Archive for July, 2014

From the Charter for Compassion.







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Tomorrow marks the beginning of another journey home to Australia (though exactly where “home” is as an expat is up for debate). I’ve always loved the heady feeling of the world being my proverbial oyster with a flash of a passport and a plane ticket, or standing in front of a train destination board picking where to go, beginning with my solo 7 week trip across Canada in 1997. I’d like to say that I coolly and suavely negotiated my way around with the aplomb of a Lonely Planet reporter on that trip. The reality was more along the lines of me attempting to walk Montreal streets in -25C winter weather and crying because it felt like my Australian eyeballs were going to freeze solid, drop out of my head, and roll away down the sidewalk like marbles, and buying a velvet medieval style cloak in Quebec that nearly outweighed me and gave me a headache every time I wore it (but dammit, I looked cool). I also lugged a giant SLR camera I didn’t know how to use well (it was subsequently stolen in London while I sat doing a brass rubbing in St Martin In The Fields), packed way too much stuff (including stiletto heels), spent entirely too much time shopping, and got marooned in Edmonton, AB because I lost my wallet… for the second time on the trip. But I also laughed uproariously with new friends gained on the transcontinental train (who knew there were so many creative ways to sleep upright?), attempted to snowshoe up a mountain and finished fifteen feet up that mountain in a giggling heap in snow that engulfed me up to my waist, and swam in the incredibly incongruous Banff hot springs, where the water was hot enough to make me need to get out to cool off for a while, and I sat wearing a bikini next to two foot icicles that gripped the pool railings.

I am happy to say I learned my lesson well regarding packing, and am now a devotee of carry on luggage only. This trip, I made Daughter and I ultra simple cordura nylon bags that are the exact allowable dimensions. This will be her first trip dealing with her own luggage, so it will be interesting. I hope to make a world traveler yet… or at least speak some curiosity, and remove the initial fear that comes with the unknown and unfamiliar.

Travel is an incredible blessing, and while I might grumble and complain about the insane distance I live from my family, it is a truly humbling but incredibly enriching experience to be able to participate in it. I hope I never stop exploring.

I’ll send more from the other side of this great blue marble in the vast sky when we get there.

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While I’m not planning on moving back to Australia any time soon, we are leaving for a visit next week. Life as an expat has its ups and downs, so I’m truly grateful for the steadfast circle of Australian expat friends I have over here who understand what it is to be a Triangle in a land of Circles or Squares. That said, I’m also very lucky to have a circle of native-born friends here who have accepted my quirks and occasional odd word usage, and taught me a lot in the process, so my shape over the years has definitely become less rigid, and it’s easier to morph between Circle and Square. When all boils down…. I really like being a Triangle.

This Tim Minchin song has become somewhat of an anthem in the expat community around Christmas time in particular, but it’s a great song no matter when you listen. The later verses are the most poignant.

And for poking fun at ourselves, there’s always Keitha or the fruit seller who hates Aussies from Flight of the Conchords. 🙂


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My posting has slowed somewhat as I enter the middle third of the 100 days, as I’m noticing a pattern of recurrent themes in my posts. At first my mind squawked, “Boring! Boring! “, but on reflection it’s actually a useful thing. It’s helping me home in on what *really* is important.

I cannot imagine my life without music in it. Ever. Having said that, for a variety of reasons it was absent for a number of years, and in hindsight it’s no surprise that it felt like a vital piece of who I am was missing. Truly geeky confession: one of my favorite things about living in a shed (long story, not all of it bad) on an acreage was being able to crank up the volume and sing at the top of my lungs with whatever was playing… which was usually a curious mixture of Jesus Christ Superstar (Australian cast), Paris (Jon English’s musical about the myth of Troy), Riverdance, Crowded House, Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt (and likely others that I can’t recall). And maybe occasionally some Orff Carmina Burana or other choral music. It’s not the same as cranking the volume through headphones or ear buds; I’m talking making the hair on the back of your neck stand on end type impact. Or maybe killing your lawn volume…heck, I’d just settle for loud enough to sing with.

I think it’s time I finally got around to ripping my CDs to an external hard drive, and – gasp! – getting some speakers that are larger than an oversized mars bar.

I first heard this arrangement of “Africa” performed by the local university choral ensemble, and it really did make my hair stand on end in an entirely good way.

Perpetuum Jazzile – Africa: http://youtu.be/yjbpwlqp5Qw

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I grew up being read to every night by either my grandmother or my mother, which contributed significantly to much of my childhood being spent with my nose in a book. I think it also made me love writing, and to this day one of my favorite things is to get lost in a story. Given that literary upbringing, reading to Daughter every night was a natural ritual from when she was tiny up until now at the age of eight. We’re currently in the middle of the fifth Harry Potter, and I’m enjoying reading a small piece each night just as much as she is enjoying hearing it. The interesting thing is that she still wants me to read, despite the fact that she can read it herself. Tonight, however, she let me read for half an hour, and then asked for the book back.

I suspect our reading nights are nearing their end. I will miss them greatly when they do, and so each night I get from now on is rather poignant.

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This is one of my favorite Kate Bush songs. It’s best played on big, beefy speakers with decent bass at a robust volume….but as quiet as I can make it on my tablet in a late night bath will have to suffice for now. I love the chord transitions in this, as well as the lyrics.

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