#335 Shooting hoops at dusk

We’ve been planning to do it for months now. You’d think the time delay was because it was a decent drive – no. A short two-minute trip down the road, if that.

I saw the opportunity tonight. We hadn’t eaten out as we originally planned, and seeing the cool night enclosing in on us, suggested we go out after dinner to get out of the house.

A couple hours later and we jumped into the car with the big orange ball. Baby girl squealing in excitement.

We parked in a car park side street and then walked the short distance to the open-gated entry off the main road, passing large magpies and perilously tall trees that shadowed us as we walked beneath them. In the last 2o metres, Hubbie and baby girl couldn’t wait – they bolted off.

This court had nets. This was apparently a BIG DEAL in Hubbie’s book.

Hubbie run up and down the length of the court, zig-zagging this way, turning that way, spinning around and jumping in the air. “Jordan shoots, he scores!” he shouted in an American accent. He picked up baby girl as she tried to heave the basketball ball up and into the basket, but it missed by a decent bit, she’d need to grow slightly taller and bigger for that to happen.

Still she loved it. She rolled it around instead.

I took the opportunity when the ball bounced my way, taking shots, getting some in while others bounced away toward outreaching hands. I’d rather watch sport than participate in it anytime, but I took pleasure in running around with the two of them as they went a bit silly, laughing and telling them to stop running so fast, until of course baby girl fell and scraped her knee.

But that’s not unusual. Just another badge of honour for her.

“This one’s from when I was playing basketball.”

“This one’s from when I was trying to wet Dad with the hose and instead tripped over it.”

“This one’s from when I was trying to help Mum push the bin up the driveway.”

Her fall concluded our short trip to the courts, but we had had some good family fun, exerted some much-needed fuel, and made such great memories that we vowed, we would be back very soon.

 

#309 My town folk and Rain / Bestie’s surprise tree painting

A special edition. I had two interesting and special incidences today, and so I absolutely have to post both.

Lucky me. Double the gratitude:)

Part 1: The Rain.

I had just driven through the most hellish storm imaginable. I actually had thought to come to a complete stop while on the freeway going home from work. Many, many times, I found it almost impossible to see from the white sheets of rain in front of me, sweeping  across my car and enveloping it in a blurry fog of white. It was scary to endure, and I was relieved when after the longest drive, it started to lighten up.

And this, after the most incredible sunset last night. Ahh Melbourne.

Nearing home, the rain lessened. Finally. It had been a tense drive. I had to stop at the shops first, and got out of the car to light, wispy rain settling on the edges of my stray pieces of hair. I walked calmly into the centre.

After my post office stop and before I got to the supermarket, I heard it on the roof: the intense rattling.

Surely it wasn’t raining so hard, again, so soon after the hour of intense downpour I had just experienced on the way home?

15 minutes later with my bag of groceries in one hand, I was standing under the shelter out the front of the centre, looking in dismayed disbelief over the buckets of ran being heaved upon the car park.

My car was so close, yet so, so far.

I stood with others also holding out for the rain to ease. There were about 7 or so other shoppers, and I looked out at the car park, wondering just when and how long it would be until the rain gave out. It was heavy, and unrelenting.

The rain slowed, but only the slightest amount, not enough to brave the weather and walk through it… and yet, people did. Almost all the people who had been waiting decided to head on out to their cars. I watched, curious, as one by one they left, while I stood there, waiting, watching the Rain.

And then more came. I observed as people wandered in to the centre, soaking wet from the car park; and vice versa, as people exited the centre, and after a brief pause, a reshuffling of bags or searching of keys, kept on walking into the heavy rain towards their car.

The rain had lessened, ever so slightly. But I could tell what kind of deceiving rain this was, what with its big drops and generous weight. I wasn’t going out there, and getting soaked in 3 seconds time. I would keep waiting.

A man walked out of the centre with his son. They walked out and into the rain with little hesitation. A young couple walked out towards the car park as if they were taking a leisurely stroll.

Holiday-stayers, I observed. They don’t care if they get wet – they’re on holiday time.

An older man walked past me from the car park in his shorts and singlet, losing his thong in a deep puddle of water. He slowly stopped, walked back a few steps, his bare foot splashing through the puddle, before grasping the thong with his toe and balancing it back on. A nearby man smiled and they exchanged some words and a laugh before the man walked on, feet soaking, into the centre.

Ok, he mustn’t be driving. He can’t drive like that.

A woman walked out with her son. Flowy dress, telling him “now, don’t run!”

Run, why would you run? Ok it’s easier for her, he’s like 10, she doesn’t have to put him in the car herself.

Still I watched with how casually they made their way into the rain.

They’re all on holiday. I stood there in my wedges, pondering this fact. Skinny black jeans and a stripy singlet top. I was coming home from work. I had to drive home. I wasn’t on holiday time, not yet. These guys were not fazed at all if they got wet. They were moving about without a care in the world. I considered every justification possible.

Then, a woman walked towards the centre from the car park. As she moved forward, she too like the man earlier, lost her sandal in a puddle of water. She paused, her other foot hovering, as she fished it out of the water. I heard the splosh as it was brought forward and onto her foot. Her long flowy dress barely touched the deep puddles beneath her as she kept on going.

It hit me. My justifications were suddenly unworthy. These weren’t ALL holiday-makers. More than half were locals. And here I was, newbie in town, the girl from the ‘burbs looking on and wanting to avoid getting wet.

Screw that shit.

I waited for a slight break in traffic in front of the busy centre, and then started forward. Within seconds I could feel the warm drops sinking into all parts of my clothing, and it squeezed itself between my toes. My car was barely a minutes walk from the shopping centre shelter, and yet by the time I got to the car and plonked down in the driver’s seat, I looked down to rain splattered dark drops all over my clothes, saw the water on my arms as if someone had thrown a bucket on me, and felt my matted hair sticking in sections to my head.

And I loved it! I felt invigorated, refreshed, and alive.

Why the hell did I not do this earlier? We had moved to the beach for the lifestyle, which meant I had to live, LIKE the lifestyle. The locals had inspired me.

I wanted to live on the beach? Then live like I’m on the beach.

I genuinely, do love rain. And I also love my townsfolk 🙂

 

Part 2: The Painting.

I headed over to the parcel as my MIL was putting down baby girl for a nap. I had noticed it before getting changed out of my wet clothes, but hadn’t bothered to investigate further, feeling sure it was the coasters I had ordered a long time ago. Surely, most definitely, it was them. But as I picked up the parcel and the envelopes that read “card only” indicating the late Christmas arrival, the name at the head of the label jumped out at me.

SmikG.

Hmmm. I didn’t remember putting down my author’s alias when I had ordered the coasters. In fact, I don’t remember putting it down anywhere at all. As I looked at the parcel some more, with my actual name and address underneath my alias, the writing grew so familiar to me, that by the time I had turned the parcel around to see who the sender was, I was absolutely definite on who it was from, even though I had no idea what it was.

Sure enough, I was right.

I first opened the Christmas cards, wanting to save the intriguing and exciting surprise package from bestie ’til last. As I opened it, my very slight suspicions, and my judgments based on the weight and size, were confirmed.

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My very talented best friend has recently started painting again, after a long hiatus between high school and now. I actually had NO IDEA how talented she was until she started posting her work on facebook. I had commented on a painting she had done of a similar tree, as I love trees, and all symbols and images associated to them, as mentioned here, and here. However I didn’t think she would ever send me an actual, original painting of hers.

I immediately fell in love. It was perfect. The vibrant colour was reminiscent of our friendship too, an ode to high school, Prince, Purple Rain, and so much more. It was so personal of her to give me something so beautiful and creative of hers, and I immediately felt emotional.

I called her up to express my profound thanks, and later I placed it up high in our bedroom, until we find a more permanent home for it.

…When I walked into the room hours later, the painting of the purple tree was a sight for sore eyes. I didn’t realise how much colour was lacking in our room, in our house, and I was sick of seeing beige boxes shoved into corners all over the place, only I didn’t know how much until this masterpiece entered our home.

I love it. I am really grateful for this personal present gifted to me by a very dear friend, the heartfelt meaning behind it, and the sincere generosity of bestie to even think of giving it to me in the first place.

 

Dancing in the rain amidst friendly townfolk and purple trees by bestie. Not a bad day. Not a bad day AT ALL. 🙂

 

#295 Enjoying the lead-up

One of the things I love about Christmas is getting everything done. Getting it all done as soon as possible, before excitement turns into crazy rush, before buying presents turns into throwing money at salespeople, and before wrapping presents turns into paper flying everywhere.

Year by year I’ve been somewhat successfully managing to send out cards and buy and subsequently wrap presents, earlier, so that I can relax in the final week/days lead up.

This is what I love. The observing. The watching. The enjoying.

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I love sending my cards out early. I love knowing it will put a smile on people’s faces as they open up their mailboxes.

I love wrapping presents as early as I can. I love looking at the Christmas-coloured wrap and ribbon under our tree, taking it easy, and basking in the fact that I can enjoy all that Christmas has to offer.

Reflecting. Christmas songs. Baking Christmas goodies. Looking forward to time off work, and happy times spent with family. Eagerly anticipating the opening of the presents, excited about seeing baby girl’s face when she goes through hers.

Christmas is the best. Christmas through a child’s eyes is better.

So although I haven’t bought and wrapped ALL my presents yet, I have about half under the tree right now, and even now, I feel ‘Ahhh.’ Almost there.

But I don’t need to be ‘there’ yet. I like being here too. Enjoying and reflecting.

#294 The ‘we’ve done good’ moment

I have these revelations while driving in my car. Maybe because it’s usually quiet and I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts. And when you’re driving home and the path is familiar, you tend to focus less on your surroundings, and more with what is occupying your mind.

‘And when you’re driving home…’ yep, we’re home alright.

That was where my thoughts led me today. I was trying to rush home from work, and was close by, thinking of how Hubbie and Baby girl were waiting for me, ready to jump into the car and off we would go to do some very late, very brief afternoon shopping. Better something than nothing before Christmas.

I noticed around me the bushy landscape, the golden fields stretching out beyond them, and the hilly road I was on… and despite the rushed state I was in, I thought ‘yep. We did good.’

We’ve done good. I don’t care that it takes me longer to drive to and from work. I don’t care that I spend more money on petrol. I don’t care that I need to leave earlier to get to places on time.

I don’t even care that we still haven’t started properly renovating. I don’t care that it’ll probably take another 5-10 years ’til everything we want is complete to our standards. I don’t even care, that this house, is older than our last.

I don’t care about any of these things. Sure, I want them, and I would like to improve on them… but they’re not that important.

They’re not important, because we are where we wanna be. We’re home.

Everything else will get looked after in due time.

And that was my happy realisation today.

#292 Relaxed Backyard Bliss

My moment of gratitude came to me today as I was purging my thoughts out on the phone to my sister, sitting in the backyard having a break while baby girl napped.

It was warm. The afternoon sun hits the front of the house, so I had wonderful refuge near the shelter of a big tree that we still don’t know what to do with – chop, or keep?

After this afternoon, I think we’ll keep it.

I had on my sailor-style blue and white striped dress. Glamorous “vlecki” adorned my feet. Facing our two birds who were talking and singing out intermittently. Sitting on our iron chairs. And even though we were talking about disappointments and people getting you down, I had a moment. I realised how wonderful it all was: talking to my sister, having someone to share my concerns with. Sitting relaxed in this backyard that we had no time to do anything with, but it was pretty great as it was. I had shade, I had grass, and I had room.

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I was relaxed, I was warm, and despite the conversation, I was actually really happy.

Gratitude can find you in the strangest of places?!

*”vlecki” – European woggy outdoor slippers*

#281 Lit up with applause

So today, decorating the tree, AND the house. It was a lot of fun, and we were both tired at the end.

Tired, but happy with the result:)

I actually lived out a cheesy commercial in the act of it. Like, we were that Mother and Daughter that you see in the ads, the Mother leaning over her Daughter and holding her, helping her to attach a bauble to the tree, before gazing down at her lovingly.

We actually DID that.

(Live out a TV commercial – TICK).

But the most pleasantly surprising moment came as I was threading the lights through the Christmas tree. And as I was adjusting them, trying to get the tiny lights through as many of the branches as possible, Baby girl started her applause.

Her face was all smiles, beaming at the tree, happy that I was doing it up so lovingly. I asked her for a hug, and then, I got a kiss too.

A lip-smacking kiss. “Smack!”

Oh man. Gold. :):):)

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#280 Setting up the Tree – 3 year old Baby Girl edition

Tonight, we put up the Christmas tree base, on its own. I’m doing it in stages, you see.

Or should I say, we’re doing it in stages.

Like everyone at this time of year, there is just so much to do. Everyone is in a mad rush, trying to get everything possible accomplished by year’s end. Yes, it is a generally busy period, what with close of business, Christmas parties and festivities and fun abounding, and then of course, sweet sweet Summer makes everyone that much more crazy for going out, getting insane and making the most of life.

However, if you break down your end of year jobs, you’ll find that they may just be achievable, despite mad insanity. Yes you’ll need to plan, yes you’ll need to stay focused, and yes you’ll need to just keep going no matter what. But, broken up into stages, it is very achievable to go into Christmas Day a very happy Larry/Sally.

Which is why I do my Christmas decorating in stages.

Also, I have a 3 year old daughter. That is explanation in itself I think.

If I were to attempt to put up the tree base, decorate the tree with lights, and baubles, and then go on to decorate the house with various Christmas paraphernalia, I would lose my marbles, or in this case, quite literally my baubles. Also, that huge and long task, accompanied by baby girl, would seem so hard that I would put it off for too long, even though I love Christmas and want to decorate the house as soon as is allowable/acceptable.

Breaking up the festive job is best enjoyed in stages. Like sipping on a hot coffee. It needs to be savoured – not thrown back to scald your throat in one huge lug.

Hubbie had set the heavy tree box in our lounge area for me. I positioned it against where the tree would go, before starting to open it. Baby girl gasped in recognition at the photo on the box, and came over to help me.

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She handed me branch by branch, until the tree was sitting tall in our living area. She clapped and yelled “YAY!” before leaning in to give the Christmas tree a hug, almost knocking it over in the process.

She takes after her Mum. She too LOVES Christmas.

And then if that weren’t enough, she leant in to kiss it.

Awww. Shucks.

Christmas alone is a wondrous thing, a beautiful experience, a memorable yearly event to be cherished with your loved ones. But when you have a child, you can start to compare your Christmas’ against how much your child has grown, and evolved, and developed, and learnt, year by year… and I watched with satisfaction as this girl of mine, took clear delight in a big green tree taking residence in our home, for a semi-permanent period anyway.

I love this time of year. Christmas makes you take heed of what you have, how far you’ve come, and what you are grateful for in your life… and for this appreciative gal writing this blog, it kind of makes sense I love it so much, doesn’t it?