 10 years between visits, but the higher we got the more we enjoyed the warm weather and so by the time we got to Cairns my husband made the call.. “We’re going to the Tip!”
Cape York Peninsula or “The Tip” as it is commonly called is the most northern Point in mainland Australia and we are 459 kilometres from there. We’re slowly wending our way North to have that iconic photo.
Yesterday we made it to Weipa 3,600 plus kilometres from home and it was lush and tropical and hot! 32c while back at home they’re struggling for 11c and it really occurred to me as we ate an enormous hamburger washed down with icy cold beers and watched the most awesome sunset, that this right here! Is where my life has been leading.
We’ve done the jobs and the scrimping and saving and brought houses and cars and campers and STUFF, we’ve raised five children into well functioning adults who have beautiful children of their own, except the youngest one so far! And now I’m a modern day gypsy, an end goal but each day comes as it will. We get up we think about what we might do we have no hard or fast plans. For three days we sat by the Coen river and fed the little fish cheese because they liked it and we didn’t need to be anywhere or do anything!
We watch the sun set and very occasionally we might see it rise, but if sleep has us in her grips we stay there. One thing is certain in this life… there WILL be another sunrise and sunset!
Right now we are in Weipa by the Gulf of Carpentaria in Far North Queensland. Our first sunset here was amazing it went on forever and frankly l can’t wait for tonight’s!
And so as l look forward to the next half of my life (I’m not middle aged yet!) l’ve decided that this right here… this gypsy life of not knowing and no plans works just well for me and l will NEVER DO WINTER AGAIN!!
So for as long as l can remember l’ve loved goats. I don’t even know how that started but my husband hears it every time we drive past a paddock with a flock of goats l’ll squeal “Ohhh l love goats!!” usually he will say “Hey Sheila there are some goats for you!” If l happen to miss them. I do the same thing with cows! I love cows too, once we were camping by a paddock full of youngish bulls, maybe they were growing up to become steak or hamburgers but right then l could gaze lovingly at them to the point l would go to the fence every so often and call them over for a photo or a chat, yeah that’s me the crazy lady who talks to animals. I took so many photos of the “Bully boys” as l called them l was sad to go home and leave them!
So today we are in Dubbo in New South Wales, it’s day three here and the Bloke had booked us tickets for the “Taronga Plains Zoo” if you haven’t been go now! Last night it was cold minus 2.4c so when we were ready to leave at 9.00 am it was only 7c l might not have been feeling too great about it l don’t like the cold! But we wanted to go in the morning because we wanted to start packing up this afternoon.
We got to the Zoo in time to hear the keepers talk on Rhinos and how they are poached for their horn l knew this of course read any Wilbur Smith book and you’ll learn about it but knowing that, that useless horn to anyone but the Rhino is not so useless and very VERY expensive like more than the price of gold or heroin (not that I’d personally know but the keeper told us!)
I won’t waste your reading time telling you about every animal but it was a great day!
So we wandered our way through the zoo and got to the African Lion Village. And you go through double gates into what is, l supposed, a replica of an African village with huts and GOATS!! I didn’t get much further. I just wanted to stop and watch them so l approached one whom we named “Ginger Dreadlocks” maybe she was an angora breed she had lovely red locks! And she let us pat her and while we were interacting with her along came a second goat nudging “Scratch my head, yeah right there between the horns” so l did because yes you guessed it… l love goats! So lm telling these gals “Oh you are so pretty look at your lovely eyes” are you aware goats pupils are horizontal in their eyes?! They’re nudging themselves closer so l wondered “Do you want a selfie with me?!” And yes they did!!
My whole day has been made from a five minute interaction with a couple of goats! I swear she was watching herself in the camera and pushed Ginger Dreadlocks outta the way to take front spot!
Of course the Zoo should be about the exotic animals and yes l saw them but interacting with these goats was definitely my highlight of the day!
Today we spent three and a half hours walking around this vast Zoo. This is what we do in each state or Country, Bali Zoo l hand fed an elephant OH MY GOSH l love ELEPHANTS!! We go to the Zoo we interact if we can and we always learn something new. Today we walked 11.26 kilometres around this zoo yeah lm pretty tired tonight l think l’ll sleep well!
Tomorrow we are off to Fingal Bay heading North slowly, we’re meeting friends who are heading South! I’ll be back!!
In June, the 9th actually, the Bloke is going in to have a hip replacement the Dr’s say he’ll be out of action up to 8 weeks, he disagrees.. time will tell but in the mean time we’re having one last adventure before he’s restricted 🚫
We left home Thursday, because Wednesday mid morning the nurse called and said the anaesthesiologist was off sick so she got a different one to look at his results of the pre op tests he did and had given him the all clear, which means we don’t have to be home until June 5th!! We quickly did a shop, packed the camper and at 8.00am yesterday we were on “the road again”
We crossed the border to New South Wales at 11:15am and arrived in Wagga Wagga at 1.00pm our first port of call. We’re not even sure where we are going but we are just going somewhere! Five nice cruisey hours drive. Wagga Wagga means “Dancing crows” actually the name’s meaning has been debated for a while the other choice was “many dances” but l, and, apparently so do the towns people, like the crow one since they’re all over the place! On top of street signs and what not!
Yesterday we had planned to stay only one night and so we did a minimal set up we had planned our dinner ahead so no need for the bbq. Then speaking to some friends we decided to alter our plans slightly and head up north a bit further and meet up with them for a few days. So we did some juggling and realised we had a spare day.. what to do?!
This morning the Bloke went to the office and asked if there was a vacancy for us to stay another night – sure no worries. So here we are in Wagga Wagga two nights now!
That means today was a free day to go sight seeing and so we put on our walking shoes and asked the lady at the front desk “Which way to walk to town?!” And off we set, maybe a little too eagerly because now we’ve walked over 12 kilometres and oh my gosh lm really sore!
We got a free map at the information centre have l mentioned (I’m sure l have in previous posts!!) I LOVE information centres and if they are staffed even better! The locals always know the best spots! We followed our little map which is now safely tucked away in my journal and got to see lovely old churches, a Vietnam War memorial park with gorgeous fountains and loads of art!! We wandered along the Main Street in and out of shops and did a few groceries before trudging, yes by that time three hours had passed and l was trudging back to camp!
After our salad rolls on beautiful nutty whole grain rolls, the Bloke decided it was time for a drive, l really wanted a nap! He said “I’ll drive- you nap!” He really is a winner!! We went to nearby Junee. About 35 kilometres away.
We didn’t look around much we went directly, we did not pass Go and we did not collect the $200 but we did go directly to the Licorice and Chocolate Factory!! it’s been set up in an abandoned flour mill it’s just so pretty, the freeze dried strawberries dipped in thick dark chocolate were good too!! We each brought a block of chocolate and a packet of Licorice to share!
It’s been a hectic day l’ll sleep well tonight and tomorrow? We’re off to Dubbo, about a five hour drive, the whole reason of going there is the Taronga Park Safari Zoo!
Remember Thumper the rabbit from the Movie “Bambi” he stamps his little foot and says “Mumma always says if you can’t say nuffin nice you shouldn’t say nuffin at all” well personally l like that statement because once the words are spoken you can’t take them back. We ALL say things in anger, at that moment you feel justified to say it and get it out there but later on you might feel like “taking it back” just like life there are no re-dos! I’ve been guilty of not saying the words because I am basically a chicken when it comes to confrontation, but l go away and stew on things and then think of how l “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” handled it and then l write it all down! Once l wrote it in a letter to someone who used to be close to me ok, she was my sister. Seeing how much pain that caused her, now l just write it in my journals! A therapist once told me “Write the person a letter and get it all out of your system and then burn it or rip it up and be done with it” another person suggested writing it and burning it and burying it to get rid of the left over anger, so far l’ve written it and burnt it l’ve also used some of those ashes in a painting so therefore turning ugly into pretty, and l’ve written horrible things on canvas and painted over it and made it beautiful but l knew what was under that pretty so l stabbed it smashed it and threw it away… maybe not what the therapist had in mind but it helped me!
Some artists speak of that judgemental inner critic that is never happy with their art, one art teacher said we should name them and then reply to them in positive ways, one of my favourites was l was painting a mermaid with pink hair and the “Evil Inner Critic” started up with “Pink hair? How stupid! Whoever has pink hair! I’ve never seen a mermaid with pink hair” l calmly replied “Really? When did you last see a mermaid? Oh and By the way Mother! Pink hair comes from a bottle also known as hair dye!” Yes my “Evil Inner Critic” wears my Mother’s voice. It wears my Mother’s voice because that’s what l’ve heard for a good chunk of my life.
How l Mother my children is directly in line with how l was mothered, EXACTLY the opposite. I praise my children if l like something they’ve cooked l ask for the recipe, if they wear something l like l ask for the details. If they have a skill l don’t well l want to learn it or support them in their hobby. I show interest in their lives, maybe Star Son thinks l show too much interest and says “Why do you need to know?” My reply “Because l’m your Mother and l care!”
Over the years l’ve done loads of journaling with different prompts to try and work through this “Mother Issue” l have- and in all the thousands of words l’ve written l honestly can not recall a time when she made a positive remark. I cannot recall a time she said “Oh good job” or “l like the way you did that!” Instead, upon meeting my brother for the first time, who she gave up for adoption she said “Oh and this is your sister Kim she’s the bitch of the family” this was over 25 years ago now but l hear that all the time it’s on constant replay. Did this stranger to our family need to know that immediately? Did he also need to know every other misdemeanour l’d made in my first 25 years of life? But her and her daughters proceeded to tell him every.little.thing! And l wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. I still cringe when l recall that day!
That is why l mother the exact opposite l don’t want the “Evil inner Critic” that my own daughters might have to be floating around with MY voice!
So now they know they can come to me and vent to me and ask me advice if they want it l’ll give them my thoughts if not that’s ok too lm a good listener and l never repeat it because it ends here. Maybe they won’t make my mistakes of writing or worse saying things to someone they can’t take back. Sometimes if we rearrange the words we want to say they go from being harsh and critical to honest and thoughtful it might have a different outcome l understand that now l didn’t then.
I guess in someways l should thank my Evil Inner Critic for her behaviour because now as an artist l paint what l like, how l like and l can shut her up. As a Mother l should thank her for teaching me what not to do and only take the good bits from her lessons, like how to make delicious vegetable soup. Once my Son in Law told my daughter “Oh you sounded just like your Mother” but it wasn’t a criticism and so that made me happy but never once will l ever say that saying “I opened my mouth and my Mothers voice and out” never ever!
Monday we brought home our precious bundle! and her Aunty and cousins came over for a visit. Then later on another Aunty came to visit.
Tuesday we managed a nice quiet day at home, walking the dog was that days greatest effort
On Wednesday l spent the morning watching Aria and Harvey, at the same time my husband had his pre op assessment for his hip replacement in June, and later on Wednesday the midwife Ash, who delivered her came for her first at home check up and she had gained 80 grams back from the 100 grans she’d lost at birth. So that was exciting news.
Thursday my Bloke took me on a date day into Melbourne we caught the train and a tram, he spoilt me with a walk through the laneways full of Art! And then took me to an exhibition called “She oaks and sunlight” Australian impressionist at the National Gallery of Victoria, l hadn’t been there yet so that was a lovely surprise! After the gallery we walked along South Bank and ended up at Crown Casino for Chinese lunch. Then some more art down alleyways. With a stop at Young and Jackson’s Pub, famous in Melbourne. Had a beer and a cider in the roof top bar, checked out the famous art the nude- Chloe on display in the lounge! We ended up walking 17 kms during the day! My poor feet!
Friday- Violet is one week old, sheesh, where did that week go??!
Today we went to Castlemaine to visit our eldest son Kit and grandom Rafiki who is not feeling very well, but he was happy to see us! The best bit about Autumn is the coloured leaves and so we enjoyed those around Castlemaine. I got a few blog posts done this week and maintained my weeks worth of art for #bloomingmarvellousmay it’s been a week and frankly lm tired!
Today l had one job, to watch Aria and Harvey while my daughter Jasmin went to school to help on Chase’s schools Mother’s Day Stall. The Bloke had a pre op appointment before he gets his hip replacement in June so he dropped me at Jasmin’s house at 8:00am.
I had one job to watch these small people while Jasmin went to school with Chase for a few hours. Put Harvey down for his nap at 11:00am and that was all- easy really.
So we did our usual cuddles and watching their shows, each had a favourite show for me to watch and then we decided to do silly photos!
So Harvey wanted to get into the spirit because we were laughing he wanted to play the clown and so up onto the coffee table and he was dancing.
Before l even had time to tell him to get down he fell! Straight into the window, l’ve never run so fast or scaled a coffee table so quickly as l did today. Telling him “Stay still Harvey!” He was so good he just stayed still till l could make sure he wasn’t injured and oh my gosh hugged his little being till l almost crushed him!
All he was worried about was his Mummy would be mad! But l reassured him “Mummy will only be mad at Grandma not Harvey!” l checked him over so thoroughly and made sure he was all in one piece, then l issued Aria orders.. “Where does Mummy keep the vacuum cleaner? Watch the kitten doesn’t go bear the glass, stay over there right away” She was so good showing me where the vacuum was and then showing me how to work it 🤷🏼♀️ in the meantime she’s reassuring Harvey “It’s ok Harvey you’re not in trouble” turned my back for a second the kittens trying to get through the hole, luckily Dookie the dog was on the other side keeping her in. For about 10 minutes it was bedlam! And Jasmin had been gone less than an hour!!
My “Clown boy” suddenly became Grandma’s cuddle bunny. Aria was keeping watch on the clock to make sure Harvey was on time for his nap, she had a vested interest she could have her iPad time when he went to bed.
As he snuggled down he asked for his Mummy l said “When you wake up Mummy will be home” he nodded and said “Mummy mad!” No l told him not with my Harvey boy, kissed him and told him “I love you” he grins “Luff you too”
As l made coffee and lunch for Aria it hit me just how badly that might have ended and l told myself “You had just one job!” And l’d messed it up! I also thanked my Soul Sister in spirit for catching him and not letting him be damaged. Luckily my Bloke got home and patched the hole with some MDF panels until we can get a glazier in but then l had to break the news to Jasmin, and pray she wouldn’t yell too loudly!
As soon as Jasmin got home l explained and thankfully none of us got into trouble but l will pay for the glass because they’ve only been in their new home two months and l’ve already let a window get broken!! “You had one job Grandma!”
On other subjects… Baby Violet had her home visit from the midwifery team today and it was Ash who delivered her. When Vi was released from hospital she’d lost 100 grams that was Monday, today is Wednesday and she’s up 80 grams! Yay Violet!! She’s a good baby so far!
My renewed creativity is going well and this months art prompt is “blooming marvellous May,” each day of the month you do a floral piece. I did Violet first so l decided to do each of my seven grandchildren, Chase wasn’t a flower so l did his name and added some Climbing Jasmine to his letter C! Today ironically was Harvey’s day, no flowers or plants called Harvey, so l wrote his name and gave him a floral hibiscus border!!
I wonder if l’ll be invited back to baby sit again!
For some of us it’s a sad week because we lost a loved one, my Soul Sister is on the other side with her spirit guide a blue heron! And l cried a lot that day, just all of a sudden a tear would fall, then that night at 7:46pm loads of tears fell and l thanked my Soul Sister for helping Violet enter the world safely. I haven’t cried at any other birth but l kept thinking about what was told to me when my Dad died “One soul leaves the world one soul enters” and back then l didn’t appreciate it but l’ve read ALOT since then and so l start off this new week minus my friend but with this precious little girl.
I’ve been busy documenting her life, photos with her Mum, photos with her Dad, amazing beautiful photos of her with her big sister, with Grandpa and Uncle Will, with Aunty Jasmin and Aunty Bree, with all her Sunbury Cousins. None with Grandma. But Grandma kept a detailed journal listing about everything because Grandma is the keeper of our stories.
Welcoming a new life means decluttering and cleaning and making things perfect. So this morning the Bloke and l re arranged the living room added a cradle, made half Scarlett’s “Home school desk” a change table and added subdued light. Swept away cobwebs and floors and mopped, scrubbed and cleaned and organised until Amber rang and said “We can come home!”
I brought a box of chocolates and a cream cake for the midwifery team l told them “Afternoon tea is on us!” and wrote them a card thanking them for their care of not only Amber and Violet but of me too! I know it’s their job but I imagine it’s not always pleasant. I wanted them to know we appreciated their care and support. Violet was my fifth Grandchild born there, l couldn’t imagine now going to a different hospital.
At home Grandpa gave her the first feed, he’s always been hands on with the Grandchildren. We walked to school to pick up Scarlett who almost burst out of her skin to see her Mum and Baby Sister there! She showed Violet off to all the children and her teacher!
After school Jasmin came with Chase, Aria and Harvey who all had a cuddle of her. Then “Big Unca” Will, came home and immediately took charge and he fed her the next bottle. I managed to get some of her bath done! And the bottles washed! Next feed went to Aunty Bree who came to meet Violet and so more photos and still none with Grandma!
This week is going to be hectic. I just need to go camping!
I say that so many times for so many reasons. I’m going to try and restart that exercise program (after hurting my back in Jan!) I’m going to try and incorporate more vegetarian/vegan meals in to the menu (apparently the rest of the family’s opinions matter more than mine!) in April I said “I’m going to try and do a monthly Blogging challenge (tick) and a monthly art challenge where you do some form of art for a given prompt. (BIG ✅) not only did l do both the blog and art, I realised how much l’ve missed both of them!
So this month I’m going to try and do both again! So I’ve decided to try #kickinthecreative’s monthly challenge for May it’s called #bloomingmarvellousMay and each day of May you can produce a piece of art, any size, any medium anything goes and you post it and add the hash tag so that the gals Sandra and Tara from Kick in the Creatives can find your work. Some people take photos, some use real flowers in their submissions, some even write poetry on Blooms really anything is open. Does any one want to join me?
My first submission was called “Violet Avonia” these names as previously discussed are family names but l only found out yesterday that apart from Violet being a flower Avonia is a flowering succulent and her surname Campion is a flower as well! We have a bouquet of beautifulness!! So I thought in honor on Violets birth “I’m going to try and paint a Violet” despite only getting three hours sleep and being a bit like a zombie l think this turned out ok!
Then l wondered about the names of the other grandchildren and how l can make them into works of art for this challenge I’ve got some great plans.. follow along if you like! Today I’ll be creating for Violet‘s big sister Scarlett, then I’ll work my way through the rest of the Grandchildren that gives me a weeks worth of inspiration then l’ll be looking for suggestions so if you have a favourite flower yell out and l’m going to try and do a whole months worth! I’m not saying they’ll all be good! I’m not promising they’ll all be on paper or in water colour or paint, I’m going to try and mix things up!
I’m going to try and get back into regular writing and creating of art because part of me felt lost last year when it all went away! I’m going to try to find my way back!
Today my letter “V” arrived! How clever was she to be born on her due date. April 30th 2021. Weighing in at a good 8 pound 8 oz, head circumference 35.5 cms and a long 53 cms.
My daughter Amber was doing some family tree research during Covid lockdown and realised my Maternal Grandmother was named Violet Jane and her daughter, my Mother was named Eileen Avonia. So she took Violet and Avonia and created this bundle of joy!!
We got to the hospital for a check up this morning at about 10:40am and up to delivery at 12:00pm. At 6:00pm she was 4 cms dilated and so they gave her some morphine at 6:50pm she was pushing and then at 7:46pm Violet was born. The last bit sped up really quickly.
I can’t help but think that my beautiful Soul Sister was watching over us as Violet came into the world. From tears of sadness to tears of joy as l cut this little ones cord. Some one once told when one soul leaves the world another enters!
Now it’s 3:00am and Amber and l have tried to sleep but l think adrenaline has kicked in so we stare at this new little being who has joined our family and thank Jehovah for how healthy she is.
Now you REALLY have met my whole family! Five children, in laws, Cousin, Husband and seven Grandchildren!
Today heaven gained a new angel with beautiful shining wings but us left behind are crying for her loss.
In 2012- I signed up for an art class called “Painting the Goddess within” and how lucky was l to meet my own Goddess! We met by commenting on art things and realised we thought similarly and then we were partnered in an art swap! We each had to do a piece of art and send it to each other and so l had to add her as a Facebook friend so that we could exchange addresses.
Carrol was a very loving, caring and sharing lady. So when she told me that she was going on a cruise and it was leaving from Australia l jumped at the chance to have her in the same country and spoke to the Bloke about having a few days off work so we could fly to where ever they were going to be in hopes of meeting my Soul Sister in real life! Unbeknownst to me her beautiful husband Willie took an extra step and planned for them to come to Victoria my own state so we could meet in person! Carrol and l chatted often counting down the days, she was overjoyed when we welcomed Grandchild number four into the world and her favourite sign off was “I can’t wait to hug that baby girl!”
So finally the day came and we went to the airport bright an early to be sure we didn’t miss them! I worried “What if l don’t recognise her!” My Bloke said “You’ll know her!” And sure enough l knew her! We wrapped each other in a big hug and then wrapped Willie in one too. I apologised “Sorry Willie but lm a hugger!” We spent the morning at our home and then took Carrol and Willie around the corner to meet our daughter Jasmin, son in law Brett and grandchildren Chase and baby Aria. Carrol got her wish to hug “that baby girl”
Carrol got on the floor and laid down beside Aria on the rug and just touched her hand and spent time chatting to her. We eventually dragged her away and went for lunch. Soon it was time for Carrol and Willie to check into their accommodation and so we delivered them safely into the City. I had to work on the Monday doing exams but we held a “Welcome to Melbourne” party on the Tuesday as it was a public holiday for Melbourne Cup, the horse race that stops a Nation. I invited all the family and my real life Bestie because she’s my first Soul Sister and she needed to meet our new “Sister”
We had a great day getting to know Carrol and Willie and for them to get to know all the people we love, people we had so often spoken about. I made Carrol and Willie adoptive Grandparents to our baby girl Aria!
Although we spoke some more during their stay in Australia that was the last visit l had as l had unfortunately had to work the rest of that week.
Carrol and l spoke regularly on Facebook messenger and l called a few times. Sadly not often enough.
In 2019 when Carrol’s health started deteriorating and she was feeling miserable we cried together. It was then l made the plan! I’m going to America to see Carrol, maybe an impending visit would cheer her up and l’ll time it so that l can be there for her birthday. So l asked my Bestie Deanne if she would like to come. And then l included a visit with two other soul sisters one also in North Carolina and one in Indiana! All these women had strong friendships with me all had the love of art in common as well as many other things, so l thought maybe l can get them all together. I introduced them all to each other in a group chat along with my Texan Soul Sister who was then living in the UK. These strong women all got on wonderfully and so we started arranging how we could all meet. In the end it was decided we, Deanne and I, would fly to NC and visit with Carrol, then drive over and collect Dea and then us four would drive to the Smoky Mountains and JoEllen would drive to there from Indiana they worked out it was about half way. We’d spend a four day “Soul Sisters retreat” and then Dea and Carrol would drive home and we’d continue on with JoEllen and fly out of Indiana.
So Deanne and l booked our flights, got our visas and made plans, all paid up, JoEllen’s husband booked our cabin in the Smoky Mountains and l had even prepared a song play list on Spotify, we were all set to go and then…
Lockdowns started our flights were cancelled, we were not allowed to leave our suburb a 5 kms radius, much less our State, or Country. And just like a puff of smoke there went that dream!
And now the whole reason for going to America is gone. The world is a greyer place today without my Soul Sister Carrol.
Carrol l’ll never ever forget you. But at last you are pain free! Sleep well my Soul Sister till we meet again!