5 Great things about Country Life

Here I am back in Sydney and waiting for my second baby to come along. When I last wrote it was about Dead Dog Tree. I feel obliged to round up the country experience on a more positive note.

So here are my favourite things about living in a small country town.

1. No one is in too much of a hurry. When I was shopping at the local IGA, one old guy actually let me go in front of him in the queue. “I’m in no rush mate”, he told me. Can you imagine that happening in Sydney?!

When you order a coffee, and they ask you how you’re going, people genuinely want to have a chat. In fact, country people always seem to have time for a chat. It took a while to stop myself from rushing into ordering my food like you do in a Sydney cafe.

2. Local Swimming Pool. As temperatures reached mid forties I was very grateful for a swimming pool in walking distance.

3. Fresh local fruit and wonderfully priced meat.

4. On our last night, a friend of ours introduced us to a couple who look after baby wombats and kangaroos. The animals’ parents have usually been hit by a car. It was amazing to walk into this couples living room and see a joey hopping around. There was a little wombat snuffling near the couch and an even tinier wombat being cuddled to sleep, just like a newborn baby. Out in the backyard we met a very cheeky teenage kangaroo who started boxing my skirt. The couple also had a cockatoo, chickens, a goat, a pig, a horse and plenty of cattle. I wish I’d taken some photos but my hands were full holding the baby wombat. It was incredible.

5. No traffic.

I know the traffic point is a bit overdone. I mean surely people don’t move to the country simply to escape traffic. I used to think this was absurd. However I do think in Sydney we can become very trapped in our houses. It can become such a battle to get anywhere that it’s hardly worth leaving at all. Our friends are spread all over the city, and we might need to travel a good hour to visit them. Once we arrive we’ll probably have parking hassles. So we build beautiful, large home to live in. And there we stay, giving our kids nothing to do but watch TV.

Some city folk often complain that the country seems to dull and boring. But do these same whiners really have such an exciting life? They battle traffic to work, sit in front of the TV all night and mooch around home on the weekend. Thrilling stuff!

I’ll never be true country girl, but my short stint living there has given me a new appreciation for country life.

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Dog Tree

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Just on the edge of town there is a sign directing you to Dog Tree Road. And if you know what you’re looking for, you’ll come across a very unusual tree.

You might easily drive past as it blends in so well with the surroundings. This ordinary looking tree, just inside the State Forest, is hung with dead, wild dogs.

These dogs have been hunted, killed and strung up. It’s a gruesome and strange display.

In 2013 the ABC reported that “wild dogs are on the verge of wiping out sheep grazing in many parts of Australia, threatening the future of small communities that rely on wool production for their survival.

For years, the feral dogs have been costing farmers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. It’s become the most critical animal welfare issue facing Australian agriculture.”

I’m still not sure why the dogs carcasses have been left to rot on the tree. Perhaps as some sort of statement about the wild dog problem?

It looks like the opening of a horror movie…

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Definition of a Gentleman

I love definitions of good manners as it makes the world seem less chaotic. What makes a true gentlemen or lady?  The best definition isn’t about snobbery or wealth. They behave in a way that makes others feel comfortable.

“A gentleman has his eyes on all those present; he is tender toward the bashful, gentle toward the distant, and merciful toward the absent. He guards against introducing any topics that may irritate or wound; he is seldom wearisome. He makes light of favours that he confers. He never speaks of himself, except when compelled to do so, never defends himself by heated retort, has no liking for slander or gossip, is careful not to impute wrong motives to those who interfere with him, interprets everything for the best, if he can, and, if her cannot, is silent”

The Hidden Power of Kindness, L. Lovasik

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The Art of Boring Conversation

I’m taking a a risk writing about this topic. It could be the dullest thing you’ve ever read.

The other day at the park, I was standing near a group of women and I couldn’t help hearing their conversation. It was so intensely boring I had to move away.

So what was so boring? Well here is my list of some of the most boring conversation topics. It was one of the following.

1. Dreams

I’m guilty of this one. By dreams I mean those crazy things you think of when asleep. It may be wildly fascinating when you wake up – but that’s only to you. Retelling your dream is painful for a listener. They’re always long, pointless and confusing.

The only way to avoid your listener completely zoning out is to keep the description of your dream snappy.

“Last night I dreamt I met Elvis and he came to my wedding,” you might say. Please just leave it at that.

2. Movie Plots

Have you ever asked a friend something like this? – “What do you think of the the latest James Bond movie? Is it any good.” You’re looking for a two sentence response. Instead they give you this –

“When Bond’s latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows – aided only by field agent, Eve (Naomie Harris) – following a trail to the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.
Bond’s mission is to keep a computer drive that has a list of British agents from being used against them. He chases the man who has it and they have a brawl on top of a train. Eve, an agent sent to assist Bond has them in her cross hairs but hesitates to take the shot because she might hit Bond but M orders her to take it. Which she does and hits Bond who falls into the river and is believed to be dead. A few months later, the British government is upset with MI6 for losing the list; specifically with M. She is told that she’ll be allowed to retire but she refuses to leave till the while matter is resolved. So she returns to HQ to work on it but as she arrives, there’s an explosion. In the meantime, Bond, who is not dead, has been laying low. When he learns of what happened, he returns. And M tasks him with finding the one who has the information. He eventually learns that the man who has it, is someone from M’s past and who has it in for her. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com
When one MI6 hard disc with the identities of NATO’s agents is stolen, James Bond chases the agent through Istanbul with the support of the local field agent Eve. M (Judi Dench) orders Eve to shoot the agent on the top of a train, but she misses the target and hits 007 that falls in a river and is presumed dead. When M’s computer is hacked, the MI6 building is blown-up and the agency moves to an ancient bunker that belonged to Churchill. Then, five MI6 agents have their identities exposed and three of them are executed and M has her authority and procedure questioned by her superior Gareth Mallory. Out of the blue, 007 reappears from the shadows and hunts down the responsible for the theft of the HD. He reaches Severine and uses her to find the responsible for the actions, the former top-notch MI6 agent Tiago Rodriguez, a.k.a. Silva, who had been betrayed by M and now is seeking out revenge against the veteran leader of the MI6. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Bond’s latest adventure takes him deep to the heart of Istanbul to retrieve a hard disc containing the names of NATO operatives, their whereabouts, and their real identities. Unfortunately the mission goes horribly awry and ends with Bond getting shot while on the roof of a train. Fortunately Bond survives and is enjoying life on a remote Mediterranean island. But an untimely and horrific attack compromises MI-6, kills 6 agents, and ultimately compromises M herself. Then a mysterious hacker, using the newly obtained data, outs the agents on Youtube – compromising their missions and identities. That brings Bond back out of retirement. He then goes on a cat and mouse chase after a reclusive computer hacker – taking him to Shanghai, Macau, Japan, and ultimately back to London and his childhood home called “Skyfall” While the hacker has ties to M’s past, it puts Bond’s loyalty to the ultimate test. Will he be able to stop it before it’s too late?”

I hope you didn’t bother reading that. I’m never able to listen to a plot description beyond two sentences. It’s simply impossible.

3. Your Day in Detail

Some of us love retelling our day in detail. This is a risky move. Unless you are Ricky Gervais or Miranda Hart it’s going to be awful. Some people still persist. There are no jokes and no insights; its just what they had for breakfast, the trip to the gym, a ponytail that didn’t sit right, the search for a good soy latte and it goes on. Truly torturous.

4. Mediocre Interests

I’ll gladly listen to someone talk about the social habits of finches or the pros and cons of types of plastic, however it must be done with enthusiasm.

“How’s your soccer going?”

“Not bad”

“You just got back from the snow. How was it?

“Pretty good – yeah.”

“What did you get up to on the weekend?”

“This and that. Mostly just hanged around.”

This mysterious approach to conversation really only works if you’re in a spy film. In real life, it’s very boring.

5. Sleep

Personally, this is the most boring topic of all. Since becoming a Mum I’ve found myself involved in too many sleep conversations. I’ve even instigated the conversation! How’s your baby sleeping? Through the night? What time do they go to bed? Get up?

Sometimes I play a game with myself and see how long before a Mum talks about sleep. Its rarely more than 5 minutes.

If my baby isn’t sleeping I’d prefer to distract myself and not talk about it. I want to talk about movies, coffee, Kevin Rudds strange tweets – anything else! If my baby is sleeping I definitely couldn’t be bothered talking about it.

That conversation I mentioned earlier – well of course those Mums were talking about sleep. As I write the above I realise I’m guilty of all these boring conversation downfalls. And for this I apologise.

I also realise it’s my charitable duty to listen to boring conversations. After all, finding a conversation boring is very subjective. One persons boring blathering is another’s wit and wisdom.

Happy Birthday to my best girl Eloise! She was showered with gifts. I’m slightly smug, and amazed, that her favourite presents were the books. She prefers to read them herself and will spend ages looking through them. I wonder what stories she is imagining…

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Why I respect Julia and Tony

julia abbotMy interest in Australian politics is fairly superficial. I’ve enjoyed this week because it’s been filled with drama.

I would like say a few things about knitting and the Ironman challenge.

One of the last memories we are left with of Julia Gillard, is of her knitting a kangaroo for Prince William and Kate’s baby. Commentators have scoffed and laughed, implying that by spending her time knitting she was a disgrace to feminism and to the office of Prime Minister.

Well I challenge any of those scoffers to knit a furry little animal.  My Mum is a prolific knitter and my sister has whipped up a few knitted toys in her time. Personally I look at those knitting patterns in sheer dread and confusion.

It takes tremendous patience, precision and skill to knit very well. I’m guessing the kangaroo knitted for Royalty would be of a pretty high standard. Therefore we can assume Julia Gillard is an excellent knitter. And for that  reason, she has won my admiration.

Tony Abbot has long been a running joke for wearing lycra and budgie smugglers. Abbott, who is in his fifties, has completed the Ironman challenge. In 2010 he completed a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run in just under 14 hours.

Even with these figures in my head I still joined in the jokes about Abbot looking a little silly. That was until I saw my husband and his friend complete a Half Ironman. It looked absolutely awful and I now thoroughly respect anyone who takes it on. This is no fun run. It’s gruelling to the extreme. I saw them thrash around in ice cold water for 1.9km, ride on their bike for 90km and after all that, they had to run 21.1km.

I sipped on a cappuccino and watched in disbelief from from the sideline.

I remember thinking, “Not bad Abbott, not bad at all.”

So I would like to suggest, that all those scoffers, take a good look in the mirror. Unless they can knit for Royalty or complete an Ironman, perhaps they should show a little respect.

That’s all from me on politics.

Friday Poetry: When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

Feet in waterFirst year at UNSW, I did an English course with a very eccentric Canadian lecturer  He used to sing poems in Middle English and would yell at you if you talked in his lecture. Everyone loved his performances.

We studied this beautiful poem and it’s always stuck in my mind. It talks about stillness; sometimes in life, all is required of us is to “stand and wait.” We want to run around and be very busy and it’s so difficult to be patient with ourselves and  life.

When I consider how my light is spent

John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest He returning chide;

“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best

Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best.

His state Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,

And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

They also serve who only stand and wait.”

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