The short stories I wrote about the goings on at the green house led me to thinking about housemates.
When young and single, I lived in share houses on 2 occasions.
First with a female colleague. We were good mates and life was a ongoing party. One neighbour, I worried, was in danger of developing repetitive strain injury to her wrist from twitching her curtains while keeping tabs on the comings and goings.
All was rosy until I came home work to find my housemate, her boyfriend and a sack of aromatic green leafy stuff in our kitchen. It wasn’t oregano. They were foil wrapping and packing in ziplock bags a less culinary crop, marijuana, in preparation for a weekend trip to the city. When I suggested in the house wasn’t the best place, they moved it to her hatchback parked under the carport. Not quite what I had in mind, especially when my Dad visiting and foraging in the kitchen cupboards for tea emerged with a recycled Moccona coffee jar full of leaf, but not tea leaves, unless you wanted a really mellow brew.
Things got more confused after I went to call my housemate to the phone one post party Sunday morning and found her asleep in bed betwixt her boyfriend & his best mate. Successively the best mate became the boyfriend even though the old boyfriend remained the business partner.
A week or so ago we lost a friend. He was born on the last day of 1954, not quite 6 months before the G.O. The brief notice in the local newspaper closed with the words “Sadly missed by all his mates”. Mates who could only witness the inexorable claim illness made on his life. But mates who drove him to doctors appointments, visited hospitals, mowed the lawn, brought food their missuses made, delivered & chopped wood for the fire in his living room that was the only thing even before the onset of winter keeping him warm, and much more. Mates who at the end when there was no more to be done, sat by his side, at his home.
To me he was a friend. One of the first I made in the village. He was a man of interchangeable aspects: flair for life; and for self destruction. He was also private and generous. I’m not sure he shared the full details of his condition with any one person. The cruel physical manifestations of its progress were testimony enough.
He wasn’t being spared himself but elected to spare others if they wished and so faded from social life, retreating from company but not unwelcoming of it, as his corporeal presence diminished. The last time we saw him was a month and a week before he left us.
Each time we visited our friend this year, the G.O. and I prepared ourselves for it to be the last. Up until late the year before he would ask, when are you coming home for good? It was when he stopped asking I really began to worry.
Prior to departure I’m up with the G.O.’s 5 am alarm; drink coffee & do a little blog surfing; decide I have plenty of time for a 40 minute walk; pack my bag to be on the safe side; go for a walk; upon returning realise I don’t have that much time; make a quick breakfast; shower; dress, change tops, put new top on wrong way and inside out; get call at 10.30 am from the G.O… who has a horror of running late to the airport because of one occasion… was it only my responsibility to set the alarm?… to make sure I’m about to leave, which I am – almost; get cab to airport; at airport rearrange packing formation of carry-on bag half a dozen times until it fits into the cradle that rates it as cabin luggage; go through security scan, forget to separate out tiny aerosol deodorant, wait for security personnel to extract it from carry-on bag & and scan it separately to make sure it is a tiny aerosol deodorant; walk to gate 58 at the other end of the airport; listen to attendants endlessly call late people to flights, which delays my flight; finally walk down stairs onto the tarmac and up stairs onto plane. I’d forgotten, regional travel is a little more basic and the planes are much smaller.
My flight, running late, lands in Tamworth just after 1.30 pm. As I call a cab and turn off flight mode multiple text messages beep, including one from my friend Nanna “Are you getting off plane I can see? I have just arrived near airport”. My lovely friend Nanna also running late, figured somehow it was my plane and was already driving around to collect me.
Getting in the car, I smelled then saw a lime green carry bag containing my tea order: Japanese Green Lime; Ginger & Lemongrass; Rose Petals; and Dragon Pearls (white tea) which I’d ordered from Nanna for special school reunion delivery. Nanna zooms us away from the airport as we talk nonstop punctuated with a few exclamatory swear words which we’re both trying to be more circumspect about employing… oh dear.
Arriving at my motel, Mrs S. emerges from the room next to mine. As I hang a couple of things & unpack, she and Nanna settle into the comfy chairs and we chat for half an hour. We’re supposed to be meeting up with the greater group but decide to head off for coffee first. Nanna takes us to Addimi where I enjoy one of the best long black (Americano) coffees I’ve had [shame on you Sydney baristas] served with a small tumbler of sparkling water.
Revived and still engaged in nonstop three way chat it is mid afternoon when we head up to The Tamworth Hotel to meet up with the rest of the group. We collect cold drinks from the bar; water & ice for me as the day still has a way to go, and head to the beer garden. It is great to walk into the congregation of familiar faces, most who I hadn’t seen for 10 years, some longer, but seems like yesterday.
A couple of hours later we break to go back to our various accommodations to prepare for sparkling pre-dinner drinks at 6 pm. Nanna drops Mrs S. & I off, and heads to her mum’s. After quick preparations our motel group assembles, deciding who’s driving and who’s walking. Mrs S & I elect to walk, with another 4. As we get to the main road and wait at the traffic lights, I was amused to see a young man also waiting, check us out, and wander further along – we may have looked a little too much like middle aged hens nighters for comfort…
As we arrive at the front garden of the old cottage that houses Le Pruneau, it is sprinkled with fairy lights, which lends a lovely atmosphere to the bubbly wine served by a personable young waiter who chatted as he poured, about his ambitions to become an airline steward for which he would be certainly be suited. He copes with 21 of us plus 2 husbands, and conversation at a decibel level such that as I walk out to call the G.O., I have to go 50 yards down the street until the noise of the group is muted enough to conduct a mobile phone conversation.
When the bubbly runs out and the night gets chilly we head inside where there is more wine, conversation, laughter, old photos, year books, memories and food. Seated, we catch up with our table mates until after entree we shift places, and post-dinner we flow around the tables.
We make a toast to absent friends. There is one round of hands-up-if-you questions: are married; have kids; are divorced; are a grandmother; and as an afterthought, are a lesbian. No takers on the last… hmmmm. Conversation is about where we live, kids, grandkids, lost parents, husbands, divorces, careers, holidays, the past, present and future. We’re of an era and age where it’s all possible.
11.30 pm arrives and as we’d talked, laughed, drank, eaten, paid and the staff had homes to go to, we leave with arrangements to meet for breakfast. We walk back in refreshingly chilly air to the motel where I put in a late call to the G.O. who’d been at a mate’s place and had left me a message he was still up. By 12.30 am I was asleep.
Daylight & noises wake me at 7 am. I enjoy a quiet, solitary cup of tea, and didn’t quite so appreciate the coolish shower… should have jumped in quicker. Doors open and we meet outside in morning sun. By 9 am, more photos have been taken as several are departing. Leaving my bag at the motel, Mrs S. drives us to The Old Bell Tower for breakfast. More chat, more photos: the waitresses can’t make themselves heard trying to deliver drinks and food orders to our tables. By 11.30 am all but a few classmates have departed.
My flight isn’t until 1.40 pm and I want to go for a walk and take photos. I entertain thoughts of a browse in the shops but there is no time. Nanna who with a bad head cold made a heroic effort, staying out the night before and getting up for breakfast, says she’d drive me. But by this time I need space, air and movement.
At 11.40 am I make my farewells, and race up the hill to our old school, snap photos and proceed to walk back down through the town centre, across the bridge back to the motel. Enroute I call a cab which meets me at the motel at 12.40 pm, and gets me to the airport in time to check in, repack my bag once again into acceptable cabin formation, and board at 1.20 pm for the flight which leaves on schedule at 1.40 pm.
Always a fun thing to do at airports is star spotting, and at Tamworth airport for the return flight I spot Claudia Chan Shaw from ABC TV’s The Collectors who was in Tamworth to talk about her book Collectomania. Also held in Tamworth over the weekend was The Australian Country Dance Festival, and on the return flight I recognise a couple of the faces of the special guests – Nadia Friel & Paula Greenwood, familiar from where I’m not sure.
By 3 pm, I’m home. Happy.
What is it about a school reunion that simultaneously attracts, repels and unnerves?
This weekend I’ll hop on a plane for the short flight, booked in August last year, to Tamworth “Country Music Capital of Australia”, where I attended boarding school for my last 2 years in 1982-83.
The lead up has comprised 12 months of sporadic email correspondence from and to the motivated classmate who instigated the event. It’s a weekend I was looking forward to until it arrived. Having been away last week for 4 days to Taylors Arm, my anticipation is dulled at the thought of heading off again.
It’s our third class reunion. I’ve attended each, as well as keeping up with various classmates in various ways at various times, attending each others weddings, functions and parties, plus regular ongoing friendship with Mrs S. & Nanna. Now of course, many of us keep up via Facebook.
Although I have a relaxed attitude to clothes and appearance, I’m adequately groomed and look fine from day to day. So why did I prepare for the 24 hours I will be placed among 25 of my peers, a group of 47-48 year old women with similar education and backgrounds, by feeling the need:
- for the confidence boost of a haircut, which to be fair I was due for anyway but more than likely I would have continued to prevaricate over?
- to check and update a few contents of my makeup bag, which mainly serves me to appear as if I’ve made at effort in the office, and at weddings & similar events?
- to make sure my purchase of several items of new season Autumn-Winter apparel occurred prior, yet assign my reliable outfit of black top, favourite jeans [minor panic this morning when checking to see if they were clean I thought I had left them at Taylors Arm] and tan boots, as my ensemble for the main event?
Maybe it’s because, I suddenly feel like a stranger… One of the classmates, who I have only seen at reunions, proposed each of us submit a blurb which initially she proposed as why don’t we all write a para blurb on where we are … family, life, work etc. & circulate closer to the date for everyone ??? I’m sure we all have a few tales to tell but then efficiently compiled into a series of form criteria which the organiser dutifully disseminated with a note … has come up with a great idea. Attached is a sheet for everyone to fill out & send back to me about where you are “AT” in life & where you have been! Great idea so we can have a read up on everyone before 4 May. Fill it out & get it back to me when you have/make time (never have time!).
I wonder if it’s ok for me to skip the first 13 lines and once at the reunion with glass of wine in hand, wing it with “Other” ?
A recent article on SMH introduced me to Dunbar’s Number “the maximum number of friends a human can have at any one time” apparently 150 on average, of which 5 to 7 are intimate relationships increasing in layers of lessening intimacy up to a maximum of 1500 people including all and sundry who we don’t know personally but recognise e.g. fellow commuters, celebrities…
In 2012 I met a whole new world of people via blogging. They have become in effect my virtual neighbours, booting out a whole lot of actual people who took up places in that 1500 without adding much value.
Like everyone I have plans and dreams but they were neglected and didn’t have much flesh on them. They needed a good feed. Gradually I picked my way through WordPress Community Garden, tasting then feasting upon the wonderful produce on offer. Now my plans and dreams are fat and bursting with detail and ideas.
Richard of The Future Is Papier Mâché generously handed out nominations for a swag of awards at the end of 2012, including nominating elladeewords for Very Inspiring Blogger, Sisterhood of the World Bloggers, Gargie Award and Blog of the Year 2012, to which I’m only now happily if belatedly responding, due to a holiday hiatus and back to the real world distractions.
Of those awards Gargie and Blog of the Year 2012 are new to elladeewords. I’m honoured to accept, and pass on my nominations for both awards below with pithy details of how these bloggers over the course of 2012 fed my plans and dreams, and empowered my journey by their posts, and responses to mine. It wouldn’t surprise if me all of them have been previously nominated for Blog of the Year 2012… they’re that good!
Buried Words and Bushwa’s Metan inspires me by radiating love of life and more often than not giving me a laugh.
Clouds moving in’s Roughseas inspires me to be an informed thinker and consumer of life. The Roughseas blog broadens my world by generously sharing eclectic thoughts & knowledge, insights into Gib & Spanish life, and she also has Pippadog, Land Rovers & Pics blogs.
dadirridreaming’s Christine inspires to me strive for the life I want.
Dianne Gray inspires me with her brilliant writing and attitude to life including giving up her day job and old life to move to North Queensland.
East of Málaga’s Marianne inspires me by her gift of sharing the life and colour of Spain.
from the Bartolini kitchens’ ChgoJohn inspires me with food, glorious food prepared with big helpings of generosity and joy.
Kourtney Heintz’s Journal inspires me by sharing her journey of writing and publishing, book reviews, and kills me with Grandma H. stories.
Leanne Cole Photography inspires me with her artistry and persistence in pursuing her ambitions.
Lori’s Lane inspires me with her wisdom.
My Bright Life inspires me by love of the coast, which I share, and insights into life in South Africa.
Paralaxvu inspires me with her compassion, honesty and wicked sense of humour.
Pete Denton inspires me with his dedication to writing, goals and book reviews.
Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge inspires me with her clever interpretation of social and community issues & interests, missives from RC Cat and canine perspectives of Molly & The German.
Postcard Cafe‘s Nigel inspires me with his passion for Sheffield street art.
Robyn Coyle inspires me with her writing skills and comedic flair, and shares tools that assist me to be more comfortable and confident in my writing space.
RumpyDog’s household inspires me by their dedication to animal welfare and rights, and beguiles me with unbearable cuteness.
The Future Is Papier Mâché’s Richard inspires with his enthusiasm for photography, books and music, and appreciation of urban landscapes and its inhabitants.
The Kitchens Garden’s Celi inspires me with her sustainable living & food commitment and her energy, and delights me with the Farmy cast.
The Wanderlust Gene inspires me with her passion for life in Sri Lanka, love of the Misses Kotte, and remarkable archive of images.
Vics Pics and More inspires me with her walks and travels with dogs Jasper & Sal.
Walking with a Smacked Pentax inspires me by taking me to into stunning timeless landscapes, and dark deep places.
Even if it takes me a while to get to them I like to find time to respond to award nominations because I value the nomination and the effort that has gone in to passing it on. Roughseas recently shared a link which makes a good technical point about awards and possible flow on benefits if you find such things useful.
Come On In Patsy Cline
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” Ruth Reichl
Gargie Award Rules:
1. Display the award badge as prominently on your site as you are inclined.
2. Publish a post to inform the world of your great achievement… in your own good time.
3. Nominate fellow bloggers… who you have great bloggy affection for.
4. Indicate to your nominees that they have received the award… by whatever means is most convenient.
Blog of the Year 2012 Rules:
1. Select another blog or other blogs who deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award;
2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award;
3. Include a link back to this post ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award at the Thought Palette and provide these ‘rules’ in your post; (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!) link lost in transition
4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them;
5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience; link lost in transition
6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars. not for me but if you wish…
(italics indicate elladee variations)